It feels a little like we’re beginning to get used to the ‘new normal’ here in Neath with the measures in place to try to slow the spread of the virus. However, it’s so important that we don’t slacken our efforts at all. The Government is still asking that we remain indoors, other than for shopping for essentials, one form of exercise daily, medical or care providing needs or essential work travel. You can find the full guidance here: Full guidance on staying at home and away from others.
While the pandemic continues, the Welsh Government is continuing to update their website with any new information – particularly on businesses, housing, and health – that you may need during this difficult time. You can find the website here. The Welsh Government have also this week announced a new Economic Resilience Fund, with loans available of between £5,000 and £250,000 to businesses that have been trading for more than two years. More information on the fund and how to apply can be found here.
It’s very important that with Parliament not sitting and the UK Government having to take critical decisions that impact our everyday life, that MPs are still able to scrutinise those decisions. I was pleased to join colleagues this week in calling on the Clerk of the House of Commons to help facilitate Parliamentary scrutiny digitally for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. So many businesses and industries are having to find creative ways to continue working from home with virtual meetings and conferences, and this week we’ve even seen the Senedd hold its first ever virtual sitting! There’s no reason why Parliament cannot innovate in this way. We are all keen to work to support the UK Government’s actions in fighting the pandemic, but it is right that those actions are properly scrutinised at this unprecedented time.
I know I say this every week, but I am constantly amazed by the hard work of all our NHS staff, teachers and other key workers who are keeping essential services running. This week I wanted to particularly thank our shopworkers, who are working amongst the public, despite concerns for their health and in difficult and often fraught circumstances. We must treat them with respect and gratitude and bear in mind that any frustrations we have about the difficulties we are all facing must not be taken out on them.
Self-isolation has brought with it a number of challenges – but it is particularly difficult for those people for whom home is not a safe place. Victims of domestic abuse may well have been forced to self-isolate with their abusers, with perhaps their only place of safety taken away as they are now working from home, rather than going out to a job. This week, to play my part in tackling domestic abuse, I joined the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse. We as employers are in a unique position to offer support to employees who may be affected and with the Employers’ Initiative’s help, we can put in place guidance that will offer a lifeline to so many. I know that businesses and employers are facing unprecedented change and difficulties, but I would encourage all employers in our Neath constituency and across Wales to join free to see what they can do to support their employees.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain available should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend and, remember – stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.