It is now over a week since the country was told to stay at home, to save lives and protect the NHS, and I am thankful that people are following that advice and playing their part in tackling this virus.
As with all MPs right now, the work continues by my team and I to help constituents from our living rooms. We have had over one thousand queries in the last thirty days. Each day we have a team video conference to go through the most troubling and urgent issues. We have constituents stranded in countries such as India, Australia and Ecuador that we are helping to bring back, constituents looking for help accessing the Government business support programs and we have vulnerable constituents seeking help with access to food and medicine.
Among the letters of hardship and worry, however, have been heartening messages of hope and gratitude that their jobs have been secured by the Job Retention Scheme, or their business income has been supported. I am pleased that South Kesteven District Council this week received a £32m boost in funds from the Government to provide grants for many of the smallest businesses in our community.
However, while most of us are working from home or ‘furloughed’, we must not forget that there is a small army of people in our community who are still going to work, for us. They are collecting our bins, nursing our sick and delivering our shopping. These key workers, some of whom we are relying on the most right now, often take home the least pay.
That is why I am pleased that the Government has this week decided to proceed with increases to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage, effective immediately. It is not just enough to be grateful; it’s time to give these workers a pay rise.
We will get through this crisis, and when we do it is important that we are able to look back and know that workers received due recognition and a fair wage to reflect their value in our economy, especially when we needed them most.