From Jo Stevens MP <[email protected]>
Subject News from Jo Stevens MP
Date November 27, 2020 4:14 PM
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My monthly update for October

Welcome to my November newsletter.

Firstly, thank you to everyone across Cardiff Central who has closely followed the firebreak regulations and the new Wales-wide rules that followed. The firebreak lockdown slowed the rise in new COVID-19 cases as we move closer to Christmas.

The news this month about the prospect of three COVID-19 vaccines being available soon has been such a positive event. I will let you know as soon as the vaccine rollout plan for Wales is available, but I can confirm that Pentwyn Leisure Centre will be one of Cardiff’s COVID-19 vaccination centres as the Health Board rolls out its mass vaccination programme. Work on preparing the centre for the programme is already underway so that it will be ready to open its doors, as soon as required. Vaccinations will take place seven days a week.

As we edge closely to Christmas, a new set of UK-wide regulations have been agreed specifically for a five day period including Christmas Day – you can read about these in more detail below. Whilst the firebreak has reduced the rate of new infections, we obviously cannot get complacent. We all have a critical role to play in continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19 – and it’s vital we all continue to follow the rules closely to keep our family, friends and community safe.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and others, and don’t forget - if you develop any of the main symptoms of COVID (fever, continuous cough, changes to your sense of smell or taste) you should self-isolate and order a free test. ([link removed])
There is a dedicated section on my website containing advice and FAQs for the fire-break lockdown. You can see that by clicking here. ([link removed])

** How to Get in Touch

** COVID-19 Update

** New Rules for Hospitality Coming Next Week
Earlier today the First Minister announced further specific and targeted action to help keep COVID-19 infections under control following the firebreak. There will be new rules for the hospitality sector announced early next week to enter force from next Friday, as soon as these are announced I’ll update you on my social media feeds. In addition, cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will have to close.

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

** UK-Wide Measures for Christmas
Following the end of the firebreak lockdown, we now have a set of Wales-wide COVID-19 restrictions in place. The UK, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Governments have now been able to agree a common set of rules for the festive period. Under these rules, three households will be able to meet up between 23rd December and 27th December.
* Travel restrictions (including travel across the four nations) will be eased to provide a window for households to come together
* Up to three households can form an exclusive "bubble" to meet at home during the period
* When a bubble is formed it is fixed "and must not be changed or extended further"
* Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place

The risk posed by COVID-19 will still be high at Christmas, we all need to be careful and continue to limit contacts as much as we can. As First Minister Mark Drakeford says, "people should still use a sense of responsibility, should still ask themselves whether what they are doing is keeping themselves and other people safe."

** £500 Self-Isolation Payment Available Now
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or have been formally told to self-isolate by the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service on or after 23 October 2020, you can apply for a payment. Payments can also be backdated to this date.

For information and to check eligibility, please click here ([link removed] )

** Changes to Face Coverings Policy in Education
Some important changes to face coverings policy concerning schools and colleges were announced earlier this week. Some schools already have these measures in place, but face masks must now be worn:
* in all areas outside the classroom by staff and pupils in secondary schools and colleges,
* on dedicated school transport for pupils in year 7 and above;
* by visitors including parents and carers when dropping off and picking children up.

For more information please click here. ([link removed] )

** In Parliament

** Spending Review
The Chancellor’s Spending Review this week confirmed that the UK has been hit harder than other big economies with the worst downturn in the G7. The Tory Government has consistently failed to take the responsible decisions to support jobs and keep the economy on its feet, and now it’s clear that the public will have to pick up the bill.

Rishi Sunak announced a pay freeze for police officers, firefighters and millions of other public sector workers who've kept our country running through the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Government has handed out millions of pounds worth of contracts to its wealthy friends and donors – but they won’t give key workers what they absolutely deserve.

On top of this, they are pressing ahead with plans to cut £20 per week or £1000 per year from those on Universal Credit – at the time people need it most. Universal Credit has been a lifeline for those who’ve lost their work during the pandemic, and the Government should not be asking the poorest households to shoulder the burden when it is expected that 2.6 million people will be unemployed by next spring. Taking £20 a week from families at the peak of the unemployment crisis is appalling.

What we needed in the Spending Review was a plan to protect jobs and economic growth – but all we got were more irresponsible choices that will hit people hard and pull spending out of our high streets and small businesses.

Add your name to this petition and tell the Government to give key workers what they deserve. ([link removed])

Write to the Chancellor and tell him to cancel the cut to Universal Credit. ([link removed] )

** Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions
[link removed]
Watch my Question here.

The UK Government knew in September that a lockdown was necessary to tackle the rising levels of COVID-19 because their scientific advisory group SAGE, advised them of this. Instead of following the lead of the Welsh Labour Government and implementing a firebreak lockdown, they ignored the advice.

And from September onwards, they disingenuously encouraged cash-strapped theatres and other live performance venues in England to spend on loss-making, reduced capacity productions which then had to be postponed when the four week lockdown was announced.

So at DCMS Questions I asked the Minister why they had done this. It’s yet another example of UK Government incompetence putting struggling industries and the people who work in them at even more risk. Our world renowned cultural industries & talent deserve so much better.
You can watch my Questions to the Secretary of State here:

Watch my Questions here. ([link removed] )

** Anti-Vax Disinformation

[link removed]
You can watch me on Marr here.

Social media companies have a pitiful record of tackling disinformation on their platforms and social media is currently rife with harmful and dangerous COVID-19 vaccine disinformation.

A vaccine is our great hope for the coming months, but this harmful and dangerous disinformation risks undermining public confidence in it and has real life consequences.

Public trust is key to the success of the vaccine – and the government needs to stop dragging its heels and force social companies to stop publishing this dangerous disinformation and remove it from their platforms ahead of the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. If they don’t, there should be effective sanctions against the company directors urgently put into law.

You can see me talking about this on Marr here. ([link removed] )

And on Times Radio here. ([link removed] )

** UkMusic's Music by Numbers Report 2020

The flagship annual economic study by UK Music and its members showed that the music industry continued to grow in 2019 across every sector before the Covid-enforced shutdown hit in early 2020. Before the pandemic the UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019 - up 11% from £5.2 billion in 2018.

Employment in the industry hit an all-time high of 197,168 in 2019 - an increase of 3% from 190,935 in 2018. The total export revenue of the music industry was £2.9 billion in 2019 - up 9% from £2.7 billion in 2018.
This is why the Chancellor’s failure to provide support to so many musicians who have been excluded from the job retention scheme and the self-employed income support scheme is not only grossly unfair and cruel - it’s completely counterproductive to economic recovery.

You can read the report here. ([link removed])

** UK Parliament Week 2020

UK Parliament Week is an annual festival that engages people from across the UK with your UK Parliament, exploring what it means to you and empowering you to get involved. Each year I try to get local schools involved with the events. This year due to COVID-19 Parliament Week took a different, more digital approach, but it was great to see Parliament Week events still taking place across Cardiff Central this year.

** St Bernadette's School

I spoke to pupils at St Bernadette’s Primary School who spent their Parliament Week researching Parliament and UK politics in general and discussing campaigns and the issues that matter to them.

I got grilled with lots of testing questions and I’m really looking forward to going back and hearing how the pupils’ campaigns have gone.

** Welsh Refugee Council

The Welsh Refugee Council organised a fantastic event online where I met and chatted with people in Cardiff Central who are seeking asylum and refugee status, answer lots of questions and hear about the challenges they are facing. We also talked about how we can all work together to make Wales an even more welcoming place for those seeking sanctuary. Among the topics discussed were the decision delays for asylum cases, problems with Home Office temporary accommodation and various aspects of support.

Thanks everyone for the questions hopefully I'll be able to visit you all in person soon.

** Ysgol Pen-Y-Groes

I enjoyed another virtual visit to Ysgol Pen-Y-Groes to speak to their Year 4 pupils about my work as their MP and to give them some tips for their campaigns to reduce litter in the local community. We talked about how to write and deliver a good speech and I shared my three top tips on speech writing ([link removed] ) .

Thanks to Year 4 for all for the questions and I hope the speeches went well!

** Our Digital Future Consultation

A big thank you to everyone who submitted responses to Labour’s ‘Our Digital Future’ consultation – all of these responses will help guide the principles that we are developing and will govern Labour’s approach to digital technologies. We’ve had over 600 responses and I’m currently reading through all of them before we produce our report.

** Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

Wednesday 25th November was the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging data and reports have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.
The current statistics around domestic violence in England and Wales are horrifying.
* A woman is killed in a domestic homicide every three days in England and Wales. 20% of women over 16 have been victims of sexual assault. 2.3 million people faced domestic abuse last year, and the majority of victims were women.
* The number of female homicide victims in England and Wales is at its highest level since 2006. 48% of murders of women are domestic homicides.
* Rape prosecutions in England and Wales are at their lowest level on record.

COVID has compounded these issues. The spring lockdown saw cases of domestic abuse soaring – a 65% increase in calls to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline and a 700% increase in traffic to the website – and the sector that provides for victims on the brink of collapse.
16 Days of Action

The UN System’s 16 Days of Activism against this violence, runs from 25 November to 10 December. Find out more about the 16 Days of Action here. ([link removed] )

If you, a family member a friend, or someone you are concerned about has experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence, you can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline 24 hours a day 7 days a week, for free advice and support or to talk through your options. Just call 0808 8010800, or text 07860077333.

** National Film and Television School Coming to Cardiff Central

We had the great news this month that the National Film and Television School are to open a Hub at the new BBC Wales HQ in Central Square. The National Film and Television School is the UK’s most prestigious TV training school, running for almost 50 years – and has extraordinary alumni across movie-making and TV. This new centre will focus on supporting very recent graduates to acquire the higher-level skills required to either pursue postgraduate study or to successfully transition into the creative industries.

This new national training centre in Wales will also support emerging and diverse talent, as well as strengthen skills development thanks to funding from Welsh Government and Creative Wales.

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

** Re-Painting of Roath Park Lighthouse
The iconic Scott Memorial lighthouse at Roath Park will be re-painted in memory of two women who, before they sadly passed away, took great pleasure in walking around Roath Park Lake.

Work to repaint the Lighthouse has already begun with paint supplied for free by a Cardiff-based business.

** Albany Road Cycleway
Plans for a proposed pop up cycleway along Albany Road are now out for public engagement.
The proposed ‘Red Route’ will run along Albany Road from the junction with City Road/Mackintosh Place linking to the existing cycle way on Wellfield Road.

Cardiff Council are looking for your views on the plan - one to one meetings with local businesses can be arranged and questions or views can be fed in via email to citycent[email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .

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

** Wellfield Road Plans
Cardiff Council have revealed the final agreed scheme for Wellfield Road which includes a new one-way-system, a pop-up cycleway; improved facilities for pedestrians, as well as short stay parking, has been given the go-ahead with 74% of local residents surveyed supporting the new plans.

Work will start on site early in the New Year and will take four weeks to complete. The impact on local traders will be minimal - with the road remaining open and pedestrian access being maintained on either side of the road throughout the works.

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

** End Fire and Rehire
The practice of ‘Fire and re-hire’ is when employers use, or threaten to use, weaknesses in the law that allow them to sack workers only to re-employ them on reduced contract terms. Sadly, fire and rehire is not a new phenomenon, but has gained prominence because of the high-profile controversy generated by its recent use by major employers such as British Airways, Heathrow Airport and British Gas in circumstances they claim to be justified by the COVID pandemic.

Labour and our trade unions have been pushing for a change in the law to outlaw these tactics and give hard working employees the wage security they need. Nobody is pretending this is an easy time for any employer, but we’re urging them to work with trade unions to find a fairer and more responsible way forward.

Read more about the campaign here. ([link removed] )

** Keep the Union Learning Fund
The Union Learning Fund (ULF) was established in 1998 to promote activity by trade unions in support of the objective of creating a lifelong learning society. The Fund has supported more than 50 unions in over 700 workplaces and remains a flagship mainstream government programme – regarded as pivotal by unions, the Government, employers and partner organisations in the learning and skills world.

The Tory Government's decision to scrap the Union Learning Fund is political, short-sighted and wrong. Thankfully, the Welsh Labour Welsh Government have committed to keeping the Fund in place here in Wales.

R ([link removed]) ead more about the campaign here. ([link removed])

** Getting Help
I and my staff team are all continuing to work from home and we’ve received twice as many enquiries and requests for help during the pandemic. Each day of the week we are keeping on top of the new announcements from the UK and Welsh Governments and changes to Council services, so we can advise and help individuals, families, businesses and organisations in the constituency across a huge range of questions and issues.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if there's something I can help with.
* 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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