It was great to meet this week with Labour Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire, Councillor Sharon Thompson, and other Birmingham MPs to discuss the proliferation of exempt accommodation across Birmingham. While there are many responsible and empathetic social landlords, much of exempt accommodation is untracked, unmonitored, and unregulated leading to unscrupulous landlords putting vulnerable residents at risk. We need the Government to take this seriously and give more powers to local authorities to ensure that social housing is responsibly managed. I’ll keep campaigning on this issue until they do.
I was pleased to be invited onto LBC’s Cross Question with Iain Dale this week, where we discussed – of course! – Covid and Brexit. News of a vaccine has brought us some much-needed hope at the end of a very difficult year, but the vaccine deployment will be one of the most significant and challenging logistical operations undertaken in the UK in recent history. Given the Government’s track record on other aspects of the Covid response, I am nervous about their ability to manage it well. We know that there is growing vaccine scepticism, not helped by misinformation spread online, and the Government must show themselves to be in control to earn the public’s trust and confidence. This is simply too important to be mishandled.
We also discussed Brexit as we near the end of the transition period with no deal in sight. We’ve heard so much from the Brexiteers about Brexit giving the UK back its sovereignty, but what does that really mean for the UK and its people? We know that in the short-term things will be more difficult, with or without a deal, as changes to legislation and logistical challenges occur, but Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have given us little idea of what Brexit means in the medium- and long-term. A good deal for the UK is clearly important to our future. The EU are our closest neighbours and trading partners, and it would be a significant loss to our economy to not have a deal, especially given the economic challenges that Covid and the recovery poses. It will represent a serious failure of diplomacy and statecraft if the Government fails to agree such a deal.
I was pleased to join a meeting on Bereavement Services in Birmingham on Thursday of this week. Almost a year ago I released my report into the failings of the service in Birmingham due to a lack of funding for appropriate premises and a lack of consultation with faith groups, amongst other concerns. I was pleased to hear about some of the progress made regarding bold plans for new facilities and on developing relations with faith groups. Death is something that will touch us all, and it is so important that the services around it are as sensitive and respectful as possible.
This week I was honoured to have been invited to Birmingham Metropolitan College’s Awards Ceremony for 2020. I want to again offer my congratulations to all the students who have achieved so much in what has been an incredibly difficult year, both personally and academically. A special congratulations to those who have been presented awards for outstanding achievements, the BMet Fellowship Award and the Student Alumni awards. These awards do really mark the standout contributions made to BMet and it is right to recognise these achievements. Well done to you all!
If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com 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!