A message for residents of Enfield Southgate regarding COVID-19

 

I want to make sure that everyone in Enfield Southgate knows that, as your Member of Parliament, I am here to support our community through this unprecedented anxious and upsetting time. 

 

Our first priority is to adhere to government medical and scientific advice and to not underestimate the importance of washing our hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 such as coughing, shortness of breath or fever or have been in contact with  someone who has been confirmed as contracting coronavirus, you should consider self isolating and going onto the NHS 111 website.

 

As far as we understand, those most at risk of the effects of COVID-19 are older adults and those who have underlying health problems. 

 

We must protect and support the most vulnerable. To do this we must plan together as a community, keep information flowing and to stay calm. If anyone is concerned about a vulnerable adult who may not have personal support from family and friends then please do let me know. My phone lines will be open Monday-Friday 10am-12pm and 2-4pm on 020 7219 3460, and you can email me at any time on bambos.charalambous.mp@parliament.uk.

1 Latest Guidance

 

It is important that we all take guidance very seriously as our actions could save lives.

 

All the latest guidance can be found here:

 

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

Transport for London (TfL) is acting on the Government's direction in response to the coronavirus that all transport services and travel should now be solely focused on ensuring critical workers can move around as needed. People should not be using public transport or travelling for anything other than essential journeys. 

 

From Monday 23 March all road user charging schemes in the capital will be temporarily suspended until further notice.

2 Enfield's Community Response

 

Enfield Council has already started building its community response and the Secretary of State announced yesterday that our Councils will be the local hubs for food parcel distributions for our most vulnerable residents who are being asked to self-isolate for at least 12 weeks. Councils will be assisted by the Armed Forces and parcels will be delivered to people's doorsteps, while medicine will be delivered by Community Pharmacists.

 

If you are a vulnerable resident, please let Enfield Council know: https://new.enfield.gov.uk/forms/covid-19-community-support-request-form/

 

If you want to help out, please let Enfield Council know: https://new.enfield.gov.uk/forms/covid-19-can-you-volunteer/

 

Please do pass this information on to your neighbours and friends across Enfield.

3 Helpful Contacts and Information

 

Age UK - For practical information and advice call: 0800 169 65 65. For a cheerful chat, day or night, call Silver Line: 0800 470 80 90.

 

Alzheimer's Society:

-All face-to-face and home visits have currently been suspended. But operating hours national Dementia Connect Support Line have been extended. Trained advisors can be contacted via 0333 150 3456.

-All local group sessions have been suspended.   

-Dementia Talking Point online community where people affected by dementia can receive valuable support from people in similar situations here.

 

 

Thames Water:

• Social Tariff: Households on a low income may be able to get a 50% discount on bills.

• Customer Assistance Fund: We can offer grants to help those with outstanding bills from previous years to stop them from falling behind.

• Thames Water Trust Fund: Funded by our shareholders, we can offer households with low incomes grants for free appliances and free debt advice.

• Priority Services Register: Customers can sign up and share their individual needs so that we can tailor our services to them and support them during an emergency.

• For more information all these measures, please see: https://www.thameswater.co.uk/my-account/billing-and-payment/help-paying-your-bill

 

Elderly & NHS worker shopping hours:

Asda -  Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8am and 9am

Marks & Spencer - first hour of trading

Tesco – 9am to 10am

Waitrose – first hour of trading

Sainsbury’s – first hour of trading

Iceland  - first hour of trading

 

Business advice:

The following emergency support for businesses who are affected by the Coronavirus pandemic is available:

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.

Applications can be made at applications@bankofengland.co.uk. 

 

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

 

 

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

4 Coronavirus Bill

 

The Bill is going through all of its House of Commons stages today. The Coronavirus Bill is emergency legislation which grants extraordinary powers to assist the authorities in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the threat of COVID-19.

 

Increasing the available health and social care workforce:

-To allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without repercussions for their pensions. -To allow the emergency registration of certain health professionals and students.

- Measures to support volunteers are also intended to ease the pressure on frontline NHS and adult social care staff.

-Enabling local authorities to prioritise care for people with the most pressing needs.

-The Bill makes temporary modifications to the procedural safeguards around the detention (sectioning) of patients with sever mental illness for treatment or assessment in hospital.

 

I am concerned about the loss of rights for disabled people through their care packages and about the provisions for easier detainment under the Mental Health Act.

 

Childcare and education settings

The Bill includes three powers relating to education:

1. To require or direct the temporary closure of an educational institution or registered childcare provider.

2. To make specified types of directions in connection with the running of the education and registered childcare systems.

3. To dis-apply or vary specified existing requirements contained in or arising out of education and childcare

 

Elections

Postponing the May 2020 elections, including local elections in England and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales for a year. The Bill also allows for unscheduled electoral events, such as by-elections in devolved elections and recall of MP petitions, to be delayed. Postponement cannot go beyond 6 May 2021.

 

Emergency powers and national security

Restricting movement and quarantining –

-Provide public health officers with the power to quarantine those who have tested positive (or inconclusive) for coronavirus or those they reasonably suspect have the disease.

- Provide police officers and immigration officers with powers to take people they suspect have coronavirus to be tested or assessed by public health officers.

- Provide each of the UK Governments with the power to issue directions prohibiting any event or gathering and provide them with the power to close or restrict access to any premises.

-Gives UK Governments the power to restrict freedom of movement of citizens in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

There are no provisions in the Bill which would allow directions to be issued requiring individuals to have prior permission or good reason to leave their homes. Nor would the Bill give the police or immigration officials powers to enforce elongated quarantines of people who have not been assessed for the virus by public health officers.

 

Port closures –

-Gives the Secretary of State powers to direct a port operator to temporarily close a port where it becomes impossible to ensure adequate border security, as a result of the impact of coronavirus on border force personnel. Failure to comply with an order would be a summary offence.

 

Investigatory powers –

-The Bill would allow for the appointment of temporary Commissioners to issue warrant to law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies to intercept communications, gain access to communications data, and engage in equipment interference, where necessary as a result of the coronavirus, and to extend the timeframe for gaining approval for warrants issued in urgent cases.

 

Food supply

The Bill will give powers to require information about food supply chains, including location of food stocks. In the event of food supply chains due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the Government may seek to intervene to support industry efforts to restore efficient and equitable supply.

.

Managing the deceased

-The Bill states that measures are to take account of the fact that families who have lost loved ones may be self-isolating, and that there may be reduced capacity to register and manage deaths as a result of pandemic-related sickness absence.

-The Bill would expand the list of people who can register a death, enable a death to be registered without the informant attending in person and enabling a doctor who may not have seen the deceased to certify the cause of death without the death being referred to the coroner.

-Confer powers to facilitate the transportation, storage and disposal of dead bodies and human remains.

 

Myself and the Labour Party will be supporting an amendment to stop the use of cremations against families' wishes.

 

Statutory Sick Pay and National Insurance contributions

-Gives the Commissioner for HMRC the power to make regulations to provide funding to employers for SSP payments made in relation to coronavirus. 

-Gives the SoS the power to make regulations to disapply the ‘waiting days’ rule for SSP payments so employees would receive SSP from the first day of absence, rather than the fourth.

 

Sunset clause provision – A Sunset Clause is a time limit on legislation the Bill will expire in two years after the Bill is passed.

 

Myself and the Labour Party are supporting an amendment to renew the legislation every six months by a fresh vote in Parliament.

Coronavirus

Constituents who work in Dental Surgeries had contacted me about the impact of coronavirus on their practices. I raised this issue with the Minister today and I will be following the Government's progress to make sure they take the necessary steps to protect patients and staff from the virus and support them financially.

 

I will be in the House of Commons all week to scrutinise the Coronavirus Bill and the vote on various amendments.

Universal Basic Income

I joined about 170 MPs and Peers in urging the government to introduce a Universal Basic Income to give everyone the financial support they need to provide for themselves and their families during the coronavirus pandemic. This would mean that those who are self-employed and freelancers would also be supported, as the Government has failed to provide any financial package to support them through the pandemic.

Public Health Funding

I spoke in the budget debate about Public Health funding and the deepening inequalities in Enfield.

Public Health services are devolved to Local Councils and they now find themselves at the frontline of fighting the coronavirus.

For 2020/21, Enfield will receive £50.01 per head for Public Health funding, while neighbouring Haringey will receive £71.90 per head and Islington will receive £108 per head.

 

Watch a clip of my speech here.