I know that many in Oxford have faced tough financial situations and decisions throughout this crisis.

The Government has failed time and time again to give families and businesses the certainty and security they need.

Unfortunately, this looks set to continue.

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We have just had another full lockdown announced, but many families continue to face looming cliff edges:

11 January: End of eviction ban

29 January: Deadline for applications for the third grant under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

31 January: Deadline for mortgage holidays; end of ban on home repossessions

31 March: Applications close for Government-backed loan schemes;

6 April: Government cuts £20 a week from Universal Credit

30 April: End of the furlough scheme

Many households in the UK, and in places like Oxford with very high housing costs, started this crisis without any savings in the bank.

When coronavirus hit, they had nothing to fall back on.

Indeed, our country entered the pandemic with one of the lowest savings rates of all major economies.

thisisoxfordshire: Stock image of an elderly woman counting loose change. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA WireStock image of an elderly woman counting loose change. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

Analysis shows that UK households saved £3,055 less than the average across other economies in the G7 group of nations in 2019, with a quarter of UK families having less than £100 in savings when we entered the coronavirus crisis.

Over 1.3 million jobs have been lost since, with record redundancies in the three months to October last year – a period that coincides with the Chancellor’s first attempt to wind down the furlough scheme and other forms of wage support, before he was forced to change his mind at the last minute.

Millions of self-employed people have also been excluded from support since the crisis began.

I am calling on the Government to support families by keeping the Universal Credit uplift in place and fix the holes in the UK’s safety net.

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We should be using some of the £2 billion handed back to the Government by supermarkets in business rates relief to help hard-hit businesses - like those in the hospitality sector - as well as people who have been excluded from support altogether.

Following the Government’s announcement regarding school closures, many working parents will be concerned and be facing difficult decisions.

While the decision to close schools was sadly necessary, I have written to the Chancellor to ask that he ensures that parents are given the support they need, including through the Job Retention Scheme, so that parents are not in danger of losing their job because of caring responsibilities caused by the pandemic.

The chaotic, last-minute approach to this crisis has plunged the UK into the worst downturn of any major economy.

On top of the health impact of coronavirus, that is a big price which local families should not have to pay.

As always, please do contact my office if we can help with anything- and please, stay safe.

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