The scenes from the US and the outrageously racially divisive approach of Donald Trump are very distressing. I'm backing Dawn Butler MP's call to end the export of riot gear to the US.
It’s clear that for Hackney schools and workplaces to return safely, we need a test, track and trace system in place. I continue to make the case to Government that it needs to be done at the local level. In Hackney, we have the experience and capability to deliver. Our Council, community leaders and health professionals stand ready to help.
Hackney Council is facing a funding gap of up to £19 million. I know other councils in the UK are in a much worse position, with some (not Hackney) technically bankrupt.
Councils are a vital provider of frontline services. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government promised to pay back councils for all Covid-related emergency spending. There are now concerns the Government is backtracking from this. The Public Accounts Committee is on the case.
Hackney teachers and schools achieved a miracle when they transformed, in a matter of days, to teach and support students virtually. But the Government is letting them down by hinting at a physical return without any proper guidance or plans to keep students and teachers safe.
Parliament is still working but with a mixture of virtual and physically present, socially distant MPs.
Parliament returned virtually this week with Labour’s new leader, Keir Starmer, challenging the Government over its poor record on testing and PPE.
I’m continuing to press the Government over small businesses, the self-employed, freelancers, and vulnerable families still falling through the gaps of Government support.
I also met with local Hackney groups and we are determined to help those affected by the digital divide.
See me discuss this and more in my new weekly round-up above.
This week the Government has announced a three-week extension to the lockdown but we still have no information on what might come next. This is not good enough. We need a discussion about how the Government will plan its next steps so that no person or business is left behind.
Next week Parliament will meet, for the first time in its history, virtually. I welcome this important step as it is vital MPs can challenge ministers about actions and decisions on important issues. These include:
Having been pressed for action for some time, the Government finally announced support for charities and the voluntary sector.
I was also pleased to learn that Victoria Park will reopen on Saturday, although opening hours are shorter than usual – the park will close each day at 4pm.
Although it’s due to be sunny and warm this weekend, please keep following the lock down advice. We may be nearing the peak of the pandemic, and it is essential that everyone does their bit by staying home as much as possible.
Too many people are falling through the gaps and missing out on Government support during this public health emergency.
If you’ve written in, thank you! I’ve been feeding in your personal experiences to press the Government to step up its support. Please bear with me and my team as I write back to you all.