This week the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, unveiled the government’s first Budget since the General Election, which will undoubtedly have an impact on all our lives in Birmingham Ladywood. I welcome the support the government has brought forward to respond to the deepening Coronavirus outbreak. It’s vital that we continue to have strong cross-party cooperation to tackle what is now a global pandemic. It’s crucial that our NHS and social care services get given all the resources they need to support our communities through this difficult time. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be continuing to work closely with my Labour colleagues to help to ensure that all those who need financial support get it.
The Budget also brought welcome news that the government has finally taken action to provide funding for flammable non-ACM cladding on buildings over 18 metres in height. While we wait to see the detail on this, I’m pleased that progress is being made so that leaseholders, such as those I’ve been working with locally at the Islington Gates development, aren’t left high and dry in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It also remains to be seen whether the government will take any action to prevent insurance companies from profiting from leaseholders’ misery by guaranteeing them affordable, fair insurance premiums. Many people living in areas of high flood risk are afforded this support, so it’s only right that these leaseholders get the same provision after being exposed to this risk through no fault of their own. The progress made this week is as a result of the relentless campaigning of groups like the Birmingham Leaseholder Action Group (BrumLAG). I’ll be continuing to work closely with BrumLAG and others until the injustice leaseholders are facing is rectified.
It was disappointing that the Chancellor didn’t have much else to offer our region though, with the West Midlands’ Mayoral Budget set to have a black hole of almost £2 billion, with only 20 per cent of the funds needed for the East Birmingham Metro allocated. If the government is serious about levelling up our country then it’s vital that our region gets its fair share of the new infrastructure spending. That’s before we even consider what more needs to be done to tackle the cost of living crisis many of our communities still face. Because while we saw some well overdue mood music this week, the proof will be in the pudding – and over the last decade the Conservatives haven’t given us any confidence that they can deliver.
This week saw the unveiling of the official countdown clock to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022. I was really pleased to be able to speak about the importance of the games in Parliament alongside colleagues from across our city. It’s key that the Commonwealth Games brings real benefits to our communities long after the events themselves have finished. Whether that’s providing more opportunities for our young people, encouraging investment into our city, or inspiring the next generation of sportsmen and women, we really cannot afford to let this opportunity go to waste. The games’ Community Programme is set to recognise projects delivered by grassroots organisations across the West Midlands. Groups will be promoted on the Birmingham 2020 website and they will be allowed to use the new programme logo to help amplify their activity. It’s a fantastic opportunity for organisations to grow and share their brilliant work with a much wider audience. If you want more information about the Community Programme and how to apply, then I’d highly encourage you to take a look at their website.
At the start of the week I also wrote to the Home Secretary regarding the difficulties British-Iranian constituents have faced when renewing their passports. I have recently received correspondence from a constituent who holds a British birth certificate, having been born in Iran to a British mother and Iranian father, and has held a British passport since it was first legally possible, renewing them several times since. A member of their family had their most recent passport application rejected based on a minor difference in spelling between their British and Iranian documents. You can read more about this particular case here.
As ever, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch using the information on my contact page.