Coronavirus update - 17th March

Right now, people in our community are struggling. From pensioners who have been told to self-isolate to small business owners who are facing the prospect of closing up shop.


Covid-19 has had an impact on every aspect of our lives.


We are not only fearful about the health of our loved ones but also whether our friends and families will be able to put food on the table during this crisis.


The seriousness of this outbreak cannot be played down. It demands a response that understands the devastating effect Coronavirus has already had on households and businesses from our community.

From the outbreak of this virus in Wuhan, China, I have been holding this Government to account on its plans to control the transmission and impact of Covid-19. This includes, pushing for more funding into NHS frontline services and care provision, querying the readiness of local authorities across the UK to respond to an outbreak and questioning the adequacy of screening measures in UK airports and international rail and ferry terminals. Please click this link to see what other questions I have asked in Parliament:


I will continue to hold our Government to account on their management of this crisis.


Self-employed and freelance workers, support staff who are unable to work from home, small businesses owners and those on zero-hours contracts need to know that there is a support system in place that will help them get through the next week, let alone the coming few months.


Those working in retail, hospitality and construction are facing huge uncertainty about whether they will have a job tomorrow.


We need a temporary universal basic income to help people whose jobs and incomes are at risk get through this outbreak. I have already signed an early day motion to support this measure, which could make a huge difference to the lives of people who are unsure of whether they will have a paycheck next month.


The Government have announced that they will make £330billion available in lending to keep firms in business as well as extending the business interruption loan scheme, offering loans of up to £5million. I welcome these commitments and will find out the details of these loans and pass them onto local businesses as quickly as I can.


More needs to be done to support small and medium sized firms who are under pressure right now. The proposed Government actions, including grant worth £10,000 to the smallest firms, are an important start to helping the businesses that are the backbone of our local economy.


I know how hopeless this situation sounds but please know that everyone, from the NHS frontline workers to the local council are doing their best to limit the impact and spread of Covid-19.


Out of all of this fear and anxiety we have seen a huge outpouring of kindness from our neighbours. Facebook groups have been set up to help the elderly and vulnerable in our community, from collecting shopping to simply checking in. It makes me very proud to live in Barnsley.


I have been in close contact with Public Health England and Barnsley Council and will continue to monitor this situation closely.


My staff and I are working around the clock to make sure our community has the resources and systems in place to respond to this outbreak.


I will keep updating my website, Facebook and Twitter pages with advice and information from the Government, national and local organisations and charities. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office on 01226743483 if you have any questions or queries that I can help you with.