Whilst the country faces the biggest cost of living crisis in recent history, I know that many local families are watching every single penny.

Which is why it’s so galling that St Albans taxpayers are still having to subsidise big developers to the tune of £3 million per year.

I've written about this here before, and it finally came to a head in parliament this week.

Currently, a government-imposed cap on planning fees means that local authorities cannot charge big developers the true cost of processing their planning applications.

As a result, in 2020-21, council taxpayers across England effectively funded big developers to the tune of almost £2 billion. In St Albans district alone, the figure was a shocking £3.2 million.

At the same time, planning services up and down the country are operating on a shoestring. Funding cuts mean that in many cases, planning departments can no longer meet their legally binding time limits to determine applications.

What makes this even more outrageous is that developers themselves are telling me that they are happy to shoulder these fees if it gets them a better service.

It is painfully clear that scrapping the cap on the charges to be paid by big developers is in everyone's best interests.

Almost a year ago, I tabled an amendment to the government’s flagship Levelling Up Bill to scrap this cap. Since then, the Bill has been debated a number of times by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

As the two Houses haven’t been able to agree on the wording of the bill, they’ve sent the bill back and forth, responding to each other’s proposed changes. This process is known as ‘ping-pong’.

Despite my idea receiving cross-party support in the House of Lords, when it came back to the House of Commons this week, the government voted against it.

On a more positive note, the Government have at least recognised the problem. So whilst they still refuse to "scrap the cap" altogether, they are consulting on raising that cap.

With councils and taxpayers all feeling the pinch, this step is at least something in the right direction.