As of Wednesday at 00.01, London moves into Tier 3. You can read the rules here.
This is extremely disappointing news for all of us. However, the data that was presented to me and other London MPs on Monday morning by ministers and officials was very clear – with exponential growth across the city, further restrictions are necessary. This must, however, come with additional financial support for the businesses and individuals these tighter restrictions will hit hardest. You can read my full response to London going into Tier 3 here.
With restrictions set to be relaxed for Christmas in just a few days, I have posed the question to Government as to whether they should reconsider these measures.
Latest Covid Numbers
At the time of writing, from 6 to 12 December, there were 389 new cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. This represents an increase from the previous week. The incidence rate is 196.4/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 299.4/100,000 and England-wide rate of 192.9/100,000. Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/
Community testing for those without COVID symptoms
Residents living in Heathfield, Hampton North and West Twickenham wards are being invited to apply for an asymptomatic COVID-19 test, for people not experiencing symptoms.
You can book a test online at: www.richmond.gov.uk/book_lateral_flow_test or if you do not have access to the internet, by phone at 020 8891 1411.
Christmas Day lunch for those in need
St James’s Church in Strawberry Hill will be doing “meals on wheels” and takeaway lunches from the church on Christmas Day for those who are struggling at this time. For more information email email@example.com or phone/text 07960 406434
Additional funding for local businesses
A further £3.96m pot of cash is now available for local businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic – with grants of up to £10k to be paid out.
For more information, or to apply: www.richmond.gov.uk/apply_additional_restrictions_grant
Local meetings and visits
- I was out in Hampton and St Margarets with local traders and residents to support Small Business Saturday last week. Please do go out and support our local shops and independent stores – they really need our help, not just now but all year long.
- Thanks to Ruils – Independent Living for inviting me to speak at their AGM to talk about my year in Parliament and how I’ve been championing the rights of those with disabilities.
- It was fantastic to talk to politics A-level pupils at Radnor House School (lots of tough questions as I am quickly becoming accustomed to from all our local pupils!). I also supported St Mary’s C of E Primary School develop digital skills to act responsibly online with a virtual #BeInternetLegends assembly from The Parents Zone and Google.
- I was delighted to visit Teddington Hockey Club on Sunday morning to see their amazing volunteers coaching local children and young people in the cold and the rain!
- The Middlesex Yeomanry band performed their Christmas Concert at St James’s Church in Hampton Hill – it was lovely to get into the Christmas spirit in a Covid secure way!
- Sadly all our town centres have had to scale back their Christmas festivities this year, but it was a pleasure to join Teddington and East Twickenham for their small light switch-ons just after national lockdown ended.
Standing up for you
Standing up for the 3 million excluded from government support
3 million people have fallen through the gaps in government support, approximately 1 in 10 of the UK’s workforce. Many of those excluded live locally and have been in touch with me. They have been without support for over 9 months now. As a result, many are struggling financially and with their mental health as they go into debt. I have been challenging the government to take urgent action on this.
Leading a debate in Parliament
I secured and led a debate in Parliament last week, which explored the impact being excluded is having on people’s mental health and the wider economy. I also put forward some of the solutions proposed by various bodies and experts and urged the Treasury to consider them.
Read about the debate here.
Calling on the Chancellor to meet representatives of excluded groups
Those representing the excluded and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gaps in Support had been refused meetings with Treasury Ministers for nine months. I successfully secured a meeting for them after I asked Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, to help facilitate one.
A number of local schools have been in touch with me because Government is not reimbursing many of their recurring and one-off costs of making schools Covid-safe. This is coupled with a significant loss of income from lettings and fundraising. I met with Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, last week to make the case for additional funding for our local schools. Unfortunately, Government is expecting many of these costs to be covered by existing reserves. This is not tenable for some of our schools. I am gathering further evidence to keep pressing the case with ministers.
Questioning the Health Secretary on vaccine availability
It is great to see the first vaccinations being rolled out.
I asked Matt Hancock how many of us might expect to be vaccinated by next summer. His answer shows there is still considerable uncertainty.
Read more here.
Calling for an annual air quality report
Currently, 2 million Londoners are exposed to illegal levels of air pollution on a daily basis.
I asked the Environment Secretary to commit to publishing a comprehensive annual report on air quality through an amendment I am sponsoring to the Environment Bill.
Read more here.
Urging the Chancellor to save pubs
The Government needs to increase support for our much-loved pubs and hospitality venues under the new tier system. They are facing an existential threat and without further help, we could lose 10,000 pubs and 1000s of jobs this winter.
Read more here.
Calling for transparency over Govt PPE contracts
Whilst NHS staff were wrapping themselves in bin bags and wearing DIY PPE, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was being siphoned off into inexperienced companies with no accountability.
I have called on the Government to commit to an independent inquiry into this, as well as establishing a cross party committee to examine all contracts awarded for the remainder of the pandemic.
Read more here.
Cut in overseas aid
Many constituents have been in touch to raise their concern in relation to the Chancellor cutting the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid to 0.5%. I share your outrage and whilst I haven’t been given the opportunity to raise it in Parliament, I have signed a cross-party letter, led by my colleague Layla Moran MP.
Asking for long term support for children and families
Last week, I urged the Government to provide more long-term support measures for the Children & Family Court Advisory & Support Service (CAFCASS).
The service is facing a huge workload crisis, which has been made worse by the pandemic. Long-term support is crucial to ensure it meets the needs of children and families.
Read more here.