Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows round-up: ‘I’m pleased with’ Super-Saturday, says Health Secretary

Sunday shows round-up: 'I'm pleased with' Super-Saturday, says Health Secretary
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Matt Hancock - 'I'm pleased with what happened yesterday'

The Health Secretary was Sophy Ridge's first guest this morning. Pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen yesterday, prompting concerns from some quarters that the public would overindulge themselves. Ridge asked Hancock how he felt so-called 'Super Saturday' had gone:

MH: From what I've seen... very, very largely, people have acted responsibly... Overall I’m pleased with what happened yesterday.

We were 'right to take firmer action' on Leicester outbreak

The city of Leicester has seen itself subjected to a lockdown extension after its rate of infection was found to have increased well above other areas of England (with cases reportedly reaching 141 per 100,000 people). Hancock defended the government's decision to implement a local lockdown:

MH: In other parts of the country, early targeted action that we took was successful... In Leicester, we put in the mobile testing units, we worked with the council [but] it was clear that the outbreak was wider in the community and that’s why we had to take the firmer action.

Government is 'worried' about Leicester's factories

Hancock pointed to several workplaces which have been suggested to be exacerbating Leicester's troubles. The Health and Safety Executive has made visits to ten factories in the city, following allegations that the garment industry was failing its duty of care to its workers, with some said to be working in shuttered premises and without social distancing measures:

MH: We've seen outbreaks in food factories and in clothing factories. There are some quite significant concerns about some of the employment practices in some of the clothing factories in Leicester. They are important problems to deal with.

Government is 'not just asking nicely' over Covid compliance

Hancock told Ridge that the government had the authority to close down any business that it found was not complying with the issued Covid-19 guidance, and had indeed done so:

MH: We have the authority to be able to shut down a business if it doesn't follow [our] guidance... We're not just asking nicely, we are very clear to businesses that these are their responsibilities.

We are 'ensuring that the NHS has what it needs'

Andrew Marr also interviewed Hancock and asked him to commit that the National Health Service would continue to be funded to the level that it requires as the lockdown begins to ease:

MH: We protected the NHS during the peak of this crisis, and we will protect the NHS in the future. Even just last week we put another £1.5 billion in, so we are constantly ensuring that the NHS has what it needs... We will fund what is needed.

I want to see NHS staff 'properly rewarded, absolutely'

Marr also challenged Hancock to say that he wanted to see salary increases for NHS frontline staff above the current level that is planned for this year. Unions have argued that the 2020 pay increase should go beyond what was agreed in a settlement drawn up in 2018. Hancock remained non-committal:

AM: Do you want to see pay for nurses, doctors, clinical staff, and ancillary staff in the NHS going up in real terms this year?

MH: Of course I want to see people properly rewarded, absolutely.

I will support the US 'no matter who the president is'

Ridge also informed Hancock that the American rapper, and one-time Trump cheerleader Kanye West has declared that he will be throwing his hat into the ring for the presidency of the United States. She asked Hancock if he could envisage working alongside the West administration:

MH: I respect the office of the President of the United States, and I will support our strongest and closest ally no matter who their president is!

Anneliese Dodds - More tax should come from those with 'broadest shoulders'

The Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds told Ridge why Labour was now moving towards a 'wealth tax' on high earners in order to help boost the post-lockdown recovery:

AD: We've been through an enormous sacrifice as a nation... and it's very often been the lowest paid people who've been delivering for our country... I don't think that low and middle income people should be targeted for tax rises... [That] should be coming from those with the broadest shoulders.

Government 'should have had a long-term strategy' on 5G

Marr asked Dodds if Labour supported the government's reported u-turn on Huawei. The Telegraph has claimed that Boris Johnson will follow revised advice from GCHQ not to allow the Chinese tech giant into the UK's 5G infrastructure. Dodds criticised the government, but remained relatively vague about the decision:

AD: For many months, we've been saying that we need to have proper engagement with this question... Above all, [the government] should have had a long-term strategy for our communications networks.

Simon Stevens - NHS is preparing for a second wave of Covid

Marr also spoke to the CEO of NHS England, Simon Stevens. Stevens said that the NHS was preparing for a difficult winter ahead:

AM: Are you preparing for a second wave of Covid?

SS: Yes. It is entirely possible that there will be, particularly if it is co-existent with flu, and the risk is that many of the symptoms are interchangeable... I think we're going to need the biggest ever flu immunisation seasons we've ever had.

Rishi Sunak has delivered on NHS cash so far

And finally, Stevens told Marr that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was providing sufficient levels of funding for the NHS, even accounting for the severity of the pandemic:

SS: I have to tell you he has... indeed provided the additional funding we have needed throughout this coronavirus pandemic.

AM: ...He is living up to [his promise]?

SS: Absolutely... All the signs are that we will continue to get the support that we need.