Responding to the Covid 19 Pandemic Locally
Firstly I would like to thank you to everyone who is working so hard locally to assist our community in dealing with and helping people come through the Covid 19 pandemic.
All our local agencies are working hard together, the Police, Council and Councillors, Fire Service, our local voluntary organisations, residents’ groups and religious bodies, and of course our local carers, hospitals, doctors, paramedics and all those working in our health and social services.
I can’t thank them enough for the tremendous work they are undertaking.
I am proud of the way local people have rallied round to support one another. Thank you to you all as well.
In addition to the work which is being undertaken to protect and support our local community, there have been a large number of issues that local residents have raised with me that I have taken up as the local MP.
Below is a brief report on just some of the issues that my constituents have raised with me.
I have also updated the list of links to reputable sources of advice together with some links to craft activities, concerts, educational and environmental activities and other pursuits that may be of interest to you
Stay well and stay safe
Support for Local NHS and Carers
Throughout this period, I have been concerned to ensure that our local NHS and carers have the resources they need to be able to treat people suffering from Covid 19 and also to have the protection they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
That’s why at the earliest stage in late February and early March I made my views clear to the Chancellor in the run up to the budget about the urgent need for immediate investment in the NHS and Social Care.
Since then I have consistently pressed for more investment and action on both the provision of personal protective equipment and access to mass testing and tracking. I have liaised with local agencies and will continue to urge the government to implement the World Health Organisation’s strategy of mass testing and tracing to gain much greater control over the transmission and treatment of the virus.
Financial Support to Local Families and Businesses.
Large numbers of local people have been furloughed as a result of the pandemic. However, there have been instances of work initially continuing unsafely on construction sites and regrettably some companies have been making people redundant. In particular, 12,000 workers at British Airways have been threatened with redundancies. There have also been many gaps and delays exposed in the government’s job retention and business support schemes.
My role previously as the Shadow Chancellor and as the local MP has been to seek to have the government bring forward adequate support to workers and businesses to get them through the current crisis.
People will be able to follow on my website www.john-mcdonnell.net or on twitter @johnmcdonnellMP the sequence of the various detailed economic support programmes and proposals I have put to government since early March both in advance of any government programmes and since the publication of the government’s support mechanisms.
From the outset I have sought to negotiate with the Chancellor to secure full wage protection, the enforcement of furloughing to prevent redundancies, the inclusion of all workers including the self-employed and support for businesses, especially small businesses in our area.
For those unable to work I have been pressing for a realistic level of sick pay and an uprating of unemployment, disability and carers allowances.
There are still considerable gaps in the current schemes, and I am continuing to press the Chancellor to address these gaps. For example, many who took up new jobs in March or who started up a new business or who do not have sufficiently rated premises are struggling to gain support.
I will continue to take up these cases until we secure action.
With regard to BA and other large employers I am working with fellow MPs and trade unions to press the company and the government to bring forward measures to protect jobs during the crisis and plan for the future.
Below is a copy of the Early Day Motion that I tabled this week;
Redundancies at British Airways
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)
That this House recognises that the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has enabled it to work with businesses and trade unions to protect the economy and avoid mass redundancies; appreciates the role aviation workers have played in operating flights, repatriating citizens and delivering essential medical and personal protective equipment supplies; considers it deplorable that whilst IAG is taking UK tax payers’ money, as well as using Spanish government guaranteed loans to purchase an additional airline for the group at a cost of €1.2 Billion, it is serving notice of redundancies to UK employees with British Airways having announced its intention of implementing 12,000 redundancies and is introducing inferior contracts for all employees; believes that it is immoral that British Airways is utilising public funds, designed to protect jobs, while simultaneously seeking mass redundancies in haste, given also that furloughed British Airways workers are unable to engage in consultation relating to these redundancies and that British Airways has access to £3 billion cash reserve and IAG credit line equivalents of €10.7 billion; and demands that British Airways halts its opportunistic redundancy and restructuring and engages constructively with unions and Government to positively plan for a just and sustainable future based upon a tripartite approach to ensuring UK connectivity and the aviation industry is maintained for the benefit of all and not just one company.
Repatriation of Local Residents from Abroad.
We have had and still have a large number of local residents who have been trapped abroad when the lockdown was imposed both in the UK and in the country they were visiting.
Usually they were on holiday, visiting relatives or working abroad.
Families have been extremely concerned and at times angry at the lack of or slow response by the Foreign Office to provide assistance to people, often vulnerable individuals, to ensure their safe return.
My office team have worked extremely hard providing as much information as possible to constituents and their families who have been caught in this situation.
We have also been making representations to the Foreign Office on individual cases to press for action.
In addition, I have exerted as much pressure as I can to urge the government to provide more flights and support to deal with the large numbers of families still in circumstances. I will continue to do so.
Support for Charities, Community Organisations and Sports Clubs
A number of charities, community organisations and sports clubs have contacted me because their ability to raise funds and operate during his period has been restricted greatly. Joining with other MPs, we have been able to secure some support mechanisms from the government, but this is insufficient. I am going back to the government in this to seek greater recognition of the essential roles these bodies play in our community and the need for greater support.