Green Party mailing
The coronavirus pandemic is understandably dominating headlines, public
services and government announcements. It is a rapidly changing situation,
with emergency legislation to be considered by Parliament next week. This
is some of what I have been doing to try to support people in Brighton and
Hove. There is also a dedicated Coronavirus section on my website , with
pages which are being regularly updated, giving information about what's
happening and the support available in our city.
THE IMPACT OF THE CORONAVIRUS ON BRIGHTON BUSINESSES
Our city has been hit hard by the virus, with the hospitality sector -
hotels, restaurants, clubs, pubs and entertainment venues - seeing one of
the biggest impacts so far. Thousands are losing their jobs and small
businesses are facing bankruptcy. Some of them have been in contact with
me, telling me about the really difficult decisions they are having to make
over letting go their staff, and their fears about whether their businesses
One of the problems has been the PM's failure to call for the closure of
the sector (albeit with an exception for take-away services), which made it
difficult to access insurance. I raised this issue with the Prime Minister
at a meeting with him on Friday, calling on him to ensure both that the
insurance industry steps up, and that support is given to cover the wages
of affected staff, later speaking about it on the BBC. 
I was very glad that the Prime Minister listened, and that a few hours
later he announced that all pubs, restaurants (with exception of take away
services), gyms, cinemas and other leisure facilities had to close. I hope
he will now makes sure that the insurance industry delivers on its
responsibilities to those businesses.
MORE SUPPORT FOR THE HOSPITALITY SECTOR
I wrote to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Thursday calling for a
Coronavirus Marshall Plan for the hospitality industry, going far beyond
what he proposed earlier in the week. The text of the letter is here .
In particular, I said there should be an immediate suspension of all
business taxes (so not just rates for smaller enterprises) and a scrapping
of VAT on tourism. Most importantly, the Government should introduce a
Universal Basic Income for every UK citizen so that everyone faced with
reduced hours or the loss of their jobs has a financial safety net. I also
added my name to a cross-party parliamentary motion calling for a UBI. The
story was reported in the Guardian .
The Chancellor has now increased his support for workers, with a very
welcome pledge to pay 80% of a worker's wage up to £2,500 a month to try
to encourage employers to keep their staff. But I'm concerned about people
who have already lost their jobs - and how quickly money is reaching
businesses that need it.
Moreover the self-employed - a hugely important sector here in the city -
have been almost completely overlooked. In a phone call with Treasury
minister Stephen Barclay on Friday night, I pushed hard for them to be
included in the Job Retention Scheme (where they'd be eligible for grants
worth 80% of average salary, instead of being left with just £94/week).
I'll continue to do all I can to ensure this is addressed.
SUPPORT FOR RENTERS
Generation Rent too has been overlooked. Extending local housing allowance
to cover 30% of market rents does not protect renters nor give them the
support they need - LHA needs to be set at median rental levels. Those with
mortgages have been given a three-month mortgage "holiday". Renters need
the same, especially when they need to self isolate, and there must be a
freeze on all evictions in the private and social sector, together with a
ban on rent rises for at least the next 12 months. Acorn are doing a
brilliant job supporting tenants and is organising local volunteers to help
people through the coronavirus. You can sign up, either to help or to get
support, on their website .
THE COMMUNITY RESPONSE
On a positive note, the community response in Brighton and Hove (and
elsewhere) has been brilliant. So many Covid_19 Mutual Aid groups have
sprung up, offering help with shopping, dog walking or simply human company
to those who can't leave their home because of the virus, whether it's
because they are disabled or elderly, or because they are self-isolating. I
am listing many of the local organisations offering advice, information or
support on my website . If you'd like your organisation to be included,
please email [email protected]
It's currently very hard to see the light at the end of the Coronavirus
tunnel, but I believe that if we lay the foundations for a different kind
of economy in the way we respond now, we could come through this crisis as
a better society, finding connections with each other that were previously
ignored. I wrote about this in my column in Metro .
A FUNDRAISER FOR THE TRUSSELL TRUST
Some organisations which already help those most in need like food banks
are struggling because of people's panic-buying and a collapse in
donations. They are now having to buy food and other essentials which were
previously donated. I have started a crowdfunding appeal  for the
Trussell Trust to help them through this crisis. Please support it, if you
HOLDING THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT
The need for emergency legislation and a radical response to this crisis
doesn't stop the need to hold ministers to account for what they are doing.
I have been doing that by questioning them about their response to the
epidemic, and bringing to their attention the actual experiences of people
and businesses in Brighton and Hove. You can see a list of the questions I
have been asking on my website here .
One of the issues I have raised is private nurseries which are facing
financial ruin following the Government's advice that they close, except
for the children of NHS staff and other key workers. The Early Years sector
needs support to survive this crisis, or there will be inadequate childcare
provision when people are eventually able to return to work.
I have had to stop holding face-to-face surgeries because of the advice
about social distancing. But I am holding telephone surgeries, so please
get in touch in the normal way.
Finally a heartfelt thanks to all those working on the frontline of this
crisis, particularly in our NHS and care sector. We are so grateful for all
you do - and will do everything possible to ensure you are given the
equipment and support you need to continue to do such extraordinary work.
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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