Hundreds of local residents have contacted me in recent days about the horrific, extremely disturbing and unlawful murder of George Floyd in the US, and the protests that have taken place in response. This chilling episode has exposed once again the deep institutional racism that persists in the US and reminded us of the inequalities and discrimination that still exist in the UK. I am dismayed that the Prime Minister has failed to condemn Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and use of military action against civilians. You can read my comments here.
Small business top-up scheme launched
Many small business owners locally have been in touch with me in recent weeks because they were ineligible for the government’s Covid-19 business grants and reliefs. I have been making representations to both the Treasury and to the council regarding the need to support small businesses using shared space, medical services and river-based businesses, as well as small charities with premises. I was pleased the government announced a top-up scheme recently and Richmond Council has drawn up eligibility criteria to include all of these categories of small businesses and charities. However, funding is limited and the size of grants will be constrained accordingly. Further details are available here.
Extension of the self-employed income support scheme
On Friday 29 May, the government announced that its Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended. Those who are eligible will now be able to access a second grant amounting to 80% of their average monthly trading profits. For more information, please see this link.
I had been calling for this extension and am delighted it has been announced. I also continue to campaign for many people who have been left out of the scheme.
Changes to the furlough scheme
The government has also announced changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. These changes include:
- From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed workers back part-time
- The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with employers needing to furlough employees by 10 June
- Employers will need to contribute from 1 August onwards
- The scheme will close on 31 October 2020
For more information including eligibility and how to apply, please see this link.
I continue to make representations on behalf of those left out of the furlough scheme.
Appeal from Heatham House
Our local youth service that normally operates out of Heatham House is running a fantastic equipment library to support young people through the lockdown by continuing to support the music sessions they normally run, and provide a creative outlet during this challenging time. If you have an old iPhone, iPad, Mac, sound card or audio interface you would be willing to donate, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have an Amazon wishlist. Young people aged 10 or over interested in the scheme should also contact Dempsie. Further details here.
Standing up for your concerns
Proposed 14-day quarantine
I questioned the Home Secretary on the timing and evidence behind her announcement this week to impose a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the UK.
BAME workers in health and social care
Earlier this week, Public Health England published a report that confirmed BAME people are at higher risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus. With BAME disproportionately represented on the frontline, I asked Matt Hancock what guidance he is providing to the NHS and social care sectors on rostering of BAME staff in high risk COVID areas. You can read my comments on the report here.
Changes to British citizenship laws for EU nationals
I was very concerned to learn that, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the Home Office has quietly issued new changes making it harder for EU nationals to become British citizens. A number of constituents have contacted me about this. You can read my letter to the Home Secretary and comments on the changes here.
Calling for more investment in mental health support
Recent figures from the ONS show 80% of the nation is worried about the effect of the coronavirus on their life. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the government must urgently invest in mental health support services. Investing now is crucial to ensure the incoming tsunami of demand can be met.
Physical Parliament: dangerous and undemocratic
Earlier this week, the Government forced MPs to come back to Westminster despite not needing to, as the previous virtual parliament was working well. This means all votes, debates and questions must be held physically which brings unnecessary risk and means many MPs who are shielding, or living with those who are shielding, cannot participate in the process, which is undemocratic. Some changes to allow limited proxy voting are being made. You can hear my views here.
I enjoyed my first virtual school visit, meeting the Head and Chair of the Governors at Carlisle Infants and Hampton Hill Junior School, as well as two pupils who have been at school during the lockdown. All staff have been working hard to provide care for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and to prepare for reopening.
I would like to do more virtual visits to local schools, community organisations and businesses during lockdown. Please get in touch if you would like to arrange one.
If you need to get in touch, please email me on email@example.com.
Please do forward on this update to local friends and family and encourage them to sign up to my mailing list here.
Munira Wilson MP