Some universities are said to be in financial trouble. It has arisen because they have expanded, offering many places to overseas students, only to find that model poses difficulties at a time of retrenchment for international travel and exchange. Over reliance on Chinese students could be especially difficult. The deteriorating relations between the West and China over civil rights in mainland China, the new Hong Kong law and the intellectual property issues may put some Chinese students off coming . It would be good to hear from the university representative bodies what they think about the extent of China links, and how they respond to the current Chinese policies on human rights and intellectual property.
Universities have also entered the academic end of the leisure and entertainment business, offering informative conferences during the breaks between terms. These have stood empty for months with a substantial loss of income. They have invested in student accommodation, which has also been without tenants during the lock down period, leading to further income shortfalls.
The university establishments receive substantial research grants from governments, and some from companies for research that their sponsors wish them to carry out. The system of peer reviewing is said to be a strength, where research is assessed by other experts in the field who have the power to publish and recognise it or to mark it down and keep it out of the respected journals. Having a quality control in one sense is a good idea. There is however the danger that it encourages me too thinking, where a younger academic has to proceed around the work of a better established academic, without challenging the foundations of what the elder was doing. It can create groups of like minded people training up a new generation to think the same.
It also knocks on to governments procuring research. The senior academics are likely to influence the grant awarding and commissioning bodies in the public sector, pointing them in the way of research that bears a family resemblance to what they have already done. It can just be a case of the academies corralling around their fashionable theme or theory, seeking to prove it and extend it, whilst keeping out any serious challenge to it.
Government should look carefully at what research it is commissioning. There is no need to commission more research to extend or prove things academics claim to know. There is more need for research which pushes the boundaries and challenges some of the tired assumptions of current thinking.
Published by johnredwood
on Saturday 11 July 2020 05:18
Today, I joined up with Melanie Bussicott and the terrific team at Elmbridge Borough Council to help with their Meals on Wheels service. This is a valuable local operation, delivering hot lunches to elderly and vulnerable residents across Elmbridge who are unable to prepare meals themselves.
I helped to pack the meals at the Molesey Centre for the Community, and delivered them to residents in the area – while socially distanced, using hand sanitiser and PPE – with Lisa Beeks.
The Meals on Wheels service has seen an increase in demand of over 50% compared to this time last year. The team is now delivering up to 1,500 meals every week, with volunteers playing a key role. My thanks to all our local volunteers, and for the community spirit that defines Elmbridge.
Published by Dominic Raab
on Friday 10 July 2020 18:07
BBC put 77% of Argyll & Bute pensioners under added financial pressure It is disgraceful that the BBC has decided to end free TV licences for most over-75’s on August 1. The UK Government is responsible for the licence fee and this really is the most mean spirited of cuts. It is incredible that the […]
The Chancellor announced the details of his financial plan this week to get the country back up and running following the lockdown. It was disappointing both in its lack of reach and lack of understanding of how hard some people in the country have been hit by this crisis. We needed a Back to Work Budget, one that ensured that jobs would be created to replace those lost and that would support retraining for those who had lost their jobs and could not find a replacement. The £1000 per employee brought back from furlough will make little difference to those industries who are still not allowed to resume work and will lead to significant levels of waste given that many businesses will have brought employees back anyway without such an incentive. The ‘one size fits all’ withdrawal of the furlough scheme is likely to cause considerable crisis in sectors like the arts that cannot yet fully reopen.
The UK Government’s ‘Meal Deal’ falls far short of what we require to get people out and spending on the high street again. Without an effective and trusted test and trace system, many people will simply avoid restaurants and pubs and many families won’t even be able to afford to pay for half a meal. The UK Government seems completely unaware of how hard some families have been hit by this crisis. They also seem to have forgotten the heroes of this pandemic – our key workers. Throughout this crisis they have been phenomenal – continuing to work and support us despite inadequate supplies of PPE and low wages and there is nothing in this statement to suggest that the UK Government will rectify this and ensure that all key workers are paid a living wage.
The First Minister has today announced further easing of lockdown measures in Wales, with a number of changes expected in the coming weeks, covering hospitality, the beauty industry, tourism and leisure. It has also been announced this week that all children in Wales will be able to return to school in September, with an additional £29 million of funding provided to recruit teaching staff and help children catch up. As things change it’s even more important that we continue to practise good hygiene and make sure we are up to date on what we can and can’t safely do. You can keep up with Welsh Government announcements on their dedicated Coronavirus page.
It’s one of the most challenging times we’ve ever faced as a country and no sector has been untouched by this pandemic. Sport and physical activity has remained important despite clubs and community groups having to close during the lockdown. However, we now know the importance of physical activity, both for our physical health and for our mental health. There have been so many challenges from this pandemic – we heard reports that obesity could be a contributing factor to the severity of the virus and of course, the mental strain of being in lockdown away from friends and family cannot be underestimated. I’m so pleased to see that Sport Wales have launched a £4 million fund to support grassroots clubs and community groups to ensure that sport is kept alive and kicking in Wales. I cannot wait to get back on the squash court and I know that there are many children and adults across the constituency who want to get back in the pool, on the football pitch, the hockey pitch and the rugby pitch as soon as it is safe to do so. More information on the fund and how to apply can be found here.
On Thursday, Britain’s three steel unions, Community, GMB, and Unite launched a joint campaign to save the future of the steel industry in the UK. The UK Government must look to use steel in the country’s economic recovery plans in order to support the industry and all of the British steelworkers and their families who rely on the income. The UK Government has talked about the necessity to build, build, build and the British steel industry supports them in that goal; they just ask them to ensure that British steel is part of that building plan. Our steelworkers are world class and have been doing their bit throughout this crisis – they produce British steel for NHS hospital beds, and the packaging to ensure our shelves continue to be stocked with food. They are ready and willing to continue doing their bit for Britain, but they need the UK Government’s support.
There have been some concerning reports of growing anti-social behaviour in Neath town centre with South Wales Police making the town centre the subject of a dispersal order. Reports of street drinking, begging, and anti-social behaviour prompted the action from the police, which is in addition to the current Covid-19 legislation banning large groups. This behaviour is unacceptable at the best of times, but we are still not out of the woods with Covid-19 and we must do all we can to ensure that the rate of infection of the virus does not increase and that we do not put anyone at risk. I will be keeping in contact with South Wales Police on this issue.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain there should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend and, remember – keep washing your hands!
Published by Christina Rees
on Friday 10 July 2020 15:16
In last month’s Heatons Post, I wrote about the need for a transport revolution in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, so that we move around in a more sustainable way that improves the quality of our air and our lives.
I was delighted, therefore, to see the plans for pop-up cycle routes around Greater Manchester during this outbreak, including one parallel to Wellington Road North (the A6) through the Heatons. With fewer cars on the roads, this is a fantastic way of getting more people moving around in a more sustainable way.
You may have seen, though, that Manchester City Council were refusing to allow these routes to continue into the city centre. This decision angered me as I felt that it endangered lives and potentially also increase pollution. I very publicly urged the Council to rethink this decision and thankfully they have now announced that they will work with neighbouring boroughs – including Stockport – to make these lanes work.
Whilst pop-up cycle lanes are a fantastic development for the time-being, we also need to think well beyond the current global pandemic however. One of the key things that I would like to see done is to accelerate the Bee Network. This is an exciting proposal, led by former gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Boardman, for 1,800 miles of cycling and walking network across Greater Manchester. As I mentioned last month, the Heatons is part of one of the proposed routes.
Community groups are key to developing a new approach to transport, which is why it’s great to see the newly formed Walk-Ride Reddish Group. I’m sure they will inspired by the great work that the existing Walk-Ride Heatons Group have done.
Whilst I hope that in the main our lives return to normal as soon as possible once the outbreak is over, it would be great if we see some substantial positive changes in transport so that we have a greener and healthier future.
It is really good news that Bitterne Police Station will be reopening next year to make room for more police officers at the heart of our community. The Government promised to recruit thousands more police officers on the streets to help keep us all safe from crime. It is really encouraging to see this [...]
Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, is delighted with the news that yesterday East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the application to improve the A164 and the Jock’s Lodge Junction near Beverley.
Graham said “This is brilliant news and means we are a step closer to seeing work commence on the biggest road scheme in the East Riding for decades. The £50m revamp of Jock’s Lodge Junction and A164 will bring a welcome much-needed boost to the local economy, and will improve driving conditions for locals and visitors. For far too long Jock’s Lodge has been a hotspot for traffic jams and accidents.
“It’s been a long and eventually successful campaign to get here, and it’s down to the dogged determination and hard work of the East Riding Councillors and Council officers that we continue to make good progress. I was delighted to support this hard work by lobbying the Secretary of State for Transport and bringing up the roads minister to take a look at the proposed scheme first hand.
“Schemes like these demonstrate how the Government is working with local councils to boost economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse and building a Britain fit for the future.”
The next step is for the Council to create the detailed design and submit it to the Department of Transport. If all goes well the construction funding could be in place by 2022, and the works could be completed by 2025.
Councillor Kerri Harold said “The investment championed by myself, other Beverley councillors and Graham Stuart MP, is a great success story for our area and one of the most important pieces of work as a councillor I have undertaken. The revamp will improve life for everyone who uses the roads”.
Councillor David Elvidge said: “The A164 which serves the south of the county, West Hull and Beverley, has the highest volume of traffic in the East Riding, with some sections carrying more than 30,000 vehicles a day. It’s been clear for years that we needed to do something about making the road safer, and I’m proud to have worked on this scheme and to be helping bring it to fruition.”
Following this excellent speech this morning by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, where he laid out welcome plans to make Further Education and our colleges central to our education system, I'm delighted to have been asked to become an FE Ambassador by the FE Minister Gillian Keegan.
We know that our colleges are at the heart of the education offer in Mansfield, and that for more and more young people the outcomes that they get from university simply dont justify the cost.
I've always believed that university is of great benefit to many people, and we have many great universities, but that fundamentally we should be helping young people to choose the best path for them rather than always pushing them to university as a default option.
We've undervalued FE, colleges, Apprenticeships and work-based learning for an awfully long time. I'm so pleased Government is recognising the huge role our colleges have to play in both the coronavirus recovery, and for the long term too.
I'm really looking forward to working with Gavin, Gillian and the DfE to really push and promote our great colleges, and I hope it can bring good things for us here in Mansfield too.
Trees are often raised with me by local people in Wycombe. The Conservative Party 2019 manifesto committed us to tree planting: We will invest in nature, helping us to reach our Net Zero target with a £640 million new Nature for Climate fund. Building on our support for creating a Great Northumberland Forest, we will reach an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland. The Conservatives website […]
Published by Steve Baker
on Thursday 09 July 2020 17:34
Today, the Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Panel (GMDPP) launched their report GM Big Disability Survey: Covid-19 about disabled people’s experience of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability, I congratulate all at GMDPP for this excellent report highlighting the many issues disabled people have faced during lock-down.
One of the key things that struck me was that 8 out of 10 of the 936 disabled people who responded said they hadn’t been included in the shielded group although 50% had significant support needs. This meant that they didn’t get the extra support for example with shopping that made things even worse.
More than ever, disabled people felt ignored and an after-thought. We must not let these issues go unchallenged. I will be urging all Greater Manchester MP colleagues to write to the Care Minister and Minister for Disabled People to ensure when there is a second wave of Covid, disabled people are not treated as though their well-being is acceptable collateral damage.
Commenting on the Chancellor’s Summer Statement, Angus MacNeil SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said:
“The Chancellor yesterday announced a range of measures in his statement to support the economic recovery, however, none of these go far enough. The Scottish Government called for an £80Bn stimulus package which has been ignored and the Chancellor’s statement falls short of what is required to support our economy.
“In May, I called on the UK Treasury to take account of the health policies of the devolved nations when considering the furlough scheme, the Chancellor’s decision to end this scheme will be devastating for many. It is essential that the Treasury supports business as the financial impact of this pandemic will be felt for a long time.
“On Tuesday, I participated in a cross-party online meeting of the ExcludedUK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to stand up for the 3 million people in the UK who are being excluded from receiving financial support from the Treasury. It is good to see that over a quarter of MPs in the House of Commons, from all parties support this campaign. Therefore, it is shameful that today the Chancellor made no announcement on extending the duration of The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or to extend support to the millions of people who are currently excluded from receiving any financial support.
“A VAT cut from 20% to 5% for tourism is good news and something I have long campaigned for, but six-months is not long enough as this will end mid-winter when tourism is generally quiet.
“Scotland should not be at the mercy of the Tories economic policies. It is only with independence that Scotland will be able to make its own financial decisions.”
Published by macdonaldrm
on Thursday 09 July 2020 14:05
The First Minister today announced that the progress we’ve made in suppressing COVID-19 means that we can now move to phase three of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown. Coronavirus, although at very low levels in Scotland, is … Continue reading →
Karin Smyth, MP in Bristol South, is looking for a caseworker to join her constituency team to help respond to higher levels of casework due the coronavirus pandemic.
This new position is a part time, fixed term post. The successful candidate will work closely with the Senior Caseworker. The role is interesting and covers a broad range of casework.
Training will be provided as needed. The role is based in Karin’s constituency office in Bristol South. However, in the event of a new lockdown, the post-holder would need to be able to work from home.
Hours: Part-time, 30 hours per week (days/hours negotiable)
Fixed term contract: To 31 March 2021
Salary: £20,800 for 30 hours, (£26,000 FT equivalent) per annum
Start date: Monday 17 August 2020
Deadline for applications: 5pm on Friday 24 July 2020
Date of interviews: Thursday 30 July 2020 (either online or social distancing, to be confirmed)
· Responding to constituency casework. This involves handling enquiries from constituents (usually by phone or e-mail) and taking the appropriate action quickly and efficiently.
· Managing a varied caseload effectively, researching and drafting correspondence as required.
· Contacting government departments, local authority departments, public sector and private sector organisations.
· Accurate record keeping, retaining and processing information sensitively, confidentially and in line with the Data Protection Act 2005 and GDPR 2018.
· Attending surgeries and other meetings as appropriate.
· Liaising with community groups and local organisations.
· Supporting colleagues within the constituency team as needed.
Essential skills / experience
· Previous experience of customer service / casework / complaints handling by telephone.
· Able to respond compassionately and respectfully to sensitive issues on behalf of constituents.
· Strong organisation and time management skills, with the ability to prioritise and work under pressure.
· Able to work as part of a team as well as on your own initiative with the ability to manage your own caseload.
· A professional, polite and confident telephone manner.
· Excellent written communication skills.
· Accuracy and attention to detail.
· Strong IT skills, and experience of using Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook.
· In sympathy with the aims and values of the Labour Party.
Desirable skills / experience
· Experience of responding to people with stressful problems
· Experience of using a case management system or database.
· A full UK driving licence.
· Good local knowledge of the Bristol South area and the issues faced by constituents in Bristol South.
· An interest in politics or experience of working in a political environment, public or third sector.
To apply, please send your CV and a covering letter (outlining how you meet each of the requirements of the post) to Karin Smyth at email@example.com
Published by firstname.lastname@example.org
on Thursday 09 July 2020 11:15
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, has visited several shops in her constituency to see for herself the measures they have put in place to enable them to welcome shoppers safely. The MP visited Amble and Alnwick and was delighted to see shoppers out enjoying the sunshine and patronising local stores.
In response to Rishi Sunak’s statement on the Government’s plan for jobs, John says sharpening our competition laws and opening up our market economy to tougher competition is the best long-term guarantee of employment for everybody.
The Chancellor’s full speech is copied below:
I stood here in March saying I knew people were worried.
And I know they’re worried still.
We have taken decisive action to protect our economy.
But people are anxious about losing their job, about unemployment rising.
We’re not just going to accept this.
People need to know we will do all we can to give everyone the opportunity of good and secure work.
People need to know that although hardship lies ahead, no one will be left without hope.
So, today, we act, with a Plan for Jobs.
Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs.
It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire.
To create jobs in every part of our country.
To give young people a better start.
To give people everywhere the opportunity of a fresh start.
Where problems emerge, we will confront them.
Where support is justified, we will provide it.
Where challenges arise, we will overcome them.
We entered this crisis unencumbered by dogma and we continue in this spirit, driven always by the simple desire to do what is right.
Before I turn to our Plan for Jobs, let me first outline the nature of the challenge.
Our economic response to coronavirus is moving through three phases.
In the first phase, beginning in March, the government announced social distancing measures and ordered businesses to close, halting the spread of the disease.
We put in place one of the largest and most comprehensive economic responses in the world.
Our £160 billion plan protects people’s jobs, incomes and businesses:
we supported more than 11 million people and jobs through the job retention and self-employment schemes, alongside billions of pounds for the most vulnerable
we supported over a million businesses to protect jobs, through tax cuts, tax deferrals, direct cash grants, and over a million government-backed loans
and we supported public services, with new funding for the NHS, schools, public transport, and local authorities
In total, we have now provided £49 billion to support public services since this crisis began.
Analysis I’m publishing today shows our interventions significantly protected people’s incomes, with the least well off in society supported the most.
And this crisis has highlighted the special bond which holds our country together.
Millions of people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been protected by the UK government’s economic interventions – and they will be supported by today’s Plan for Jobs.
No nationalist can ignore the undeniable truth: this help has only been possible because we are a United Kingdom.
Four months on, as we carefully reopen our economy, we are entering the second phase of our economic response.
Despite the extraordinary support we’ve already provided, we face profound economic challenges:
world economic activity has slowed, with the IMF expecting the deepest global recession since records began
household consumption – the biggest component of our economy – has fallen steeply
businesses have stopped trading and stopped hiring
taken together, in just two months our economy contracted by 25% – the same amount it grew in the previous eighteen years.
And the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and Bank of England are both projecting significant job losses – the most urgent challenge we now face.
I want every person in this House and in the country to know that I will never accept unemployment as an unavoidable outcome.
We haven’t done everything we have so far just to step back now and say, ‘job done’. In truth, the job has only just begun.
If the first phase of our economic response was about protection…
…and the second phase – the phase we are addressing today – is about jobs…
…there will come a third phase, where we will rebuild.
My Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister has set out our vision to level up, unite the country, spread opportunity, and repair and heal the wounds exposed through this crisis.
I can tell the House we will produce a Budget and Spending Review in the autumn.
And, we will deal too, with the challenges facing our public finances.
Over the medium-term, we must, and we will, put our public finances back on a sustainable footing.
In other words, our Plan for Jobs will not be the last action – it is merely the next – in our fight to recover and rebuild after coronavirus.
Let me now turn to the detail of our plan for jobs.
Central to our economic response has been the Jobs Retention Scheme.
Furlough has been a lifeline for millions, supporting people and businesses to protect jobs.
But it cannot and should not go on forever.
I know that when furlough ends it will be a difficult moment.
I’m also sure that if I say the scheme must end in October, critics will say it should end in November.
If I say it should end in November, critics will just say December.
But the truth is: calling for endless extensions to the furlough is just as irresponsible as it would have been, back in June, to end the scheme overnight.
We have to be honest.
Leaving the furlough scheme open forever gives people false hope that it will always be possible to return to the jobs they had before.
And the longer people are on furlough, the more likely it is their skills could fade, and they will find it harder to get new opportunities.
It is in no-one’s long term interests for the scheme to continue forever…
…least of all those trapped in a job that can only exist because of a government subsidy.
So the furlough will wind down, flexibly and gradually, supporting businesses and people through to October.
But while we can’t protect every job, one of the most important things we can do to prevent unemployment…
…is to get as many people as possible from furlough back to their jobs.
So, today, we’re introducing a new policy to reward and incentivise employers who successfully bring furloughed staff back – a new Jobs Retention Bonus.
If you’re an employer and you bring someone back who was furloughed – and you continuously employ them through to January – we will pay you a £1,000 bonus per employee.
It is vital people aren’t just returning for the sake of it – they need to be doing decent work.
So for businesses to get this bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to January…
…the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in National Insurance.
The House should understand the significance of this policy.
We will pay the bonus for all furloughed employees.
So if employers bring back all nine million people who have been furloughed, this would be a £9 billion policy to retain people in work.
Our message to business is clear: if you stand by your workers, we will stand by you.
The furlough was the right policy to support people through the first phase of this crisis.
But now, in this new phase, we need to evolve our approach.
Today, I want to set out for the House a new three-point plan for jobs. We need to:
first – support people to find jobs
second – create jobs
and third – protect jobs
Let me start with supporting jobs, and in particular the help we want to provide for those who will be hardest hit by this crisis: younger people.
Over 700,000 people are leaving education this year.
Many more are just starting out in their careers.
Coronavirus has hit them hard – under 25s are two and a half times as likely to work in a sector that has been closed.
We cannot lose this generation, so today, I am announcing the Kickstart Scheme:
A new programme to give hundreds of thousands of young people, in every region and nation of Britain, the best possible chance of getting on and getting a job.
The Kickstart Scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment.
These will be new jobs – with the funding conditional on the firm proving these jobs are additional.
These will be decent jobs – with a minimum of 25 hours per week paid at least the National Minimum Wage.
And they will be good quality jobs – with employers providing Kickstarters with training and support to find a permanent job.
If employers meet these conditions, we will pay young people’s wages for six months, plus an amount to cover overheads.
That means, for a 24-year-old, the grant will be around £6,500.
Employers can apply to be part of the scheme from next month, with the first Kickstarters in their new jobs this autumn.
And I urge every employer, big or small, national or local, to hire as many Kickstarters as possible.
Today, I’m making available an initial £2 billion; enough to fund hundreds of thousands of jobs.
And I commit today: there will be no cap on the number of places available.
We can do more for young people:
traineeships are a proven scheme to get young people ready for work. We know they work, so for the first time ever we will pay employers £1,000 to take on new trainees, with triple the number of places
to support 18-19-year olds leaving school or college to find work in high-demand sectors like engineering, construction and social care, we’ll provide £100 million to create more places on Level 2 and 3 courses
and the evidence says careers advice works, so we will fund it, with enough new careers advisers to support over a quarter of a million more people.
We will also expand our universal skills offer:
Sector-Based Work Academies provide training, work placements, and a guaranteed job interview in high-demand sectors.
The evidence shows they work, so we will expand them – tripling the number of places.
And we know apprenticeships work, too – 91% of apprentices stay in work or do further training afterwards.
So for the next six months, we’re going to pay employers to create new apprenticeships.
We will pay businesses to hire young apprentices, with a new payment of £2,000 per apprentice.
And we will introduce a brand-new bonus for businesses to hire apprentices aged 25 and over, with a payment of £1,500.
And let me thank my Right Honourable Friend the Education Secretary for his support and commitment in developing these measures.
We know the longer someone is out of work, the harder it is to return.
Millions of people are moving onto Universal Credit – they need urgent support to get back to work.
So, we are:
doubling the number of Work Coaches in Job Centres
increasing the Flexible Support Fund
extending the Rapid Response Service
expanding the Work and Health Programme
and developing a new scheme to support the long-term unemployed
The academic and economic evidence tells us these are among the most effective things we can do.
So I’m investing an extra billion pounds in DWP, to support millions of people back to work.
And I’m grateful for everything my Right Honourable Friend the Work and Pensions secretary, and her incredible team, have done.
£1 billion of support for the unemployed; more money for skills, traineeships, and apprenticeships; and a new, good quality job for hundreds of thousands of new Kickstarters – the first part of our plan for jobs.
The second part of our plan is to support job creation.
That begins with historic investment in infrastructure – creating jobs in every region and nation of the UK.
At Budget, I announced £88 billion of capital funding this year; and last week the Prime Minister announced our plans to accelerate £5 billion of additional investment projects.
We are doubling down on our ambition to level up…
…with better roads, better schools, better hospitals, better high streets, creating jobs in all four corners of our country.
As well as investing in infrastructure, we want to create green jobs.
This is going to be a green recovery with concern for our environment at its heart.
As part of that, I’m announcing today a new, £2 billion Green Homes Grant.
From September, homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient and create local jobs.
The grants will cover at least two thirds of the cost, up to £5,000 per household.
And for low income households, we’ll go even further with vouchers covering the full cost – up to £10,000.
On top of the £2 billion voucher scheme, I am releasing £1 billion of funding to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings…
…alongside a £50 million fund to pilot the right approach to decarbonise social housing.
Taken together, we expect these measures to:
make over 650,000 homes more energy efficient
save households up to £300 a year on their bills
cut carbon by more than half a mega tonne per year, equivalent to taking 270,000 cars off the road
and, most importantly right now, support around 140,000 green jobs
A £3 billion green jobs plan to save money; cut carbon; and create jobs.
One of the most important sectors for job creation is housing.
The construction sector adds £39 billion a year to the UK economy;
House building alone supports nearly three quarter of a million jobs;
With millions more relying on the availability of housing to find work.
But property transactions fell by 50% in May.
House prices have fallen for the first time in eight years.
And uncertainty abounds in the market – a market we need to be thriving.
We need people feeling confident – confident to buy, sell, renovate, move and improve.
That will drive growth. That will create jobs.
So to catalyse the housing market and boost confidence, I have decided today to cut stamp duty.
Right now, there is no stamp duty on transactions below £125,000.
Today, I am increasing the threshold to half a million pounds.
This will be a temporary cut running until 31st March next year.
And, as is always the case, these changes to stamp duty will take effect immediately.
The average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500.
And nearly nine out of ten people buying a main home this year, will pay no stamp duty at all.
Stamp duty cuts; A £5,000 Green Homes Grant; And tens of billions of pounds of new capital projects.
We are creating jobs, the second part of our Plan for Jobs.
The final part of our plan will protect jobs that already exist by helping some of our highest-employing but hardest-hit sectors: hospitality and tourism.
Our economy relies on consumption, especially social consumption:
The pubs, cafes, restaurants, hotels and B&Bs that bring life to our villages, towns and cities.
Taken together these sectors employ over 2 million people disproportionately younger, women and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
And many rural and coastal communities rely on these industries.
80% of hospitality firms temporarily stopped trading in April and 1.4 million workers have been furloughed, the highest proportions of any sector.
So the best jobs programme we can do is to restart these sectors and get our pubs, restaurants, cafés and B&Bs bustling again.
I know people are cautious about going out.
But we wouldn’t have lifted the restrictions if we didn’t think we could do so safely.
And I’ve seen in the last few weeks how hard businesses are working to make their premises safe.
And if we follow the guidance, and respect what they ask us to do, we can all enjoy summer safely.
In turn, we need to give these businesses the confidence to know that if they open up, invest in making their premises safe, and protect jobs, demand will be there, and be there quickly.
So today, I’m announcing two new measures to get these sectors moving and protect jobs.
First, at the moment, VAT on hospitality and tourism is charged at 20%.
So I’ve decided, for the next six months, to cut VAT on food, accommodation and attractions.
Eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs;
Accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites;
Attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos;
All these and more will see VAT reduced from next Wednesday until January 12th, from 20% to 5%.
This is a £4 billion catalyst for the hospitality and tourism sectors, benefiting over 150,000 businesses, and consumers everywhere – all helping to protect 2.4 million jobs.
But, Mr Speaker, we will go further.
The final measure I’m announcing today has never been tried in the UK before.
This moment is unique. We need to be creative.
So, to get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs, and protect the 1.8 million people who work in them…
…I can announce today that, for the month of August, we will give everyone in the country an Eat Out to Help Out discount.
Meals eaten at any participating business, Monday to Wednesday, will be 50% off, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children.
Businesses will need to register, and can do so through a simple website, open next Monday.
Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within 5 working days.
1.8 million people work in this industry. They need our support and with this measure we can all eat out to help out.
A VAT cut to 5%;
And a first-of-its-kind government-backed discount for all;
That’s the third part of our Plan for Jobs.
So, Mr Speaker,
A £1,000 Jobs Retention Bonus.
New, high quality jobs for hundreds of thousands of young Kickstarters.
£1bn to double the number of work coaches and support the unemployed.
More apprenticeships; more traineeships; more skills funding.
Billions of pounds for new, job creation projects around the country.
A £3 billion plan to support 140,000 green jobs.
And in this vital period, as we get going again:
Stamp duty cut.
Meals out cut.
Mr Speaker, all part of our Plan for Jobs worth up to £30 billion.
Governments, much less people, rarely get to choose the moments that define them. What choice there is comes in how we respond.
For me, this has never just been a question of economics, but of values:
I believe in the nobility of work.
I believe in the inspiring power of opportunity.
I believe in the British people’s fortitude and endurance.
And it is that value, endurance, more than any other, we need to embody now.
A patience to live with the uncertainty of the moment…
…to find that new balance between safety and normality.
We will not be defined by this crisis, but by our response to it.
It is an unambiguous choice to make this moment meaningful for our country in a way that transcends the frustration and loss of recent months.
It is a plan to turn our national recovery into millions of stories of personal renewal.
Mr Speaker, it is our Plan for Jobs and I commend it to this House.
Published by Team JP
on Wednesday 08 July 2020 19:31
A brilliant plan for jobs from the Chancellor. Supporting local people and businesses as we recover from Coronarvirus. Labour bailed out the banks, we are backing local people and businesses instead 👍 https://t.co/WG0DdKvBdB
‘We should hang our heads in shame at the way pregnant women and new mums are treated at work' The former Culture Secretary is reintroducing a bill to protect pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.
Today the Chancellor gave his summer economic update and announced support for the UK economy. There were some welcome measures, like the kickstart fund to create jobs for young people, a scheme to support green jobs, and a VAT cut for hospitality and tourism. But I fear the Government have not gone far enough, especially … Continue reading North East needs the Chancellor to go further→
Published by Catherine McKinnell
on Wednesday 08 July 2020 17:10
"We know when the furlough scheme is flexibly wound down it will be a difficult moment. The £9 billion scheme to incentivise employers to retain furloughed workers is welcome. As is the kick start scheme will help create jobs for young people and the massive increase in training courses. However, I am especially pleased that the Chancellor has recognised that those over 25 will also need retraining opportunities and that there will be a new apprentice scheme for the over 25s.
We will also double the number of job coaches to provide people with the support they may need.
Most welcome of all is the huge VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sector- from 20-5%. This will help Portsmouth businesses greatly. I like the creativity of the discount vouchers for those sectors in August and will be looking closely about how it will work to ensure it doesn’t disrupt cashflow for our small businesses. I think the benefit of it will be to encourage people to head out and use the Portsmouth’s reopening cafes, pubs and restaurants.
The funds to help insulate homes and public buildings will not just help create jobs and help the environment but will reduce household bills too.
Portsmouth is a hugely entrepreneurial and resilient place, we have tough times ahead- for businesses and for individuals, but we will get through it."
Over the last week we have seen businesses in the hospitality sector re-open their doors, albeit within social distancing guidelines. It's really important that people respect these rules, in order that the coronavirus infection rate doesn’t start to rise again, as it's doing in some parts of the United States of America. This would make […]
Last week, Bill Wiggin MP met virtually with constituents as part of the climate change and environment lobby, ‘The Time Is Now’. In a productive meeting, climate change activists from North Herefordshire discussed their concerns about how the UK better protects the environment. The discussions brought about a variety of key... Continue Reading →
I am writing to update eyou about the latest, disappointing news about the future of Epsom Hospital and the Epsom and St Helier Trust.
Last Friday the leadership of the NHS in Surrey and London endorsed the provisional plan to build the proposed new hospital at Sutton, rather than Epsom or St Helier. Whilst I have always understood the attraction of building a brand new centre for the area, and the reasons why the NHS has focused on Sutton as it is half way between Epsom and St Helier, I do think that the choice of site is the wrong one.
I have been putting pressure on the local leadership team in the past few weeks to hold back for a little longer on deciding between the sites, particularly in the context of the pandemic.
In particular, while I think that a £500 million investment in better facilities is good for local people, there was quite a big difference between the costs of building at Sutton and doing so at Epsom, which was estimated to br e much cheaper. My concern is that there may not now be sufficient funding available to guarantee that the project can go ahead at Sutton. By contrast, the Trust can almost certainly still afford to build at Epsom and still fulfil the clinical model and also make some provision for potential additional capacity following the pandemic. The expectation in the construction industry today is that costs will rise following the pandemic. Unless a fully-workable vaccine is found for the virus, some degree of social distancing will remain necessary for the time being and this must be factored into the projected costings. Construction at Epsom remains the lowest cost option for the Trust and remains the best value for money. On the basis of the current situation, I still believe Epsom is the most affordable option.
In addition, the main reason that Sutton was recommended over Epsom was because of the whole system impact of building at Epsom – that London hospitals would need extra capacity as well because patients currently treated at St Helier would go there rather than Epsom. However the Epsom and St Helier project team has now done modelling based on needing an extra 20% of beds to provide capacity to deal with a future pandemic. This is sensible. But it is also likely that additional investment will be required at the London teaching hospitals for the same reason. If spare capacity has to be built at St George’s anyway, following the pandemic, and this capacity would be available for normal use in normal times, there is no reason for the cost of this extra capacity to be included in the project plan.
The Trust now has to go through a long further process of finalising its plans, and in my view the option of building at Epsom may still have to return to the table for financial reasons.
But in the meantime, let me explain what this means for patients and for Epsom. The new hospital at Sutton would take over all the high-end work that the Trust does. This means that almost all of the treatments that are currently done for patients from this area at St Helier would move to Sutton. That would in fact bring them closer to home for most people.
It would mean that the maternity unit at Epsom would move to Sutton in the late 2020s, and that blue light ambulances would go to Sutton as well. But Epsom would continue to do most of what it does at the moment, including day surgery and the elective orthopaedic centre, as well as a lot of inpatient treatment aimed particularly at the elderly. Most of what the A&E department does will also remain. So the hospital is in no danger of closing or disappearing.
I will continue to update you as things develop further, and I will be keeping a very close eye on the work being done. On the one hand I am pleased to see a real modernisation of our local facilities, and a smart new centre locally. For those who do not know, the Sutton site is up on the Downs near the end of the “mad mile” on the A217. But at the same time I would have much preferred Epsom to be chosen, and I do think that the case for Epsom remains.
The beauty industry contributes nearly £30bn to our economy, so it is understandable that many in the industry here in St Helens borough are angered by the disparaging comments made by the Prime Minister this week. Whilst hairdressers and barbers are set to open from tomorrow, beauty salons, spas and other wellness facilities are left in the dark, unable to open with no certainty or clarity as to when they […]
Published by Conor McGinn MP
on Saturday 04 July 2020 09:49
I recently visited the
Community Pharmacy in Bridge Street, Llangennech, to thank the staff there for
the heroic efforts they have made during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure
everyone has been able to access the medicines that they need.
Llangennech Pharmacy is
just one of many pharmacies across the area where staff have had to cope with
unprecedented challenges, first the panic when people were rushing to get their
prescriptions before lockdown, then additional workload to get medicines out to
those who are shielding and then sometimes their own staff shortages.
I’d like to say a special
thank you to Alan Bowen, who runs the local Karate Club, who recruited an
energetic group of volunteers that have been a great help in Llangennech
Pharmacy, and to Cllr Gary Jones who has helped deliver prescriptions.
Whilst the vast majority
of customers have understood the pressures, there have unfortunately been some
who have vented their anger and impatience on pharmacy staff.
everyone who has worked or helped in this or other pharmacies – an enormous
Published by Nia Griffith
on Friday 03 July 2020 09:43
Yesterday, I asked the Secretary of State for Health why the UK Government made the ideological decision to set up a parallel commercial lab system, instead of funding extra NHS lab capacity. It has undermined the ability of local public health teams to access results and stop COVID-19 outbreaks.
Furthermore, I asked why the UK Government have decided to further ease lockdown when published data on COVID-19 cases in England were out by 50%.
You can view my question below and see the full text here in Hansard.
Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP)
Naturally, I too am delighted that Scotland has had no deaths for four days and only five cases today.
Public Health England began publishing combined data from commercial as well as NHS labs at the beginning of this month. Since then, it has become clear that Leicester has had far more covid cases than it was previously aware of, with almost 900 over the last three weeks. This data is published only weekly, however, which is of no use for tracing contacts or the early identification of an outbreak.
The Secretary of State tends to focus on the number of tests, but does he accept that it is actually tracing and isolation that stop the spread of the virus? How does he expect local public health teams to identify an emerging outbreak if they cannot access accurate data, and how can they manage one if they are not sent individual test results in realtime? When will he be able to guarantee that test results are sent immediately to GPs and local public health teams, so that they can trace contacts and isolate patients?
The lack of accurate data can also affect Government decisions. On 10 May, when the Prime Minister eased lockdown across England, almost 40,000 positive cases from the commercial labs were not included in the data of the four nations. Even now, the UK Government website claims that there have been just over 160,000 covid cases in England, despite Public Health England reporting that there have actually been 240,000. Does the Secretary of State really think it safe to go ahead with opening pubs and restaurants across England when there have been 50% more cases than previously reported? If the UK Government were aware of this much higher incidence, why have they knowingly been publishing false information on their website?
I think the best way to explain that is that all the data we have on Leicester has been made available to Leicestershire County Council. I pay tribute to Ivan Browne, director of public health at Leicester City Council, who has done a superb job through this. All the data available to us is available to him. Indeed, I can commit to the House that we will publish all the data on test results, in order to ensure that the wider public, as well as directors of public health, are able to access that data.
The hon. Lady frequently tries to divide the testing system between those tests done in hospital labs and those done in the labs that we have built over the past few weeks. That is the wrong approach—it is only because we managed to build those labs that we have such large testing capacity across the UK. Those tests from the lighthouse labs are available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as England. I pay tribute to the work of those labs, which have done so much to deliver what is now an extraordinary testing capability that we can bring to bear on specific problems, such as this one in Leicester.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps recently met with bosses from online supermarket giant Ocado to get an update on their battle to supply households across the country during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The online grocer, headquartered in Hatfield, has reported a large increase in business over the last few months.
Grant, who is also the Secretary of State for Transport, has held regular meetings with the two supermarkets HQ’d in his Hertfordshire constituency to make sure they are coping with the constraints the virus has placed on business.
Ocado said of the meeting: “It was great to be able to catch up with Grant again. We are thankful for his time, both on local issues and wider transport concerns.”
Grant said: “I’m pleased to hear that Ocado have coped well with the Coronavirus outbreak. It has not been easy on any business, but the critical role that food delivery has played in keeping the nation fed during this outbreak has been of critical importance.
“The service they provide has made it easier for people to adhere to the social distancing rules the government has set out by reducing the need for people to go to supermarkets in person, and as their headquarters is based in my constituency, I’m doubly happy to help them in any way I can.”
If you as a Welwyn Hatfield constituent or business owner would like Grant’s assistance with anything, you can contact him directly via email at email@example.com.
Published by Nick Langley
on Tuesday 30 June 2020 14:08
Among the thousands of incredible volunteers across the South West making a difference in the fight against coronavirus, I want to note the work of those ‘Biking for Britain’.
A number of professional and amateur bikers are supporting front line staff from their motorbike saddle by delivering blood and other critical items for the NHS across the South West, the demand for which has soared.
SERV Wessex provide a free service to the NHS in Hampshire, Dorset and South Wiltshire. The volunteer motorbike riders provide a service to collect and deliver human milk and transport blood, plasma, platelets, medical samples and medical equipment. Their work is absolutely vital at the moment and is saving the lives of Wiltshire’s residents, so on behalf of all of us in Wiltshire I want to say thank you to those Biking for Britain.
Coronavirus has stopped the courts in their tracks with trials unable to take place. As a minister for both crime and justice, I was able to update the House that discussions on restoring the courts are underway.
Published by Charles Hosmer
on Thursday 18 June 2020 13:56
Today at Prime Minister’s Questions, I asked why shielding workers have still not been told whether they can continue to be furloughed. Sadly, I did not get a proper answer from the Prime Minister, who seems not to understand the plight of shielding workers or even his own policies.
The Prime Minister said last week that he would address this issue, but the deadline for fulough applications closed and there has been no further information for newly shielding workers. Those who have been recently diagnosed with a condition that makes them vulnerable to Covid-19 or are told to shield for any other reason have been left completely in the dark about what will happen to their job. It is unacceptable to treat people in this very difficult position with such thoughtlessness and disregard.
The Prime Minister clearly has no idea about whether shielding workers can still be furloughed.
I am seriously worried by the fact that so many (meant to be peaceful) demonstrations end up by being anything but. The motives of organisers may be sincere, right and proper but it appears that too often now the demonstrations are unfortunately used as a catalyst by some in the crowds.
Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)
By email to: Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
SUPPORT FOR THE TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY SECTOR
We are writing to urge you to give the tourism industry across all nations of the UK, a much-needed lifeline.
Tourism is worth £10.5 billion to the Scottish economy with day and overnight visitor spending accounting for £7 billion of Scotland’s GDP. In 2018, we welcomed 15.5 million visitors, with three and a half million people coming from overseas. Before the pandemic, associated tourism businesses employed over 8% of our workforce.
Hospitality and tourism sectors form an organic network of interdependencies across our communities from micro-businesses to some of our biggest private employers. These are sectors that matter to our economy, culture, and future prosperity.
Like you, we are acutely aware that there is not a sector unaffected by COVID 19, but we similarly hope you see that the road to recovery will be particularly slow and high risk for tourism and hospitality businesses.
These sectors don’t only rely on people travelling and visiting in numbers; they need people sitting in their restaurants and pubs, they need holidaymakers staying in hotels and their function rooms booked up with conferences and events. Right now, none of this activity is happening, nor should it be – but the stranglehold on these businesses is tightening.
As you know, the pandemic struck just as the tourism sector was gearing up for its money-making season. The grant schemes and business rates holidays have been welcome and have helped keep most businesses afloat in the short term, but time is running out.
Returning to business as usual now is simply not an option. To do so risks public health, our communities and our long term recovery. We are still in the midst of a public health crisis. While we are all acutely aware of the impact ongoing restrictions have on our economy; I am sure you agree that the route-map out of lockdown must be in line with scientific advice to control the spread of the virus.
In Scotland, we boast a tourism industry that is resilient, innovative and ingenious. These businesses already know how to survive harsh off-seasons, but they will not be able to recover from this economic crisis without significant financial backing.
It is likely to be 2021 before tourism businesses that do survive, generate meaningful earnings and up to 3 years before there is momentum to get back to where we were before the pandemic. Business owners face the prospect of what some call ‘three winter’ trading conditions.
They need a sectoral economic recovery plan backed by real financial incentives, and we are asking you to put in place the measures to achieve this.
Convert Loan Scheme to Grants
The starting point would be re-evaluating the UK Government’s loan scheme (CIBLS). We know businesses have benefited from this scheme, but unfortunately, it isn’t working for the majority of tourism businesses or small to medium enterprises.
The businesses that have qualified for support now face trying to meet payments without any new sources of income. Piling on the debt just pushes the problems out and restricts, if not kills off the investment that will be required to kick start this sector.
We urge you to convert this financial backing to grant support, to allow the Scottish Government to provide additional grants for the tourism sector and other vital industries most at risk.
Extend Furlough Scheme & Self Employment Support
The furlough scheme has allowed employers to retain staff through lockdown and has kept money in employees pockets. While the scheme hasn’t helped all, it has been a welcome intervention for business owners and employees.
It is for this reason; we ask you to reconsider your plan for a blanket approach to scaling down the furlough scheme and to commit to extending the self-employment scheme further. We believe introducing further financial burdens on business owners at such a critical time will result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Indeed, we have already seen mass redundancies across the hospitality sector in response to your announcement to ask for employer contributions.
The tourism sector is simply not in a position to recover yet, especially with the introduction of new quarantine restrictions. We, therefore, ask that you consider reviewing the furlough scheme on a sectoral basis, extend and fully fund the furlough scheme for tourism and hospitality businesses and to continue to support self-employed people who are unable to resume tourism businesses. Similar measures are also needed to support our aviation sector.
End VAT for Tourism Sector
As you will know, the UK is one of the few European countries to charge full VAT on hospitality services. Countries such as Ireland and Germany have long provided a tax subsidy boosting jobs and visitor numbers, and the same should happen here. We have called for VAT relief for the sector for a long time, and we urge you to provide this much-needed relief now. If we don’t stand with our tourism and hospitality businesses now, they won’t be here to play their vital role in regenerating our economy, and it is our local economies that will pay the ultimate price.
Incentivise and Innovate
To save our tourism sectors, we also need to look outward and see how other nations are responding to this crisis. On quarantine, we could look to places like Iceland, where visitors take a free Covid-19 test on arrival and, only those who test positive, are required to quarantine for 14 days. In Cyprus, the Government will pay the hotel, food and medical costs of any visitor who contracts the disease while visiting and both the Swiss and Japanese Governments are promoting ‘Staycations’ by paying a bonus to domestic visitors to support their tourism industry.
To ensure the future of the tourism and hospitality sectors, both the UK and Scottish Government need to put our tourism economy at the heart of recovery plans, and we urge you to work with the Scottish Government to this end. We need a coordinated and robust response; a rapidly developed, transparent and flexible plan with buy-in across the sector.
As you know, we are not alone in facing these challenges. Other countries are already leading the way by injecting investment into their tourism industries. We, therefore, urge you to put in place an urgent sector-specific finance package, similar to the 18 billion euros package the French Government have put in place to support its tourism sector.
These are uncharted waters with shifting tides and currents; however, we believe with the right financial support and the ingenuity of the sector will allow us to save the tourism sector.
Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you would like to discuss these matters in more detail – we must all work together to support our communities through COVID-19.
We look forward to hearing back from you.
Drew Hendry MP
SNP Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Spokesperson
Member of Parliament for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
Alison Thewliss MP, Glasgow Central
Ian Blackford MP, Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North
Brendan O’Hara MP, Argyll & Bute
Gavin Newlands MP, Paisley & Renfrewshire North
John Nicolson MP, Ochil & South Perthshire
Kenny MacAskill MP, East Lothian
Owen Thompson MP, Midlothian
Pete Wishart MP, Perth & North Perthshire
Martyn Day MP, Linlithgow & East Falkirk
David Linden MP, Glasgow East
Margaret Ferrier MP, Rutherglen & Hamilton West
Tommy Sheppard MP, Edinburgh East
Hannah Bardell MP, Livingston
Anne McLaughlin MP, Glasgow North East
Stewart McDonald MP, Glasgow South
Amy Callaghan MP, East Dunbartonshire
Carol Monaghan MP, Glasgow North West
Alan Brown MP, Kilmarnock & Loudoun
Kirsten Oswald MP, East Renfrewshire
Neale Hanvey MP, Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
Lisa Cameron MP, East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow
Neil Gray MP, Airdrie & Shotts
Dave Doogan MP, Angus
Douglas Chapman MP, Dunfermline & West Fife
Richard Thomson MP, Gordon
Deidre Brock MP, Edinburgh North & Leith
Ronnie Cowan MP, Inverclyde
Stephen Flynn MP, Aberdeen South
Patrick Grady MP, Glasgow North
Patricia Gibson MP, North Ayrshire & Arran
Angus MacNeil MP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar
Alyn Smith MP, Stirling
Marion Fellows MP, Motherwell & Wishaw
Stuart McDonald MP, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East
Allan Dorans MP, Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock
Chris Law MP, MP for Dundee West
Phillipa Whitford MP, Central Ayrshire
Stewart Hosie MP, Dundee East
Steven Bonnar MP, Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill
A letter from Cllr Sam Webster to Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
I am writing to you regarding the welcome easing of Covid-19
restrictions on the opening of businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors
due to take effect on 15th June.
While the ability to resume trading will come as a great
relief to many in the retail, leisure and hospitality community who have
endured weeks of inactivity, can I strongly urge you to continue to support
these businesses over the coming months, for example, through the introduction
of a recovery grants.
As I’m sure you
are aware, concerns exist in the retail, leisure and hospitality community that
the costs of the substantial social distancing requirements and potential
reluctance of shoppers to return in sufficient numbers will put huge financial
pressures on many independent businesses – particularly smaller ones –
threating their ability to continue to trade profitably. Retail and hospitality
outlets having to close their doors would have a knock-on effect for
surrounding businesses and the more that close, the worse the situation would
In addition, the numbers of redundancies would rise placing growing pressures on the jobs market and local economy.
businesses are at the heart of our city retail economy but they need continued
Government support to be able to recover and thrive over the coming months of
The impact of
lower footfall and social distancing risks a spiral of decline as the number of
empty shops and outlets grows. We all want to do our best to prevent this
happening but we need the Government to provide the ongoing financial
support required to help keep these businesses viable in the coming months.
On behalf of
our local independent traders in Nottingham I’d urge the Government to
introduce recovery grants to allow businesses to survive.
I absolutely support the campaign led by Unite regarding the appalling treatment of staff at British Airways.
It is absolutely unacceptable that BA have chosen to use a global pandemic to make thousands of staff redundant and reduce the pay, terms and conditions of many thousands of staff who will remain at BA.
I would like to assure all of my constituents, many of whom have contacted me about this issue, that I am working with colleagues to press BA to reverse this decision, and I will continue to do so until BA change course.
Ian Mearns MP
Published by Ian Mearns
on Wednesday 03 June 2020 14:38
I am only too aware of the sacrifices people have made over the last few weeks. My mother died just before lockdown and one of my sisters had to think long and hard about whether she would be safe coming to say her goodbyes, being in her seventies with an underlying health conditions. I’ve lost two uncles during lockdown, neither of whom I could visit before but fortunately one of whom I could join the limited numbers of close family to pay my respects. I am dearly looking forward to the time when we can gather together as a family to celebrate the lives of these three extraordinary people who touched so many across the world over the best part of the last century. Of course we hear stories on a regular basis way more traumatic than my personal grief.
But on the whole people across the UK have stuck to the core message of staying home to protect the NHS and save lives. Although this is the core message, clearly it isn’t the complete message which included people being able to travel to work if their business wasn’t required to work and they could not work from home. It doesn’t cover the guidelines which included such variations as children who lived across two homes in shared custody and it certainly doesn’t cover the endless possibilities that no set of reasonable guidelines could cover at all, let alone in absolute detail. That is one of the reasons that as we look to move to the next stage, the prescriptive sounding ‘Stay at Home, Save Lives,’ has been replaced with a common-sense catch-all of ‘Stay Alert, Save Lives’, giving implicit permission for people to use their own judgement which has largely been the case to date anyway. The initial reason for limiting social contact, of protecting the most vulnerable, has been lost as younger, fit and healthy people fear that they may themselves die from Covid-19, something that remains statistically hugely unlikely.
Dominic Cummings, one of the Prime Minister’s closest advisers, has dominated the news and social media after month-old reports of him travelling up to County Durham were finally published by newspapers. Rather than jump in based on conjecture, I prefer to establish a reasonable take on the facts available and so watched his own account of what happened when he and his wife suspected that they were both falling ill with coronavirus. I’ve met him on just one occasion so don’t have any detailed knowledge of the man but I’ve never bought into the mythological Svengali/Macchiaveli status that the press and his opposition have built up around him. I watched the statement live, I watched the questions that followed from the press live. He laid out his reasons for his actions in some detail and showed an approach that was, like any parent of a child under the age of five, very much ‘in the moment’ and driven by the cards he had in his hands in a rapidly changing and multi layered situation. I had no doubt, watching the statement and subsequent questioning live, that all the choices taken were for the good of his child whilst remaining constantly mindful of the need to keep within government guidance.
Firstly, it was a shame that this information wasn’t released earlier. I regret the fact that news has been diminished to minute-by-minute reaction which does not allow for meaningful consideration before long-lasting judgements have been cemented, but that’s the world we are living in now. Secondly whilst we were going through the long days of Brexit, political differences meant that anyone within a mile of Westminster could trip over an argument and write a column about it. Since then, political journalists have had to work harder to get an ‘interesting story’, something that doesn’t necessarily correlate with importance for viewers who are getting on with their lives. This has been illustrated by the fact that it took some time for all media outlets to recognise that the Covid 19 emergency is not a political crisis as Brexit was – it was not a political choice of the government to be affected by Covid therefore it seems to me that when the Secretary of State for Health for example is being questioned surely the most qualified would be departmental specific correspondents ie the health correspondents rather than the political editor? The post-press conference commentary came after a number of journalists spent nearly an hour questioning him directly and then with hindsight compiled a new set of questions, whereas Dominic Cummings made his decisions in real-time; balancing his family’s need, his interpretation of the guidelines and his important work for the country.
Notwithstanding this there were a number of points in the reports and Dominic Cummings’ own account that deserved questions from the Prime Minister and the politically-focused media. Based on what I heard throughout the whole press conference, I believe that he answered the central point that he acted within the guidance allowing for his family’s exceptional circumstances. Some people may disagree with some of his judgement calls, but I believe that he made them in good faith based on his understanding of the guidance, in the best interest of his family and his position within the heart of government at a particularly crucial time without setting himself ahead of others. With that in mind, I’d rather him and others in government. be able to concentrate on the job at hand as we enter a particularly difficult phase of the crisis. I’ve been heavily involved in the return to work as we lift restrictions. The government’s first priority has always been to save lives, but protecting livelihoods and businesses is crucial if we are able to go through the gears economically and bounce back when the scientific advice allows.
I can understand the frustration from some. Yes, there are political scores being settled, with the left trying to take a scalp and some of the Brexit leavers still sore that Dominic Cummings has been critical of them, but most people with no political axe to grind, have seen the headlines and some of the coverage and many are understandably angry. Based on Dominic Cummings’ account of himself, I believe that we are now at the time to move on to the things that will affect people way after he is a footnote in political memoirs. His approach to government gives us a chance to build an approach that is often pushed by those sick of the normal state of affairs.
Raking over every minor detail won’t save a life, protect a job, or improve a single child’s education. Drilling into the detail of the bladder capacity of his child is just not a world I want to be part of. We don’t live in a police state which is why the Prime Minister thought long and hard about how and when we started to restrict freedoms. We are coming to the point when we can gradually look into the light and slowly start to enjoy those freedoms and release the pause button on our lives. But to do that effectively we need to continue to work together. There is no different set of rules for those in power. There is however a different spotlight, a huge cost on family life and a relentless daily pressure. I would love to be able to see my children after 63 days. I want others to be with their loved ones but just concentrating on one polarising individual won’t bring that moment any closer.
Published by Paul Scully
on Tuesday 26 May 2020 16:16
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to enable the early resumption of shooting after the covid-19 outbreak.
Government is providing an additional £600 million to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in care homes
Lincolnshire set to receive £10,458,485 as part of this package
Part of wider support for care home residents and staff, including protecting wages and access to PPE training
The Government has announced that Lincolnshire is to receive a share of a £600 million Infection Control Fund, launched to reduce the transmission of coronavirus on care homes.
Lincolnshire will receive £10,458,485 to support local care homes. There are currently 8,148 care home beds registered in the area.
The funding will be used ensure that care homes can continue their efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus by helping them cover the costs of implementing measures to reduce transmission. This includes:
Rolling out training on infection control for staff
Reducing transmission by supporting providers to reduce workforce movements
Stepping up NHS clinical support to care homes
The fund comes on top of £3.2 billion that has already been made available to local authorities to support key public services, including social care, since the start of the crisis. It forms part of a wider package of support the Government is making available to care homes, which includes ensuring all care homes have they support they need with staffing and accessing PPE, and providing a named clinical contact from the NHS for every single care home. The named contact will assist care homes with weekly check-ins to review patients while helping staff with the use of equipment and medication.
The Government has also rolled out a new wellbeing package for social care staff, including two new helplines, led by the Samaritans and Hospice UK, to support care staff with their mental health and welling.
Commenting, Matt Warman said:
“Care staff are among the heroes of this pandemic – working tirelessly to support those in our community who need it the most.
“I do not underestimate how challenging a time this is for people living and working in care. This new funding will make a real different to local care homes in Boston & Skegness.
“By putting in place stronger prevention, we can ensure that we continue to drive coronavirus out of our care homes, making them safer and better able to look after people who need it the most.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“This £600 million Infection Control Fund will help as we continue to reduce infections in care homes and save lives.
“From the very start of this outbreak, we have been working to protect our brilliant social care workforce and the most vulnerable in our society.
“Our package sets out clearly the extra steps local councils and care homes should be taking as we stamp out the spread of this virus.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:
“We have already provided councils with over £3.2 billion during this pandemic so that they can respond to the immediate pressures they are facing, including supporting social care.
“This new funding will be distributed to councils based on the number of care home beds in their area and will be passed on quickly to care providers. It will fund new measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in care homes, minimise infection, keep staff and residents safe and, ultimately, save lives.”
Note to editors:
Providing £3.8 billion to local authorities to bolster their response to Covid-19, including social care. We are providing an additional £3.8 billion to local authorities to help them respond to Covid-19 pressures across all the services they deliver, including an additional £600 million ringfenced for adult social care – to support care home providers to reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and support wider workforce resilience. (DHSC, News Story, 18 April 2020)
Giving councils greater financial relief by allowing them to defer £2.6 billion in business rates payments and paying £850 million in social care grants up front this month. These new measures mean councils will be able to defer £2.6 billion of payments they are due to make to central government over the next 3 months as part of the business rates retention scheme. Additionally, the government will bring forward care grant payments to councils worth £850 million for both children and adults. These will now all be paid this month, rather than monthly in April, May and June, and will help provide immediate support for core frontline social care services (MHCLG, Press Release, 16 April 2020)
Publishing a new action plan for adult social care. This sets out the Government’s plan for minimising the spread of the infection in care settings and supporting the workforce to address the unprecedented challenges posed by coronavirus (DHSC, Adult Social Care Action Plan, 16 April 2020)
Ensuring all social care staff and care home residents can be tested. We have expanded eligibility so that all social care staff and care home residents can be tested regardless of whether they have symptoms. Anyone who is due to be discharged from hospital into a residential care setting will also be tested for the disease (DHSC, Press Release, 15 April 2020; DHSC, Press release, 28 April 2020)
Launching a new online portal for care homes to arrange coronavirus testing, making it easier for staff and residents to get the tests they need to keep them safe. The portal will allow care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus tests kits, meaning that all symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents in England will be able to safely and easily get tested (DHSC, Press Release, 11 May 2020)
Recognising the brilliant social care workforce for they do on the frontline against coronavirus. A new CARE brand will help us to recognise people who work in social care settings, and will make it easier for shops and businesses to offer them similar benefits to NHS staff (Matt Hancock, Daily No 10 Press Conference, 15 April 2020, archived)
Published by Matt Warman
on Wednesday 20 May 2020 09:45
Week in and week out since the lock down started we have rightly saluted the bravery of our NHS staff and Carers.
However all key workers have stepped up throughout Covid-19 and have played a major part in assisting us all – not least of all amongst them our Refuse Collectors at Walsall Council.
Now thanks to the dedication of the workforce keeping our bin service going the Council are able to progressively re-start our green waste collections (Brown Bins) and re-open our Household Recycling Waste Centre in Aldridge from Saturday 16th May.
Whilst there has been a general degree of frustration in some sections of the community, personal safety has rightly been paramount as we approached and came through the Coronavirus peak.
Details of the plans for the green waste service and the re-opening of the Household Recycling Waste Centre are available at www.walsall.gov.uk
My thanks go to all the workers who have kept our Bins emptied throughout the pandemic.
Published by Wendy Morton MP
on Thursday 07 May 2020 06:51
All of our lives have been turned upside down in the past few weeks. Rightly, we are regularly applauding the efforts of medical staff and other front-line workers as they do the absolutely essential work to keep us safe, healthy, and fed.
Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer has appointed Steve Reed MP into the Shadow Cabinet. Steve is now Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Steve has a strong local government background having previously served as shadow local government minister and was leader of Lambeth Council where he oversaw dramatic improvements in key services.
I’m honoured that Keir has asked me to be Labour’s spokesperson on communities and local government. Councillors and council workers are responding heroically to coronavirus, and I want to make sure they have all the resources they need to succeed.
We’ve never needed good councils more than we do today, and I’m proud to stand up for local government in Parliament
Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.
Stewart Hosie has expressed his disappointment that planned BT works to install fibre optic broadband in Monifeith have been delayed.
The Dundee East MP received assurances from BT late last year that planned work would be finished by the end of March 2020 however this has been pushed back to May, with the possibility of future delays due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Commenting Stewart Hosie said:
"I am disappointed this work has been delayed, particularly as so many people are expected to work from home and are now being forced to rely on the poor internet service that currently exists in the area."
"When I received assurances in October last year that fibre optic broadband would be available in Monifeith by the end of March it was great news for my constituents who have had to make do with slow speeds for some time."
"I hope that the work will now be carried out by May, however with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the restrictions on movement and working it is only right that BT's priority is focused on repairing and maintenance for the foreseeable future."
Published by Jack O'Neil
on Wednesday 25 March 2020 17:07
The spread of coronavirus presents an unprecedented challenge and is leading to people across this country making huge sacrifices to protect one another.
As the Prime Minister has said, while we need to create physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for each other.
That means looking after the most vulnerable people in our society, and alleviating worry as much as possible, at what is of course an anxious time.
All of us in Government are working hard to do just that, and make sure that practical support is forthcoming during this national emergency. We are mobilising every part of Government to protect both our people and our country.
As Housing Secretary, I know that renters and landlords will have been particularly worried about paying their rent and mortgages. As a result, I have moved swiftly to ensure that nobody needs to worry about losing their home at this difficult time, when the security of a home has never been more important.
I have taken decisive action and will bring forward emergency legislation to ensure that no renter will be forced out of their home through this period, and that landlords will be protected too.
For renters in both the private and social sector, there will be a moratorium on all new evictions and clear guidance has been issued stating that existing eviction processes should be dealt with appropriately, prioritising the safety and health of citizens across the country.
Let there be no doubt: renters do not need to be worried about the threat of eviction.
This Government is also clear that no one should be concerned about not being able to afford their mortgage if they fall into financial difficulty due to this challenging time.
We recognise that landlords may also face additional pressures, with concerns about meeting mortgage payments. We have therefore confirmed that all Buy to Let landlords can benefit from a three-month mortgage payment holiday where they are experiencing difficulties due to corona virus.
This is designed to alleviate the pressure on landlords, who I know will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves while also ensuring that no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.
At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.
This mirrors the mortgage payment holiday that other mortgage holders will also be able to access. These measures will protect renters and landlords, ensuring everyone gets the support they need.
The way that landlords have engaged with us on this issue has been hugely positive. I congratulate them for stepping up to the plate and working collaboratively with us to ensure that tenants are protected at this difficult time.
Part of my Ministerial portfolio is also to tackle homelessness. This is always a priority for me and requires even more of my attention during this crisis.
To address the specific danger posed to rough sleepers by coronavirus, I have announced an initial £3.2 million of emergency funding to support them if they need to self-isolate. It will ensure that councils are able to put emergency measures in place to avoid urgent assistance.
Local Government is at forefront of our national effort, and I have spoken to over 300 council leaders and sector bodies to ensure they are well placed to respond to coronavirus and protect vital services for communities.
The weeks ahead will not be easy, but ruthless and determined collective action will allow us to succeed, turn the tide and return to normality.
We have an enormous challenge ahead of us and but my message is clear – this Government will do whatever it takes to help people across this country at this difficult time.
Originally published by The Daily Telegraph 20/03/20
Published by Robert Jenrick
on Monday 23 March 2020 15:19
Please read, share and regularly check the Government guidance as the situation and the response to it is changing daily.
What about future easing of lockdown rules?
HM Government is following a science-led, evidence-based response to easing the lockdown so the timing will depend on the success of the first stages of easing the rules. But, at present, if the rate of infection continues to fall and we see a sustained fall in COVID-19 related deaths, thereby easing the pressure on our NHS, the Government expects to follow a phased easing of lockdown.
Diana Johnson spoke in the Commons debate on the Chancellor's Budget Statement.
The Hull North MP's remarks ranged across several key issues for Hull North, including support for workers over the Coronavirus, the NHS and public health, flood resilience and devolution for the Humber.
Philip Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what provisions are included in the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill 2019-20 to protect national parks and AONBs from aircraft noise.
I have said from the very beginning that if we are to ensure a 24 hour A&E Service at RGH then we need to forget about Party Politics, and come together to work cross-party.
We need you to play your part too, by signing the below letter. If you wish to do so then please let me know by filling in the form at the bottom of this page:
The configuration of Emergency NHS services across Cwm Taf Morgannwg has changed over the years – and will continue to change along with medical advances and changes in the local population. We welcome, for instance, the development of the new Major Trauma Centre at UHW, which will almost certainly save lives and we recognise that for some specialist forms of care it will be necessary to travel to a regional centre of excellence such as the Burns Unit at Morriston. We also understand that there is a UK-wide shortage of Emergency Consultants. and that Cwm Taf Morgannwg is not in a unique position with the recruitment challenges it faces,but would note that 5 of the 7 LHBs in Wales have substantially increased emergency consultant numbers over the last 6 years whereas Cwm Taf Morgannwg has not. We would argue that the uncertainty created over the future of the hospital due to the South Wales Programme has itself created a self-fulfilling prophecy about recruitment problems.
Our starting point, however, is that all NHS services should be safe, efficient and delivered as close to people’s homes as is medically and logistically feasible. Time-critical medical interventions can make the difference between life and death in many emergency situations and we are concerned that if the A&E were permanently to close at any one of the three hospitals, significant numbers of patients in some of the most deprived communities would not be able to get to an Emergency Department in time. A&E cannot be seen in isolation from other services such as GP surgeries, local minor injuries units and out-of-hours support. Additional capacity in these services would almost certainly lighten the load in the Emergency Departments, but this must be put in place before any changes to the configuration of Emergency Care is considered, let alone implemented, with evidence that they have substantially reduced the load on Emergency departments required before any changes. Changes to A&E provision at any one of the hospitals would have serious implications for other services within the hospital, including ITU and theatre and might harm the recruitment of other specialists.
There would be significant knock-on effects if the A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital were to be downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit, as the hospital would almost certainly lose its Intensive Care Unit and operating theatre. This could jeopardise the long-term future of the hospital. The RGH’s Emergency Department is the most used in the area, with roughly 65,000 attendances a year, and ranked the best in terms of viable outcomes. We fear the two other Emergency Departments would find it impossible to cope with the additional workload and that many patients will travel instead to UHW, which is also already over-stretched. We are also concerned that extra A&E admissions to PCH and POW would put additional pressure on not just their respective A&E depts but onwards and throughout the hospital system. We are determined to work with people of all political parties and trades unions (and none) to get the best possible outcome for the communities we represent. We believe the eventual decision should be informed by clinical best practice and local experience on the ground – and not by any partisan consideration.
We are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to do the following:
1) Rule out the closure of A&E at the RGH or changing it to a 24-hour Minor Injuries Unit.
2) Reinstate the option of maintaining a full consultant-led A&E at all three hospitals. This would require a serious new attempt at recruiting Emergency Consultants who would have secure full-time permanent posts working across all three hospitals. It would also require at least a ten-year commitment to RGH so that potential staff can apply with confidence.
3) Bring forward proposals to extend the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and make these units more readily accessible for walk-in patients.
4) Bring forward other proposals for community health services, including improvements in the out-of-hours GP service, that might alleviate the pressure on all three A&E departments
and bring services closer to local communities.
In addition, we are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to publish the following:
1) A socioeconomic and equality impact assessment of any proposed changes.
2) Detailed analyses of travel-to-hospital times, average ambulance response times and levels of car ownership, for all electoral wards in the area. that analyses such times during periods of poor weather.
3) Detailed statistics for levels of ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke and infant and adult mortality for all electoral wards in the area. and how they compare with the Welsh averages/wealthier wards in Wales.
4) An assessment of how many patients from each electoral ward would be affected by a proposal to move to an 8 to 8, and 8 to 10 and an 8 to midnight Emergency Department.
5) An assessment of capacity in the Emergency Departments at POW, PCH, and UHW and how they would cope with additional patients.
6) Statistics for the number of patients who are admitted on towards at each hospital from A&E.
7) An assessment of the impact to the Welsh Ambulance Service, Ambulance response times, handover response times, in terms of waiting times at hospitals, blue light trauma travel times
and non-emergency transport between hospitals.
First of all, thank you to everyone who has sent such kind messages to me after last night’s result in Birmingham Northfield. Even though I never took this election – or any election – for granted, it is still a big blow to lose the seat I have represented for 27 years and which is […]
Published by Richard Burden
on Friday 13 December 2019 12:54