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Labour demands local lockdown cash for businesses

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labour demands local lockdown cash for businesses

Labour today demanded Chancellor Rishi Sunak bring forward a new funding package to prop up businesses hit by local lockdowns as the party warned a lack of support would risk people disregarding the rules.   

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds suggested if firms which are told to shut because of a coronavirus spike cannot access Government cash to keep them afloat then they could fail to comply with restrictions.  

Ms Dodds said that would ‘obviously have a very significant impact on all of us’ because flouting restrictions would hamper efforts to stop the spread of infection. 

Local lockdowns are now the Government’s main strategy for tackling new coronavirus outbreaks.

Ministers believe the a ‘whack-a-mole’ approach of pouncing on local surges in infection will prevent the need for another national lockdown. 

But Ms Dodds said without a funding lifeline for affected businesses and workers the measures will not be ‘as effective as they could be’. 

Meanwhile, the shadow chancellor also said Labour will oppose any move by Mr Sunak at the autumn Budget to increase taxes. 

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, has urged the Government to bring forward a funding package to help firms hit by local lockdowns

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, has urged the Government to bring forward a funding package to help firms hit by local lockdowns

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, has urged the Government to bring forward a funding package to help firms hit by local lockdowns

Meanwhile, Ms Dodds said Labour would oppose any move by Rishi Sunak to increase taxes at the autumn Budget

Meanwhile, Ms Dodds said Labour would oppose any move by Rishi Sunak to increase taxes at the autumn Budget

Meanwhile, Ms Dodds said Labour would oppose any move by Rishi Sunak to increase taxes at the autumn Budget

She said the Government should be focused on growing the UK economy to pay for the crisis. 

It comes after Labour appeared to advocate imposing a wealth tax to pay for the economic damage done by lockdown before then backing away from the proposal.  

The Government is in the process of winding down its furloughed workers scheme with the programme already closed to new applications. 

But Ms Dodds suggested it should be reopened to firms which are asked to shut during local lockdowns amid fears statutory sick pay will not be enough for workers who are asked to stay at home. 

She told The Guardian: ‘If there is insufficient financial support there, that means they are not as effective as they could be.

‘And that would obviously have a very significant impact on all of us.’

Ms Dodds said there ‘needs to be some kind of package there to support jobs and employment’. 

‘Unless you have that, you’re going to be risking people’s ability to comply with the guidelines,’ she added.      

Ms Dodds’ comments come after Boris Johnson announced last Friday that councils and ministers are getting new powers to impose ‘lightning lockdowns’. 

The powers will allow local authorities to ‘close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces and cancel events’.

Ministers will be able to close whole sectors or types of premises in a specific area and impose local stay at home orders.

Ms Dodds sparked a political row at the start July after she suggested Labour is in favour of imposing a wealth tax to pay for the damage done by the crisis. 

But she subsequently insisted the priority should be on growing the UK economy to pay for lockdown as the party seemingly cooled its support for the policy. 

She has now gone even further as she said Labour will oppose any move by Mr Sunak to increase taxes at his autumn Budget. 

She said that increasing income tax or VAT ‘wouldn’t be helpful at this stage’ and that where Mr Sunak ‘needs to be focused right now is on growth above all.’  

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Is your school in Covid danger zone? Online tool lets parents check how close their children are

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is your school in covid danger zone online tool lets parents check how close their children are

A new website has been launched for parents to find out how at risk their children are from coronavirus at school.

The National Education Union has developed the online tool, that lets mothers and fathers type in the school’s name and see levels of infection in the area.

It displays the number of Covid-19 cases in their locality, whether it is on a watchlist or if local restrictions are in place.

The NEU believes it will reinforce public health messaging from local authorities and Government where cases are higher. 

It adds that it says it hopes the map will also reassure parents of children in low case areas.

The site will use the increased amounts of data now made available by the Government. 

Commenting on the launch, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Everyone in the education sector has worked hard to make full opening of schools, colleges and universities as successful as possible this autumn, but they have been let down by the Government which hasn’t even ensured that Covid testing has kept pace with need.

“The NEU School Covid Map presents up to date information on the Covid rate in every part of England. This website will support public health messaging everywhere. We believe it has the clearest information. We hope that it will encourage ongoing conversations about school safety, and how everyone can play their part.

Pupils in Huddersfield adopting new Covid-secure measures for their return to the classroom

Pupils in Huddersfield adopting new Covid-secure measures for their return to the classroom

Some schools have struggled with the return after lockdown over fears of infections rising

Some schools have struggled with the return after lockdown over fears of infections rising

The new website can be used to find any schools, no matter if they are independent or private

The new website can be used to find any schools, no matter if they are independent or private

“But this website will also encourage parents to support our asks of the Government that they help to support safety in our schools and colleges.

“We have written to the Prime Minister calling for much quicker testing for staff and students, Nightingale sites for smaller classes, guaranteed home working for vulnerable staff, and more funding for already strained schools and colleges to maintain Covid-security.

“Parents, students and staff also need urgent answers on next year’s exams, and how fit for purpose they will be. This is in light of not only the past summer’s fiasco, but also the disruption of local lockdowns in the months ahead.”

The site comes after parents and teachers aired serious concerns about going back into schools after the strict coronavirus lockdown.

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Coronavirus figures for the UK show cases are rising again for the second wave

Coronavirus figures for the UK show cases are rising again for the second wave

Previously NEU chiefs have called on the government to create ‘Nightingale classes’ amid a drop in the number unable to fully open due to Covid-19.

The latest government figures revealed one in six state secondary schools could not fully open last week – with most unable to do so because of coronavirus.

Schools are considered to be not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole school day and have asked a group of students to self-isolate.

Latest school attendance statistics reveal approximately 84 per cent of state-funded secondary schools were fully open on September 24 – down eight per cent from a week earlier.

Bosses from the NEU, the largest education union in the UK, have renewed calls on the government to create ‘Nightingale classes’ in a bid to get all of the country’s students back into lessons.

According to the Department for Education (DfE)’s latest school attendance statistics, approximately 84 per cent of state-funded secondary schools were fully open on September 24 – down from 92 per cent a week earlier.

Schools are considered to be not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole school day and have asked a group of students to self-isolate.

The cause of schools not being fully open was ‘mostly due to Covid-19 related reasons’, the DfE said.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Inspired Travel owner Kate Harris breaks down as Covid looks set to close her business

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inspired travel owner kate harris breaks down as covid looks set to close her business

A travel agent is seen breaking down in tears as she discusses her fight to save her previously successful 20-year-old business from going under due to the Covid crisis – and reveals how she’s applying for jobs to stack shelves in a bid to pay her bills. 

Kate Harris, who owns award-winning holiday company Inspired Travel and lives in Burbage, Leicestershire, couldn’t contain her emotion as she discussed how her business has been put under huge strain, as she slammed the Government’s furlough scheme as ‘cr**py’. 

Speaking to Travel Weekly Editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley for a webcast about the way the travel industry has been devastated by the pandemic, the single mother-of-one fought back tears as she revealed how, even with the help of the furlough scheme, she’s only taken £120 in the last month, and still has to pay her one employee £500.   

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Heartbreaking: Travel agent Kate Harris who has run her own award-winning business, Inspired Travel, for 20 years says the Covid crisis has seen her applying for jobs to stack shelves as bookings have dried up

Heartbreaking: Travel agent Kate Harris who has run her own award-winning business, Inspired Travel, for 20 years says the Covid crisis has seen her applying for jobs to stack shelves as bookings have dried up

Speaking in a webcast with Travel Weekly, she told Editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley, pictured top left, that she doesn't know what she'd do if she lost her shop - and wonders whether all the sacrifices she's made along the way are now worth it

Speaking in a webcast with Travel Weekly, she told Editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley, pictured top left, that she doesn’t know what she’d do if she lost her shop – and wonders whether all the sacrifices she’s made along the way are now worth it

Harris told the webcast that she didn't want to be a 'moaner' and was working hard to get a second job to support her business

Harris told the webcast that she didn’t want to be a ‘moaner’ and was working hard to get a second job to support her business

Getting emotional, she told Huxley in the ‘heartbreaking’ interview that she already owed £10,000 and is behind on the company’s corporation tax and VAT bills.

She said she’d been left wondering whether all the sacrifices she’s made along the way, including years when she says she was a ‘drive-by mother’, to run her own business have been worth it.

The company director struggled not to cry as she revealed recent interviews she’s had, saying: ‘I did a Zoom interview for a job with two people who are younger than my 27-year-old son. I’m answering questions like a manager when I’m applying to stack shelves.

‘I never wanted to do that [but] this has been my life and I will do whatever it takes to save my business.’

She added: ‘I think if the choice was between having Covid or a roof over my head I’d pick Covid every day because without my job, without this shop to come to I don’t know what I’d do anymore.’  

Huxley later tweeted the webcast, saying it was ‘utterly heartbreaking’. 

Editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, Lucy Huxley, warned there'll be many more agents facing the same trials as Kate (pictured)

Editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, Lucy Huxley, warned there’ll be many more agents facing the same trials as Kate (pictured)

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She wrote: ‘If you do one thing today…watch the raw emotion displayed by agent Kate Harris of Inspired Travel on this webcast about the Chancellor’s Job Support Scheme & more. There will be many more agents just like Kate. #SaveFutureTravel’ 

Another agent painted a similar picture of her own business, @julie_travel wrote: ‘This is the reality of what is happening to previously successful travel businesses. I don’t have premises but haven’t earned a penny since March and now looking at a raft of Lapland bookings possibly cancelling. It’s heartbreaking.’ 

Harris said she’d hoped in March to back ‘up and running’ by August but was now hoping for a surge in bookings next spring instead. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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10-year egg freezing limit should be scrapped because women feel under pressure

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10 year egg freezing limit should be scrapped because women feel under pressure

The 10-year limit for storing women’s eggs for social reasons should be extended to give people more time and options, according to Britain’s ethics body.

Currently, people can only store their eggs or sperm for a decade, after which they must either go through with fertility treatment or destroy them.

Nuffield Council on Bioethics said there is no good reason not to extend the freezing time and claim the arbitrary 10-year limit puts pressure on people to have a baby they are not ready for.  

It claimed some private fertility services in the UK have preyed on anxious women through Prosecco-fuelled marketing events and targeted online adverts. 

The Government has been assessing the rule since February, although its not clear when a decision will be made either way. 

Experts have raised concerns that some women are being forced to travel abroad and use substandard healthcare to get around the 10-year rule. 

The NHS only funds egg freezing for medical reasons – in advance of cancer treatment, for example. People who get the procedure on the health service can apply to have them stored for up to 55 years.

But people who do it for social reasons need to go private and pay around £8,000 on average.  

The 10-year limit for storing women's eggs for social reasons should be extended to give people more time and options, according to Britain's ethics body (file)

The 10-year limit for storing women’s eggs for social reasons should be extended to give people more time and options, according to Britain’s ethics body (file) 

HOW ARE EGGS FROZEN? 

Egg freezing dates back to 1986 when the first pregnancy from a frozen egg was reported in the Lancet Journal. 

Collected eggs were preserved in cryogenic tanks after being frozen ‘slowly’ for many years. 

In the early 2000s, scientists began experimenting with an ‘ultra-rapid’ freezing technique called vitrification. 

Using this process, the temperature of an egg plummets thousands of degrees per minute, resulting in a glass-like cell structure that is stronger than other crystalline ice forms. 

They are then stored in cryogenic tanks, for up to 25 years. 

In preparation for having her eggs retrieved, a woman must undergo the first stage of an IVF cycle, which uses hormones to stimulate more eggs into maturity, then another set of hormones to trigger the eggs’ release. 

Patients inject these drugs at home and are usually closely monitored by their doctors.  

There are many different forms of these hormone treatments, ranging in cost from about $800 (£625) to $6,000 (£4,675) per cycle, and six to 10 weeks in duration.

Then, the eggs are surgically retrieved in a minimally-invasive procedure.  

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Dr John Appleby, lecturer in medical ethics at Lancaster University, said: ‘The UK’s 10-year egg freezing rule for social egg freezing is not fit for purpose and this briefing highlights how we have very little reason for maintaining it any longer.’

Sarah Norcross, from the assisted conception debate group Progress Educational Trust, said: ‘With more women than ever choosing to freeze their eggs, it is time for the law to be changed.’

Frances Flinter, Nuffield Council member and emeritus professor of clinical genetics at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘It’s vital for women thinking about freezing their eggs to be able to make informed choices.

‘To do this, they need easy access to data on their chances of success across various stages of the process – from freezing and thawing eggs, to having a live birth. But they also need clinics to be frank about the process, and about what is known and unknown about egg freezing.’

There has also been a rise in companies offering to pay for women to freeze their eggs which is ‘concerncing’, Nuffield said.  

While it may work as a ‘gender equaliser’ in some cases and boost women’s salaries, it could also pressure women to delay parenthood to show commitment to the company, it warned.   

Women who have IVF after freezing their eggs have about a one in five chance of conceiving after the procedure, according to latest estimates. 

The Newcastle Fertility Centre, behind the study, analysed all IVF births going back 15 years using data from the UK’s fertility regulator.

IVF births in the mid-2000s skew the success rate (18 per cent) because techniques have vastly improved since then.

But experts say the finding should serve as a warning to women that the procedure could take five attempts before working.  

The vast majority who go through the procedure do so in their late 30s – by which time they have very little chance of success.

Specialists fear fertility clinics encourage women to delay motherhood for too long, by offering them the safety net of egg freezing. 

Figures show two-thirds of women who freeze their eggs in Britain do not do so until they are over the age of 35.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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