Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the impact of the new lockdown restrictions on places of worship.
I am aware that the Government has repeatedly made announcements about lockdown without engaging with faith communities or engaging with its own Places of Worship Taskforce, which is unacceptable.
My Labour colleagues and I support the new lockdown, but we believe that the way in which the latest restrictions were announced shows a disconnect with faith groups, and a lack of appreciation of the importance of places of worship to our communities.
This lack of consultation seems particularly unacceptable when so many religious groups have run foodbanks, provided thousands of hot meals, delivered essential supplies, given childcare support and provided many other essential services that would otherwise be fulfilled by local authorities if they had sufficient funding.
We also very much regret that the Government ignored SAGE advice to implement a two-to-three week circuit break. If this had been implemented, places of worship may have had to close for a shorter period.
I know that the current closure means that many religious organisations will lose out on their usual income from donations over the festival period. This follows 8 months of losses from in-person weekly donations and venue rentals.
Labour is calling on the Government to set out what steps it intends to take to ensure vital places of worship aren’t lost from our communities as a result of Covid-19. We are also calling for the Government to hold weekly meetings with the Places of Worship Taskforce to ensure faith leaders are consulted with and provided with support ahead of important festivals.