As we approach the 19th of July and reach the final phase of easing domestic restrictions, I would like to reiterate my thanks to all those involved in our vaccination programme and the outstanding efforts of our local NHS teams across the constituency. Progressing to Step 4 of the roadmap would simply not have been possible without them.
Of course, the pandemic is not yet over, and it is only right that we continue to be cautious and responsible in exercising our freedoms. The easing of restrictions has coincided with the easing of financial support schemes as hospitality and leisure venues, retail offices, personal care amongst other sectors began to re-open and I am pleased that over 13,600 residents jobs in our constituency were supported by the Job Retention Scheme over the last year.
I spoke with the Department of Work and Pensions Essex service lead recently to discuss local job centres, the impact of the pandemic on universal credit claimants and how the Kickstart scheme is benefitting our constituency.
As local MP and a Treasury and Equalities Minister, I know that youth unemployment has risen over the last year as a result of the crisis, and it was very reassuring to hear about the success of the Kickstart scheme locally.
For residents who aren’t aware, the Kickstart scheme is a Government initiative introduced last year as part of our ‘Plan for Jobs’ and provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24 year-olds on Universal Credit. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers; 100% of the National Minimum Wage, employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions. I would encourage employers to consider signing up to this initiative which ends this December.
I am really pleased that SME’s across the constituency and the county feel confident enough to invest in expanding their workforce despite one of the toughest years they have faced and that most of the employers who have taken part in the Kickstart programme have decided to keep their new employees for the long run.
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