Richmond Park News: 25 February 2022
Like many of you, I have watched the unfolding crisis in Ukraine with increasing alarm and sadness. The scale of tragedy that has already started to emerge as a result of Putin’s aggression is appalling.
We are witnessing a terrible crisis unfold before our eyes, with queues of desperate people seeking refuge from Russian forces. We need to commit to doing our part to help displaced Ukrainians, both in their own country and here in the UK if necessary. The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution. We must not turn our backs on the people of Ukraine in their hour of need.
It is also clear that we must impose upon Putin the most punitive of sanctions. While I welcome the additional measures announced on Russian companies and individuals yesterday, far more must be done. In particular, the absence of Gazprom and Rosneft, part-owned by BP, undermines the UK’s action. Russia’s state-owned oil and gas giants stand to profit from this war and soaring prices. We must start treating Putin’s Russia like the rogue state it is and immediately cut off UK investment in these firms.
REMOVAL OF COVID-10 MEASURES
I am apprehensive about the Government bringing to an end the legal measures that have helped us to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. I encourage my constituents to continue to exercise caution in their day to day lives, if only to help protect those who cannot be vaccinated or whose immune systems are compromised. Please isolate yourself voluntarily if you know you are, or think you might be, infected.
Case rates are still edging downwards, which is good news, of course. But they remain high, and will continue to be high for some time. We may even see a new spike in the coming weeks as the removal of measures is reflected in increased transmission. The number of deaths each week is falling slowly, but we still lost over a thousand Britons to Covid-19 last week. I ask everyone to do their part to keep these numbers going in the right direction and protect vulnerable members of our community. More information about the latest guidance can be found here.
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON PUBLIC MONEY LOST TO FRAUD AND ERROR
On Wednesday we published our latest Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, which looked into the government’s response to the pandemic. We found that the taxpayer was exposed to substantial financial risks from fraud and error. Government estimates suggest that losses due to fraud and error from the furlough alone will be £5.3bn. The estimated loss due to fraud and error across all response measures is not known, but is expected to be at least £15bn across measures implemented by HM Revenue & Customs, the Department for Work & Pensions and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
This is a shocking level of waste, from a Government that was woefully unprepared and disorganised throughout the pandemic. Future generations will now be left to pay for minsters’ inability to close the system to fraud and misuse. To read the report, click here.
SMALL BUSINESS SURGERY FOR BREXIT-RELATED ISSUES
I am keen to hold another online small business surgery to find out how my constituents who trade with the EU are coping with the new Brexit regulations. I held a number of these last year and they were extremely useful in informing me of the challenges people were facing. As we are now over a year into the new trade deal, with new import controls introduced last month, I am eager to hear how people are faring. The Department for International Trade is also going to be announcing some new resources and measures over the coming weeks, and I want to explain to my constituents what new support may be available to them. To register your interest for a late-March date, please email firstname.lastname@example.org