Since my last column, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has delivered his budget for the year ahead.
The economic cost of the pandemic is yet to be entirely clear, but the Government have stepped in at every stage to support as many local jobs here in Stockport as possible.
That is why I am pleased that the Budget has delivered on some of my priorities for the Hazel Grove constituency. With the furlough scheme extended until September, and a new ‘Restart’ grant scheme for up to £6,000 per premises to support businesses as they open, and £18,000 for hospitality, gyms and salons, has been set up. Alongside this, business rate holidays will stay in place until June, and then rates will be discounted by two-thirds. In addition, the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift has been extended for six months.
‘Building Back Better’ means that the government have a clear focus on jobs, education, retraining and supporting people back into employment. People are facing challenges in the labour market and we know that the jobs market for young people has been especially hit by the effects of coronavirus. This is why the Government has developed ‘Our Plan for Jobs’, which includes measures to encourage businesses to take on younger staff, through the Apprentice Bonus and Kickstart schemes. As a local Member of Parliament, I am already working with local businesses in our area to ensure that they able to take advantage of these schemes.
As we begin to unlock our economy and society after the COVID-19 pandemic, we should continue to support our local independent shops that have been a lifeline for many of us over the last year. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our district centres, and now more than ever, they need our support to survive.