Sheffield MPs lobby Health Minister as Tier 3 restrictions loom

Sheffield MPs had a Sunday morning briefing with the Health Minister as fears rose that the region is approaching Tier 3 of restrictions.

Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 3:51 pm

During the briefing with Minister Matt Hancock, MPs said they wanted financial help and support for businesses which may need to close and also for people forced to self-isolate.

Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East, said: "We recognise we are likely to move to tier 3 but we need an arrangement and a package of measures to help local businesses and employers who lose income.

"We need money for a local track and test system because we need to get that right or it won't make a difference.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking in the House of Commons. Picture: PA Wire

"We also need more financial help for people who are supposed to be self isolating. If you are told to self isolate but that means you don't earn money and can't pay your gas bill or buy food, that's a dreadful choice.

"If we don't have these things in place, the Government can make all these restrictions but a few weeks down the line they won't have made any difference."

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake said the region urgently needed additional resources to deal with the economic impact of any new restrictions.

She said: "I have joined colleagues in pressing the government for the comprehensive package of support we need to contain the virus and save lives and livelihoods.

General Election 2019 Olivia Blake is returned as MP for Sheffield Hallam following a recount at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield

"I continue to have serious concerns about the lack of adequate support for those working in hospitality, and other sectors which might be affected. I’ve already written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, to ask for more support for our wonderful local businesses, and I’ve raised this issue in Parliament.

"But I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that proper support is provided to everyone if and when we enter Tier 3."

Conservative MP Miriam Cates, who represents Penistone and Stocksbridge, said she was having regular discussions with the Government.

"It is important that national and local governments can work together to support communities and take decisions about Covid restrictions.

Gill Furniss MP. Picture Scott Merrylees

"I continue to have regular discussions with ministers and local leaders to hear their thoughts and to share mine on the best way to proceed. MPs have a role to play in bringing people together and representing the views of our constituents, but it is right that the details are negotiated between national government and local authority leaders."

Sheffield Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss said the number of coronavirus cases across Sheffield City Region remained concerning.

She said: "The region should only move into a 'very high' alert level with comprehensive financial support for the local authorities, businesses and workers, as well as ensuring workers have access to training so that no one is left behind."

And Louise Haigh, who represents Sheffield Heeley, said MPs had lobbied for financial measures to go hand in hand to tackle the virus from the beginning.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe

"That means that workers and businesses alike have to be supported if they are asked to close or their jobs are put at risk.

"As it stands too many people are falling through the cracks in terms of support and too many businesses are being allowed to fail.

"We need to get on top of the worrying rises in hospitalisations in Sheffield, that’s why Labour has supported a national circuit break whilst the government fixes test and trace.

"Without the right health and financial measures in place, we will continue to see cases rise as well as unemployment and businesses closures – none of which we can afford in South Yorkshire.”

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield urged the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide support.

Mr Blomfield told the Health Secretary in the meeting that the hospitality sector was hugely important to his constituency and needed financial support as Tier 2 measures were already hitting businesses badly.

Sheffield MP, Paul Blomfield. Picture Tony Johnson.

“Bars, cafes and restaurants must not be hung out to dry. Along with the music and events sectors, necessary health measures are making many businesses unviable, but they are not getting the support that would be available if they were required to close.

“Without this support the measures that are needed to turn the tide on the virus will destroy hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs in Sheffield.”

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MP Clive Betts. Picture: Chris Etchells