Robert's Weekly Column - 3rd June 2020

This week we are celebrating #VolunteersWeek and I want to say a big thank you to all the fantastic volunteers across Swindon who continue to carry out vital work every day, making a huge difference in our local community. As the Prime Minister said, whether you’ve helped a neighbour with their shopping, or delivered supplies to local hospitals, your kindness and compassion has been admired by us all.

After encouraging people to nominate a community champion, my inbox has been flooded with entries and I have been prouder to represent our community as the local MP than I did whilst reading through them all. I am not quite sure how I am going to choose a winner and two runners up, but as I promised, all of the entries will be uploaded and celebrated on my website and social media channels.

Next week is Carers Week – an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlighting the challenges unpaid carers face and recognising the contribution they make to families and communities through the UK.

This year’s theme is ‘Making Caring Visible’. In the current lockdown, many people are taking on more caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends – which is why this year’s Carers Week is more important than ever. Although we cannot gather together as we usually would, fantastic Swindon Carers Centre have planned a week of activities to help raise awareness, ending with the annual ‘Walk A Mile’.

For more information on the work of the Swindon Carers Centre, which currently supports 4,000 carers in our community between the age of 5 and 98, and a list of the activities they have planned for the week, please visit: https://www.swindoncarers.org.uk/join-in-with-carers-week-2020/

On Friday the Chancellor announced that the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be extended for three months.

Those eligible under the scheme, which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.7 billion, will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering free months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The eligibility criteria are the same for both grants, and individuals will need to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. An individual does not need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant, since your business may only have been adversely affected by coronavirus in this later phase.

The Chancellor also outlined further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has helped 1 million employers across the UK furlough 8.4 million jobs. In June and July, nothing will change for employers and the Government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. From August, the level of the grant will be slowly reduced, and employers will be required to top up the Government payment to ensure employees receive 80% of their normal pay, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

More information on both of these announcements can be found via: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus