"On Monday, building on the great progress made on vaccinations including the extra second doses deployed in the last four weeks, the Prime Minister confirmed that step 4 on the roadmap to recovery will go ahead on the 19th of July. We know that this delta variant is more transmissible but the vaccine in most cases is defeating the virus and hospitalisation is significantly reduced. We should though take it steady. While a lot of the legal restrictions will come to an end, I think people will have developed a lot of good habits that will endure and will be situation specific. On a crowded train, I would probably put a mask on. Going into a pub, I would be happy to not have to book way ahead and be able to order a drink at the bar, though table service has been a blessing. In my time as a Suffolk MP, I have found that folk have usually got the balance right and are sensitive to their neighbours and communities. It is that personal responsibility that we must all take on as we learn to live with Covid. I want to reiterate my huge thanks to all those who have helped make the vaccination programme a huge success. Even now though, there are some people who think they need not get the jab. Please do step forward so we don’t end up stepping backwards.
As the country unlocks, so the economy can truly recover. A year on from the launch of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions I have been putting my shoulder to the wheel in seeing that plan through. Thanks to government support, 2 million fewer people are out of work than predicted – with 11.6 million jobs funded through furlough and a further 2.9 million self-employed people receiving support. Meaning unemployment in the UK is lower than in the US, Canada, France, Italy, Spain and Australia. I’m also delighted that we have provided funding for 240,000 new Kickstart jobs for young people, with 40,000 having already started.
I am delighted that we are back in a sensible place on the East Suffolk rail line as Greater Anglia re-connected the branch line with the main line trains. It did seem daft to force people to wait longer than needed on a windy platform. This is good for people to avoid using cars where unnecessary and will help our tourism. Next weekend we will be seeing young and old alike joining us in this special part of Suffolk for Latitude Festival. The organiser, Melvyn Benn, has done a great job arranging several of the Test Events around the country. It is programmes like this that have given us confidence to proceed with the recovery roadmap and reclaim the British summer – which will continue regardless of the weather.
Finally, it was great to celebrate Suffolk Day recently by recognising the Suffolk Heroes who have given so much to their local communities throughout the pandemic. I received lots of nominations for the Suffolk MP’s Award Scheme - celebrating people who have been involved in various community groups - distributing PPE, delivering food & medicines and becoming vaccine volunteers. There’s a full list of all the award winners on my website and I’ve sent them all certificates with a personal letter of thanks."