Weekly Update – 4th September 2020
We are still in the middle of a pandemic. The Conservatives have now decided to put profit before people and are pretending that this is no longer the case, which makes it even more important that we continue to follow public health advice to stop the virus from spreading. Cases in the UK are on the rise and it’s clear that in some arears the R number is above one.
I continue to receive regular briefs from our local NHS trust, Enfield Council and others. While there has been a total of 1,359 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Enfield, current testing shows a low rate of infection circulating in the general population in Enfield, with deaths having been gratefully reduced. The current rate of new cases per 100,000 population in Enfield is 12. This is well below the 20 per 100,000 which can result in a local lockdown. To keep this rate down it is vital that we continue to wash our hands regularly, social distance and wear a mask when possible.
As you will know, school in Edmonton resumed this week. For some pupils, this is the first time back in school for six months. I know this will therefore be an anxious time for many parents, pupils and teachers. Fortunately, there is now clear evidence that schools reopening does not increase the rate of infection as long as measures are taken to mitigate the risk of infection.
I’ve heard first-hand from schools in Edmonton about all of the measures they are taking to keep everybody safe and I’m confident that while this will be a challenging period, it will also be a safe one. However, if any parents do have concerns about their children returning to school or do not believe that their school is doing enough to implement the relevant measures then I would urge you to contact my office.
Solidarity with British Gas workers
This week I wrote to the CEO of British Gas, Chris O’Shea to raise my concerns about his reckless decision to fire 5,000 staff and threaten the rest of his staff with being fired and then rehired on worse terms and pay.
While I appreciate that our economy is currently in recession, it is important that companies like British Gas work with unions and workers to reduce job losses. Sadly, British Gas has decided that this pandemic is an opportunity to increase their profits by decreasing the pay and benefits of their workers.
It’s therefore unsurprising that 95% of GMB Union members voted in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot involving over 10,000 workers. Many of my constituents work for British Gas and have written to me in support of this action and I stand in solidarity with them. My hope now is that British Gas sees sense and works with GMB Union to find a solution.
Latest figures released from the Home Office have shown just how much the Windrush Compensation Scheme is failing victims. Although the Home Office refuses to publicly say how many cases have now been ‘closed’, the information available does show that average payments to victims so far is under £7,000 per person. While this includes interim payments, this is still a small figure considering the fact that for many people compensation will cover being deported and detained in addition to losing their homes, jobs and more. Unfortunately, the scheme doesn’t allow for any independent appeal process, only a ‘review’ process by which the Home Office isn’t bound. I will continue pressing the Home Office to be more transparent about the scheme. It’s vital that we keep fighting for justice until everybody impacted has been suitability compensated.
Several weeks ago, I contacted every secondary school in Edmonton asking them to pledge to take action in response to the Black Lives Matter movement which spread around the world. Schools have an important role to play in tackling racism and being actively anti-racist. We are miles away from where we need to be when it comes to the curriculum, the way in which we teach and tackling the systemic inequalities in our education system. The Government has a key role to play but individual schools also need to take some responsibility. I’m pleased to say that over the summer many schools responded positively, and I have now updated the Charter to include the pledges they have made. This is an issue that I will continue to fight on. We have a long way to go but I think that progress is now being made.
Thank you for taking the time to read my latest update, if you have any issues that you would like to raise directly with me then please do email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help whenever possible.
Kate Osamor MP