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Due to the high quantities of enquiries I am receiving, I have put together a list of contacts people can go to for the latest information regarding #COVID19.

I will keep updating this with new information regularly.

Last Updated: 24th March 2020

Please stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives. #StayAtHomeSaveLives

Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar & Limehouse

PDF version of the information

Sick Pay Information

Urgent Social Care Enquiries (Tower Hamlets Council): 020 7364 5005

AgeUK’s Advice for the Elderly

Local AgeUK: 0208 981 7124 |

MIND’s Mental Health Advice

Samaritans General Advice

Domestic Abuse: 0808 200 0247

Tower Hamlets Welfare Support: 0207 364 7010

Tower Hamlets Homes Support

Universal Credit Helpline

Residents who are homeless (or at risk homelessness)

Advice on protection from evictions

Tower Hamlets Foodbank

Government Travel Advice NB The FCO was already advising against all but essential travel or all travel to some areas or countries due to risks that do not relate to COVID-19. This advice remains in place.

To volunteer with Tower Hamlets Council: or sign up to

Business support/ventilators: 0300 456 3565 |

If you think you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), please read the following information:

You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19:

From 13 March, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit for more information.

When does SSP apply?

The government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from workif you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.

Do I need a sick note?

From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self- isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a “fit note” after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.

What if I am self-employed or not eligible for SSP?

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID- 19 or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or new style Employment and Support Allowance. For more information on how to claim, please visit and

What if I am self-employed and receiving Universal Credit?

If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self- isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants will receive support.

If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit for more information.

If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit for more information.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

If you think you may need financial support from your Local Authority in England, you may be entitled to support from the £500 million Hardship Fund.

Most of this funding will be used to provide more Council Tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through similar measures.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will set out more detail on this funding, including allocations, shortly.

If you have any questions, please contact your Local Authority.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments because of COVID-19, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months.

This includes if you are a landlord whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID- 19. If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the government will ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months:

  • The government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19.
  • This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID- 19.
  • The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears.

Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them.

Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3 month period. This applies to private and social renters.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID- 19, you should read the following information:

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19, you should talk to your lender.

If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.

If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19:

This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self- isolate because of COVID-19. This is in line with the recommended isolation period. Guidance on self- isolation can be found here:

Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.

Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.

Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March.

The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.

Some businesses, including nurseries, in England will be eligible for a Business Rates holiday for 1 year from 1 April 2020:

If you are currently receiving the retail discount for your Business Rates bill, you will receive a revised bill with 100% relief shortly.

If your business occupies a property in the retail sector with a rateable value of £51,000 or more, or if your business occupies a property in the leisure or hospitality sectors you may also be eligible for the 100% discount on your business rates bill.

You will shortly hear from your Local Authority. If you have any questions, you should contact your Local Authority.

If you are a nursery, you will be entitled to the 100% relief for the next year. You should contact your Local Authority for more information.

Guidance for Local Authorities will be published by MHCLG by 20 March.

If your business is eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief in England, you are entitled to a one-off cash grant of £10,000:

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector in England, then you may also be entitled to a cash grant. If you have a property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 then you will be entitled to a grant of £10,000, whether or not you are entitled to small business rate relief or rural rate relief. If you have a property with a rateable value of between £14,999 and £51,000 then you will be entitled to a cash grant of £25,000.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will provide guidance for Local Authorities on how to administer these grants shortly.

If you are an eligible business, your Local Authority will then be in touch in the coming weeks to provide details of how to claim this money.

If your small-or medium-sized business in England is facing cash flow issues as a result of COIVD-19, please read the following information:

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch at the start of next week to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a partial guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.

The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. The first 6 months of these loans will be interest-free, as the Government will cover these payments.

Businesses will be able to get finance under the scheme from a large number of providers, including the main high street banks, as of next week.

Businesses will remain responsible for repaying any facility they take out.

If you are a large business facing cash flow issues as a result of COIVD-19, you may want to read the following information:

Companies commonly sell short term debt (‘commercial paper’) to the market. This is a quick and cost effective to raise working capital.

The new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility means that the Bank of England will buy short term debt from companies.

This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

Further details can be found here in the exchange of letters between the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor, found here.

If you are self-employed or own a business and you are concerned about not being able to pay your tax bills because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for support through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Time to Pay service:

If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice: 0800 0159 559.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

For more information, please check the HMRC site.

If you own a pub that serves food or a restaurant in England, you will be able to operate a hot food takeaway to serve people staying at home, without going through the usual planning process:

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will shortly legislate to bring forward a temporary Permitted Development Right to allow for change of use from A3 (Restaurant) and A4 (Pub) to A5 (Hot Food Takeaway).

The intention is that once the legislation has come into force a pub or restaurant will be able to notify their Local Authority that they are now operating as a takeaway without any prior approval.

If you contract your services to large- or medium-sized organisations outside of the public sector you should read the following information:

The government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35) – that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector – will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.

Business and individuals do not need to take any action.

If the only barrier to your business making an insurance claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government advising people to stay away from businesses, rather than ordering businesses to shut down, was sufficient to make a claim on business interruption insurance:

The government’s medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to enable those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure to make a claim – provided all other terms and conditions in their policy are met. Businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers if in doubt.

However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. As such, any affected businesses should note the government’s full package of support, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and business rates holiday.

I am grateful to the constituents of Poplar & Limehouse for putting their faith in me to represent them as their Member of Parliament.

I do not underestimate the privilege they have bestowed on me, and intend to return the faith they have placed in me, by working to serve them and fight for their needs relentlessly.

I am grateful to my agent, campaign team, supporters and members who have worked tirelessly to help get me elected. So many knocked on doors, volunteered and campaigned in the last few weeks in the cold.

This election was about Brexit but I am still proud of our manifesto which placed ending austerity at it’s core and presented exactly what people across this country so desperately need, from job security to keeping our NHS public. I will continue to fight for this in Westminster in opposition.

Together we will not just resist but we will overcome.

In solidarity,



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Why you should support me

A local candidate

I was born and raised in Shadwell and have both studied and worked in Poplar and Limehouse. I am familiar with the deep inequalities and deprivation experienced here.

A socialist

I am a socialist, politicised by my own lived experiences and I am proud of our history of standing up for our rights.

A campaigner

I have been actively involved in local campaigns to protect public services such as our local day care nurseries. Tackling inequalities and standing up for marginalised communities has always been key to me.

A proud socialist

Why I am standing

I am standing to be MP for Poplar and Limehouse, the constituency where I have lived all of my life. I’m standing because I believe in the people of this great constituency, in the Labour Party, and above all in the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

My pledges

Workers’ Rights

Millions have faced cuts to their real pay since 2010 while the highest earners have had theirs rocket. Workers of Bangladeshi heritage in the UK have the lowest median hourly pay of any ethnic group. I am proud that Labour will establish a real living wage, end in-work poverty and repeal the anti-trade union laws.


Tower Hamlets has one of the highest average rents in London, while at the same time having some of the highest levels of poverty. It’s a toxic combination which means those on low incomes face an increased risk of homelessness. I support ambitious targets for social housing, council house building, requisitioning empty homes by Compulsory Purchase Orders and rent controls to protect private renters.


Education shapes future generations and, in Tower Hamlets, we have seen the impact of cuts on key frontline services, in a borough where children suffer from the highest rates of poverty in the country. I support local campaigns to protect nurseries and community language services, the restoration of Sure Start, end of academisation, abolition of tuition fees and restoration of grants and increased funding for adult education.

Green Industrial Revolution

Diaspora communities understand the devastating impact of climate change on our families’ livelihoods in countries such as Bangladesh and Somalia. Climate change can only be addressed via public ownership of our energy system, mass investment in renewable energy to create new jobs and increased support for developing countries. I will champion Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution and campaign to build an environmentally sustainable society.


Like most people in our constituency, I voted remain and am deeply concerned about the prospects of a catastrophic No Deal Brexit. I support our party’s position of negotiating a better deal and putting that back to the people with remain as an option on the ballot.


The government's ‘hostile environment’ has damaged our society and fostered intolerance and racism. We urgently need to shut down detention centres, defend freedom of movement, end no recourse to public funds policies and extend voting rights to resident non-UK nationals.

Opposing wars abroad,
challenging racism at home

It is over 80 years since our community fought the Battle of Cable Street and we have a long tradition of standing up against fascism, racism and antisemitism. I stand against intolerance, violence and division. In our foreign policy, we have to stand with Jeremy Corbyn’s principled opposition to military interventions which have caused so much havoc around the world.


The NHS is Labour’s finest achievement, but it is under threat. I oppose creeping privatisation and the lasting consequences of the disastrous Private Finance Initiative. I will fight for a publicly owned and publicly run NHS, ensure sufficient funding, and demand that mental health services achieve the parity they deserve.

want to ask me a question?


"A strong track record"

I am delighted that Apsana - a young working class Bengali woman – has put herself forward to represent the seat where she was born and has lived all her life. We need more socialist MPs who are fully committed to standing alongside Jeremy Corbyn and his transformative agenda. Apsana has a strong track record in fighting against the Tories’ austerity agenda – standing up for young people, women and ethnic minorities in particular.
Diane Abbott
Labour's Shadow Home Secretary

"A dedicated socialist"​

Apsana would be a powerful voice for all communities in Westminister. A dedicated socialist, she has campaigned against austerity measures and stood shoulder to shoulder with some of society’s most vulnerable people. Apsana has worked with integrity and dilligence to build a grassroots Labour movement and would fight to make sure Poplar and Limehouse is a constituency that works for the many, not the few.​
John McDonnell
Labour's Shadow Chancellor

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