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I am liaising with all local authorities including Councils, Police and Public Health to understand how well we are organised and the extent of our local capacity to cope with this crisis too.
I am strongly representing the concerns of our community to Government.
Below are some resources around what the advice is, what support is available for you, and what I have been doing to represent your concerns.
Please get in touch with me either by filling out the form below or contacting me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further concerns and I will do my best to support.
You can see the Government's strategy here. Daily updates to this from the Government can be found here.
Fighting coronavirus is a national effort and I endorse the Prime Minister’s plea to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives. This lockdown is badly needed to prevent the spread of the virus, even if action should have been taken much earlier.
I am concerned by the Government’s decision to end community testing - against World Health Organisation (WHO) advice who are leading the global response to this pandemic - and its delay in adopting the important social distancing measures which have been mandated earlier in other countries. The WHO has insisted that countries need to ‘Test, test, test’.
Why is it that Germany are testing twenty times as much as we are? I will keep pressing the Government to do more.
We are also severely lacking personal protective equipment for frontline NHS workers who may come into contact with patients who have coronavirus. This is putting our NHS staff at risk and will spread the disease in our hospitals. We also need many more ventilators. I have spoken on these issues in Parliament and will continue to do so.
I believe there is more we can do to prevent the spread of this virus and I have been raising this in Parliament. You can keep up to date with my contributions in the House of Commons here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/search/MemberContributions?house=Commons&memberId=4617
The Government also needs to urgently ensure we are producing enough ventilators and have enough of the proper protective equipment for frontline staff dealing with this crisis in our hospitals and elsewhere. I have raised these issues in the House of Commons already and will continue to do so.
I have joined colleagues in asking for Parliamentary scrutiny digitally for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. We must be able to question the Government's strategy in dealing with the outbreak.
I have questioned the Government in Parliament, calling on them to provide FFP3 masks instead of the less useful surgical masks, in line with what Doctors are telling me all the time.
The Health Sec responded to my saying he will speak to the Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, to see if this would be a possibility.
Later, in the Government’s daily press briefing, Hancock said frontline workers will get all PPE that they need.
If the Health Secretary is serious about giving frontline workers everything they need to be protected whilst fighting this virus, they need more than surgical masks; they deserve the best masks available.
I know many small businesses are deeply concerned about their ability to continue trading, due to the decrease in demand, combined with the fact that many employees will need to take time off over the coming weeks and will need to be paid sick pay.
Firstly, here are some key resources and contacts if you need specialist support locally and nationally:
The Government has recently made several announcements to support businesses during this difficult time.
Many businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector have been asked to close from Friday 20th March. The full guidance on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-and-other-venues-subject-to-further-social-distancing-measures/businesses-and-other-venues-subject-to-further-social-distancing-measures
The following emergency support for businesses who are affected by the Coronavirus pandemic is available:
Cash grants worth:
The Association of British Insurers advises businesses to check their cover and to discuss concerns with brokers.
For detailed guidance and answers to FAQs from The Confederation of British Industry click here.
In addition, the decisions announced by the Bank of England on interest rates mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses.
Further emergency financial measures will be announced by the Chancellor as necessary. I will be holding the Government to account to ensure they meet the challenge that this virus presents to our local economy.
Let me say simply to all businesses:
We will all get through this, together.
The Government has announced a Coronavirus Retention Scheme, which will enable HMRC to administer grants to cover 80% of the salaries of workers not working but “furloughed” and kept on the payroll rather than being laid off. The grant will be up to £2,500 per month per worker.
I welcomed this move, having called in the House of Commons for a similar package to be introduced last week. However, I do think it’s important to point out who is missing from the package, and ways in which it may not go far or fast enough.
Aside from the ambiguity in who is a qualifying worker, there is no guarantee that employers will top up the salary. The cap of £2,500 a month means many individuals will take a pay cut. There is no guarantee from employers that they’ll keep workers in work.
The Retention Scheme will be up and running “within weeks”, with the “aim to get it done before the end of April”. But many businesses are facing cash flow problems now. Even if the Scheme is backdated, it may come too late for workers at risk of being laid off in the coming days.
Please get in contact with your employer if you have any concerns about how this will be calculated for your situation and to ensure they register for the scheme.
I am pushing the Government to make this scheme automatic, because currently businesses have to sign up.
It appears that if you started your job after the 28th February, you are not eligible for the retention scheme, I believe this is wrong, and have called for the Chancellor to amend this. Please keep an eye on this page to see any updates on this.
I would urge you to ask your previous employer to enroll you on the scheme, as this has reportedly been successful elsewhere.
In the mean time, you can apply for Universal Credit. Go to gov.uk/universal-credit to sign up.
I have repeatedly called for businesses to enforce social distancing practices, and have signed a letter to the Government to make guidance much clearer. Where not possible and not essential to our effort in beating the virus, they should seize operations. If they remain open, employers should provide protective equipment to employees wherever possible. If you are concerned about your own situation, please email in.
After representations from myself and colleagues, the Chancellor has announced that self-employed people will be eligible for a grant of 80% of 3 months' average earnings, capped at £2,500 a month, based on your average profit over the past three years. Payment is expected in early June.
I welcome this move, but I am also urging the Government to bring this payment forward as soon as possible. Those who have just become self-employed may not be eligible. I’m urging the Government to rectify this.
You can read about the scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
The government is also providing the following additional help for the self-employed:
If you are a freelancer/owner-director of your own limited company, it appears that Government support is unfortunately more limited.
I firmly believe that the only way to ensure no one is left behind, the Government should introduce an emergency basic income support payment for everybody. I have made representations to this regard and will continue to urge the Government to do so.
The Government has now announced that schools, colleges and early years settings (such as nurseries) will remain shut for an indefinite period. However, a skeleton service will remain in place for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
I support this action to protect children, staff and the wider public.
Assessments and exams will not be going ahead this year. I know pupils and parents will be concerned by the implications of this and I will seek clarity from the Government on this as these issues are considered in Parliament.
Parents will also need support to be able to look after their children, as they may withdraw from employment. I am urging the Government to clarify how they see this working.
The Government has urged up to 1.5 million people in England identified by the NHS as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus should stay at home to protect themselves.
They will receive communication shortly with detailed advice on behalf of their GP practice or specialist on how best to protect themselves.
Here is the advice from Age UK for how to best support older people.
If you or someone you know is extremely vulnerable, you can request assistance from the Government here.
I support all measures to protect those most vulnerable to this virus.
With other colleagues, I will be raising this urgently with Government to ensure that provisions are being put in place to support all members of our community.
I pay tribute to all key workers like the health staff working in our NHS who worked tirelessly to help deal with the virus. They need to be protected and have priority testing.
I have spoken with our main local healthcare providers to ensure I can represent their concerns to the Government.
I am calling on ministers to ensure public services are provided with the resources to meet the requirements of the Coronavirus Action Plan. We know our NHS is under strain after 17,000 bed cuts, a prolonged funding squeeze and 100,000 staff shortages.
The Government have changed the law to extend an eviction notice to 3 months.
The Chancellor has also announced an increase to the Local Housing Allowance to support private renters with paying their rents.
I am calling, alongside the Labour Party, for the Government to act swiftly to stop all evictions and protect renters by ending the bedroom tax and the benefit cap.
The Government have listened to concerns from me and others about renter evictions. They have changed its approach and is now introducing a FULL ban on evictions, giving much-needed protection for renters at this critical time. Shocking that people were being threatened with evictions during this lockdown.
I have had constituents get in contact with me to tell me they have received notices to leave their house just before the new legislation was adopted. This is simply shameful and heartless. If you are facing eviction during this crisis, please get in touch by using the form at the bottom of this page.
The Government have announced that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
People who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.
Those who are not eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance:
Self-employed people will be able to claim a Statutory Sick Pay equivalent through Universal Credit.
People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.
While I welcome these steps taken by the Government, there unfortunately appear to be major problems, with nothing for those without a contract of employment, and no suggestion that sick pay levels will be increased.
Together with the rest of the Labour Party, I am calling on the government to:
The Government advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect immediately on 17 March and applies initially for 30 days.
British people travelling abroad are also advised to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available. International travel is becoming very limited as air routes close, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevent flights from leaving.
If you, or someone you know, is stranded abroad then please get in touch with my office and we will try to follow up with the Government to get you home.
Many residents will want to receive compensation for travel which has already been planned. The current guidance is to contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers and get in touch with your insurance provider.
I will press the Government to provide assurances that everyone will be fairly compensated for the change in travel advice.
Further information on travel guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
The Government has today announced that they will be flying back more Britons. Where commercial flights are no longer available, the Government will be putting on chartered flights with select airlines to bring those home. This is welcomed news and comes after lobbying by myself and others to get to this position. If this intervention is still not enough, I will be pressing the Government to begin requisitioning flights.
The Governemnt have said:
Special charter flights for countries with no commercial routes will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision. In some places, access for flights to land and the ability to move around within the country to assemble for return flights will also be decisive factors.
Charter flights are already up and running to Ghana and Tunisia. We will add more countries this week with the aim of bringing people back from countries such as India and South Africa where large numbers of British travellers are stuck and commercial routes are completely suspended. We are negotiating intensely with countries around the world to secure permissions for return flights where airspace has been closed.
If there are no commercial options, they should visit the travel advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through our booking agents CTM.
Where people are in real need, our consular teams will work with them to consider their options. As a last resort, the Foreign Office will offer an emergency loan."
More information can be found here.
After repeated lobbying to the Foreign Office, I have now received this further update for those stranded in India:
The British High Commission in New Delhi has moved into crisis mode and has setup a dedicated email address for British nationals who wish to return urgently to the UK.
Email Conqry.Newdelhi@fco.gov.uk with your full name (and names of any family members), Date of Birth, passport number, visa status, date of arrival in India and you contact details.
The FCO also advises all British people in India to:
The Govt should repatriate all Britons abroad by requisitioning airlines.
Here's my question to the Foreign Secretary where I highlighted 2 residents' cases. I will continue to do all I can.