Saturday, 28 March 2020

Support for our businesses through Coronavirus

Northumberland County Council has launched a Business Hub, with a specialist team who are working hard to support businesses - small and large - through the Coronavirus pandemic.

You can visit the Business Hub website by clicking here.

Businesses can use the Hub to apply for the Small Business Grant Fund, as well as Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants, which are administered through the County Council, as well as access a whole range of information and support. 

Small Business Grant Fund

If you are a small business (properties with a Rateable Value less than £15,000) in any sector who were in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief on 11 March 2020, you may be eligible for a £10,000 small business grant payment. 

Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant

For retail/hospitality/leisure business operating from premises with a Rateable Value of less than £15,000 (and not in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief) you may be eligible for a £10,000 grant. Retail/hospitality/leisure businesses operating from premises with a Rateable Value between £15,000 and £51,000 on 11 March 2020 may be eligible for a £25,000 grant.
The Hub also has information and guidance on additional support available, such as through HMRC's Time to Pay, as well as support for larger businesses, such as the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility.

Friday, 27 March 2020

New measures announced to support the self-employed

The Chancellor has announced new measures to help self-employed people to cope with the financial impact of Coronavirus. 

The government will pay the self-employed a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month. The scheme will be open for at least three months, and extended if necessary.

The scheme is open to those who earn under £50,000 a year - around 3.8 million people - and self-employed people can continue to work as they receive this support. To minimise fraud, only those in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019, can apply. However, anybody who missed the filing deadline in January will have four weeks from today to submit their tax return. You can find out more about eligibility by clicking here. 

HMRC are working urgently to get the scheme up and running, and the government says it expects people will be able to access it no later than the beginning of June. You don't need to do anything if you are eligible, HMRC will contact you with an online form, and pay the grant straight into your bank account. 

The self-employed can also access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, and Income tax payments that are due in July can be deferred until the end of January 2021.

This support is in addition to a whole package of support to help people who have been affected by Coronavius, which includes a three-month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty, evictions have been suspended, Statutory Sick Pay is available from day 1, and the government will cover up to 80% of the wages of retained workers. 

As your local MP, I am here to provide help and support in any way I can. Please get in touch if you have any issues or concerns. My office is physically closed, but my small staff team are working from home. Email correspondence sent to will be replied to in the usual way, post is being redirected and phone messages will be responded to. 

Two weeks ago, I launched by Coronavirus website - It is updated regularly with all the latest information for individuals, businesses and employers, from what to do if your MOT is due to expire, to advice Foreign Office advice, and support for businesses and jobs. You can click the links below to access each of the pages:

Changes to the TV Licence for over-75's

Important Contact Details

Downloadable Cards and Posters

As ever, if you can't find the answer you're looking for on my website, please get in touch - I am here to help in any way I can.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

A Budget for Britain's future

Yesterday, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented the Budget to Parliament. The Budget takes place every financial year and sets out the governments plan for spending in the next financial year.

This is an important Budget that delivers on the promises made during the General Election. I wanted to take this opportunity to set out some of the key aspects of the Budget, and the benefits for people across Tynedale and Ponteland.

Clearly, a key part of this year's Budget has been addressing the challenges we face from Coronavirus. That's why the Chancellor announced a £30bn plan to make sure the NHS gets the resources it needs. It means Statutory Sick Pay will available for all those advised to self-isolate, and the cost will be met by the government for those with less than 250 employees.

Employment and Support Allowance will be available from day 1, a new £500m Hardship Fund will be distributed to Local Authorities to support vulnerable people in their local area, and over the next 12 months, nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates. You can read a full breakdown of everything the government is doing to tackle Coronavirus by clicking here.

WATCH: The Budget in 21 seconds

In addition to the funding boost to tackle Coronavirus, there's a whole lot more in the Budget:

🏥 It makes sure the NHS gets the resources it needs, with 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals across the country.

✂️ A tax cut of over £200 for the average family.

💷 It delivers an increase to the National Living Wage to £10.50 an hour to boost the wages of the lowest paid.

🏘️ £9.5bn to build affordable homes.

🎖️ Supporting our amazing veterans. They protect us, so we should help them get a job - so businesses employing veterans will get a one year break from National Insurance contributions.

🛣️ There's £500m a year to fix potholes and speech up journey times.

🌲 40 million trees over the next five years across 30,000 hectares - that's a forest larger than Birmingham.

❄️🍺 Duty on beer, cider, wine and spirts has been frozen!

In addition to all of this, the Tampon Tax will be scrapped, fuel duty is frozen for the tenth year in a row, new legislation to protect access to cash and allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services - something which is particularly important in Northumberland. Flood and costal defence spending will be doubled, and the new plastic packaging tax will incentivise the use of recycled plastic.

This is a fantastic Budget from the Chancellor, and I look forward to supporting it when it comes before Parliament.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Celebrating and commemorating VE Day

This year marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The Tynedale Rotary are organising a commemorative concert at Hexham Abbey on the 8th May to raise money for Walking with the Wounded and North East Veterans as part of national commemorations of the event. The concert begins at 7pm with the ringing out of church bells nationally, just as they did at the same time across the country on VE Day 75 years ago.

Tickets for the concert are £20 (£10 for children) and are available here:

This is just one of the events that will be taking place in Hexham to mark VE Day- on Sunday 10th May there will be a picnic in the park in Hexham with a 1940s band and fancy dress.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Get set for Sport Relief

This Friday is Sport Relief, and schools, workplaces, organisations and communities all over the country will be coming together to raise money.

Sport Relief was created to use the power of sport to raise money for people in the UK and around the world who need it most. The money goes to organisations who are tackling issues such as mental health, child poverty, domestic abuse and helping people have a safe place to live, both here and abroad. Since the last Sport Relief two years ago, £82 million has been invested in supporting people living in tough conditions in the UK and around the world, helping 13 million people.

If your school or workplace doesn't have anything planned to raise money for Sport Relief, it's not too late! You can visit the link below to receive a free fundraising pack, make a donation or find inspiration for fun and innovative ways to raise money. It really is all for a fantastic cause!

Friday, 6 March 2020

The law on organ donation is changing

On 20th May 2020, the law on organ donation in England is changing. From 20th May, organ donation will move to an 'opt out' system, meaning that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

The law is changing to save and improve more lives, as every day in the UK someone dies waiting for a transplant. However, you still have a choice as to whether you want to be an organ donor or not- the NHS is asking everyone to record their decision regarding organ donation on the NHS Organ Donor Register and to tell their family and friends what they have decided.

You can speak to somebody about your choices by calling the NHS' dedicated line on 0300 303 2094. You can also visit the link below to find out more by downloading the fact sheet for further information:

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Wear a Hat for Brain Tumour Research

Wear a Hat Day is coming up at the end of this month- on Friday 27th March the UK's biggest brain tumour research fundraising and awareness-raising day is taking place and there are so many ways that you can get involved!

Every year, thousands of people across the UK put on their favourite hat and take part in a hat-themed event to raise money for Brain Tumour Research. Whether through a hat-themed cake sale, a pub quiz night or a children's Easter bonnet parade, the possibilities to get involved and raise money really are endless.

Wear a Hat Day began in 2010 and the event is now in its 11th year, raising a total of more than £1.5 million for vital research into finding a cure for brain tumours. Brain Tumour Research focuses on funding long-term, sustainable research into brain tumours at centres around the UK.

All the money raised through Wear a Hat Day goes towards this incredibly important research. You can find out how to take part in this year's Wear a Hat Day by visiting - sign up and receive a free fundraising pack! Brain Tumour Research is such an important cause- it would be great if you could get involved!

    Monday, 2 March 2020

    Dipton Mill Inn- Northumberland Pub of the Year!

    A huge congratulations to the Dipton Mill Inn, which has been named as Northumberland Pub of the Year by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). 2000 members of the Tyneside and Northumberland branch of CAMRA voted to find their pub of the year, with a judging panel choosing the eventual winner.

    It's not the first time Dipton Mill has been recognised as a great local pub- they were named value pub of the year in the Good Pub Guide 2020 earlier this year. With a peaceful garden, on-site brewery and use of good quality, local ingredients, the Dipton Mill Inn really is worthy of the accolades it has recently received. Make sure to pay a visit- you won't regret it!