The response to Coronavirus continues to dominate daily life here in Swansea and across Wales. As many of you will already be aware, the Government has this week implemented new measures to try to prevent the further spread of the virus. From now on, no one should leave their home except for shopping for the essentials, once for daily exercise (still maintaining physical distance with others), to meet medical and care needs, and for essential travel to work.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all follow these new rules – you can find all the guidance you need here. The health service needs us to limit our contact with others in order to limit the spread of the virus. If too many of us spread the virus around, the NHS will be overwhelmed, and they will not be able to cope. So, please, stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.
We also heard from the Chancellor this week on the long-awaited support scheme for those self-employed people who find themselves without an income due to the impact of coronavirus. The news that self-employed workers will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month is welcome after weeks of uncertainty, and you can find more information here. However, it is concerning that this money will not arrive until the start of June at the earliest – just over two months away. The Welsh Government are looking at the UK Government proposals to see what they mean in practice for the self-employed in Wales. In the meantime please do get in touch with my office if you have concerns about what this could mean for your family finances.
As you may know, all local authorities in Wales have been making emergency provision for families whose children receive free school meals but are not attending school. Grab and Go bags will provide a packed lunch available to collect from the hubs kept open by the Council. A list of these hubs can be found here, and the contact details for the free schools meals department of Swansea Council can be found here. I know there has also been some confusion over children whose parents are separated and whether they can travel between homes. This is still allowed, but both children and any accompanying adults should ensure that they maintain the 2-metre distance between other people when travelling.
It was wonderful this week to see the Tesco team in Llansamlet showing their appreciation for our amazing Welsh NHS staff by applauding them during their dedicated shopping slot. This was then repeated nationwide at 8pm on Thursday evening, and the videos of people applauding from their doorsteps up and down the country were quite emotional to watch! But it’s not just health service staff who are going above and beyond at this time of crisis. Teachers, Swansea council workers, bus drivers, shop workers, and many more are working incredibly hard in the most difficult circumstances to keep essential services running for all of our benefit. They all deserve our appreciation and thanks.
It’s also been incredible to see how much generosity has been shown by businesses across Swansea this week. Nando’s, Subway, Copper Fish and local market stallholders all donated food which we were able to deliver to those who needed it. GWR provided bags for the meals and Aspire to Be has donated some laptops to help children who need them in order to continue their schooling. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped out – please do get in contact if you are able to donate something. We will be working hard to support all those who need it through this crisis.
In these uncertain times, any small saving counts and given that all live sports matches have been cancelled or postponed I’ve written this week to BT Sport to ask them to follow the lead of other streaming services to allow customers to suspend their sport subscription. Customers should not be paying for a service that they cannot receive, and for those who are self-employed or on zero-hour contracts, having that monthly saving could make a huge difference.
I have also been contacted by a number of constituents concerned at the reckless behaviour of the gambling industry during this difficult time. Problem gamblers, perhaps isolated from their support networks, are finding themselves inundated with messages from bookies through email or text to try to tempt them back online. This is despicable behaviour and I urge anyone who is experiencing this to get in touch with my office. The gambling industry must not be allowed to take advantage of this difficult period to make a profit from people’s vulnerability.
As always, 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. My staff are continuing to work from home, and are as always, here to help in whatever way they can.
I hope you all keep well and remember – stay home, save lives – and keep washing your hands!