Many people in North Cornwall are concerned about the cost of energy, so I was very pleased to see the government extend our support with the Energy Bills Discount Scheme, providing up to £5.5 billion of support to businesses facing high energy costs until March 2024. Although wholesale energy prices are beginning to fall, the risk of price volatility remains high – so we must ensure that businesses have the assurance that they can afford to keep on operating during this period. That is why we have launched a new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, which will provide businesses locked into contracts before the recent price falls with a discount of up to £6.97/MWh on their gas bill, and up to £19.61/MWh for electricity bills – with more support available to energy-intensive trades. The new scheme will help businesses manage their costs until March 2024.
As part of the Government’s Help for Households initiative, Go Cornwall Bus is participating in the nationwide £2 fare capping scheme for all single bus journeys across their network, which began on New Year’s Day and continues for three months. First Kernow and Stagecoach are also taking part. The offer is funded through a £60 million scheme from the Department for Transport to help the public with cost-of-living pressures over the winter. Nationally, the average single fare for a 3-mile journey is £2.80, meaning the special fare will save passengers almost 30%. Locally, fares usually vary depending on the length of the journey, but in some cases, people will be able to travel a significant distance for just two pounds. All single journeys in North Cornwall are covered by the scheme!
I was also very pleased to see that we have announced a £125 million funding boost for 16-19 education, helping to transform young people’s life chances by improving access to high-quality courses. Skills and training for young people in North Cornwall are some of my key priorities, and it is reassuring that government also shares this vision. It is important that our education system develops the skills our businesses need to grow and thrive while ensuring our economy is prepared for the industries of the future - and education is vital to achieving that. That is why we have announced additional funding of £125 million for schools, colleges and other 16-19 education providers, which will help to deliver qualifications such as T Levels and A Levels, as well as continue providing 40 hours of additional education for high needs pupils catching up from lost time during the pandemic. The funding will mean that young people in North Cornwall will continue to have access to the courses and qualifications they need to help them build successful careers.