It is great to see the Prime Minister returned to full health and back at his Downing Street desk.
I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Boris Johnson and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, on the birth of their son, Wilfred.
Last week, in a joint letter with the other Gloucestershire MPs, I thanked all those across the county and country who had come together to support the NHS and enable our communities to keep going.
Thanks to the dedication of these people and all those who have been following the social distancing guidance, we have passed the peak of the virus and the NHS has coped with the demand – saving countless lives.
Over the next few days, the Prime Minister and Cabinet will review the current social restrictions, taking into account the latest scientific advice. I am expecting the Government to maintain a cautious approach, so as not to throw away all of the effort made by the British public to reduce the infection rate.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme online portal went live last week and has already processed millions of claims – helping businesses with the cost of wages and keeping people in jobs.
For those who are self-employed, HMRC will start contacting people this week who may be eligible to apply for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. You can also use the Government’s online checker to find out if you can make a claim.
And starting from this week, small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to access loans of up to £50,000 from accredited lenders. Thousands of small firms and sole traders – including High Street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – will be eligible for these 100% Government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through this difficult time.
You can find information and helpful links about the Government support packages on my website - markharper.org/coronavirus.
Lastly, I hope you will all join me in observing a two-minutes’ silence at 11am this Friday to reflect on the enormous sacrifice and courage of the Second World War generation, as we honour the 75th anniversary of VE Day.