WITH the summer holiday over, Parliament has returned to a full agenda. In a normal year, we would be back for a couple of weeks, before breaking up again for the party conference season.

This year, we will be working through until Christmas, with a possible break at half term, and there is a lot to get done.

The top priority is to restart the economy. Getting schools open again, people back to work, and the wider economy working is going to be tough.

It was always the case that getting things back to normal would be far harder than locking things down.

Some things feel more normal than others. Bewdley, on Monday, felt like a normal bank holiday weekend. But there are still problems about getting people back to offices.

Even here in Westminster, Whitehall departments are still running at a fraction of their capacity and Parliament is practically empty, with hardly any staff and no visitors.

So, if the heart of government is slow in coming back, why (I am asked) should everyone else? It’s a fair point.

Come October, the furlough scheme will end. That will be a true test of the damage done to the economy and I fear that as we run up to that point, we will see a significant pick up in redundancies. Helping those who have lost their livelihoods will be a top priority.

And, of course, the government must pay for all this.

There is much talk about the autumn budget. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has done very well so far, but he will be tested in his response to the inevitable deficit. There are suggestions that he will increase any number of taxes, and it may be that these rumours are simply fishing exercises to see what the reaction is to various ideas.

His biggest problem is trying to fix a problem that we do not fully understand. It is inevitable that when we get back to the “new normal”, things will be different.

The pandemic may, for example, have hastened the demise of the high street as people buy online. So, until we know what the new deficit will be and under what circumstances, I can’t see how we can increase taxes.

Probably more importantly, we need to be supporting the recovery with stimulus, not stifling it with taxes.

And to top it all, we still must deliver Brexit. Challenging times.