There has been a positive response to my posting these updates so I will continue to do so. It is a chance for me to let you know what I am up to and for you to be able to raise any points that I may or may not have addressed.
As ever, please follow the government advice, stay at home and only travel for essential reasons. Further advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Yesterday the Government added much-needed changes to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
These changes are as follows:
- All viable small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 can now benefit (rather than just those that couldn’t access commercial finance)
- No personal guarantees for loans below £250k
- Personal guarantees for loans above the £250k limited to the 20% of the loan which isn’t guaranteed by the GOVT
- Operational changes to speed up the processing of applications, particularly for smaller loans
So if you have tried to apply for a loan and been rejected please give it another go. I continue to speak with local business across South Devon and have taken their concerns to the Treasury and BEIS Department teams.
I understand that further announcements relating to business rates and charities are due to be made by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP.
We need the next set of measures to help the charity sector and pick up those businesses and self-employed who have fallen through the gaps of previous measures.
It is harrowing to hear that those providing domiciliary care and adult social care are not receiving the PPE they need. The elderly and vulnerable must be protected. So PPE is essential for workers to be able to provide that care and support. On a conference call this morning I put forward further the case for improved measures to be put in place to support care workers across the country. I will remain in constant contact with local care groups.
I thank all those who have and continue to raise this issue as it provides me with evidence and greater weight for my argument.
But I am ultimately desperately sorry to be having to argue for it in the first instance.
Second Home Owners and Tourists
I am unsure why I have to remind people that if they have travelled down to South Devon (which certainly did not count as essential travel) that they must remain at home and only leave for essential reasons. I have raised this matter with the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, Alex Burghart MP. It is quite frankly unacceptable to put other lives at risk and I ask for people to take responsibility for their actions. I have spoken to local law enforcement about how we can enforce this message.
I recognise that plenty of businesses are feeling left out and the government is trying to do its best to reach all those who have been badly impacted by COVID-19. Two such sectors are that of the fishing industry and on-the-water businesses. I have had significant conversations with both sectors over the last 24 hours and I am pushing Local Authorities and government to provide levels of support to see them survive this period.
This evening I will be speaking with Victoria Prentis MP, Minister for Fisheries about the fishing sector and over the weekend I will be speaking to a Minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Beyond these two areas, we need more support for rural and coastal communities.
A number of you have been in touch with me regarding this and I am working really closely with the Foreign Office and British Embassies and High Commissions around the world to bring home UK citizens stranded abroad. We are making slow but steady progress. One of the reasons it is taking so long is because of the huge number of British citizens abroad. If you know or have a loved one, abroad then please ask them to follow the FCO advice:
Now for something else:
On a totally different topic but no less important, I took time last night to host the first of my climate change roundtable meetings. Of course, we took the precaution not to meet but to use video-conference technology.
Our discussion covered a whole range of issues, including local and national climate changes, future climate impact and how we can encourage individuals, businesses and government to work together. On the conference call, we had Peter Cox, Tim Ferry, Roger English and Helen Millman each of whom offered their own experience and expertise to the climate discussion.
We have agreed to continue these meetings and will be expanding them further to include new members and experts.
Rail and Bus Links
Improved infrastructure is desperately needed across the South West. I was delighted to take part in a conference call with Kevin Foster MP and the Minister for Transport Chris Heaton-Harris MP about how we can utilise our rail links across Torbay and South Hams. We have some great opportunities to do so and I will be working with local groups to unlock that potential.
Bus links are more important than ever and the government has provided further funding to ensure that no bus route is reduced during this critical time. Speaking to TallyHo, Stagecoach and others I am keen to explore how we can expand our routes not reduce.
That’s all from me for now but please do email if I can be of any help. I can be reached on Anthony.firstname.lastname@example.org