Newham’s leaders demand extra help from government to tackle Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 15:00 08 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:45 11 May 2020

East Ham MP Stephen Timms, West Ham MP Lyn Brown and Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz (centre). Picture: Andrew Brookes

East Ham MP Stephen Timms, West Ham MP Lyn Brown and Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz (centre). Picture: Andrew Brookes


Newham’s political leaders have sent a set of demands to government in response to the borough’s Covid-19 mortality rate.

Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA.Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown, mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and East Ham MP Stephen Timms called for “swift action” from the health secretary Matt Hancock.

It follows publication of figures from the Office for National Statistics which show Newham has the highest mortality rate in England and Wales with 144.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

The borough’s leaders say people in Newham are particularly vulnerable due to Covid-19 because of factors including deprivation, insecure work, overcrowded housing, poor air quality and underlying health risks such as diabetes.

They add that the large number of people not entitled to public services – such as NHS healthcare or benefits – because of their immigration status must receive help.

“This group is at particular risk from coronavirus. They are barred from social security, so may be forced to disobey guidance to obtain an income. They are more likely to be housed in shared accommodation in which self-isolation is impossible.

“If they fall ill, they are less able to access support to recover,” their letter to Mr Hancock states.

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Requests for help from people with no recourse to public funds increased in Newham by 300 per cent during the pandemic.

Newham’s leaders urged Mr Hancock to ensure those people get help.

Extra support should also target the testing and tracing of people from high risk areas and groups to limit the virus’s spread, they add.

Clearer guidance in different languages shared across a range of media, an investigation into the impact of economic and social differences, along with regeneration to address the “severe” damage to livelihoods are further demands.

“[W]e have been hardest hit by the crisis,” the leaders state.

The letter ends with a request for money to stop care homes closing.

“It would be appalling for those residents who are survivors, having endured this terrible crisis, then to be let down by insufficient support to the sector,” they say.

A government spokeswoman said: “Any death from this disease is a tragedy and we are working incredibly hard, to protect the NHS and save lives.

“We have commissioned urgent work from Public Health England to understand the different factors that may influence the way someone is affected by this virus.”

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