The latest big announcement is the Kickstart scheme as part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs. This landmark new £2bn scheme will support young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment into six-month placements across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Funding for each fully subsidised job will cover the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic-enrolment pension contributions.
There will be an additional £1,500 funding for start-up and wrap around support for each placement created. Referrals of candidates for roles will be through the Jobcentre Plus network. Employers will be able to interview candidates.
I very much hope local businesses will be involved in this national effort to build a post-Covid economy. Full details of the Kickstart scheme are available at www.gov.uk/kickstart
Closer to home, Monmouthshire County Council continues to reintroduce services. The leisure centres are up and running, temporary street configurations have enabled shoppers to return to our town centres, and work is now underway to reopen another waste disposal site. This week will see the county’s museums reopen (on a pre-book basis) and four of the five community hubs. I am very grateful to senior officers at the council for their willingness to deal with my many enquiries!
The journey back to normality from Covid-19 is going to be a long one and there will almost certainly be challenges ahead. Headlines continue to focus on the rows around foreign holidays, quarantine and the different rules which apply depending on where you live in the UK. I would prefer a single UK approach. But like it or not, we have four governments with the legal right to set their own lockdown rules. Good luck to those who can take a holiday this year, but wherever you go and wherever you live, anyone travelling abroad should understand these rules can change at any time and there is a chance of having to quarantine afterwards. Let us hope a vaccine arrives soon and normality can resume.
Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia will now be heard at the Proms. I am delighted with this decision. Last Night of the Proms simply wouldn’t have been the same without them so well done to the BBC for a welcome change of heart.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 9 September 2020 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 10 September 2020*