t the Budget the Chancellor set out the first stage of the Government’s response with a £30 billion package of support for people and businesses. This included supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of Statutory Sick Pay by refunding eligible costs.
In response to the outbreak of coronavirus and the increasing number of confirmed cases in the UK, the Government has closed early years providers. Early years providers will only remain open to the children of critical workers who are vital to our fight against coronavirus, such as NHS staff, police and delivery drivers, and the most vulnerable children.
I share your concern for the safety of all workers who are continuing to travel to work, as they are unable to work from home, including construction workers. The Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that under his advice these workers can continue to work and travel to work.
Consular teams are working around the clock to provide the most accurate information to UK nationals abroad. Travel advice is constantly updated and I know ministers continue to keep advice under close and constant review. I have been assured that the UK will do everything in its power to get those British nationals affected the care, support and advice they need.
The Government is taking action to help the 4.6 million households in the private rented sector by protecting them from rogue landlords, banning unfair fees, and ensuring they have access to longer-term tenancies.
The Prime Minister and Health Secretary promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country. The increased capacity is expected to be ready within four weeks, with highest-priority cases being tested first.
Ventilators are vital to treating people with severe cases of COVID-19. It is welcome that the Government has issued a national call-to-arms, asking manufacturers across the country to turn their capabilities towards building more ventilators, while also doing everything it can to buy as many ventilators around the world as possible.
I regret the commercial decisions that BA have announced, not least because the airline was benefiting from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which was not designed to fund the wages of employees only for companies to put the same staff on notice of redundancy during the furlough period.
I welcome the collaborative approach taken by Public Health England and Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service. This is essential to ensure the implementation of measures to keep prisoners and prison staff safe, protect the NHS and enable the continued operation of the prison estate.
I have written to ministers regarding the Government's support for dentists during this crisis. The outbreak of the virus is of concern to people and business across the country. The measures announced by the Government aim to support those most impacted by the lockdown measures.
I understand concerns for babies during this time who have missed out on interaction with other babies due to Covid-19 restrictions. To protect family and others, government guidelines recommend that social distancing in gardens and outdoor spaces should still be followed when meeting others.
This is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. I am encouraged by the clear commitment to supporting people, with unprecedented packages of support rolled out for businesses and individuals alike. I also welcome that additional support is being provided through the welfare system, representing an injection of over £6.5 billion.
It is important that we start getting children back to school as soon as it is safe to do so. As you know, since 23 March 2020 education and childcare settings have only been open to priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers). Now that we have made progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, the Prime Minister has confirmed plans for a phased reopening of schools and educational settings.
I know the present situation is causing real difficulties for the road haulage sector and I have been in touch with ministers regarding the industry. I also understand that the sector has a vital role to play in the national effort to combat the spread of the disease.
This is a difficult time for people across the country, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has been following government guidance by staying alert and keeping socially distant to slow the spread of the virus and reduce pressure on the NHS frontline.
Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and I know this is a difficult time for the sector, particularly for suppliers of the food service trade. As demands shifts, we need to ensure that individual farmers are protected. I have made Ministers aware of the concerns you raise.
NHS staff, care workers, and other medical professionals are on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus, and I am in awe of their dedication, skill and professionalism. Let me assure you that ministers are doing everything they can to ensure the NHS has the equipment and resources it needs to get our country through this crisis.