The last few months since the lockdown has been hard for everyone, and it looks as if it could continue for a while, yet.
Newly released figures show that 8.9 million jobs have been furloughed and 2.6 million claims have been submitted to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey has said "The furlough scheme and income support for self employed people, which the Liberal Democrats fought hard to get, are providing a lifeline for millions of families".
Ed Davey continued “However, far too many people are still excluded from this support, including those who recently became self-employed and those who operate as limited companies. The Chancellor must expand the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to cover these people".
“The Government must not leave behind people and businesses without the support they need when these schemes come to an end. Many parts of our economy, such as tourism and hospitality, will simply not be back up to speed by October". Said Ed.
“The Government must bring forward bespoke packages of support for these industries to save jobs and prevent mass unemployment.” Added Ed Davey.
As Chair of Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats, I appreciate that Pembrokeshire has a high reliance on small businesses and the self employed and as a county, we rely on the tourism industry. We have watched the UK government lift the lockdown guidelines, unlike the more cautious reaction by the Welsh Government, under Mark Drakeford. We have all seen the TV news footage of the beaches at Bournemouth and Southend being packed and social distancing being almost impossible to observe. We have also seen the huge turnouts for the Black Lives Matter protest marches.
In comparison, we have seen our beaches almost empty and the Dyfed Powys Police turning back cars and its occupants, who have driven a long distance to see places like Tenby and Abereiddy.
Pembrokeshire, being at the far west of Wales has in some ways protected us from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. The number of confirmed cases and deaths has so far, been lower than other parts of Wales. But as it is an invisible enemy, we cannot see it, so we always have to be on our guard.
However, it is in the summer months that the county's tourist attractions, hotels, B & B's, self accommodation, tourist shops and eating establishments make their money, to see them through the quiet winter months ahead. Unfortunately, some businesses and self employed don't qualify for the established schemes. We therefore support those calls upon the Government to do more to help those who fall through the net. We would like to see those businesses to survive and be there once Pembrokeshire is open once again, to welcome visitors.