As many of you know, I am a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). This Committee is unlike any other in Parliament as it examines the value for money of Government projects, programmes and service delivery. We draw on the work of the National Audit Office to ensure that we can hold government officials to account for the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of public spending. Because we’ve such a large remit, we can investigate every part of how our government runs. This week the PAC undertook an investigation into the Government’s supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve learnt of the importance of PPE in keeping our healthcare professionals, carers and us safe. It helps us control the spread of infection in many settings and it was therefore vitally important that it was readily available, effective and supported by clear guidance covering how it should be used. That is why our committee has been working tirelessly to find out how PPE was supplied to the NHS and social care organisations before the pandemic started. And most importantly we’ve been investigating the scale of the problems faced by people in accessing PPE throughout this emergency.
This week we held a mammoth evidence session where we got to press senior civil servants on the roll-out of PPE. This three-and-a-half-hour evidence session allowed us to fully cross-examine all those present. It has helped our committee discover new shortcomings that will ensure our report is as in-depth as possible and provide practical solutions to stop this happening again. The Government has a responsibility both of our health and our national wealth. Neither should be neglected and I will be doing all I can to secure the best possible outcome for constituents.
Also this week, I joined with colleagues on the Women and Equalities Committee in publishing our new report on the impact of Covid-19 on BAME people. Both the report and the committee are really important as without our findings we could find ourselves repeating the same mistakes and not standing up for everyone in our society. Sadly, our committee’s findings were stark and should act as a wake-up call to the Government.
The report confirmed once again that people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. This comes as no surprise to me or my Labour Party colleagues as from the very start of Covid-19 we’ve pointed to the fundamental inequalities that have been baked into our society.
The Government finds itself at a crossroads: does it do the right thing and act upon our report or will it continue to kick the can down the road? Rest assured I will be standing up for black and minority ethnic communities, such as those in our constituency of Birmingham Ladywood, and I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to keep this issue on the political agenda.
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. And do check my website for our opening hours over Christmas and emergency contacts.
Keep your social distance, stay safe and healthy – and please, keep washing your hands!
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.