From Jo Stevens MP <[email protected]>
Subject News from Jo Stevens MP
Date July 30, 2021 5:14 PM
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My monthly update for July with the latest on my work in Cardiff Central and Westminster

Thank you for reading my July newsletter.

I hope you, your friends and family are well and have all been safely enjoying the sunny weather we’ve been having recently.

Cases in Wales are continuing to rise in line with other UK nations due to the Delta variant. Please remember you can get free lateral flow tests from the Welsh Labour Government, and if you have any symptoms please isolate and order a PCR test. More information about this is in the COVID section below.

In Parliament, July has been dominated by the fallout from the horrific racism faced by three England football players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho following their Euro 2020 final defeat against Italy. I’ve been calling on social media companies, and the Government, to do more to eradicate the scourge of online racism once and for all.

My team and I remain on hand to help with any queries you may have, about COVID-19 or otherwise. If you need some help with an issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the details at the bottom of this email.

** COVID-19 Update

** Unlocking Wales
After the recent review of restrictions, Wales has now moved to Alert Level 0 outdoors and Alert Level 1 indoors. This means limits on gathering, and the requirement to socially distance outdoors has gone.

From August 7th if cases are low:
– All premises would be able to open and most – but not all – restrictions will be removed
– There will also be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet others indoors, including in private homes.

Face coverings:
Face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport at alert level zero from 7 August, except in hospitality settings.

The First Minister has also confirmed that people who have who have been fully vaccinated in the UK will no longer need to self-isolate if they are returning from an amber list country, in line with the position in England and Scotland.

Self isolation:
From August 7th, if you're identified as a close contact but have had two vaccines, you will not need to self isolate. You will be advised to take PCR tests on days 2 and 8 and if these are positive you will then be required to isolate.

You can see the Welsh Labour Government’s full plan for the weeks ahead here. ([link removed] )

** Walk-in Vaccinations at Bayside MVC
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board are now holding walk-ins for first and second* doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at Bayside Mass Vaccination Centre and Holm View Leisure Centre in Barry.

You can attend either site between 8.30am and 7.30pm, Monday - Sunday.

You can walk in if:
💉 You have not had your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, are aged 18 and over and live or work in Cardiff and the Vale
💉 You are due your *second dose of Oxford AstraZeneca and it has been at least 8 weeks since your first dose
*Please note the Centres are unable to offer second dose walk ins for Pfizer so you will be contacted directly.

** Latest on Cases and Vaccinations
Cases in Wales are rising due to prevalence of the Delta variant - as we continue to get back to doing the things we love, it's important we still get tested, even for mild symptoms.

Vaccinations in Wales continue at pace, with more than 9 in 10 Welsh adults receiving their first dose, and now 2/3 Welsh adults being fully vaccinated with a second dose.

Wales’ Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton will shortly be writing out to those who were previously shielding with advice for the weeks and months ahead, so keep an eye out for this letter.

If you're not working from home or meet other criteria (in the blog linked here) you can also now get free lateral flow tests sent to your home for asymptomatic testing. ([link removed])

** Self-Isolation Support Scheme Extended
The Welsh Labour Government's self-isolation support scheme is being extended until March 2022. This scheme supports people on low-pay with a £500 payment if they have been asked to self-isolate.

So far, more than 13,200 self-isolation support payments have been made to people since November 2020.

To find out more, please click here. ([link removed] )

Cardiff Council also have more information here, ([link removed] ) or call their Advice Line on 029 2087 1071 for assistance.

** Welsh Labour Government Grant Scheme for Rent Arrears
A new £10m Welsh Labour Government grant will be introduced to help people in private rented accommodation who are struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic.

The Tenancy Hardship Grant is designed to support people who have fallen behind on their rent by more than eight weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021.

You can find out more about this scheme by clicking here. ([link removed])

** In Parliament

** Tackling Online Abuse

Last month saw horrific racism faced by three England football players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho following their Euro 2020 final defeat against Italy. Lewis Hamilton suffered the same online racism following his Formula 1 Championship win.

I have been campaigning for five years for the Conservative Government to bring forward its promised legislation to regulate online platforms. The tsunami of hatred and discrimination online cannot be allowed to spread, largely unchecked as we know that what happens online, then happens offline.

Social media companies have repeatedly failed to prevent and remove illegal and harmful content on their platforms. They cannot be trusted to do this themselves and so we need a strong piece of legislation that creates the right incentives to achieve this as well as having clear, targeted sanctions that are properly enforced, when they don’t.

The Prime Minister has not only turned a blind eye to racism, he has himself used racist language. The examples of this are well known. The Home Secretary said it was up to people if they wanted to boo the England team when they demonstrated their objection to racism and the Prime Minister refused to condemn her words. Gigantic flags outside Downing Street are no substitute for using the power he has, as Prime Minister, to stop racist abuse on and offline. The Prime Minister, Home Secretary and other leading Ministers had a simple choice at the start of the Euros to call this out, and they failed to do so.

I was interviewed on Times Radio about this in more detail. You can listen to the discussion here. ([link removed] )

I also wrote in the Independent about why I think social media companies will not tackle the sewer of racist abuse they allow on their platforms unless they are forced to. And that won’t happen until the Government includes criminal sanctions in its online safety bill. ([link removed][0]=AT1BURbPfDAmh_53y9ylxmtz_MOH_RzpwZa8eEQIw9sayujprRvQ_j2W_jPbtfAlVTdJNa9XccmMpzQiT9i5v-nQ2l4UBBniIhO-E1RC0wrwhUb4LRdXD_05mr0UILrDbjBMQlK68Dgr7Q8icyEBUB6qhSlullsCTG6qF386Dr5feR4PksvYTO5lz2xBM9okbJM7_Lif)

I was also interviewed by Politico about how the Tories' Online Safety Bill won’t protect people from online racist abuse and why it needs to be strengthened. You can read the interview here. ([link removed])

** Extending Football Banning Orders
One of the immediate things the UK Government could do is to extend football banning orders (which a Labour Government introduced in 2000, pre the digital age) so they apply to racists online as well as racists convicted of racist chanting in football stadiums.

I called on the UK Government to bring the law up to date. Later the same day, Boris Johnson announced at PMQs he would do this. We will be watching closely to ensure that he sticks to his promise.

I spoke to BBC Radio about this. You can listen here. ([link removed] )

** 2022 Winter Olympics Diplomatic Boycott

Two months ago, Parliament voted to recognise that genocide was being committed against the Uyghur people. The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics cannot be used as a propaganda opportunity for a government inflicting such horrors on its own people.

Unless the UN is granted access to Xinjiang to fully investigate the genocide, British politicians and the Royal Family should not be attending the Beijing Winter Olympics next year. It’s time for the UK Government to make its position clear. Along with Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy MP, I wrote to the Foreign Secretary and Culture Secretary to call for a diplomatic boycott of the games.

You can see our letter in full above.

** Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions
Early in July, at Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions, I asked the Secretary of State about a UK Government-backed insurance scheme for the live events industry, and why guidance for post July 19th events was still yet to be published.

Many live events and festivals had been forced to cancel because no insurance was available and no guidance for after the 19th July either. It’s simply not feasible to expect large scale events to prepare and go ahead with a week’s notice.

You can see my question here. ([link removed])

** Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
This month, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was back in the Commons and I, along with other Labour MPs voted against the Bill.

I couldn’t vote for a Bill that does nothing to reverse the Conservatives’ failure to address the epidemic of violence against women and girls – and which imposes draconian restrictions on all of our freedoms including the right to protest.

Tory MPs voted down Labour proposals for higher minimum sentences for rapists and Labour’s proposed changes to the Bill to protect shop workers from rising violence.

It’s clear the UK Government is too busy stirring division and fabricating fights, than properly trying to protect the public.

You can read more about why I voted against the Bill here. ([link removed])

** Overseas Aid Vote
The UK Government’s cuts to the aid budget will leave the very poorest in the world weaker in the fight against the international threats of poverty, climate crisis and the pandemic. This isn’t a choice between helping those in the poorest parts of the world or here in the UK – these challenges require international cooperation.

This indefinite cut to our aid budget also sends a worrying signal to our allies and enemies alike that the UK is in retreat and is no longer willing to honour our key global commitments and responsibilities.

I, along with other Labour MPs voted against the cut, but despite a few Tory MPs joining us, unfortunately the Government won the vote. ([link removed])

** Post Brexit Touring for Live Performers
Last week Labour unveiled our plans to make post-brexit touring of the EU easier for British musicians and performers. We would negotiate with Brussels to open up the market once again so bands and singers can perform to European audiences.

You can read more in the Mirror here. ([link removed])

** Unclaimed Pension Credit

Up to £3.5 billion of benefits aimed at older people on low incomes go unclaimed every year.

Recent ‘take-up’ figures show that over a million pensioner households are missing out on Pension Credit, which amounts to around 2 in 5 of those who are entitled to receive it.

These benefits can make all the difference and help older people stay independent and healthy.

This helpful guide from Age UK explains who is eligible, how much you may receive and how to claim. ([link removed])

** Local Places for Nature Scheme

Do you know a perfect spot in Cardiff Central that could be transformed into a place for nature or food growing?

Applications for Keep Wales Tidy's Local Places for Nature packages have reopened for this year. Each pre-paid package includes native plants, tools and other materials.

They’ll handle the orders and deliveries, and KWT project officers will provide support on the ground.

In 2021-22, priority will be given to projects in urban, deprived areas with little or no access to nature. They're also really keen to welcome applications from underrepresented groups across Wales.

You can find out more here. ([link removed])

** Visiting Metro Bank

I visited the new Metro Bank store in the City Centre to find out more about their work as a challenger bank and how they are helping communities in Cardiff Central and further afield.

They offer free meeting space for community groups in their city centre store, and I had a tour of the vault with its 3000 safety deposit boxes - and their children’s savings machine!

I was pleased to hear that Metro Bank is a Real Living Wage employer. Thanks to the Local Director in Wales, Khushboo Patel, for meeting with me.

** Late Applications for Settled Status

Applications for Settled Status closed on June 30th, but if you meet certain criteria and haven't applied yet, you may still be able to submit a late application.

You can apply to the scheme after this deadline if you:
❗️ Have a good reason for making a late application
❗️ Are upgrading from pre-settled to settled status
❗️ Are applying to join a family member in the UK - find out more about joining family
❗️ Have a valid work, study or family visa

This Citizens Advice advice page will give greater detail, and they'll be able to assist you if you do need to make a late application. ([link removed])

** Visiting the new Rhydypennau Hub

I popped into the newly refurbished Rhydypennau Library Hub. The whole space has now been superbly refurbished into a state-of-the-art community hub, with the library back up and running and community spaces.
They’ve done a superb job with the refurb - the Hub now has a community multi-use room, a reconfigured lobby to accommodate a buggy park, a new computer area and a brand-new children’s area.

Their summer reading challenge has launched - there’s more information on how to get involved in this on the poster below.

Thank you to the staff at the Hub for showing me round and hopefully I’ll be back soon for an in person advice surgery as soon as it’s safe to do so.

** Cardiff's #SummerofSmiles Festival

Cardiff’s #SummerOfSmiles festival is now underway! Several locations around the city will be hosting a variety of activities for Cardiff’s children and young people over the next few weeks - there’s plenty of things to do in the lovely warm weather.

I recently visited the installation at Churchill Way - activities will include arts and crafts, sport and science & tech.

To see what’s on over the next few weeks, see the Council website here. ([link removed])

** New Roath Food Co-op

There's a new food co-op running from the Tavs Centre on Tavistock Street in Roath. The co-op will be providing affordable food to those who need it.

To sign up or find out more, please see the graphics above.

** A New Local Development Plan for Cardiff

Cardiff Council has begun the process to replace its Local Development Plan (LDP).

The new LDP will be the main policy document that sets out how the city grows and changes after 2026. This will include where new homes and jobs should be placed, where new schools will be required, and what transport infrastructure will be needed. The LDP also agrees the planning policies that underpin any future changes.

Residents are being asked to give their views on how Cardiff should grow and develop in order to meet demand across the following four key areas:

❗Meeting future needs for homes, jobs and infrastructure;
❗Creating a healthy and sustainable city which responds to the climate emergency, promotes walking and cycling, and improves residents' wellbeing;
❗Supporting the city centre and Cardiff Bay to kick start the post-COVID recovery;
❗Protecting and improving parks, open spaces, river courses, biodiversity and Cardiff's historical & cultural assets.

Please feed in your views. It’s really important that you have your say. To find out more about the process, follow the link here. ([link removed])

** Visiting the #YourVoice Exhibition at Wales Millennium Centre

Last week I enjoyed a visit to the Wales Millennium Centre - Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru ([link removed][0]=AZVhK7kJ-PQtsawEHOzMPUjlsNfTmp6_xMFII4qSVTcYqgTuWv82eDWmW4tnlbutY3ak7uPFVBV3g062dvH2CUdrAQSuXb3krnOhnExSXkBeqsv7A4DXciGXieR_4z9W2hNPoc9TUy3BwUWe0H_cDK3FHt94K-gwUUyFrybaNGs7p6b4CUFfAKfkfSmHO-uqcnw&__tn__=kK-R) to visit their new Your Voice exhibition.

During the first lockdown, WMC invited people of all ages to share their stories and experiences during a challenging year through art.

Now, there are pieces of art from across Wales on show in the exhibition, which details many aspects of our lives over the past year. The ages of the artists ranges from 4-90 years of age, and there are over 300 pieces of individual art on show.

It was great to hear more about the WMC’s outreach work - they work closely with schools across Cardiff, including Cathays High School, helped by the new Welsh curriculum which has a big focus on creativity and the arts.

The exhibition is open now, and runs until 29th August. You can visit the link below for more options or to book tickets. As the WMC finally reopens its doors after a long period of closure, I’d fully recommend a visit to this fantastic exhibition if you’re able to visit.

Thank you to Rachel and Elin for showing me round and I hope to be back soon for some live shows.

You can find out more about the exhibition or book tickets here. ([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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