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Covid-19: Testing - capitalism vs socialism

This CLP/Council applauds Manchester Mayor’s principled stand to demand support for workers, families, communities and businesses.

Andy Burnham is standing up for people, not just in Manchester but across the whole country. The COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse and hardship will impact ever more of the population as winter approaches.

Public health restrictions must go hand in hand with financial support. Manchester’s demand for a Fair Financial Framework through lockdown is a national rallying call.

Financial support

When 80% of wages were covered in March, why should people now be expected to get by on just two thirds through autumn and winter. The government struggles to defend the lower rate because it is unjustifiable.

People and businesses need protecting from the worst effects with financial support to individuals on reduced pay, those losing their jobs and struggling businesses.

Crucially, a scheme of full reimbursement of lost earnings for those needing to self-isolate is required - a study in Israel showed compliance increased from less than 57% to 94% when lost wages were compensated:

Public Health approach

Lockdowns will increase throughout the winter months. As areas all over the country look set to tighten restrictions a consistent approach is needed – an ad hoc approach will not work.

Containment is essential to minimise loss of life and damage to health, to ensure a functioning economy and a functioning society.

As the situation escalates out of control we need a circuit breaker to reset our response to the transmission of the virus. See Independent SAGE emergency 6 week plan:

Track and Trace

The so-called ‘NHS’ test and trace system, in reality a private test and trace system, is failing. And failing badly.

The private test and trace system run by Serco, Sitel and others has been deliberately established to sit outside of the NHS, Local Authorities and public health teams, the public bodies that have the expertise and skills to manage an effective response to the virus. It is an insidious attempt to create a pillar of private enterprise and profit taking in the midst of our public sector – a trojan horse.

The virus is out of control because of the failures of the national £12bn Test and Trace scheme.

Test and Trace data published on 22nd October shows of those close contacts provided by people who recorded a positive test, less than 60% were reached.

Local public health teams continue to reach an average of 95% of close contacts.

Test results notified in less than 24 hours are down to 15% - the worst performance since the service was established.

The strategy of delegating track and trace to local teams is already the norm in Wales and in Germany. Germany has demonstrated the merits of local initiatives to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Conservatives accept the private service is failing and some are calling for leadership to be removed. We demand more – that the Test & Trace service be brought into public sector under NHS management.

Outbreaks will be impossible to control unless there is a national organisational structure which is anchored and run locally. Without a publicly run ‘find, test, trace, isolate, support’ (FTTIS) system there will be no containment of the virus. See Independent SAGE blueprint to reform the current failure:

This CLP resolves:

To support workers, families, communities and businesses by campaigning for a nationally consistent and improved ‘Fair financial framework’ with Government support equal to at least March’s 80% support and with a minimum wage floor within the coronavirus job support schemes, for all types of worker including those in precarious employment and self employed. Adequate financial support should be extended to include a self-isolation payment, equivalent to lost earnings.

To support Councillors and Regional Mayors present the case for a consistent and Public Health led approach to containing the COVID-19 virus, such as that described by both SAGE and Independent SAGE, and calling for a national circuit breaker.

To support Councillors, Regional Mayors and communities present the case for responsibility to be handed to adequately resourced Regional and local, public health protection teams - for the local public health teams to be further strengthened, giving them the ability to effectively trace the contacts of those who have recently tested positive to Covid-19.

To join with ‘Keep our NHS public’, ‘We Own It’ and other local campaigns to stop privatisation and to support the campaign for the Serco and Sitel contracts to be scrapped and for the Test & Trace service be brought into public sector under NHS management.

Paul O’Brien

Chair, Cities of London and Westminster CLP

27th October 2020

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