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Travellers: Coronavirus

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 28th April 2020.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the needs of Travellers during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Government is determined to ensure everyone gets the support they need to look after themselves and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak and are enabled to take the necessary measures to reduce the spread of the virus. We are holding regular discussions with representatives from Gypsy and Traveller communities to understand the issues they are facing, and to understand what guidance and support, including for local authorities, who have a responsibility to look after vulnerable groups. On 11 April, the Communities Minister wrote to local authority Chief Executives to highlight the need to mitigate potential impacts amongst Gypsy and Traveller communities, highlighting that some Gypsies and Travellers may need assistance in accessing basic facilities such as water, sanitation and waste disposal, to enable them to adhere to public health guidelines around self-isolation and social distancing.

On 18 April, the Local Government Secretary announced that councils across England will receive a further £1.6 billion to help them to deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to over £3.2 billion.

The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing also wrote to Caravan Site owners and managers on 27 March to confirm that people who live permanently in caravan parks, or are staying in caravan parks while their primary residence is unavailable, may continue to do so.

Levels of self-employment are high amongst Gypsy and Traveller communities. The Government recently announced a scheme for those who are self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

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