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Tiverton and Honiton Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat Coronavirus Update

March 19, 2020 4:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Lib Dems set up Coronavirus Community Taskforce

Yesterday Acting Leader Ed Davey set up a Coronavirus Community Taskforce to coordinate Liberal Democrat councillors' members, activists and supporters in their response to the Coronavirus crisis in their communities.

The Coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk. People across the country are rightly worried about their loved ones, with many more keen to do something to help.

The Taskforce is set to advise and guide thousands of Liberal Democrats right across the UK who want to ensure all those self-isolating, especially the vulnerable and elderly, get the support they need.

Following the announcement, Ed Davey said:

"The Liberal Democrats, with our strong and historic links to local activism and community politics, have a wealth of knowledge and unique ability to go into our communities and offer support.

This will be scaling up of what Liberal Democrats do - day in, day out - helping the most vulnerable in our communities".

More advice and guidance on helping your community is available on our website at https://www.libdems.org.uk/coronavirus. The website will be updated regularly as advice changes.

Legislation must give MPs a vote on emergency powers beyond a year

Yesterday Acting Leader Ed Davey called for Parliament to have a future vote on whether it is necessary for the Government to retain new emergency powers beyond a year.

The Coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk. People across the country are rightly worried about their loved ones.

Yet while emergency powers are clearly necessary to deal with the coronavirus emergency, Liberal Democrats have serious concerns about Parliament handing over such far-reaching powers to Ministers for a full two years.

Liberal Democrats are seeking to ensure the legislation includes provision for Parliament to have a future vote on whether it is necessary for the Government to retain these powers beyond a year.

Lib Dems respond to school closures announcement

We welcomed the news that schools in the UK will close indefinitely from Friday.

But now that schools are closing their doors, Ministers must take urgent action to minimise disruption to learning and protect vulnerable children.

Schools now need answers about what services they will be expected to provide to those children who remain in their care.

The Government must make clear who they count as vulnerable. The list so far of children with a social worker or severe special educational needs leaves out too many children who could otherwise fall into crisis.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government will put in place a national voucher system for children eligible for free school meals.

Responding to the announcement, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

"I am glad that the Government has listened to my calls that children on free school meals must not go hungry.

A national voucher scheme is the right approach, but the Government must not forget pupils just above the poverty line and ensure all students have the resources they need to study at home.

For those still at school, canteens must remain open so that vulnerable children can still access what could be their only hot meal of the day."

Lib Dems call on Government to go further to protect renters

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Yesterday, the Government announced that a law to block evictions will come into force in the coming days.

Millions of renters will be relieved to hear that legal protections will be put in place to block evictions for the next three months - but Liberal Democrats believe there needs to be clarity about what happens to anyone falling into arrears because of impact of the coronavirus after that.

Thousands of families will face financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus. Measures like this are vital in providing certainty in the immediate term, but do not assist with actually paying the rent.

In response to the news, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

"The government must make clear that it will extend these measures for as long as is necessary to enable people to get back on their feet in the aftermath of the immediate crisis.

The Government should also take urgent action to prevent any customers being cut off by utilities companies in the coming weeks and months. As people's circumstances may change abruptly, radical action is required to ensure no one is unable to heat or light their home, or to access drinking water."

Ed Davey called on the Prime Minister to suspend Brexit talks and seek a delay to the transition period so that the government can focus efforts and resources on the developing Coronavirus crisis.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, Ed Davey wrote:

"Our NHS, jobs and the economy are already under crippling pressure due to the developing Coronavirus situation and this will only increase.

This is not about past debates, but focussing the country's resources on stopping the spread of this virus."

At a time of unprecedented strain on our NHS, our economy and millions of jobs across the country, the government must take immediate steps to limit the pressure and impact.

Delaying the Brexit talks and the deadline for the end of the transition period is key to this. That is why Boris Johnson must do the sensible thing and put Brexit on hold.

Coordination with our closest neighbours will also be vital to tackling this virus. Johnson must ensure the UK is present in EU health ministers' daily briefings as the situation continues to develop