After a very busy week in Westminster, it was fantastic to visit Aston University on Friday. I learnt all about their new bioenergy facilities and it was great to meet the faculty working with this cutting-edge technology, right here in Birmingham! With experts warning we have just 10 years until we can no longer reverse the effects of climate change, new technologies and research are going to be essential for mitigating against the impacts of climate change. The UN COP26 Climate Conference starts this weekend and we will all be watching closely to see if the Government can secure an agreement that will ensure we limit global temperature rise to just 1.5 degrees.
Unfortunately, commitments needed to address the climate crisis were notably absent from the Government’s Budget this week. In fact, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, actually announced that he was making it cheaper to fly within the UK, which could lead to 400,000 extra passenger journeys a year, adding more carbon emissions into our atmosphere.
The Chancellor also provided no plan to address the cost of living crisis. The Government ignored the Labour Party’s suggestion off cutting VAT on the price of energy, which would deliver immediate and automatic relief for everyone. This is incredibly disappointing as we head into winter, families are feeling the pinch as prices of food and energy are soaring.
I am deeply concerned about the impact this is having on the residents in my constituency as Birmingham Ladywood has the joint second highest number of families in the country who were affected by the cut to Universal Credit. Analysis since the Budget has found that by 2026, households will be paying £3,000 more in taxes. This unfair and unsustainable approach is going to hit working families who have already been through so much. I will be raising my concerns with the Government at every opportunity and keep fighting to make sure this Government does right by working people.
The cladding scandal continues to impact a huge number of Birmingham Ladywood constituents. Premiums for leaseholders have increased by more than 600%. That’s why Labour has written to the FCA seeking an investigation into whether insurers are profiting from innocent leaseholders. Currently cladding works are stalling because contractors cannot get the right insurance that allows them to do the job. This brings the process to a grinding halt and keeps leaseholders trapped in unsafe buildings. I asked the Government how they plan to fix this issue, but they answered that whilst they are aware of it, they have no plan that will end the delays to remediation or the significant stress and financial strain on leaseholders. When I asked how they would ensure that professional insurance delays don’t halt fire safety work, the Government pointed to the Building Safety Bill. But provisions in the Bill won’t come into force for years and leaseholders are trapped now. We need action immediately.
As winter draws nearer and we have seen cases of coronavirus increase in the last few weeks, I wanted to take this opportunity to ask everyone to their booster vaccines as soon as they are eligible. Both the booster programme and children’s vaccinations are crucial to drive down infections ahead of the winter months. If you have any questions or want any further information on vaccines or the virus, please contact your local GP surgery or go online – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
Stay safe everyone!