Updates from Chris Grayling MP.

Message Posted 8th April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing with a further update about the coronavirus crisis.

Some people have been in touch with me and are still uncertain about the recommendations about people who are vulnerable in the current crisis.

Most of us are being instructed to maintain social distancing guidance and also to stay at home if we or any member of our family have symptoms. The only people who are currently being asked to shield themselves absolutely for 12 weeks are listed in this guidance.

Thank you to all the people locally who maintained the social distancing rules over the weekend. This remains very important for all of us. I hope that we can start to lift these rules before too long, but we need to see the virus peak and start to decline before changes can be considered.

Please remember that you are only allowed to leave your home for food shopping, for health reasons (including a medical appointment or to collect a prescription, or for one piece of daily exercise) or work if you cannot work from home. If you go out, stay 2 metres, or 6 feet, away from other people at all times, and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

You are not allowed to leave home for any other reason. It is particularly important that these rules are stuck to over the Easter weekend. The police have the power to prosecute you if they find the rules being broken. But more importantly, it is essential to stop the spread of infection locally and to avoid putting extra pressure on the fantastic team at Epsom Hospital.

Support for people who are forced to stay at home

I have had several questions about the support available for shopping for people who are forced to stay at home.

If you are one of the people on the Government’s list of those who have to shield at home for 12 weeks, then you should automatically receive a food box delivered by the Government. This is coming from a specially set-up hub in Guildford.

In addition, your details are being passed to the supermarkets so you can be identified as a priority for home delivery. If you have been added to the list using the special link here and your GP has confirmed that you should be on the list, but you find that you are not being given access to home delivery, please let me know and I will contact the supermarkets on your behalf.

If you are of pensionable age and do not come under the list of those being told to shield themselves, you are still able to go to do a food shop, but are being asked to be particularly rigorous about maintaining a 2m distance from other people.

But if you are feeling unwell, or have another reason to need to stay at home, then the first port of call for those of pensionable age should be one of the local branches of Age Concern. Please don’t be worried about calling them. They have teams of volunteers doing work to help, including shopping and collecting prescriptions.

Important telephone numbers

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

For everyone else worried about getting shopping done, or needing other support, please call the Surrey County Council helpline on 0300 200 1008.

And my apologies that my last update had a typing error on the number for Surrey County Council. They will steer you to a local community group, or to one of the support hubs that have been set up by the Borough and District Councils.

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website here for community support for more information.

Garden Centres

A few people have contacted me about the situation with local garden centres. Some are able to remain open because of the mix of things that they sell, but visiting a garden centre would not count as essential travel under the current rules. Please take advantage of the online and telephone service combined with home delivery that many of our local garden centres have put in place.

Business Support

For businesses in need of help, click here


Applications are now open for the grant support for leisure and retail businesses that have been asked to close. All the overall information about the schemes are at www.businesssupport.gov.uk, but details of how to apply locally for the grants are found via the relevant Borough and District Council websites in Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead and Mole Valley.

Bonfires

Finally, a number of people who suffer from Asthma and similar have approached me about the number of bonfires being lit locally, particularly as many green waste collections have stopped. Please can I ask you to think carefully about lighting up and about the impact the smoke and ash may have on your neighbours. Better not to burn if possible and store the waste in the corner of your garden if you can until green waste collections or the local dumps can restart. The waste can then be turned into biofuels which will help the environment.

I will keep you posted about any further information that becomes available.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message Posted 27th March 2020

I am writing with a further update about the Coronavirus crisis. Many of you will be aware that the Chancellor has just announced a new support package for the self-employed. I have attached a detailed explanation of how the scheme will work, which I hope will be helpful to those affected. The scheme will be backdated to the 1st of March, though as you will see, it will take a few weeks to set up. So those eligible will get money that covers this month and the scheme will last for at least three months.

I also want to draw the attention of those of you who are over 70 to the guidance about movement and staying at home. I think there has been a little confusion over this. If you are one of the 1.5 million people who have been contacted by the NHS and require shielding you should stay at home and not see anyone else face to face for the next three months. These are the guidelines for you.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

But if you are over 70 and healthy, you should take very great care but otherwise the general guidelines apply to you.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

All of the rest of the guidance for people about what is happening is here.

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

I know many of you are still struggling with getting home deliveries of shopping as you are worried about going to the supermarkets. I have been round all of our major stores locally and they are all now managing access carefully to protect shoppers and staff.

I have spoken to them about improving the situation for those who are self-isolating and trying to get those who need it access to home delivery. They are trying to register more vulnerable people, but the home delivery services are clearly swamped with applications and so for those who are self-isolating and are struggling with getting shopping done, please either call the local branches of Age Concern…..

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732455 or 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

….or the Surrey County Council Helpline 0300 200 1008
There are volunteers available to help you with shopping if you cannot go out yourselves.

Please let me know if you have any problems accessing this support.

Finally I am putting up all the information I get on my website www.chrisgrayling.net.

I have also started to collect a list on my website of local restaurants, pubs and cafes which contact me to say they are switching to do takeaways. Please let me know of any which should be included. Please do support these local businesses which are suffering as a result of the virus and of the closures ordered by the Government.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 24th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with the latest information about the measures that the Government is introducing to tackle the Coronavirus crisis.

Firstly, the detail on the announcements restricting movement outside your home. The guidance notes published by the Government are here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874714/Full_guidance_on_staying_at_home_and_away_from_others.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

There will undoubtedly be many questions about this and if you contact me, I will do my best to answer them for you. But the simple summary is that if you don’t have to do it, then don’t. Stay at home unless you really must leave for work or another very important reason, like buying food or going to a medical appointment. And please do not meet your friends, either out or in any of your homes. Talk electronically instead.

For those wondering why these measures are necessary, I was sent this letter yesterday by a leading doctor in South London.

I wanted to send you an open letter to be passed on to as many people as possible. I am writing as a doctor in a front-line hospital battling the greatest challenge in the history of modern healthcare.

I am writing on behalf of my colleagues in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units of hospitals nationwide. Many hospitals are just days away from being overwhelmed.

We are pleading with everyone at risk to isolate at home, and everyone else to keep as far distance as possible from others if they are not able to isolate. We have got to break the chain of transmission. By taking this responsibility, every person who does this will be responsible for saving lives. The patients dying today got infected two weeks ago or more. By taking a decision to isolate today and to distance yourself from today, you will be saving lives which will otherwise be lost in two weeks. Please do this today, without any further delay.

You may think the majority of the population are heeding Government advice - but the truth is that many are not, and lives are going to be lost as a consequence.
Doctors, Nurses and all health professionals will stay at work, but we need you to stay at home. Thank you.

Professor Stephen J.D. Brecker, Chief of Cardiology, St. George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I know that this will be very unsettling for many people, particularly the elderly. I think that the dedicated time for them to go food shopping now seems to have settled down and stocks are reasonable – so people do not need to worry unduly about being able to obtain food. But if you have been advised to stay at home even for food shopping, and many elderly people have already been, and you do not already have help, then please contact one of the following helplines which will be able to help you sort out getting shopping collected for you.

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456
Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104
Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council has set up a help line for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008.

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.
https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

I have two further pieces of information for those of you with businesses:

Firstly, some of you may wish to know that the British Business Bank has launched the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Further detail on how to apply is set out in the link below:
https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

Secondly, the Government has established a new website with the full range of advice for businesses. You can find it at https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/

I hope to have more information about support for the self-employed this week.

Finally, many local restaurants which are not able to open at the moment are doing takeaways and can deliver to your home. If you are running one of these restaurants, please let me know your contact details and I will publicise a list of those which can deliver in one of these bulletins.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 21st March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a couple of further updates.

I am attaching below the text of a letter from the Chancellor outlining the measures to help protect jobs which he announced last night. I know that there remains considerable concern among the self-employed, and I am assured that the Treasury is looking at further measures to help the self-employed. I will keep you posted.

I am also including below that a note that I have received from the Chief Executive of Sainsburys this morning. I hope this provides some clarity about how they are planning to handle things next week. I would urge everyone to respect these special arrangements. In particular we need to ensure that the elderly and workers in the NHS are able to get their shopping done in a safe environment. And please remember also to support our smaller, local shops.

A reminder of the contact details if you need help locally:

For the elderly:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council’s helpline for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

If you want to volunteer to help one of the local charity services, here’s who you need to get in touch with:

In Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley, contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action on 01372 722911

In Reigate and Banstead, contact Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead on 01737 763156

Please get a takeaway from one of our local restaurants this evening if you can. We need to help support them at this difficult time. And please, though I know it is difficult, do your best to follow the Government’s guidance on what to do during the current crisis. This is really important in reducing the risk to those who are most vulnerable in our society. The latest guidance is at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Some of you may be getting one of these updates for the first time. If you do not want to be on the mailing list, please unsubscribe using the link below.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 20th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with further advice about the support that is available locally if you are in difficulties in the coming weeks. I am trying to cover as many bases as possible, but please do get in touch with me with individual queries and issues. I know that this is going to be very tough for many people, and I will not be able, and nor will the government, to solve every problem. But we are all doing our best.

Firstly, with regard to the overall picture. I know that many people are very scared about losing their jobs or the future of their businesses. I have already sent the most recent information about Government support for business, but I have also been assured by the Treasury that they are working as fast as they can on further measures to try to protect jobs. I will keep you updated as soon as I can.

I know there are many other issues facing local businesses and I am getting a number of worried emails. I will respond to all those issues individually and provide updates when I can. There is a business support Government hotline which is 0300 456 3565, though I know it is very busy. If you are in danger of losing your job, or may end up without income for a period, there is also a Universal Credit hotline on 0800 328 5644.

The breakdown of all the financial support currently available for individuals and business can be found here.

Many of you are very concerned about the availability of food and essential products in the shops. I have heard some disturbing tales of the scenes in the supermarkets in the past twenty-four hours and have been round to see the situation today. This period will require everyone to be restrained. There is no overall shortage of food in the area and the supermarkets are clear that they will continue to stock up as fast as they can. But don’t forget your local corner shops as well, or the local specialists, many of which do seem to have remained reasonably well-stocked.

I have contacted the local supermarkets again and urged them to police more carefully the time set aside for the elderly, as other people do seem to be trying to shop at the same time.

There are now a number of support services for the vulnerable locally. If you are elderly and struggling to get food, or you have another problem, please contact the local branches of Age Concern. The numbers are as follows:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council has set up a help line for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

If you want to volunteer to help one of the local charity services, here’s who you need to get in touch with:

In Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley, contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action on 01372 722911

In Reigate and Banstead, contact Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead on 01737 763156

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to be a helper through Community Coronavirus Care. They have gathered valuable information about potential volunteers and are now working with Central Surrey Voluntary Action to sort out how to provide that support to the front line organisations working with the elderly and the vulnerable.

Please do also look out for your neighbours and point anyone who needs help towards one of these services.

Finally, can I stress again how important it is to support smaller local businesses at this difficult time. If you can, please do order a takeaway from a local restaurant this weekend if you might otherwise have gone there for a meal instead. Or find another local business you can support. We need them to be still there when all this is over.

Please could you pass this message to your friends and contacts and ask them in turn to make sure that anyone they know who might need supporting in the days ahead knows where to turn.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 19th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to give you some further updates about the Coronavirus crisis. I know that this is an extraordinarily difficult time for many people.

Firstly the latest information from the NHS can be found at:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

For those of you with businesses or self-employed, you may have seen that the Government has offered a big package of support to business. It has also promised additional support if needed. Details of what is available and how to ask questions about it can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

I will circulate any further information I receive about the suspension of schools at the end of the week once I have it. I am also expecting an announcement about people who rent their homes later this week.

Many people have contacted me to express concern about the lack of key goods in supermarkets. I last spoke to the local supermarkets a few days ago and they assured me then that they are not suffering from shortages in the supply chain. The issue is the level of bulk buying. For those of you who are concerned about this, Sainsburys and Asda have introduced restrictions on the quantity of an individual item you can buy. Sainsburys are also introducing dedicated shopping time for the older generation. I will talk to retailers again in the next couple of days.

But can I also urge people locally to buy from small shops too, who are really feeling the pinch. The same applies to helping out local restaurants. Whilst the new recommendations from the Government ask us not to go to pubs and restaurants for a few weeks, that does not stop us getting takeaways from those that offer that service – and the Government intends to make it easier for them to do so with a change to the licensing rules in the very near future. I would encourage everyone to do anything you can in the current situation to help smaller local businesses.

I know that this is a particularly unsettling time for those over the age of 70 and for those who are unwell, or have had to self-isolate. Whilst many have family and friends who can rally round, I know that not everyone does. A considerable amount of work is being done right now by local charities, the Councils and the different volunteer groups that have emerged in recent days to ensure that they can provide everyone with the support they need, and also to make the best use of the people who have offered help. Please make your neighbours your first port of call to make sure that they are OK. But those involved will send round more details later in the week of how to help, and what to do if you need help.

Finally a big thank you to all of you who work in the NHS. This is an incredibly difficult time for the NHS and I am very grateful to you.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling MP