May I advise that as a Minister, and therefore part of the Government, I am not permitted to be part of any APPG, sign EDMs (Early Day Motions) or publicly lobby the Government.
I have received a number of constituent enquiries regarding the ExcludedUK APPG and can advise that my team had responded to Jamie Stone MP to explain that I was unavailable for this APPG launch meeting and that a team member would like to join the zoom and observe – unfortunately this was construed that I was joining when it had been advised I was unable to. This resulted in some confusion and a few constituents concluding that I was not prepared to raise their concerns.
May I assure you that whilst as a Minister I am unable to be part of an APPG, sign an EDM or publicly lobby the Government this does not prevent me, in my role as a constituency MP, in approaching the relevant department, in this case The Treasury, and direct with fellow ministers, with matters brought to me by my Mid Sussex constituents.
In fact over the last few months, from before and through the lockdown and now as the impact of Covid 19 has become more apparent, my team and I have written to and engaged with the Treasury on numerous occasions across a wide range of topics associated with the Covid 19 support schemes. I personally have also been in direct contact, MP to MP and Minister to Minister, on behalf of my constituents. This is something that is part of the Parliamentary process and is why we are keen to be in Westminster rather than working remotely.
I have actively worked with Mid Sussex District Council to support businesses who were not part of the Small Business Grant (SBG) or Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grant (RHLG) schemes by feeding in details of the types of businesses and individuals who had approached me to assist MSDC in defining the scope of their Discretionary Grant Scheme. I am delighted that so many of these local businesses have reported back to me that they have now received or been approved for a grant and have received help through my approaches. This includes those small businesses who had paid their business rates as part of their rent – so were in effect invisible to the SBG and RHLG. It includes a wide range of businesses and self-employed who had no formal premises or worked from home. It includes other business types such as dental surgeries and taxis. And the list goes on. This collaborative working has benefited many different businesses in Mid Sussex.
I have worked with local Business Associations and the LEP over the last few months as well as linking in with other business groups. For example, I held a zoom meeting more recently with owners and employees of beauty salons/spas, tanning salons and complimentary therapies to improve my understanding of their issues and to take these up directly with the Government. I played an active part with my back bench colleague, The Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, in raising the profile of this business community and highlighting the importance of their return, by lobbying the BEIS Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP as well as writing to the Cabinet Office.
May I assure you that whilst I am unable to be part of an APPG, sign EDMs or publically lobby the Government, I am actively representing Mid Sussex constituents and constituency businesses and I will assist with my casework team on this and other matters. If you haven’t done so already please do write to me with your concerns and we will always seek to support constituents and local businesses.