Over summer, the Government removed the EWS1 form requirement for blocks of flats below 18 metres. But for many, it was too little, too late. Many leaseholders in low rise buildings in Ladywood had already commissioned the surveys for the EWS1 forms at their own expense, and so I asked the Government if it planned to reimburse them for the unnecessary cost. It will come as no surprise to frustrated leaseholders that once again, that in response to my question, the Government is absolving itself of any responsibility for a problem of its own making. It has washed its hands of the process and stated that leaseholders will not be reimbursed for the cost of the forms – leaving leaseholders out of pocket. The Government has an obligation to make good on its promise that leaseholders will not incur any further costs as a result of the cladding scandal. Instead, it continues to drive many to the brink of financial and emotional ruin. I will keep fighting in Parliament and will work with anyone on a cross party basis to get innocent leaseholders out of this nightmare.
It was fantastic to visit Villa Park earlier this month to learn about Aston Villa Foundation’s fantastic youth support work and mentoring schemes. It is so important that our children feel supported and are given a space where they can meet their friends and have some fun, particularly after the last 18 months, when so many kids were unable to attend school. It is great to see one of our local football clubs taking such a large role in providing for the young people in our area.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Ann and the team at Incredible Surplus – an organisation who have been at the forefront of Birmingham’s response to the pandemic. They are true unsung heroes and exactly the sort of people we in the Labour Party will continue to champion. Working people across the country are being hit by rising costs – the rising energy prices, rising taxes and the Government’s planned £1,000 a year cut to Universal Credit is creating a cruel triple whammy. The Government is trying to make low-income families pay for the pandemic as a result of their chronic mismanagement of the crisis and the economic recovery.
I was delighted to see that over 600 Ladywood residents have joined my calls for a cleaner Birmingham and want to find a solution to the city’s problem with litter and dumping. Over the summer, I wrote to residents about this issue and with less than a year until Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth Games 2022, we have a once in a generation chance to clean up our streets.
It is shameful that the very workers who got us through the pandemic are in the firing line for a £1,000 cut to their income every year. This £20 is what enables some families to put food on the table at the end of the week. Birmingham Ladywood families will be amongst the hardest hit, with over three quarters of working-age families with children in our area being impacted. Earlier this month in Parliament, the Labour Party forced a vote in Parliament on the Government’s planned cut to Universal Credit. I voted to oppose the cut and have repeatedly called on the Government to cancel the cut in order to protect and support working families in Birmingham.
A Labour Government would ensure that hard working people and those key workers who got Britain through the pandemic, do not shoulder the burden of the recovery. Next week, I will be in Brighton for the Annual Labour Party Conference, where Leader of the Party, Sir Keir Starmer will have his first opportunity to have an in-person Conference. Keir is making the Labour Party the party of working people, he is determined that the Labour Party focuses on the country and on the concerns of voters. Labour wants to harness the spirit shown by the British people and at this conference we will be discussing with members about how we win the next General Election in order to build a better future for everyone.
This is my last weekly round-up before I go to Conference, but you can keep up to date with my latest work on my Twitter feed and Facebook page.