Yesterday the MP for Fareham Suella Braverman supported the Government in the vote on an autumn lockdown. The second coronavirus peak that we have seen around the world has shown us all that we are going to be dealing with the coronavirus for the long-term.
Models of Government scientists suggest that unless we act now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or more compared with the first wave. Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level.
The Conservative Government hoped it could manage the situation with a regional system of alert levels and allow as many people to live as normal a life as possible. That’s because a national lockdown is not cost-free - not only in terms of jobs, businesses, and livelihoods, but also the impact on mental health and loneliness. Suella Braverman withholds that it was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level, with strong local action and strong local leadership.
Yesterday (Wednesday 4th November), from Thursday 5 November until the start of December, new national restrictions were enshrined in law and will expire after four weeks. Any further national restrictions will need to be voted on after the end of this four-week period. Advice shows that this four-week period will bring R below 1. At the end of four weeks, on Wednesday 2nd December, the Government will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.
The overrunning of the NHS would be a medical and moral disaster beyond the raw loss of life. The huge exponential growth in the number of patients – by no means all of them elderly – would mean that doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who could get oxygen and who could not; who would live and who would die; and they would be forced to choose between saving COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients. The sheer weight of COVID-19 demand would mean depriving tens of thousands - if not many more non- COVID-19 patients of the care they need. The Government has also announced that it will provide extra economic support, in order to help businesses, including those in Fareham weather the crisis:
• Extending furlough until 2 December. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – known as the furlough scheme – will be extended until the end of November to cover the new restrictions with employees receiving 80 per cent of their current salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month. Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time.
• Providing more support for self-employed people. The Government will provide even more generous support to the self-employed by increasing the support to the selfemployed from 40 per cent of trading profits to 80 per cent for November. These grants are calculated over three months, meaning the maximum grant will increase to £5,160. This is £4.5 billion of support to the self-employed through November to January alone, with a further grant to follow covering February to April. This comes on top of £13 billion of support provided to between 2.5 million and 3 million selfemployed people so far, one of the most comprehensive and generous support packages for the self-employed anywhere in the world.
• Extending the application deadline for loan guarantee schemes – that is, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme – to the end of January 2021. This will give businesses two extra months to make loan applications (relative to the current deadline of 30 November).
• Adjusting the Bounce Back Loan Scheme rules to allow those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (i.e. less than 25 per cent of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan. Businesses will be able to take-up this option from next week; they can make use of this option once. The Government understands that some businesses did not anticipate the disruption to their business from the pandemic would go on for this long; this will ensure that they are able to benefit from the loan scheme as intended.
• Extending mortgage holidays. Mortgage holiday will be extended to reassure homeowners. These were due to end on 31 October, but borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.
• Supporting businesses forced to close. Business premises which are legally forced to close to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month in England. This is worth over £1 billion a month with the new restrictions in place and will benefit over 600,000 business premises.
• Providing additional support for local authorities. £1.1 billion will also be provided to Local Authorities to enable them to support businesses which are not forced to close but are facing reduced demand due to the new national restrictions.
Commenting Suella Braverman said:
"Yesterday I supported the Government in its bid to save lives through the introduction of a limited lockdown. Such a step is necessary if we wish to protect our loved ones. However, I am optimistic that this will feel different and better by the spring. We have ever better medicine and therapies, and the realistic hope of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year. We now have the immediate prospect of using many millions of cheap, reliable and above all rapid turnaround tests, that you can use yourself to tell whether or not you are infectious within 10 to 15 minutes.
I want to firmly reiterate that the country will get through this – but we must act now to contain this autumn surge. We are not going back to the full-scale lockdown of March and April - it is less prohibitive and less restrictive. Our priority remains keeping people in education. Childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. However, from Thursday until the 2nd of December the basic message is the same: stay at home; protect the NHS; and save lives.”