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Weekly update - 28 October

Updated: Jan 30

This week we saw Rishi Sunak enter Downing Street as the latest Prime Minister. What swiftly followed was his promise to bring integrity, professionalism and accountability to government.

This is the same Rishi Sunak, who as chancellor failed to grow the economy, failed to get a grip on inflation and failed to help families with the Tory cost of living crisis.

Yet, just five hours later, he reappointed a Home Secretary who was sacked for a security breach and who then dodged answering Urgent Questions brought to the Commons by Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper MP. So much for restoring accountability!

This is just another example of the latest Tory chaos being created by a party that are out of ideas and relying on the same sorry tactics that has meant the UK has had put up with three Conservative Prime Ministers in just three months, only one of which was elected by the public.

It is clear, they no longer have a functioning government or a mandate to govern. We must have a general election now.


For more on this, you can watch me talking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News’ The Take, here:


 

Success at Select Committee on exempt accommodation

For years, I, alongside residents, Labour party members and fellow Birmingham MPs, have been sounding the alarm about the explosion of the exempt accommodation sector in Birmingham. It has become a magnet for rogue operators, exploiting vulnerable residents and visiting misery on our area. Working with constituents and our local Police Sergeant, we were the first to close down one of these provisions in my constituency. Going through this process, which was no easy task, highlighted the fundamental flaws within the system.

I am delighted that the Select Committee has endorsed many of the reforms we have been campaigning for, including giving councils the licensing powers they need, rolling out a referral process, and setting enforceable minimum standards of support. Reform is desperately overdue. We must see an improvement to the quality of provision, ensure exempt Housing Benefit claims provide value for taxpayers' money, and drive rogue operators out of the sector.

When delivered well, exempt accommodation provides a vital lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in society, so we must make sure the system is fit for purpose. The Government needs to urgently get on with job.

 

Birmingham Botanical Gardens secure £5 million National Lottery Heritage Funding

Birmingham Botanical Gardens has received a development grant of £590,814, with the option of securing a further £4,409,186 for their ‘Growing our Green Heritage’ project.

‘Growing our Green Heritage’ aims to restore the garden’s historic glasshouse estate, alongside additional visitor and community recourses, in order to create place of horticultural excellence and outstanding green space.

I’m delighted to see this investment coming to such a wonderfully important heritage asset, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The difference this money will make to the gardens, where the historic glasshouse estate has become extremely fragile, and to the wider city of Birmingham cannot be understated.

For this reason, I was more than happy to work with and write a letter of support for the bid. I am extremely grateful to everyone at the Botanical Gardens, and I would like to thank everyone I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with. It is their passion and enthusiasm to preserve our gardens that shines through this bid.

The £5 million that has been awarded is transformational and I look forward to seeing how communities will be able to continue their longstanding 200-year relationship with the gardens as part of the engagement work this funding will support. I firmly believe that there has not been a more important time for our communities to engage more with plants, with nature, with green space, and to better understand environmental issues.



 

Working for global food security



This week I joined colleagues in Westminster Hall for a debate on global food security. Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices have risen nearly 15% - the highest rate in 40 years. For many basics, this is even higher. And for our poorest constituents, the impact stings all the worse, as more of their disposable income is siphoned away on the essentials.

At this point, all MPs can cite shocking tales from our constituency mailbags. I spoke to a headteacher recently, who told me they have children turning up to school nervous wrecks, having seen their parents skipping meals, unable to concentrate, ­­often hungry themselves. One boy she spoke of was so hungry they caught him trying to eat a pot of PVA glue.

This is a national crisis and an international one too, which we have as much of an interest in solving. Globally, food prices have soared over the past year. The causes are multifaceted, but the consequences are invariably stark, particularly when culminated with the impact of climate change.

  • In Pakistan, devastating floods left a third of the country underwater, a size equivalent to the UK – acres of rice fields lost.

  • In India, extreme heat decimated crop yields in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, leading to a domestic grain export ban.

  • And in the Horn of Africa, we face an unprecedented fifth failed rainy season in a row that has left more than 700,000 people now on the brink of famine.

I used this debate to ask the new minister, what happened to this government’s ambition to work with global partners to demand global solutions to this global crisis we are facing.



 

Age UK: helping with bills

Age UK know that many of your older people may be struggling due to the rising cost of living, or unsure of what support is available to them.

They have created this guide on financial support for energy bills which includes information on the:

  • Energy Price Guarantee

  • £400 energy bill reduction

  • Council Tax rebate

  • £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment for households receiving Winter Fuel Payment

  • £650 Cost of Living Payment for households on means-tested benefits

  • £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment for those receiving disability payments

Older people who aren’t currently claiming benefits can use our Benefits Calculator to find out what benefits they might be owed. It’s free to use and the details provided will be kept anonymous.




Best wishes,





Preet Kaur Gill MP

Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton

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