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** *This email contains Covid-19 guidance and support for individuals and businesses, correct as of 27th March.*
** The Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis is an unprecedented challenge for our society – and the Government has responded with a level of intervention not seen in living memory. Everyone must now stay at home and go outside ONLY for:
1. Food and medicine when absolutely essential and you can’t get a delivery.
2. Exercise once a day, alone or with household member(s).
3. Medical needs or to provide care.
4. Essential travel to work, for work that can’t be done from home.
Click here for the Welsh government’s official guidelines ([link removed]) .
In summary: When you go outside you MUST stay 2 metres away from anyone that you don’t live with, and you must not meet up with anyone outside your household other than for reasons 1,2,3 or 4 above. You must wash your hands more regularly for 20 seconds (or use hand sanitiser), and before handling food. Always sneeze into a tissue and dispose immediately, washing your hands straight away. Don’t touch your face before washing your hands.
The UK government’s direction hasn’t always been clear or consistent, but the latest can be found on Hygiene here ([link removed]) and Social Distancing here ([link removed]) .
Feeling ill with a new continuous cough or a high temperature?
* If living alone you need to isolate yourself for 7 days.
* if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
* You can get an isolation note for your employer here ([link removed])
* More guidance here, ([link removed]) including when (and when not!) to call 111 and 999.
Fantastic local response
It has been heartening to see how our health and social care workers have responded to this pandemic. I cannot express deeply enough my gratitude towards those under such enormous personal and professional strain. I’d also like to thank teachers, transport workers, local council staff and voluntary services for their incredibly important work.
I also know many others are undertaking heart-warming acts of kindness towards friends, family and neighbours with community groups, local businesses and local councillors ensuring everyone in the community is supported.
I will soon be sending letters to 4,000 Aberavon residents who are aged 70+, setting out the support available. More info can be found under the headings below. I have also been raising Covid-19 issues in Parliament and joining forces with other colleagues to ask the government to offer more support to self-employed people, voluntary organisations, and businesses via Parliamentary questions and letters. Follow here ([link removed]) .
Now is the time for us all to pull together, to listen and heed government advice, and to pull together so that we can beat Covid-19. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
Local support available for the most vulnerable and those self-isolating
NPT Council’s new ‘Safe and Well’ service is initially being aimed at those people who have been told by the NHS they are most at risk and need to self-isolate but don’t have friends of family to rely on.
Please read more here ([link removed]) and call 01639 686868 only if you are vulnerable and in urgent need of help.
For those not covered by ‘Safe and Well’ NPTCVS ([link removed]) will be signpost you to support in your community 01639 631246
Support available for individuals and families (sick pay, wage cover, housing)
Citizen’s Advice, Swansea Neath Port Talbot still have their advice line open if you have any queries
Call 0300 3309 082, [email protected]
) or via webchat citizensadvice.org.uk. ([link removed])
If you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP ([link removed]) ) this is now paid on day 1 of sickness. Your employer must pay you this for self-isolating – you don’t need a doctor’s note for the first 7 days, if you need to stay at home beyond this you can get an isolation note here ([link removed]) .
The government is also offering to pay up to 80% of wages up to £2500/month for workers who cannot work due to coronavirus (e.g. their workplace has closed or has reduced demand for staff). You will need to discuss this with your employer, as they must make the claim.
This can be claimed for full-time, part-time, zero hours, flexible or agency workers and even if you’ve already been made redundant since 28^th Feb, as long as your employer agrees to re-hire you. For more info see here ([link removed]) .
Find out about your rights at work relating to Covid-19 here ([link removed]) , and more general rights on the Trade Union Congress website ([link removed]) . You can tell your employer about your rights if and when you need to self-isolate. If you have an issue accessing SSP from your employer call HMRC on 03000 560 630, Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.30pm.
The UK government has just announced a package of support for self employed people, you can view the full information on this here ([link removed]) .
In brief it will cover 80% of profits up to £2500/month for most self employed people who have already submitted a tax return for 2018/19. There are some exceptions, e.g. it must be your main income and those who have started trading since April 2019 are not covered by this scheme.
You do not need to contact HMRC, they will contact you and invite you to apply if eligible.
Payments are not expected until June, until then you can claim Universal Credit (see below).
If you are not eligible you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or the new Employment and Support Allowance. (UC is now being paid at the same rate of SSP.) See here ([link removed]) and here ([link removed]) .
If you struggling to pay the rent because of Covid-19, click here ([link removed]) for UK government advice.
Contact your landlord, Tai Tarian, Coastal, Linc and Pobl will support any residents through this time and will not be evicting anyone due to non-payment of rent due to coronavirus.
If you are struggling to pay your mortgage read this ([link removed]) from Which, lenders are offering payment breaks if you contact them.
Struggling with credit card loans:
First contact your lender. If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.
A six month extension on MOTs for cars, motorcycles and vans will come in to force on 30^th March, you will still be required to keep your vehicle safe and roadworthy, garages will still be open for essential work. For more information see here ([link removed])
Support available for employers
Business Wales has set out this clear and detailed guidance for Welsh businesses. Click here to read about the various relief packages. ([link removed]) They include:
* £10k grants to businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief.
* A 12 month business rate holidays for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses, plus a possible grant for small businesses in this sector.
* For all businesses, the UK government has promised to pay 80% of wages (up to £2,500pm) of employees who cannot work due to Covid-19, via the Jobs Retention Scheme ([link removed]) .
Employees also have new rights on Statutory Sick pay. For more on this, and all employer information click here ([link removed]) .
You can find additional information on the Welsh government website ([link removed]) , or by contacting Business Wales on 03000 603000. This page ([link removed]) sets out which premises need to close.
Support for constituents stuck abroad
I have been supporting a significant number of constituents to get home from abroad. If you or a family member are stuck, please contact me: [email protected]
) or 01639 897660.
Problems the UK government still needs to solve
Test, test, test: Testing who currently has the virus, and who has had the virus unknowingly, is critical to winning this health war and getting our country moving again. But it is particularly critical that we are able to test all health and social care workers, to protect them and their families. The government are ordering more tests, but speed is essential. South Korea have proved that ‘test, test, test’ can help us suppress the virus.
More ventilators needed for patients and PPE for staff: Many people are concerned about the lack of ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment available to the NHS. After 10 years of the UK government’s brutal austerity, cutting the Welsh government’s budget to the bone, it is inevitable that our health and social care system would be struggling to cope with such a pandemic. There are clearly tough days ahead, but it seems that the Department of Health is now working constructively with the NHS to support patients and staff.
More clarity needed over ‘keyworker’ definition: Monday evening’s announcement helped clear what is expected of citizens during the crisis, but we still need a definitive list of what the government sees as ‘essential’ workers. I am asking the government for some steelworkers to be put into that bracket, given they can’t work from home and turning the blast furnaces off is simply not an option. However, all employers need to be told to shut where necessary, including non-essential factories and construction sites. We need answers quickly, for the sake of public health.
An explanation as to why the government wasted the UK’s 9 week head-start before acting: This is a longer term question, but we will look back and wonder why the UK government took so long to put lockdown measures in place, and why we took a different response to the rest of the Europe – only to change our mind and follow Italy’s lead. This question is for another day, but it is one that the families of many victims will want to ask in due course.
For now our mission is to pull together. Stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.
I wish you the very best in these challenging times,
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