The Liberal Democrat Coronavirus Update

May 11, 2020 7:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Govt must act to stop mass redundancies in critical moment for our economy

The furlough scheme is protecting 1 in 5 workers from redundancy.

But this protection is under threat. The Chancellor said last week he wants to "wind down the scheme" while another senior Conservative has insultingly suggested that people are "too willing to stay at home".

This is wrong. Ending the scheme too early would be a disaster for millions of families and our economy.

That is why - working with businesses - Liberal Democrats have created a new plan to protect employees, their families and the businesses they work for.

Our plan will keep some furlough payments as lockdown is eased so businesses can recover. The shadow of the lockdown will be long, and the 'new normal' will be challenging for businesses.

Our scheme will help businesses to rebuild, stop job losses and stop unnecessary damage to our communities.

Back our campaign to protect furloughed workers.

The tragic consequences of Government's failure to protect care workers are indisputable

Responding to the statistics published this morning by the ONS, showing that those working in social care 'had significantly raised rates of death involving COVID-19', Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

"Throughout the coronavirus crisis, those working in social care have been continuing to work on the frontline, putting themselves in harm's way to look after our loved ones.

The figures released this morning showing a raised rate of death for care workers are heartbreaking and highlight what they are all risking as they continue to care for the most vulnerable during this pandemic."

The scarcity of protective equipment and testing means many care workers have been forced to compromise their safety whilst working.

Despite repeated questioning, Ministers are still struggling to answer basic questions regarding how they will ensure a consistent supply of PPE to care workers. It's clear that social care has been an afterthought in the Government's pandemic planning.

The Government must ensure frontline care workers get the testing and protection they need immediately - it's the very least they can do when staff are putting their lives on the line to care for our loved ones.

New messaging risks creating more confusion than clarity

Responding to the Prime Minister's COVID-19 update on Sunday evening, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"People across the UK have made enormous personal sacrifices to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect others and protect our NHS and care services.

Millions of people have put their lives on hold, are in isolation and face losing their livelihoods.

So I don't understand why the Government has changed its messaging at this critical stage. It risks what people have fought so hard for.

The Prime Minister has not provided the country with any evidence or justification for this change. Instead, he risks creating more confusion than clarity by badly communicating his Government's plans."

We must put people's health first. It is crystal clear that the only way to begin to ease out of the current lockdown is to radically expand capacity to test, trace and isolate.

The Government have a long way to go to achieve such a system, yet the Prime Minister did not address this in any detail. An app alone will not suffice and the Prime Minister's road-map must lay out the route to this above all else.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to support strategies informed by scientific understanding to stem COVID-19.

The Prime Minister must come forward with greater transparency about the science behind these key decisions and a far better clarity in communicating what people need to do to play their part.

Government urged to give frontline workers right to stay on Europe Day

To mark Europe Day, we renewed calls on the Government to honour the contribution of foreign nationals working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis by granting them and their families indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Our proposals represent a significant step beyond the Government's current offer.

Our campaign has secured support from across the political spectrum, including Labour, Conservative, SNP, Green, Alliance and the Liberal Democrats.

Europe Day is held on 9 May every year to celebrate peace and unity across Europe. The EU marked the day this year by paying tribute to the many Europeans who are helping to defeat the coronavirus crisis.

Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

"Europe Day is a reminder of the value of international cooperation. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our European neighbours has never been more important.

During this coronavirus crisis the contribution of migrants, including those from the EU, has been immense and crucial.

We cannot thank the people on the frontline enough for going above and beyond to look after us all. None of these people should face being kicked out of the UK by the Home Office after the service they have provided.

Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the government to grant these heroes automatic indefinite leave to remain."

Government must give key workers adequate protection from coronavirus

Last week the ONS published statistics showing that one in three key workers are worried about health and safety at work.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, key workers have been continuing to work to keep vital services up and down the country running.

From working in our supermarkets, or transport networks, to ensuring care is there, be it for our children or our loved ones, thousands of individuals are turning up to work every day and we are indebted to them.

Unfortunately, due to the scarcity of protective equipment and testing, many have had to take more risks than they should.

With one in three workers worried about health and safety at work, it shows just how widespread the crisis in PPE and testing is.

In response to the news, our Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

"The Government must get frontline workers the testing and protection they need urgently.

If they expect these individuals to continue to work to keep our country going during the pandemic, the least they can do is ensure they are given as much protection from the virus as possible."