York Press column – It’s Time to Build on York’s Bounce Back
September 9, 2020
As summer comes to a close and our children eagerly return to school, York can reflect on a successful and safe reopening of our local economy. Cafes are buzzing, pubs are bustling, and restaurants have enjoyed record bookings throughout August. Of course, this is due in part to the fantastic Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Latest figures show just how popular the scheme has been in York with 320,000 meals claimed at 322 participating venues culminating in £1,709,000 worth of discounts to customers. This is not just a great deal for consumers to help build their confidence in dining out again but it is a vital lifeline for the hospitality industry, which is so crucial to York. Businesses have adapted to ensure a safe experience for customers and I hope this effort is repaid by residents continuing to eat out in the coming months to support local jobs.
Throughout the pandemic, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his Treasury team have devised innovative solutions to tackle the financial impact of coronavirus. From the revolutionary Job Retention Scheme which supported 24,000 workers in York to the variety of business loans that were tailored for companies of all sizes. It was recently announced that new small businesses in York Outer benefited from £680,573 of affordable finance through the Government’s Start-Up Loans scheme, which will help drive the growth we need to see to ensure the local economy bounces back.
Now that businesses have weathered the difficulty of lockdown, the Treasury team are now focusing on protecting as many jobs as possible. This is especially important for recent school leavers who are entering the workforce at a difficult time. A key initiative to address these challenges is the Government’s landmark new Kickstart scheme. The £2 billion scheme has been designed to ensure young people at risk of long term unemployment have a future of opportunity and hope by creating quality, government-subsidised jobs across the UK, helping to spur the country’s economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the scheme, announced in June as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, employers that sign up will be able to offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit a six-month work placement that is fully funded by the government. It is great to see many major companies endorsing the scheme, with Tesco pledging to employ 1000 young people, and I would encourage all local businesses to consider signing up. We cannot allow young people to be left behind as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and I hope the Kickstart scheme will give young people skills they take forward in their future careers.
While York’s economy bounces back, the important message of remaining alert and taking precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus remains. This is not only for our own personal health but to protect local NHS services from being overwhelmed. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the incredible work of our doctors and nurses have rightly met with praise nationally. I am proud to nominate the heart failure team at York Hospital NHS Trust, alongside the Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Collaborative and the Primary Care Covid Support Hub from Vale of York NHS, as entrants in this year’s NHS Parliamentary Awards.
As a lifelong local resident with a young family and elderly parents living close to York, I know how vital our local NHS services are across the full range of health specialisms, and it is vital that exceptional work and the pioneering of new procedures that enhance patient care are properly recognised.
Since my last column, we have unfortunately had to bid a sad farewell to Minster FM after 28 years setting the soundtrack for York. I enjoyed all my appearances on Minster FM since being selected as the Conservative Party candidate for York Outer over a decade ago and it is great to see that local talent such as David Dunning, Ben Fry and Laura Castle have found a new home at York Mix. I am sure I join all York residents in wishing former disc jockeys, producers and technicians the best for the future!