Mayor of Newham’s poverty warning as second lockdown looms
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 November 2020
The mayor has urged the government to make sure more people don’t fall into poverty as a result of the second national lockdown.
Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz described feeling relieved following announcement of the measure by prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, October 31.
“The government has said that the original furlough scheme will be reinstated for the month, and this is a victory for local government as we’ve been calling for government to do this for weeks now – but it is a short reprieve.
“They must go further and clarify what additional measures they will put in place to protect jobs and support those whose livelihoods will be worst hit,” she said.
The second lockdown will see pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail closed for four weeks, but schools, colleges and nurseries will stay open.
People will also be allowed to exercise and socialise in outdoor public spaces with their household or one other person.
Newham saw the highest death rate in London during the first wave of the pandemic and has seen 320 deaths linked to Covid-19.
A total of 17,000 workers have been on furlough while more than 27,000 people in the borough are claiming benefits, according to the council.
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Mayor Fiaz explained the virus has taken a greater toll on black and minority ethnic communities with Newham, with 73pc of its population among these communities, at “the sharp end of the crisis”.
She added: “I have been calling for a national circuit break lockdown – to protect our communities and try to halt the spread of Covid-19 – for weeks. I’m relieved that the government has finally heeded our calls, but this decision has undoubtedly come too late.”
The mayor urged the government to make clear what extra measures would be introduced to protect people and jobs.
Demands include “robust” test and trace, covering people’s salaries to at least 80 per cent, full sick pay for anyone self-isolating, funding for local authority public health measures and not allowing incomes to fall below the national minimum wage.
“We cannot allow more people to fall into hardship and poverty,” she said.
More than half of children in Newham – 52pc – are judged to be in households in poverty, according to Trust for London.
Mr Johnson is to use a statement to the House of Commons today (Monday, November 2) to warn there is “no alternative” but to impose the four-week lockdown.
The prime minister will tell MPs: “Models of our scientists suggest that unless we act now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or more compared with the first wave.
“Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level.”
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