View from Westminster: ‘Open borders policy led to an even longer lockdown and economic losses’

News Desk (25 June, 2021)

'I hope you’ll be doing your bit to shop locally to help Southwark employers and employees'

44883Neil Coyle

In Southwark the NHS is straining every sinew to ensure we all get vaccinated as swiftly as possible but almost half the people in our borough have not yet had their first jab and only one in three of us have had the full vaccination, writes Neil Coyle…

We cannot be safe or move back to normality until everyone is vaccinated and it is crucial you do your bit to ensure friends and neighbours get their shots.

Anyone with reservations should talk to their GP and I know ASDA on the Old Kent Road has had free Pfizer vaccines available recently for anyone to take up.

The NHS is Labour’s proudest creation and its workforce have demonstrated just how crucial it is throughout this crisis, even when they have been let down on PPE or other issues by a health secretary that even the prime minister admits has been “hopeless”. But it isn’t just one hopeless minister, it is a whole calamitous cabinet. The home secretary and Johnson failed to take action on the borders to prevent the Indian ‘Delta’ variant taking hold in the UK. Because of ministers’ dithering, we now have over 42,000 confirmed cases of this variant. By comparison, the Netherlands has seen under 20 cases.

The Netherlands is also outperforming the UK government when it comes to supporting young people to recover from Covid. Schools have been so badly affected but their staff have tried to ensure our children have the best quality education possible. The government appointed a ‘commissioner’ to provide a recovery plan for schools and students – but then offered just ten per cent of what he said was required, causing him to resign. In the Netherlands, their government is spending £2,500 on every single child to help make up for lost learning. Johnson’s pitiful alternative in the UK is fifty times less: just £50 per child.

In Southwark, schools also face a £1.2 million cut in Pupil Premium funding this year from Tory ministers.

The open borders under Johnson have meant an extension to the lockdown. But despite the extra weeks of restrictions, ministers are not providing sufficient help to businesses. Firms face paying back lockdown business loans from government despite businesses not being able to open yet. Also, the hospitality industry is amazing in Southwark but nationally suggest the extension of restrictions will cost them another £3 billion

Recovery in London is crucial to the national recovery, but ministers are ignoring the need to rebuild swiftly in our capital city, instead even imposing conditions on funding for Transport for London not seen anywhere else in the country.

Thankfully, Labour-run Southwark Council is trying to help local businesses on our high streets. Last week they launched a £300,000 High Street Recovery Fund which is giving local people a say in how money should be spent to aid the recovery

More information is online here: www.southwark.gov.uk/business/support-for-high-streets and I hope you’ll be doing your bit to shop locally to help Southwark employers and employees!

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