Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the government will “look at” any fines incurred by families who travelled for childcare purposes during the coronavirus lockdown.
Hancock was responding to a public question from Reverend Martin Poole in Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing at Downing Street, as the Dominic Cummings controversy continued.
The prime minister’s senior aide has told how he travelled to his family’s property in County Durham to self isolate and on Monday insisted it was allowed because restrictions make room for childcare issues.
Hancock said: “We do understand the impact and the need for making sure that children get adequate childcare.
“That is one of the significant concerns that we’ve had all the way through this.”
He added that it was “perfectly reasonable to take away that question, I’ll have to talk to my Treasury colleagues before I can answer it in full and we’ll look at it”.
Hancock added that he would provide the vicar, from Brighton, with a full answer and an announcement would be made at the briefing podium in Downing Street.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds tweeted that Hancock’s statement suggested the government wanted to “review” the fines issued and asked home secretary Priti Patel for a response.
Following today's Downing St briefing it seems Government will review fines issued during lockdown for travel to childcare. This is one of many questions that must be answered after guidance was undermined by Ministers over the weekend. @pritipatel-I'd appreciate an urgent reply: pic.twitter.com/tcaLIAXXKs— Nick Thomas-Symonds MP (@NickTorfaen) May 26, 2020
However, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she had been told Hancock’s answer did not amount to the announcement of a review.
Govt source says Hancock did not announce a review of fines of people in lockdown - just meant that he would pass concern raised by Martin the vicar on to his colleagues - 2020 everyone— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 26, 2020
The ex-Vote Leave director said at an extraordinary press conference on Monday that he did not regret travelling up north to self-isolate, citing worries he and his wife would be unable to take care of their child if they both fell badly ill.
Tory MPs and opposition politicians have called for Cummings to leave government amid criticism that his trip undermined messaging about the lockdown.
When Cummings went north in late March, lockdown rules said you should only leave the house for essential purposes and not make long journeys.
Reports on Tuesday suggest his actions been used by people as an excuse to breach current rules on gatherings.
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