Government to launch care home ‘action plan’ for winter
Boris Johnson has expressed concerns about Covid-19 infection rates in care homes, as he prepared to announce a “toughening up” of rules governing care home worker movement.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner challenged the Prime Minister to give the social care sector the funding it needs to “get through this looming winter crisis”.
Mr Johnson replied: “We are concerned about the rates of infection in care homes, clearly they’ve come down massively since we instituted the £600 million care home action plan.
“Tomorrow we will be announcing a further winter care home action plan and it won’t surprise her to know that we want to see a toughening up of the rules governing the movement of workers from one care home to another, we want to make sure we protect care homes from further infections.”
Angela Rayner kicks things off with testing
Angela Rayner has begun her first appearance at PMQs by bringing up the issue of testing.
Citing the Labour leader as an example, she spoke of people who were forced to self-isolate but can’t get tested: “Keir was able to do the right thing, self isolate and work from home, but others aren’t in this position,” she said.
Ms Rayner then reminded the PM that she was a care worker, asking him if he knows how much they earn per hour.
Mr Johnson replied that since Sir Keir received his negative test result now: “I don’t quite know why he isn’t here.”
Scotland’s ‘true’ death toll rises to 4,236
A total of 4,236 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).
A total of five deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between September 7 and 13, two in a care home and three in a hospital.
The statistics are published weekly and account for all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because they include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.
Tory MP James Daly began today’s questioning….
Conservative MP James Daly asked the PM if he will thank teachers for their efforts to get children back to school in a Covid-secure environment.
He also requested an update from the national tutoring programme – a scheme to help children catch up.
The PM replied that he would like to thank teachers for their efforts, and “believes passionately” in the tutoring scheme.
He said the first tutors will start work in November, with provision “ramped up” during the autumn and spring terms.
He is facing Angela Rayner, standing in for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who has been self-isolating at home:
And so it begins…
One-size-fits-all approach to jobs is failing – minister
Shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith called on ministers to accept that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to the jobs crisis is “simply not working”.
She told Welsh Secretary Simon Hart: “There is now barely a month to go before his Government’s job protection schemes end, leaving thousands of self-employed people and others at risk of unemployment. And it’s not just Labour saying that – businesses, trade unions and the Treasury Select Committee have all sounded the alarm.
“So will the Government accept that a one-size-fits-all approach to this jobs crisis is simply not working? Will he now come forward with some concrete proposals and a real plan to safeguard jobs for people right across Wales?”
Mr Hart responded: “A third of the workforce of Wales has been supported by the UK Government during the pandemic. It’s gone further and deeper than any other government pretty well in the world.
“VAT deferrals, mortgage holidays, rental support, increases to Universal Credit, the relaxation of minimum income, VAT reduction. This is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement, this is a whole package of measures which are designed to help as many people as possible stay in work and get back to work just as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Spotted: The PM heads to today’s session in the Commons
This will come as a major blow to the capital’s hospitality sector…
With the epidemic expected to hit the city with far greater force in coming weeks, Professor Kevin Fenton, London director of Public Health England, made clear that more restrictions may be imposed, including some possibly across the capital, to avoid a more stringent lockdown.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, he also issued an urgent appeal to Londoners, hailing them for their “phenomenal” efforts in crushing the first wave and urging them to “do it again” now.
More from BA’s chief executive:
On the issue of coronavirus testing at airports as a way of reducing quarantine requirements, Alex Cruz said: “It is incredibly important that we reach a testing regime of some sort as quickly as possible, so that we can reduce that quarantine time to the minimum possible.
“We are making a suggestion that we actually run a test between London and New York, so we can give authorities on both sides of the Atlantic an opportunity to test different ways in which a particular testing regime would actually work.
“This is imperative, so that we can drive the confidence of travellers so we can get business going again.”
He went on: “We’re sitting here, we’re ready to go.
“We need some testing regime that will minimise the quarantine process so again we can get people travelling.
“With the current quarantine process of two weeks, unfortunately we are not having sufficient travellers wanting to do either business or wanting to go on holiday.”
The airline is suffering the ‘worst crisis’ in its history:
Spotted: Health Secretary Matt Hancock outside Number 10 ahead of today’s session in the Commons
Russia is to supply India with 100 million doses of its Sputnik-V vaccine against Covid-19 once it receives regulatory approval in the country.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said it had agreed to cooperate on clinical trials and the distribution of the vaccine with the India’s Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.
Here’s a round-up of this morning’s media round with Robert Buckland:
One of the UK’s biggest package holiday operators has agreed to pay out all refunds to customers who saw their trips cancelled due to coronavirus.
Tui vowed to make the payments by the end of the month – after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed it had received thousands of complaints from passengers claiming travel firms were withholding their cash.
The competition watchdog pointed out that consumer protection law requires refunds within 14 days. Lockdown in the UK was first announced in March.
Companies have struggled to return cash to customers, with many spending the money to cover overheads and pay down loans in a debt-heavy sector.
The CMA said Tui’s UK division has engaged constructively throughout the investigation.
It added: “While the vast majority of people have already received their refunds or rebooked during the CMA’s investigation, any outstanding refund requests for people who had their package holiday cancelled as a result of coronavirus (Covid-19) will be paid by 30 September 2020.”
During the height of the pandemic, the CMA revealed four out of five complaints it received related to cancelled holidays and trips – with many complaining that travel firms were automatically offering vouchers instead of cash.
It said on the Tui decision: “It is important they (customers) know they are entitled to a cash refund as an alternative.”
Its commitments apply to all of Tui UK’s different businesses that offer package holidays, including First Choice, First Choice Holidays, Marella Cruises, Crystal Ski, Crystal, Tui Scene, Tui Lakes & Mountains and Skytours, the CMA added.
A glimmer of hope for jobseekers here:
A man who applied for more than 200 jobs has secured a new role after finding a creative way to stand out from the crowd.
Richard Stevens, 54, from Hertfordshire, was made redundant last year after three decades working in the medical devices sector.
After weeks of fruitless job hunting, he wanted to encourage interviewers to look beyond the qualifications on his CV.
Testing crisis could shut schools, heads warn
Boris Johnson must “take charge” of delays in obtaining Covid-19 tests to ensure schools remain open, organisations representing headteachers and governors have said.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), school leaders’ union NAHT and the National Governance Association have written to the Prime Minister to express concern about difficulties with the testing system.
The letter warns of a “deep sense of foreboding about the potential for the system to become ever-more riddled with delays as more cases emerge”.
“This would be increasingly disruptive to children’s education and make staffing unsustainable,” it adds.
ASCL said it has received 264 emails on the test and trace system from schools and colleges which said they had symptomatic staff and/or pupils who were struggling to access tests.
The letter says: “Schools are left in a position of either leaving close contacts of the infected person in school while they wait for guidance, or making a public health call themselves and deciding on who to send home.”
It adds: “Our purpose in writing is to implore you to personally take charge of this situation in the interests of keeping our schools and colleges open, and protecting pupils and staff.”
Testing is logistical nightmare, Lab worker suggests
Dr Mike Skinner, who volunteered to work in a Lighthouse Laboratory dealing with Covid-19 tests, said half the work was involved in sorting the logistics of handling the samples.
The reader in virology at Imperial College London told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In the lab, when the testing was upscaled back in March, you really had to get all kinds of sample kits from lots of different producers, there were lots of difficulties in that.
“We had to put half of our staff into handling issues with barcoding, leaks – we actually had to remove the swabs from the tubes so they didn’t gum-up some of the robots down the line.”
He added: “It really is very much about logistics.”