Read my fifth Coronavirus Crisis Report here.
Read my fifth Coronavirus Crisis Report here.
There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty about when nurseries can open again. The prime minister mentioned schools in his statement setting out his ‘roadmap for easing lockdown’ but...
British Airways must support worried staff in pandemic, not take advantage of crisis - My letter to CEO
Read my third Coronavirus Crisis Report here.
Read my third Coronavirus Crisis Report here.
Read my second Coronavirus Crisis Report here.
In the face of this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis the government is rightly telling people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS and to save lives.
However for many families in Camberwell and Peckham this is much harder than it is for others. Camberwell and Peckham has, of all the constituencies in the country, the highest number of families living in council or housing association flats. It is really hard for parents with young children who live in small flats with no outside space. During this lockdown here’s no nursery or play group and no chance to pop round to hang out with a group of friends. For these families it’s crucial to have the opportunity to spend one hour getting a breath of fresh air and for the children to be able to run around.
We have wonderful green spaces in Camberwell and Peckham, from big areas like Burgess Park and Peckham Rye to little gems like St Giles Churchyard and Lucas Gardens. But as it the weather gets hotter they’re getting more crowded. Our parks are a precious public asset. In this lockdown they need to be for those who need them most, local people who don’t have gardens.
I’m suggesting that there should be a rota for our public green spaces. So that you would know that on a particular day your estate would have priority on a park.
What about advising those who live in houses with gardens not to use the parks? They can use their own gardens and walk on the streets.
And what about having a radical extension of road closures? There is so little traffic. Side roads could be closed except for access. That would take the pressure off the parks as people could walk in the street instead of crowding onto pavements. It’s hard to keep 2 meters apart when you are wheeling your buggy on a narrow pavement. And a rota would reduce the danger of the few cars that are on the road speeding dangerously because of the lack of traffic. Let’s give the roads over to people walking and cycling.
Most people are abiding by the social distancing rules. The police are there to check up on those who don't. Let’s make this lockdown more bearable for children cooped up in flats by giving them the freedom of our parks and let’s make out streets safer by giving children, not cars, priority in our streets.
In the face of this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis the government is rightly telling people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS and to...
Careworkers might not be the first people we think of when we picture our vital workers leading the fight against Coronavirus. But they are very much on the frontline looking...
Government must close gaps in COVID-19 support schemes affecting pregnant women - Letter to Chancellor
Read my Coronavirus Crisis Report 1 - 2nd April 2020 here
Full text below:
Fairness for the Self-Employed and Freelancers in the Creative Industries throughout Coronavirus Crisis - Letter to Chancellor
Link to letter here Full text below:
Helping Constituents Stranded Abroad Get Home - My Letters to Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary
I have been contacted by a number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who are understandably very anxious about empty shelves, the lack of key groceries and cleaning products and delivery slots. I appreciate this is a very difficult and unsettling time.
I have written to the 10 major supermarkets with one or more stores in Camberwell and Peckham to ask what reassurances they can offer local people about the steps they are taking to ensure shelves remain stocked with food and essential supplies throughout the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.
I've also asked supermarket chief executives to let me know what adjustments they are making to ensure elderly and vulnerable people can get the supplies they need, including prioritising them for online food deliveries and creating designated shopping hours.
I enclose the determined and sensible response I've received from Iceland below. I share Iceland's frustration with those whose actions threaten others.
I will post the other supermarkets' replies I receive as they come in.
I have been contacted by a number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who are understandably very anxious about empty shelves, the lack of key groceries and cleaning products and...
The government is rightly taking tough powers to enable it to take action necessary to cut the number of deaths in this corona virus crisis. And they are rightly giving...
Coronavirus is a new virus, there is no vaccine or treatment and we don’t know what path it will take.What we do know, though, is that it spreads rapidly and the elderly and ill are most at risk. So every action possible must be taken to contain it and care for those who fall ill.
King’s College Hospital will be in the front line.But King's is already overstretched after years of cuts from the Conservative government and with more people needing care. People already regularly wait longer than 4 hours in A & E and bed occupancy levels are 94%, well above the 85% limit So it’s vital that the government give Kings more money to bring in more staff and open up more beds. And they need to give extra resources to the Maudsley too so that people in mental health crisis are cared for there and not left waiting in Kings A and E.
King's was the first hospital to report that patients had contracted coronavirus and everyone saw that on the. But there was no information to tell patients whether they should go in for outpatients’ appointments or if planned surgery was going ahead. Nothing to tell visitors whether they should come as usual or stay away. And no information to GPs on whether they should continue to refer patients to Kings as usual despite the coronavirus outbreak. The NHS communications system needs to be much quicker so everyone knows they can just look on the website for the up to date position.
The Prime Minister has promised that people who stay off work because they are ill with suspected virus or if they are “self-isolating” will get Statutory Sick Pay from the first day off.But we need to ensure that that change actually happens on the ground. We don’t want people feeling that they have to go in to work when they are feeling ill or risk infecting others because they can’t afford to stay off. And there will need to be help too for people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, because they are self-employed or on zero hours contracts. There are 2 million people in this country who don’t earn enough to qualify for sick pay. The government must set up a special fund and payment system for them. Nor must the government cancel the benefits of people who are unable to go to Job Centre appointments or job interviews because they are ill but can’t get a doctor’s certificate or self-isolating. The benefit sanctions regime can be a blunt instrument at the best of times but it must take account of coronavirus.
Coronavirus is hitting businesses too as they struggle as supplies from abroad dry up or employees have to take time off. So they will need compensation too.
It’s inevitable, as the virus progresses, that there will be new challenges and unforeseen problems.And there have been reports that Parliament will be shut down so that we don’t spread the virus to the 650 different constituencies represented in Westminster. But we must keep the pressure on the Government to help people who need it and back up the NHS and that’s Parliament’s job. It makes sense to consider that at some point we might need to stop the thousands of visitors who come every day to Parliament. And we might need a slimmed down version of Parliament, with fewer MPs (nominated from each country, region and party) operating out of our mini-chamber in Westminster Hall. But the Government need to be accountable publicly for what they do in this most challenging of times. And Parliament must be able to continue to effectively scrutinise it.
Coronavirus is a new virus, there is no vaccine or treatment and we don’t know what path it will take. What we do know, though, is that it spreads rapidly...
I am contacted by a growing number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who can’t get the quality social care their older relatives need. People come to me distraught, concerned that the care their vulnerable parent with dementia is getting is suffering due to cuts. One man told me that the poor and inconsistent standards of care have caused his 89-year-old mother such frustration and distress it has accelerated the decline in her health.
A decade of Tory cuts to local council budgets and a growing number of elderly people needing care has pushed care services to the brink and is causing thousands of people untold misery. Councils across the country are having to make impossibly difficult decisions about who receives care, there is currently a 122,000 national staffing shortfall and millions of people are left to cope at home, alone, without the support they need. Despite the brilliant efforts of staff, many vulnerable people are waiting longer for treatment and standards of care are not being delivered. And families are pushed to breaking point
The care you receive in your older years should not depend on your income. Quality social care must be a universally-available public service. Families across the country deserve peace of mind that their relatives will be safe and looked after. The measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable.
And if people can’t get the help they need at home or in the community they are more likely to go to A& E or their GP surgery, causing extra strain on already desperately stretched hospital and GP services.
It has now been almost 3 years since the Government promised a consultation on social care and 7 months since the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stood on the steps of Downing Street and claimed he had a clear plan to fix the crisis in social care. But there is, as yet no plan?
The Government’s proposal this week to increase funding by £1 billion per year does not go anywhere near far enough. 1.5 million people are currently going without the support they need. The local Government Association estimates that by 2024 the funding gap will be £3.5bn.
Locally Southwark Council are working hard to help older residents and people with dementia stay safely in their own home, despite deep Tory cuts. The council has just announced it is building 50 extra care homes and a new day centre at Tayo Situ House in Peckham, named after the late Mayor of Southwark and dedicated Peckham Councillor, Tayo Situ. Extra Care homes are self-contained flats that allow people to live independently in their own homes, but with round the clock care support on site so there is help if they need it and so they feel less isolated or alone.
Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. I’ve co-signed Helen Hayes MP’s Early Day Motion to demand the Government urgently brings forward proposals to Parliament so we can ensure everyone gets the support they need and can live with dignity in their old age. We are also pressing Ministers to invest in the social care workforce. Carers play a vital role in our society, yet they are often unappreciated and underpaid. We need to pay care workers a real living wage and develop a sustainable, cross-party solution, otherwise the 122,000 staff shortfall and the crisis in social care will grow and more older people and their families will suffer.
People need dignity in their old age - families need support, social care must be a universal public service
I am contacted by a growing number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who can’t get the quality social care their older relatives need. People come to me distraught, concerned...