Thank you for contacting me with regards to the recent announcement from the Prime Minister regarding the new national restrictions coming into effect on Thursday 5th November (if passed by a Parliamentary vote).
I am incredibly disappointed with the Prime Minister’s decision to introduce new restrictions across England yesterday as I have been an ardent supporter of the Government’s regional approach. Hastings and Rye is not experiencing a high infection rate and I felt it was sensible to keep as much of our country and local economies working as far as possible where rates were low.
But I accept the Prime Ministers decision, and will therefore be voting in support of these new national restrictions. It appears from separate reports that the virus is progressing at a more aggressive rate than the forecasts of a few weeks ago suggested. The devolved nations (and many countries in Europe) are in lockdown and as the Prime Minister has always made clear, we must be flexible in our response to this virus in order to protect our short and long-term health and our economy. If we do not introduce these new measures now, the NHS will be overwhelmed and having visited the Conquest on Friday, the commitment, care and bravery of our NHS staff to gear up and look after us is humbling. They risk themselves on the ‘frontline’ for our benefit. We owe them to do whatever we can to ensure that they are not overwhelmed.
These new national restrictions are not as severe as the first one; schools and universities will remain open, we can exercise outdoors and people who are high risk are not required to shield, though they are strongly encouraged to take all practical precautions.
I am deeply concerned about local jobs and businesses, especially our retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and I will be lobbying the Government for financial support. I am pleased that the Chancellor has already confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended through the month of November covering 80% of employees’ wages. Furthermore, I was pleased to see that mortgage holidays will also be extended. Further to this, businesses will be able to access loans and grants if they are being forced to close down through this four week period.
I know there has also been growing concern for the support to the self-employed. Earlier today (2 November) the Chancellor confirmed that the support to the self-employed will increase from 40% to 80% of profitable income through the month of November.
I will of course continue to ensure that all businesses and employees are supported as much as possible through this challenging period, but I hope these latest measures go some way to offer reassurance and support to businesses.
We must remember that we are in a better place than we were last time; we know more about the virus, we have better treatments, more doctors and nurses, more testing and we are getting closer to a vaccine. We have incredible community groups already up and running and I know that our caring community of Hastings and Rye will once again pull together in mutual aid and comfort in these trying times. We have got through this before and we will do so again.
Thank you for contacting me on this important issue.