Cancer care during Covid-19, Land Transaction Tax in Wales, can you cycle to work? - Weekly Update 17/07/2020
This week I was pleased to be able to speak in a debate on the Covid recovery, where I raised this issue of delayed cancer treatment. In my role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, I have grown increasingly concerned throughout this crisis at the impact the pandemic is having on those facing cancer. Experts have warned that as many as 35,000 people could die unnecessarily as a result of delays and disruptions to their treatment because of lockdown. Our frontline cancer workforce are phenomenal and many of them have been redeployed to fight the Covid pandemic from their usual duties. Cancer departments across the UK were already struggling to cope pre-pandemic and it is vital that they are adequately supported as the recovery begins so that patients going through treatment or awaiting treatment, and those waiting for a diagnosis are given the best chances to beat cancer. Along with other chairs of Parliamentary Groups who tackle issues related to cancer, I have written to the Secretary of State for Health regarding a cancer recovery plan but have yet to receive a response. We need the UK Government to take this seriously and consider those ordinary people who are facing something just as scary as the Covid pandemic.
You may have seen the BBC Panorama programme on Britain’s cancer crisis last week which laid bare the current situation. People are concerned and, quite rightly, angry. Kelly Smith tragically passed away aged just 31 from bowel cancer after her life expectancy was drastically cut short as her chemotherapy was stopped as a direct result of Covid-19. Her parents, Craig and Mandy Russell, in collaboration with Radiotherapy for Life have set up a Catch Up with Cancer petition on Change.org which has received over 166,000 signatures. The comments people leave about why they’ve signed really do hit home: “My cancer surgery was postponed because of Covid-19,” “Cancer doesn’t go away because of Covid.” “Cancer deaths are every bit as tragic as Covid deaths and deserve and equal amount of effort to prevent them.” You can sign the petition here.
It’s hard to know how to help people with cancer, particularly if you aren’t a close friend or family member, so it’s great to see that Macmillan are offering training and support to employers to enable them to best support employees affected by cancer. They’re offering masterclass webinars which are led by their expert trainers, either open sessions or bespoke training. 1 in 2 people will develop cancer at some point in their lives and so it is vital that there is as much awareness and support available as possible. To find out more about the webinars and to register, visit the Macmillan website here.
The Welsh Government have this week announced that there will be a Land Transaction Tax (the Welsh equivalent of Stamp Duty) holiday in Wales until March next year and that £30 million in funding will be released for the building of energy efficient social houses. It’s vital that we build more social housing to support our population needs, but also that these houses are energy efficient. Not only will this help us reach our climate goals, but it will also help those most at need keep their energy bills low. With no wasted energy and homes that keep heat in, families can afford to keep their families warm in winter and have a few extra pounds in the kitty.
I’m delighted to hear that the Cycle to Work scheme is going really well this year as participation more than doubled last month compared to 2019. With the benefits to your mental and physical health (as well as your finances), this scheme is a great way to incorporate physical activity into busy lifestyles in an affordable way. Employees who participate in the scheme can save up to 42% of the total cost of a new bike and, on average, scheme users have saved more than £700 on their annual commute. I would encourage Gower constituents to look into the scheme and take advantage of the benefits of cycling to work!
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increased, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Keep well and remember – keep washing your hands!