My article in today's Wakefield Express:
These unprecedented times called for extraordinary measures, and the Government has stepped up to the challenge to support our economy and our businesses in a very difficult time. Within the Morley and Outwood area alone, the Job Retention Furlough Scheme has protected 14,600 jobs, self-employed people have received £10,400,000 in support, small companies have accessed £39,312,969 of Bounce Back Loans to help them stay afloat, and there have been £15,474,961.00 of business grants paid out.
When the Chancellor and Prime Minister announced in March that they would do “whatever it takes” to protect people’s jobs, they really meant it. Of course, shutting down our economy for a prolonged time has an impact, and this challenge has affected many jobs and businesses, but already we have seen strong growth as the lockdown has begun to lift. I have high hopes that if we continue to maintain social distancing and follow the guidelines, including wearing masks where necessary, Britain’s economy will bounce back better than ever before.
Like many local residents, I have enjoyed making use of the Government’s ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ Scheme, which gives customers 50% off their meal with registered businesses. In the first three days of this programme, nearly 11 million meals were discounted, helping the pockets of ordinary people but also helping to support the hospitality industry that has mostly remained closed during the lockdown. This is a great way to protect jobs, promote a return to near-normality, and fuel our economic recovery. I encourage everybody to check out your local participating restaurants by visiting: www.tax.service.gov.uk/eat-out-to-help-out/find-a-restaurant
Despite this international crisis, the Government is committed to its agenda of investing in our public services and levelling up across the UK. I have always pushed to crack down on crime and be tougher on criminals, and welcome the recent announcement that already West Yorkshire has 222 more police officers than September 2019. We have seen the largest annual increase in officer numbers since 2003-04 and police pay is rising by 2.5% this year, which I know will go a long way to both increasing the strength of our police forces, and rewarding those who put themselves between hardworking taxpayers and criminal forces.
Recently, local people have raised their concerns about the number of illegal migrants trying to reach Dover on small boats from France. Crooked criminal organisations are exploiting these desperate people, putting their lives to risk and trying to cross our border illegally and to avoid any control. I am pleased that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are committed to tackling this issue.
This is a complex and extremely challenging issue. Crossing the Channel is extremely dangerous, and no one wants to see loss of life or a tragedy occur, particularly when there are children on the boats. The key to addressing the issue lies in close cooperation with the French, working to discourage migrants from travelling in the first place, and disrupting organised criminals.
Finally, I would like to remind residents of Morley & Outwood that if you have an issue that I might be able to help with, please do not hesitate to contact me via: Andrea.Jenkyns.MP@Parliament.UK