We must all stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from COVID-19 but from other illnesses as well.
The Government knows that these social restrictions are disrupting people’s lives and jobs, and that’s why the Treasury has produced a huge programme of support for workers and businesses.
For the first time in our history – the Government will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month.
I am very pleased that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping 95 per cent of our country’s self-employed workers.
I have pressed the Government for such a package on numerous occasions in Parliament recently. As someone who was self-employed before being elected as your MP in 2005, I know how important it is for self-employed people to get the support they need during difficult times.
Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months and will be extended for longer if necessary. This is unlike almost any other country and makes this Government’s scheme one of the most generous in the world.
I am also pleased that the Chancellor has taken action to bolster the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This follows concerns about the accessibility of the scheme which I raised with Ministers on behalf of some businesses in the Forest of Dean.
I know that this continues to be an exceptionally difficult time for our families, friends and those in the local community that are most vulnerable to the virus.
The Government continues to follow the scientific advice closely, introducing and reviewing measures as and when it will be most effective.
The review of the current movement restrictions will take place next week, but since this is due to coincide with the period of highest hospital admissions and, sadly, deaths we should prepare to have to observe strict guidelines about staying at home for a further period of time.
The next couple of weeks will be the most difficult yet, as hospital admissions and deaths rise, however our local NHS is working round the clock to make sure that Gloucestershire is prepared for when the worst comes.
Myself and my fellow MPs across Gloucestershire are on regular conference calls with Gloucestershire’s NHS & County leaders and are impressed with the measures they have taken to make sure the county is prepared and their efforts to ensure that NHS and other healthcare workers such as those performing important work in the social care sector have the equipment they need to keep themselves safe.
On behalf of all six Gloucestershire MPs, it has been my job to make sure that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock understands what our local health & social care workers need to keep safe and to raise supply concerns from our local NHS directly with him.
I also spoke to Gloucestershire’s Chief Constable and the Constabulary’s senior leadership team last week, with my colleagues, to make sure that they had all the support they needed from the Government. So far, they are doing a good job in policing the new guidance and enforcing the law ensuring they do so with the consent of the public in line with our policing traditions.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who is following Government guidance, to those volunteering to help our community, and especially those serving as key workers.
My office team and I will continue to work hard to deal with constituents’ enquiries as quickly as possible.
To help constituents navigate the Government guidance and the support packages available, I’ve pulled useful links together on my website. You can find this information by clicking HERE.