MARIA Miller, MP for Basingstoke, has said that, while she believes the economic measures put in place by the Chancellor are important, more targeted support for specific groups is needed.

Speaking last night as part of a debate in the House of Commons, Mrs Miller thanked the emergency services and volunteer groups across the country, and praised both the Health Secretary and Chancellor on their action so far.

However, she outlined two issues she believes need increased focus from ministers.

“What our constituents want now is that we are suppressing the virus and enabling them to have confidence that their families will have a safeguarded financial future and I think that is the challenge the government faces,” she said.

“Measures that were put in place in March were dealing with the unknown, a virulent virus, a killer virus. But now we’re dealing with things that perhaps we understand a bit more about and I would just like to briefly suggest to the Minister on the front bench that we could not only be looking at how we geographically target the work that the government is doing but that we also target some specific groups.

“We know as a fact that there has been a 134 per cent increase in deaths amongst people with learning disabilities, and I pay tribute to my Right Honourable Friend, the chair of the select committee, who’s doing an excellent piece of work in that area.

“Can the Minister please confirm that he will work better at looking at the recommendations of that committee, better transparency, particularly on local authority use of easements in the Care Act.”

These easements were measures introduced to the Care Act via the Coronavirus Act 2020, allowing local authorities to streamline and prioritise resources to cope with the many pressures of the pandemic.

Mrs Miller additionally asked for increased support for women.

“Across the globe, women have been more adversely impacted by this coronavirus than men,” she said.

“We have record numbers of women in work in this country now, but we face real critical problems with women, particularly pregnant women and new mums, being made redundant and not being able to get back into work because they are disproportionately represented in those sectors that have been hardest hit.

“Please can the Minister look carefully at the Ten Minute Rule Bill that I’ve put in front of this place, working on measures that are already in place in Germany, to better protect this group of women.

“Otherwise, they will not realise their ambition of eliminating the gender pay gap in the generation.”