I know many people have written to me worried about the second wave of COVID-19, which to my mind we have now entered. From this week the Government has put in place further measures, not ones that any of us would want, but that we recognise are necessary as cases rise again. As we saw with the small rise in cases in Melton too, people in our community are taking the right steps, and I am proud to represent a constituency that has responded so robustly and where we now once again see low numbers of cases.
The Government fully understands that the new restrictions are tough for individuals and for their livelihoods. That is why I have been pushing for more support, and why the Chancellor announced a new package of measures on Thursday. An important element of this package is £500 for low-income people who have to self-isolate and who cannot work from home. This payment will be available to just about 4 million people across the UK.
The Government has also introduced a comprehensive Winter Economy Plan that will support jobs during the difficult months ahead. A job support scheme will be in place by 1 November, where the Government will pay up to a third of workers’ salaries. This scheme is open to every small and medium sized business in the UK, as well as those large businesses who have seen their support drop due to COVID-19. The Government will also continue to support self-employed people, through an extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant. The VAT cut on hospitality and tourism will be extended and businesses have been given more flexible terms for their Bounce Back Loans. This is particularly important for us locally.
The Government is committed to fighting this virus, and that means the UK will do what is necessary to protect businesses, jobs and communities up and down the country. I am proud the Government has responded throughout this pandemic with one of the most comprehensive and supportive packages in the world.
I also want to say a few words regarding the Financial Conduct Authority’s insurance case, which concluded in the High Court last week. Many businesses have found that they can now claim insurance on their policies, something previously denied them by insurance companies at the beginning of the pandemic. If you are one of these businesses, please get in touch, as my team can help you navigate the new ruling, as well as making a late claim – we’ve been helping businesses locally already.
I have also heard of a number of businesses being told that they have no claim because of the government grants they received. Ministers have been clear: this is a poor interpretation of the current rules, and insurance companies should treat their clients much better. If you are having any of the above difficulties, please let my office know and we will advocate on your behalf in government and to the insurance companies.
Speaking of advocacy, I am also extremely happy that my campaign for partners to support loved ones during pregnancy has been going very well, and that over half of the NHS Trusts across the country who I urged to change their policies have now listened to the voices of pregnant women and almost a hundred MPs by lifting restrictions on who can be with women during some of their most nerve-wracking, exciting and life-changing moments. However, more still needs to be done, and I will keep fighting.
As a country, we will also keep pushing to make sure more of our landscape is protected, and it is something to which this Conservative government is absolutely committed. Melton and Rutland have beautiful landscapes, from the Vale of Belvoir to Rutland Water. That is why I am delighted that the Government will protect an extra 400,000 hectares of our countryside. This will protect our biodiversity and our precious landscapes, help draw tourism and investment, and keep our communities beautiful. I am extremely pleased by this announcement, and it builds on this Government’s continued commitment to lowering emissions and tackling climate change.
It is also a good reminder that, while taking the necessary steps to battle the pandemic, this Government is committed to delivering on the priorities set out in the manifesto, and I will continue to push that our promises are fulfilled.