Nadia Whittome slams government handling of coronavirus

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Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome spoke in Parliament on October 13, calling for better support for Nottingham residents affected by the further local lockdown measures. The speech was part of a debate on Covid-19 which was linked to votes on various Covid-19 Regulations.

Ms Whittome, the youngest MP in Parliament, described the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in Nottingham as “completely avoidable.” She criticised the government for “confusion and delay” in responding to the rapidly increasing infection rate in the city, and for failing to speak to MPs and councillors before information about planned lockdown measures was briefed to the press.

She also called for a “serious economic package to protect jobs and businesses,” an increase in Statutory Sick Pay and an extension on the evictions ban which ended last month.

The Prime Minister announced the tiered approach to lockdown on Monday October 12, with a statement in Parliament followed by a national statement in the early evening. Nottingham is placed in the restriction bracket ‘Tier 2 – High’.

Earlier in the year, Ms Whittome returned to her previous job as a careworker to support colleagues at a retirement village complex. She has challenged the Government on their lack of PPE and the failings of the track and trace system.

The full wording of her speech is copied below:

              A week ago first time Nottingham showed a dramatic increase in COVID-19 infection rate. We needed immediate action from the Government but instead all we got was confusion and delay. We were left the dark for a week with no action, no communication, and no support. In this time the infection rate doubled to be the highest in the country.

The saddest thing about this is that it was avoidable. The government has failed us time and time again during this crisis. It failed to protect elderly and vulnerable people who have died at an alarming rate in care homes and nursing homes. It failed to implement a test and trace system, and it failed to listen to the OECD’s advice that to protect the economy we must avoid a second wave, and told people one minute to go out to pubs, to eat out to help out, and then blamed them for doing so the next.

We saw that this government prioritised the interests of the economy over saving lives and yet failed at both, and we’re now faced with the worst recession in the developed world.

Last week MPs and councillors were left to find out in the press that we were due to go under a local lockdown, without any details of what that would look like for residents and businesses.

People in Nottingham have made enormous sacrifices during this pandemic but frankly people are fed up. People want the government to do its part: that means a serious economic package to protect jobs and businesses, to fix the privatised Serco test and trace system, and we need to extend the evictions bad so that no one loses their home during this crisis.

For lockdowns to work, people must be able to afford to self-isolate. So why is it that, eight months into this crisis, Statutory Sick Pay is still £95 a week? The Health Secretary himself admits he couldn’t live on that so why is it that my constituents are expected to?

And my final question to the Minister is why is it that he hasn’t even followed the government’s own scientific advice which was to ban household mixing, to close pubs and to bring all university teaching online?

Watch the speech here.