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Coronavirus

COVID-19: Domestic Cleaners See Demand Drop

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Nearly half of self- employed workers fear being unable to cover basic costs due to the Coronavirus pandemic, researchers say.

Research by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE)  found that 45% of the self-employed fear being unable to cover basic costs such as rent and bills despite government support.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE said: “This research shows that it is not just a few self-employed people falling through the cracks in the government support: right across the sector, freelancers are facing dire financial damage because of the Coronavirus crisis.”

How has this affected people?            

Amongst the five million people in the UK that are self- employed, just over 100,000 are domestic cleaners.  Many have seen demand for work decrease substantially.

I spoke with a cleaner in Birmingham who wished to remain anonymous, she said;

“ I  live with my daughter and contribute £450 per month towards our rent. Although the government has introduced legislation for renters, it simply does not make sense and still leaves private renters at significant risk of eviction once this is over.”

She said that as her tenancy agreement was in her daughter’s name, she was ineligible for government schemes that helped with rent costs.

On work, the self-employed cleaner said;

“Since losing work my daughter has looked after me financially, and luckily one of my clients, who is also a close family friend, gave me wages for the month even though I won’t be attending her premises this month.”

House Cleaners who use TidyChoice, an online platform for independent cleaners also spoke of financially struggling due to the lockdown.

One cleaner was struggling to buy food;

“ I was not prepared for the lockdown… I have been on Universal Credit for about a year and was working a limited number of hours as a cleaner to get the extra money to live on (but) now my earnings are down to £22 per week.

I normally shop at Lidl and buy yellow label marked-down food. Because of the panic buying there is much less marked-down food so I have to pay full price. This has made a big difference. I am now struggling to buy food.

I have been hit hard and I don’t know what I am going to do. It is a strain.”

IPSE highlighted that an income support scheme that provides grants to the self-employed won’t be up and running until June.

Andy Chamberlain said:  “The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) offered generous support to many sole traders, but there are a lot of freelancers who will struggle in the interim before it can be implemented..”

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Another 1.5 Million File For Unemployment As States Continue To Reopen Economies, Totaling 44 Million People Unemployed

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(NPR) — The pain in the job market continues as an additional 1.5 million sought jobless benefits for the first time last week, down 355,000 from the prior week. Continued claims fell by 339,000 to 20.9 million, a sign that more people are returning to work as the economy reopens after pandemic lockdowns.

More than 44 million first-time claims have been filed in the past 12 weeks.

The Federal Reserve is projecting that the unemployment rate will be more than 9% by year end, falling to 6.5% by the end of 2021.

That’s down from last month’s lower-than-expected 13.3% rate but up sharply from a nearly 50-year low of 3.5% earlier this year before the coronavirus crisis shut down much of the economy. Employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, but they slashed 20.7 million just a month earlier.

“The May employment report, of course, was a welcome surprise,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday. “We hope we get many more like it. But I think we have to be honest. It’s a long road.”

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Coronavirus

5G Misinfomation: “I’m unsure what to believe”

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Misinformation linking 5G to COVID-19 has been spreading online for months leading many to believe such claims.

Despite COVID-19 being a novel Coronavirus that affects the respiratory system, online conspiracy theories have falsely claimed that symptoms are caused by radiation emitted by 5G communication masts.

What is 5G ?

5G is the next generation of mobile network technology that is being rolled out across the UK, it will provide a faster and smoother internet connection for mobile users.

5G Masts emit minute amounts of radiation which are less than visible light itself.

The spread of misinformation has led to vandalism of mobile masts, arson and widespread speculation on social media.

Dozens of telephone masts were set ablaze over Easter Weekend leading mobile networks to issue a joint letter asking the public to help it stop

Prof Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Bristol, said that “damaging phone masts is like knocking holes in your lifeboats while your ship sinks.

Several of the masts vandalised had been providing critical infrastructure to the temporary NHS Nightingale hospitals.

Misinformation

In the first week of the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’, Ofcom carried out an online survey of 2,000 people.

Nearly half of respondents said they had come across false or misleading information about COVID19 that week.

I spoke with a support worker in Birmingham who has nightmares about COVID-19.

Speaking about the misinformation, she said;

“I heard about Coronavirus possibly being caused by 5G masts on a podcast, I’m unsure what to believe whether it’s on social media or from the government”

The essential worker said that she was “shocked and scared” to hear such claims.

Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said:

“The idea that COVID19 is caused by 5G mobile phone signals is complete rubbish.”

“Electromagnetic waves are one thing, viruses are another, and you can’t get a virus off a phone mast.  Similarly, sensible studies have failed to corroborate the claim that the signals emitted by 5G masts are able to suppress our immune systems.”

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Coronavirus

Labour Leader Starmer says no worker should risk their life because they haven’t got the right PPE

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At 11 am today, a minute’s silence will be held to remember those that have died during the coronavirus outbreak.

A campaign for the national silence was launched last week by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing which represent more than a million NHS and public service workers.

In a video message released this morning on International Worker’s memorial day, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that as the nation observed a minute’s silence for those that have died, “we must continue to fight for those on the frontline to protect their lives”.

Starmer said that “Nobody should put their lives at risk because they haven’t got the right protective equipment” adding “We owe it to them to make sure they’ve got the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time and we will continue to press on that”.

Last week, a survey by The Royal College of Physicians of 2,129 hospital doctors, found that 26.5% of medics reported being unable to access the protective equipment they need for managing COVID patients.

Today the Trades Union Congress (TUC) , an umbrella group for unions in the UK called upon the government to do more to protect those on the frontline.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said Britain will “forever be in debt” to the workers who have died during this pandemic.

O’Grady criticised ministers for the handling of the crisis and demanded an enquiry, she said;

“The lack of protective equipment for frontline workers during this crisis is a grotesque failure by ministers. We demand a public inquiry into why government allowed workers to keep working without the right equipment to keep them safe”.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that families of NHS workers and social carers who die from coronavirus would receive a £60,000 payment.

Labour’s Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders MP welcomed the announcement and said;
“It is welcome that the Government has listened to workforce representatives and ensured that death in service benefits are available to everyone working in the NHS and social care sector.”

He added “..the Government must finally get a grip over PPE supplies so that NHS and care staff aren’t putting their lives on the line to do their job and protect the rest of us.”

82 NHS staff are known to have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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