6 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Welsh Government must extend shielding support to avoid cliff edge
  • Liberal Democrats: Ministers are playing fast and loose with safety of NHS staff
  • Liberal Democrats: Jenrick’s planning reform won’t solve housing crisis

Welsh Government must extend shielding support to avoid cliff edge

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent extension to the support for those currently shielding, warning people could become “cut off” when the support ends next Sunday.

Under Welsh Government plans, the support currently available to those shielding, including foodboxes, will end next Sunday when shielding is paused. Local Authorities will then assume responsibility for providing additional support upon request.

However, new figures published by Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales have revealed that 88% of those shielding are concerned about a return to work, with 12% so concerned that they have said they will refuse to go back – even if they lose their job as a result.

This creates a risky situation where thousands could face severe hardship by being cut off from existent support before they feel able to return to work and before Local Authorities can establish a proper functioning support network.

In response, Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the Welsh Government to extend the support currently provided until the end of September, to avoid people being left isolated and give local authorities time to establish their own support schemes.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

I am deeply concerned that when the support for shielding ends next Sunday we will see thousands being cut off from the support they desperately need. Although some shielders are ready to go back out into the world, many still feel it is too unsafe and plan to stay home for longer.

While some of those are lucky to have a good local support network, many sadly do not. We must make sure these people are not be forced decide between unsafely returning to work or going without basic essentials.

That’s why we’re calling for the Welsh Government to extend the support currently available to those who are shielding until the end of September. This will provide a transition period, stopping them being cut off while also allowing Local Authorities time to talk to shielders and establish their own tailored support schemes.

I am grateful to Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales for raising this issue and hope the Welsh Government will act quickly on this. We must give shielders the reassurance they deserve.

Liberal Democrats: Ministers are playing fast and loose with safety of NHS staff

Responding to reports that fifty million face masks bought by the Government will now not be used by NHS and care staff because of safety concerns, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The news that fifty million masks are not safe for our NHS and care staff to use is yet another staggering error made by this Government. Not only does it mean millions of pounds of taxpayers money being thrown down the drain, but it shows just how Ministers are playing fast and loose when it comes to keeping our NHS staff safe.

The Government’s procurement of personal protective equipment has been shocking from the very beginning of the pandemic. It should not need to be said that Ministers should prioritise protecting the staff in our health service from the virus over awarding Government contracts to their friends.

It is clear that Boris Johnson’s Government are still failing to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis. An inquiry into their handling of the pandemic must begin now, so that they can learn from their mistakes before more lives are put at risk.

Liberal Democrats: Jenrick’s planning reform won’t solve housing crisis

Responding to Robert Jenrick’s comments today about the Government’s reforms to the planning system, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government Tim Farron said:

Robert Jenrick’s comments this morning have done nothing to persuade anyone that these planning reforms will alleviate the problems behind the UK’s housing crisis. It is not the lack of planning permission that stops houses being built, but Conservative Minsters’ refusal to invest in social housing.

Across the the UK thousands of families are stuck on housing waiting lists – but with councils approving nine out of ten planning applications, it is obvious to everyone that reforming planning laws will not help those stuck on waiting lists or those struggling to afford to buy a home.

Rather than tinkering with planning laws, what Robert Jenrick should be doing is unveiling a huge housebuilding programme of environmentally friendly social homes for rent. The Liberal Democrats want to see 100,000 new social homes built every year, as well as giving local authorities the ability to suspend the right to buy in their own areas, so that we can finally start tackling the housing crisis.

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