James Heappey weekly column

Across the country, the effects of coronavirus have been felt in economic terms, as well as in public health.

The furlough scheme has protected tens of thousands of jobs, including 13,600 in the Wells constituency and I know it has brought financial relief to many. As well as this, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, business grants and bounce back loans have allowed businesses to begin to reopen in a Covid-secure way and I have seen first-hand how much effort businesses have put in to keep us all safe.

It is clear the tax payer cannot continue to pay people’s wages forever. That is why this week, the Chancellor has put together a host of interim economic measures to kick start the economy ahead of the budget in the Autumn.

The Treasury is focused on creating more jobs for those who have found themselves in difficulty as a result of these challenging times – including so many young people - and it is so important businesses have the confidence to retain and create work for employees, something these plans will ensure.

I am pleased to see such decisive action from the Government and, in particular, the £1.6billion package of loans and grants for the arts and heritage sector, which was announced at the weekend, which will secure jobs in industries we are so proud of in this country.

There is no doubt there are still difficult times ahead – both economically and with the virus still in circulation. But the Government is right to have a jobs-focused plan to get our country back up and running, while continuing to suppress the virus.