Fixed Penalty Notices The Government will look into fines given to people travelling for childcare reasons during the lockdown. The Government announced this after Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, was caught flat-footed by a vicar. The Rev Martin Poole, a Church of England vicar, said he challenged Hancock at the Downing Street press briefing. Rev Poole said he felt compelled to expose the inequality the Dominic Cummings case revealed. In a surprise move Hancock said he would ask the Treasury about the penalty notices, which were £60 and later rose to £100.It is not known how many fines the Government gave to families travelling for childcare reasons. The attempts from the Prime Minister to defend the indefensible actions of his most senior adviser are descending in to chaos. The Government’s actions have made it difficult to police vital public health guidance, as this flip-flop over fines shows. The reality is, it’s one rule for the most powerful people in Government and another for the rest of us, which is dangerous.
Test and Trace The national Test and Trace service will launch today. The process is as follows:
Anybody displaying symptoms must self-isolate immediately (along with the rest of their household) and get a test. Everybody, including the under 5s, are now eligible for testing.
If an individual tests positive, NHS contact tracers will ask them to provide the details of everybody they have been near.
NHS contact tracers will make contact with those people and ask them to self-isolate for 14 days. This is voluntary at first but may become mandatory. The NHS needs a strong degree of public cooperation.
The NHS is rolling out a contact tracing app in coming weeks to support this.
Leeds City Council’s Strategy Leeds City Council are working hard to progress. They are waiting for clarity on how the Government will put in place this at the local level. LCC are confident that we are in a strong position with our current arrangements and public health expertise. LCC are working with partners to progress arrangements for their outbreak plan. Conversations are ongoing about how Leeds will handle complex cases. Leeds is playing a role nationally to work out the best way to put in place these changes. The Government has asked All upper tier local authorities to develop local outbreak plans in June, centred on these 7 themes: 1. Planning for local outbreaks in care homes and schools 2. Identifying and planning how to manage other high-risk places 3. Identifying methods for local testing to ensure a swift response that is accessible to the entire population 4. Assessing local and regional contact tracing and infection control capability in complex settings.. 5. Integrating national and local data and scenario planning from the new Joint Biosecurity Centre. 6. Supporting vulnerable people to get help to self-isolate 7. Establishing governance structures led by existing Covid-19 Health Protection Boards
Non-Essential Retail Here is a list of types of non-essential retail the government has said can re-open from 15 June. This is provided the government’s five tests are met, and retail follows guidance (for outdoor markets and car showrooms this is 1 June):
Betting shops and arcades
Tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers
Retail art galleries
Gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites
Mobile phone stores
Indoor and outdoor markets
Similar types of retail
There is a new grant available for small businesses and charities in Leeds. You can apply from 1 June 2020 until 28 June 2020. LCC may stop accepting applications before 28 June if demand is high, so you should apply as soon as possible. Your business or charity can apply for a grant if:
it has not received any other coronavirus funding
it was trading on the 11 March 2020
it has less than 50 employees
it occupies all or part of a non-domestic property
the property has a rateable value of less than £51,000, or your annual rent or mortgage payments are less than £51,000
it has yearly fixed property costs of £8,000 or more
it is expecting to lose 25% of revenue between March and September 2020 due to coronavirus
You can apply for a grant to cover 50% of your fixed property costs between 11 March 2020 and 11 September 2020. Further details here: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/apply-for-a-discretionary-grant
The Parliamentary Constituencies Bill The Government will put the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill before Parliament in the coming days and weeks. The bill will review the constituency boundaries across our country. Labour stands ready to work with all parties to ensure that a boundary review can go ahead in a way that benefits our democracy. Labour has said that a we need a boundary review ahead of the next General Election. Our current boundaries are two decades old, representing an outdated electorate.We welcome the Government’s decision to agree to Labour calls to scrap plans to reduce the number of MPs to 600. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, now more than ever, strong and constructive scrutiny of the Government is vital. Plans to remove 50 would have weakened the role of Parliament, to the advantage of the executive. But, we do not support the Government’s proposals to remove any parliamentary scrutiny from the review process. Parliament has always had the final say over this crucial legislation.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill The Government is also putting forward a Corporate Insolvency Bill to protect businesses during COVID. Labour is urging the government to do all it can to safeguard businesses and protect jobs. We support the measures in this Bill to support struggling businesses to remain open. Some of the measures in this Bill are longstanding and necessary reforms that Labour has been calling for over the long term. Others are temporary responses to the Covid-19 crisis.These changes are a small part of the rescue and recovery package that businesses need. This Bill will only provide short term relief from over-bearing creditors. To avoid a wave of insolvencies which will damage livelihoods and threaten the recovery Ministers must do more. Many businesses will be insolvent due to a collapse in revenue as a result of forced closure. So, the Government needs to take steps to ensure as many businesses can survive for the long term. These measures might delay insolvencies today, but government needs to do more so they do not push this problem to tomorrow.
Durham Police investigation
The police have confirmed what we all knew: that Dominic Cummings broke the rules he helped to write. The country cannot afford for this saga to carry on. Only Boris Johnson can draw a line under it.Keir Starmer has said that if he was Prime Minister, he would have sacked Dominic Cummings. Boris Johnson should follow that advice. If he does not act then he will send a clear message that there is one rule for his closest adviser and another for the British people.