This week I was able to question the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office on a number of issues relating to immigration. I wanted to know more about the unacceptable delays victims of the Windrush scandal are still experiencing with the Windrush Compensation Scheme. In May, figures from the Home Office showed that just £360,000 had been paid out to 60 claimants during the first year of the compensation scheme; in June it was reported by the Home Secretary that over £1 million had been offered in compensation, however, reports in the media do not mirror the Government’s optimistic tone. Many people are still experiencing trauma and suffering, they’re still waiting and being messed around by the system, and it’s obviously knocking the confidence of a whole generation caught up in this scandal in the abilities of the Government to fix this appalling situation.
I also asked about the lack of communication with local authorities when securing temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. Providing support and safe accommodation for asylum seekers is fair and just, and providing that support during a pandemic is vital. However, it’s incredibly frustrating that the Home Office has not engaged with local authorities, including here in Birmingham, when deciding where to place large numbers of asylum seekers without ensuring that the necessary resources are available to support them. Had the Government chosen to work with Birmingham City Council and other local authorities more closely, this process could have been planned much more effectively and better use could have been made of resources to help manage provision for both the individuals and the families being relocated as well as the local communities in which they are being housed.
There has been more devastating news for Birmingham on the jobs front this week with the BBC planning to cut 52 jobs in the city. The BBC plays a crucial role in our democracy, and local journalism is and must continue to be a key part of that. The wider print and digital media industry has faced unprecedented financial pressures recently, which have been further exacerbated by the lockdown, but I urge the BBC to reconsider this decision and the Government to support them in doing so. Of course, the BBC should not be free from criticism, but the relentless, and often baseless, attacks the institution receives from across the political spectrum have helped to bring about this situation. We should value the BBC for what it is: an essential public service broadcaster. If any constituents are affected by these job losses and are in need of support, please do get in touch with my office.
The deadline for applying for financial support through the Building Safety Fund for leaseholders of high-rise properties is 31st July. The fund will meet the cost of remedial works required to make non-ACM flammable cladding safe on residential buildings over the height of 19 metres and which do not comply with current building safety regulations. Reports have indicated that take up from properties in Birmingham has been unexpectedly low and I am concerned that there are leaseholders in Birmingham who will miss out on funding. I would urge all constituents to urgently make an application to the Building Safety Fund if you are eligible and have not done so already. For more information, see the Government website here.
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!