To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure (a) support and (b) essential food supplies reach people who are housebound with disabilities during the covid-19 outbreak.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to respond to Question 30861, tabled by the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk on 17 March 2020.
This is a devolved matter. We have set out below the actions that we have taken in England.
We know that a large number of disabled people continue to rely on friends, family and wider community support as they face difficulties accessing food.
Where that is not possible, there are a number of options available for people to access support. Individuals can request support from a volunteer via NHS Volunteer Responders, who can shop on their behalf.
We are working with local authorities, supermarkets and charities to ensure that vulnerable groups get the support they need to access food and other essential supplies. These organisations are able to sign-post people to commercial food delivery options, help them access priority supermarket delivery slots or refer them to the NHS Volunteer Responder programme.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) can also register for support online or via an automated helpline. As part of the registration process, we have asked individuals to indicate whether they have unmet basic care needs, such as social care and social contact needs. Local authorities are best placed to respond to these needs, and we are sharing data with them to ensure vulnerable individuals get the support they need while shielding.
The NHS has also made arrangements to have medicines delivered to CEV people's homes by local community pharmacies or their dispensing doctor, where no other person is able to collect the item from the pharmacy and deliver it to the patient.
Where people who are CEV have asked for help accessing food, they have been offered centrally provided food boxes and supermarkets have offered priority delivery slots. Boxes will continue until the end of July and seven supermarkets have confirmed that access to priority supermarket delivery slots will continue beyond the end of July for those already signed up for support.
We have also made available an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. Local authorities are already working hard to support those who are vulnerable and this additional funding will contribute to that work.