Letter from Claire Coutinho – September 2022

I hope you have all had a wonderful summer.

I know many of you will be worried about rising prices, particularly when the energy price cap increases next month. There is more support with the cost of living coming shortly, with every household receiving a £400 reduction in their bill in October. This will be applied automatically and does not need to be paid back.

For households on means-tested benefits, including Pension Credit, a second payment of £324 will be coming in the next couple of months. This follows the July payment of £326.

Anyone in receipt of a disability benefit will also receive an additional £150 this month, and every pensioner household receiving the Winter Fuel Payment will receive an additional £300, starting in November.

It is highly likely more support will be announced soon, given the scale of price rises we are seeing and I look forward to working with the new prime minister on this crucial issue. If you have any questions about what support you are entitled to, or you think you might have missed out on a payment, please contact me (see below).

Facing a drought

We’ve also been facing a drought following the driest summer since 1976. In the short term, the water companies need to be doing much more to tackle leaks, given that we lose approximately 3 billion litres of water to leakage every single day. Ofwat also has a stronger role to play in making sure that the water companies are not overleveraging and underinvesting.

It also has highlighted the importance of our global work to reduce climate change emissions and conserve our natural environment here in the UK.


This month marks the start of my annual Greentember, where I focus on the environment for the whole of September. As in previous years, I will be litter picking and meeting residents to talk about the issues that matter most to them.

Local groups

Over the summer I have been visiting lots of local groups and organisations but one that stood out was the University of the Third Age (u3a). The u3a is a wonderful UK-wide movement of locally-run groups who bring retired people together to learn new skills and have great fun. I joined them at the Royal British Legion in Oxted to have a crack at skittles, and hear about their growing list of classes, including French and mahjong.

I launched a new programme at the beginning of summer called the Friendship Project, to tackle loneliness. The strength of our relationships sit at the heart of what makes us happy and well, and the Friendship Project will bring together the many local voluntary groups across East Surrey to share stories, ideas and updates about what they are up to.

We are also raising money to help these groups do what they do best: tackle loneliness by creating friendships. If you would like to get involved, or donate to the fund, please contact me.

Meeting residents

I also organised a summer get-together for the Ukrainian families and their host families that my team and I have been working with. It was so nice to put names to faces, hear how they are settling into their new lives in East Surrey and thank the host families for all they are doing. Special thanks to Woldingham residents Henry and Michelle for hosting in their beautiful garden.

Finally, the summer recess gave me the perfect opportunity to welcome lots of constituents for a tour of the Palace of Westminster. Residents from Caterham, Warlingham, Oxted and Horley saw where the trial of Charles I took place, where Winston Churchill lay in state and where the suffragettes campaigned for votes for women (hear hear). There are opportunities for tours throughout the year, so if you would like to visit, please contact me.

It is the honour of my life to be your MP, and I hope to make Westminster as accessible as possible to you all.

Contact me: claire.coutinho.mp@parliament.uk.

Claire Coutinho MP for East Surrey

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