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HUW MERRIMAN MP NEWSLETTER
17 April 2020

Coronavirus Update (COVID-19)

This has been another challenging week for our frontline services. The good news has been that the expected peak on Easter Monday was not as high as we had planned for. Instead of the virus numbers doubling in just 3 days, it took 11 days to do so. It was right, some weeks back, that we worked together locally to provide the emergency GP and Hospital provision which would have been needed had the worst-case modelling occurred. It has not been used because residents have largely been superb in self-isolating and self-distancing. Let’s keep this up so we don’t have to use it.  

We now have better news on PPE and testing but this has taken a lot of effort to get there and it has caused frustration for those of us who can see what has been needed on the front line. I’ve spoken to clinicians, local authority leaders, the police, Government Ministers, and many more local and national figures, this week to try and get what is needed.

It was also good to speak to our local business and civic community to discuss current challenges as well as their determination to get the open signs back up when safe to do so. Once this is over, and it will be, we really need to rally around and shop and visit locally. 

Thanks to our amazing community effort in this challenging times. There are so many who need their trumpet to be blown. It’s not just those amazing frontline workers but the volunteers and the creative people who have turned up with solutions, equipment and supplies to those who need them.  

Stay safe. It’s another 3 weeks at least but, if we continue what we have started, we will have kept each other safe and will be able to get back to life as we used to know it. 

Huw

PPE and Testing in Care Homes and Social Care Settings

The start of my week was dominated by trying to secure more PPE and essential supplies for our local care homes and the organisation who provide social care.

Read here about the challenges and why I believe we need to learn lessons once this is over.

Support for Charities and Voluntary Sector

Pleased that the UK charity sector will receive a £750 million package of Government support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. Along with 228 MPs across Parliament, I had written to the Chancellor asking for his intervention. The voluntary sector is particularly strong in our local community so I am pleased to see it being supported.
Read more here.

New Local Coronavirus Testing Centre to open

Over the coming days, a new Coronavirus testing centre will open in Bexhill to test front line workers from the NHS and other services.

Read more here.

(Virtual) Parliament Returns

This Tuesday Parliament was due to return following the Easter recess. It will still do so but to keep to self-distancing rules MPs will meet virtually. This is a new experiment for Parliament. However, having chaired two Transport Select Committee meetings virtually, I am confident that we can hold Government Ministers to account at the Dispatch Box. As a Select Committee Chairman I will be given more opportunities to ask questions of Ministers and will certainly do so. 
 

Support for Domestic Abuse Victims

Help is available for those impacted by domestic violence amid the lockdown. The Home Secretary has launched the #YouAreNotAlone public campaign to stand by those at risk.

Find out more.
 

Hospital Need 

It’s important that those who need hospital treatment for reasons other than Coronavirus still seek the treatment and do not leave it too late. Read more here.

Virtual Bexhill Chamber of Commerce 

It was good to meet our local businesses and civic leaders and answer their questions about the Government support package and the next phase. Requests were made for more help to be given. One of these requests, on the scheme to pay 80% of employee wages, was delivered the next day. We discussed help for those who fall outside schemes and a need to draw up plans for reopening when the time is right. 

Chancellor Extends 80% Wage Payments by further month

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme sees the Government pay 80% of the wages of staff who are no longer needed to work due to the slow down. With the further 3 week period of self-isolation and self-distancing, this scheme has been extended by a month to the end of June. I have already asked the Chancellor if there is scope to ensure that the tail-end of this scheme allows for a little more flexibility to allow employees to work for part of a week but not all of it.

Read more about the extension here.

Coronavirus Policing Update

Following my weekly call with our Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner you can read more about the local policing picture and their approach to policing the coronavirus lockdown here.

Update on Prime Minister

Boris Johnson has recently been released from hospital after contracting coronavirus. He is currently recuperating and, after exchanging messages with him, he tells me he is making good progress. 
If you would like to arrange an appointment to see me at an advice surgery, please email: huw.merriman.mp@parliament.uk or call 01424 736861
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