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UK Covid live news: ministers face backlash from England’s care sector over plans to make jabs compulsory for staff

Good morning. As my colleague Denis Campbell reported last night, Covid vaccinations are to become mandatory for care home staff under plans to be announced by ministers. The government is also considering making them compulsory for all NHS staff, but this decision would be even more contentious, and the final decision does not seem to have yet been taken.

This morning senior figures from the care sector have expressed concern about the plan for compulsory jabs.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, told BBC Breakfast that giving staff just 16 weeks to get vaccinated, or else risk losing their job, would not give the sector enough time to adapt. She said:

If there is this 16-week window then that really is a very short period of time for people to make the kind of changes that are needed.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group (ICG), which represents care homes in Yorkshire, said this would make it even harder for care homes to recruit staff. He told the Today programme:

I’m disappointed because I think persuasion is the way forward still because those taking the vaccination has gone up but I also say that I do believe people should be vaccinated, every member of staff should take up the vaccine … I just think persuasion rather than coercion or compulsion is the way we have to deal with it.

What I’m worried about is the recruitment crisis already in social care, is that we’re frightened that this is going to put more people off coming into social care and that’s going to be difficult.

And Rachel Harrison, the GMB union’s national officer for public services, said:

Carers have been at the forefront of this pandemic, risking their lives to keep our loved ones safe, often enduring almost Victorian working standards in the process.

The government could do a lot to help them: address their pay terms and conditions, increasing the rate of and access to contractual sick pay, banning zero hours, and ensuring more mobile NHS vaccination teams so those working night shifts can get the jab.

Instead, ministers are ploughing ahead with plans to strongarm care workers into taking the vaccine without taking seriously the massive blocks these workers still face in getting jabbed.

This looks like another potential avoidable mess. We’ve told ministers that more than a third of our members in social care would consider packing their jobs in if vaccines were mandated. They can’t now say they weren’t warned.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, gives evidence to the Commons Northern Ireland committee.

9.30am: Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, and Prof Wendy Barclay, head of the infectious disease department at Imperial College London, give evidence to the Commons science committee.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

12.30pm: Johnson makes a Commons statement about the G7 and Nato summits.

After 2pm: MPs begin debating the regulations to delay the lifting of final Covid restrictions another four weeks, until 19 July. The vote will be at 7pm.

3pm: Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, gives a speech to the Festival of Education.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently, and that will be the case today. I will be focusing particularly on PMQs, Johnson’s statement and the Covid debate.

For other Covid developments, do read our global live blog. It’s here.

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