It’s been a busy week of virtual All-Party Parliamentary Group meetings. I started off on Monday with a meeting of the APPG on Gambling Related Harm, where we focused on gambling advertising during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the more general issue of gambling advertising in sport. Some of you may have seen that last week, the gambling industry had agreed to stop all TV and radio advertising during lockdown, which although welcome was about six weeks too late – and still did nothing to protect problem gamblers from being bombarded by adverts on social media or via text messages. The group heard from Professor Samantha Thomas, who does a lot of work on gambling advertising in Australia, and from James Grimes from the Big Step, who work to tackle football’s uneasy relationship with gambling. Gambling has been normalised within football and young fans often view it as an unproblematic part of the game. But football has a responsibility to prevent gambling addiction from ruining the lives of its fans. It’s so important we have this conversation and hear from those who are badly affected by gambling.
On Thursday I virtually met with the APPG on Textiles and Fashion Representation and Inclusion. Last July, the group launched a call for public evidence on experiences relating to inclusion, access, and representation in the fashion industry. We wanted to hear from consumers, educators, and students, as well as industry professionals. We demand representation in politics, in the FTSE 100, in industry across all sectors, but we rarely seem to demand the same of fashion. How many adverts show a wide range of identities, including people from across all ethnic backgrounds, those with mental and physical disabilities, those from different religious faiths, and those with different gender identities? So many young people are growing up and not seeing themselves represented in the fashion industry and it’s worrying the impact that that could be having on them. We must have greater inclusion in all sectors, and this includes fashion.
I also virtually met with members of the APPG on Beauty, Aesthetics, and Wellbeing to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the industry. Social distancing measures have meant that all beauty, hair, and nail salons have had to close their doors, leading to concerns for their future. We heard from industry representatives about the short and long-term impacts of the crisis and asked them whether the existing Government support packages have been effective, and what support will be needed in the months after lockdown is eased. Even when lockdown is lifted, many social distancing measures are likely to have to remain in place, possibly until the end of the year. This will no doubt have a significant impact on beauty, hair, and nail salons where there is a significant amount of physical contact and often, limited space. Where other businesses will see something approaching normal in their day-to-day running, the beauty industry is unlikely to do so, so we must ensure that we support the (usually) small business owners and their employees through this crisis. We will all need them to be up and running as soon as it is safe to do so – I can’t wait to get may nails done or have a massage and my hair is desperate for a cut!
The UK Government has this week updated the guidance for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and HMRC have begun contacting those eligible for the scheme, which will provide applicants with 80% of their average monthly trading profits, to be capped at £7,500, and which will be paid in a single instalment to cover 3 months. For more information visit the UK Government pages here and if you get into any difficulty, please contact my office for support.
I was delighted on Thursday afternoon to visit the Bay Studios Field Hospital in Swansea to see the work that has been done there. It is remarkable to see how the hard work and dedication of those involved has transformed the Bay Studios Elba building into a fully functional field hospital that will be able to provide much-needed care and support to 1,000 patients. Both those involved in the construction and our NHS staff have done a phenomenal job and I am so proud to see their hard work paying off in Swansea.
This Friday marks 75 years since Victory in Europe Day and although our celebrations may be a little different to how we expected a few months ago, it’s still an important day for us to remember all those who gave their lives for freedom in Europe and who worked together, both military and civilian, to make sure that future generations would have the freedoms that we enjoy today. We will remember them and the sacrifices they made.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. 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!