They used to say that a week is a long time in politics, but this April, none of us can take a day for granted. Every hour is a journey into the unknown for every person, in every walk of life.
Life. That’s the issue. A few months ago, we’d little have dreamed that we’d have to choose between life and lifestyle, but that’s the truth. And it seems to me that we are slowly adapting and doing what must be done – putting lifestyle on hold and focussing on life, on living, and on livelihood.
Livelihood is where the Combined Authority comes in. With people across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough parking their lifestyles and staying home for all our safety, and with our gallant NHS frontliners doing daily and nightly duty in harm’s way to save life, the Combined Authority teams are working to protect livelihoods and our community’s ability to earn a living when the peril has passed.
Staying alive, earning a living. The most important thing to people after life itself is their livelihood. It’s what puts food on the table for the family, it’s what builds the lifestyles that we will one day enjoy again. So it’s vital that we at the Combined Authority continue to do everything in our power to help – and this week, I asked the business resilience team to redirect money from the local growth fund into a scheme for making urgent grants – not just loans – of real, ready money that could buoy qualifying businesses through this crisis.
The idea is simple: award bridge-over-troubled-water grants to help these smaller players, currently under desperate pressure, to adapt and survive. Already our team is processing a steady flow of applications from companies who have brilliant ideas for recasting their future, ideas that show the kind of ingenuity and agility that makes this region great, and will see it push through in good heart.
Elsewhere, I’ve set up the Mayor’s Forum, bringing together key stakeholders, from MPs to banks, who will thrash out issues around the impact of national measures on the local economy. The Mayor’s Forum will be a focal point to raise matters directly with Government, ensuring we do everything we can to promote the needs of this wonderful region and its people.
Easter is upon us and we’re promised some pretty good weather. It’s a trick of the gods that the one Bank Holiday when we really mustn’t go out isn’t forecast to be a wet weekend! For many, it will be disappointing not to go to a place of worship, or a sadness not to visit the family, but we must be resolute: helping others to stay alive, and keeping alive ourselves, is the paramount priority. We owe it to our superstar health workers, who don’t just put their lifestyles on hold, but put their very lives on the line for us.
And let’s remember that this, too, shall pass. Easter is about resurrection. It is about moving from darkness into light, and we need to keep working for the future, planning for it, looking forward to it.
And making it happen.