Unsurprisingly, a lot of constituents have contacted me about Covid-19 over the last few days and I have drafted a response which I hope covers the main points people have raised. I will endeavour to keep my website updated with relevant developments over the coming days and weeks.
We are in unprecedented times and public health and safety must come first. My Labour colleagues and I will support and cooperate with the Government, providing their actions are based on scientific and medical advice. This is not the time for political point-scoring, but we will do all we can to ensure that the Government is addressing all of the issues affecting our constituents.
We are calling on ministers to make the scientific evidence and their modelling publicly available. This is important if the Government is to maintain public confidence in its handling of the outbreak, particularly with regards to the decision for schools to remain open for the time being.
We are also calling on the Government to ensure public services are provided with the resources they need to meet the requirements of the Coronavirus Action Plan. Local authorities still don’t know their public health allocations for the next financial year and therefore cannot yet plan an effective local public health response (I raised this in Parliament last week).
Constituents, unions and a huge variety of businesses and organisations have raised other issues which need addressing urgently. These include (but are by no means limited to):
- The World Health Organisation has been clear – testing and contact tracing should continue.
- Lack of sick pay/loss of earnings for self-employed workers, those on zero hours contracts and those with no recourse to public funds.
- Disruption and loss of earnings for business owners (especially publicans and small business owners).
- Support for those working in the creative industries.
- Concerns that people will not be able to pay their rent or mortgage due to loss of earnings.
- Repatriation of people currently abroad.
- Concerns about food supplies running out.
- Concerns about vulnerable people who are in self-isolation.
- Access to social care and other support.
- Support for public sector workers.
- Concerns about the welfare of children living in vulnerable situations if schools do close, as well as a potential escalation in youth violence.
I would like to reassure you that I will continue to raise these issues (and others) with the Government and Lewisham Council however and whenever I can. I am also looking into ways of connecting local people in need of assistance with those who are offering to help.
I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that my office is closed for the time being and my staff will be working from home most of the time. However, you will still be able to contact us by phone, email and post. It may take us a little longer to respond at times, so please bear with us.
Finally, I wanted to let you know about my own situation. Last year I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and I am on medication which unfortunately puts me in the “most at risk of serious illness” category. I will be self-isolating for as long as the advice lasts, but that will not stop me from asking questions of the Government. I will also be in regular contact with my team and we are looking at options for holding my advice surgeries by phone. Please keep checking the website for the latest information.
Thank you once again to everyone who has got in touch. Please feel free to contact me again if you would like to share your situation or are in need of personal assistance.