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Coronavirus Update Friday 15th May

Sadly today’s figures shows another 384 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the UK death toll to 33,998. Worryingly Scientists have said that the ‘R’ number (reproductive number of the virus) has increased this week. Last week it was estimated to be between 0.5 and 0.9, the figure is now believed to be around 0.7 to 1. Any number above 1 shows the outbreak is growing whilst the lower the number below 1 shows how much it is shrinking.

Reopening of Schools

I am disgusted by the way teachers— many of whom have been already putting themselves at risk with no PPE teaching the children of key workers— are being villainised in the right wing press. Looking at the situation in care homes, would you trust this Government to keep you safe?

Returning to school when it is safe to do so is a priority for the sake of pupils’ education and well-being. But there are serious problems with the proposed plan to reopen schools on 1 June, which parents and school leaders have raised.

I am urging the Government to work with trade unions to create clear conditions, based on the tests they have set out, this will make sure that every school can put in place safety measures to ensure a safe return.

For the safety of all staff and pupils schools should only reopen when they meet those conditions.

Discretionary Business Support Scheme

I am pleased that the Leader of Leeds City Council has made the following statement regarding the Government’s discretionary business support scheme.

“We have just received the government guidance for the discretionary business support scheme and will be working through this to quickly establish and launch the process and eligibility criteria for businesses to apply as soon as possible. We will keep businesses updated via our communication channels as soon as we have the process live.”

“The scheme is not as straightforward as the previous business support scheme, and therefore we have been undertaking local analysis and working with colleagues across West Yorkshire to help us prepare ahead of receiving this latest guidance so as to allow us to implement a scheme as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Council Funding

It is devastating to learn that Leeds City Council is facing a massive £121 million funding gap, as it struggles to deal with rising costs during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of the council, is calling on Boris Johnson’s government to provide more funding to support councils. Before the pandemic, Leeds City Council was in a difficult position, it already needed to find £28.4 million of savings and increase council tax, due to huge cuts to government funding and rising costs.

During lockdown, the council has endured costs for services such as household waste collections, but has also lost millions of pounds.

Leeds City Council has had to suspend business rates payments, cut council tax and close car parks and leisure centres.

Whilst the impact of coronavirus on Leeds City Council’s finances is a £121 million funding gap,  the government has only promised to provide £3.8 billion to help councils across the country deal with the impact,  but that investment is not nearly enough.

‘Ask Alex’

Join me tomorrow on Facebook Live at 2pm, where I will be discussing the latest information on Covid-19, including the easing of the lockdown rules and answering any related questions you may have.

Follow my Facebook page at to participate in my Facebook Live sessions and to keep up to date with my activities both at home and in Parliament.


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