Since mid-October, the government has placed Sheffield under Tier 2 restrictions, then Tier 3 and then into a last-minute national lockdown. The constant chopping and changing of plans has led to confusion and anxiety as individuals and organisations were given new guidelines to follow on an almost weekly basis.
This chaotic situation affected morale, made it impossible for businesses to plan from one week to the next, and failed to bring down infections. Labour’s call for an earlier circuit breaker would not only have slowed the rate of transmission but would have minimised the impact on the economy and prevented the loss of many jobs.
Having belatedly implemented a national lockdown, the government must now bear down on the virus and set out concrete plans for what happens once the national restrictions are lifted.
Along with other MPs, leaders of councils, and mayors in Yorkshire and the Humber, I have called on the Chancellor to introduce:
- Localised test, trace, and isolate run by the people who know their areas the best
- Fix the gaps in support for the self-employed and continue the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor
- Convert the Universal Credit loan into a grant, end the five week wait, and scrap the benefit cap, the two-child limit and the savings limit
- Renew the evictions and repossessions bans, reduce the waiting time for Support for Mortgage Interest and increase Local Housing Allowance to average rents
- Restart the “Everybody In” scheme to look after rough sleepers ahead of the winter.
- Suspend sanctioning benefit claimants
- Continued support in place for areas that need to remain under restrictions.
The people of Sheffield need to know that their government has a strategy to see them through this crisis, protect businesses and save jobs. We cannot afford for any more time to be wasted or plans to be made and scrapped.