Today, I am heading back to Westminster following 14 days of isolation due to members of my household contracting Covid 19. With great sadness I was unable to attend this year’s Remembrance events due to these circumstances, but my wreaths were laid and I would like to thank the Royal British Legion, our Forces and Cadets and our local councils for organising services across our community and of course all those who took part.

Whilst the services were very different this year, the gratitude we all feel is as poignant as ever.

The decision to apply national restrictions once more has been made to protect the health service we all depend upon. This will of course affect our society and the economy, which the Chancellor has taken into account when making the latest package of support available for businesses. This includes further extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of March, increasing the next self-employed grant from 55 per cent to 80 per cent of trading profits as well as increasing the upfront guarantee of funding for the devolved administrations from £14bn to £16bn.

On top of this, the Government last week announced extra measures to support families over the winter. The Covid Winter Grant Scheme is a £170m support scheme led by the DWP, but with huge partnership collaboration across all departments, with local councils and most importantly with our local communities. Cumbria County Council will receive £1,496,417.79 of ring-fenced funding by the start of December, with at least 80 per cent being earmarked to support families and individuals, as well as to provide food for children who need it over the holidays. £16m in additional funding will also be provided to food charities, with discussions ongoing between DEFRA and Fareshare on how this will be distributed. The Holiday Activities and Food Programme, which has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children since 2018, will also be expanded across Copeland next year.

These announcements build on the £63 million distributed across local authorities in June to help those struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus. The county council received £554,554.83, which saw £200,000.00 allocated to the Ways to Welfare scheme, providing individuals with urgent help and emergency support, including basic food and essential items. The remaining £354,554.83 of funding went directly to the Community Grants fund to support community groups and third sector organisations across Copeland who work with people most in need due to Covid-19.

In Copeland we are blessed with a kind and generous community spirit with many organisations working hard to help the most vulnerable. I’m pleased that charities and other groups will once again be able to benefit from such significant funding from Government.

The challenges of poverty and hunger, education, healthy foods and homelessness are complex and require more than a voucher system – we know that, and as promised in our 2019 manifesto we are doing something about it.