THANK you to all of the people who came to my annual Older People’s Information Fair at Wordsley Community Centre last week.

It was a huge turnout, with people from across the area coming to get advice or to find out more about services and activities that are available locally. As well as the event sponsors Waldrons Solicitors, there were local societies like Gentle Exercise, Knit & Knatter, Wordsley Men’s Leisure, Dudley South Ladies Luncheon Club and Sgt Pepper’s Friendship Club, organisations like Dudley Council’s Telecare, Dudley Carers Hub, Citizens Advice and Mary Stevens Hospice, and local services like the Police, South Staffs Water and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Lloyds Bank ran some really useful sessions on scam awareness to help people to stay safe online.

This was the sixth time I have held an Older People’s Fair but this was by far the biggest attendance yet, and the feedback that I have received from attendees and the organisations exhibiting has been extremely positive. I am really pleased that so many people found the event so useful.

Last weekend marked Armed Forces Day – a chance to show our thanks for all that our armed forces (past and present) do and the sacrifices they make to keep us safe. Dudley Council’s Armed Forces Day event at Himley Hall on Sunday was once again a fantastic occasion and it was great to see so many local people attending.

Disabled veterans on Armed Forces Independence Payments are among the 9,200 people in Dudley South who will receive the Government’s £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment.

The payments started to be processed at the end of last week and, already, more than 99 per cent of payments have been made to people receiving benefits such as Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.

These payments are part of a £94billion package of measures to help people with the pressures of high food and energy costs, with some households receiving up to £1,350 of additional support this year.

While low-income households, pensioners and people on disability benefits face particular challenges from high prices, I know how much some home owners are worrying about whether they will be able to pay their mortgages if interest rates continue to rise.

That’s why last week’s Mortgage Charter was so important. The Charter, agreed between the Government and mortgage providers, gives borrowers extra reassurance and support through these difficult times.

Customers who are up to date with payments will be able to switch to a new mortgage deal at the end of their existing fixed rate deal without another affordability check, or they can lock into a new deal if they are in the last six months of their current fixed-rate period.

Borrowers who are worried that they won’t be able to meet their repayments will be able to either switch to an interest-only mortgage or extend the term of their mortgages to reduce their payments. If their circumstances change then they will be able to switch back to their previous term within six months.

These sensible measures will be a big help to a lot of people and I hope they will reassure those who are worried.