Last Saturday, the Government announced it was introducing a four-week lockdown across England, which began yesterday. I know this will be a huge disappointment for many residents, myself included. This was not a decision the Government took lightly – but, as the number of people being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals across the country increased significantly, the NHS was in danger of becoming overwhelmed and action had to be taken to prevent this.

I know these additional measures will once again place a significant strain on us all, some more than others, but I would like to reassure you that the Government is doing all it can to provide assistance. I strongly recommend checking the information and advice on financial support via

One such form of financial assistance is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which the Government launched in the Spring and has been in place in some form or other since then. Yesterday, the Government announced an extension of the scheme until March next year – with a review of employer contributions in January. Until then, employers can claim 80 per cent of wages for furloughed staff. This is fantastic news; the furlough scheme has helped save a significant number of jobs since its inception and I am delighted that it has been extended.

In addition to this, the Government has announced a third Self-Employed Income Support Scheme Grant to cover November to January and is increasing it from 55 per cent to 80 per cent of trading profits – providing a huge boost to the self-employed.

I am very proud of the financial support the Government has provided since the outbreak began and, although there are many challenges ahead, I know the Government is working hard to provide as much support as possible.

Turning to developments from across the pond, on Tuesday voters in America took to the polls to choose their next President. The pollsters had predicted a landslide Bidenwin, so I thought I would just watch the opening coverage but, seemingly out of nowhere, it looked like President Trump was going to pull off a shock.

I lasted until 4.30am, before going to bed thinking Trump had won, only to wake a few hours later to see that things had dramatically changed once again. I am writing this on Thursday, and the winner still hasn’t been officially announced!

Whatever your views on the candidates or the campaign (neither were inspiring!) it is clear that both democracy and US voters are the winners. Whatever the media or internet says is irrelevant, as it is the voters who have the power, and that is what makes democracy so important.

On a final note, Remembrance Sunday takes place this coming weekend, and I am fortunate to be able to attend a private service in Swindon to lay a wreath. I know many will be disappointed that the commemorations will have to be significantly scaled back due to social distancing and lockdown rules, but I am sure we can all find some way of paying our respects, nonetheless. The Royal British Legion is calling on people to decorate their windows with poppies to mark the occasion and a template poppy for children to colour in is available on my website. It has been wonderful to see the ones already on display in people’s front windows, and I look forward to seeing even more.