Saturday, 17 October 2020

Protecting culture across the Tyne Valley

Our cultural institutions have been hit hard throughout this coronavirus pandemic, and protecting culture for the future is vitally important.

Earlier this week, the government confirmed over half a million pounds of funding for local cultural organisations across the Tyne Valley as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund - including for the Queen's Hall, and the amazing Hexham Book Festival. 

I am delighted that today, the government has confirmed a second round of funding, with £250,000 for the historic Vindolanda Trust, taking the total investment in culture across the Tyne Valley to almost £1 million. This will help to support local jobs, and will hopefully put some of our iconic cultural organisations on a sustainable footing for the future.

Culture is so important to our local Tyne Valley community, and making sure it is there for us after this pandemic is a top priority. This funding aims to ensure these crucial organisations can stay afloat whilst their doors are closed, so they can bounce back from the pandemic. 

Monday, 12 October 2020

New 'Tier' system to control local rates of coronavirus

The Prime Minister has announced a new tier system to control the rate of coronavirus. We are in a perilous position where rates of infections across the country and particularly the North East are rising. This has translated to a rise in Covid hospitalisations. Therefore, I welcome this announcement which simplifies restrictions to control the virus. 

The Tier system will range from 1 to 3:

Tier 1 (medium risk): The current national measures of the rule of 6 and 10pm curfew on pubs apply.

Tier 2 (high risk): All social mixing between households indoors is banned but mixing outdoors (including private gardens) will be allowed with the rule of 6 and maintaining social distancing.

Tier 3 (very high risk): Social mixing is prohibited in all settings, along with the full closure of pubs and bars. 

The whole Hexham constituency is placed at Tier 2, which is very similar to the restrictions that are already in place. 

This means you will not be able to mix with other households outside your support bubble indoors, including at hospitality venues. However, you will be able to meet others outdoors, including in private gardens with the rule of 6 and maintaining 2 metre distancing.

Expanded support for businesses required to close

The Chancellor has also announced targeted support for businesses who have to legally close because of coronavirus restrictions:

If businesses are required to legally close and employees cannot work at all for a week or more, the employer will pay two thirds of the salary, up to £2,100 a month. The Government will cover the cost.

Businesses who are only able to operate a collection and delivery service will be included.  

Additional grant support has also been announced for businesses legally required to close. The smallest businesses will be able to claim £1,300 per month, medium sized businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 - can claim £2,000 per month and large businesses can claim £3,000 per month. 

All these grants will be paid in fortnightly instalments 

These measures go alongside the existing Job Support Scheme – which is designed to support businesses that are facing low demand over the winter months – and the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus which encourages employees to keep staff on the payroll.  

The Job Support Scheme will open on 1st November and the scheme will be reviewed in January.  

Please remember to only get tested if you have symptoms, but if you have a new, continuous cough, a temperature, a loss or change of taste or smell, you should go to and book a test.

We should continue to remember the basics of hands, face and space.

Continue to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, and keep 2 meters apart from people you do not live with.