As a result of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), I am receiving many more emails than normal covering wide areas of policy and government. In addition to the large volume of correspondence, the situation is extremely fast-paced and therefore it is currently not possible or efficient for me to reply to each individual piece of correspondence.
In order to keep constituents up to date I have set out information on the key issues raised and the ones most frequently brought up by constituents. I hope you will find the answer to any enquiry here, then this follows my earlier round-up of local places where you can obtain information and support, which can be found here:
If I am unable to reply to you individually on this occasion, please rest assured that your specific concerns and comments have been received and, where appropriate, shared with colleagues and the Government to ensure any helpful suggestions are heard and acted upon.
I will be updating this post as appropriate and as further information becomes available.
The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest global public health emergency in anyone’s lifetime. It requires decisive action, at home and abroad, of the kind not normally seen in peacetime. I support the Government’s approach in mobilising every area to defend our people and our country and I applaud the community spirit being displayed by businesses, universities and communities across the country.
The Government is taking powers to, if necessary, bolster both public health protections against Coronavirus and any public order implications in the Coronavirus Bill. I will support this Bill which will assist the Government to manage this national emergency. Regulations have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus. Other measures taken to mitigate and prevent the spreading of coronavirus include those under the model of social distancing where employees are encouraged to work from home, and large conferences and events will have been postponed or cancelled. As the Prime Minister said social distancing measures are under constant review and an announcement to close further businesses and premises was made today.
- Full guidance on staying at home and away from others
- COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people
Schools have also been closed for the time being, and whilst the Secretary of State for Education has announced that the Summer A-Level and GCSE examinations will not be taking place. Please rest assured that the best solution will be sought so that every child receives the fairest grade that they deserve enabling them to access the appropriate university or college come the next academic year. The latest information can be found here:
The scale and pace of change having to be implemented by Government is unheard of in peacetime and as such not only may these solutions take some time, but they are bound to be less perfect than the foregone examinations. Please give the necessary allowance for hard-pressed public servants doing their best.
Any concern over the availability of products in supermarkets is entirely down to the consequence of some consumers’ selfish behaviour. I have spoken to local authority and business leaders in the local area, and I have been assured that our supply chains remain robust with plenty of food for everyone, subject to normal purchases from the public. Supermarkets have taken action to ensure that NHS key workers and vulnerable people are able to access food and essential products and I welcome the fact that numerous supermarkets in the local area, including Morrison’s, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s, have announced that they have special hours in place specifically for over 70s and NHS workers. The Government has made it easier for supermarkets to work together with respect to sharing resources, such as distribution depots, delivery vans and staff, as well as co-ordinating stock levels across the country. The Government has also eased drivers' hours and waived the 5p plastic bag charge to speed up deliveries.
A number of constituents have contacted me to express their concerns regarding the Coronavirus Bill 2019-20 and provisions for managing the deceased. I am pleased to say that the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has now confirmed that prior to any cremation decision, an individual’s faith and where applicable the wishes of their family, will be taken into account.
Above all, what is clear is that this is a unique time for our country. A time where we must come together to move forward and end this public health crisis and the problems that will come as a result of it. The Government has taken the following actions to facilitate this and to minimise the spread of the disease.
Public health and healthcare provision
I am reassured by the fact that the Government’s policy thus far has been evidence-based, and I have every confidence that future actions will continue to be so, allowing us to tackle this public health crisis in a structured and more effective manner.
The centralised structure of the NHS enables a faster and more coordinated approach to deal with this kind of crisis. To bolster capacity, an agreement has also been made with private hospitals which will provide the NHS with an extra 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 ventilators and almost 20,000 fully qualified staff from next week. From this week, the Army too will play a part in helping to distribute NHS supplies.
The UK has been one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for the new coronavirus, and the Government has been working closely with the NHS to ensure it can provide the best possible response to Covid-19 cases. Clinicians in both primary and secondary care have already received advice, covering initial detection and investigation of possible cases, infection prevention and control, and clinical diagnostics. The Government has also provided £20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to produce a vaccine to combat coronavirus. In addition to this, both the Government and NHS are pouring significant resources into protecting the vulnerable (particularly people with existing health conditions and those aged over 70).
To support the economy, businesses and citizens, now and for the time to come after this pandemic, the Chancellor has unveiled a series of measures including a £330bn loan availability to business and the most extraordinary financial measures to support employment.
The Chancellor’s announcement that the Government will cover up to 80% of workers’ wages (up to a total of £2500 per month), is a move that will significantly mitigate the economic impact of this pandemic and crucially protect the livelihood of millions of workers. The position of the self-employed is more complex and work continues on this. The Chancellor has promised to do whatever it takes to support our economy through this crisis, and Ministers will do just that to ensure workers can continue to receive a regular income and that our businesses and communities come out of this crisis as unharmed as possible. I believe this to be the right approach.
With the situation evolving very quickly, it is important for everyone to keep up to date with the latest advice being put out by the Government. This is under constant review as the situation evolves so please make sure to check this regularly. The advice can be found at the following links:
It is clear that the virus will be with us for some time, but I know my ministerial colleagues and others are working around the clock to ensure the public is protected. We have faced many challenges as a nation, and this will have many regrettable costs. However, I believe there will be benefits in terms of a reinforcement of the community and public spirit. I will endeavour to keep this updated as often as required.
Thank you for reading,