Robert's Weekly Swindon Adver Article - 20th September 2017

Swindon’s reputation as a place for innovation, enterprise and business is a strong one, and we continue to move forward. Over the past seven years, the number of new businesses in our town has grown rapidly and more jobs have been created. I continue to be very interested in ways in which we can strengthen local employment opportunities so I was very pleased to support the “Made in Swindon” campaign launch at Honda in South Marston last Friday. This local campaign, organised by the Chamber of Commerce, aims to showcase and promote local, regional and international organisations from the area by working with businesses and helping build stronger community relations. It was good to see a number of local businesses represented. Many businesses work with and supply each other with their goods or services, so the creation of an even stronger network is good for our local economy in the long run.

On Friday afternoon, I welcomed students and teachers from Priory College to my offices here in Wood Street. This local college offers specialist support to young people with autism, emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, providing a stable placement where young people can re-engage with learning and fulfil their potential.

I enjoyed discussing my role as an MP and also as Solicitor General and I am delighted that following the visit, the college has announced that they will be fundraising for an excellent local charity which I have written about previously, Dressability.

Changes to the way in which Swindon’s schools are funded have been an issue that Justin Tomlinson and I have campaigned on ever since our election as your Swindon MPs. This Government inherited a system from Labour that was unfair to towns like Swindon. Schools in our area received lower funding than those in some other parts of the country, because of the way in which the funding formula was devised. We are ending this unfairness. For the first time, the resources that the Government is investing in our schools will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country, directing funding where it is most needed and helping to ensure that every child can get the high quality education that they deserve, wherever they live.  

The Education Secretary’s announcement last Thursday follows from her July statement, when she set out that we are investing an additional £1.3 billion in schools and high needs over the next two years, on top of our existing spending plans. As a result, the core funding underpinning the national funding formulae will rise from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £42.4 billion in 2018-19 and £43.5 billion in 2019-20. It means that per pupil funding will now be maintained in real terms for the next two years, as we move to the national funding formula. Locally, the new formula will mean a 4.9% rise in funding for our Swindon schools, representing real progress on this important issue.

Finally, Swindon Carers Centre are having a Race Night on Friday, 29th September. The event is taking place at Supermarine Football Club from 7.30pm and all funds raised will support this excellent local charity. For further details about this event, please visit http://www.swindoncarers.org.uk/swindon-carers-centre-race-night/