This page was last updated on 3rd June.

Here is some practical information on the coronavirus pandemic.

I know from the many constituents who have been in touch with me just how worried people are about their own health, that of their elderly relatives and those with other health conditions, as well as about their jobs, incomes and businesses.

As I’m sure you will have seen, a great deal of practical health advice is available online and in the media, and all of us have a responsibility to follow the advice we have been given.

We have raised with ministers the availability of testing for NHS and care staff and more widely in the community, the provision of personal protective equipment and the urgent need for more ventilators and intensive care beds. As a responsible party in opposition we are supporting the national effort that is being made to try and deal with the outbreak, but we will hold the Government to account.

The economic impact is going to be enormous. People are losing their jobs now, businesses are facing bankruptcy and there are about 2 million people in the country who are not entitled to statutory sick pay. The Government has announced some measures to help businesses and you can find guidance for employers and business here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

What this crisis has highlighted is just how insecure life is for many people in society.

The Government has now responded to calls to protect renters and legislation will be brought in to prevent people from being evicted for rent arrears. Shelter have useful guidance on their website here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

Please find below links to a number of sources of information and advice.

Health Advice
https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Leeds City Council advice page

https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus

Help for Businesses

For queries about Business Rates in Leeds, please email Business.rates@leeds.gov.uk. There is also a dedicated national helpline to help businesses and self-employed individuals – 0800 0159 559. There is also advice on the Local Enterprise Partnership website.

Schools

Many people are concerned about the re-opening of schools and I believe that the date for a return should be based on whether a number of conditions have been met. I have written more about this here https://www.hilarybennmp.com/newsfromhilary/2020/05/21/re-opening-of-schools/  and Leeds City Council’s statement about this matter is available here https://news.leeds.gov.uk/news/leeds-city-council-statement-on-re-opening-primary-schools

FCO Travel Advice
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

I have suspended all my advice surgeries for the foreseeable future, but I will of course continue to be here to help constituents. The best way to get in touch is to email me at hilary.benn.mp@parliament.uk or call (0113) 244 1097 and leave a message. My constituency office team have now moved to working from home but will be picking up phone messages. We will continue to provide the best service that we possibly can in the circumstances.

Although my face-to-face advice surgeries have been suspended I will be conducting online and telephone surgeries for those constituents who need to speak to me directly about their cases. To make an appointment please email hilary.benn.mp@parliament.uk or telephone 0113 244 1097 with your full name, address and telephone number and the word APPOINTMENT as the subject line. A member of my team will get back to you with further details.

Leeds City Council is working very closely with the health service, care providers and the voluntary sector on making sure that people are looked after in the city. They are asking everyone to be patient with those providing these services, given what will inevitably be an unprecedented level of demand.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing difficulty in accessing food due to financial constraints, self isolation or accessibility of food provision then you can contact the council for assistance on 0113 376 0330.

Many people want to offer help and the Council is working with Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) to make this work. Anyone wishing to help is asked to contact VAL at Doing Good in Leeds by emailing volunteering@val.org.uk or calling 0113 297 7920. Training will be provided so volunteers can meet safeguarding standards. Community groups forming with the aim of providing help are also asked to contact VAL so that a volunteer manager can be involved in the process.

Many people are worried about their financial circumstances, and the best source of information about practical advice and help in Leeds can be found here https://www.leeds.gov.uk/leedsmic

We all know that are dealing with an unprecedented challenge and it seems likely that this crisis will continue for quite some time to come. Further steps to suppress the spread of the virus so as to protect people, especially the old and the vulnerable, and to enable the NHS to cope will almost certainly prove necessary.

I know this is a very worrying time, but we will come though this and the best way to do so is to work together. And I know that every single one of us will want to express our thanks to all of those people – in the NHS, social care, essential public and other services – who are working so hard to protect us and save lives.

If there are any issues or problems that you would like to raise with me or if there is anything that I can do to help, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Take care and keep safe.

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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