The Stroud MP's weekly column. 

This week an announcement is due about how we fund social care in the future.

There has been a fair amount of speculation over a proposed increase in National Insurance contributions to help pay for it. I am writing before any announcement, so I cannot go into details.

I think everyone agrees reform is a must. Tony Blair made a commitment to tackle social care a few decades ago and his, plus successive governments since, have not managed to make the meaningful change that is needed. We urgently need to get it right as the population continues to age. The reforms also have to be as fair as possible to everyone with an effective long term funding arrangement.

I certainly commend the Prime Minister for having this as a priority. For too long the social care can has been kicked down the road because it is so difficult to deal with.

Yet social care funding is just one of many pressures on the public purse at the moment. The NHS has asked for billions to help it get waiting lists down. Afghanistan is reinforcing that we live in an uncertain world where we need to help others alongside prioritising the UK’s security. Our school children need extra lessons to help catch up from lockdowns. People are asking for temporary Covid measures in welfare and with councils to continue at a cost billions. The desperate need to focus on Net Zero changes are another key feature of spending commitments that can seem endless in my inbox alone.

These have been unprecedented times and the world has changed greatly since the 2019 General Election. The Government is juggling some enormous challenges and I haven’t even mentioned the continuing Covid vaccination programme or testing.

That we must help those who are the most vulnerable and fund health and social care is absolutely right, but how will we pay for it if costs keep going up is also a key consideration. Higher taxation is one avenue and it is not one I much relish, however challenging the last 18 months have been. But one thing is certain: it is not sustainable to continue to give our public services an open cheque without reform.

Tough choices lie ahead for the government and the country. As so many local people have noted in their correspondence to me, we continue to spend money we do not have however small the interest rate is at the moment.

As we get back to normal, this growth will be crucial to help the bills. Until then, I think we need to look hard at all our public services, how we fund them, how we make them better and how we pay for them in the years to come.

And finally, just a quick congratulations to Paralympic champion Billy Shilton from Stonehouse and all the paralympians. Billy won a medal with his table tennis team. I have enjoyed following the work of the GB team.