It has been an incredibly busy few weeks in Parliament, with the announcement of the UK Winter Plan for Covid-19, the Chancellor’s Spending Review, and the immediate plans for this week as we come out of the national lockdown measures.
As many readers will know, London now reverts to being in Tier 2. While this is disappointing, I think it is a proportionate response given the numbers we are still seeing across London. The Government have responded to criticisms of the previous tier system and have worked to strengthen each tier. In our case pubs and bars must now only remain open if they are operating as a restaurant.
Christmas this year will be uniquely different and sadly Covid-19 still presents a significant risk. Many families will not be able to celebrate as normal and some incredibly tough decisions are being made. However, I am very pleased that the UK Government have been able to reach an agreement with the devolved administrations in order to allow families to come together in as safe a way as possible. The measures we have in place in the run up to Christmas will only serve to strengthen this.
The Chancellor’s Spending Review was presented on the back of a very challenging economic context. We are set to borrow more than at any other point in peacetime history and the OBR have predicted the largest fall in economic output for more than 300 years. Despite this rather bleak outlook the Government have committed to investing in the UK’s recovery, spending £280 billion this coming year on the response. As a Conservative, none of this sits easily with me and these measures come at a serious cost. However, the IMF, OBR and Bank of England have all praised the economic response, recognising the cost of inaction to be far greater.
Given my background in Local Government, I made the case for greater support to Councils. Throughout this pandemic they have done a fantastic job in stepping up to the mark, providing a huge range of front-line services to some of the most vulnerable in our communities. As such I felt it was right that the Chancellor recognised this and committed a further £3 billion to councils. Local leaders know their communities better than anyone and so allowing them to target support in the way most appropriate for their community is the right thing to do.
First published: My Local News, December 2020