I think everybody has every sympathy with people who are facing difficulties with the cost of heating. That is why the Government have stepped up with an extra £9.1 billion in addition to what we are doing with the cold weather payments and the warm home allowance, and we will continue to support people throughout the aftershocks of covid, just as we did throughout the pandemic.
Q2. Figures released from the Department for Education show that last year, once again, Lib Dem-run Sutton Council became the highest rejecter of children applying for education, health and care assessments in the country. Nearly half the children were rejected, compared with the national average of just 23%. Can the Prime Minister outline how the special educational needs and disability review will help children with special educational needs and their families to get access to the education that they deserve?
Yes, indeed. I thank my hon. Friend very much for his campaign, and he is completely right. That is why we have a SEND review, and we will ensure that SEND children and young people can get access to the right support at the right place and at the right time across the country.
The hon. Lady raises a very interesting aspect of research into epilepsy. We are funding epilepsy research with another £54 million over the last few years. The issue that she raises of any particular link between hot weather or climate change and epilepsy is certainly one that we will be going into.
Last week, an independent inquiry into Lib Dem-run Sutton Council’s own heat network found that it was set up on false assumptions, including funding that was never obtained and homes that do not exist—and now my constituents are going to be left footing the bill. Does the Prime Minister agree that this latest failure shows that the Lib Dems are just not fit to govern and that those responsible should go?
It is not the first time that the Lib Dems have campaigned on homes that do not exist or will never exist, if I think of their campaign in Chesham and Amersham. I will certainly look into the matter that my hon. Friend raises.
I thank the hon. Member for raising the case of Mary, and I am very sorry to hear about her suffering. If the hon. Member would be kind enough to write to me about her I will see what I can do to make sure that we get the right answers from the Government and see what we can do to get her the medical help she needs.
I warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s statement today. I know from speaking to Carshalton and Wallington residents that they are particularly concerned, as we emerge from the pandemic, about backlogs in elective surgery, cancer treatments and looking after the mental health of those who have struggled in lockdown. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that these will be front and centre of our plans for the NHS as we emerge from the pandemic?
My hon. Friend is quite right to raise that issue, and I can tell him that we have already invested considerably in mental health, with mental health support and the mental health youth ambassador, but we will continue to do more. As I think I said in the press conference on Monday, this is Mental Health Awareness Week, and people who have been struggling during the pandemic really should not hesitate to seek help.
I am afraid I must reject what the hon. Gentleman says in the sense that I think he is being inconsistent or trying to have it both ways. Most people, I think, in this country want to see restrictions that get the virus down, and that is what we are bringing forward and supporting. I think most people in this country also want to see support for people who are put out of business through no fault of their own, and that is what we are also providing.
Carshalton and Wallington residents have worked hard to keep the virus rate down to one of the lowest levels in London; however, with varying degrees of guidance and restrictions across the country, sometimes the guidance can be difficult to follow and people need clarification. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that this new covid three-level alert system will make it easier for people to understand and ultimately follow the guidance?
Yes, indeed; that is why we have gone for the three-tier approach and anybody in any doubt whatever, whether or not in Carshalton—I thank my hon. Friend’s constituents for the effort that they have made—should get on to the gov.uk website and see what they need to do to comply.
The hon. Lady is entirely right to draw attention to the plight of the Uyghurs, as both I and the Foreign Secretary have done. We raise these concerns directly with the Chinese authorities and will continue to do so in the G20, the UN and every other context.
On Monday night, the BBC’s “Panorama” revealed what parents in Carshalton and Wallington have been telling me for months: that Lib Dem-run Sutton Council is failing our most vulnerable children. Given the shocking scenes we saw, does the Prime Minister agree that the council should hang its head in shame, meet with the parents and sack its failing arm’s length company, and that the Lib Dem councillors who presided over this failure should resign?
I understand that the council concerned has acknowledged the failures and the improvements that are needed. For our part, we are reviewing the oversight of special educational needs schools and will be commissioning a new round of inspections by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission. I am happy to write to my hon. Friend further about that issue.
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust is receiving £500 million thanks to this Conservative Government. Does the Prime Minister agree that that is excellent news for Carshalton and Wallington patients, and will he encourage my constituents to get involved with the consultation on where the new hospital should go?