24 hours in an MPs office during COVID19

The Coronavirus crisis has raised a huge number of issues for different constituents of mine and I am beyond grateful at how hard my staff are working to support Chesterfield people during this crisis. I am spending a great deal of time learning about the impact of this crisis, not just on my constituents but on the key services that we rely on.

In the last couple of days, I have had discussions with, and briefings from :

  • The Leader and Officers of Derbyshire County Council- where we discussed the local resilience plan, care services, care home closures, availability of PPE in Derbyshire
  • Police and Crime Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable for Derbyshire- where we discussed Police staff attendance/ absenteeism, crime levels, specific concerns around car crime in Chesterfield, domestic violence and plans to support retrospectively DV reports, fixed penalty notices (57) and dispersals (174), racial and gender profiling of fixed penalty notices.
  • Chief Executive of Chesterfield Royal Hospital- discussed COVID patient numbers (48, 7 in ICU), deaths (55), recoveries (106) staff absenteeism and attendance, testing, PPE, partnership working across health community in Derbyshire.
  • Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council- discussed possibility of Council Tax extensions and deferrals, local business support and grant payments, new claims for Small Business Rate Relief, impact of non-payment of Council Tax on financial position of Council, patient involvement in national COVID-19 research project.

I’ve also spoken with Managers of three local care homes, constituents who work for key local institutions, local employers struggling to keep going, and taken on responsibility for Apprenticeship and Further Education policy as the new Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong Learning.

I thought it might be of interest to see the kind of work that we are doing on behalf of Chesterfield constituents. This is a list of the letters that I sent out yesterday. My staff will have done much of the work on many of these, but I read and amend all letters sent out on my behalf.

  1. Letter to the Chancellor for clarification on whether those who were employed but not registered with HMRC before the 19th March cut off but not for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme HMRC will be eligible for the scheme.
  2. Letter to the Foreign Secretary to clarify the latest Government position of essential travel abroad on behalf of bereaved constituent.
  3. Letter to an employer as my constituent was only being paid their usual wage and not for the long-term relief work, they had been doing with the same employer.
  4. Letter to the Transport Secretary to raise the issue of HGV and Bus driver that require a medical to renew their licence that they are currently not able to access due to Coronavirus restrictions, which prevents them being able to work.
  5. Letter to a constituent with a response from the Environment Agency regarding flood damage to a wall near their home.
  6. Letter to the Transport Secretary to raise the issue of delays to driving licence renewals and to clarify if there are amended rules on driving while waiting for a licence to be renewed.
  7. Letter to the Home Secretary as a constituent’s wife is not able to return to UK due to travel restrictions and this will impact on immigration status.
  8. Signposted a constituent who was struggling with mental health issues due to the lockdown to local support services.
  9. Contacted Virgin Media on behalf of several constituents after non-essential works started on their street that was disrupting them.
  10. Contacted the Association of British Insurers to ascertain if the British insurance industry has any plans to help drivers by following other countries and reducing car insurance premiums during the lockdown period.
  11. Written to the Chancellor and to the banks used by different Constituent businesses as several local businesses are struggling to access Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
  12. Contacted three specific local employers to urge them to registered non-essential workers as furloughed and to determine what steps are being taken to ensure that staff who carry on working are adhering to safety measures.
  13. Written to Chesterfield Borough Council and the Chancellor to ascertain eligibility of local small businesses to Small Business grants that appear to be missed by the scheme, and suggest alternative approach.
  14. Letter to a constituent with B&Q’s response after they had raised issues around whether they should still be open and what social distancing measures they take.
  15. Letter to the Chancellor regarding measures to support the travel industry.
  16. Letter to the Chancellor regarding measures to support road haulage companies, that explains the specific difficulties this local firm was facing.
  17. Letters to many constituents to explain the increase to the office budget of £10,000 and to explain that why I probably won’t need to spend it.
  18. Letter to the Home Secretary raising the issue of families who are struggling due to the current lockdown measures and have no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status.
  19. Letter to the Foreign Secretary raising the issue of China saying they have released Uyghur Muslims, and other persecuted people, from camps but there being no evidence of it happening.
  20. Letter to a constituent with response from housebuilder after I raised issues with the water supply at the new build property.
  21. Letter to Buxton Test Centre regarding a refund of fees due to a cancelled driving test.
  22. Letter to a Consultant at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital as a constituent was not able to receive a letter confirming saying they should self-isolate for 12 weeks due to incomplete medical records.
  23. Letter to Chesterfield Borough Council to raise the issue that a constituent is delayed from leaving a care home due to delays in works on council property due to coronavirus restrictions.
  24. Letter to a constituent with Social Services response after they questioned the basis on which their child was being taken into care.
  25. Letter to a retailer asking what guidance has been given to their stores after a constituent raised concerns about the lack of social distancing at a local store.
  26. Letter to Chesterfield Bough Council after a constituent raised concerns about the amount of household waste in their neighbour’s garden fearing that it would lead to a Rat infestation.
  27. Letter to the Home Secretary to ask if the Government are going to secure the immigration status of the spouses of those working in the NHS with Tier 2 visas in event of medical staff dying during Coronavirus outbreak.
  28. Letter to the Minister for the Civil Service (Prime Minister) regarding a complaint a constituent raised about the recruitment process of the Civil Service.

We remain here to help anyone who needs us, and whilst there are clearly many letters going to Government Ministers now, these are designed to help the Government to identify many different facets of this complicated crisis and assist them to plug gaps that leave constituents and their businesses exposed.

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