Covid-19 Update - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:17 pm on 16 March 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 8:17, 16 March 2020

My Lords, I applaud the fact that the Statement focused on the need to protect the most vulnerable, but many people are hugely financially vulnerable. Does the Minister agree that we need national solidarity to ensure that no one needs to fear losing their roof over their head, having their gas or electricity cut off or not being able to buy the food that they need? Will the proposed Bill include: an end to all benefits sanctions, as the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, referred to; a suspension of all evictions; an end to the five-week delay for housing benefit; and ensuring that no one’s utility is cut off because they cannot pay the bill? The Minister made particular reference to the homeless. Will provision be made if they need to isolate? If they are ill, will they have safe and appropriate provision? Asylum seekers are people in our community who are very vulnerable with little money. They could contribute if allowed to work. I think we have just seen the first case of the virus in a prison. Will the Bill include special provision to make sure that prisons are safe places in the coronavirus epidemic?