"I am acutely aware of the pressures that the Covid-19 pandemic is putting on our local economy and jobs, and the figures from recent research reports are extremely concerning. Cumbria is particularly exposed due to its dependence on the tourism and hospitality sectors.
I am feeding in requests to Government for support for all areas of our economy and community and will continue to do so. Equally, I am feeding in to Government regularly and pushing for more flexibility and breadth in the very welcome support schemes that the Government has introduced during this crisis. These unprecedented schemes aim to provide the bridge to get us through this crisis. As an example, Eden District Council has been allocated £27 million in business grants funding and so far almost £17 million has been awarded to businesses in our area.
I very much acknowledge that some people have not been fully captured in these schemes and I continue to work hard to get more people included. I am also conscious that there will not be a sudden return to normality and we need to manage the transition period so that viable businesses can be returned to a sustainable footing. I have been heartened that the Government has been adapting and evolving its support schemes which so far have been in the order of over £100 billion, even before accounting for loan guarantees; for instance the new Bounce-back loan schemes introduced by the Chancellor this week will allow businesses to access finance straight away, with no interest payments for 12 months.
Schemes such as these will help provide the lifeline for businesses in tourism and hospitality to help bridge the gap until business picks up again in the next tourist season. When current restrictions start to ease, we may need to consider further targeted support for sectors such as tourism and hospitality which will not immediately see a return to normal levels of business. I will be championing this."