For many people across Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, the last four or five months will have been among the most challenging and even heart-breaking you have ever faced. My sincere condolences go out to every single family who has lost someone because of coronavirus, or who has suffered ill health.
Many more will be struggling financially because of lockdown. While very helpful support measures have been put in place, such as furlough and the self-employed income support scheme, I know many more have fallen between gaps – the excluded – and have been left with little or no income. Others will have lost income by having to isolate; and others still will have lost their job outright.
Much of our work in recent weeks has involved supporting constituents trying to access support, and we will continue to do as much as we can to help. We also continue to make the case for further support to be offered by the chancellor, and to ensure that existing support schemes are not switched off too soon. We need to be bold in supporting an economic recovery – but ensuring we build back towards a fairer and greener economy. So far proposals from the UK government have, in my view, fallen way short.
For others, the challenge of lockdown has been more about isolation and being able to access services and even shopping, especially for those who had been shielding. I want to pay an enormous tribute to all those who have been working in our communities to support our neighbours, through delivering food and medicines, making calls to the isolated, and in many others forms of help and support. Often the greatest challenges bring out the best in our communities, and I think that has definitely been the case here.
Following the regulations and guidance is demanding. But compliance has seen levels of coronavirus pushed right down, enabling a gradual move towards something closer to normality. There will be ups and downs ahead but if we continue to keep following the advice, we shall continue to see progress.