The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have cast their net wide and far to protect as many businesses and individuals as possible through this covid crisis. Many across Keighley and Ilkley have benefited through the business grants, the furloughing scheme, the business rates holiday, bounce back loans, tax deferrals and much more. I welcome this, and may I use this opportunity to reiterate the words of one of my constituents? Sue Watson Wood, who I saw in Ilkley only last weekend when she reopened her hair salon, Vanilla, told me that the Chancellor’s support provided her with comfort that all would be okay. She specifically asked me to pass on her thanks, so to the Chancellor, on behalf of Sue and many other hard-working businesses across my constituency—thank you.
Tough times require bold interventions, with fiscal policies that drive positive consumer behaviour, and I welcome the Chancellor’s announcements today. I want to see businesses across Keighley, Ilkley, Silsden and the Worth valley thrive, and jobs to be protected. The jobs retention bonus scheme and the temporary cut in VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors are most welcome. I am sure that the additional boost through the eat out to help out scheme will certainly help.
There is no stronger advocate of Keighley than I. We have some fantastic manufacturing, technology and engineering businesses, passionate people who are proud of what we in Keighley have to offer and young people who just want to crack on and thrive in life. Of course, challenging times lie ahead, but with the Chancellor’s announcements today on supporting businesses to take on trainees and provide apprenticeships, and the introduction of the kick-start scheme, all of this will help.
Of course, I look forward to developing our allocation of up to £25 million from this Conservative Government to invest in Keighley through our towns fund project, focusing on urban regeneration, improving digital and physical connectivity and, perhaps most importantly, improving skills, innovation and collaboration between the education and business sectors. The great thing is that, under good stewardship, we can use these public funds wisely to kick-start, crystallise and galvanise private sector inward investment into our town. Now is the time to level up and, through good projects, we can use good infrastructure schemes to create jobs, jobs and jobs.
I welcome this Government’s agenda and their economic strategy to bring places such as Keighley, which for far too long have sat in the shadows of Bradford and Leeds, back into the light. I use this platform, and I will of course continue to use it, to keep banging the drum for Keighley, Ilkley, Silsden and the Worth valley and to say to businesses, individuals and investors who want to come to my patch—we are open for business.