6 June 2020
Jesse’s Hereford Times Column: My postbag full of anger and indignation

For me at least, this has been a week in which the gap between public and media furore and the reality of work on the ground has rarely been greater.

It will come as no surprise that I have had a full post bag of emails full of anger and indignation about Dominic Cummings.

I have barely met Mr Cummings, and do not come to this issue with an axe to grind either way.

Though I do not agree with his reading of the lockdown rules, I can understand how someone could take a different view, especially given all the stress of the moment.

I would feel the same way about a constituent who found themselves in a similar position.

It has never been my practice to pass judgement on others in politics, whatever their party or views, and I do not propose to start now.

Even before this, however, the past few days have been extraordinarily busy.

On the Treasury side, our goal has remained threefold: to support businesses and jobs in the face of the coronavirus, to stave off a prolonged recession and to plan for recovery.

On item one, we have extended and tweaked the furlough scheme to include part-time working and smooth the transition back to employment.

For the self-employed, we have extended the SE income support scheme.

And we have launched the coronavirus statutory sick pay scheme for companies that need it.

Of course, not all businesses will be able to open their doors at the same time. That is why we have extended the furlough scheme, making it both as flexible and as inclusive as possible.

From July 1, local businesses will have complete control to decide on the arrangements they need to get their workers back in action.

This flexibility should mean that businesses can gradually reopen in accordance with local needs and circumstances, while making sure that jobs are protected.

The furlough scheme will allow businesses to open at their own pace, whilst protecting their workers.

And there are local glimmers too amidst the gloom.

I zoomed in to the very useful first meeting of the Hereford Town Board, which is coordinating our bid for up to £25 million in regeneration funding we qualified for last year.

And I got a letter from the Department of Transport to say our Pontrilas Parkway Station bid is through to the next stage. Yay!