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Bill Wiggin MP

Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire

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Bill Wiggin MP holds Westminster Hall debate on Covid-19 Vaccination

On Tuesday 10th November, MP for North Herefordshire, Bill Wiggin held a Westminster Hall debate on the Covid-19 vaccine.

In the news, hope was raised that a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech may soon be available.

Mr Wiggin MP has recently met with three leading vaccine manufacturers about the development process and what more can be done to aid their work.

In the debate, he called for the Government to extend trials for both the vaccine and therapeutics to volunteers who are vulnerable or at-risk.

He also called for better collaboration between Government and vaccine regulators worldwide to ensure vaccine development continues to accelerate in the future.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“I called for this debate because I am convinced that a vaccine for Covid-19 is the best answer to combatting this virus.

Not only will this avoid future lockdowns, but it will ensure those most vulnerable in society are protected.

Many will have seen the latest announcement from Pfizer/BioNTech and their breakthrough, citing 90% efficacy in initial trial results.

This is a great step forward but we are not quite ready to roll out the vaccine yet.

There are over 258 vaccine candidates being manufactured worldwide.

Over 50 are in clinical trials of which 11 are in final, Phase III trials.

Our Government has already ordered over 300 million doses from 6 different manufacturers.

This is all most welcome and I called for Governments, scientists, medical companies and regulators worldwide to collaborate to remove some of the barriers to faster vaccine development going forward.

By agreement these bodies can decide on the same standards, parameters and end goals, globally .

As a result, when faced with a situation like this again, a vaccine can be rolled out faster.

It has been a difficult few months for many but we are almost there with the way out.

Soon we will be able to visit our family and friends once again, get business back on its feet and get people back into work to get the country running at full capacity.”

To read Bill’s speech please click here.

To watch the whole debate please click here.

Bill Wiggin MP marks Remembrance in Bromyard and Kington

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, has taken part in a pre-recorded Act of Remembrance at St Peter’s Church in Bromyard and will lay a wreath at the war memorial in Kington on Sunday.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“It is always an honour to be invited to remember the men and women of North Herefordshire who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges this year, but we are fortunate to still be able to come together, albeit in some cases virtually, to ensure this important part of our history does not get forgotten.”

The pre-recorded video for Remembrance in Bromyard can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQzXjvHZiAo

Government announces extra £1.51 million for Herefordshire to continue providing vital services during coronavirus

  • Herefordshire to benefit from extra £1.51 million in funding announced by the Government
  • Councils have received £6.4 billion in additional direct support since April.
  • Local authority has been provided with £20.91m in extra funding since the pandemic began.

People living and working in North Herefordshire will benefit after Herefordshire was given a share of £900m in additional Government funding for local councils.

The money will be used locally to help the council cover coronavirus-related costs and ensure it has the resources needed to keep providing key services as we battle the Covid pandemic.

It means Herefordshire has now received £20.91m in direct extra support from the Government since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, North Herefordshire will benefit from a share of a further £100m established to support council-run leisure centres across the country, which are proving key to helping the health and well-being of people in the area.

The new funding means local councils will have £1bn extra in funding this winter to help maintain vital services.

And Bill Wiggin MP said the Government support is proving crucial to people living in North Herefordshire as it means Herefordshire can continue to provide the essential services needed.

“The £1.51 million announced today is hugely welcome and will ease financial pressures on Herefordshire and ensure it is able to continue providing vital local services this winter.

“Just like we said we would stand behind people whose jobs are at risk – with over £200 billion so far to project jobs, incomes and businesses throughout and beyond this pandemic – this Conservative Government  is keeping its promise to local authorities and ensuring they have the resources they need to continue supporting people”

The funding has not been ring-fenced, meaning local leaders will be able to determine how to spend the additional funding in order to best protect public health, local vulnerable people and the running of vital services. In total, over £4.6 billion of the £6.4 billion in additional government funding made available to councils has not been ring-fenced, reflecting the Government’s view that local authorities are best placed to determine local priorities.

This is the fourth announcement of extra direct support for local authorities since the start of the pandemic. It forms part of an unprecedented package of support for councils, which also includes up to £465 million through the new Local Alert Level system, £300 million to support Test and Trace and £30 million for enforcement and compliance. Councils can also claim funding through a compensation scheme for lost income from sales, fees and charges and further additional support will be made available to areas placed under Tier 3 restrictions.

Commenting, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have backed local councils with the funding they need to support their communities, protect vital services and recover lost income. 

“This extra £1 billion funding will ensure that councils have the resources that they need over the winter and continue to play an essential role on the front line of our response to the virus while protecting the most vulnerable and supporting local businesses.”

Commenting, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“It’s vital that we keep ourselves fighting fit through the winter months and local authority leisure centres are crucial to this. This £100 million fund will help keep leisure centres across the country open. I urge leisure centres to bid for the money and people to make the most of these precious local facilities.”

Bill Wiggin MP welcomes latest figures showing support for businesses in North Herefordshire

  • 1,990 Bounce Back Loans worth £58,937,308 have been offered under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme in North Herefordshire
  • Also in North Herefordshire, 86 loans worth £24,623,520 have been offered under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • In total, more than £200 billion of Government support has been provided to help individuals and businesses in all parts of the UK.

New statistics showing the huge Government support to businesses in North Herefordshire have been welcomed by local MP Bill Wiggin.

Businesses across North Herefordshire have benefitted from £83,560,828 worth of loans since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. This includes 1,990 Bounce Back Loans – 100 per cent government-backed loans which are interest-free for the first 12 months – worth £58,937,308. The scheme ensures that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating can get finance in a matter of days, with no repayments due during the first 12 months.

In addition, 86 loans have been offered in North Herefordshire at a value of £24,623,520 through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme. This scheme has helped small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million.

The Chancellor also announced on Friday that the government’s Job Support Scheme will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions, alongside increasing the cash grants to businesses in England required to shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs – worth up to £3,000 per month.

So far, the Government has provided over £200 billion throughout its economic response to coronavirus to support jobs and businesses in the UK.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“This year has been hugely challenging for businesses in North Herefordshire, but these latest figures demonstrate the scale of support that the Conservative Government has put in place to protect livelihoods and businesses.

“Never has the Conservatives’ agenda to level up the whole county been so important – and we will continue to focus on supporting hardworking families across North Herefordshire.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

“Our support for businesses and workers has provided a lifeline to employers up and down the country, supporting people to stay in jobs and protecting livelihoods. “We will build on this as we move to the next stage of our recovery through the Winter Economy Plan, which will continue to protect jobs and help businesses through the months ahead.”

£100m Government Heritage package saves Shobdon Church

One of North Herefordshire’s most valuable heritage sites has been given a crucial lifeline thanks to a major Government scheme.

Shobdon Church has been awarded £15,000 after successfully applying to the Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage, set up to help the country’s cultural gems survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Conservative MP for North Herefordshire, Bill Wiggin, said he was delighted at the award and how the money would protect a vital part of the area’s heritage and protect local jobs

The CRF is funded by the Government and delivered by heritage experts – the Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund – to support organisations in England across the heritage ecosystem that are local and national treasures but have fallen on hard times due to the pandemic.

Today Friday, October 9, more than £67m is being shared out among of 433 successful applicants from across England to help with key repair and maintenance work, and help sites operate and recover.

A raft of famous sites across the country have been awarded funding including historical areas, buildings, monuments, collections, museums, archives and places of worship.

Bill Wiggin MP said: “Shobdon Church is such a major part of the heritage of North Herefordshire and the country and I am thrilled this money will help it weather the covid storm and be therefore for future generations to enjoy.

“Not only can we learn so much and gain so much insight from our heritage, but it also provides jobs and a boost for the local economy in many ways.

“And as we get through this unprecedented pandemic, places like Shobdon Church and the tremendous work done there can undoubtedly play a part in our recovery.

“Huge credit must go to the Government for this invaluable support.”

The package of support is the first round of funding from the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund. Today has also seen a dozen organisations, including English Heritage, the National Trust and the Canal and River Trust share £34 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to preserve visitor attractions.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past.

“This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce back post covid.  I’m so pleased that we have been able to help save Shobdon Church.”

Coronavirus Act

Today, Parliament voted on the extension of the Coronavirus Act for another 6-month period. North Herefordshire MP, Bill Wiggin refused to support this extension instead choosing to abstain.

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire said:

“Following today’s announcement from the Health Secretary and the subsequent vote, it is with regret that I cannot support the Government in extending the Coronavirus Act.

There are concerns over the lack of scrutiny Parliament has had when wide-ranging decisions are made.

Though concessions were made, they did not go far enough.

In my speech on Monday (read here) I was clear that a 6-month extension was unnecessary and MPs must be given more opportunity to scrutinise decisions.

I said: “We need to remember that both sides of the House are united in wanting to beat the disease and I know we would be complaining if we sat on the other side of the House, so we need to involve all MPs to get necessary actions approved.”

My position on this has not changed because the concessions given today, although welcome, did not go far enough.

We could be 3 months from the roll out of a vaccine.

It is my firm belief that when we get the vaccine out to those most vulnerable in our society, we can begin to open up again.

The Government has secured 190 million doses with at least 100 million available by the end of the year.

We should be putting all efforts into vaccines as quick as possible and I will continue to push for this.

Bill Wiggin calls for MPs to have a say in future Coronavirus legislation and gives support to early rollout of vaccine

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, last night called for MPs to have a greater say on Government powers in the Coronavirus Act. Speaking in a House of Commons debate on Coronavirus, Mr Wiggin said:

“Parliament granted the Government ​emergency powers, which at the time was a sensible course of action. Six months on, things have changed. The NHS has been saved and Parliament is sitting.

The press report further covid plans that, as a Conservative, I find possibly draconian, curtailing freedoms, but I am sure we would give parliamentary approval for life-saving precautions.”

 Mr Wiggin also called for an early rollout of vaccines that are in the final steps of the regulatory approvals process, saying:

“Vaccines for covid-19 are the key to eliminating the virus. The faster one is distributed, the more likely we are to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and that is the area we should be working on. Do we really need to wait till the end of the year?

The Government have been right ​to pre-book the vaccines: 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford vaccine, 30 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which is the next one in evaluation stage 3—we should have doses by the end of 2020 for that—and 60 million doses from a company called Valneva, whose vaccine will be provided in the second half of 2021.”

Mr Wiggin closed by praising the Government’s work on vaccine development, but called on them to restore parliamentary democracy and to offer hope, saying: “In these difficult times, my constituents want hope. After the sacrifices they have made, the vaccines that we have funded and the lives that have been saved, we all deserve it.”

To read the full debate in Hansard click here.

To watch Bill’s speech in full click here and go to 19:43 on the agenda for Monday 28th September.

Latest figures demonstrate the scale of Government support for self-employed North Herefordshire

  • 3,300 self-employed people in North Herefordshire have received support through the second grants available through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
  • 4,500 self-employed people supported in total
  • In total, more than £160 billion of Government support has been provided to help individuals and businesses in all parts of the UK

New statistics showing the huge Government support to self-employed workers in North Herefordshire have been welcomed by local MP Bill Wiggin.

3,300 self-employed people in North Herefordshire have accessed £8.6m worth of Government grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’s second tranche, which brings the total number of people supported since the pandemic began to 4,500. These grants do not need to be paid back and will help to cover lost earnings.

This is in addition to the support given to self-employed workers through the first grant – worth £14.8m in North Herefordshire.

Self-employed people have had six months of income support during the coronavirus pandemic – one of the most generous schemes in the world.

  • A first grant, covering up to 80 per cent of average monthly profits was made available for March-May
  • There has been a second grant covering up to 70 per cent of average monthly profits, available for June-August.  

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservative Government has provided a huge and unprecedented package of economic support to protect both lives and livelihoods – worth more than £160 billion.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“I know this year has been hugely challenging for self-employed workers in North Herefordshire, and these latest figures demonstrate the scale of support that the Conservative Government has put in place to support their livelihoods. “Never has the Conservatives’ agenda to level up the whole county been so important – giving our entrepreneurs the confidence they need as they look ahead to the future.”

Bill delighted with Historic England funding for Leominster

After the trouble our High Streets shops have had with the Councils ill-judged road restrictions and closures, Bill Wiggin MP is delighted that Historic England have announced that Leominster will be receiving money through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme to aid local economic recovery.

Bill commented: “This is just what we need and I am delighted that Historic England have made £1.8 million of government funding available for the revitalisation of Leominster’s high street.

Leominster is a beautiful town with a wealth of important historical buildings and our main shopping streets need to reflect this.

I hope this money will go a long way towards both restoring and preserving the heritage of our town Leominster for residents, visitors and future generations.”

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