MP ROBBIE Moore says there are reasons for cautious optimism as the ecomomy shows signs of growth, but he warns that a resurgence of the virus is threatening that recovery.

He says: "The Government is dealing with the ever-changing challenges thrown-up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The hugely successful Eat Out to Help Out scheme facilitated an extraordinary comeback for the hospitality industry, only to be set back by further restrictions made necessary by a surge in Covid cases.

"People who were previously getting back into the routine of going to Covid-secure workplaces are once again being asked to work from home.

"And groups that were making plans to meet and socialise are being asked to limit contact with people from outside their households.

"I have continued to insist on a data-led approach, only introducing additional restrictions for people in my constituency where cases are clearly rising.

"At times we have seen a blanket approach to satisfy the boundary of Bradford District Council, meaning areas like Ilkley and Craven have been subject to additional restrictions even when case numbers were low or zero.

"However, we’re now seeing a real need for additional measures across the constituency to curb the spread of the virus.

"Whatever changes, we know that in future our economy isn’t going to look like it did at the start of this pandemic so the Chancellor has announced our Winter Economy Plan – the next phase of our planned economic response to the virus.

"There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic – thanks to our comprehensive and generous response in March, we have seen three consecutive months of economic growth, millions of people have moved off the furlough scheme and back to work, and consumer spending is returning.

"However, the resurgence of the virus threatens our recovery.

"Now it is clear we must live with coronavirus for months to come, this means the economy cannot return to exactly as it was in March and the economic rationale for the next phase of support must reflect the current challenges being posed by the virus.

"In our Winter Economy Plan we are focussing on dealing with the problems businesses face right now – supporting viable jobs through a time of depressed demand.

"Our Job Support Scheme directly funds businesses to protect these viable jobs and people’s wages, rather than laying employees off through a difficult winter. This can be claimed in conjunction with the Government’s offer for retaining employees brought back from furlough into 2021.

"We also recognise that some people will need to retrain for a newly-structured labour market.

"Our Lifetime Skills Guarantee will provide adults in England without an A-Level or equivalent qualifications from April the opportunity to take-up a free, fully-funded college course.

"Alongside this, we are also making higher education loans more flexible, allowing people to space out their study across their lifetime and take more high-quality vocational courses.

"The action we are taking to give the workforce the right skills for the post-Covid economy has been welcomed by major UK employers from all sectors including Citibank, Greene King pubs, BAE Systems and Microsoft.

"Having recently visited University Academy Keighley and Keighley College, I am confident we have the institutions right here to provide the skills to ensure our area can build back better."