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, I’m aware there is much more to do, with local economies facing a tough time ahead and much needed reform required for sectors such as social care in particular.

The value of grants and relief awarded to local businesses in West Dorset amounts to some £56 million but we must now work hard to revive local economies. Therefore, I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a £30 billion ‘Plan for Jobs’; creating new jobs through investing in infrastructure, training and apprenticeships and protecting jobs by revitalising the hard-hit sectors upon which many jobs depend. In particular, the schemes for 16-24 year-olds are vital.

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 sectors. I hope these two measures combined will help revive the economies of our many great places to eat, drink and stay in Bridport and the surrounding areas.

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.

Finally, I will be focussing on the Bridport area over coming days and have many visits planned. I look forward to updating you on this in next week’s column.