I've just received this (as I'm sure have many others reading on here).
I think Helen is an excellent MP and we are lucky to have her (as we were lucky to have Tessa Jowell).
I've copied and pasted this, and the links haven't copied over, however I think they will all be on her website (the website address is at the end).
The parts in bold are my bold, not hers.
I hope that this email finds you well and that you and your family are keeping safe at this difficult time.
The coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest global public health issue in a generation and the most challenging situation our country has faced in peacetime. The situation is evolving on a daily basis, but we know that the impact of this pandemic will be far reaching and potentially devastating, both in terms of the health of those for whom this is a serious disease, and for employment and our economy. I wanted to write to update you on the advice and support that is currently available from a range of sources and the work that I am doing to represent everyone who lives and works in Dulwich and West Norwood at this very challenging time.
I have posted some information and resources on my website here and I will keep these updated as this pandemic evolves. I know that many people are keen to help their neighbours who may be self-isolating or struggling to access essentials and I’ve also included details of how you can link up with people who are organising volunteers in your area, via our councils’ websites.
Thank you to everyone on the frontline
Our NHS is our most precious institution and Labour’s proudest achievement, full of dedicated hard-working staff who work with incredible skill and care. At this time, perhaps more than ever in our lifetime, we owe our NHS a huge debt of gratitude and I pay tribute to all our NHS staff. While our NHS teams are working flat out to save lives which are threatened by Covid-19, we must fight for the resources it needs.
There is no doubt that a decade of austerity has left our NHS extremely stretched, and there is therefore great concern about the pressures that will result from the pandemic. Locally, we have been campaigning for some time for more funding for King’s College Hospital and in the context of coronavirus, this is more important than ever. I recently asked Matt Hancock again for the funding King’s needs to be able to cope with the additional demands of the pandemic. You can watch this here.
I am also very concerned about capacity within the social care sector, and support for social care workers during this time. Social care workers are at the frontline of the pandemic, providing care to people who will be vulnerable to Covid-19, and facing increasing caseloads as hospitals seek to discharge patients to free-up bed space for Covid-19 patients. Yet the recent Budget offered no new funding for social care, and unlike NHS workers, the government has so far refused to guarantee that social care workers will be paid in full if they had to self-isolate. No-one who works with vulnerable people should face the choice between self-isolating and feeding their family. Last week, more than 100 Parliamentarians signed my letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling on him to guarantee full pay for social care workers who have to self-isolate due to Covid-19. You can read about my letter here.
There is a great deal of concern about the extent of testing for Covid-19 in the UK, with testing not being offered routinely to members of the public with coronavirus symptoms, in direct contravention of World Health Organisation advice. It seemed clear from the Health Secretary’s response in the House of Commons that there is a serious issue concerning the availability of testing kits. I have tabled Written Parliamentary Questions on the availability of Covid-19 testing kits and ventilators, which we know are going to be needed in much greater numbers than are currently available as the virus spreads further.
I spoke this week on the challenges our councils are facing due to Covid-19, which are made profoundly worse by a decade of austerity and cuts to their funding. You can watch here.
Employment and economy
The implications of Covid-19 for individual workers and for our economy as a whole are potentially catastrophic. Following pressure from both Labour and the TUC it was good to see the Tories support many workers with guarantees to businesses and charities to support up to 80% of workers’ wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, but the delay in announcing support for 5 million freelancers and self-employed workers has caused terrible distress, anxiety and hardship. There are also many hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their jobs before the government agreed to underwrite workers’ salaries and who now find themselves trying to navigate the Tories’ inadequate social welfare safety net.
I have been pressing the Tories to take a comprehensive approach to ALL workers and have supported proposals for an emergency Universal Basic Income here.
There is also great concern about the support for individuals who fall ill. As the Labour Party, we are calling for the rate of Statutory Sick Pay which at £94 a week is not sufficient for most people to cover their basic costs, to be increased to the rate of the living wage and for SSP to be extended to freelance, self-employed and zero hours workers.
As unemployment increases, there is a risk that many people will find their homes at risk. I have been calling on the government to guarantee that no-one will lose their home due to Covid-19, whether they are a private renter, a social housing tenant, or are struggling to pay their mortgage – you can watch here. The government was very slow to announce protection for private renters, and while the temporary suspension on evictions is welcome, there remain concerns that some evictions may still be able to proceed if the process is already underway, and that the government is relying on landlords to work with tenants after the pandemic to agree the repayment of arrears. Labour continues to call for stronger protections for tenants.
Pressures on our food banks
We have all seen distressing images of supermarkets with empty shelves as some people have chosen to stockpile. The shortages have often been most acute in non-perishable items, which are the staples of our local foodbanks. Our foodbanks are also experiencing a surge in demand as so many people find their income reduced due to Covid-19. Please do donate to support our foodbanks if you can.
Norwood and Brixton Foodbank supports people in the Lambeth part of our constituency, and details of how to donate to them can be found here.
Peckham Foodbank supports people in the Southwark part of our constituency and details of how to donate to them can be found here.
This week the government introduced emergency legislation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that is unprecedented in peacetime. While emergency measures are needed to address the extraordinary challenges that we face as a nation, Labour MPs have carefully scrutinised the detail and supported a series of changes to the original proposals. The government accepted calls from Labour that the legislation must be debated in Parliament every six months and renewed only if it is still needed. My colleague Naz Shah MP led important work to ensure that emergency funeral powers accommodated the religious needs of Jewish and Muslim communities. I raised the impact of changes to social care and mental health legislation. You can watch my speech here.
The new legislation also postpones the Mayoral and local elections scheduled for 7 May for a year until May 2021.
School, Nursery and College closures
The government announced last week that all schools, nurseries and colleges must close, but delayed clarifying who they counted as key workers until late in the day. Details of the system for ensuring that children who are eligible for free school meals are fed if they cannot be in school was also only released at the last minute. This is a very unsettling time for many children and young people, particularly children in years 6, 11 and 13 whose time at primary and secondary school may be coming to an abrupt end, and those who were due to sit public exams. I know that our teachers are doing everything they can to provide education remotely and to support children who will still be able to attend school.
Windrush Lessons Learned Review and Compensation Scheme
While the vast majority of Parliamentary time has been taken up with Covid-19, the government has now published the Windrush Lessons Learned Review by Wendy Williams, which lays bare the catastrophic failures of the Home Office which resulted in such appalling injustice for so many local residents in Dulwich and West Norwood. I spoke as the report was published. You can watch here. The legislation to support the compensation scheme is also being passed this week. I am supporting calls from campaigner Patrick Vernon and others for the government to hand the administration of the scheme to a department other than the Home Office so that more people will have the confidence to come forward to claim what they are owed.
I’ll keep you updated as this extraordinary situation progresses. Please do take care, stay safe and let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.
Helen Hayes MP
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit was march 24, 05:32pm by Sue.