As you will all be aware, things have changed dramatically in the past week in terms of the UK’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the clearest sign of this was the announcement that today schools across the country will close to all children, except those who are particularly vulnerable or those children of key workers. If you are not sure whether or not your child falls into one of those categories, please do get in touch with your school as soon as possible to help you plan for the weeks to come.
The UK Government has also updated its advice on social distancing this week, which can be found here. I cannot emphasise enough how vital it is that we all follow these guidelines in order to stop the spread of the virus. We all have a role to play, and social distancing is an important way for us to do that. Of course, that’s not to say it is easy – particularly for the elderly and vulnerable among us. Please do take the time to safely check in with friends, family and neighbours who may need extra support.
The UK Government has set out support for businesses including support paying statutory sick leave, a scrapping of business rates for a year, and grants or funding to support businesses through this crisis. More information on these measures and information on how to apply can be found here.
Many constituents have contacted us to say that they do not qualify for statutory sick pay and are concerned that if they have to self-isolate, they will go without pay and be unable to support their families. My colleagues and I are continuing to raise these issues, and further entitlements should be set out in the coming days. Information about what you’re entitled to and how to apply can be found here.
Birmingham City Council have also published advice for all care providers, either social care and residential services, employers and businesses, and guidelines for home isolation, and they can be found here.
I’ve had a number of emails from constituents who are stranded abroad and cannot get in contact with embassies and consulates as they have closed. I am in contact with the Foreign Office to find out how they will ensure that British nationals are supported in the event of an unexpected extended stay, in the absence of full repatriation efforts should airlines no longer operate. I will of course keep constituents up to date on my discussions with the Foreign Office.
As ever, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0121 661 9440. Myself and my team are of course subject to many of the same challenges and restrictions as other families in Birmingham Ladywood at the minute, but we will do everything we can to help constituents in these difficult times.
Keep safe and healthy – and please, keep washing your hands!