Grahame Morris MP highlighted the need to address the inequalities exposed by the pandemic, concerns around Covid-secure workplaces, and the effect of the pandemic on cancer services in the general debate on Covid-19 this afternoon.
Worryingly, whilst infection rates in County Durham continue to fall, there are higher infection rates in Peterlee East and Horden compared to other areas.
The Easington MP highlighted the persistent correlation between Covid-19 prevalence and areas of deprivation and inequality.
Those in insecure employment, on zero-hour contracts, and agency workers often do not have the finances or security they need to be able to self-isolate. The poorest have, in many cases, had no option but to continue to work, even in conditions that they feel are not Covid-secure.
He argued that the poorest are facing even greater poverty if the government does not listen to calls for a retention of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit being made by the likes of Unite the union and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Mr Morris went on to describe concerns around Covid-secure workplaces. Remarkably, there are many instances of workplaces that staff insist are still not Covid-secure. PCS union members at the DVLA headquarters are balloting for strike action today after bosses have consistently refused to listen to their concerns. This is despite 555 Covid cases in recent months and the tragic death of one member of staff.
Finally, the Easington MP mentioned the impact of the pandemic on cancer services, and the urgent need for the Chancellor to address the cancer backlog in next week’s Budget.