The cost of living crisis is not over. Working people are facing soaring bills, rising food prices and higher taxes. Now, the government are forcing councils to put up a 5% council tax increase by reducing funding to councils and then granting them additional ‘flexibilities’ to raise council tax.
That’s why I was so pleased to see this week the announcement that a Labour government would freeze council tax for this year. This would be paid for with a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants. That’s the choice Labour would be making – putting working people first.
We know that the cost of living crisis is an immediate crisis, and that’s why we’re making it clear what the Labour choice right now would be. The Tory choice is to give the top 1% a £1 billion tax cut.
And we see this across the country. Labour authorities only raise council tax on residents as a last resort. We know this because in the UK, Labour controlled councils charge £345 less than Conservative controlled councils.
The Tories are now loading the cost of their economic failure on to local authorities – forcing all local authorities to put up council tax to fund the basic minimum of local services.
But we must move beyond this cost of living crisis and sticking plaster approach. We’ve got to stabilize our economy and get it growing, so everyone can feel better off. From our Green Prosperity Plan to making Britain the best place to start and grow a business, your next Labour Government will do just that.
Initial findings from the University Hospitals Birmingham Report
Back in December, over 50 whistleblowers contacted me as their constituency MP, raising their concerns of a “put up or shut up culture” at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB). These came from doctors, nurses and clinicians at all levels of the Trust. What they described to me was deeply troubling and plainly unacceptable. For the sake of staff and patients alike, change is so very clearly needed, and I cannot allow this to be left to go unchallenged.
That is why I was pleased to see that the findings from the first phase of a three-part review were released this week. The report set out a disturbing picture of failings at UHB. As Chair of the Cross-Party Reference Group, which is in place to hold the three reviews to account, I am seeking reassurance from Professor Bewick who led the review, about his recommendations in regard to patient safety, the monitoring of future mortality rates and his reasoning for waiting before bringing forward a further external review. I am also pushing for clarity around the timescales for carrying out these recommendations and to understand where the accountability for these actions lies. Given staff welfare, culture and morale all play an important factor in patient outcomes, there are questions I would like to see answered before I offer my support of this report.
The report has been discussed by the Group, and we will be issuing a joint statement. However, it is important to remember, these are the findings of just the first of three reviews. The second phase will be a Well-Led review of leadership and governance in conjunction with NHS England and the third phase will be looking into the culture of the Trust. I am pleased that the Group will be in place across all three reviews to hold each to account. We cannot allow these claims to be simply whitewashed and we must see action to ensure that staff and patients have confidence in our local hospitals.
Making a Point of Order against inflammatory language in Parliament
Sikhs and Hindus have lived peacefully alongside one another in the UK for decades. Yet, the Member for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, thought it appropriate to describe protestors outside the Indian High Commission as 'terrorists' during Business Questions last week.
We condemn the violent behaviour outside India House; violence is never acceptable.
However, language is important and to describe protestors as terrorists is inappropriate – many of whom would have been justifiably concerned about what was happening in Punjab and how to contact their families while mobile internet and SMS was shut down.
As MPs our language matters and the situation in the Punjab does not require this kind of inflammatory language. This is why I raised a Point of Order in the House of Commons this week to ask that the Member correct the record.
Around the constituency
This week I was delighted to speak to residents on Six Acres and Four Acres in Quinton. Many raised their concern at the number of potholes on their road. While I was pleased to recently get many roads in Quinton recently resurfaced, which was the largest resurfacing programme in the city, I will continue to work with the council to ensure that this is looked into.
Residents were also concerned about flytipping. This is something your local council is taking seriously and is looking for proactive solutions while managing their serious budget restrictions. I am delighted that the Mobile Household Recycling Centre (MHRC) was secured as a permanent feature when the council recently issued their latest Budget.
Here’s where you can find it next with all sites available from 7am-12pm:
11th April on Westfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3JF
13th April on Fountain Road, North Edgbaston, B17 8NJ
14th April on Shipbourne Close, Harborne, B32 2LH
17th April on Glyn Road, Quinton, B32 2SY
20th April on Sommerfield Road, Bartley Green, B32 3TB
If you are using the service, please do not leave rubbish overnight. The exact location or the MHRC will not be available until the crew are in place and any dumped rubbish will be considered as flytipping.
On a more positive note, I was delighted to hear residents on these roads had noticed a visible drop in anti-social behaviour. I would like to express my thanks to our hardworking Quinton neighbourhood Police team for their efforts to tackle this with the support of local councillors Lauren Rainbow and Sam Forsyth. Moving forward we will continue to work together to ensure that this is reported across the whole of our constituency. If you need my support with any local issues, please get in touch with me and I would be happy to help you.
I’m also recruiting a new caseworker role in my constituency office in Edgbaston. Edgbaston constituency covers Harborne, Bartley Green, Quinton, Edgbaston and part of North Edgbaston.
The cost of living is having a significant impact on residents across the constituency. I have seen this first hand as the number of people contacting me and looking for support has significantly increased with requests ranging from immigration to housing, benefits to health requests. That is why I am looking for someone with experience with casework whether that is in the public sector, at a charity or another fast-paced role.
So, if you have a passion for helping people and want to join my brilliant team, please look at the job description and apply. The closing date is 12 April at 5pm.
I’m delighted to see that the brand new B32 Community C.I.C hub will be opening in Quinton on Saturday 1st April from 11am-4pm. All have been made welcome to come along to 1 faraday Avenue, B32 1JP and take a look at what has been set up and the opportunity to get involved with future plans. There will also be an opportunity to sign up for Your Local Pantry Quinton for all those who need it.
And finally, you may have caught me this Tuesday on Politics Live where I was able to give my take on the housing crisis and the impact of Right to Buy. For me, more people should be able to own their own homes. However, Right to Buy is only sustainable if you’re replacing like for like on houses sold. Under the Tories, we’ve seen fewer homes built. I’m pleased that the Labour Party supports the principle, but what we don’t support is the deliberate vandalism of our social housing stock as we’ve seen with the last 13 years of Conservative Government.
You can watch me discuss this here:
My next advice surgery date
My advice surgeries for all wards except Edgbaston, fall on the first Friday of the month. Unfortunately, April’s advice surgery will fall on Good Friday which is a bank holiday and so they will be cancelled. My next advice surgery date will be Thursday 13 April at Edgbaston Community Centre between 10.30-11.30am.
In the meantime, if you would like my support with any issue, please get in touch on 0121 392 8426 or firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be more than happy to help.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton