Coronavirus is of course continuing to dominate daily life here in Neath and across Wales. This week, the Prime Minister announced new, more stringent measures to tackle the pandemic. The Government is asking that we remain indoors, other than for shopping for essentials, one form of exercise daily, medical or care providing needs or essential work travel. You can find the full guidance here: Full guidance on staying at home and away from others
The police have been given new powers to take action if people flout these regulations, and I cannot stress enough how important it is that we abide by them. I know that it’s an incredibly frustrating and worrying time – but these measures are vital for combating the virus and allowing our NHS precious time to care for those who need it most. We must stay home to save lives.
It was so heartening to see Neath residents come together last night to show our gratitude to hard-working NHS workers who are supporting the country during this difficult time. The personal sacrifices that some are making – going without seeing their families for weeks, even months – are huge, and it was extremely touching to see people come out onto their doorsteps at 8pm last night to applaud our NHS heroes. Of course, it’s not just NHS staff who are going above and beyond in this crisis. Teachers, bus drivers, council employees – so many people are working incredibly hard in challenging circumstances to keep essential services running. We are incredibly grateful to them all.
Many of you have been in touch with my office concerned about the impact the pandemic will have on your family finances. This week, we finally saw the Chancellor announce a support package for the self-employed, whereby 80% of average monthly earnings up to £2,500 will be paid to the self-employed to all those who earned under £50,000 in 2018/19. This is very welcome news for those who are covered by the package but I know that some people will not be covered and in either case the payments will not be made until June, which is very concerning. The Welsh Government is looking into the proposals, but if you have concerns in the meantime please do get in touch with my office.
As you will know, schools are now closed to all except the children of essential workers and vulnerable pupils. However, for those who receive free school meals and do not fall into either of those categories, a packed lunch ‘Grab and Go’ bag will be provided. Time slots are being advised for when children/parents should pick up their food. Pupils who usually use school transport to get to school should go to their nearest primary or secondary school, and pupils/parents will need to provide identification. If you are unsure where to go, contact the Neath Port Talbot Schools and Family Support Team on 01639 763515 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information around the impact of the virus on businesses and individuals is changing all the time.For the most up to date information on the impact of coronavirus on housing, education, business and much more, you can look at the Welsh Government’s dedicated website here.
There has, unfortunately, been a despicable spike in scam-related activity during this coronavirus pandemic – a particular threat to the elderly and those self-isolating who are relying on others to support them in buying groceries and essentials. Please, if you see anything suspicious in your area or find yourself the victim of a scam, do get in contact with the Neath Port Talbot Trading Standards team here. You can report any fraud to Action Fraud or contact Citizens Advice for advice and support.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on email@example.com or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain available should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you are able to take some time to relax and recharge over the weekend – and to stay in touch with loved ones through technology like video calling! Remember – stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.