Wigan Observer Column - The Coronavirus Budget

My views on government measures to address Coronavirus


The Coronavirus has had an impact and is having a continuing impact upon the entire world. Nations across the world are grappling with an increasing sense of urgency to tackle this epidemic with a careful and measured response. Therefore, I was pleased to see that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, took the decision to commit whatever resource needed to help reduce the impact of the coronavirus. No matter the cost, the government will continue to provide the NHS and other healthcare providers with the resources they need, including for our own local health services across my constituency and the wider area, to ensure they are able to cope with the demands locally. The UK is one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for this new virus, and the NHS stands ready to step up to the challenge in dealing with its impact.

Appropriate steps will be taken to help protect everyone at risk by limiting mass gatherings, alongside keeping individuals in isolation when deemed appropriate by public health professionals. The Government is working to ensure that all those who have been advised to self-isolate will have sick pay given to them, irrespective of any obvious symptoms, which will be made available through emergency legislation from day one of an individual’s isolation. In addition, the Chancellor has pledged to refund businesses with fewer than 250 employees for up to 14 days, which will ensure that businesses and employees are financially protected. The Government will also provide regular updates through daily briefings to reflect changing circumstances and any new information.

During the budget, the Chancellor also set out how the British economy is continuing to perform well. I understand that there are some concerns about a global recession because of coronavirus but I am pleased that steps are being taken to mitigate as much as possible the economic challenges this virus has created. I am incredibly pleased with the wider commitments to keeps costs down for people and businesses, such as a freeze in fuel and alcohol duties, alongside abolishing business rates altogether for many small businesses. While the rest of Europe is facing economic uncertainty and a downturn in their economies, the UK is continuing to show economic growth.

While long-term transport projects such as HS2 are going ahead, I am pleased that other local Conservative voices, such as James Grundy MP, are continuing to deliver for local people by putting a stop to the unnecessary Goulburn spur. We need to make the continued case for the North to ensure we receive our fair share of investment for our own local transport needs. Expanding capacity and increasing the efficiency of transport in the North West of England will ensure that my constituents have access to reliable public transport and provide confidence for businesses to invest in the region.

The Government has also continued to show its commitment for our research and development sector. Investment in this area is crucial to improving our ability to find the solutions to global challenges such as coronavirus. Continuing to invest in this sector will provide the boost it needs for the next generation of engineers, scientists and researchers, to keep the UK as an attractive destination for both domestic and international investment from business. In conjunction with our commitments to boost our transport infrastructure, this wide-reaching investment agenda will create the framework to generate the high skilled jobs of the future.

This Government is committed to delivering for the whole country and our programme of wide-reaching investment provides the foundations for delivering confidence and prosperity both locally and for the North of England.