Since I last wrote regarding the Coronovirus, events have moved on significantly. Every one of us now has our part to play in defeating this virus in taking steps to reduce its peak, easing the pressure on our NHS and protecting thousands of vulnerable people.
Across the nation people are already taking the necessary steps, based on the scientific advice, to help us prevent the spread of the virus. It’s by this combination of ruthless, determined, collective action, and scientific progress, that we’re already seeing that we will succeed and start to turn the tide within the next 12 weeks.
To achieve this goal it’s absolutely vital that every single one of us follows the advice we are given. If we all do this, we will save many thousands of lives. I cannot empathise enough that we need to: Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
The Corona virus epidemic like all crisis brings out both the best and worst of human nature. Witnessed by thousands of former health workers volunteering to return to the National Health Service at its time of acute need, neighbours and community groups working selflessly to ensure that our elderly and vulnerable have the food and goods essential for their wellbeing, while at the same time we see other individuals bulk buying goods and causing unnecessary temporary shortages which mean others go short and some apparently thinking that the social distancing guidelines don’t apply to them and acting in an extremely irresponsible way which puts not only their wellbeing but others at risk.
We are at the forefront of the effort to back business, to back our economy and to make sure that we get through this. I have spoken to many local businesses especially pubs, hotels and the leisure industries who will suffer the worst effects of these essential measures from our districts largest employer in East Midlands Airport and its associated businesses to those who are self employed and fearful of what the next few weeks and months may hold. That is why the Chancellor has announced a combination of measures unprecedented for a government of this nation even in wartime.
Our Plan for Jobs and Incomes, will protect people’s jobs; offer more generous support to those who are unable to go to work and strengthen the safety net for the self-employed; all of this is aimed help people stay in their homes and maintain our workforce ready for when the epidemic is over and rebuilding our economy can begin.
The Government is standing behind all employers – and we are asking that they do their bit and stand behind their workers. For the first time in our history we will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages.
We are also deferring the next three months of VAT until the end of the financial year – an injection of over £30 billion of cash to businesses to help businesses pay people and keep them in work.
We are also acting so that, if the worst happens and people lose their jobs there is a stronger safety net to fall back on. So we are increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months – that’s nearly £7 billion of extra support.
This is in addition to our assistance to businesses small and large – providing a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees, Helping all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – meaning that none of these companies will have to pay business rates, Providing grants to the smallest of businesses of £10,000 and Supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding all eligible SSP costs.
We will ensure people get the support they need to do the right thing, to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.
The Government is doing all it can to support you and your family through these unprecedented times, I ask that you do all you can to help our nation beat this deadly virus as quickly as possible and in so doing ease the burden on our NHS and it’s dedicated staff of whom we will be asking so much in the weeks ahead.
Our Government has taken unprecedented powers and effectively closed down a big chunk of our economy in the short term national interest. The powers taken should be time limited and the support offered to our Free market enterprises is essential to sustain them so it can once again prosper and in return lift and sustain our country and economy when this virus is over.