Last week in his Spring Statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced measures the UK Government are taking to ease the pressure of the rising cost of living.
For motorists across Banff and Buchan, especially in the rural areas, the 5p per litre cut in fuel duty will be very welcome.
This measure will last until at least March next year and help soften the steep rises in fuel that drivers are seeing at the pumps.
From July this year the National Insurance threshold will be equalised with income tax, meaning workers can earn an additional £3,000 before having to pay any National Insurance.
For a typical worker, this will mean £330 more in their pockets.
The Chancellor also doubled the UK Household Support Fund which, as it is devolved,means an additional £41 million for the Scottish Government.
I hope that they will pass that on to the equivalent scheme in Scotland.
Earlier this month, I attended the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party conference in Aberdeen.
It was particularly pleasing to hear the Prime Minister report that Aberdeenshire had the most expressions of interest in Scotland for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
People arriving under this scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years and access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education, and English language tuition.
Further details including information on how to register as a sponsor can be found at: https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk
This scheme is in addition to the already established Family visa which allows Ukrainians to join family already in the UK, as well as the huge level of humanitarian, financial and military support the UK has offered Ukraine.
But the standout speech at the conference was by Ukrainian-Scot, Zhenya Dove.
It was an honour to hear her talk and to speak to her afterwards.
She was right when she spoke of the steadfast support that the UK has offered and continues to offer Ukraine.
The UK was the first to send defensive weaponry and has been training their armed forces since 2015.
The UK led the way on sanctions that stung Putin’s pockets, including banning Russia from SWIFT and freezing hundreds of billions worth of assets in the UK.
The UK is at the forefront in helping Ukraine and has galvanised allies and partners across the world to that end.
And now, the UK is pledging to do more, to provide more assistance and more aid and a secure route to refuge for countless displaced families.
Another topic I discussed at conference was broadband
The SNP’s ‘R100’ programme – much vaunted in 2017 – is synonymous with failure.
I regularly hear from constituents, especially in rural areas who tell me they are suffering economically and personally because of this digital disadvantage.
The Scottish Government took on the responsibility for rolling out superfast broadband across Scotland by 2021 – and that means being responsible for its failure too.
Broadband is a reserved matter which, if the SNP promised to deliver but they haven’t.
They need to step up, or step aside!
Finally, I had the pleasure of visiting the team and residents supported at Banff’s ColleonardCourt recently.
I was delighted to see first-hand the incredible work our social care colleagues do in the community and I thank them for everything they’ve accomplished – particularly throughout the pandemic.