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[26/06/2020 | No comment]

Earlier this week I took part in an event set up by Leicester City Council as a part of their anti-poverty strategy to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on those experiencing poverty in the city. Other attendees included members of Feeding Leicester, a group I chair.

It was fascinating to hear the ideas shared by other attendees, as well as what they think has gone well during lockdown, and what can be learnt from.

I will continue to support the fantastic work done by Leicester City Council and the Feeding Leicester Group to support those in hunger.

[22/06/2020 | No comment]

Last week I met with the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) and several of their members to discuss the support they and the wider East Midlands economy need. It was fascinating to hear the first-hand accounts of how individual businesses have been affected by the crisis and what they feel needs to be done.

I will continue to do everything I can to push the government to ensure the voices of small businesses are heard during these difficult times.

[18/06/2020 | No comment]

This week is Shared Lives Week, an opportunity to celebrate the amazing Shared Lives carers and the lives of the people they support.

Shared Lives carers open their homes and family life to support people with mental ill health, dementia, learning disabilities and people discharged from hospital. It’s a personal way of caring for each other, in an ordinary local home, but also a formal social care service, aiming to build kinder, stronger communities.

It was an absolute pleasure to join Shared Lives carers and the people they care for today and to hear their stories. They have each overcome huge challenges and what they are doing is amazing. In fact, this was by far the most uplifting meeting I’ve had since the crisis started!

We desperately need longer term reform for social care, and Shared Lives must be at the heart of any new settlement as we emerge from this crisis and seek to build a better future. You can find out more about Shared Lives here.

[18/06/2020 | No comment]

I’ve written to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, urging him to put in place a recovery plan for social care, which is integral to the overall recovery strategy for our country, alongside the longer-term reforms social care desperately needs.

These are some of the areas where I believe greater focus is needed:

    1. Testing: one-off testing of care workers isn’t good enough. We need weekly testing of care home AND home care staff, and antibody tests for care workers, not just those in the NHS. Families must also be tested and get proper PPE so they can start visiting their loved ones again.
    2. Workforce: for too long social care staff have been undervalued and underpaid. This must change. We need a comprehensive plan to improve pay, T&Cs, and improve recruitment and retention. Staff also need proper mental health support to deal with trauma and stress they’ve experienced.
    3. Families: most existing unpaid family carers have been caring an extra 10hrs a week during the virus, and 4.5m more people have taken on caring responsibilities since the pandemic began. Action must be taken to transform support for family carers, now and in the longer term.
    4. Resources: social care was stretched to the limit even before COVID-19. Extra costs (including PPE and staffing) will continue for months to come. The Chancellor should announce extra resources in his July statement and the Government should produce a plan for long-term reform by the end of year as the Prime Minister promised.

As the focus shifts to ending the lockdown, we must remember that COVID-19 isn’t over for social care. We need a sustainable plan for the remainder of the virus, alongside a long-term settlement for the future. You can read my full letter above, and more about this in the Independent here.

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