Update from Sir Mike Penning MP

At time of writing we are in lockdown and I would expect that to continue to be the case when you read this, but this is a fast-moving situation, and anything could have happened.

It is absolutely right that we back the lockdown to support the NHS, and I pay tribute to all those who work in the NHS and supporting organisations, care homes, emergency services and all key workers.

For all of us this has been a bizarre and unimaginable time. If you are able to continue to work or are on furlough then it is strange, but not unbearable. However, for many their income stopped literally overnight, and they have found themselves facing financial difficulties they had not expected nor prepared for.

I welcome the massive support package offered by the Government to support families and businesses through this period. However, there are many groups of people who fall through the cracks of the support on offer and I have been lobbying the Government to help these people.

For many, they have been in work and paying taxes all their adult lives and now, when they need support, they find they are left on the sidelines.

My inbox has been inundated with people who suddenly find themselves in a precarious financial situation and, having discussed it with other MPs, it is clear that there are people all over the country in the same boat.

This may be because they’re small business owners who pay themselves via dividends rather than PAYE or because they just happen to be starting a new job at this moment or their business doesn’t pay business rates through some anomaly where their landlord pays.

The shutdown has impacted other families as well. Some with family members stuck abroad, others who are in the process of moving to a new house and others whose medical treatments and operations have been cancelled.

I and my staff have been working hard to try to help as many of these people as we can. I have been contacting Ministers on a daily basis and I will continue to do so.

I have also been keeping in contact with Dacorum Borough Council who have been working on getting the support to businesses as fast as they can.

For many, lockdown has been a lonely, isolating and frightening experience. Fortunately, we have many organisations locally that are helping out. I cannot mention them all here, but I do pay tribute to the hard-working council staff, HertsHelp, Citizens Advice, Dacorum Community Trust, DENS and Age UK Dacorum – all of whom have been able to help people who have come to me for help.

Finally, I was delighted to be able to help Age UK Dacorum by delivering Easter eggs to their clients – the Easter eggs were kindly donated by Aldi and the Food Bank (via TK Maxx and Debenhams). I was helped by my wife Angie so we were able to work together without breaking social distancing rules.

I very much hope that by the time you read this, the end of lockdown is in sight. Stay safe!

If you need help, email me on mike.penning.mp@parliament.uk

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