Anne-Marie's latest newsletter to constituents:
Update from Westminster and Northumberland
I do hope everyone is well and managing to enjoy the glimpses of spring sunshine we have been enjoying. As ever, this update contains some of the news from Westminster and locally that you may have missed.
My team is still working from home, so please do refrain from physically writing to me if you can. Post to my Alnwick and Berwick offices is being collected sporadically, and post to Westminster is being forwarded on, so there is a delay in me receiving it. The fastest way to seek my help or views is to email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday marks further easing of the lockdown restrictions as part of Step 1. The most notable change is the removal of the "stay at home order" although folk are reminded to stay local. Outdoor sports and leisure facilities may re-open.
People will be able to meet outside in groups up to a maximum of 6 people (the Rule of 6) or with one other household, though people from different households will still need to socially distance from each other. This will apply in all outdoor settings, including private gardens. Applying either limit provides greater flexibility, recognising the different situations faced by families and individuals; two households will be more helpful for families, while the Rule of 6 is likely to help people in different households to reunite outdoors, including those living alone or in shared accommodation.
This week I announced that the UK will become the first G7 country to agree a landmark deal to support the oil and gas industry’s transition to clean, green energy - while supporting 40,000 jobs.
We have established the North Sea Transition Deal in agreement with industry. The sector deal between the UK government and oil and gas industry will support workers, businesses, and the supply chain through this transition to a clean, green economy without leaving communities and vital industries behind.
We need to urgently end our reliance on fossil fuels and through this deal we will do so without putting our economy and communities at risk. While the future oil and gas sector will look very different to how it does today, the industry, businesses and supply chains it supports will have a new mission to help the UK decarbonise and develop the clean technologies of the future, as we lead the green industrial revolution.
You can find out more about this important deal HERE.
I am thrilled to report that a total of 34,168 of my constituents have now received at least their first dose of the covid-19 vaccine, which is wonderful news. We live in an area of very high take-up of the vaccine, which is really reassuring.
As you will know, the NHS is asking those who are able to travel, to book in to a mass vaccination centre or pharmacy to receive their vaccine, to enable GPs to focus on those with specific medical conditions which put them at risk, which is a more time-consuming effort than selecting by age alone.
Vaccination slots at the Centre for Life are added to the system several times a day, and we now have slots available at Boots in Berwick for those unable to travel to Newcastle. I have been invited to attend Boots on Monday to view their operation for myself, which I am looking forward to.
Whilst the guidance is to work from home, there are a large number of people who cannot work from home. Employers need to conduct risk assessments to manage the risk of covid-19 and to keep employees, customers and visitors safe. There is a wealth of information on how to conduct and write your risk assessment HERE on the Health and Safety Executive's website. The HSE is carrying out spot checks on premises to check risk assessments, talk to staff and make sure businesses are operating in a covid-secure manner.
Businesses can register to order lateral flow devices (which test people who do not have covid-19 symptoms) by 31st March HERE. You will need your company number in order to register.
There is a new text message scam doing the rounds, whereby people receive a text purporting to be from Royal Mail, seeking the payment of a small fee to enable a package to be delivered. The message contains a link to a fake Royal Mail website urging unsuspecting consumers to enter their personal details. This can then lead to customers being telephoned by their "bank" and told that their account has been breached, and has led to some people transferring the contents of their account into a new account, opened by the scammers.
This is quite a sophisticated scam which could be quite easy to fall for. Royal Mail has confirmed they will not ask for payment in this way. If you are concerned, please do not open links from unknown senders. Never transfer money or give out your bank details to someone claiming to be calling from your bank. If you are unsure, hang up the phone, and call your bank from a different telephone.
There is more information from Royal Mail HERE on how to report these scams.