As I write the May edition of my View From The House Update, we enter into the sunny month of June. Looking back over equally sunny May - possibly the driest for many years - we have witnessed the indomitable spirit of our town and it’s people; from commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory In Europe Day with virtual street parties to celebrating the NHS and social care workers by banging our pots and pans, people around Tamworth have come together even though we have had to stay far apart.
I am now back down in Westminster to fulfil my duties as your MP, as well as my responsibilities as the Housing Minister. The weather over the last few weeks has been almost unfair given the amount of time we have had to be inside. However, Tamworth has done a brilliant job of following the medical guidance and as part of the national effort we have seen that R value fall and now the path to lockdown easing is under way.
We have to be cautious as we re-open the economy, shops, schools and workplaces and ensure that we keep that R value low. However, as you will have seen, families and friends can begin meeting again in outdoor spaces while still maintaining that 2m gap. We are winning this fight; we are starting to move to a place of normality, and we must not risk that second peak which could threaten our recovery.
This month we received the figures of extra help that has been provided to Staffordshire from the Government in this pandemic. An extra £64 million as emergency funding, £13 million for the Care Home fund, £141 million in rates relief, £9 million in Council Tax relief and £247 million in business grants. On top of all the national Treasury schemes like the Job Retention Scheme, it means that Staffordshire has benefited from an extra £473 million to ensure our local councils and communities have the resources that they need.
Many Tamworth parents will have received some news from their schools as to the arrangements going forward as the schools re-open. As of the start of June, primary schools will open up to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 and secondary schools will begin to open up again from the middle of June. The plan is to stagger the start and end of the school day, and reduced pupil numbers in classrooms as well as other measures being put in place to help keep pupils and staff safe. As part of this, Staffordshire County Council has assured me they are giving support to schools to open safely. This support includes packs of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all schools.
As your MP I am here to answer your questions, help you in your dealing with local services and provide support where I can. Please do not hesitate or be concerned that your matter may be too small, do drop me an email or a letter and my team and I will see what we can do to help you.