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News Report Page 10 of 11
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Spike in online searches for cleaners confirms local Molly Maid Franchise efforts to lead the way back in servicing its community

AS businesses in Preston and Southport area slowly get back to work, the local Franchise Owner for Molly Maid, the national professional cleaning company has been actively planning her return for several weeks. Though services provided in a customer's home were never required to cease operating during the lockdown, many businesses like Molly Maid decided it was the right thing to do to ensure that their employees and customers were safe. But resuming service is something that Franchise Owners Clare Carter and her 15 employees are proud of. "It feels great to be 1 of the 1st businesses getting back to work. The response from our customers has been phenomenal and our employees are glad to be back working. It was a really tough decision to stop providing our home cleaning services; especially to our older and vulnerable customers. Most can't properly clean their home themselves so it's an issue of health and safety. But it is also about the health and safety of our employees too. If we couldn't safely bring our employees back to work and safely provide our cleaning services to customers, then we would not be able to resume cleaning."

The company has introduced several changes as part of their HomeSafe procedures to ensure that they can safely provide their services. It includes daily health checks of their fully employed teams following NHS guidelines, implementing social distancing measures between teams, customers and within customers home along with the use of a sanitising cleaner that was proven to be effective against all enveloped viruses including all Coronavirus. "It has taken a bit of time to work through these new procedures... But we started thinking of these things from the 1st week in April. It's important that local businesses like ours help our community get back on its' feet." says Carter. The company has also seen a big increase in interest in its cleaning services, with online searches almost doubling in recent weeks. As more families have been confined to their home and using every inch of it, most are finding it difficult to stay on top of the cleaning. "We're happy to be back helping, servicing and doing our part to rebuild our community" ends Carter. The company has also been selected by the Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for taking the lead in developing safe back to work processes for their employees.

Community Energy Bill Enters Parliament with Unprecedented Support

A proposed new law that would help rebuild local economies whilst increasing clean energy generation was introduced into Parliament by a cross-party group of 150 MPs; an unprecedented number for a:- '10 Minute Rule Bill.' Under the proposal, known as the Local Electricity Bill, a new 'Right to Local Supply' of energy would empower communities to sell locally generated electricity directly to local households and businesses. Currently customers can only purchase electricity from nationally licensed utilities. The Bill's supporters say this means money people use to pay their energy bills is not helping to rebuild local economies nor to increase local clean energy infrastructure. Campaigning group, Power for People, are calling for MPs and the Government to make the Bill law and are leading a supportive coalition of national organisations including:- Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales, Community Energy Scotland, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB. 43 county and Local Authorities have also pledged their support.

Lead sponsor of the Local Electricity Bill, Peter Aldous MP, said:- "The Local Electricity Bill will help address the two great challenges we face today. By empowering and enabling new community energy companies to sell energy that they generate directly to local people it will help strengthen local economies. This is urgently needed given the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also accelerate our transition to clean energy, which is critical in avoiding the potential economic and ecological devastation of climate change."

Power for People's Director, Steve Shaw, said:- "We thank Peter Aldous MP and his cross party co-sponsors for introducing the Local Electricity Bill and the 150 MPs who have already pledged their support for it. If made law, the Bill would unleash the huge potential for new community owned clean energy infrastructure and for this to boost local economies, jobs, services, and facilities in communities across the country. We call on Parliament and the Government to support it."

St Helens Council under pressure to back Care Workers who are struggling to stop the spread of COVID-19

ST Helens Council has been criticised by the Public Sector side of the Union UNISON for not protecting Care Workers in order to stop the spread of Coronavirus. UNISON asked all North West Councils to sign a pledge which guarantees sick pay and other protections for local Care Workers. St Helens Council is the only Local Authority out of the 6 which make up the Liverpool City Region which has not signed the pledge or agreed a similar sick pay scheme through negotiations with UNISON. As the 'R' rate in the North West remains the highest level in the country, UNISON believes the Council could do more to reduce the rate of transmission in St Helens. Local Care Workers have told the union that they have been forced into poverty due to the lack of sick pay for staff who need to self isolate or shield during the ongoing pandemic. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is just ₤95 per week and Care Workers told UNISON that this is simply not enough money to get by. ONS figures have also shown that Care Workers are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 than other front line Health Care Workers, sparking questions about whether Care Workers who do not receive sick pay are putting themselves and vulnerable residents at increased risk by attending work whilst unwell.

1 St Helens based Care Worker said:- "'In March, I was off with suspected COVID-19. I asked my employer about what to do and they told me to self isolate. I did so and we discussed options relating to sick pay or furlough. They took so long to decide that I ended up getting paid nothing, not even SSP. I lost 3 weeks pay and I struggled to pay my bills."

Another St Helens carer said:- "I haven't got enough essential PPE at work. I'm struggling mentally as my children are at home looking after each other, whilst I work. I'm a single parent and I'm really worried about paying the bills if I do have to go off due to COVID-19 and only receive SSP."

Another St Helens Care Worker told the union their story:- "I have been caring for my husband since his return home, from Whiston Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, in March. Because of the lockdown, there has been a lack of support for me as his only carer. This has put a great strain on me and on my husband as we have had no contact with anyone outside of our home, other than family members dropping food parcels off at the door. My husband was advised to shield throughout the entire lockdown period and he still needs my undivided care and attention. On top of all of our troubles that have come from my husband's critical illness, I have now had trouble getting the correct pay from my employer. I have been giving in sick notes every 4 to 6 weeks and I was receiving SSP of ₤377 a month, which isn't a lot to live on. We are struggling financially, but to make matters worse, my employer underpaid me by around ₤177 pounds last month which put me under even greater stress."

2800 Care Workers responded to a UNISON North West survey, which revealed the lack of support for care staff during the ongoing public health crisis. 8 out of 10 Care Workers surveyed believed they would not be paid their normal wages if they had to self isolate due to COVID-19. A large majority of the Care Workers surveyed by UNISON North West said that their employers were not doing enough to keep them and the people they care for safe. The survey is part of UNISON North West's Care Workers Vs COVID-19 campaign, which sets out to ensure that care staff can protect themselves at work and come together to secure the resources they need to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

UNISON North West Regional Organiser Dan Smith said:- "Care Workers are on the front line in the struggle against COVID-19. The reality is they are twice as likely to die from the virus than other healthCare Workers. How much of that is because of inadequate PPE or a lack of sick pay that prevents them from self isolating or shielding when they need to? No one should have to choose between their own health or hardship. The Government's new ₤600m Infection Control Fund provides funding which Local Authorities can use to ensure Care Workers get their normal wages if they have to self isolate. In addition, it's clear that social Care Workers are eligible for the Government's job retention scheme if they need to shield due to a health condition. This means that the cost to St Helens Council of guaranteeing full normal pay for all Care Workers that are absent due to COVID-19 is significantly reduced. 10 Councils across the North West have shown that it is possible to take action to protect the livelihood of our social care heroes, it's time for St Helens Council to step up and make the same commitments."

UK Government supports the wages of 36,200 jobs across Sefton

SINCE the launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the UK Government has supported the wages of 36,200 jobs in Sefton. The CJRS and SEISS were announced by the Chancellor, and are run by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. Businesses have furloughed 27,700 jobs in Sefton, up to 31 May 2020, since the CJRS was launched on 20 April 2020. This is to help UK employers who have been severely affected by Coronavirus to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. An announcement was made on 12 May 2020 that the scheme will run until the end of October to continue the support for jobs and businesses as people return to work. The SEISS was rolled out ahead of schedule in May and has financially supported 8,500 self employed individuals in Sefton who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus outbreak and paid grants worth a total of ₤23,100,000 up to 31 May 2020. On 29 May 2020, the Chancellor announced an extension to this scheme. Those eligible to claim the SEISS grant will be able to claim a second and final grant in August of up to ₤6,750. Further guidance on both schemes has now been made available on:- www.GOV.UK. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:- "The UK Government is doing everything we can to protect jobs and businesses in the North West and across the UK during the crisis. Our unprecedented job retention and self employment support schemes have supported the livelihoods of millions and will help ensure our recovery is as swift as possible."

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