This summer is the hardest-working of my life as I get fully settled into my role as a Treasury minister, and I thought it would be worth setting out a bit more about my responsibilities. The great news from my point of view is that lots of them support the priorities I have for our constituency.
The immediate job is of course Brexit preparation and ensuring we successfully leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal. Thousands of people across Whitehall are now working at full speed ahead to ensure that we are prepared and I have been genuinely impressed by how hard officials in my team are working.
Productivity and growth is a major part of my portfolio and a key strand of this will be asking businesses and regulators how we may be able to do things better and more efficiently when we have left the EU and can shape our own policy for our own priorities.
Beyond that, I am the Treasury lead on regional devolution, tasked with delivering on the PM’s committee to “levelling up” the powers of Mayors like Ben Houchen so that they get all the tools required to keep driving their areas forward. Tomorrow I will be in Manchester meeting Andy Burnham on this mission, and as you would expect I am in almost daily contact with Ben to back him up every step of the way.
I am also responsible for clean growth and delivering on the Government’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Today I officially launched the review of the economics of biodiversity led by Professor Dasgupta (pictured). The green agenda is creating thousands of jobs for areas like the Tees Valley, ranging from carbon capture to offshore wind.
Next up is my responsibility for Boris’ commitment to getting full fibre broadband to every home by 2025. This is a hugely important pledge and will need a massive step-change in the speed at which we deliver this. It’s particularly significant for helping to close the connectivity gap for rural communities like East Cleveland.
When you factor in responsibility for excise taxes - alcohol, tobacco, gambling etc - and the Crown Estate, it’s a big brief and will hopefully allow me to get lots of good stuff delivered over the months ahead.
And before anyone worries, my focus remains absolutely and firmly on driving progress locally. I’ll be back at home on Friday to focus on our local transport priorities (there should be a big announcement in the next few days) and am looking forward to my summer tour of surgeries and town hall meetings to discuss issues with you in person! You can get full details of all the events on the 'Surgeries' page