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Photo by user 'Marco Verch', sourced from Flickr and used under Creative Commons License.

This week is Carers’ Week when we recognise the incredible work that our carers, both paid and unpaid, do day in, day out. Around 1 in 8 adults have some kind of caring responsibility, and the support currently provided by the Government is completely inadequate. If you require support from a Carer’s Allowance, you will get £67.25 a week if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week – that’s £1.92 an hour. As a country we need to seriously reevaluate how we look at certain jobs and duties within our society, because – as we have seen throughout the Covid-19 crisis – some of our most vital roles are very badly supported. Poor mental health is endemic among those with caring responsibilities, and they are often isolated from the wider community because of their duties. We must do more and better to support them.

I’m really pleased that this week, a new Article 4 direction will come into force that will mean planning permission is required for properties in the city to be turned into Houses of Multiple Occupancy intended to house 3-6 people. Previous regulations only required planning permission for those accommodating more than 6 people. I’ve long made the case that although many landlords act responsibility, there are too many bad landlords who have exploited the rules around Houses of Multiple Occupancy, leading to complaints of antisocial behaviour and community disputes. I’ve been contacted regularly by concerned constituents on these issues and I hope that this updated regulation will go some way to alleviating some of the problems around antisocial behaviour relating to housing in the constituency. This is a positive step forward.

I recently submitted some written questions to both the Treasury and the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government on the issues around cladding and the sky-high premiums that are now being demanded by some insurance companies. The Government say they are in continual dialogue with the insurance sector in order to understand and influence its response to the situation, but they must go further. They must introduce rules to prevent the building insurance sector from demanding unaffordable premiums from leaseholders who are paying for a mistake that is not of their own making.

In light of the recent Public Health England report which found that the risk of dying from Covid-19 is higher among those of black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds, I have also written to ask the Department of Health and Social Care what recent comparative assessment they had made of the rate of infection of Covid-19 in multi-generational households and the wider population. We know that multi-generational houses are more likely to be found in BAME communities and with lockdown restrictions gradually easing, it is important that we are aware of the risks specific to these groups and what can be done to mitigate those risks. The R rate is not calculated in different settings, which seems an oversight considering that the more comprehensive our data is, the better our response can be. We need accurate information in order to mitigate against the impact of the virus and for this, we need to know what the situation on the ground is.

I have also written to constituents this week regarding my long-standing position on Kashmir following a number of emails relating to Labour’s stance on Kashmir. The Labour Party has long supported self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and I am pleased that in recent correspondence with the Muslim Council of Britain, Labour Leader Keir Starmer clarified that this position has not changed. Within Labour, I will continue to call out instances of human rights abuses in Kashmir and to support calls for the decisions regarding the status of Kashmir to be made by the Kashmiri people rather than the Indian Government.

As ever, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing or by calling 0121 661 9440. My team and I are of course subject to many of the same challenges and restrictions as other families in Birmingham Ladywood at the minute, but we will do everything we can to help constituents in these difficult times.

Keep your social distance, stay safe and healthy – and please, keep washing your hands!

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