I’m so sorry we’re back in lockdown for a month. I know this is really hard on people for a lot of reasons. I worked really hard with Keir Starmer and other colleagues for months to try and avoid us getting to this point.
My frustration is simple: if government had spent the summer planning for a second then we could have managed things so much better. Instead they did things like telling us to ‘show some guts’ and do things that were Covid-risky. This laid the foundation for a second wave and left government totally unprepared.
I was warning about a second wave way back in June and July. The reason was simple, because every pandemic we have records for has a larger second wave than first. Over summer, government should have been learning the lessons of the first lockdown and setting plans in place for an autumn spike in cases based on that learning. They could have also involved the public in this preparation so we all knew and understood what would happen and what was expected of us should cases rise again. But they didn’t.
So when I heard ministers yesterday saying that ‘we couldn’t get everything right because we were taken by surprise by this spike and had to rush into lockdown’ I was furious. They don’t hide the fact that they weren’t prepared for the obvious.
I am pleased that government have announced an extension of furlough – but they did it a few days after so many people had been laid off work after months of saying that furlough would end in all circumstances.
And as always, people who are self-employed have been treated as second class citizens. I’ve fought hard to get a support package for people who are self employed to get a similar package of support to to people who are in full time employment, but Rishi Sunak refused time and time again.
I’m relieved that government have finally announced an increased package for the self employed but inexplicably they haven’t updated the eligibility criteria meaning that people who have recently registered don’t qualify. Businesses applying for furlough qualify if they met the threshold as late as last week, but not for the self-employed. This is despite there being five times more fraud in furlough than the self-employed scheme.
As you can see from the video, I put these issues to a treasury minister. If you’re self employed I’m trying my best for you and I won’t relent.
There are loads of other areas that would be different if government had only prepared for this very predictable moment. Something that I personally feel strongly about is health and exercise. In the last lockdown I was out in parks trying hard to stay healthy. But things are different to dark at 4pm so people can’t do much after work, it’s much wetter and colder too. If only government had allowed local authorities to assess local leisure centres and gums, they could have allowed those to stay open that can limit the number of people, enforce social distancing, close changing room and even book slots. We know for fact that exercise and good health is a factor that helps people who get COVID and it’s also essential to our wellbeing. I admit that this is personal for me because for a long time now being able to exercise at the gym has been really important to how I deal with stress and keep balance in my life. I really, really find it difficult living without it.
Each of us will have different challenges and struggles in the days and weeks ahead. Please don’t forget that I’m here for you as a community and for you personally. If I can help with anything then I’ll do everything I can to make a difference. Please email me on Peter.Kyle.MP@parliament.uk if you want to be in touch or let me know anything or ask for help.
I’ll still be going to parliament as much as possible. It’s very different there, weird in fact. I’ll be taking things a day at a time and seeing how I can balance the need to limit contact with people but still ensure you have the strongest possible voice in parliament in these difficult time. I truly wish you the best.