Yesterday, Parliament voted to confirm the new lockdown regulations. Unfortunately, the debate ended before I was able to speak, but I am in no doubt that these new measures are necessary. In London we have seen the rapid rise in cases in December sadly translate into increasing hospitalisation and deaths. It is imperative that we all follow the restrictions, which you can see in the image below, and urgently suppress the spread of the virus.
I am deeply disappointed that the Government has wasted the past nine months and have not prepared for the widely expected winter surge. We have seen decisions taken far too late creating confusion and distress for people across Dulwich and West Norwood. In the past six weeks, London has gone from national lockdown, Tiers 2, 3 and 4 and now returning to national restrictions. The Government now must drastically increase the speed of the vaccine roll out and get a grip on this virus.
I am in regular contact with King’s College Hospital and our local health care providers. Staff across our NHS are continuing to work relentless hard in exceptionally challenging circumstances, and my heartfelt gratitude goes to every single one of them. Due to the surging numbers of serious cases of Covid-19 and increasing numbers of staff needing to self-isolate, local services are incredibly stretched. I know many residents will be concerned about reports that non-covid services including cancer surgery have been disrupted. Such decisions are only taken as an absolute last resort and are the clearest illustration of why these new restrictions are needed. If you are in need of care please call 111 or your local GP for advice and only attend A&E in an emergency.
The new lockdown is very hard, and will be devastating for many residents’ livelihoods. I am continuing to call on the Government to close the gaps in financial support and provide businesses with what they need to survive. I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of some business support, but this did not mention the millions of employees and self-employed people who will be impact by the new restrictions. The Government must ensure these groups are supported and extend the £20 uplift in Universal Credit which is currently due to end in March. It is also completely unacceptable that the government is refusing to reinstate the ‘Everyone In’ programme of emergency accommodation for rough sleepers at a time when both the weather and the risks of coronavirus are much worse than they were during the first lockdown when this scheme was introduced; or extend the eviction ban currently due to end on 11th January.
I also know that the closure of schools will have a severe impact on the education and wellbeing of children and young people across Dulwich and West Norwood. Although, I agree that this closure is sadly necessary, the Government’s last minute announcement gave teachers no time to prepare for remote learning and left many working parents unable to make childcare arrangements. I am deeply concerned that children across our area have still not been provided with the laptop devices and broadband services they need to access learning from home, and that the Government is continuing to refuse to reimburse local schools for their costs. I am in contact with local headteachers and I will be following up on their concerns with the Department for Education.
As the mass roll out of vaccines is getting underway, we can now begin to see a way through this crisis. However, the threat from Covid-19 to our health and to the NHS remains very real. It is important that we all continue to follow the restrictions to relieve pressure on the NHS and save lives whilst the vaccination programme is rolled out.
Please keep safe at this difficult time. Along with my small team, I am working hard to support everyone in my constituency who needs help. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to support you. I am still receiving an exceptionally high level of correspondence, so please bear with me and my small team as we work hard to get back to everyone as quickly as possible.