From Caroline Lucas <[email protected]>
Subject Latest Newsletter
Date April 6, 2020 5:07 PM
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Green Party mailing
[Apologies if you received an earlier version of this newsletter - that one
was missing the website links]

Coronavirus and the real difficulties it is creating for people continues
to dominate my Inbox. Even though the Government has rolled out
unprecedented measures to support small businesses, employees and the
self-employed, as well as some changes to the welfare system, there are
still many people falling through the gaps, and their situation is becoming
more and more desperate.


This crisis has raised the issue of what more can be done to protect
self-employed people in the future and what this means for the
self-employed economy. I took part in a meeting (via video link) bringing
together a number of organisations in Brighton via The Projects, which
included Wired Sussex, Trade skills 4U, Brighton Digital Women, Community
(the union for self-employed people) and others.


One of the issues which became clear was that the Government's support
scheme, known as SEISS, doesn't properly reflect the realities of
self-employment today. The newly self-employed, those with mixed incomes
(partly through self-employment, partly through a paid job) and those
who've set up small limited companies who pay themselves via dividends, are
all missing out on the protection scheme. Meanwhile women who took time off
within the last 3 years to have a child will also lose out. I wrote to the
Treasury about this, and also raised concerns that the banks are not acting
in the common good either by not offering government-backed loans, or by
imposing relatively high interest rates even though they can borrow at zero
percent interest. You can read the letter in full on my website here [1].


The furloughed workers scheme supports those who have been laid off by
their employer during this crisis, with the Government picking up 80% of
their wages, back-dated to Feb 28th. But people who had a job offer at this
time, but hadn't yet started work, are being excluded. If, as ministers
have advised, a job offer constitutes being hired, then it seems very
unfair that new-but-not-yet-started employees are being denied support. My
letter to the DWP is here. [2]


The lack of testing, particularly for frontline NHS staff, is frankly a
shambles and a real cause for concern. It is impacting staffing levels in
the NHS as so many doctors and nurses are having to self-isolate because a
member of their family is unwell, and they can't find out if they have
coronavirus themselves. It is also unforgiveable that we are asking NHS
staff and care workers to put themselves at risk without a testing system
in place and without personal protective equipment. I wrote about these
concerns in the iNews - you can read it here [3].


It is already clear that coronavirus is changing us as a society. This
Government is having to embrace ideas which would never have been given the
time of day only months ago - including the critical role of the state in
supporting the most vulnerable. There is the danger, though, that as soon
as the crisis has passed, we will go back to business-as-before and the
need to restart our economy will exacerbate the other crises we face, the
climate emergency and biodiversity loss. We need to use this moment to
pivot to a different way of running our society and economy. I wrote about
this in my column in Metro [4].

The latest international event to fall victim to the pandemic is the UN
climate summit, or COP26, which was to have been held in Glasgow in
November. It has understandably been delayed until next year, though
worryingly, no date has been set. The climate and biodiversity crises
remain as urgent as ever, and in an article in PoliticsHome [5], I urged
the Government to use the delay to change course and show what climate
leadership means in the wake of a pandemic and global economic crisis.


On Friday I joined the first call of the "Sussex Resilience Forum". It's
one of a number of groups set up across the country to plan and prepare for
local incidents and major emergencies. It includes organisations like the
council, the fire service, the health authorities and the police - all of
whom are deeply involved in the response to coronavirus. We spoke about
issues concerning local policing and health services in Sussex and I again
raised my concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment for NHS
staff, and crucially for care workers in care homes and in domiciliary


I am also regularly meeting (via video link) with Brighton and Hove City
Council's Chief Executive Officer's team. These calls, which involve all
the MPs in Brighton and Hove, give us an opportunity to raise urgent issues
which come up in our case work. Among the issues we discussed were personal
protective equipment for NHS and care workers, capacity within council
departments to deal with the crisis, housing and homelessness and ways to
protect the local economy.


The Council is updating its website regularly with information about its
response to coronavirus. There is now a link [6] where you can request help
for yourself or someone else, and information about its Local Discretionary
Social Fund.

You can find the links to the Council's website, and those of other
organisations in Brighton offering information or support, on my website


I was pleased that ministers listened to concerns, raised by me and many
others, about children who are eligible for free school meals going hungry
over the prolonged Easter holidays. More than million children receive free
school meals, many of their families will be struggling even more because
of the shutdown of so many sectors of the economy. At the weekend, the
Government agreed to extend the Free School Meal Voucher scheme over the
holidays. I will press for the vouchers to be redeemable in local food
stores, as well as supermarkets.


I continue to press for arrangements to be made to allow MPs to hold the
Government to account, even if we can't physically be at Westminster. With
advances in technology, it should be perfectly possible to find effective
ways of doing this.

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Contacting Me

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:

Twitter: @carolinelucas

Facebook: /

My Website:

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