Update: digital divide
The Government has tonight announced a national lockdown for England to help tackle soaring rates of coronavirus cases. I am very sorry that we are here again.
Time after time throughout this pandemic, Boris Johnson’s dither and delay has ended up causing more devastation and costing more lives.
This national lockdown is sadly necessary to save lives. But it can’t be done on the cheap. We urgently need:
- A plan to vaccinate a minimum of 2 million people a week
- All children to have the equipment they need for remote learning
- Proper financial support for businesses and individuals affected which must include the 3 million excluded who’ve been ignored for too long.
- Decent sick pay and isolation support so low-paid workers can afford to stay at home.
- No cut to Universal Credit for six million households.
- Extension to the evictions ban and relaunch of the Everybody In scheme for rough sleepers.
- Increased funding for mental health services that have seen demand soar during the pandemic.
We shouldn’t be here for the third time. The coming weeks are going to be really tough for our community and Johnson and his Government have a duty not to squander this time and further prolong the misery.
Please make sure you follow the new guidance which you can read here.
Update: new rapid testing site in Haringey
All residents who have shown no signs of having Coronavirus will be able to take a free rapid COVID-19 test at a new site in Haringey.
The centre at 48 Station Road, Wood Green, N22 7TY is now operational and will run five days a week.
It will be open Tuesday to Friday from noon until 7pm and on Saturdays from 10am until 5pm.
Until now, people have been advised to only book a test if they are showing one of the main symptoms.
They are a high temperature; a new and continuous cough; or a loss of change in their sense of smell or taste.
If you have any of these symptoms do not come to the walk-in centre. Please book a test via NHS Test and Trace by calling 119 or via the GOV.UK website (external link).
However, around a third of people who have the virus are asymptomatic, that is they do not show any signs of having it.
To help stop the spread, the new tests will be able to offer results in as little as 30 minutes – these are called rapid or lateral flow tests (LFT).
While the tests will be able to detect if you have COVID-19 and are infectious they cannot tell if you have had the virus in the past, or if you have only recently picked it up.
But they will go a long way to helping identify people who do not know they have it and are, unknowingly, passing it on to their friends, family, work mates as well as spreading it within their own community.
Because we want to reach the people most at risk, the tests are being offered to everyone but particularly to all frontline workers who come into direct contact with the public day-to-day and those that regularly have to use public transport.
If you have a smartphone please bring it with you as this will help speed up registration.
By reducing the number of people who are accidentally spreading the virus we will help Haringey and London back on the road to a lower tier.
This is a walk-in centre and you will not need to make a booking.
More centres are planned for Haringey over the coming weeks. Details will follow soon.
Update from the Whittington Hospital: Thursday 24 December 2020
We wanted to let you know about some temporary changes to our services that are taking place at Whittington Health NHS Trust.
As you will know, in light of recent rise in Covid-19 cases in London, we have experienced extra demand for our services and we anticipate that this will continue as we approach the end of the year.
So that we can continue to see and treat those who need us urgently, we took the difficult decision to temporarily stop our non-urgent services on Tuesday 22 December 2020. The services that will be affected include planned procedures and operations as well and routine outpatient services at our hospital and some non-urgent adult community services.
By temporarily stopping non-urgent services we will be able to free up staff and increase space on our wards to safely treat patients who need emergency, critical or Covid-19 care.
Not all services will be affected by this temporary change. We will continue to carry out cancer treatments and our emergency department remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
As always, we put the safety of our patients and staff first and although we do understand that this will be disappointing for those who will have their procedure paused for now, we would like to assure our community that we will be in touch with anyone affected to reschedule.
Helpful information for you to know about
- We will be in touch with patients directly about how the temporary changes to our services will impact their care
- If a patient has not been informed of any changes to their care, we are advising them to not contact Whittington Health but to attend their appointment as normal
- We will look to reschedule procedures as soon as we can. At the moment we unfortunately cannot give an exact date or indication as to when this will be
- If the appointment or procedure has been cancelled and the patient’s condition worsens we are advising that they contact their hospital service GP
We have also updated our visitors policy this week. The new guidance for our hospital is:
- Adult inpatients are not able to receive visitors in our hospital. There are some exceptions to this, including patients receiving end of life care. As always people with a learning disability, autism, dementia or other needs are able to have someone supporting them.
- Our maternity service users can bring one consistent birth partner if they are using our Labour Ward or Birth Centre or for a planned caesarean. One person is able to accompany the service users to the 12 and 20 week scan (anomaly and dating scans), but not to growth scans.
- Where admissions are less than 7 days, we will continue to permit one parent or carer per family to be resident with their child. Where the admission is longer than 7 days we can allow one parent or carer (per family) at any one time. In addition, a named second parent or carer is able swap out every 7 days
This is a challenging end to what has been an incredibly difficult year and so we would like to thank you and our community for the continued support. We will keep you updated with any further developments.
Update: Saturday 19 December 2020
It’s only a few days since Johnson laughed and sneered at Keir Starmer’s sensible questions about Christmas. With Covid rates rising, today’s announcement is not a surprise but yet again this Government has acted too slow and too late. Their indecision and confusion makes what is already a difficult time even worse.
My heart goes out to everyone who has seen their Christmas plans cancelled and to our wonderful local businesses closing their doors overnight. Lockdown cannot be done on the cheap – I will keep fighting for the proper financial support businesses need and making the case for properly incentivising self-isolation. It’s clear that the current “test, trace, isolate” is not working.
London goes into Tier 4 at midnight and you can read the full Tier 4 guidance here:
These are difficult times. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support if you are worried about your mental health: Samaritans: 116 123,CALM: 0800 58 58 58,Young Minds: 0800 018 2138
Update: Monday 14 December 2020
This afternoon the Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that London will go into Tier 3 on Wednesday.
I know what a blow this will be for our local bars and restaurants who have worked hard to make their premises Covid-secure. I’ll continue to urge the government to improve the financial offer for businesses who are being forced to close or have seen their takings reduce – livelihoods are at stake and this cannot be done on the cheap.
With a doubling of Covid cases in London every 4 days, Tier 3 restrictions are sadly necessary, but the government must not waste the time these restrictions give them to sort out the Test, Trace and Isolate system.
They wasted the summer and the autumn lockdown, dithered and wasted time in rolling out testing in schools, then failed to incentivise self-isolation. So many of my constituents cannot afford to isolate because the £500 payment issued by councils is means-tested to such an extent that people are unwilling to be tested or to self-isolate. The government must get a grip on this crisis and avoid overwhelming the NHS.
With the vaccine rollout, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – but this winter we need to follow the rules and work together to keep the virus under control and our community as safe as possible.
If you need help or support during this difficult time, visit https://www.haringey.gov.uk/covidor call Haringey Council’s Connected Communities Team on 020 8489 4431
Update: Wednesday 9 December 2020
In the past few days the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Haringey has risen by 47%.
Dr Will Maimaris, Haringey Council’s Director of Public Health, said although case rates are still broadly in line with the London average, we all need to act now to slow the spread.
He warns that if the number of cases continues to rise across the city then London may be pushed into Tier 3: Very High alert, meaning tougher restrictions for residents and businesses.
Reacting to the increase in cases within the borough, Dr Maimaris, said:
“In recent days we have seen a spike in the number of Haringey residents testing positive for Covid-19, with the highest rates in young people and working age adults.
“Fortunately, at the moment we are not seeing a corresponding increase in older, more vulnerable age groups.
“Despite the concerning rise in cases, overall rates in Haringey remain largely in line with the numbers across London.
“But with the easing of the rules around Christmas I would like to remind everyone to be extra careful.
“Even people without the obvious symptoms, a constant cough, a fever, or changes to their smell or taste, can potentially pass the infection on to others, including those who are vulnerable or more at risk.”
Update: 30 November 2020
I wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to urge her to extend the suspension of the minimum income floor for Universal Credit claimants during these very difficult times. Here is a copy of the response I received.
Update: 26 November 2020
Londoners deserve huge credit for doing exactly what has been asked of them since the start of this pandemic and we have managed to keep the number of cases lower in our city than most other parts of the country since the summer – and protect our NHS.
With cases gradually falling, it makes sense that London has today been placed in Tier 2 of the new Covid restrictions when England exits lockdown on December 2. I know this news will be welcomed by our local businesses in what is for many the busiest time of the year.
Labour has demanded clarity from the Government on its plans for a vaccine rollout, but I remain concerned that the failures of leadership we continue to see from this Government are coming at an economic and human cost.
Johnson’s speech provided no clarity on why the tier system which didn’t work last time would this time around. Nor has he used this lockdown to fix test and trace, sack failing Serco and put these crucial services back in the hands of local councils who have the expertise and knowledge. Instead, Johnson and Hancock have overseen the system’s costs rise to £22 billion a year – nearly equivalent to a fifth of the entire annual NHS budget.
I know how tough this winter lockdown has been for so many – the Government needs to get its act together so this is the last.
Update: 23 November 2020
Haringey Council have now published details of the support grants for businesses who have been forced to close during this second national lockdown. Click here for more information.
Update: 21 November 2020
For 45 years, Jacksons Lane have been providing a Christmas Day dinner for 100 elderly or disabled people in the local community. This year because of Covid it’s going to be slightly different, but they still need your help. Find out how you can get involved here:
Update: 5 November 2020
As we enter the second national lockdown it is clear that the situation will be difficult for many.
Help, support, and advice is available for all forms of issues, whether that is the latest Covid-19 information or support for financial struggles.
Coronavirus – Getting help and support
NHS 111 Online:
The official NHS 111 website contains up-to-date health-related information and advice on coronavirus, including a symptom-checking tool.
Haringey Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
Haringey CAB have suspended their face-to-face appointments and outreach service, but you can still access their adviceline on 0330 330 1187.
The charity Turn2Us provides up-to-date advice and practical help to anyone struggling financially. You can talk to one of their advisors about any financial concerns you have by calling 0808 802 2000 between 9am and 5.30pm, Mondays-Fridays. You can also email Turn2Us at [email protected]. Turn2Us also provide signposting and information on their website and have a helpful benefits calculator tool, and a grants search.
Grant finder: https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/
Benefits calculator: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If you have been told to self-isolate, you may be entitled to SSP from day 1 (previously, this was only available from day 4 of your illness). SSP is available to those who have been classed as an employee and have been earning on average £118 per week. SSP is £95.85 per week, paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. You may get more if your company has a sick pay scheme and you should check your employment contact to find this out. Sick notifications will be obtainable by calling 111, which you can use as evidence for absence from work.
NHS Test and Trace Self-Isolation Support Payment
If you have been told to self-isolate by Covid-19 NHS Test and Trace and are losing pay because you cannot work, you may be able to claim up to £500. Haringey Council’s website has a dedicated webpage on who is eligible for this payment and how to access it, which can be found here: https://www.haringey.gov.uk/council-tax-and-benefits/housing-benefit-and-council-tax-reductions/nhs-test-and-trace-self-isolation-support-payment
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
For employees not currently working but retained by their employer, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means employers will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover 80% of wages up to a limit of £2500 per month. This will mean you are a ‘furloughed’ employee. This scheme continues until the end of March, following prior announcements it was due to end in November.
Acas have a useful webpage providing further details and updates on changes to the scheme here: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus/furlough-scheme-pay
If you are self-employed and your income has been affected by Covid-19, for example you lost out on income or had to stop working to look after someone, you may be eligible to access financial support. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme initially ended on 20 October, however it has been extended from 1 November. The grant extension comes in the form of 2 further grants, each available for three-month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. To claim for the grant extension, you must have previously been eligible for the SEISS first and second grants. More information can be found on the Government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension
Although evictions resumed in September 2020, no evictions by bailiffs will take place during the national lockdown. The government has also said that there will be a temporary pause on evictions between 11 December and 11 January 2021. Your landlord can still give you notice or start court action during national lockdown, but the whole process will take much longer. Some court hearings will go ahead, and you will get a letter from the court with the date. The housing charity Shelter recommends getting legal advice on your next steps if you do receive a letter, and you can find out how to access legal aid or free legal advice here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/complaints,_courts_and_tribunals/legal_aid_and_free_legal_advice
From 29 August, all section 21 notices must give at least 6 months’ notice. Most section 8 notices should also give 6 months’ notice, but there are some exceptions, which can be found here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7ui4s73r7AIVYIBQBh1wnQYzEAAYASAAEgIpLPD_BwE#Eviction_and_being_asked_to_leave
Mortgage payment holidays
Lenders are extending the offer of payment holidays to people who are struggling to pay their mortgage because of coronavirus. You can apply for a 3-month payment holiday unless you’ve already had 2 payment holidays since March. Shelter have advised that people should only ask for a mortgage holiday if absolutely necessary, as your mortgage payments will normally increase after the holiday ends.
If you are struggling to pay rent due to Covid-19
Shelter advises that if you are having trouble paying rent, there are a few options you could look into which might help. For example, you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau to check whether you are eligible to apply for benefits, apply for a dictionary housing payment through the Council (https://www.haringey.gov.uk/council-tax-and-benefits/housing-benefit-and-council-tax-reductions/discretionary-housing-payments-dhp), or talk to your landlord about a rent reduction.
Shelter’s webpage on housing advice and coronavirus provides further helpful details: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7ui4s73r7AIVYIBQBh1wnQYzEAAYASAAEgIpLPD_BwE#Eviction_and_being_asked_to_leave
For urgent housing advice or to talk an expert housing advisor about any questions you have, you can call Shelter’s helpline on 0808 800 4444. You can also talk to a Shelter advisor online via their free webchat service: https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/webchat
If you are worried about how Covid-19 will affect your employment, the organisation Acas can provide advice on a range of employment-related issues, including support for the sick, self-employed or furloughed. Acas advisors will not give you their opinion or legal advice, but they can highlight relevant guidance and explain your employment rights to you.
Acas helpline: 0300 123 1100
Advice for employees and employers on Covid-19: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
Haringey Council Connected Communities
Support through the Council is available if you are worried about the impact of Covid-19 on your finances, or if you are struggling to access essential items and need practical support. You can call Haringey Council’s Connected Communities team on 020 8489 4431 for further advice. This line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Linked to Connected Communities, Haringey Council’s Haringey Together team are also able to offer advice and guidance on a range of issues, including how to access emotional support for bereaved families and Haringey’s befriending service. The Haringey Together webpage provides more detailed information on how they can help: https://www.haringey.gov.uk/covid-19/need-help
A map of Haringey’s food banks can be found on Haringey Council’s website here: https://www.haringey.gov.uk/covid-19/foodbanks
If you are struggling with your gas or electricity bills or are unable to top up your pre-payment meter, in the first instance it is best to contact your supplier directly to see what help they can offer. For example, some companies can provide fuel vouchers, or extend your emergency credit.
Contact details for your supplier can be found on their websites, however the phone numbers for the main suppliers are listed below.
British Gas – 0333 202 9802
EDF – 0333 200 5100
EON 0345 052 000
N Power – 0800 073 3000
Scottish Power – 0800 027 0072
SSE – 0345 026 2658
Parents, young people and staff can contact the Department for Education Helpline to ask any questions about COVID-19 and education and children’s social care.
Phone: 0800 046 8687 (Open: 8am to 6pm Monday-Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday-Sunday)
Email: [email protected]
Mental health support
You can contact Mind in Haringey on 020 8340 2474.
The Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123