The life of an MP is a busy one – dashing between the constituency and Westminster, it’s sometimes hard to catch breath. I hope that this new weekly round-up of my work each week will give you a taster as to what I’m up to both in Parliament and here in Ladywood.
Monday the 27th January marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of the sites of the most terrible crimes to have taken place in our history. We can never forget the persecution and mass murder of a people, simply because they were different in some way to the majority. It is a reminder to us that intolerance can be institutionalised and we must be vigilant against such discrimination that would isolate groups and make them vulnerable to persecution.
This working week started in the House of Commons on Monday. I spent the afternoon tackling the Government on the devastating impact Universal Credit is having on our communities. There are now more than 84,000 people in Birmingham, 9,000 in Birmingham Ladywood, who are on Universal Credit. They include large numbers of disabled, unemployed, and single-parent claimants who, the Resolution Foundation have found, will be worse off on Universal Credit than under the previous welfare system. The Government claims to be committed to levelling up economic outcomes across the country and creating opportunities for all to participate fully in economic and social life, and yet they refuse to acknowledge the negative impact of Universal Credit and they are not putting it right.
Today has seen the launch of the City Council’s Cross-Party Group’s Report on Bereavement Services in Birmingham, which I authored. Through my work as Chair of the Cross-Party Group and meeting concerned constituents, it has become clear that our coronial services are no longer fit for purpose. From a building unfit for the work they carry out and funding issues putting pressure on the insufficient numbers of staff, to a lack of understanding of and communication with faith groups, reform is needed to make sure that Birmingham’s Coronial Services are able to meet the requirements of the people in 21st century Birmingham. No one likes to think about what happens when we lose a loved one, but unfortunately it is something we all face during our lives. Coroner services should be equipped to manage the growing demand as well as have the level of staffing that can provide a service which is supportive and understanding and works with different communities to ensure that both the law and people’s deeply held beliefs can be respected. Find out more about the findings and conclusions of the report.
After a detour to the Mailbox to take part in a BBC World Service debate on Brexit, I attended the latest CAZ (Clean Air Zone) Working Group meeting. The introduction of the CAZ has been delayed as the Government drags its feet on assisting Birmingham City Council to implement the new plans. I’m pleased to hear that after the planned start date of the CAZ was pushed back to July, Birmingham City Council are now on track to meet a summer implementation. My position on CAZ has always been clear: It’s right to address the damaging air pollution that leads to thousands of respiratory illnesses, but any action taken by the Council must not hurt the most vulnerable and the poorest communities of Ladywood. I’m continuing to fight for greater support for residents during the transition period, whether that’s temporary exemptions and mitigations or grants to change to compliant vehicles. In the run up to summer I’ll continue to keep in touch with residents regarding the big change, including continuing my CAZ advice bureaus at local schools.