02 OCT 2017

Coastal Scene Column - 29th September 2017

"I was delighted to attend the Great British Beach Clean recently. It is incumbent on us all to help keep our beaches clean and litter free and the easiest way to do that is not to drop litter in the first place. I have taken on ministerial responsibility for this and it's a big challenge.

Following the announcement by the Education Secretary that every school in Suffolk will see an increase in their per pupil funding, indicative funding rises for each school vary from 0.5% to 18% locally. I say indicative as the council decides the final allocation with the advice of the schools forum. This big change in the new national funding formula, which I pressed for, ensures that every school has a higher basic percentage of funding for every child. Suffolk has traditionally suffered because we have very high employment rates and have far fewer children than the national average receiving free schools meals, which means money has been diverted elsewhere. However, our average levels of household income is not as high as some other places where schools have traditionally been funded more generously – so the change to the formula has started to right those wrongs. I recognise the frustration locally that increases were not even higher and that Suffolk is still in the bottom quartile for funding per pupil but the teachers' unions and the Labour party campaigned to protect funding for other parts of the country which were already funded much more generously than Suffolk schools. Overall this meant less was available for Suffolk but we have kept our word, improved the funding formula for Suffolk children and we are now firmly on the up for school funding

Finally, from October 2018 the communications regulator Ofcom are banning all phone companies for charging for caller display facilities, which will help more people screen nuisance calls. This should help many constituents whose lives are blighted by these types of calls – often dialled automatically by a computer. The new rules will help prevent this, confirming that phone numbers displayed to people receiving calls must be valid, dialable and identify the caller."

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