At the beginning of the lockdown, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said the Government would support jobs, incomes, businesses and do whatever it took to get people and the economy through the coronavirus pandemic. And he has delivered on his promises.
A wide range of support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, £1.25 billion in support for innovative firms, and a bounce-back loan scheme of up to £50,000 for small businesses, has been introduced by our colleagues in central government and delivered by us in local government.
“A wide range of support has been introduced by central government and delivered by local government”
As we begin to move to the recovery stage, the Government recently made another welcome announcement: a new £50 million fund for local authorities to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces.
This funding will assist councils to provide various safety measures including signs, street marking and temporary barriers, helping to get local economies going again.
In addition, as more businesses start to reopen and people go back to work, a £2 billion fund has been launched to develop cycling and walking infrastructure across the country.
This investment will hopefully make it easier for people to avoid public transport during the current restrictions while also leaving a more long-term legacy by encouraging people to commute to work in ways that are both more environmentally friendly and beneficial to their health and wellbeing.
Finally, in this edition of first I would usually be previewing the many exciting events and meetings taking place at our annual conference.
Sadly, this year’s physical event has been cancelled. But the LGA is running a virtual annual conference during June and July that will focus on how local areas can support economic, cultural and environmental regeneration and recovery during and beyond the pandemic.
The conference will feature a range of speakers from national and local government, including our Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP (see www.local.gov.uk/lga-annual-conference-webinars). I look forward to seeing you there.