Fellow Birmingham MP Steve McCabe introduced a Ten-Minute Rule Motion in Parliament this week that would require developers to disclose for planning purposes an intention to use a building for supported housing or other accommodation that is specified for the purposes of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. It would also establish a suitability test for accommodation proposed for such use and make provisions about the requirements for landlords and managers. I have been working on the issue of regulation for supported housing and other similar types of accommodation in recent months, given the concerns that have been expressed by a number of constituents about the problems in Birmingham Ladywood. We have many examples of this housing and accommodation in Birmingham, which, without support for residents, generates many problems with substandard housing and anti-social behaviour. I am pleased to support Steve’s Bill and to work further with him and the Government on bringing forward better regulation for this sector.
I wrote to the Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport this week in support of local football clubs who are seeking information and a roadmap from the Government to be able to prepare for clubs to reopen to the public, and to get started with some test games. Our sports clubs in Birmingham were fantastic in supporting communities across Birmingham during the first lockdown, and they need support to prepare for the safe reopening of sports venues once the lockdown and restrictions are over. Football clubs play such a huge role in our society and the financial pressure on them is currently enormous. We have to ensure that they are still there once this crisis is over.
This week is Usdaw’s annual Respect for Shopworkers Week which they run as part of their Freedom From Fear campaign, seeking to tackle the rising problem of violence and abuse towards our hard-working and dedicated frontline retail workers. It’s appalling that this sort of thing happens in normal times, but during this crisis, when our shopworkers have done so much to keep our shelves stocked and to support our vulnerable, it is truly despicable. I am pleased to support this campaign and would encourage all constituents to sign Usdaw’s petition to call on the Government to enact legislation to create a specific offence of abusing, threatening, or assaulting a retail worker with a penalty that shows that we are serious about stopping these disgusting attacks.
It’s Anti-Bullying Week this week, a very important and relevant week in our calendar. Bullying can have a long-lasting effect on those who experience and witness it, but by working together, by sharing our experiences, and by educating young people, we can reduce bullying. We all have a part to play – parents, teachers, politicians, celebrities, and young people themselves – we can all speak out against bullying and speak up for those experiencing it.
We also marked International Men’s Day this week – a time to remind everyone that men’s health needs to be discussed more and the stigmas removed around having these ‘emotional’ conversations. In 2018, roughly 13 men took their own life every day, making up 3 in 4 of all suicides in the UK. We need to talk more about men’s mental health and make it clear that there is help available for men – it’s not just women who experience poor mental health. Domestic abuse is another area which has traditionally been viewed as affecting only women, but 1 in 3 people who experience domestic abuse are men. Tackling suicide and domestic abuse means also tackling the societal stigma that exists around these issues and being open with friends and family and people who can help with what is happening in our lives.
At the start of December, I will be hosting a car insurance roundtable and would like to hear more from constituents who have experienced discrimination in this sector. I have been campaigning for some time on the issue of discrimination in the car insurance industry, particularly around increased premiums among the Black, Asian, and ethnic minority communities and we’ve heard plenty of anecdotal evidence of this through casework and my summer survey. I have invited Ministers and shadow Ministers, as well as representatives of the car insurance industry and the Financial Conduct Authority. Please contact my office for further information on this event.
If there are issues you want 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!