Daily Briefing – Wednesday March 25th
Parliament will be closing from tonight until after Easter. I will now be based in the constituency for the next few weeks. My staff from Westminster and the constituency office in Shoreham will be working from home but picking up messages to 0207 2194471 and 01273 757182 respectively. I am picking up all email messages directly to email@example.com .
The daily brief from yesterday has gone down well and there are links to more information and announcements being added to my website www.timloughton.com and Facebook page @TimLoughtonEWAS regularly. MPs now have a daily conference call with ministers to feed through problems on the ground and report back information which I have included here. Again, please do check the extensive information on the Coronavirus pages on my website and if you are still unable to find the answer by all means email me.
To recap the rules about people going to work:
- The default position is to stay at home if you possibly can
- If you cannot work from home (you are in manufacturing, you are a visiting gardener for example) then you can go to work if you are able to observe the social distancing rules both when travelling to and from work and at work itself and all the other basic health precautions issued by NHS England.
- When you are out you must not socialise and in public should not congregate in a group of more than 2 non-cohabiting people
- One of the things that came up was access to MOTs. Garages are able to stay open if their staff are available, but the Transport Secretary has now announced that MOTs will be extended for 6 months but drivers must keep their cars in good working order.
- The business rate relief available to many high street shops forced to close has been extended to bingo halls, estate agents and letting agents.
- In response to the considerable calls for measures to help self-employed people the Chancellor will announce measures at the daily press conference tomorrow (Thursday 26th) at 5pm. There is a further bulletin on business support measures from today here
- DWP have been coping incredibly well with a huge increase in new claims. They have employed an additional 1500 staff and redeployed 10,000 existing ones to deal with the half a million new claims for universal credit since March 16th. That is ten times the normal workload.
- People who have been furloughed and will receive 80% of their salary from the Government cannot get an additional temporary job in the meantime. They are effectively on leave of absence not redundancy.
- There is new guidance from the Association of British Insurers for businesses here
- Guidance about the issue of vouchers for children who qualify for free school meals should be issued later today
- People worried about getting sick notes from their GP can apply through the 111 service
- It is likely that new testing kits to detect if someone has actually had a mild form of Coronavirus without knowing should be available next week enabling this immune cohort to return to work and be safe on the frontline. Testing for other priority staff and volunteers etc is being increased urgently
- There has been a huge response to appeals to switch production to essential ventilators. The stock has more than doubled to around 12,000 so far and needs to double again.
- People are still taking caravans and motorhomes to tourist destinations or moving to second homes and then registering with local GPs. Please just don’t go anywhere.