I know it is beginning to drag on, but I urge everyone to continue to support the lockdown to protect the NHS. I know you all join me paying tribute to all those who work in the NHS and supporting organisations, care homes, emergency services and all key workers. Keeping to the lockdown is our way of supporting them.
For all of us this has been a bizarre and unimaginable time. If you are able to continue to work or are on furlough then it is strange, but not unbearable. However, for many people their income stopped literally overnight, and they have found themselves facing financial difficulties they had not expected nor prepared for.
I welcome the massive support package offered by the Government to support families and businesses through this period. However, there are many groups of people who fall through the cracks of the support on offer and I have been lobbying the Government to help these people.
For many, they have been in work and paying taxes all their adult lives and now, when they need support, they find they are left on the sidelines. Having discussed it with other MPs, it is clear that there are people all over the country in the same boat.
This may be because they’re small business owners who pay themselves via dividends rather than PAYE or because they just happen to be starting a new job or business at this moment or their business doesn’t pay business rates through some anomaly where their landlord pays.
The shutdown has impacted other families as well. Some with family members stuck abroad, others who are in the process of moving to a new house and others whose medical treatments and operations have been cancelled.
I have been contacting Ministers on a daily basis to try to help all these people and I will continue to do so.
I have also been keeping in contact with Dacorum Borough Council who have been working on getting the support to businesses as fast as they can.
For many, lockdown has been a lonely, isolating and frightening experience. Fortunately, we have many organisations locally that are helping out. I cannot mention them all here, but I do pay tribute to the hard-working council staff, HertsHelp, Citizens Advice, Dacorum Community Trust, DENS and Age UK Dacorum – all of whom have been able to help people who have come to me for help.
If you need help, my office continues to function and you can phone or email me as usual (without the £10k allowance incidentally).
Finally, I was delighted to be able to help Age UK Dacorum by delivering Easter eggs to their clients – the Easter eggs were kindly donated by Aldi and the Food Bank (via TK Maxx and Debenhams). I was helped by my wife Angie so we were able to work together without breaking social distancing rules.
Photo: Sir Mike Penning MP with Melanie Clarke, Operations Manager of Age UK.