Almost seven months ago, an enormous honour was bestowed upon me: I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West. I am thankful every day for the opportunity that I have been given to serve my country again.
As a community, I know that we have been through a lot this year, and that more challenges are ahead of us. In this time, I have been working hard with the local government and health authorities, charities, and businesses to ensure that our great city can emerge from this virus as strong as possible. I also want to thank all of those who have stepped up and served their community.
Having suffered from Covid-19 earlier in the year, I know the extreme disruption that Covid-19 has caused. As the rate of infection continues to fall, I am glad that more sectors of our economy can start to re-open and that I am able to get out and about in Wolverhampton again – including to get my haircut!
I also know that this virus has adversely impacted some sectors of our economy and some groups in our society more than others. This includes the hospitality, retail, and leisure sectors in which many young people work. I welcome measures that the Government has introduced to support these sectors, and I want to encourage as many people as possible to support our local shops and trades. They rely on all of our support.
I also welcome the financial assistance that the Chancellor unveiled in his Summer Economic Update last week. There, the Chancellor set out a three-point plan for jobs: to support people finding jobs; to create new jobs through investing in housing and infrastructure; and to protect jobs by revitalising hard-hit sectors on which many jobs depend.
This includes a new policy to reward and incentivise employers who successfully bring furloughed staff back into work, a new ‘Kickstart Scheme’ which will directly pay employers that create new jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment, doubling work coaches in job centres, VAT cuts, and the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. This will support over 129,000 hospitality businesses and will reimburse establishments for discounts they pass on to diners. Diners will be able to get 50% off meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, at participating restaurants, bars, and cafes when they eat in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August.
As our economy begins to recover, we must also seek opportunities to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions. I have been in conversation with constituents on how we might be able to do this on a local level, and I am pushing the Government for more information on its plans on this important issue.
For starters, I welcome the £3 billion green investment package that the Chancellor has announced. It could help to support around 140,000 green jobs and reduce emissions by upgrading buildings. This is part of the Chancellor’s pledge to deliver “a green recovery.”
To pay for green improvements such as loft, wall, and floor insultation, I am also pleased that homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for vouchers from a £2 billion ‘Green Homes Grant’ scheme. This could help households to save hundreds of pounds a year on energy bills and create jobs for tradespeople. A £1 billion programme will also help cut carbon emissions from public buildings such as schools and hospitals.
The recovery from Covid-19 will take years, not just months. I remain committed to helping all constituents throughout, both now and in the future.