I HOPE that you have all had a very happy Easter, and enjoyed the bank holiday weekend with family and friends.

I had the pleasure of attending a Palm Sunday service held jointly across Church of the Ascension and St Andrew's United Reformed Church in Wall Heath to mark the start of Holy Week, and an Easter Sunday service at Holy Trinity Church in Wordsley. Once again it was great to see so many local people come together to celebrate the most important festival in the Christian calendar.

April brings with it more of the joys of spring – with blossom on the trees, daffodils in bloom, and, as we’ve come to expect, sudden showers of rain.

But April also marks the new financial year, and this particular new year means quite a lot of changes for the better.

First, Ofgem have lowered the Energy Price Cap meaning households will need to spend less of their hard-earned money on energy bills.

The National Living Wage has also increased to £11.44 per hour, putting £1,800 more in the pocket of a full-time worker each year if they are on National Living Wage; and with the eligibility for this rate having been extended by reducing the age threshold to 21-year-olds for the first time, younger workers here in Dudley South will particularly benefit.

As well as benefitting from these changes, families here and around the country will also be able to take advantage of new access to 15 hours of free childcare for youngsters over two-years-old. Not only will this financially help parents who are already in work, but it will also act as an incentive to help those who aren’t working to get back into the workplace.

For workers, the Chancellor has also cut National Insurance contributions yet again by a further 2p, coming on top of the 2p cut in January, meaning that workers on an average wage will be paying £900 less tax than they would have paid on the same earnings last year.

Finally, the Government’s commitment to the Triple Lock means pensioners will also see the biggest increase in State Pension that many of us can remember. An increase of 8.5% will mean that even with income tax thresholds staying where they are, pensions will see a good rise after allowing for tax and inflation. The triple lock has meant that the basic state pension has risen by £1,329.80 more than inflation since 2010. To deliver that much money into the pocket of a typical pensioner who pays the 20% basic rate of income tax would have needed personal allowances to have gone up by more than £6,500.

As I have said many times before in this column, no Government can completely shield households from the financial pressure caused by global events such as the war in Ukraine or the Covid pandemic which shut down the global economy.

But, as a government that believes in helping those who are doing their level best to get on, and one that believes in supporting retirees who have already paid in over the years and are unable to boost their own income like they could if they were still in work, these measures are a very welcome set of steps in the right direction.