My Fellow Britons,
Every one of us now has our part to play in defeating coronavirus by taking steps to reduce its peak, ease the pressure on our NHS and protect thousands of vulnerable people. It’s only by determined, collective action, and scientific progress, that we can succeed in turning the tide against a deadly coronavirus.
To achieve this goal it’s absolutely vital that every single one of us follows the advice on social distancing. If we all do this, we will save many thousands of lives. I cannot emphasize enough what we all need to do: Stay at Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives.
The Coronavirus epidemic, like all crises, brings out both the best and worst of human nature.
Thousands of former health workers are volunteering to return to the National Health Service at its time of acute need. Neighbours and community groups work selflessly to ensure that our elderly and vulnerable have the food and goods essential for their wellbeing.
At the same time, some individuals are bulk buying goods which means others go short. Some people apparently think that the social distancing guidelines don’t apply to them. They are acting in an extremely irresponsible way which puts not only their wellbeing but others at extreme risk.
This is a health emergency, but it is also an economic emergency. We have told cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close as we need everyone to stop all non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.
Schools are closed to all children aside from those who are key workers and the Government has advised homework where ever possible. My Parliamentary office and my staff are working remotely on behalf of you.
Here’s what we are we doing to help save the economy
We are at the forefront of the effort to back business, to back our economy and to make sure that we get through this. I have spoken to many local businesses. I talked to pubs, hotels and the leisure industries who will experience the worst effects of coronavirus. I talked to everyone from the largest employer in East Midlands Airport and its associated businesses to those who are self-employed and fearful of what the next few weeks and months may hold. We want to help you. That is why the Chancellor has announced a combination of measures unprecedented for the government of this nation even in wartime.
We have taken unprecedented powers and effectively closed down a big chunk of our economy in the short term national interest. The powers taken should be time-limited and the support offered to our Free market enterprises is essential to sustain them so it can once again prosper and in return lift and sustain our country and economy when this virus is over.
Our Plan for Jobs and Incomes will protect jobs and will offer generous support to those who are unable to go to work and strengthen the safety net for the self-employed. All of these steps aim to help all of you to stay in your homes. We want to maintain our workforce ready for when the epidemic is over and rebuilding our economy can begin.
For the first time in our history, we will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages.
We are also deferring the next three months of VAT until the end of the financial year – an injection of over £30 billion of cash to businesses to help businesses pay people and keep them at work.
We are also acting so that, if the worst happens and people lose their jobs there is a stronger safety net to fall back on. We are increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months – that’s nearly £7 billion of extra support.
This is in addition to our assistance to businesses small and large – providing a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees. We are helping all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – meaning that none of these companies will have to pay business rates. We are providing grants to the smallest of businesses of £10,000 and we are supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding all eligible SSP costs.
Together, I know, we can beat this. Stay safe, stay at home, and save lives.