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 South and Shoreditch is a hub for start-up businesses, especially in the tech sector. Many start-ups are, by definition, either pre-revenue, loss-making and/or stuck between funding-rounds. They were therefore locked out of any Government support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme.
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.
Freelancers in the creative industries, the self-employed on short-term PAYE contracts, and sole directors of personal service companies have been left with no work, no income and no support.
I raised this issue in the House of Commons and the Chancellor seemed ignorant of the facts. Hard working people are falling through the gaps in Government support. I’ll keep pressing the Government on this issue.
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.
I know too many people are still living in tower blocks with unsafe cladding.
As of March 2020, 46 per cent of social housing blocks and nearly 90 per cent of private residential blocks still needed work to remove dangerous cladding.
Some are mortgage prisoners, unable to sell or rent out our properties. The COVID-19 pandemic is only making things worse with further delays and rising costs.
This must remain a priority. I’ll keep urging the Government to act and not neglect this issue.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and it’s meant we all had to pull together to pull through.
But I’m too aware that some large corporations are not pulling their weight. That is why I am backing the Co-operative Party's campaign for Fair Tax Bailouts. This would mean that every company attempting to claim a Government bailout would have to prove that they have paid their fair share of taxes. These companies would have to:
Personal protective equipment is a basic health and safety issue. The fact that frontline health workers are having to use bin bags to protect their lives is shameful and wrong. Homerton Hospital had to use science goggles from local schools and local sewers are making scrubs. St Joseph’s Hospice had to put out an emergency call for supplies and local dentists are struggling. This is completely unacceptable. Clearly, more needs to be done to protect NHS workers on the front line.
I continue to press the Government to help homeless families in severely overcrowded accommodation and hostel rooms.
A housing market package to buy up unsold homes is a tried and tested model that will help find homes for the homeless.