From Jo Stevens MP <[email protected]>
Subject News from Jo Stevens MP
Date January 31, 2021 6:29 PM
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My monthly update for January with latest COVID-19 information and news from Parliament and Cardiff Central.

I hope you, your family and your friends are safe and well.

Thank you to everyone who’s been in touch in recent weeks with good wishes. I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and really appreciate all the messages.

I’m making progress each day now and I feel incredibly fortunate to have come out the other side of this awful virus.

The horrific death toll reinforces my gratitude to the hospital staff from cooks, porters and cleaners to nurses, doctors and consultants who looked after me and treated me whilst in hospital. I saw exceptional people doing both ordinary and exceptional things for patients that made all the difference.

Whilst I continue to recover, my staff team in Albany Road are doing a brilliant job dealing with casework and personal enquiries you may have – so if you need help with an issue, please continue to contact me as normal with the details at the bottom of this email.


** COVID-19 Update
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** Alert Level 4 Restrictions
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We are still in an Alert Level 4 lockdown, meaning we must all once again stay at home to help protect the NHS and to keep our community safe. Current case rates are falling in Wales and we are starting to see the signs of improvement, but overall, case rates remain high across Wales.

The current R rate in Wales is between 0.7-0.9, let’s keep working to drive it down further.

The current weekly case rate is down to 150 cases per 100,000 people, and test positivity over the past 7 days stands at 12.1%. The number of people dying, tragically, remains very high. My thoughts are with all those who’ve lost family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to this horrible virus.

Vaccinations:
COVID-19 vaccines are now being rolled out at pace across Wales. As of Sunday, the total number of people who’ve received a vaccine in Wales is 403,463. In Cardiff and the Vale, 55,009 people have now received a COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as Cardiff and Vale UHB have confirmed that all GP practices have been offered the vaccine. You should be contacted by your GP or the health board directly to arrange your vaccine.

Please also be vigilant for scams – the NHS will call you or write to you for an appointment. They will never charge you – these vaccines are free.

The Welsh Government are requesting that any suspicious texts are forwarded to 7726 and emails to [email protected]

If you think you have been the victim of fraud, the advice is to contact Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040.

As always you can see the latest on the restrictions in force on the Welsh Government website here. ([link removed])


** Recent Review of Restrictions: Changes
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As the First Minister said on Friday, in this review there was very limited headroom for changes to the current lockdown arrangements. Despite case levels falling significantly since Christmas, current case levels remain high and hospitals are still under immense pressure.

Exercise
The Welsh Government have announced that you can now exercise outdoors with one other person outside your household.

Changing Support Bubbles
If you live alone, you are entitled to one support bubble throughout the Alert Level 4 lockdown period. Previously, you were unable to change your bubble, but the Welsh Government will be issuing guidance on how to do this safely. Once this information is published I will share it on my social media channels and website.

Schools
The Welsh Government have confirmed that they are targeting the week after February half-term (22nd February) for some children to return to school. This will likely start with the youngest, to ensure the safety of pupils, teachers and the wider community. More information on these plans will be published very soon.

You can get the latest information on these changes on the Welsh Government website here. ([link removed])


** Changes to Shielding Advice
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The Welsh Government have just published important new advice for those who were previously shielding.

As cases of coronavirus remain high and new, more contagious, strains are circulating, the Welsh Government are asking you to stay away from work and education outside the home until 31 March, even if you’ve had the vaccine.

You can read more about this here. ([link removed])


** COVID-19 Recovery App
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NHS Wales now has a free COVID Recovery App that is available for all patients who are getting over the virus. It includes supporting guidance, learning materials and exercise targets. Available on Apple and Google Play.


** Economic Support from Welsh Government
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Economic Resilience Fund

A further £200m is being made available to businesses in Wales through the Economic Resilience Fund. The £180m fund for leisure businesses and their supply chains remains open for applications.

A total of £2bn in funding has now been made available to Welsh businesses, with £1.7bn already reaching those who’ve applied.

You can apply for funding or find out more on the Business Wales website here. ([link removed])

Funding for Spectator Sports in Wales

The Welsh Government has provided a £17.7m funding package to help spectator sports in Wales impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding of grants is allocated to the sports' national governing bodies.

With no immediate signs of crowds returning, the grants are to provide immediate financial support for spectator sports to help them through until September, with the figures proportionate to the losses suffered by each sport in Wales. Read more here. ([link removed] )

£40m Fund for Students in Wales

The Welsh Government have announced an extra £40 million fund for students across Wales to help with financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

This funding is designed to help students with accommodation costs, supporting online learning and costs from needing to self-isolate. You can find out more about this here. ([link removed] )


** In Parliament
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I haven’t recovered sufficiently to participate verbally in the House of Commons chamber, I continue to represent your interests in Parliament through my votes. Here are some of the issues I have voted on (via my proxy) during January.


** Universal Credit #CancelTheCut
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Earlier this month, Labour forced a vote in the House of Commons to maintain the uplift on Universal Credit.

The uplift of £20 per week has been a lifeline for many throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now facing the worst recession of any major economy, and 6 million families, including over 7000 in Cardiff Central, are currently relying on Universal Credit for the help they need to get them through.

The UK Government should be doing everything they can to support people through this crisis – not cancelling vital support at the time people need it the most.

Tory MPs voted against this. But we will keep campaigning to put pressure on the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to maintain this vital uplift in the coming weeks.


** Environment Bill #SaveTheBees
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Labour submitted an amendment to the Environment Bill seeking to stop the Tories from lifting the ban on bee-killing pesticides. Bees are responsible for pollinating 70% of the fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds we eat.

The decline of bee species in recent years is an economic and environmental catastrophe. In the UK, 13 bee species are extinct, and now one in ten of Europe’s wild bee species are under threat. That is why the decision by the Conservative government to lift the ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides is so damaging.

Unfortunately, Tory MPs voted down this amendment.

You can read more in this great LabourList article from my Shadow Cabinet colleague Luke Pollard MP here. ([link removed])


** Debate on Workers' Rights
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This week, Labour forced a vote in the House of Commons to protect and improve employment rights. The Tories had previously promised there would be no race to the bottom on employment rights after Brexit. However, the Department of Business had initiated a review of some employment rights and protections including vital rules governing the 48-hour week limit, rest breaks at work, overtime pay and more.

Shamefully, Tory MPs didn’t even turn up to vote, but our pressure resulted in the Government confirming that they have now abandoned that review. When so many people have lost their jobs and so many key workers are working in such demanding and difficult circumstances, removing rights and protections is the very last thing the Government should consider.


** Latest on British Gas Campaign
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British Gas workers in Cardiff Central & across the country are facing the disgraceful threat of fire and rehire; being sacked and re-employed on worse terms and conditions. British Gas should abandon this strategy immediately.

I coordinated a letter to the British Gas Chief Executive signed by many colleagues in Parliament, urging him to do the right thing which you can read above.

If you want to help the campaign to stop them, use this tool to send an email to the British Gas board by clicking here. ([link removed] )


** Changes to Council Waste and Recycling Collections
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Each household will receive letters (from this week) explaining the changes and what you will need to be aware of, please keep an eye out for these.

The new collection rounds will then begin from Tuesday, February 23rd.

The new collections system will see the council adopt a four-day-week, single-shift collection model. All waste collections will take place between 6am and 3.45pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only. The changes are designed to ensure that waste is waiting for collection for less time with the obvious benefits that brings.

Waste collections will take place on Good Friday, but there will be impacts on bank holidays that do not fall on a Monday but information will be provided to residents about these arrangements closer to the time.

Read more about this here by clicking here. ([link removed] )


** Awards for Adamsdown Primary and Stacey Road Primary
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Stacey Road Primary School and Adamsdown Primary School have both been awarded the School of Sanctuary Award.

It recognises their commitment to supporting young people seeking sanctuary creating a culture of welcome, and raising awareness of the issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers. Well done to both schools, this is an important award that shows how schools can really make a difference to the lives and wellbeing of young people seeking sanctuary and help them to settle into a better life.

Everyone in the Stacey Road and Adamsdown Primary School communities should be exceptionally proud of this. Congratulations!

*Photos courtesy of Cardiff Council ([link removed])


** Roath Park Clocktower Refurb Complete
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You may remember a story in a previous newsletter about Andy, who arranged and paid for Roath Parks clock tower to be refurbished in memory of his mum, and his late wife Rose who regularly enjoyed walking around Roath lake.

The refurb work has now been finished, and complete with new lighting it looks stunning.

Thank you to Andy - this is such a kind and generous thing to do for the many people who treasure Roath Park Lake.

Photos courtesy of Willowbrook House. ([link removed])
* Find out what to do if someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus ([link removed]) .
* If you are concerned about your symptoms, check if you need medical help ([link removed]) .
* Find out how you can reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus ([link removed]) .

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