BLACKBURN’S MP writes her fortnightly column for the Lancashire Telegraph...

WHEN I wrote in the Lancashire Telegraph a fortnight ago, I wrote about how difficult the local lockdown has been for people across Lancashire and Blackburn in particular.

In Blackburn, additional lockdown measures were in place for nearly eight weeks. That’s eight more weeks where businesses suffered.

We know that this crisis has not impacted all businesses equally, and I am all too aware just how difficult this period continues to be for businesses, particularly small businesses.

Some are still shut altogether, others are operating well below capacity because of social distancing measures, while town centres continue to experience lower than usual footfalls.

Alongside the challenges facing struggling businesses, are those facing struggling families. From the constituents I have spoken to, many are simply struggling to make ends meet, while many remain excluded from the government’s furlough schemes. New starters or the newly self-employed, freelancers or those on parental leave have all lost out. The two are inextricably linked.

This is wrong – and when Parliament returned from its summer recess last week, I said as much.

I have and will continue to make the case in Westminster for additional financial support for businesses in Blackburn and across Lancashire that have faced local lockdowns.

Businesses aren’t asking for a permanent handout either. We know that some firms have returned to business as usual, in which case they may not need to use the furlough scheme, but businesses that have just come out of local lockdown were and will continue to be hit harder.

The same applies for the councils charged with supporting businesses. Leicestershire received £3million, while Lancashire got no such deal.

And let’s face the facts: we are now in a recession.

Instead of withdrawing wage support for businesses, or additional support for the self-employed there needs to be targeted support for those that need it the most. The more businesses that receive support, the more people have the security of a job. That is the nub of it.

Letting struggling but otherwise perfectly viable businesses go to the wall is not inevitable, and with more flexible financial support for businesses, the Government can save more jobs.

I’ve heard the same case made from countless people and businesses across Lancashire. That support needs to be made available now.