Orpington 1st column: Bouncing Back
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
After months of lockdown, we must rally behind Orpington's businesses to help our local economy bounce back and protect jobs. By shopping locally and staying alert, we can all help to support people's livelihoods and prevent a second lockdown.
For the past two months, I have been visiting businesses across the Orpington constituency to check the health of our local economy and encourage people to return to the shops. I have visited shops in Orpington town centre with the Orpington 1st team, met restaurant and café owners in Petts Wood, and talked to pubs reopening in Biggin Hill. The story is the same everywhere – we survived lockdown with Government support, but we need customers to return if we are to bounce back.
The Government's measures to support businesses have helped Orpington tremendously. The furlough scheme protected more than 9,500 jobs and the self-employed scheme supported 3,600 incomes across the constituency.
At the same time, the decision to scrap business rates this year and offer grants to small companies have kept many of Orpington's business afloat. These unprecedented policies have put the country's economy on ice. The challenge now is reviving small businesses and helping them to thrive again.
The first key to Orpington's recovery is giving people the confidence to return to the shops, eat at their local restaurant and grab a coffee or pint with a friend. The COVID-secure measures local businesses have implemented are critical to restoring confidence, but so are face masks and everyone doing their bit to stop the spread of coronavirus.
I also hope that when children and young people go back to full-time education in September, a degree of normality will return to people's lives and in turn, spur more people to emerge from lockdown with confidence.
Continued Government support is the second key to Orpington's recovery and the measures unveiled by the Chancellor will protect jobs, support businesses, and encourage people to shop locally.
There is at least £9.5 million available to safeguard jobs in Orpington with companies set to receive £1,000 if they keep furlough staff employed until January 2021.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme which offers people a 50% discount to eat at restaurants, cafes, and pubs again throughout August has provide da vital boost to our local economy.
The final key to Orpington's economy recovery is keeping coronavirus under control. NHS Test and Trace has already isolated 184,000 people nationally to stop the spread of the virus. Bromley Council now has the power to close specific premises, cancel events and shut outdoor spaces. If there is a spike, we can identify the hotspot and take local action to contain it. However, we must all continue to do our bit to stop the spread of the virus.
We all have a part to play in Orpington's recovery. Let's shop locally to protect jobs and support businesses. Let's stay alert and follow the rules to control the virus and save lives. And let's enjoy the easing of lockdown responsibly.
Article by Gareth Bacon MP first published by Orpington 1st.