Last Thursday in the House of Commons, during the debate on financial priorities for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, I pressed for fairer funding, and proper recognition, for us here in West Dorset. While a huge number of jobs and businesses have been protected so far across the constituency, with £56m already paid in business grants and relief, I’m aware there is much more to do, as local economies face a tough time ahead and much needed reform being required for sectors such as social care in particular.

I welcome the Government’s latest £30 billion ‘Plan for Jobs’, through investing in infrastructure, training and apprenticeships. However, in response to the Chancellor’s announcement on stamp duty, I spoke firmly in Parliament last week against large housing developments; such as the 3,500 houses in the ‘Norchester’ development; planned to the north of Dorchester. Rural economies are not well served by building enormous new housing estates such as these, which quash the economic potential for our villages. I believe we need new homes at the heart of our communities, not on the outer edges of them.

Registration has now opened for pubs, restaurants and cafés to sign up to the Chancellor’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative. This coincides with a temporary reduction in VAT to five percent for the hospitality and tourism sector. I hope these two measures, combined with local initiatives like Dorchester’s ‘LoveDorch’ campaign, will help revive some of our hardest-hit and businesses.

I’m advised by Public Health Dorset that there is tentative good news, with no deaths from coronavirus in Dorset hospitals for the past four weeks. Now more than ever, with businesses and leisure activities open for business, we must take care of ourselves, while following Government guidelines, and safely get back to normal as best we can.