'Wonderful to see communities unite to help war victims'

Joseph Bulmer

It has been a busy couple of weeks with late night votes in the Commons that have gone into the early hours.

As chair of the Treasury Select Committee I have begun an urgent investigation into the effectiveness of the sanctions against Russia and we are looking at how we can tighten up existing sanctions as well as what new measures could be introduced.

The UK has been one of the largest humanitarian donors to Ukraine, with an additional £100 million in aid pledged by the Government this week, and we are continuing to supply anti-air weapons and defensive equipment.

Despite Russia’s formidable military, there is no doubt that their invasion has not gone to plan, with far greater resistance than they anticipated from brave Ukrainians defending their homeland against a brutal and unjustified assault.

It has been wonderful to see communities holding coffee mornings and other fundraisers to support organisations like the British Red Cross, whose volunteers are doing extraordinary work supporting the humanitarian effort.

In a global economy, it was inevitable that the UK was going to be affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and by the significant sanctions we have since imposed on Putin’s regime.

We have already seen energy price increases due to rising oil and gas prices, but our manufacturing sector is also facing increases in the price of important metals. Businesses that deal directly with Russia – either as an export market or as a source for raw materials – are obviously facing major disruptions.

The impact of the war and the sanctions were at the top of the agenda at a meeting I held last week with representatives from the Devon Federation of Small Businesses.

It was a very useful catch up that also touched on the continued impact of Covid-19, access to finance, customs and regulation changes after Brexit, and staff shortages in certain sectors.

My background is in business and entrepreneurship – I spent 25 years growing my own business from scratch before being elected as an MP – and I will always do whatever I can to support our businesses here.

During my time as a treasury minister I was particularly proud to cut business rates for the majority of small high street traders by a third.

Another important meeting I held last week was with the Practice Manager and one of the GPs from the St Thomas Medical Group to discuss the future of Pathfinder GP Surgery.

Before Christmas I launched a petition with Teign Valley Teignbridge Councillors Terry Tume and Stephen Purser in response to the group advising local residents that the surgery may be permanently closed. This follows a temporary closure during the pandemic on the grounds that it could not be made Covid-secure. Terry, Stephen and I made our views very clear – that the surgery should re-open as soon as possible and continue to serve as a key part of local healthcare delivery. I will continue to press.