Thank you for contacting me about a public inquiry on Covid-19 and the impact of the virus on the disabled and care home residents.
The Covid-19 outbreak has been one of the most significant and consequential periods of our lifetimes. It has led to a tragic loss of life in this country and around the world and gave rise to previously unthinkable restrictions to our way of life.
I welcome the announcement by the Prime Minister of a full independent public inquiry on a statutory basis.
The inquiry will have full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 and will have the ability to compel the production of relevant material and to take oral evidence in public under oath. Discussions with the devolved administrations will ensure the inquiry can take into account the full scope of the UK response to the pandemic.
I must emphasise, however, that the pandemic situation is not over. That is why the right time for an inquiry is the spring next year. I understand calls for an inquiry to be held sooner but this timetable will avoid inadvertently distracting those whom we continue to need this year in the fight against the virus including our NHS workers, officials and scientific advisers. I have no doubt that the inquiry will have the widest possible consultation and engagement.
I am grateful to you for raising your concerns about the impact of Covid on disabled people and people in care homes. I am assured that the Government continues to review all available evidence regarding the impact of COVID-19 for disabled people. Research from the Office for National Statistics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published in June 2021, which considers deaths from COVID-19 by disability status, concludes that a combination of circumstances explain the increased risk to disabled people but more information is needed to ascertain whether the findings are robust as well as which protective and policy measures should be put in place.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.