Anne Marie's Weekly Column - Covid-19 Update

New Deal for Britain

The Prime Minister last week set out his ‘New Deal’, an ambitious economic strategy to rebuild Britain, putting jobs, skills and infrastructure investment at the heart of our economic recovery post-coronavirus and delivering on our manifesto pledges to level up the entire country. The priorities will be building homes, fixing the NHS, tackling our skills crisis, and mending the gaps in opportunity, productivity, and connectivity between the regions of the UK.

£5 billion will be invested in projects that support jobs and the country’s economic recovery. This includes £1.5 billion towards hospital maintenance to improve patient care and ensure NHS hospitals can continue to deliver world-leading services. An Opportunity Guarantee is being made for young people so that they can be assured they will have access to work or training. It is important that we stop the economic impact of coronavirus hurting the life chances of the next generation irreparably.

A major new support package to help councils’ responses to coronavirus was also announced last week. Councils in England will receive a further £500 million to respond to funding pressures. The funding in not ringfenced so local areas can decide how best to spend the money in response to the needs in their communities.

Investing in Schools

£1 billion is going towards funding the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21. I was delighted to see Kenton Primary School be named as one of the first recipients of this funding. As we exit the lockdown, we must focus on getting children back to school and ensuring schools are well-equipped for their students. I will be supporting schools where I can to see more in the local area benefit from the funding in future spending rounds.

The safety and wellbeing of every single child and their teachers continues to be the Government’s absolute top priority and last week detailed guidance was laid out for all schools in preparation for a full return to teaching in September. The coronavirus has resulted in all children missing out on their normal educational experience. As we see signs of the virus retreating, it is vital we plan for return of the traditional education our children need.

Investing in Roads

As a part of the Prime Minister’s £5 billion infrastructure investments, the A380 Teign Viaduct has been given the green light to proceed. The A380 Teign Viaduct will receive £5 million from the Government, along with £137,000 of local funding to proceed. It is one of 29 road projects which are receiving a share of £100 million, as part of the Government’s plans to reignite local economies, connect communities and speed up the recovery as lockdown eases. I am delighted that Newton Abbot will be one of the first beneficiaries of the Prime Minister’s New Deal for Britain. Upgrading the A380 will bring huge benefits to our local area, alleviating traffic problems, reducing congestion, pollution and better connecting our community with the rest of the country.

Flexible Furlough

The Government’s top priority has always been to support people, protect jobs and businesses through this crisis, and the furlough and self-employment schemes have been a lifeline for millions of people and businesses across the country. Last week, the flexible furlough scheme was rolled out across the UK – providing businesses with the flexibility to gradually and safely reopen their doors. Businesses can now bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis, while the government continues to support their employees, paying 80 per cent of their salaries for the hours they do not work. Now that our energies are focussed on getting people back to work safely, this will allow businesses to gradually bring their staff back while keeping pace with the reopening of our economy.

My next phone-in surgery will be Friday 17th July at 2-3pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.