Obviously, I am concerned about the overall impact of Covid. However, I am also concerned about the disproportionate effect that it has on certain groups in the population.
Many experts and researchers are working to get a deeper understanding of the impact of Covid. We already know that the issues behind higher levels of infection in particular ethnic communities and areas of poverty and deprivation include—among other things, no doubt—housing conditions and more people living in smaller accommodation.
We have tried to put equality and social justice at the heart of our response to Covid. We have provided significant financial support, including a communities package to help those who are most in need. We have since increased the funding considerably—in particular by giving additional funding to local authorities in tier 4 areas. We have also taken decisions including the decision to extend provision of free school meals through to the Easter holidays next year.
We will continue to try to understand the reasons for the disproportionate impacts of Covid, and to do everything that we can to address the needs of those who are impacted.