The past few weeks of lockdown have been a challenge for many of us, and in particular businesses have faced a wholly unpredictable set of circumstances. Some businesses are busier than ever and some businesses are not operating and receiving unprecedented levels of support form our government. I was pleased to recently join Darlington Business Clubs recent Zoom meeting along with many other business groups I have being virtually attending. As a former business owner myself, and the new MP for Darlington, I want to be a champion of local business here in Darlington, and to engage regularly with our business community, to inform me of your issues, to represent you in my work in Westminster and to be an ambassador for all that is great about commercial life in our town.
There has been an unprecedented use of the word unprecedented in recent weeks but it is the only way to describe the phenomenal support that has been coming from Government for our business sector. Furlough, Business rates holidays, grants, Bounce back loans, CBIls, time to pay, SSP rebate scheme, tax deferrals, delays to IR 35 reform, Self Employed Income Scheme, and the new discretionary support grant for businesses not covered elsewhere. These are truly phenomenal and are designed to ensure that mass redundancies are the exception not the rule. I am delighted to see that many Darlington businesses have taken advantage of these schemes, ensuring that as the lockdown is eased, we can back to business. The extension this week of the Furlough scheme, with is flexibility is most welcome for those businesses who are concerned that bringing everyone back at the same time will pose difficulties as they gear back up. I appreciate that there are some businesses because of their structure or premises don’t qualify but over 95% of businesses have received some help.
I have been working closely with Heather Scott the leader of our Council and Ben Houchen our Tees Valley Mayor, and looking to the future for our town and region there are still great prospects on the horizon. Amazon has now opened bringing new jobs, an international Aircraft engineering business is opening for business with more new jobs, and the interest in other businesses relocating to our region remains positive. Ben’s work at the old SSI site and completing the purchase of the land will be a game changer for our regional economy. We are also seeing investment in our town with upgrade and expansion of our train station heralding £105M of investment in Darlington, and other projects like the Towns fund and Future High St Funds look sure to continue to go ahead.
In my engagement with our business community over the period of the lockdown I have been amazed at the range of enterprises we have here from international manufacturers, innovative disruptors, and independent enterprises. From large to small we remain an ingenious town, and I want to ensure that doing business in Darlington is good for all, bringing more jobs, more investment and a better life for all. I have recently launched a new business Facebook group called Darlington MEANS Business, and it is open to all so please do join. If my team and I can help with any issues you have, helping to open doors and grow our local economy then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
34 Duke St, Darlington, DL3 7AQ