Coronavirus
Coronavirus

The situation is fast moving, but you will find all my updates here as well as useful sources of information and advice. If you have any concerns you can always contact my office and we will do everything we can to assist, or direct you to the best place for advice and support.

Update: Thursday 9 July 2020

The charity Parentkind is currently undertaking two surveys to find out:
• What parents’ recent experience of school closures has been?
• How they feel the government has handled the crisis?
• What concerns remain as their child prepares to return to the classroom?
All parents of a school-aged child are eligible to take the survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Parentkind/
There is a separate survey that parents of a child with SEND may wish to take: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SENDParentkind/
The last time Parentkind ran a survey on school closures as a result of Covid-19, they received over quarter of a million responses. Now more than ever, it’s vital to keep parents part of the national conversation, and ensure the government remains accountable to them when it comes to the education of children. Please take a moment to fill in the survey if you can.  Thanks.

Update: Monday 29 June 2020

I’ve had a number of constituents get in touch about library reopening and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sports earlier this month to urge the Government to put plans in place.  I’ve now received this reply.

Update: Tuesday 23 June 2020

Cancer symptoms and cervical screening during coronavirus pandemic

NHS North Central London CCG, in partnership with Cancer Research UK facilitators, has produced two videos featuring Macmillan Cancer Lead GPs and practice nurses working in the north central London area.  The videos are aimed at reassuring the public that the NHS is open to support them with their cancer concerns and provide cervical screening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Worried about cancer symptoms during the coronavirus pandemic?

There has been up to 70% fewer two week wait suspected cancer referrals across north central London over recent weeks as patients with possible cancer symptoms are putting off contacting their GP practice for fear of coming into contact with the virus or because they believe their GP practice is closed.

The ‘Worried about cancer symptoms during the coronavirus pandemic?’ video features Macmillan Cancer Lead GPs Dr Kate Rees (Haringey), Dr Zareena Cuddis (Barnet), Dr Nitika Silhi (Enfield) and Dr Clare Stephens, Senior Responsible Clinical Officer for Cancer Commissioning in North Central London.

The video encourages patients that if they are experiencing unusual symptoms that could be cancer, to contact their local GP practice. Telephone and video consultations with GPs are available and patients will only be asked to come to their local GP practice or go to hospital if it is safe to do so. Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23B8aASyZ3A

Cervical screening – Have you been invited to have your cervical screening test?

NHS North Central London CCG has also produced a short video aimed at encouraging women that have been invited for their cervical screening test and not yet had it done, to contact their local GP practice and book an appointment. Although the cervical screening programme had paused during the early stage of the pandemic, the programme has now resumed.=

The video features practice nurses from The Speedwell Practice in Barnet and focuses on the additional protective measures in place to ensure women’s safety during their screening test.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWD7ogQJ8x0&t=5s

 

Update: Wednesday 10 June 2020

I’m concerned that Haringey Council haven’t been given the flexibility they need by central Government to help the maximum number of local businesses during this difficult time.  It would be scandalous if local authorities up and down the country were forced to return money to the Treasury rather than use it to support more businesses in need.  I have written to the Chancellor to urge him to look at this again and hope he will respond positively to this case.  Read my letter to the Chancellor here.

The latest update I have received from Royal Mail, specifically addressing concerns I raised about the support provided to postal workers is available here.  I had also asked how residents who are concerned about their mail service can raise problems directly with Royal Mail.  They can use any of the following methods:

Write to FREEPOST Royal Mail Customer Service

Email [email protected]

Use the online form at www.royalmail.com

Call their customer service line on 03457 740 740 (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 8am-1pm and Sunday 9am-2pm)

Update: Wednesday 3 June 2020

I spoke with senior Royal Mail staff last week about the ongoing postal problems in N8 and N4 and they have today sent me this letter updating on some of the actions they are taking to try and resolve the matter.

During the meeting, I also asked about the possibility of re-opening a delivery office in N8.  It was a real blow to the local community when Hornsey Sorting Office closed down in 2014.  With the volume of parcels now being handled doubling in recent weeks and likely to remain high, it feels more important than ever that N8 and N4 mail is given the priority it deserves and that residents aren’t forced to take public transport, drive or cycle over to N19 to collect packages once delivery offices can safely reopen.  I have written to the Chief Executive of Royal Mail to raise this proposal further.

I have also asked if Royal Mail can provide a contact for local managers for people with very specific concerns, and I will post details here once I receive them.

I am very much aware that this still isn’t a normal service and whilst Royal Mail are hopeful that the additional staffing will improve matters and that they are through the worst, I know that many of you continue to experience problems.  I have asked to be kept regularly updated and please do continue to share with me news of improvements or new problems that I can collate and raise with Royal Mail on your behalf.

Update: Tuesday 2 June 2020

The Government has been shamed into releasing the Public Health England report into coronavirus and BAME communities, after threatening to delay its publication last night.

It sadly confirms what we knew already – that racial and health inequalities amplify the risks of Covid-19 and that those in the poorest households and people of colour are disproportionately impacted.

The Government needs to act urgently to address this so yet more lives are not lost unnecessarily.  You can read the full report here.

You can read the transcript from Parliament’s debate on the report here.

Update: Saturday 23 May 2020

The Highgate Society have set up a chat line, with the aim of helping to support people who might be socially isolating and want an informal, friendly chat with a local person.  The service launches on Monday 25 May and you can find out more about it here.

Update: Wednesday 13 May 2020

I wanted to share with you the latest update I’ve received from Royal Mail regarding the ongoing problems with postal deliveries in N8 and N4.

Royal Mail have acknowledged there have been particular problems in parts of Hornsey & Wood Green, where they’ve seen sickness absence levels of 40% combined with a 35% increase in parcel deliveries and a 100% increase in tracked items.  In addition, new social distancing measures introduced to protect staff have changed working practices including only allowing one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time.

We all recognise and appreciate the strain these services have been under in these difficult times, but as you know, I’ve continually emphasised the importance of post, particularly for vulnerable residents and those who are self-isolating.  I’ve also highlighted the inconsistency between the service different areas are receiving.

I am pleased to say that Royal Mail have told me sickness absence levels are now improving and they’ve recruited additional resources to help with demand and deal with the backlog.  They’re also looking at increasing the number of vehicles available.  As a result, I’ve been advised that residents should be receiving postal deliveries at least four days per week and they expect this to increase in the coming weeks.

I hope you will all start to notice an improvement.  Separately, I’ve received welcome feedback in recent days from constituents that long awaited parcels have begun to arrive.  I will however keep up the pressure and have requested a (virtual) meeting with the Area Manager in the coming days.

Update: Tuesday 12 May 2020

Mine in Haringey are doing vital work to support residents through these difficult weeks, and have provided me with this update about the services that are currently operating.  “Although the Mind in Haringey’s building is closed, our services are still very much open. Our counselling service has moved to a telephone service and our wellbeing activities are being replaced by weekly welfare calls, with the hope to create a new timetable of online activities and groups in the near future. Our advocacy service is still running effectively and we are now offering CAB appointments over the phone. We have also secured funding to run a free counselling service for keyworkers who are working through the pandemic, to support them and the stresses that they are facing everyday. We have seen an huge amount of generosity in donations to our fundraiser: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/mental-health-and-wellbeing-support-for-all which helps us support the people in the borough who need it the most. Please take a look at our website: www.mindinharingey.org.uk to find out more about what we are doing,  and please call 0208 340 2747 if you need any help or support with your mental health. Thank you.”

Update: Monday 11 May 2020

More confusion created by the PM’s statement last night and a lot of questions he needs to answer in Parliament today.

How are people supposed to safely return to work if they can’t use public transport and they have no childcare? Crucially, how can they be assured they’ll be safe when they get there?

We all want to see a route out of lockdown but saving lives must be the priority. Employees must not feel pressured into returning until it’s safe to do so and schools must meet the NEU’s five tests and the staff unions’ requests before they safely reopen.

NEU
NEU's five tests for schools to safely reopen

Update: Wednesday 29 April 2020

I’ve had a lot of constituents in the N8 and N4 get in touch over recent weeks about problems with mail deliveries and I wanted to update you on the actions I’ve been taking.

I know how hard our postal staff are working to keep this key service going during what is a very difficult time.  Like many other organisations they’re facing real issues with staff shortages and high levels of employee absence through sickness.

Equally I know how important their services are, particularly for vulnerable residents who are relying on deliveries for essential items including in some cases prescriptions.  I’ve repeatedly raised constituents’ concerns with senior staff at Royal Mail and have recently received assurances from the North London Operations Manager that, whilst they’ve had some significant staff shortages, deliveries aren’t suspended, and that staff locally are working to collect, process and deliver as much mail as possible.  I have gone back to ask further questions about the backlog, as I’ve heard from a number of you that whilst you’ve started to receive some mail, older packages from 4-5 weeks ago have still not arrived.

More generally, I believe these issues raise a wider concern about the support provided to designated key services during this unprecedented time.  As a result, I have also discussed the issue with the Cabinet Office in a call with the Paymaster General and written to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to flag up my concerns.

I hope you will notice an improvement over the coming weeks, but I can assure you I will continue to follow this issue closely.

Update: Wednesday 22 April 2020

Whilst I wasn’t successful in the draw to ask questions of the Health Secretary today, I’m very glad that Parliament has returned so we can scrutinise and question the Government’s response to Covid-19.

It was strange to be in a near empty Chamber with many MPs taking part by video link and strict social distancing measures to keep everyone safe. But it was essential because there are serious questions for this Government to answer. Keir Starmer was absolutely right to say the UK has been slow on the lockdown, slow on testing, slow on PPE and slow on taking up procurement offers.

If I had been called, I’d have asked Matt Hancock whether the shambles over UK participation in the EU Procurement Scheme was ideology winning over pragmatism. That cannot be allowed when the nation’s health is at stake.

This report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has details of the impact of Covid-19 on different sectors, including freelancers.  It’s an issue that I’ve had hundreds of constituents contact me about – and I continue to push the Government to do more.

Update: Sunday 19 April 2020

Jacksons Lane are working to support the Haringey community during the lockdown and have sent me this list of activities to share:

For vulnerable groups

  • Christmas Day follow-up: We welcome around 100 older and disabled neighbours, who’d otherwise spend the day alone, to Jacksons Lane on Christmas Day for a celebration. In response to Covid-19 we’ve developed Feeling Good, a service to re-engage with these guests at this especially isolating period, to connect them with services or people to talk to.
  • Social Lunch: We’ve moved our monthly Social Lunch for over 55s online and made them fortnightly. One of our longest-standing events, the lunches are a lifeline of companionship and culture for Haringey’s older residents.
  • Coffee and Computers: This local group, initially launched through Jacksons Lane and now based across Haringey, helps older residents master technology, and they’re busier than ever now. We’re connecting Coffee and Computers volunteers with our older service users to great effect.
  • JL Circus: Our Youth Circus groups JL Circus, based in Tottenham and Wood Green, are also moving online. In-person sessions are replaced by live 30-minute video lessons by circus practitioners and Zoom discussions.

Just for fun

  • #JLShorts: Working with our associate artists, we’ve created a channel of short, creative tutorials teaching circus and movement skills, which can be practised from the comfort of home.
  • JL Circus: We’re making the 30-minute video classes for our Youth Circus accessible to everyone, so you can join in and practise with our young performers.
  • Entertainment: we’re emailing our database of audiences with fun, positive content by our associate artists and companies to help lift their spirits and, where relevant, to keep their children occupied.
  • Local: We’re compiling bulletins of local information related to Archway Road businesses and residents, to connect our community and provide links to essential services.
  • Classes: We’re providing a portal for our Classes and Courses tutors to continue their events online, offering them training with Zoom, use of our business account, and our marketing services.

Update: Wednesday 15 April 2020

I’ve produced this report, which puts into one place some of the work I’ve been doing both in Parliament and locally to support constituents and raise your concerns during these unprecedented times.

Update: Tuesday 7 April 2020

Coffee & Computers are a local organisation helping older, isolated people who are not very comfortable with technology keep in touch with friends and families. They have compiled a list of local support networks and are still offering online support during this time.

Here’s an update I’ve received from Haringey Giving, who are doing so much to support our community during this difficult time.

Haringey COVID-19 Appeal https://www.haringeygiving.org.uk/appeal/haringey-covid-19-appeal

    • Over £40k raised in just 10 days!
    • £20K match funding from LInklaters used up already.
    • a further £5K+ match funding secured

Together We Can COVID-19 Fund https://www.haringeygiving.org.uk/together-we-can-covid-19-fund-openhttps://www.haringeygiving.org.uk/together-we-can-covid-19-fund-open

    • Open for applications until 19 April 2020
    • First wave prioritising vital supplies of food and essential items to our most vulnerable people
    • Applications are being assessed on an ongoing basis and funding released quickly.

Haringey COVID-19 Wishlist https://www.haringeygiving.org.uk/haringey-covid-19-wishlist

    • Set up last Friday to enable online shoppers to donate items our most vulnerable people are struggling to get hold of via Amazon
    • First deliveries of formula baby milk, nappies and sanitary products arrived this morning
    • New items being added all the time, including pet food.

Partnership with Tottenham-based ORA Beer https://www.haringeygiving.org.uk/fundraisers/donate-a-beer-to-the-haringey-covid-10-appeal

    • We have teamed up with ORA Beer who are donating 10% of online sales
    • Their fundraiser, which went live today aims to raise £500 towards to support the Haringey COVID-19 Appeal.

Update: Sunday 5 April 2020

I spoke to The Telegraph about my concerns over the influence of the gambling lobby following the Government’s decision to press ahead with the Cheltenham Festival last month.

Update: Friday 3 April 2020

As Shadow Sports Minister, I welcome the Premier League’s ongoing support for the professional game and its flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak. The money to the EFL and the National League will be a vital part in helping keep clubs afloat while the season remains suspended.  More still needs to be done to support clubs and their staff throughout the game, and while individual clubs are setting a good example in protecting their lowest paid staff, the government needs to be proactive in ensuring no clubs leave their staff behind during this crisis.

My comments in The Times and The Telegraph about the need for the Premier League to lead by example.

Sport England has made almost £195 million in grants available to help sports organisations through the Covid-19 pandemic.  Find out more details and how to apply here.

Useful sources of information (updated 03/04/20)

Obtain Government updates at https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Including Government guidance on the arrangements for vulnerable children and young people: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people

Read the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s latest update at https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/statement-coronavirus-covid-19

Haringey Council Connected Communities if you are worried about the impact of coronavirus on your money, accessing essential items or accessing the support you need, you can call the Council’s Connected Communities line – tel: 020 8489 4431. This line is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Haringey Council Together gives you the opportunity to say if you want to help others, as well as if you feel you need help yourself.

Turn2Us is a national charity providing practical information and support to people in financial crisis.  Their national helpline is  0808 802 2000 (Mon-Fri 9:00-17:30)

Centre 404 are still supporting carers of people with learning disability or autism in Haringey with telephone and skype appointments for advice and information and to complete forms, a listening ear emotional support from caseworkers for carers who are isolating, help with applying for emergency grants for anyone struggling with income.  They are also setting up a group of volunteers to call carers to check on carers isolating and bring them shopping and medicines.  Contact them here.

Official government advice​ including sections for employers and businesses

EU guidance​ on Covid-19

Advice from IPSE​ (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed) on dealing with Covid-19

Government tax helpline​ to support freelancers being affected by Covid-19

Employment Support Allowance 

Universal Credit

Government support for businesses for dealing with Covid-19

Government tax helpline ​to support businesses being affected by Covid-19

Federation of Small Businesses guidance​ for small businesses affected by Covid-19

ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) workplace guidance​ on Covid-19 for employees and employers

  • A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that will see retail banks offer loans of up to £5m to support SMEs, available from Monday 23rd March. The Government will cover the interest on these loans for the first twelve months.
    • More information is available here.
  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be introduced, to prevent the need for job cuts. Any employer will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC, the grant will cover 80% of wages up to a limit of £2500 per month for those employees that are not working but are kept on the payroll. The payments will be backdated to 1st March and will be available for three months initially. The government is working to set up the mechanism to deliver this scheme as soon as possible and more information will be announced in due course.
  • The next quarter of VAT will be deferred until the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to pay.
  • Scaling up HMRC Time To Pay service, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments over an agreed period of time.  The helpline for businesses in distress regarding their tax liabilities can be contacted on 0800 015 9559.
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be met by the Government in full for up to 14 days per employee.
  • For those work for themselves: the next round of self-assessments payments will be deferred to January 2021 and the minimum income floor will be suspended so that the self-employed can access universal credit at the rate of Statutory Sick Pay.
  • 100% Business Rate holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector for one year in 2020-21. Eligible pubs will also be entitled to a business rate discount of £5,000.

Cash grants worth:​

  • £25,000 to the smallest businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector.
  • £10,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief.
  • For large businesses that need £5mn or more the Bank of England’s Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) may be of assistance.
  • Insurance: the Government has confirmed its advice for people to avoid social venues (pubs, clubs, theatres) was tantamount to a ban and that insurers would pay out on policies that have this coverage. However, only relatively few companies have pandemic business interruption coverage. For those firms the Government says the monetary support should help. The Association of British Insurers advises businesses to check their cover and to discuss concerns with brokers

For detailed guidance and answers to FAQs from The Confederation of British Industry click here.

If you are a business who needs any help or advice from the Government in relation to coronavirus, please use the following numbers:

Business Support Helpline (England)
Telephone: 0300 456 3565
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

Mental Health support

 

Update: Wednesday 1 April 2020

I’m extremely concerned at national reports of care homes struggling to access essential personal protective equipment (PPE).  I’ve written to the care homes and sheltered housing schemes in Hornsey & Wood Green to check that they have the equipment they require and to provide support and assistance in accessing it if any are struggling.

Update: Monday 30 March 2020

’ve had hundreds of self-employed people in Hornsey & Wood Green contact me in the past few days and it’s clear the Chancellor has to do more to assist PAYE freelancers, sole directors in limited companies, the newly self-employed and those earning just over the threshold.  Today, I’ve written to the Chancellor urging him to take more action to help those who have fallen through the gaps.

Update: Friday 27 March 2020

Latest update from Haringey Council

Update: Thursday 26 March 2020

I’m still waiting for a full briefing on tonight’s package for the self-employed, but I’m disappointed it was released after Parliament’s adjournment so I can’t question the Chancellor in person.

On first glance it’s a welcome start but in the past few days I’ve had hundreds of self-employed people in Hornsey & Wood Green contact me in despair because Covid-19 has wiped out all their work.  Many more have told me they want to do the right thing and stay at home but without Government help they’ll be left with nothing.  

I still want to know what help’s on offer for PAYE freelancers, of whom there are many in the creative industries, for sole directors of limited companies or for the newly self-employed.  I also want to see support available much, much sooner for those who desperately need it.  June’s a long time to wait if all your income has disappeared overnight.

We’ve already seen huge online queues for the hundreds of thousands of people applying for Universal Credit and I am concerned about the resilience of the Department for Work and Pensions.

I’ll be writing to the Chancellor to ask for more answers.  Do get in touch at [email protected] if you’re self-employed and have got questions you’d like me to raise.

 

Update: Wednesday 25 March 2020

I’m extremely concerned at the lack of #Covid19 testing that is still taking place, particularly for frontline NHS workers.  Yesterday I wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to ask when the goal of 25,000 tests a day will be reached, when all NHS workers will be able to receive the test and what’s happening with the antibody test that could be so crucial in the fight against #Covid19.  Read my full letter here.

Haringey Council have extended the opening times of their phone line for any residents worried about accessing essential items or support, or about their finances during this critical time.  The line on 020 8489 4431 is now open Monday to Friday 8am to 6.30pm or you can access it online at https://www.haringey.gov.uk/covid-19/haringey-together

Dr Will Maimaris, Haringey’s Director of Public Health, has issued updated guidance for the public which you can find here.

Wood Green Customer Service Centre and Library is closed, and Haringey Council are asking residents to use online services by visiting www.haringey.gov.uk or call the customer service centre on 020 8489 0000.

The Council have changed parking restrictions as follows: “We have made adjustments to parking enforcement to support essential NHS and police staff, and residents. Enforcement of our on street residential, shared use and permit parking bays has been suspended. This means that key workers, and residents may use any of our on street residential, shared use and permit parking bays.  In order to ensure that we keep road users, vulnerable residents and those providing an essential services safe, we will continue to enforce yellow lines, footway parking, disabled parking bays, business bays, doctors bays and pay by phone bays. We will also continue to remove vehicles that park illegally on yellow lines, on the footway or in those parking bays.”

Details of the support Haringey Council is providing to businesses can be found here.  In Parliament, I am continuing to urge that much more is done to support the plight of self-employed people, hundreds of whom have contacted me in the past few days.

Update: Monday 23 March 2020

I’ll be in Parliament today to debate the Coronavirus Bill and continue to raise the plight of the many self-employed people in Hornsey & Wood Green who desperately need income protection at this critical time.

The Bill’s proposals are far-reaching and they must be time limited. I was backing Harriet Harman’s amendment calling for the Bill to be renewed every six months and am pleased that following pressure the Government has now committed to doing this.   I have also backed amendments safeguarding Parliament’s ability to ensure scrutiny of the measures in the Bill by ensuring Parliament can be recalled from any adjournment or prorogation to debate the 2 monthly progress reports, and giving Parliament the ability to bring provisions to an end early if necessary.

There are a number of other areas where I still have concerns.  I’ve been contacted by lots of constituents who are anxious that the proposed changes to the Care Bill will see disabled people left without essential support or the right to request it.  This isn’t acceptable.  The most vulnerable people need ongoing protection and I want to see social care, alongside the NHS, treated as a key infrastructure and funded properly after years of being run down.

I am also backing Labour MP Naz Shah’s Religious Concerns Burial/Cremation Amendment.   aimed at addressing the fears of many particularly in Muslim & Jewish communities that the current proposals don’t give due regard to religious requirements on burials.

CatherineUpdate: Friday 20 March 2020

I’ve been working for some days to support a number of constituents stranded abroad. Together with other MPs we’ve also written to the Foreign Secretary asking for urgent Foreign Office support to return British citizens stuck in Peru.

Update: Thursday 19 March 2020

Here’s the latest update from Haringey Council and the Mayor of London.

These are tough times for Hornsey & Wood Green’s brilliant local businesses. Many are adapting to survive such as restaurants turning into takeaways to try and keep staff in jobs and cater for people self-isolating.  I’ve contacted local traders associations asking them to let me know what I can do to help and tell me if they’re still operating so I can use my website and social media to spread the word locally. Here are some of the ways you can support traders in Muswell Hill.

Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert has made £1 million available for charities to apply for grants of between £5,000 – £20,000 to support their work on coronavirus-poverty related projects.  Find out how to apply here.  The deadline is 11.59pm on 25 March 2020 so please act quickly.

Update: Tuesday 17 March 2020

Yesterday, David Lammy MP, Joanne McCartney AM and I met with Haringey Council, Public Health and Police to discuss local preparedness for Covid-19.  In these worrying times, I hope it will reassure you to know that lots of planning is taking place, including identifying vulnerable people who may need assistance, preparing our hospitals and working with Mulberry Junction to assist homeless people who may need to self-isolate.   Haringey Council’s website provides updates.

The next few months aren’t going to be easy, but in the midst of the fear and worry we are also seeing the strength of the community spirit in Hornsey & Wood Green.  An active Haringey Covid-19 Mutual Aid Facebook group is helping to co-ordinate support for those who need it with WhatsApp groups for each ward, and a “Coronavirus: Haringey neighbours supporting each other” group has been set up on www.nextdoor.co.uk.  If you are in a position to help, please do.

After the muddled messages put out over the weekend, I welcome the Government’s commitment to holding daily press briefings.  But yesterday’s update from the Prime Minister left many unanswered questions.

In calling on people to avoid bars, clubs and theatres without officially closing them down many businesses have been left in limbo, unable to operate yet unable to claim on their insurance. For the thousands of people who work in these industries, many of whom are self-employed or on zero hours contracts, the impact will be devastating.  As Shadow Sports Minister, I’ve been working with Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Tracy Brabin, to collate and highlight instances of freelance workers in culture and sport suffering financially as a result of the ongoing outbreak.

I’ve also raised questions in Parliament about support for the self-employed and will continue to urge the Government to do much more. The Chancellor’s announcement was welcome, but it needs to go further.  Income protection for low-paid and self-employed workers, higher statutory sick pay, rent as well as mortgage holidays for those who need them and urgent extra funding for social care staff.

Covid-19 poses the biggest threat to the most vulnerable in our society.  I’ve also used Parliamentary Questions to urge Government Ministers to clarify what steps are being taken to increase the supply of hand-sanitisers to those who need them, ask for assurances that households with pre-paid gas and electric meters will continue to receive power if they’re in isolation and call for additional protection for carers.

Update: Sunday 15 March 2020

In these worrying times, it is absolutely vital our communities aren’t left to obtain their information from off the record briefings or social media rumours. Bad communication causes unnecessary panic and distress. That’s why I fully back calls for the Government to commit to a daily press briefing hosted by the PM or Secretary of State for Health together with senior medical and scientific advisors, ready to answer questions and provide crucial updates first hand.

I also back plans to requisition private hospital beds to help our precious NHS, already creaking at the seams after ten years of Tory austerity. This is a public health emergency and every resource needs to be made available to increase capacity and save lives.

Tomorrow morning, David Lammy and I will be meeting with Haringey Public Health, Council and Police Chiefs to discuss local preparedness for Covid-19. I’ll post any update from those discussions here and on my website at www.catherinewest.org.uk

In the meantime, please only buy what you need and spare a thought for elderly and vulnerable neighbours. Search “Haringey Covid 19 Mutual Aid” for a new Facebook group aimed at co-ordinating support at a local level, or visit www.nextdoor.co.uk where there’s a “Coronavirus: Haringey neighbours supporting each other” group.

If you show any sign of symptoms or are concerned about what to look out for, visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

Catherine

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