"Thank you to the EADT and the Toothless in Suffolk campaign group for shining a light on the lack of NHS dental provision, which has become an increasing issue here in East Suffolk. Especially in Leiston, with some people telling me they have had to travel as far away as Colchester or Lowestoft to get an appointment. I’ve been raising this on behalf of patients for some time, pressing Ministers and NHS bosses. NHS England responded to me last month confirming that they’ve now started a procurement exercise to increase capacity. Whilst this is welcome news, it’s not due to start until July 2022, which is simply not good enough. I have, therefore raised the issue with the new Chief Executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard and the Chairman, Lord David Prior asking them to intervene. Focussing on an interim solution. I was previously promised that the NHS would up capacity at other local practices. This should be entirely possible considering dentists have contacted me saying they are willing to help. I will continue to keep the pressure up.
Late last month, I launched my department’s new £500 million Household Support Fund, which will help vulnerable families and individuals with everyday costs this winter. Over the last year, we’ve helped millions of people provide for their families through schemes like furlough and the temporary uplift in benefits. Many are now back on their feet but we know that some may still need further support. That is why our targeted Household Support Fund is here. To help those households with essential costs for food, clothing and utilities as we push through the last stages of our recovery from the pandemic. This fund bolsters support from the Warm Home Discount which provides a £140 rebate on energy bills each winter to over 2.2 million low-income households and the Cold Weather Payment which provides £25 extra a week for poorer households when the temperature is consistently below zero. By distributing this money through local authorities like Suffolk County Council, this support will reach those most in need.
Finally, I was delighted to welcome Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston to Suffolk recently to show him some of the highlights of our successful visitor economy. Our tour took in Southwold Pier, Adnams Brewery, Snape Maltings and the new visitor tower at Sutton Hoo. Giving people a new perspective on the burial ground made increasingly famous by The Dig. Our hospitality and tourist industry is hugely important for jobs here in Suffolk and now that Covid restrictions have fallen away and large numbers of people holidayed in the UK this year, I’m delighted businesses will have had the opportunity to have a bumper summer and are in a good place as we edge towards autumn half term."