Column by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie.

I loved attending the 50th anniversary Randwick Wap at the weekend. The weather was glorious and people were so excited to climb the hill to join the festivities. My daughter developed a fascination for Morris dancing, then the dog shows and finally eating chocolate brownies with the Scouts.

One stall was doing a roaring trade in teddies to raise money for Ukraine. I was honoured to meet Ukrainian refugees who recently arrived to live with a wonderful local family after my team and I assisted with the visa applications. They were possibly the best hugs I will have all year.

So, a huge well done and thank you to Tim Byford and the whole village team.

On a more sombre note, inflation fuelled by the cost of energy, food and raw materials following Covid and the war in Ukraine is starting to hit families in Stroud.

This is a major concern for all households but particularly for the most vulnerable. My team and I are doing all we can to help families access support and advice. I believe we must be candid with people about the stark reality of what the UK and countries around the world are facing at the moment.

While I find the majority I speak to understand this is a consequence of shutting economies down for the pandemic, together with a range of other global factors, many find the numbers involved mind boggling to deal with.

The hundreds of billions spent supporting people and businesses during the pandemic and paying for testing and treatment has also increased the UK debt massively. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) says that UK debt is around £2.5 trillion. This amounts to around £1,235 for every person in the UK.

To just service the interest on this debt will cost around £83 billion this year. As interest rates rise, so will this cost. Almost every government department spends less than this amount. Only the NHS and education receive more.

The government and the Bank of England sadly have few options to limit the financial pain on household budgets.

The bank raised interest rates again last week to try and limit inflationary pressures. These issues will, however, continue so experts are warning people will need to adapt and government is naturally going to be cautious about increasing spending with inflation high.

As it stands, the government has already committed to a £22billion cost of living package that was announced earlier in the year. This includes £9billion in help for people to pay for energy rises and £1billion of extra support administered through councils to help the most vulnerable.

I continue to argue for targeted measures for the poorest in society. I anticipate future further financial support measures will be made available.

I will also be arguing for responsible fiscal choices to be made even if they are unpopular against the claims that there are easy quick fixes or that government should tax and borrow more.

If you need help or you have not received the support due to you, please let me know. We will do our best to assist.