World Environment Day
Today is World Environment Day, the theme this year is ‘Time for Nature’ with the focus being on biodiversity to ensure the halt of species loss and degradation of the natural world.
I have always been committed to combating climate change and working towards a carbon-free future for the UK by supporting investment in new green technologies. As a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, I have consistently held the government accountable for decisions that impact on our climate.
Within my constituency, I have pushed for greater flood prevention resources, more protection for our green spaces, secured £29 million in clean air funding and produced a transport strategy for Leeds North West. I am a passionate anti climate change campaigner, I have been to the arctic to see first-hand the melting of the polar ice caps and earlier this year I won a ‘Green Heart Hero’ award for MP Climate Champion.
I am thrilled that the Labour Party has launched a consultation on an ambitious green economic recovery for post covid-19. I encourage everybody to take part and submit your ideas to build an environmentally sustained economy.
The consultation will run from the end of June and you can take part here:
Test and Trace
Boris Johnson was clear at Prime Ministers Questions that we were to expect a ‘world class’ track and trace system by the 1st of June. That has not happened. Council leaders believe that the local element is ‘weeks away from being ready.’ Baroness Dido Harding, who is heading up the NHS test and trace system has said it will not be fully operational until the end of June. The full system will not be up and running until September. Germany had its test and trace system in place by April 17th.
On a local level, Leeds is putting our system in place including test and trace forward. Leeds feel that their public health teams have good infrastructures to deal with outbreaks and are not starting from scratch.
Complex settings such as schools, prisons and care homes to establish outbreaks early. They are working with communities that maybe don’t have a positive level of trust in institutions to ensure people are getting tested within their communities.
We also need the Government to ensure there is a more localised ‘R’ number rather than lumping Yorkshire in with the north east.
Leeds have seven key themes within a broad plan for the city including test, trace, communities at higher risk, data and intelligence.
Individual behaviour is still the best defence against the virus and we need to all engage with this local approach. That way we can start to safely live with the virus.
Leeds’ seven-point plan for the city:
Planning for local outbreaks in care homes and schools.
Identifying and planning how to manage other high-risk places, locations and communities of interest.
Identifying methods for local testing to ensure a swift response that is accessible to the entire population.
Assessing local and regional contact tracing and infection control capability in complex settings, and the need for mutual aid.
Integrating national and local data and scenario planning from the new Joint Biosecurity Centre.
Supporting vulnerable people to get help to self-isolate and ensuring services meet the needs of diverse communities.
Establishing governance structures led by existing COVID-19 Health Protection Boards in conjunction with local NHS, supported by existing Gold command forums and a new member-led Board to communicate with the public.
Further Resources and Guidance: · An overview of how Test and Trace works · Guidance for employers and workers · Guidance for people told by NHS contact tracers that they need to self-isolate · Updated guidance for households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus case. · Flow chart (first slide) showing the key steps for people displaying symptoms/ who have been contacted by Test & Trace. · NHS advice for people contacted by T&T following a positive coronavirus test. · NHS advice for people contacted by T&T after being in contact with someone who has coronavirus.
The UK’s statistics watchdog has criticised the government over its handling of coronavirus data. Following the Cummings scandal it’s vital that ministers rebuild trust if the public are to adhere to social distancing.
This intervention from the UK statistics authority is damning.
For test and trace to be effective we all need confidence in the data. The Health Secretary must start publishing the numbers of people tested and the number of contacts traced. He must stop including mailed tests as completed and offer a full update on how many care home residents, care staff and NHS staff the Government tested whether symptomatic or not.
Families to Stay Healthy and Happy
The Public Health team at Leeds City Council has been working with Active Leeds to develop a resource to share with families. Resources includes an activity pack with great ideas for fun things to do at home. Alongside information leaflet which contains useful links, tips and phone numbers. The leaflet is now available for downloading.
Active Leeds has designed a resource pack to encourage children, young people and families to be more active. Under 8’s toolkit is called Ready Set Rainbow and The over 8’s Active Leeds toolkit is called Get Active Stay Active.
I would like to highlight the work of the Neighbourhood Networks, they have done a great job to help older people in Leeds during coronavirus. Through telephone befriending, delivering food and meals and fighting off boredom.
Many of the networks are helping older people get online as part of 100% Digital Leeds, now more important than ever.
Leeds Care Home
20 care homes currently have Covid-19 outbreaks. The trend is improving thanks to the intensive work of homes, and our social care and health protection colleagues. Authorities have identified 75 care homes for whole home testing. It can take between 2 and 14 days to receive test kits and then similar time to get results.
PPE remains a challenge, with shortages of gloves and masks, but homes are being resourceful to source mutual aid or new suppliers.
Economic Response to COVID
The Government has shut down the economy in an unprecedented way, it is urgent that the government acts to protect jobs and incomes. It is now becoming clear that problems with the design and performance of many of the existing programmes are reducing their take-up.
The efficacy of these programmes will be essential to the impact of the crisis on jobs and incomes. Labour has designed three tests for the economic response to coronavirus:
Keeping people in work.
Getting cash to struggling businesses.
Preventing more poverty through changes to social security.
The Government needs to increase International coordination. The Treasury needs to lead on extensive coordination with the IMF, G20 and EU policymakers.
I am delighted that Labour are calling on the government to act to protect jobs and incomes by:
Preventing companies from making more people redundant. By acting on those employers who continue to refuse to furlough affected workers.
Fixing blockages in the business loan schemes so businesses can access the support they need.
Clarifying the situation for those currently excluded from the Government’s self-employment scheme.
Turning Universal Credit advances into grants and considering extra changes to improve UC.
Making all workers, including low-paid workers, eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.
Increasing the level of Statutory Sick Pay.
Spearheading international coordination to prevent financial system-wide spillovers caused by the crisis.
Make public the proposed exit strategy to ensure economic measures remain appropriate.
Leeds City Council have asked for us to all bear with them as collecting all the bins is proving a greater challenge than ever. More info at: