As the parliamentary year comes to an end, I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect on everything that we achieved from Westminster to Ladywood!
Over the last year I have resolved and closed over 3,500 cases from constituents with issues ranging from housing and social care to fly-tipping and immigration and more.
It is fantastic that the Commonwealth Games is about to begin right here in Birmingham and I hope everyone in Ladywood makes the most of all the fantastic events taking place over the next few weeks.
Regulating Exempt Accommodation
Over the years, I have had countless reports of constituents living in appalling conditions in exempt accommodation, with no support whilst cowboy operators cream off extra cash from Housing Benefit payments. I have had residents breaking down about the anti-social behaviour, drug taking and criminality taking place on what were once modest, quiet residential streets that were home to tight-knit communities. This is a lose-lose situation – the only winners are the rogue operators making huge profits.
Our current system is completely under-regulated, letting down both vulnerable tenants and Ladywood residents and I have pushed the Government for years on the need for tighter regulations to ensure that rogue providers can be shut down or prevented from ever setting up shop in the first place. This year, we used one of Labour’s chances to control the Parliamentary agenda to hold a debate on exempt accommodation and raise awareness of the impact being had on our communities. An influential Committee of MPs is also investigating the sector as a result of our tireless campaigning to highlight the issues we are experiencing every day.
Due to our campaigning and public pressure, the Government announced that they would be tightening the regulations to make it harder for bad landlords to keep destroying our neighbourhoods. They took many of my recommendations on board and have been drawing on the experience of Brummies as they draft their policy. I am in ongoing discussions with Government Ministers and officials to ensure that their proposals have the best outcome for Birmingham Ladywood residents and exempt accommodation tenants.
Seeing off Bassini
Earlier this year, I met with fans of Birmingham City Football Club who explained how the club has been driven to the brink due to shocking financial mismanagement by the far-removed foreign based ownership. With millions of pounds of debt and a crumbling stadium which has been left unfixed for two years now, Blues fans have had enough. It then emerged that Laurence Bassini – a controversial individual with a long history of bankruptcy and failed takeover bids – was close to buying the club. I publicly pushed back against this to highlight that Bassini’s track record is exactly the reason why football needs a strong regulator and a more robust process to decide who can be a club owner or director.
Bassini’s exclusivity period ended and if recent reports are to be believed, we have finally had a serious bidder come forward and enter into late stage talks, suggesting we have narrowly avoided Bassini. But I, like all the blues fans in my constituency, will reserve my judgement until we see real progress that the club is turning a corner. I will keep working with fans, the club, the Government and the EFL to ensure this important heritage asset is protected for years to come.
Building Safety Act Passed
In April the Houses of Parliament passed the Building Safety Act into law. After years of campaigning alongside affected leaseholders it was a relief that the Government finally saw sense and wrote into law that leaseholders would be protected from the costs of dangerous cladding remediation. I know everyone involved has been working tirelessly to try and protect leaseholders from the extortionate costs to fix issues they are not responsible for and we would not be where we are today without all their hard work.
It was also very welcome that the Government finally directed the Financial Conduct Authority – the insurance industry’s regulator – to investigate the sky high insurance premiums for leaseholders. Leaseholders in Ladywood have seen their buildings insurance jump by over 1000% over the last few years, with final premiums costing over £500,000. Our campaigning to push the government and the FCA to do better on this issue finally paid off and we are now seeing some progress, even if they were two years too late.
But it is unacceptable that it is taking the Conservatives such a long time to do anything on insurance and that some leaseholders are still unprotected from non-cladding remediation costs. I will keep working with everyone from campaign groups to Ministers to ensure a fairer deal for leaseholders.
The Labour Party’s National Campaign Coordinator
As Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator, I lead the party’s election preparations and I sit in Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet. We have had a fantastic year, with more and more people coming back to Labour after our 2019 defeat. I am proud of our recent by-election wins and looking forward to building on our success at the next general election.
And the rest….
There are, of course, countless other issues we’ve highlighted on behalf of Birmingham Ladywood constituents. As the cost of living crisis started to bite, I surveyed constituents on how they were impacted and called on the Government to provide support and mitigate against the soaring cost of energy (see here). I called on the Prime Minister to resign months ago when it emerged he had been holding parties in Downing Street at the height of the coronavirus pandemic (see here). I have also demanded more action to protect the LGBT+ community in our city following an uptick in violent homophobic attacks in the Gay Village last winter (see here).
That’s not all, I’ve submitted 117 Written Parliamentary Questions on a huge range of issues including bird flu, asylum accommodation, the kickstart scheme, council tax, medals for prison officers, driving licence delays and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China. You can see all of my contributions in parliament here https://www.shabanamahmood.org/in-parliament/.
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has been working with me to make life better in Birmingham Ladywood. Me and my team love what we do and I won’t stop fighting to represent your interests locally and nationally. If there is anything you need help with – please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.