Updated: Sep 25
CHANCELLOR'S STATEMENT TODAY ON INCOME SUPPORT
I was pleased that the measures announced by the Chancellor today include extending employment support to help employers to keep workers in their jobs, giving businesses and taxpayers more time to pay their taxes without penalties, and extended the reduction of VAT to 5% for the hospitality and tourism sectors until March 2021.
However I was dismayed to see that the new Job Support Scheme outlined by the Chancellor does nothing for the people left out of previous schemes through no fault of their own - especially self-employed workers. We have known since April that three million people fell through the cracks of the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. It is unfathomable that they are still excluded from financial support measures, and I will keep fighting to rectify this.
EXTENSION TO BAN ON EVICTIONS
Last week I sent a Written Question to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government asking them to clarify whether tenants under threat of eviction who are not covered by the Government's previously-mandated six-month notice period would receive support. Tens of thousands of households were at risk of getting eviction notices this autumn due to a short window between protection schemes. Today Housing Minister Chris Pincher replied to my question and announced a "Christmas Truce" whereby bailiffs will not be able to complete evictions between 11 December 2020 and 11 January 2021. Here is the Evening Standard's take on this news: https://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/renting/christmas-truce-eviction-ban-dates-a140346.html
TEST AND TRACE APP LIVE TODAY
The long-awaited NHS Test and Trace App is now available to download onto your phone at the Apple AppStore or on Google Play. The app will notify you if you have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for the virus, which will assist efforts to contain the virus wherever it breaks out.
Pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses will also have a QR code for you to scan using the app when you arrive. This allows the establishment to keep track of who came in without having to ask you to fill out a paper form. Using the app this way will make it easy for contact tracers to reach you if someone else who was in that store later tests positive for Covid-19. If you are unfamiliar with QR codes you can see a video explaining them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZXCt1Ud_zE&feature=emb_title
HEATHROW TO READING RAIL LINK PUT ON HOLD
This year was supposed to see a planning application for a long-anticipated scheme that would allow people living to the west of Heathrow to travel directly to the airport. The proposed link would have been funded by the airport and its airlines, but due to Covid-related business losses this funding is no longer available. The Department of Transport supported the project, but it remains to be seen whether they will make up the funding shortfall by selecting this proposal as one of their "shovel ready" infrastructure projects.
HOME-START RICHMOND AND KINGSTON
On Friday I met with the team at Home-Start RKH, (Richmond, Kingston, Hounslow,) a local community network of trained volunteers and expert support officers helping families with young children through their most challenging times.
They spoke about the challenges they faced during lockdown as their main activity (home-visiting and family support) had to be abandoned. They therefore had to develop on-line and virtual techniques to support families including delivering activity packs, which were especially welcome during this time of high anxiety and pressure.
The Home-Start team also introduced their latest fundraising initiative “Start Breaking the Silence” to raise both money and awareness of the pressures and challenges felt by many families with children under the age of 5 under lockdown. They have launched a fundraising initiative called the Big Give where sponsors will match funds raised by the charity during their August pledge week and fundraising activities taking place in the first week of December. You can find out more about Home-Start here: https://www.home-start.org.uk/
CALL FOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS IN DUKES MEADOW
I wrote to the Leader of Hounslow Council today, alerting him to safety risks to my Barnes constituents who now have to travel on foot or by bicycle through Dukes Meadow to get to school and work, because of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. I am especially concerned about the many school children who will be travelling through there after dark as the days shorten.
You can read my letter by clicking on it.
JOIN MY VIRTUAL COFFEE MORNING ON WEDNESDAY
I will be hosting my second bi-weekly virtual coffee morning next Wednesday, September 30 at 10am. There are a few spaces left for anyone who wants to chat about local and national issues with your neighbours and your MP. Sign up here: www.saraholneymp.org.uk/events
FACEBOOK OFFERING SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS IN LONDON
Facebook has been in touch to let me know that they are offering almost £5m in cash grants and ad credits to hundreds of small businesses in London to help them rebuild, re-engineer and recover operations. Businesses can go to www.facebook.com/grantsforbusiness to see whether they're eligible and for more details about the program.
Facebook has also teamed up with Be the Business, the government-backed productivity movement, to help small businesses across the UK rebuild and recover. The campaign aims to directly engage 250,000 businesses across the UK and offer regional training events, tailored recovery content and peer to peer and technical community support via curated Facebook groups.
HOMELESS CHARITY SPEAR IN NEED OF TEMPORARY STORAGE SPACE
SPEAR has been supporting Richmond borough citizens experiencing homelessness for over 30 years. As well as running Outreach and Accommodation services, SPEAR has teams that help address and heal damage caused by life on the street.
One of their most successful initiatives is the Clothing Project, run by two volunteers with a background in styling. They use donated clothing to help rebuild self-esteem, providing group pop-ups, hostel visits and one to one advice. Sadly, this Project has had to be put on hold because their stock room has had to be repurposed due to Covid-19. SPEAR can’t take clothing donations now because they don't have anywhere to put them. They are asking if anyone could donate the use of a spare room or garage. This does not have to be a long-term commitment. If you can help please e-mail Supporters@spearlondon.org
SKY LARKS CHARITY RAFFLING OFF BESPOKE COMIC ILLUSTRATION
Local charity Sky Larks have launched a fundraiser where you can win a special illustration of yourself or someone else as a superhero.. The artwork will be created for you by the talented Prentis Rollins who has drawn iconic DC and Marvel comics including Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and the New X-Men. Find out more.
COUNCIL LEADER'S MESSAGE TO KINGSTON RESIDENTS
Councillor Caroline Kerr, the leader of Kingston Council, has sent a video message to Kingston residents about the new Covid-19 measures. See what she has to say here:
KINGSTON KOREA FESTIVAL
Kingston Korea Festival 2020, starting off with the annual Harvest Fest, will be taking place online this Saturday, 26 September, from 12 - 2.30pm. Videos and illustrations will be presented live on Facebook, including Korean Songpyeon (rice cake) making, a traditional Korean performance, a KPop live workshop, and a fashion show of Hanbok, Korean traditional dress. Click here to enjoy this year's festival: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCor6nXPHMK6clXxeN_SpOlw