By Danny Simm
PM must think again on DFID in face of COVID-19 global health emergency
Yesterday the Prime Minister gave a COVID-19 update, including the announcement that Dexamethasone has proven effective in treating COVID-19.
- News that a drug has been identified that can help treat COVID-19 will be welcomed by all. But - to get a grip on this global pandemic - finding a vaccine remains vital.
- Given the ongoing public health emergency, the Prime Minister must show global leadership, not least by working with our international partners to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, he has chosen to set out plans to abolish the Department of International Development, which for years has funded vital work in public health, including the work of GAVI - the global Vaccine Alliance.
- It was the Liberal Democrats who enshrined the 0.7% aid commitment into UK law. This is a commitment the UK should be proud to uphold. Yet Boris Johnson's decision threatens to undermine that commitment, and with it our global influence. It is no surprise three former Prime Ministers have condemned this move. The Prime Minister should think again.
Govt must go beyond u-turn on free school meals to give every child best start
Yesterday the Prime Minister u-turned on the provision of free school meals over the summer holidays.
- Too many vulnerable children face falling through the cracks. We are grateful to Marcus Rashford and all those campaigners who have helped force the Prime Minister to rediscover his conscience, but it should never have been needed.
- The Government must now work cross-party and with parents, teachers and local governments to do more. We must ensure no child is left behind.
- That starts with Liberal Democrat proposals to combine the free school meals voucher scheme with an emergency uplift in child benefit and a 'catch-up premium' to ensure every child has the best start in life.
PM's decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that the Foreign Office and Department for International Development are set to merge.
- UK aid prevents suffering. The Liberal Democrats have always made absolutely clear our unequivocal support for Britain's role as a world leader in providing aid to those most in need. By working internationally we can achieve so much more than we can alone. This decision shows the extent of the Prime Minister's determination to see the UK turn its back on the world
- Boris Johnson has wanted to use the 0.7% for international aid for his own political projects ever since entering government. This news comes as the most vulnerable brace themselves for the Coronavirus, which has already torn through many countries.
Govt must act to address disproportionate impact of pandemic on BAME communities
Yesterday Public Health England published a report on the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, which highlighted the adverse effects of the Government's Hostile Environment policy and 'No Recourse to Public Funds' rule.
- The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented threat, leaving the most vulnerable in society at risk. We must ensure that BAME communities are not left behind by the Government's response to this crisis.
- The Government must act urgently to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on BAME communities, and to solve the deep-seated inequalities and injustices they face.
- It is appalling that the Conservatives' discriminatory Hostile Environment policies and their refusal to suspend the 'No Recourse to Public Funds' rule are preventing migrants and other BAME people from accessing the healthcare they need during this pandemic.
- If the Government is serious about tackling racial injustice, the Home Secretary must end the Hostile Environment and give migrants access to Universal Credit during this crisis.