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Clarification about Schools

Ben Bradley (Mansfield)

Just to be clear about a lot of scaremongering regarding schools that's out there today:
The Government SAGE Scientific Committee have NOT said it's not safe to go back to school. It's a left wing campaign group calling itself 'Independent SAGE' that has said it, with the aim of confusing and scaring people. I wanted to make this clear as I don't feel enough is being done in the media to make the distinction between the two!
Also today, the NEU Teaching Union has said that Government has changed their advice on opening schools 41 times in a week. This is also not true. The 'Actions To Prepare For Wider Opening' guidance that they quote from in their social media posts about this has been updated just once.
Really frustrating that these activists seem intent on trying to make getting our kids back to school as difficult as possible, making life harder for teachers, parents and kids!!

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has encouraged local charities and social enterprises to apply to the new Coronavirus Community Support Fund.

The fund is part of the Government’s £750m financial support package for charities and social enterprises announced by Government on April 8.

The Government funding will be distributed alongside National Lottery funding, to support organisations to continue to deliver services to people and communities affected by COVID-19.

Activities can be funded that support people and communities affected by COVID-19. The fund can also help organisations overcome any acute financial difficulties they’re facing because of the pandemic.

Andrew Gwynne said:

“I have been really impressed and inspired with the amazing work that local groups have done to help people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.


“At the same time, I know that many local charities and social enterprises are very concerned about their post-COVID futures.


“In either circumstance, I would encourage them to check out the Coronavirus Community Support Fund to see if they are eligible for funding.”

Find out more about the Coronavirus Community Support Fund here.

The post Gwynne encourages local applications to Coronavirus Community Support Fund appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

On Monday 18 May during an urgent statement in the chamber on the covid-19 response, I raised the issue of delays in covid-19 test results with the Health Secretary. 

Phase one: what are the changes?

Martin Docherty (West Dunbartonshire)

Today, the First Minister has outlined how we are to move into phase one of Scotland’s four phase route map out of lockdown. The good news is that we begin that process tomorrow. I know that you will welcome this, … Continue reading

The post Phase one: what are the changes? appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

Some of you may have read some of the regular columns I write for local newspapers – from the South Bristol Voice and The Pigeon to the Bristol Post. I’m also a regular reader of these publications – along with other local papers such as The Bristol Cable and Bristol 24/7 – and I know just how important they are for local people, especially those not as digitally dependent as others.

I’ve been in touch with these publishers as well as the local representative from the National Union of Journalists and I’ve heard from the Independent Community News Network to try and understand the challenges they face. The smaller publications have stopped the presses for the time being, with some taking advantage of the government-funded furlough option to help balance out the sharp drop in revenue from advertisers – and others moving their content online.

The Coronavirus crisis is acting as a catalyst for many trends – from those such as more working from home and active travel to much more negative outcomes, such as the crippling challenges faced by our nurseries, small businesses and local print media.

The Bristol Cable recently made a submission to the House of Lords Committee on the future of journalism which stated: “The damage wrought by the pandemic on the industry is particularly painful, but it also exposes and amplifies pre-existing vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. We would do well to remember that the ‘normal’ state of journalism before the coronavirus was of crisis, and is not something we merely want to return to.” You can read the full submission here.

In recent years we’ve seen circulation plummet for most printed newspapers, with reduced print runs and some publications closing altogether. Interestingly, we’ve also seen the emergence of new hyperlocal publications such as the Local Voice series – showing that there is still an appetite and a need for the printed press. Interestingly, Bristol Live (the online version of The Post) told me they’ve seen a huge increase in audience numbers since the Coronavirus crisis hit the UK and the South Bristol Voice is logging record levels of readership and engagement.

These publications – and the journalists and staff who work for them – play a number of important roles in our communities. They celebrate success, they shine a light on injustices, they share information and entertain. They also give a platform to local businesses to reach wider audiences through advertising and editorial. For me, they give me a chance to share regular updates with people who may not be visiting my website or following my social media channels (see some of my previous columns here). And they also challenge local elected leaders – like myself – a crucial part of democracy and ensuring accountability.

Communication is so important at the moment. It’s through clear and comprehensive communication that the government can share vital messages around the Coronavirus crisis response. There has been much confusion around the restrictions in recent weeks and while a big part of that is down to the government’s lack of clear strategy, some is down to lack of clear communication. You cannot reach everyone with a TV broadcast, national newspapers and a social media campaign. It’s not practical to send letters to every household in the UK every time the guidance changes, but using these hyperlocal publications which are delivered door-to-door and other local media which has strong links with the community, could not only help get the message out but prove a lifeline for them in the form of advertising revenue.

Of course, that’s not going to single-handedly solve the challenges that local media is facing, but it could help them through this challenging time. I’ve raised this with Bristol City Council as well to see if there’s anything that can be done locally. I’m also planning on writing to the Chancellor to see if business rates relief may be extended to include local newspapers – along with the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

As we start to come through the Coronavirus crisis and look to the society we want on the other side, and a decent local media should absolutely feature in that.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a very challenging time for businesses in Elmbridge. There is a range of government support available, and a useful online tool, here, to identify what you or your business may be eligible for.

The Prime Minister announced the next steps in easing the lockdown earlier this week, setting out a timeline for re-opening the retail sector. Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to re-open from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the government’s “COVID-19 secure” guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.

All other non-essential retail businesses are expected to be able to re-open from 15 June, if the five tests the government has previously set out for easing measures are met, and businesses follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

The government is supporting our local business in Elmbridge as they make this transition. Elmbridge has been allocated £120,877 from a new £50m fund to help councils prepare for the safe re-opening of high streets and other retail spaces. The council will be able to use this funding to introduce safety measures so that businesses can re-open quickly. This could include the use of street markings and temporary barriers, or marketing campaigns to explain the changes to the public.

In addition, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill was introduced by the government to Parliament on 20 May. It will put in place a series of measures to support businesses which have been struggling. For example, it will introduce a moratorium to give companies breathing space from creditors while seeking a rescue.

Finally, the first debate on the Trade Bill took place on 20 May. This legislation is an important part of our newly independent trade policy. It provides continuity for businesses and consumers by helping us to transition free trade agreements that the EU has with other countries. It also allows us to protect UK businesses from unfair trade practices. These measures will provide a boost to Elmbridge. In January 2018, HMRC data showed that over 100 businesses in the Esher and Walton constituency traded goods with non-EU countries.

Together, this package of support will help Elmbridge businesses to come through the challenge of Coronavirus and grasp new opportunities in the months and years ahead.

Putting your old bike to good use with Brake the Cycle

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

We want your broken, old or unwanted bikes for our Brake the Cycle scheme.

Rock Gardens - A Message of Hope

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)


This week Jon Cruddas MP caught up with Nicola Dawn Bullman from Dagenham, the lady responsible for creating the rock gardens in Beam Valley and Beam Parklands. Since lockdown began the rock gardens have been an opportunity for people to come together and leave messages of hope for one another. Many have painted rocks in memory of loved ones lost to the virus.

Nicola said: “I was inspired by another rock garden I saw and had just lost my uncle Steve to Covid-19. I thought it was a great idea to do something in the community to bring people together, creating something that everyone could join in with.”

She added: “Whether it was painting a rock for the loss of a family member or friend, thanking the NHS and keyworkers or just painting anything they wanted and enjoyed doing it. I have seen a few people looking at it and placing their stones and it makes me feel proud for giving people in the community something to join together with.”

Jon commented: “these uncertain times have brought heartbreak for many across the country, and every act of kindness big or small helps to strengthen the spirit. These rock gardens are a great way to share memories and to say thank you in your own personal way to our key workers.”

Keep an eye out for rock gardens when you are on your walks, jogs and bike rides through the local country parks. Add to them by painting your own stone.

Bill Wiggin MP statement on Dominic Cummings

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)

Thank you to those of you who have contacted me about the Prime Minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings. I first wish to thank everyone for all you have done to observe the lockdown and to help us to defeat the spread... Continue Reading →

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Defeating Coronavirus 67

Bob Stewart (Beckenham)

On the face of it London seems to be coming out of the Coronavirus tunnel. We should not get too excited but the NHS itself suggested on 20 May that in the previous 24 hours nobody had died in hospital in London or at least in any of the six major NHS Trust Hospital groups in the capital. I don’t think care homes were counted in that but I do know the figures there are coming down quite sharply too. In addition, locally, numbers being admitted to hospitals with Coronavirus have steeply fallen.

An important month

John Redwood (Wokingham)

The forces of Pessimism and defeat want the U.K. to seek an extension to the negotiating year with the EU. It is most important that the Prime Minister and Mr Frost refuse to countenance such a dreadful idea. There is nothing we could negotiate next year that we cannot negotiate this year. The U.K. made a mess of the negotiations under Mrs May who trusted the Official Civil service and liked advice that always meant the U.K. giving in on issue after issue.

The present government has so far been as clear as Mrs May was muddled over what the U.K wants. It has rightly refused to accept the EU’s wish to settle fish first before anything else and make our fish a further payment to them. It has proposed a free trade agreement as the base of the future relationship but said no agreement would also work fine.

There is no point in negotiating through June unless the EU changes its approach and understands we are not giving away powers over our fish, our laws or our money. The EU pretends we want to stay in the single market and customs Union, which we voted to leave.

The U.K. just has to stay calm, be pleasant but show great resolve. We are not going to give in again and do not want some kind of Association Agreement putting has back under the EU Court and laws.

My response to Dominic Cummings breach of lockdown rules

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, people have made extraordinary sacrifices in order to do the right thing and stop the spread of coronavirus. Many of you have shared tragic stories of being unable to visit elderly or vulnerable family members, not seeing loved ones in their final moments and missing funerals.

The vast majority of the public understood the clear advice to stay at home and self-isolate if you had coronavirus symptoms. Dominic Cummings’ decision to drive over 250 miles with his family in order to stay at his parents’ property in Durham was clearly not within the spirit of the Government’s own advice. His 30-mile drive to Barnard Castle was also in breach of the guidelines, and the excuse that he was merely testing his eyesight is both dangerous and hard to believe.

By refusing to even apologise or show regret, Dominic Cummings and the Ministers who are defending him are treating the public with contempt and condoning behaviour which flies in the face of its own advice. Every time that the Prime Minister or another Cabinet Minister tries to justify Mr Cummings’ actions, I fear that the effectiveness of the public health message is further undermined, at a time when it remains vital to keep saving lives.

As far as I am concerned, this is not a party-political issue, and I respect the Conservative MPs who have publicly called for Mr Cummings to resign. The Labour Leader Keir Starmer has been clear that Mr Johnson has treated the British public with contempt and that he would have sacked Cummings if he were Prime Minister. If Boris Johnson does not do the right thing, we need to see an independent investigation and I will be urging the Prime Minister to do this.

During this critical time for our country, both myself and my Labour colleagues have said that we want the Government to succeed in its handling of this pandemic. However, to do this we need a Prime Minister who is strong enough to stand up and say when something is wrong. Instead, what we have seen so far is a sad attempt to defend the indefensible, which could potentially have devastating consequences for public health.

COVID-19: Looking forward

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

The Government has announced this week further measures to ease the lockdown restrictions. These important steps can be made because of the collective action we have taken to restrict the spread of the virus. This has saved lives and enabled the NHS to cope with the demands placed on it by COVID-19. We have not […]

Update on Dominic Cummings

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have shared their views on the decision of the Prime Minister’s advisor, Dominic Cummings to isolate his family in a building on his father’s farm in Durham. He believes he followed the guidance by making provisions to ensure his four-year-old child would have childcare [...]

The post Update on Dominic Cummings appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

The Article.com - How to save the Government May 2020

Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire)

My latest article in 'The Article'


Dear Ms Mordaunt,
I want to update you that the UK Government’s Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live on GOV.UK.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now claim for Coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Tax agents are also able to make claims on their behalf.
The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP. For more information on eligibility and how to make a claim please visit GOV.UK.
Which employers can use the Scheme?
Employers are eligible to use the scheme if they meet all of the following criteria:
- they’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to Coronavirus
- they had a PAYE payroll scheme in operation before 28 February 2020
- they had fewer than 250 employees across all PAYE schemes on 28 February 2020
- they’re eligible to receive State Aid under the EU Commission Temporary Framework.
Image removed by sender.
Dear Ms Mordaunt,
I want to update you that the UK Government’s Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live on GOV.UK.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now claim for Coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Tax agents are also able to make claims on their behalf.
The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP. For more information on eligibility and how to make a claim please visit GOV.UK.
Which employers can use the Scheme?
Employers are eligible to use the scheme if they meet all of the following criteria:
- they’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to Coronavirus
- they had a PAYE payroll scheme in operation before 28 February 2020
- they had fewer than 250 employees across all PAYE schemes on 28 February 2020
- they’re eligible to receive State Aid under the EU Commission Temporary Framework.
Which employees are entitled to SSP?
The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP, and is payable if a current or former employee was unable to work on or after 13 March 2020 and is entitled to SSP, because they either:
- had or have Coronavirus
- could not or cannot work because they were/are self-isolating at home
- were/are shielding in line with public health guidance.
Which records should employers keep?
Employers must keep records of SSP that they’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC.
Employers must keep the following records for three years after the date they receive the payment for their claim:
- the dates the employee was off sick
- which of those dates were qualifying days
- the reason the employee said they were off work - if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
- the employee’s National Insurance number.
- Employers can choose how they keep records of their employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.
Jim Harra
First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive, HMRC

Reflect but move on to defeat Covid-19

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

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.

Dan Jarvis MP - Statement on Dominic Cummings

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

There has been a great deal of anger at the reports concerning the Prime Minister’s Chief Adviser Dominic Cummings breaking Government lockdown guidance by travelling to Durham whilst potentially being ill with the Coronavirus.

Anne Marie's Weekly Column - Covid-19 Update

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Testing for Coronavirus

Good news! Devon is to be one of the first pilots of the new Test, Track and Trace system currently being rolled out in the Isle of Wight. This will give us all a greater sense of security and knowledge. This way we can track down the virus – and stop it in its tracks.

Coronavirus AA Column

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

My latest column in the Andover Advertiser is up online. You can read it on the link below.

It’s been an incredibly busy period for me and my team and I’m grateful to the paper for giving me space to explain why.


COVID-19 Ministerial Statement 18/05/20

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

COVID-19 Statement 18/05/20

On Monday, I took part in the Ministerial Statement from Matt Hancock updating the house on COVID-19.

In my response, I asked how he can know that the crowded transport systems seen in London last week are not already leading to a rise in infections without the testing of all symptomatic cases being put in place before the lockdown was eased?

I also highlighted the difficulty that the Royal College of GPs has expressed in getting test results back from Deloitte regional test centres. It’s disappointing that Matt Hancock is still planning to outsource contact tracing to Serco call centres instead of rebuilding the public health networks in England which the Tories dismantled.

The UK still has six times the number of new cases per day than when the lockdown was brought in. Yet, the UK Government has already begun re-opening workplaces. A more gradual and cautious approach must be taken when drawing up plans to re-open schools and further workplaces across the UK to avoid creating a second spike in the number of new infections and deaths.

“I welcome that eligibility for testing is being widened to all symptomatic cases as the first step towards a test, trace and isolate approach, but does the Secretary of State agree that the system should have been in place before lockdown was eased? Without it, how can he know that the crowded public transport systems that we saw last week are not already leading to a rise in infections? The Secretary of State prides himself on having ramped up testing, but we know that many thousands of those are just in the post, so will he clarify whether those tests are counted again when they are actually carried out?

The Royal College of GPs has highlighted the difficulty in getting test results back from the Deloitte regional test centres. As it is contact tracing and isolation that stop the spread of the virus, how will the Secretary of State speed up results and ensure that they are fed back to GPs and public health teams, who are critical to detecting and controlling local outbreaks? The UK still has more than six times the number of new cases per day than when the lockdown was brought in. Does he not think that that is still too high to be sending people back to work and school?”

The full text can be found here in Hansard

The post COVID-19 Ministerial Statement 18/05/20 appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

Covid-19 Testing Update

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

Next week, the Government will begin offering antibody tests to health and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus, representing further progress in our national testing programme. Antibody testing will play a critically important role as we move into the next phase of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Knowing if you have these antibodies will help us to understand more about the virus in the future.  Yesterday, the Government signed contracts to supply […]

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

Although you may have seen some confusing reports on the news this week, it’s important to remember that here in Wales, the lockdown restrictions have not changed.  We still cannot gather in groups with people from outside our homes, visit beauty spots despite the glorious weather, or travel for exercise. We are allowed out for exercise and to meet our essential medical needs and to go shopping. Please, continue to follow the social distancing guidelines to protect our vulnerable loved ones and to support the NHS and our key workers. We will get through this together and the day will come for us to meet our loved ones in the park or on the beach with ice cream – but that time is not quite yet!

We’ve had such a fantastic local community response to the coronavirus pandemic across our Neath constituency and it’s been truly heartening to hear the many wonderful stories of all the people who are reaching out to help. Over the coming days and weeks, I’m going to be sharing examples of these on my social media feeds and would ask anyone who knows of an individual, group, or local business who are doing great work to get in touch with my office.

We heard this week about Nicola Cole, from the Organised Kaos team in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Organised Kaos are a fantastic not-for-profit circus training school here in the South Wales Valleys. If you’ve ever seen them perform, you’ll know how hard-working and dedicated they all are and what a disappointment it must be to have their training sessions and performances suspended due to the virus. Nicola didn’t take the break offered to her by being put on furlough, instead working as a night shift manager for the newly converted Dragon Heart Field Hospital. Thank you for everything you do Nicola – you’re amazing.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is kindness. We’ve seen so many acts of kindness coming out of this terrible situation and I’m so proud to be part of this wonderful constituency. Kindness is so important for our overall well being – both our mental and physical heath. We need it to become a greater part of our everyday lives and certainly a greater part of our politics. We need to put people at the heart of our politics, not economic units or statistics. We need to think about how the policies that we create will impact the lives of people outside Westminster and how we can really improve the lives of our constituents. Kindness is not a nice extra; it’s a necessity.

We were able to say a big thank you to our teachers this Thursday on Thank A Teacher Day. Our teachers have continued working – contrary to what some newspapers would like us to believe! – some teaching the children of key workers and vulnerable children in schools that have stayed open, and others working from home to prepare work for the students who have had to remain at home and who have continued to check in with them throughout the lockdown. They do an incredible job, each and every day. They work with increasingly limited resources to keep our children entertained and motivated while they learn, and while being handed more and more administrative tasks. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their hard work.

Talking about people who do amazing work with children; it’s Foster Care Fortnight. Foster Care Fortnight aims to raise awareness around fostering as well as to digitally recruit foster carers across the country. Anyone can be a foster carer – it doesn’t matter if you’re married or single, living with a partner of any gender, from any religious, ethnic, or linguistic background, or living with a disability. You just need to be able to care for a child, to look after their emotional, physical, and educational needs, and provide a loving environment. You can read more about being a foster carer in the Neath constituency here.

It’s also Epilepsy Week and the Epilepsy Research charity have asked people to think of a fundraising activity around the theme “6 for the 600 challenge”. Every week 600 people are given the life-changing news that they have epilepsy. All money raised will go towards supporting vital research to achieve a life free from epilepsy. This is such a fun idea to raise money – you could do 600 laps of your garden, create 6 pieces of artwork, run 60km in a day or week, video 6 people skipping for 60 seconds – the possibilities are endless! You can read more about this challenge and find out how to donate to this worthy cause here.

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 christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk 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 – stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

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.

One of lockdown’s winners has been nature. While most of us humans have spent the last couple of months indoors or, at most, in the garden, wildlife has been taking advantage of all the extra space it’s been given. Some it is just what’s normal in spring, of course, but there’s less pollution (and roadkill) because most cars are off the road, and less carbon being emitted while heavy industries and offices are running slow or shut entirely. Some of the changes are as ordinary and straightforward as more bees appearing in our gardens. But if you fancy something a bit more impressive, type ‘animals coming out to play during lockdown’ into Youtube… it’s worth your time!

So for villages like Uphill, right next to several parks and a 17 hectare nature reserve that’s well-known for its diverse flora and species of insects, it’s all out there waiting for you to explore. The recently-updated new lockdown-easing rules make it easier than ever, and the Village Society has even organised a top 10 list of Uphill walks for you to check out too, at: https://uphillvillagesociety.org.uk/uphill-walks/

More broadly, I think we’ve all been reminded just how important our parks and green spaces are. Not just for nature, but for humans too. The Victorians called them the lungs of a city and, even though we’ve got rid of all the coal-fired smog since then, they still play a hugely-important part in keeping us all physically and mentally fit, relaxed and happy.

If we all appreciate our green spaces more, it might have other benefits too. At the moment, barely a month goes by without some developer slamming down a planning application to concrete over a field here, or a woodland there. But if local residents (and the Council and Government) are all clear how important and valuable those spaces are, perhaps it will help us fight off unwanted developments, so we can build homes in places like central Weston where they are desperately needed, instead of suburbs sprawling ever-further outwards over fields and woods at the edges of towns, or villages like Uphill. Then we’d all be lockdown winners too.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

Just another few updates for you on the current situation.

Coronavirus Community Fund

Firstly for those involved in small local charities, the application process for those needing extra financial support from the Coronavirus Community Fund opens tomorrow. Here are the details:

Please let me know if you are applying and you need my support. Thank you again to all of those who have been helping local charities during this period., and in particular those who have been providing volunteer and other support for the team at Epsom Hospital, whether it is helping with extra equipment or sending in takeaways.

Parking at Epsom Downs

Secondly, a number of you have raised the issue of car parking on the Downs following my last update. These are the only car parks which have not reopened locally. I have been told that the Downs Conservators are meeting to discuss the issue tomorrow night, and I have asked that the car parks are reopened straight away and in time for most of this weekend.

Community Recycling Centres

Thirdly, the County has now confirmed that it intends to fully open most of the recycling centres from the first of June, which means that you will be able to take other goods there. For the past couple of weeks you have only been allowed to take black bin bags and garden waste.

Local Restaurants

Just a reminder that there is a list of local restaurants which are offering takeaway services during the current crisis on my website, Local Takeaway Cafés & Restaurants. Please let me know if you are doing so and I will add your business to the list. And please do keep using them. It’s great to see the (socially distanced) queues outside many of them.

And please keep socially distancing over this weekend. We do not want a revival of the virus.

Best wishes


The post Coronavirus (COVID-19) appeared first on Chris Grayling.

MP Grant Shapps recently met with senior bosses from both Tesco and Ocado in order to discuss supply-chain issues during Coronavirus.

The two supermarket chains – both headquartered in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency – revealed the challenges of dealing with last March’s sudden surge in demand, as well as the subsequent change in grocery shopping habits during the COVID-19 crisis.

The meetings, both held via video conferencing, followed representations Mr Shapps received from worried constituents, some of whom have found themselves needing to use delivery services or click-and-collect for the first time, due to quarantining rules.

Welwyn Hatfield is home to both companies’ HQs with Tesco based at the Shire Park business park in Welwyn Garden City and Ocado based on the former aerospace Hatfield Business Park.

The local MP, who is also Transport Secretary, was reassured to hear that freight and supply lines had held up well throughout the crisis. Beyond the initial rush, some people may have found they couldn’t get hold of their usual brand, but for the most part the shelves had been fully restocked, according to the supermarket chain leaders.

Mr Shapps was also interested to hear about how supermarkets had physically altered the layout of their stores, amended queuing procedures and helped protect their staff. Both supermarket chains have employed large numbers of additional staff in order to deal with the massive uplift in demand.

Grant said of the meetings: “It was very helpful to speak with the bosses of both Tesco and Ocado. Tesco explained what they are doing to increase their online delivery slot capacity, whilst Ocado were able to fill me in on how they have been prioritising their existing customers whilst demand has been so high.

“Both supermarket chains explained measures put in place to try to assist vulnerable members of the community by offering them priority delivery slots.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said, “As our local MP and Secretary of State for Transport, I welcome the discussions with Grant, and the fast decisions around the transport network that have allowed the food supply chain to operate effectively in these challenging times. The whole Tesco team – including those who live and work in Welwyn and Hatfield – are working around the clock to support our customers and colleagues. In addition, through our community donations programme, we are providing food and other essentials to some of the most vulnerable people in the area.”

Ocado Director Neill Abrams said, “We have had an excellent, long standing relationship with Grant, so being able to discuss with him some of the challenges being faced by our business, our customers and those locally, was really helpful. We were also able to raise some wider transport points too, which we found very helpful and timely.”

Isles MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the Scottish Government’s route map to easing lockdown which aims to move into Phase 1 on 28th May.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This route map to easing the lockdown is good news and I am sure will be welcomed by many. 

“The unpredictable nature of coronavirus makes it difficult to set exact timescales and we must take gradual steps to ensure the virus is kept under control.

“It is important to remember that we remain in lockdown and restrictions will not change before the 28th May.”

“Meanwhile together with Orkney Council Leader James Stockan we have been having exploratory discussions to develop testing with companies who might be able to offer cheaper and quicker testing.  This would ensure Covid-19 is not in our communities and that it is kept at bay, which would give further confidence after lockdown is eased.”



Anne-Marie visits Northumberland PPE production facility

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Development and MP for Berwick upon Tweed, visited Northumbria Healthcare Trust’s manufacturing and distribution hub in Cramlington last week.

The hub, which began manufacturing PPE on Wednesday May 6, will make up to 6,000 protective gowns a week for frontline NHS workers and is part of a wider network of manufacturing businesses and partners.

Now that the UK has left the EU, Jonathan Djanogly calls on the Government to ensure more Parliamentary scrutiny of trade deal negotiations by setting up a new Commons Treaty Committee and making the scrutiny process under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (“the CRAG process”) more user-friendly.  read more »

MP welcomes £250 million innovation fund

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has welcomed a £250 million fund aimed at supporting businesses to grow and innovate. read more »

How Newcastle kids are missing out on online learning!

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

The school closures, may be good for public health, but are seriously affecting pupils’ learning and the ones bearing the brunt of it are those who are already very disadvantaged. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently found that by the end of May children in the poorest families will have received a week and a half less home learning than their better off-peers. In parts of my constituency child poverty was as high as 48% before this crisis and has only gotten worse. I have spoken to schools in my constituency who are on front-line of this crisis and what they have told me is very moving.

The digital divide expresses itself in a number of ways but adds up to the same result – that children are excluded from the education they deserve. Many households do not have enough devices for each child.  One head said ‘whilst I welcome the Government’s offer, it has come very late – which suggests the Government seriously underestimated the deprivation we see on a day to day basis’. Unfortunately, very few of the children without devices will qualify for Department for Education’s scheme to provide free laptops and internet access the scheme due to its very limited criteria. For those who do qualify it is unclear, two months after schools closed, when they will receive the devices they so urgently need.

Students who live in the 7% households in the UK without internet access are even more excluded. Staff quickly and reached out to all families to assess connectivity but have found it ‘difficult to gauge the actual poverty facing many’ as families are reluctant to share details as they are ashamed. Where they have devices are in data poverty as they cannot afford data. At last week’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Helen Milner OBE, Chief Executive of digital and social inclusion charity the Good Things Foundation said ‘we do know right now there are people who are choosing between data and food’. Schools have many ‘more requests regarding free school meals’ but not all families in dire straits will qualify so staff are dropping-off food parcels.  Some well-resourced schools have been able to ensure their students can access learning by supply their existing laptops, provide dongles or money for increased data costs to students but in schools with widespread poverty this is just not possible.

Some schools report around 40% of their students are not accessing the work set. Parents are doing their best whilst balancing many plates but ‘have struggled and required a lot of support to connect and communicate’. Non-native speakers are not always able to assist their children which is another challenge. Children from asylum-seeking backgrounds have been particularly affected as the network of charities that families rely on for food and other necessities are, in many cases, closed.  Schools have hired support staff who can communicate in families’ first languages and have made dual language learning paper packs as these families have no access to devices at all. Without universal provision of devices and connectivity the gap between those who have been able to focus on learning and those who have not is widening every day and it will fall to staff to try and close it when schools do reopen.

These efforts, whilst helpful, do not solve all the barriers disadvantaged children face. Headteachers tell me that many families live in overcrowded, ‘cramped conditions and [children] do not have access to spaces in which to learn’ and often are without ‘devices on which [they can] share their learning and their thoughts and feelings’. Safeguarding was raised again and again as now being ‘essentially 24/7’ requiring huge efforts to connect with each student with ‘weekly calls’ and regular emails. Distressingly, there are far ‘more domestic violence alerts’ and there are concerns about the emotional and social costs of the lockdown for all pupils but especially for those for whom school signalled safety.

Staff care deeply about their student’s education and wellbeing but the abrupt shift to online learning has left many feeling ‘overwhelmed’. They are overseeing the children still in school, setting and marking work and ensuring the children at home are not falling under the radar as well as managing their personal lives. The digital divide extends to them too with NASUWT, the teacher’s union, reporting 36% of their surveyed members had not been provided with the IT equipment they needed to work from home.

The costs are not only emotional but also financial and many schools are very worried about the cost of making sure their pupils’ needs are met. According to the Institute for Financial Studies in the ten years between 2009-10 and 2019-20 spending per pupil fell by 8% in real terms. In 2020 schools in Newcastle upon Tyne faced a £9.6 million funding shortfall and after a decade of cuts there isn’t room for any more. They have to spend the money needed to ensure that no child is left behind during the crisis but have had no reassurances about what this will mean for their budgets in the future and are concerned.

This crisis has only exposed the existing inequalities and the digital divide is clearer than ever. Those pupils may be out of sight but they are not out of mind and the staff in Newcastle’s schools are working hard to make sure that no child, or family, is left behind but the scale of the problem is daunting. Disadvantaged children deserve opportunity and a great education is key to that. However, they should not have to choose between safety and an education that will open doors, builds confidence and give them a strong foundation on which they can build a future. Urgent action is needed to ensure that all children, whatever their parent’s bank balance, can access it.

  • 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)


Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Coronavirus advice & guidance

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I have been contacted by many constituents concerned by how this pandemic impacts them and what they should do. I have set out advice and online resources below from the NHS, the Government, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and more to assist you. If you have a specific query please contact me by email or phone.

Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 23rd March, the United Kingdom, including Oldham East and Saddleworth remains in lockdown. During the statement on 10th May, the Prime Minister announced some restrictions have been relaxed. However, everyone should still continue to stay at home as much as possible. You should only leave your house to buy essential supplies including foods or medicines, or to go to work, if you are a key worker or cannot work from home and for daily exercise. You may also leave your house if you are helping to care for a vulnerable person. When you go out, please make sure you maintain 2 meters between yourself and other people at all times. The most up to date guidance can be found here and below – please do refer to this.

The good news is that the majority of people who become infected with Covid-19 will experience mild or moderate symptoms, and will be able to cope at home without needing to contact the NHS. Some people may have the virus and not even know it!

What are the symptoms of Covid-19 infection?

The NHS has identified the following symptoms of Covid-19:

  • A dry cough
  • A high temperature (over 37 degrees Celsius)
  • Shortness of breath

It’s possible to have these symptoms but not have Covid-19. You might have a cold, the flu or another common illness instead.

If you have these symptoms, you need to isolate yourself at home for 7 days. If you live with someone with Covid-19 symptoms, please stay at home for 14 days. Please do not visit GPs, pharmacies or other NHS facilities.

If need advice or become more unwell, please use their online services (instead of phoning) where possible.

What can I do to prevent the spread of Covid-19?

The best way to help and to stay healthy is to follow the advice of the NHS. This can change as we understand more how the virus affects us and is transmitted between people, so please check the latest advice every other day.

Right now, this means everyone must make every effort to stay at home and practise social distancing.


  1. Stay at home.
  2. Only leave the house to purchase food/supplies/medicine (as infrequently as possible), to go to work if you cannot work from home, to care for a vulnerable person and to exercise (unlimited). Please keep 2 metres away from people not in your household, even if you are outside, including on your commute. This includes greetings, handshakes and goodbyes
  3. Wash your hands with soap/sanitiser frequently and making sure you catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and throw that in the bin
  4. You are also permitted to meet one other person from a different household outdoors but you must follow social distancing rules and keep 2 metres apart.

If you can, please work from home, however it has also been advised to avoid public transport as much as possible. When social distancing is more difficult such as on public transport or enclosed spaces, the Government has advised covering your mouth and nose.

It is essential that if you, or someone in your household, has CV-19 symptoms you stay at home in self isolation for 14 days. CV-19 is very infectious; it can be transmitted to others even when an individual has no symptoms.  You can find self isolation guidance here.

If your family, friends, or colleagues are displaying symptoms, please advise them to stay at home too.

Should you seek a doctor if you think you have the Covid-19?

The NHS are seeking to increase testing for those with CV-19 symptoms, including a new ‘bedside’ or home test. However, even without confirmation through testing, if you have symptoms please self-isolate. This includes self-isolating from others in your household.

Please do NOT go to your local GP or A&E if you believe you may have the CV-19.

If your condition gets worse, your symptoms do not improve within 7 days or you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, please use the NHS 111 online service.

There are no current medicines or vaccines for the Coronavirus. As this is a virus and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics will not help. Please stay in isolation until you have recovered.

What support is available for British citizens stranded overseas?

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued an advisory notice asking British people to return to the UK now or as soon as possible if you are abroad. Travel advice published by the Government can be found here.

If you are abroad, you should:

  1. contact your airline or travel company now
  2. keep up-to-date with travel advice pages. FCO are updating information on returning from the country you’re in as quickly as they can
  3. for real-time updates, follow the relevant embassy or high commission’s social media for the country you’re in

Where commercial routes do not exist, the government is to charter special charter flights to fly to priority countries to bring back UK citizens. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the embassy and British nationals on travel advice pages and embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email.

I understand the logistical nightmare this situation throws up for the Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth staff, who are based in countries across the world, but more, not less, information is essential in times like these. I’ve written to Secretary of State Dominic Raab asking for an urgent response about the Government’s plans to repatriate UK citizens. You can read my letter in full here.

If you or family members are stranded abroad and need assistance, please contact my office by email abrahamsd@parliament.uk

Where are safe places to get information about the Covid-19?

Spreading misinformation won’t help us protect against the Coronavirus, but unfortunately, it is very easily done.

These are the best places to get safe and reliable information about the Coronavirus. If you see information online that looks sensational or incorrect, please report it (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

I sympathise profoundly with the families of those who have lost loved ones, as well as all other individuals who have tested positive for Coronavirus. I would also like to pay tribute to all our public servants, including in the NHS, social care and more widely. The next few weeks are going to be difficult but by working together, supporting each other, we can come through this.

Advice for faith groups:

The Government’s advice to avoid large gatherings extends to faith groups.

The Church of England and the Muslim Council of Britain have called for the suspension of all congregational activities until further notice.

If you have just returned from abroad:

NHS advice is now to stay at home for 14 days if you have a persistent and new cough, or a temperature over 37c. Please do this, even if you have not been abroad in the last 2 weeks.

Useful agencies:

Citizen’s Advice Bureau – Information on employment and social security can be found here, including information about statutory sick pay.

To contact my office with your query:

  • in the first instance, please email abrahamsd@parliament.uk including details about your case
  • to call on Mon & Tues between 9am to 1pm: 07494553005
  • to call on Weds & Fri between 9am to 1pm: 07495995509

Please note, until further notice, my fortnightly MP advice surgeries will be carried out over the phone.

Who is at risk of Covid-19 infection?

Covid-19 (CV-19) is a new coronavirus which affects the lungs and airways. As such it affects our breathing.

Those at risk from this virus are older people, particularly those over 70 years old, and people with existing conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and compromised immune systems. You can find a detailed list here.

Evidence from other parts of the world suggests that these groups are most at risk of more severe disease symptoms from CV-19 infection which may need hospitalisation.

Should I keep going to work or sending my children to school?

Nurseries, schools, colleges and Universities closed on Friday 20th March until further notice. Schools are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

If you are a parent whose job has been defined as critical to the COVID-19 response or you work in one of the critical sectors listed here, then your children will be prioritised for education provision or child care.

Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

There are special arrangements for Children on Free School Meals or with a social worker.

The Government is advising all those that can work-from-home to do so. It is best to check with your business or employer for advice on this.

I am receiving large numbers of queries from constituents being asked to go to work in non-essential occupations such as distribution warehouses, many of which supply sports equipment, fashion and other non-essential products. I have asked the Business Secretary to take immediate action to lockdown these non-essential workplaces. You can read my letter in full here. I am also raising my concerns with employers and trade unions to ensure appropriate actions are taken to keep employees of essential occupations safe.

For details on my office’s working arrangements, please click here.

What financial support is available to my family and me?

On 17th March, the Government announced some financial security measures for individuals eligible for Statutory Sick Pay who have either contracted the virus and become ill or have been forced to self-isolate. Families can also make use of a three-month mortgage payment holiday for homeowners in financial difficulty due to Covid-19 which can also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. For families, facing difficulty paying back personal loans or credit card bills, you can discuss this with you lender who can arrange a payment holiday, but record this in such a way that it will not impact on your credit score. Details of all of the above can be found here.

Oldham Council has offered Special payment plans for council tax which can be agreed on request as well as a Exceptional Hardship Payments scheme. Details can be found here.

The Chancellor subsequently announced a wider package of measures for employees in work including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the details of which are outlined here. There are still significant gaps for micro and small businesses, self-employed people and freelancers and for those dependent on social security.  I have pressed the Chancellor to provide more support for these groups and will continue to push for this.  You can read my letter here.

What financial support is available for my business?

The Government has also announced financial support for businesses. I have argued for the loans to be converted to grants, for greater support for those sectors who have been particularly affected by social distancing measures, for example, the retail, hospitality, leisure and creative industries, and for speedy and practical delivery systems. My letter to the Chancellor can be found here.

Should I continue to use public transport, attend mass gatherings or visit crowded areas?

The UK remains in lockdown. This means that you should stay at home as much as possible. Outside of a few exceptions, you should only leave your house to buy food/supplies/medicines, go to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, care for a vulnerable person, for unlimited daily exercise or to meet a member of a different household outdoors whilst observing the 2 metre rule.

Please avoid public transport where you cannot maintain 2 meters between passengers. Try to make alternative arrangements. Public transport services are also being impacted so please keep checking updates for services around Greater Manchester here.

How can I help?

We all need to pull together and think of each other. Volunteers are needed now more than ever to help community projects like foodbanks who are desperately needing staff. I have written to the Home Secretary to ask that in this unprecedented time, fees for DBS checks are waived.

If you can do support those volunteering programmes through recognised organisations like Action Together.

To find out more and look at available opportunities please go to the Action Together website:

Another way we can help is to donate at extra item to Oldham Foodbank when doing your weekly shop.

You can find out what items are most needed and where you can drop off goods on the Oldham Foodbank website:

How can I stay well living with Dementia during the pandemic?

The IDEAL project have produced a useful leaflet with five key messages about how people living with dementia can stay well during the coronavirus outbreak. This information will also be useful for family members and others supporting a person with dementia. This leaflet can be read in detail here.

This includes five tips which are listed below:

  • Stay safe and well
  • Stay connected
  • Keep a sense of purpose
  • Stay active
  • Stay positive

Having reliable sources of information is essential. If you want to speak to someone you can call:

  • Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line 0333 150 3456
  • The Silver Line 0800 4 70 80 90

The post COVID – 19 FAQs appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.


Local MP for Basingstoke Maria Miller has welcomed the plans announced by the Housing Secretary to re-start the housing market in line with social distancing advice, allowing anyone to move home safely while getting the vital construction industry running again.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

Today marks the beginning of a Mental Health Awareness Week like no other, where our collective efforts to stop, reflect, spread kindness and get the nation talking about mental health have never been so important. Although we can’t meet in person for now, no one should feel they are alone or without help. Whether it’s the Kind to Your Mind campaign, the OK to Ask initiative, or any of the […]

Honour our Key Workers by Funding their Work

Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

Services are under threat unless the Government keeps its promise to fully reimburse councils for the impact of the Covid-19 crisis:

For the Nottingham context:

  • £54million additional costs
  • £19million additional funding
  • £100million less Govt funding since 2010.

There’s a looming crisis ahead with devastating consequences for local services if the Government reneges on its promise. The majority of the Council’s expenditure goes towards funding care services for older people and protecting vulnerable children.

During the pandemic we’ve seen our key council workers doing outstanding work, often in difficult circumstances. From care workers, bus drivers and household waste collection teams to Community Protection Officers, housing support staff and park rangers, whether working directly or indirectly for Nottingham City Council we couldn’t have come this far without them. It’s now imperative that the Government doesn’t turn its back on these people by leaving a huge gap in the funding that’s required. 

We have had to endure year after year of cuts to our budgets which has already made it extremely difficult to maintain services. The Government can’t expect us to now meet the huge costs and loss of revenue due to Covid-19 on top of the seemingly endless austerity.

The Government promised they would support us and we’ve stepped up and done what was asked of us. It would be incredibly disappointing if they now backtracked and as a consequence put local services at extreme risk.

Cllr Sam Webster,
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and City Centre

The post Honour our Key Workers by Funding their Work appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

New resident rights for park homes will root out the rogues - GOV.UK

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, has held a virtual conference with holiday park operators from across the constituency as an opportunity for them to share their experiences of how the sector has been affected by the lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of coronavirus.

Holiday parks across the country have been forced to close since measures were introduced in March to slow the spread of Covid-19, as members of the public were told to stay indoors as much as possible. This included restrictions on people journeying to second homes due to concerns over unnecessary travel and placing additional pressures on rural services and hospitals.

The roundtable gave representatives from across the sector – including from parks in Withernsea, Hornsea, Cowden and Routh – to pass their experiences and concerns directly to Graham, with a consensus emerging on the importance of being able to reopen different elements of parks as soon as it is safe to do so and the need for a flexible furlough scheme to allow staff to return to work while still receiving assistance with wage costs.

Commenting after the meeting, Graham said: “In normal circumstances, holiday parks are a huge part of our economy, bringing visitors to towns like Withernsea and Hornsea and commerce to local shops, butchers, bakers, local tourist attractions, you name it.

“They’ve had to deal with holiday cancellations, refunds, and disgruntled customers over the course of the last few weeks while also staying open to provide vital accommodation to those who need it.

“It was a good chance to hear their concerns and I have immediately worked to follow these up with the relevant Ministers in Government.”

Since the meeting, and following representations from Graham on the need for a more flexible scheme, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has confirmed that the Government’s commitment to cover 80% of the cost of furloughed employees’ wages up to £2,500 per month is to be extended until the end of October. From the beginning of August, it will be made more flexible to allow for workers to return to work part-time, with Government and employers combining to pay their wages.

Of crucial importance to parks is when they might be able to once again open their doors to commercial customers. On Sunday, the Boris Johnson laid out that future measures will be determined by a new ‘Covid Alert Level’ system that will be determined both by the rate of infection and the number of coronavirus cases. The UK is currently at Level 4, however if this continues to fall then the Government’s aim is to consider reopening certain hospitality and leisure facilities from 4th July onwards.

Andrew Howe, of Sand le Mere Holiday Village, added: “The virtual roundtable proved to be a really useful exercise, and I’m pleased to have been able to attend. Our sector’s had to face a lot of difficulties so it was great to be able to pass these directly to Graham.

“Our industry’s seasonal so for us it’s important to be able to open as soon as it’s safe, as we’ll have already missed the Easter weekend and the May bank holidays. Even if it means only opening up certain parts of our parks for the time being.”

VE Day tributes in Bryn Gaer, Llanelli

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

Last Friday, I joined residents of Bryn Gaer to remember those who had given so much during World War Two as part of VE Day 75th Anniversary commemorations in the street.

We observed the two minutes silence at 11am as part of a strictly socially distanced event attended by residents who remained in their own front gardens.

Organised by Dafen councillor, Rob Evans, the occasion included an exhibition of the wartime memorabilia of Dennis Allan Cleaver, including a map and handwritten record of all the bombing raids he went on whilst in Bomber Command which has been preserved by his son, Wayne Cleaver, who present at the event.  The items were displayed in the garden of Mr Dai Twist who had also found recordings of the Last Post and the two national anthems for his friends and neighbours to sing along to. 

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions in place, people in Bryn Gaer were still keen to show their respects and did so in a very touching and emotional way.  People maintained a safe distance at all times for the duration of the 11 0’clock commemoration but it was an important way of gathering together to remind ourselves of the sacrifices that many people made to give us the freedoms that we enjoy today.

Evennett participates in COVID-19 Debate

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Yesterday evening (12 May), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford participated in the COVID-19 debate in the House of Commons.

The debate was opened by the Paymaster General, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, who acknowledged we are facing the largest challenge in a generation and outlined the Government’s “unprecedented level of support to retain jobs and help cash flow, with 25,000 loans, half a million firms furloughing workers, and 600,000 grants”.

Changes to refuse collections

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

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.

10 years as your MP

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

It’s ten years today since I was first elected as MP for Newcastle North and 13 years of Labour Government came to an end. Nobody could have predicted what was going to happen over the next decade. If things had played out as expected, there’d be a general election this week and I’d be asking … Continue reading 10 years as your MP

Weekly Round Up 2nd May

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)

I hope very much this finds you well and safe.

It’s been another intense week – but it does now seem like the Peak of Covid may be behind us – for now. We have lost so many dear loved ones – including Mary Jagroop, a much loved nurse at Heartlands. Too many families know exactly that heartbreak feels like. But it is thanks to people like Mary, known as Dassie to her family, that our local hospitals have now discharged 1,500 patients who have recovered from Covid.

Over the week ahead, I’ll be stepping up calls for the Government to start building a plan, not just to save lives, but to save livelihoods. We need a plan that gives us all confidence that the sacrifices made will not be in vain.

Here’s a quick roundup of the news this week — and as ever please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help in anyway.

Best wishes

Liam Byrne MP


Essential workers are on the frontline in our fight against coronavirus. That’s why I’m joining UNISON West Midlands and all WM Labour MPs in asking the mayor to extend free public transport to all key workers. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=287938375536350

Call with the GMB

To mark #InternationalWorkersMemorialDay I caught with the GMB Union‘s brilliant Cerys Way to talk about today’s history and why the struggle is more important now than ever Down pointing backhand index #SaveLives #SaveLivelihoods https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=270647790757760

World Bank pandemic call

On Friday, in my role as Chair of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF, I presided over a virtual parliamentary briefing on pandemics, with a special focus on COVID-19. I was joined by 124 parliamentarians from 55 countries around the world. In this briefing, we heard about some of the measures being taken on a global and local level to tackle COVID-19. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=527598181239537

Community Fund Launched

Excellent work from our Police & Crime Commissioner launching a new £200k West Midlands community fund for the amazing volunteers and community groups working hard right now. Here’s the link: https://www.westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk/community-initiatives-fund/

Birmingham Active Wellbeing Society

If you are feeling lonely and need a friendly chat, or need some food or urgent supplies hen please don’t hesitate to contact the Active Wellbeing Society using the details below. People who are self isolating or organisations looking for support can also contact us via the below pages, or calling 0121 728 7030 during office hours. https://theaws.co.uk/relief/

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Covid-19 Update for Ashford

Damian Green (Ashford)

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.

Steve Reed joins Labour’s Shadow Cabinet

Steve Reed (Croydon North)

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.

Steve said:

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 Reed
    Steve Reed Member of Parliment for Croydon North

Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.

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.

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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."

Dr Ruth Bonnington – a GP who works in Bensham and Saltwell, has helpfully provided the below advice around COVID-19, the transmission, symptoms and how to best protect ourselves. I hope you find this useful.


Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined new restrictions on people leaving their homes to help slow the spread of coronavirus as he gave an address to the nation from No10 on Monday evening.

Here is his statement in full:

Good Evening,

The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease.

Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope – and save more lives.

And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all – the time has now come for us all to do more.

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.

Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.

That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

– shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible

– one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;

– any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and

– travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.

You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:

– close all shops selling non-essential goods,? including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;

– we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;

– and we’ll stop all social events?, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.

I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.

Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7,500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

With the time you buy – by simply staying at home – we are increasing our stocks of equipment.

We are accelerating our search for treatments.

We are pioneering work on a vaccine.

And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.

Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.

But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted.

Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together, to halt the spread of this disease, to protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.

And I know that as they have in the past so many times, the people of this country will rise to that challenge.

And we will come through it stronger than ever.

We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

Thank you.

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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


Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Alec is advising all constituents to follow Public Health England advice for their own safety and the safety of others.


On 11th May HM Government announced the first stages of a controlled easing of ‘lockdown’ rules, which will be regularly monitored according to scientific advice on the rate of infection.

You can now:

1. Continue to shop for necessities whilst respecting a 2 metre distance from others;
2. Work from home if you’re able to but if you are unable to work from home and your workplace has adopted COVID-19 Secure Guidelines then you can go to work (with the exception of retail, leisure and hospitality*);
3. Avoid using public transport where possible;
4. Use a homemade face covering in enclosed spaces where a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained;
5. Continue to send your child to school only if you have a vulnerable child or you are a critical worker;
6. Utilise child care facilities such as childminders if they can meet COVID-19 Secure Guidelines;
7. Exercise outdoors with those from your household or one other person not in your household if maintaining a 2 metre distance;
8. Drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance so long as you respect social distancing guidelines and do not do so with people from outside your household.

*A full list of businesses and venues that must remain closed to members of the public is available here.

Find out how to protect yourself or check if you need medical help on the NHS website.

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 the draft timetable below.

Not before 1 June 2020:

– A phased return for early years settings and schools, starting with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools and Years 10 and 12 in secondary schools;
– The phased reopening of non-essential retail outlets providing they can adopt COVID-19 Secure Guidelines. Hospitality and personal care outlets will have to remain closed for a while longer in order to minimise the risk of transmission;
– Permitting sporting and cultural events to take place behind closed-doors but for public broadcast;
– Increasing the use of public transport, subject to strict measures to minimise the risk of transmission.

Not before 4th July 2020:

– The reopening of most personal care outlets (hairdressers and nail bars etc) and remaining hospitality outlets (bars, restaurants etc) providing they can adhere to COVID-19 Secure Guidelines and it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, there are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

* washing your hands more often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
* avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
* avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
* cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
* clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home

Support for families and businesses.

The Government has announced a number of scheme to help people and businesses financially throughout the crisis:

Job Retention Scheme – click here.
Universal Credit – click here
Self-Employed Support – click here
Business Support – click here


NHS and Social Care workers are able to get a COVID-19 test at the ‘drive-thru’ testing site at Temple Green in Leeds. Additionally, those over 65 with symptoms and those who cannot work from home and have symptoms can also access a test. To book a test click here.

Volunteer Support

Alec is working with local Leeds City Councillors to best co-ordinate volunteer efforts in our community. If you’re able to offer help please go to www.doinggoodleeds.org.uk

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Hull MP reacts to the Budget

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

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.

Supporting Constituents

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

I want to ensure that I am able to continue to support you with any issues you have while we are all working together to contain coronavirus.

Along with colleagues, I am continually monitoring the situation in relation to the Covid–19 outbreak in order to ensure the wellbeing of my constituents and employees and to minimise the spread of the virus.

As part of these efforts, my team and I aim to reduce non-essential face-to-face meetings, and where a face-to-face meeting does take place we are introducing some sensible measures to better protect you and others.

What does this mean?

➡ We will try to accommodate alternatives to face-to-face meetings i.e. telephone or conference calls, Skype or Video Conferencing meetings.

➡ If a face-to-face meeting is essential, we will ask you to confirm that you have not been to or are not in contact with individuals returning from Category 1 or 2 areas. Up to date information on what areas are Category 1 or 2 can be found here

➡ For your protection where such a face to face meeting is essential for you, we will dispense with handshakes, operate a ‘safe space’ distance for seating and we will ask you to make use of hand sanitisers.

You will find up to date advice at https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus

My office can be contacted on 01463 611024. If no one is available to answer your call, please leave a short message along with your name and number and we will get back to you. Alternatively, email me direct on drew.hendry.mp@parliament.uk and I will do my best to help.

Thanking you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.


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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.

Raise the Rate debate

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

Jesse’s Hereford Times Column

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire)

The floods this week have been so horrendous that it is impossible to think of anything else.

They are said to be the worst in living memory, and I can readily believe it.  For once the word "biblical" does not seem inappropriate. They testify to a world in which nature is becoming unbalanced, with supposedly once-in-a-lifetime freak events now occurring almost annually.

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

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.

Please wait...

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Christmas Greetings

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

Labour has pledged compensation packages for millions of women hit by state pension age rises imposed by the Tories.

Pay-outs of up to £31,000 will be made, with an average payment of £15,000.

The scheme will be delivered within Labour's first full five year term of government.

Payments will go to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age hiked.

David Cameron's coalition government presided over a change in the law that increased the women's state pension age to 65 in November 2018 - followed by 66 in October 2020.

Labour will introduce a compensation scheme as rapidly as possible for the 3.7million women hit by the changes, which Cameron's Tory-Lib Dem government imposed in 2011.

It comes after Boris Johnson u-turned on his pledge to help those affected.

He dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered.

The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.

They were not able to prepare and have had to suffer serious financial consequences as a result.

We have a historic debt of honour to them.