On Tuesday 12 January, Sir David Amess spoke in the General Debate on Covid-19 asking for a number of things, including more vaccines for Southend, financial for support for individuals and businesses that haven’t previously been eligible and support for early years providers and others involved in the educational industry.
Sir David Amess said:
“I think we have reached a stage in the life of these debates when it is difficult to think of anything original to say which hasn’t already been made by other colleagues. I would hope that we all know that to be true. Nevertheless, quite rightly our constituents very much want their own Member of Parliament to make sure that their voice is heard – and that is what I am going to do on behalf of all the residents of Southend West.
There are currently three vaccination hubs serving my constituency and the vaccination of the most vulnerable and elderly is underway. However, the rate at which the vaccinations can be rolled out to care homes and doctor’s surgeries is limited by the supply of vaccines. Could my RHF assure me that Southend will be receiving enough vaccines to complete the inoculation of the people most at risk as soon as possible?
Capacity at Southend Hospital is currently stable and the Trust is working across its sites to maintain adequate supplies of oxygen for Covid-19 patients. The Hospital is also a vaccination hub, could the Minister update us as to the progress with authorising recently retired nursed and doctors to administer vaccinations?
The broad nature of guidelines surrounding the current restrictions is causing problems for the police. Without clear rules about what people can and can’t do the police are having to use their own judgement on the grey areas, which leads to a break down in community confidence. However, in Southend the partnership approach between the Police, Southend Council and Public Health is working very well to minimise the spread of the virus.
C2C has reduced its service again during this lockdown. Many of my constituents are key workers who use the trains to get to work, it is essential that the service is frequent enough so that they are able to socially distance both in carriages and on station platforms.
Whilst I welcome the financial support packages that have been announced, I have been contacted by a countless number of constituents who have not been eligible for any government support throughout this pandemic. I urge the Government to announce support for those, such as Limited Company Directors, who have been left with no income for almost a year now.
One of my constituents who was employed in HR was excluded from furlough because her March pay details were not submitted until after the RTI cut-off date, simply because her new employer pays salaries on the last working day of the month. She was made redundant and does not qualify for Universal Credit or other benefits and so has had no income for over 7 months. There are too many of these stories. They need financial support.
We have unfortunately seen the devastating impact that this crisis has had on our local high streets. High business rates are putting already struggling independent business in great financial difficulty. Rates need to be cut and made fairer to make sure that these businesses are still around when our high streets can re-open.
We are all very aware that the hospitality sector has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and pubs and restaurants in Southend have been closed - apart from takeaways - since the middle of December. With no signs of when they will be able to re-open, we must make sure that these businesses are given targeted support.
With the return to remote learning for most school pupils, it is vital that the most vulnerable students are supported. The last time schools were forced to close, we know that the poorest students suffered the most, and this cannot be allowed to happen this time. I have also been contacted by a number of constituents expressing their concerns about the safety of nursery schools and other early years providers as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
The summer exams have been cancelled, and schools, parents and students must have clarity about how their grades will be assessed and awarded.
Some students who are eligible for Free School Meals are being provided with food parcels this time around, rather than food vouchers. If the pictures I have been shown of some of these food parcels are accurate, I ask myself who is the idiot that has approved that? This system must provide children with adequate food, whilst also providing value for money for the taxpayer.
This has been an incredibly uncertain time for everyone, but especially for university students whose education has been moved online. In addition to their tuition fees, many students have found themselves paying rent for houses that they can no longer live in. I very much welcome the support that has been offered to school students with their remote learning, but we must make sure that university students are not forgotten.
As with so many of my constituents, I am a committed churchgoer. I would urge the Government to repeat its commitment that it will never again force churches and other places of worship to close”.
The above is what Sir David would have said, but unfortunately there was a three-minute time limit on speeches, so Sir David did a shorter version.
To read what Sir David said, please use the following link: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-01-12/debates/A9F122DF-3DB0-404A-9DF0-CF1709E14DA2/Covid-19#contribution-2DC8454F-1F35-40CD-93C7-E13C99E41192