Published: 11:51, 24 March 2020
| Updated: 13:47, 24 March 2020
An MP is to donate the majority of her salary to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tracey Crouch, who represents Chatham and Aylesford at Westminster, says she has received numerous heartbreaking messages from constituents who are being impacted by the crisis which has now seen the country ordered into lockdown.
The donation, which will be ongoing and represent a significant proportion of her wages, will be targeted at those who have lost income or require the aid of domestic abuse services, although the specific recipients of the cash have yet to be identified.
An MP's basic salary is currently set at £79,468, but is due to increase to £81,932 from April 1. Parliamentarians are also entitled to expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, somewhere to live in London or their constituency, and travelling between Westminster and their constituency.
Ms Crouch said: "I will be giving most of my salary for the foreseeable future to hardship funds to support those who find themselves out of work and in financial need and domestic abuse services.
"At the end of the day when this passes, which it will, I will still have a job but there are many who won’t and will experience challenges that no one could have foreseen or planned for. It is not much but I feel helpless in many other ways and my inbox is breaking my heart. This is the least I can do."
Ms Crouch was previously Minister for Sport and Civil Society in Theresa May government, but resigned her post in protest over delays to curbs on fixed-odds betting terminals.
Women's Aid, a grassroots group working to tackle violence in the home, has warned that the Government needs to specifically consider planning and advice for those experiencing domestic abuse during the lockdown period.
In a statement on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on victims of domestic abuse, a spokesman for Women's Aid said: "We know that the government’s advice on self or household-isolation will have a direct impact on women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
"Home is not likely to be a safe place for survivors of domestic abuse. We are concerned that social distancing and self-isolation will be used as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour by perpetrators, and will shut down routes to safety and support. Safety advice and planning for those experiencing domestic abuse should be included in the national government advice on Covid-19.
"The impact of self-isolation will also have a direct impact on specialist services, who are already operating in an extremely challenging funding climate, and will be rightly concerned about how to continue delivering life-saving support during the pandemic. They could see challenges in funding, staff shortages and further demand for their help."