News Letter: Friday 15th May

What is changing this week?

The new rules that came into force this week have a frequently asked questions list that I find really helpful:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

The main changes are that you can leave your house as many times as you want to exercise and you can use outdoor facilities like tennis and basketball courts (but not gym equipment), but just with your household or one other person. You can also meet up with one other person not from your household. But if exercising or meeting with them keep at 2 metres distance as before and meet them outside. We are also encouraging people to go to work where they can if they can’t work from home. But only when the work environment is safe to do so. We are also being asked to wear a face covering in situations where we can’t be 2 metres apart.

Otherwise everything is largely the same. I think the big change in slogans has maybe made people think it is a lot more complicated now than it is. The old slogans were very clear and easy to understand but as things changed I think sadly it was always going to get more complicated for all of us. Get in touch with me if you aren’t sure about anything.

I am volunteering as a doctor for the NHS during this time. This is another reason why I want to make sure you have access to as much information as possible. We have thankfully not seen the unprecedented demand on the NHS we saw in Italy and so I have been able to manage helping on the front line with my responsibilities as an MP as I split my time between the two things. But I do occasionally take a little longer to review correspondence coming into the office on the days I am undertaking clinical work. However I have agreed a process with my staff team to minimise these delays and I have still been reviewing urgent issues promptly. I hope I can have your understanding.

I have been working with a number of local charitable organisations and Cheshire East by holding weekly calls to try and help local organisations work together and support each other to meet people’s needs at this time. We came together to produce an information sheet I had delivered locally, much of which you can see below including points of contact and information for you. I have seen first hand through the calls what a fantastic job local organisations are doing to change their approach and work together to support residents.

Below are also some answers to some of the most frequent questions people have been asking me. You may find answers to some of your questions as well. If you are ringing any of the helplines you may face a delay. We know millions of people are all seeking help of different kinds right now so I must ask you to be as patient as possible.

There are a number of organisations offering services to support you in Crewe & Nantwich but where you are unable to get the help you need Cheshire East is the lead organisation for ensuring services for individuals locally. Please call them on 0300 123 5034 or visit www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/Covid19

I hope the information and updates below are helpful. 

Yours sincerely,

Kieran

Dr Kieran Mullan MP
MP for Crewe & Nantwich

 

Local Volunteers

One thing we can all be proud of in our communities are the dozens of people that have signed up to a group my team have been running helping people needing to stay at home-collecting shopping and prescriptions and helping with the queues at the Well Rope Lane and Nantwich pharmacies.

Whilst this is a really difficult time for our country, I have at least been able to again see first hand the amazing community spirit of people trying to help their neighbours and the community.

There are dozens of people who also were sent on to volunteer for the first time for local organisations including The Wishing Well Project, Hopes and Beams, St Paul's Centre and Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. RedShift Online are also doing a HUGE amount. Other groups like The Salvation Army, Crewe Corps and Nantwich foodbank have transformed their services in an incredibly short space of time. Lots of local businesses have been providing support including Mornflake Mighty Oats and Bentley Motors

Other people are part of local groups like Haslington Volunteer Group COVID19, Isolation Help Group for Wistaston, Shavington, Willaston, Crewe & Nantwich, Wybunbury Viral Kindness and Good Gym Crewe. We have a local For the Love of Scrubs group that have produced huge numbers of scrubs to help local health and social care services.

Something that should make us all proud! Lets all thank these amazing people and groups! We currently have a team of over 30 volunteers but it is growing daily. If you wish to be part of this team please email Katharine at katharine.beswick@parliament.uk for more information. We are requiring volunteers to have an Enhanced DBS check, don’t worry if you don’t have one as we can arrange one for you.

Cheshire East Council are looking for volunteers as well at this difficult time. If you are interested please visit: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_information/coronavirus/cheshire-east-people-helping-people.aspx

where you can sign up in order to help.

 

Laptops

I am in touch with local schools that would like to support families struggling with home IT access and we are looking for anyone that might have an old laptop they don’t use and would be willing to donate to a local family to their children can benefit more effectively from learning. They would ideally be no more than 3-5 years old. Reply to this email if you can help.

 

Certificate for Children Staying at Home

I am delighted to have been able to work with Cheshire Police and Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to produce this certificate for Crewe & Nantwich residents to give to children to thank them for staying home! These have been very well received in other parts of the country so hopefully this is something positive to do to put some smiles on their faces!

You can download to print out from here or collect one from one of the local supermarkets or shops listed on the webpage:

https://www.drkieranmullan.org.uk/certificate-children-staying-home

 

PPE

For access to PPE: All health and social care providers have been provided with details of how to access PPE via these routes, primary and social care providers can report lack of supplies 24/7 via the helpline on 0800 915 9964 or via email to supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

 

TESTING 

The Government are continuing to increase their COVID-19 testing capacity across the country. Getting COVID-19 tests to frontline staff and vulnerable remains a priority, however the Government have extended their COVID-19 tests beyond this group to

You can apply to get a test if you’re in one of the following groups:

  • all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (see the full list of essential workers)
  • people over 65 with symptoms
  • people with symptoms going to work who cannot work from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
  • anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above

Additionally, they are testing:

  • social care workers and residents in care homes, with or without symptoms, both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes (see the guidance for care home residents and workers in England)
  • NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance

This means anyone in one of these groups can find out whether they have the virus. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing. Tests can be arranged through your employer and Individuals can apply to be tested by following this link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test  

 

Support for businesses

Businesses have access to a wide range of programmes of support including the job retention scheme and grants and bounce bank business loans. Find out more about the help available for businesses here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme allows businesses to apply for between a £2,000 and £50,000 loan which is 100% Government backed. People that had trouble with the initial loan scheme are finding the bounce back loans much easier to access so I would encourage you to look at these.

The latest support for businesses from Government includes a new grant programme for those missed out on the current grant criteria who have been hit badly. Cheshire East now have to come up with a programme to make the money available. If this might apply to you let me know and I will keep you up to date on this programme. 

 

Businesses Supporting the COVID-19 Response

Crewe and Nantwich businesses have rallied together to support the national effort against the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s great to see local businesses such as Qualkem, a chemical manufacturer in Crewe convert their production lines to produce sanitiser spray for the NHS, dentists and the care sector. Bentley Motors have also been supporting the effort by 3D printing face masks and using their cars to help with deliveries to people. Mornflake have donated to local foodbanks. I know there are many other examples of business supporting the local community. If any businesses wish to support this country’s response to the coronavirus, I would encourage them to visit the following link: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business 

You will be required to fill out a short form on the Government website which will ask you questions regarding the type of support you can give. You will then be contacted as soon as possible if your support is needed.

 

Police Powers and Reporting Breaches

During these challenging times the police have been granted additional powers to ensure members of the public are following the Government's guidance and are respecting the lockdown measures that have been put in place. I would ask you all to understand how challenging it must be for the police to enforce these rules and ask for your patience and understanding if the police ask you to do something even if you might take a different interpretation of the rules. 

 

Lockdown Breach Reporting:

The social distancing and lockdown measures continue to be in place as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are aware of any significant breaches of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, such as an individual hosting a large social gathering, or if you feel there is a significant issue, I urge you to contact Cheshire police via their website: https://www.cheshire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/c19/tell-us-about-possible-breach-coronavirus-measures/  

 

Shielded People 

All those who fall into this shielding category should have already been contacted, if you are concerned about not being included on this list, I encourage you to contact your GP or hospital clinician.  

It is important, now more than ever as the lockdown regulations are set to be gradually relaxed, to be considerate and mindful of those in the extremely vulnerable people that must remain in isolation. I am sure that the fantastic community spirit will ensure that those still isolating will continue to be supported. 

 

Business Support: 0300 456 3565 Universal Credit: 0800 328 5644 Citizens Advice Bureau: 0344 411 1444]

 

Food and Shopping

If you require cooked meals & shopping and can't get support from friends & neighbours call, Wishing Well (01270 256 919), Hopes & Beams (01270 255 355), These services do have small charges to allow them to cover their costs.

 

Help For Carers

Cheshire East Carers Hub provide advice and support to carers on 0300 303 0208. 

 

If You Are in a Crisis

St Paul's Centre, Nantwich Foodbank & YMCA Crewe are providing support for people on low incomes, or homeless, and in crisis who would usually visit their services. These services do not have charges but eligibility criteria will apply.

St Paul's Centre (01270 586 186),
Nantwich Foodbank (07896 652209)
YMCA Crewe (01270 257 673).

 

FAQS

 

Can I get help with paying council tax if my income has reduced?

Yes, you can have a reduction in council tax and deferrals of payments if you are suffering financial hardship because of coronavirus. Please contact Cheshire East for further information as they are running the scheme.

My bank are not agreeing a mortgage holiday or a business interruption loan, what can I do?

Please contact my team as we can raise these cases with the Financial Conduct Authority. The government has provided funding to the banks to allow them to support you and they should be doing everything possible to help.

I work zero hours or part time, can my company use the job retention scheme to pay my wages?

Yes they can. The company can claim what you were paid this time last year or your average earnings for the last 12 months (or how every many months you have worked for them if less than 12). They can claim whichever is higher.

I have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks, can my company use the job retention scheme to pay my wages?

Yes they can. If they have not suggested it to you we recommend you contact them and discuss it with them.

If I was employed in February then made redundant, am I still eligible?

Yes, if you approach your employer urgently, they can restore your employment status and claim the funds.

I am a key worker, but my partner is not. Can our children still use the key worker school services?

Yes. However, keep in mind schools have been closed to keep children at home to reduce the spread of the virus and we would ask that if at all possible your partner stays home and provides childcare.

Can I drive to the place where I want to do my exercise?

The government recommends avoiding driving to exercise but the advice discouraging this has now been relaxed. But there remains a risk of people congregating in exercise spots which may require police to prevent individuals driving to these locations.

Can I leave the house to volunteer to help a vulnerable person, for example someone self isolating?

Yes, the government has made clear that individuals are allowed to leave their homes to support others through volunteering for example to help a neighbour or as part of the NHS volunteer or Cheshire East volunteer schemes.

My children also live with another parent in a different house, can they move between houses?

Yes, children that would ordinarily move between homes can continue to do so. However, keep in mind the less we all move around, the less the virus will spread and the more lives will be saved so avoid this where possible.

My children’s nursery are still charging me even though my children aren’t there. Is that allowed?

Their contract may well allow the nursery to still charge. We are asking nurseries to review this in light of the financial support being given by government. We can raise with specific nurseries on your behalf if you contact us.

I am not a key worker and at my job we can’t keep 2 metres away but we are still working. Is this allowed?

Yes, at this present time it may be. Employers must to whatever they can do let people work from home. Where this isn’t possible they should try to enable people to work whilst maintaining social distance. If this is not happening, we can contact your employer to reiterate their obligations. It is not currently a requirement if it is impossible to do.

I am living with someone in the high risk group staying home for 12 weeks. Should I still go to work?

The current rules do not require everyone in a household to remain at home if one person is in the high risk group.They should have received written advice on how you and they can reduce their risk while living together.