Worcester MP Robin Walker writes for the Observer..
IT IS pleasing to see case the number of coronavirus cases continue to drop both in Worcestershire and across the UK, as our local vaccination program rolls out smoothly. With record numbers of tests being conducted and 51 per cent of our population over the age of 16 vaccinated, I am hopeful we can soon make lockdowns a thing of the past.
It has been a busy time in parliament with the Spring Budget helping support people and businesses in Worcester through these difficult times and providing some much-needed security and stability.
Having raised these matters with the Chancellor, I was particularly pleased to see an extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September, ensuring it continues to support employers as they begin to reopen, two further grants being made available to self-employed people – and those newly self-employed will also be eligible for both, and a £20 Universal Credit uplift for a further six months, with a one-off payment of £500 for those claiming Working Tax Credits.
In other important news, following eleven years of campaigning in Parliament to secure the funding and expand Worcester’s A&E, I was delighted with the news of a £15 million investment into Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Getting this vital expansion, which I have lobbied for over such a long period will make a massive difference, but it is by no means the limit of my ambitions for our hospital or our health service. We now have an opportunity to go further to improve patient care in the city by supporting Worcester University’s plans to develop its medical school and backing Worcester’s bid to the government’s Towns Fund which would see millions more spent on health and wellbeing training opportunities.
Finally, I hope that after working through so many holidays during the past 12 months, our teachers and heads can enjoy a hard-earned break over Easter.