Good morning, I hope everyone is keeping well. Please see below my latest update, and as ever, feel free to share with others, or they can subscribe themselves via my website.
The UK continues to make good progress. As of the time of writing 5 million vaccine doses have been administered to 4.6 million people. There is a way to go, but we are progressing as fast as supply will allow, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our GPs, nurses, support teams and volunteers.
Please remember the top priority group is the over 80s, as our nation's priority is to vaccinate those most at risk of dying or being rendered seriously ill from Covid-19. You can read the JCVI priority list HERE, which also sets out exactly why the priority list is ordered in such a way.
I am receiving lots of calls from the over 70s keen to have their vaccine. I absolutely understand that, but the priority must be care home residents and the over 80s, so if there are areas where those people have not yet been vaccinated, they will be the priority for receiving the vaccine supplies.
If you or anyone you know falls into this top priority group in Northumberland, and you are still waiting for your call, please contact my office and we can investigate that for you.
Support for the fishing industry
I have spent a lot of time in the past few weeks working behind the scenes with colleagues in Defra and local fishing industry representatives to feed in issues being encountered and put our local fishermen in touch with the teams working to resolve any problems arising from both covid and the new exporting requirements.
I am delighted to be able to share the huge support package now available for those exporting fish to the EU, which you can read more about HERE.
Extra funding to fight drug-related crime
Yesterday the Home Secretary announced a new £148 million package to help tackle the problem of crime stemming from illegal drug use. This will not only mean more resources for the police in tackling drugs gangs, but more resources into stopping the cycle of re-offending by more funding of drug treatment and recovery programmes. You can find out more about this scheme HERE.
Plan for Jobs
A white paper (you can read it HERE) published by the Department for Education today sets out the Government's plans for a Lifetime Skills Guarantee which will offer tens of thousands of adults the opportunity to retrain in later life, helping them to gain in-demand skills and open up further job opportunities.
This includes the chance for adults without a full level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent) to gain one from April 2021 for free in a range of sectors including engineering, health and accountancy. Meanwhile, Skills Bootcamps - free, flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks - are giving adults the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.
A Lifelong Loan Entitlement will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly, which can be used over their lifetime and for modules of a course.
Business groups, including Chambers of Commerce, working alongside colleges to develop tailored skills plans to meet local training needs; supported by a £65 million Strategic Development Fund to put the plans into action and establish new College Business Centres to drive innovation and enhanced collaboration with employers.
Giving employers a central role in designing almost all technical courses by 2030, to ensure that the education and training people receive is directly linked to the skills needed for real jobs.
Boosting the quality and uptake of Higher Technical Qualifications - that provide the skills that many employers say they need and that can lead to higher wages – by introducing newly approved qualifications from September 2022 supported by a government-backed brand and quality mark.
Changing the law so that from 2025 people can access flexible student finance so they can train and retrain throughout their lives, supported by funding in 21/22 to test ways to boost access to more modular and flexible learning.
Launching a nationwide recruitment campaign to get more talented individuals to teach in further education and investing in high quality professional development including a new Workforce Industry Exchange Programme.