At the end of last week, I was pleased to address the Birmingham Leaseholders Action Group (BrumLAG) roundtable on the cladding scandal. I want to pay tribute to the tireless work of the campaigners on this issue and have been continuing to call on Ministers for an insurance guarantee, similar to that for those living in high-risk flood areas, that would ensure insurance companies provide adequate and affordable insurance cover to those living in affected buildings. It is highly unfair that those living in buildings affected by the scandal have been left to deal with these issues on their own, leaving many of them fearful for their financial future. I won’t stop working on this issue until the Government comes up with a proper solution.
After the very busy end to last week with the release of the Labour Together report, on Monday I took part in a workshop on the report’s findings. It was great to hear the enthusiasm that people have for Labour’s message and the belief in the future of our party. We have some hard work to do to reconnect to the areas that feel alienated and to once more represent the core values and aspirations of our members and supporters. We want to be the party that supports ordinary people – people who aspire to provide for themselves and their families and to contribute to society through valued work, people who have been let down by a system that sees too many workers left in poverty and struggling to get by. As I said last week, we have a mountain to climb, but we know we cannot shirk the task. We need to be a Party that can win power so that we can improve the lives of people in this country.
I’ve been disappointed over the past few weeks at the lack of urgency displayed by Government Ministers and their slow responses to my written questions. I’ve been raising issues about the risks posed by Covid-19 for those living in multi-generational households for the past few months and have repeatedly warned that Ministers must consider this when easing the lockdown restrictions. It’s clear that despite numerous approaches to Government departments, Ministers are simply failing to engage with this issue and to give it the attention it deserves. This is an unprecedented situation but the Labour Party has a duty to provide an opposition to ensure that the Government is properly scrutinised. The Government are the first to call out opposition MPs for a so called ‘unhelpful and unconstructive tone’ in questions put to them in the House but they are proving themselves tone deaf in their lack of recognition of important issues.
This lack of action continues to compound the wrongs suffered by too many in our society. This week, the Home Secretary Priti Patel updated MPs on the progress made to bring justice to those cruelly impacted by the Home Office’s hostile environment leading to the Windrush scandal. Commonwealth citizens answered Britain’s call for help following the end of the Second World War to rebuild Britain, working in construction and our emerging NHS to help improve the lives of all who lived here. Instead of recognising bravery of those who came, who travelled across the world to a new country, and thanking them for their contributions, this Government caused untold damage with jobs lost and families uprooted. And now they are taking far too long to right their wrongs. Just 60 people have been compensated over the first year of the compensation scheme’s operations. 95% of those who have submitted claims are still without a penny of compensation. This is not good enough and the Government has to start taking decisive action instead of simply paying lip service.
I have been celebrating #LoveLadywood through my social media channels and publishing stories of the local groups that have been working so hard to support our community through this pandemic. It’s been wonderful to hear about groups such as the Masjid Al-Falaah Birmingham team who have delivered over 2,500 food parcels to vulnerable individuals and families since the start of the pandemic and the Reverend Sarah Hayes and the team at St Germain’s Church cooking hundreds and hundreds of meals for local shielding individuals and families. If you have been contributing to the community effort or know of some local heroes, please do get in contact with my office. We would love to hear from you.
As ever, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org 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!