Some of the best news I had this week didn’t come from the Budget, but from the announcement from the Home Office that the Domestic Abuse Bill would be strengthened and widened by a number of Government amendments laid this week. When we had the Second Reading debate I spoke in favour of including threats to share indecent images, which at the time the Government were not minded to do. However, Baroness Morgan re-tabled the amendment I had originally tabled in the Commons, which passed with a large majority a few weeks ago. The Home Office has now agreed to support the amendment which is a real boost to organisations like Refuge who had been so instrumental in the drafting of the initial amendment.
I have long been a member of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse, which is a network of employers committed to tackling domestic abuse. All too often there is a wall of silence around domestic abuse, and we need to create an atmosphere where victims feel empowered to speak out and ask for help. EIDA is for both large and small employers and more details can be found on their website at www.eida.org.uk
Of course the headline news this week has been the Budget and the announcement of additional funds for the self-employed, an extension to furlough, and a specific name check in the Budget for the personal care sector which I have been championing over the last year. I am so relieved the Chancellor has chosen to recognise that female dominated sector, and Romsey got its first mention in the Budget in a long time! As did Southampton and the announcement of a Solent Freeport, in the first tranche of these new exciting zones.
The Chancellor was, in my view, right to focus on supporting businesses and keeping people employed. The re-start grants are crucially important to help business get up and running again. But I was also pleased to see him confirm the Universal Credit uplift by another 6 months. The Select Committee I chair had called for exactly this, to see UC recipients supported through to when the economy can start moving again and I am delighted the Chancellor has listened.