Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 11th November 2015

Last Sunday, I joined hundreds of others at Swindon’s Cenotaph in Regent Circus for a particularly moving and humbling tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Each Remembrance Sunday is a chance to reflect on conflicts past and present, and the bravery of those men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. Sunday afternoon’s service at Radnor Street Chapel gave us an opportunity to remember the Swindonians who lie in Commonwealth War Graves in that place.  I was so pleased to see local Scout groups present and taking part in a moving ceremony.

Our armed services are a deeply ingrained part of Swindon’s history, and I am extremely proud to represent a constituency that rightly holds our military in the highest regard. Looking forward to Wednesday, I’ll be revisiting the Cenotaph to observe the Two Minute Silence for Armistice Day.

As usual, it’s been very busy few weeks in Westminster.  I am currently working on the Immigration Bill and also conducted a case in the Court of Appeal which resulted in a six year sentence for a rapist being increased to one of twelve years after the Court agreed with my submission that it was far too low.  Last Wednesday, I attended a drop-in event in Parliament hosted by British Gas called ‘Get Ready for Winter’. Although it’s been a surprisingly mild November so far, it is really important to be prepared for when the cold weather hits the UK in the coming months.

The UK Government is pleased to be working with suppliers like British Gas to roll out free loft and cavity wall insulation for eligible households, and you don’t always need to be a customer to sign up.

I am keen to help ensure that fellow residents know what help is available for them, and for their family and friends. Being energy efficient and keeping bills under control is so important and I advise everyone interested to get in touch with their energy supplier to find out what free help and support is on offer.

On the topic of insulation and energy efficiency more broadly, all households should be aware of  the opportunities that exist when it comes to  energy efficiency improvements, which is why I am pleased that there is a range of programmes designed to support different houses and locations.

All homes are eligible for insulation measures, including solid wall insulation, through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. Homeowners and those in privately rented homes who are on specific benefits may also be eligible for support towards heating improvements, including oil-fired boiler replacements, through ECO Affordable Warmth. A package of changes incentivise energy suppliers to deliver more heating and insulation measures in non-gas fuelled homes, including oil fired boiler replacements.

The Renewable Heat Incentive programme supports the installation of renewable heating systems and is primarily designed to offer off-gas households affordable heating alternatives. It compensates for the additional costs of replacing an oil boiler with a renewable heating system.

Different energy suppliers may have different funding offers through their installers so it is important to shop around for the best quotation.. Ofgem, which administers the scheme, provides further information about ECO for consumers on its website, including contact details for the energy suppliers.

You can also get in touch with the Government-funded Energy Saving Advice Service, which can provide independent advice on the full range of energy efficiency support. The number to call is 0300 123 1234.

My surgery on Friday is already full, but on Saturday 28th November I’ll be hosting an open advice surgery at Asda in West Swindon (SN5 7DL) 2.30-3.30. There’s no appointment necessary, so please pop along and speak to me if you have a local or national issue that you would like to raise. Alternatively, contact my constituency office on 01793 533393 for other surgery dates. I look forward to seeing you there.