A week ago, Nottingham showed for the first time a dramatic increase in our covid-19 infection rate. We needed immediate action from the Government, but instead all we got was confusion and delay. We were left in the dark for a week, with no action and no communication from the Government, and during that time the infection rate doubled to be the highest in the country. The saddest thing about that is that it was avoidable.
The Government have failed us time and again during this crisis. They failed to protect elderly people and vulnerable people, who died at an alarming rate in care homes and nursing homes. They failed to implement a test and trace system and they failed to listen to the OECD’s advice that the best way to protect the economy was to prevent a second wave, instead telling people one minute to go out to pubs, to eat out to help out, and then blaming them for doing so the next. The Government prioritised the interests of the economy over saving lives, yet failed to do both, and we are now faced with the worst recession in the developed world.
Last week, MPs, councillors and members of the public were left to find out in the press that we were due to go under a local lockdown, without any details of what that would look like for residents and for businesses. People in Nottingham have made enormous sacrifices during this pandemic, but frankly people are fed up. People want the Government to do their part. That means a serious economic package to protect jobs and businesses, and fixing the privatised Serco test and trace system. Are the Government so wedded to privatisation that even when it is utterly failing and public health is at risk they just plough on? We also need to extend the eviction ban so that no one loses their home during this time.
We know that lockdowns work only if people can afford to self-isolate, so why is it that, eight months into this virus, statutory sick pay is still £95 a week? The Secretary of State said that he could not live on that, so why are my constituents expected to? My final question to the Minister, in the last few seconds, is why have the Government not even followed their own scientific advice, which was to ban households mixing, close pubs and bring all university teaching online? How many people have to die before the Government get a grip of this virus?