Easing the pressure on budgets
I welcome the steps taken by Chancellor Rishi Sunkak in his Spring Statement this week to help ease pressure on household budgets.
The wide-ranging global price rises have caused particular hardship in lower-wage economies like south-west Scotland.
Reasons for the sharp unwelcome return of inflation are wide-ranging but include post-Covid shortages, increased transport costs, rising power prices together with less availability of some foods, fertilisers, oil and other supplies, partly as a consequence of Russia's attack on Ukraine.
The UK Government is working round the clock to minimise the impact on our country.
Locally, I’ve been impressed by the additional support provided by that excellent organisation, Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service (DGCAS), targeted at local people struggling to cover their outgoings.
The organisation’s advisers have added additional services because of the increased cost-of-living and DGCAS have asked me to point out that further details are available online atwww.dagcas.org
Trained volunteers and staff offer free, confidential advice to help manage increased living costs, debt and highlighting what benefits, and other support, are available.
Glory to Ukraine
I’ve been proud of efforts by so many groups and individuals across Dumfries and Galloway in donating goods and cash to help Ukrainian refugees escaping the horrific Russian invasion of their homeland.
Meanwhile, there has also been significant interest in the region from households interested in the scheme for them to provide a temporary home and support for refugees with work ongoing to allow them to do so.
At the weekend, one of the most moving speeches at a Conservative Party conference in Aberdeen I attended, was from Zhenya Dove, a Ukrainian living and working in Scotland.
She was deeply fearful for the safety of her mother, father and sister who live in an area where, for weeks, Putin’s rockets and bombs rain down night and day.
My thoughts remain with Zhenya, her family and all the millions of people caught up in the fighting following the devastating, unjustified and illegal Russian attack on their country.
NI talks on region’s key roads
There can be little doubt that lack of progress on any meaningful upgrading of the A75 remains a significant issue for many of my constituents.
This major trunk route, along with the A77 north through Ayrshire, was identified as a priority strategic UK route in the Union Connectivity Review.
With this in mind I’m travelling to Northern Ireland next week to take part in roundtable discussions at Belfast Harbour with business leaders, hauliers and logistics firms.
The UK Government has pledged investment in A75 improvements but wants to work with the, so far, less than enthusiastic Scottish Government to deliver projects.
People living daily with the difficulties and dangers of the Gretna / Stranraer route want practical solutions — not the repeated independence - obsessed SNP-Green ‘power-grab’ mantra.