QUESTIONS have been answered by local MP Nigel Huddleston as the country goes into lockdown.

The MP wished to let readers know that since things are changing very quickly, they are advised to check for updates on this information regularly. 

Mr Huddleston said: "I appreciate that this is a challenging and upsetting time for everyone and I am aware that it can sometimes be difficult to stay on top of the information and guidance being given by the government."

"The government is trying to be as transparent as possible and not every detail and answer to every question is available immediately. Advice can become out of date very quickly, so I encourage everyone to look at the government and NHS websites for the latest information."

Information can be found at and

1) What’s being done to help self-employed people? Or when can we expect an answer to this?

In the House of Commons this week the Chancellor said he would be announcing more information on measures to help the self employed and by the time this article appears that information may have been released. But as of 25th March, the measures include: deferring income tax self-assessment payments due in July 2020 to January 2021; supporting people through the welfare system with changes to Universal Credit, ESA and Statutory Sick Pay so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing; introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus; supporting the self employed with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service; and making the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme available to self-employed individuals with an eligible business entity.

2) How do you define key workers in the building trade. Can business open to sell materials?

The latest information on classifications of ‘key workers’ is available on the government’s website. The ‘key workers’ classification is a criteria used to ascertain whether someone’s children can still go to school. Builders are not currently classified as ‘key workers’ but may still be able to perform work if they adhere to Public Health England’s guidelines, for example, on social distancing.

A full list of businesses and premises that must close is also available on the website - as is a list of ‘exceptions’ which includes hardware shops, supermarkets, chemists, post offices and banks which may remain open.

3) What is being done to help supermarkets create more online delivery slots? People are being told to shop online, but none of the supermarkets have any delivery slots for the foreseeable future?

The government has appealed to everyone to only buy what they need and not to binge shop. Home deliveries are extremely useful for the vulnerable and elderly. We have temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules to allow supermarket delivery drivers to meet the increased demand for home deliveries.

Supermarkets themselves are also doing their bit. For example, Sainsbury’s is offering an expanded ‘click and collect service’ and increasing the number of collection sites across the country. Waitrose is introducing special deliveries for vulnerable customers and Morrison’s is making more online delivery slots. Do have a look on their websites for any updates and availability.

In order to help people with food, planning regulations have also been changed to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs to offer takeaway or deliver services even if they have not done so in the past.

4) Do all schools HAVE to still provide some care for children of Key workers, or is it based on teachers volunteering?

Schools, and childcare providers, are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are ‘key workers’ and critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

However, if a parent can look after their children even if they are a key worker, they should do so and reduce the burden on schools. Teachers and educational professionals are themselves included in the ‘key workers’ category. Many schools are therefore open but with a considerably reduced pupil headcount. It’s understandable that some may be unable to stay open if they are experiencing severe staff shortages and this might be a particular problem with smaller rural schools. If you are seeking care for your child/children and your local school is closed, Worcestershire County Council will be able to direct you to a local school in your area that your children can attend.

5) Are self-employed gardeners supposed to be working or should we stay at home. We stayed home today because we thought we were non-essential workers and Boris said stay at home. Now the govt seems to be saying we can go to work if we can't work from home. Whilst also saying people will get fined if caught doing the wrong thing. We could do with some clarity.

If you can work from home you should do so. At the time of writing, work can be carried out in people’s homes, provided that the tradesperson (gardener in this case) is well and has no symptoms, and abides by social distancing guidelines (e.g. keeps 2 metres away from household occupants).

Work should not be carried out if the household is self-isolating or being shielded. Guidance on movement of people is particularly important and is being continually updated. Keep checking the government websites for the most up-to-date advice.