This has been a busy week full of so many announcements that you would be forgiven if you’ve missed one or two, so here’s a brief roundup: The disgraceful saga of parties at Number 10 has continued this week. On Monday, we saw the first 12 pages of Sue Gray’s report. While it has had to leave out 12 cases that have reached the threshold for criminal investigation, it concluded that there were “serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time.” However, rather than coming clean, every step of the way Boris Johnson has insulted the public's intelligence. The Prime Minister isn't fit for public office and needs to do the decent thing and resign. Instead, he’s left that to his staff. We’ve now seen five of the Prime Minister’s staff resign including: Policy Chief Munira Mirza, the prime minister's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, director of communications Jack Doyle, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and policy adviser Elena Narozanski. This week we also heard from Keir Starmer at Prime Miniters Questions, how Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak wrote off £8.7billion in PPE waste and £4.3 billion in fraud. To give context as to the value of these huge amounts of money being wasted, £4.3 billion could fund Birmingham City Council for more than four years. Yet, at the same time that they do this, they're hiking taxes and asking working people to pay even more. That's why Labour is calling for full access for the NCA to investigate covid support fraud. On a more positive, local note, Birmingham City Council this week has announced that they are investing an additional £1.4 million in clearing the city's streets & fly tipping response crews, £1 million in a joint initiative with West Midlands Police to tackle knife crime and, £590,000 to address rogue landlords (HMO) and exempt accommodation. It is these measures we need to see more of to tackle the issues that are facing our city.
Visiting Birmingham Women’s Hospital
Yesterday I visited Birmingham Women’s Hospital to thank frontline NHS staff who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic. I met with Chief Executive, Sarah-Jane Marsh, as well as staff and service leads from nursing, midwifery and gynaecology. They spoke of a broad range of issues that had affected staff and patients throughout the pandemic including the vital work taking place to improve women’s health, tackling the stigma that still exists around issues like menopause and abortion and the impact which Covid-19 has had on unvaccinated mums-to-be. More urgently, staff outlined to me the dramatic increase in domestic abuse cases they received and the change in approach to safeguarding concerns. It was striking to see how the role of doctors and nurses changed so that they no longer focus purely on care but social support for women. We need to ensure more emphasis on supporting women's wellbeing is recognised by Government. The impact of both unprecedented levels of domestic abuse and multiple lockdowns has seen the need for mental health support increase. It has been reported that mental health referrals, particularly amongst young people increased by as much as 77% nationally placing additional pressures on an already fragile support system. I also met with senior directors from Forward Thinking Birmingham, who provide mental health support for young people in the city. It was invaluable to be able to discuss the challenges and obstacles that staff are facing when it comes to delivering a fit-for-purpose health service. We need a mental health system that can meet growing demand, that is on a parity with physical health practices, and which puts community at its heart. We continue to see our city’s services having to do more with less and so it is absolutely imperative that any mental health model, needs to be implemented from the bottom up with local residents at the very centre.
Levelling Up must do more for Birmingham
This week, the Levelling Up Minister Michael Gove MP released his Levelling Up white paper. In response, I have backed five key metrics for success which the Government’s Levelling Up plan must meet in order to deliver on the promises of the 2019 election. The five tests centre around basic metrics such as jobs and employment, crime, transport and the prosperity of local high streets. In Birmingham, Local Settlement Funding has reduced in real terms by £294.4m since 2018. While successful bids through the Levelling Up Fund totalled £52.6m, it shows that they have seen a £241.7m real-terms loss for the area since the Government’s levelling up agenda was announced. This compares to research which found that in England, local authority areas were still worse off by approximately £50 million on average after receiving Levelling Up funding. While the Government is distracted cleaning up the Prime Minister’s scandals, they aren’t delivering for my constituents. Birmingham City Council has already had £800 million taken from their budget over the last decade from Conservative Governments. Now, Birmingham is £241.7 million worse off since the Government announced their levelling up agenda. That is an atrocious scandal and shows exactly how our city has been the hardest hit by this Conservative Government's policies. Even Michael Gove himself has said that levelling up by the Tories is rubbish. The lack of any real ambition to tackle huge regional inequality is appalling and residents of Birmingham are due so much more. However, it’s also imperative that the Government stops their agenda for pitting cities across the Midlands and the North against each another. Local authorities shouldn’t be fighting one another for basic funding. Every council should receive the money they need to provide vital services for its citizens. This is what I will continue to fight for on my resident's behalf. New statistics have shown that even before the pandemic, 12 years of Conservative attacks on public sector organisations and economic mismanagement, have meant that the UK has seen the worst year for the high street on record. 2,700 jobs were lost per week and 16,000 outlets closed for good. Thousands of businesses were forced to close including: 9,775 shops 5,785 pubs 7,400 bank branches 1,195 libraries I have always backed local businesses as I want to see our high streets flourish. That’s why as a proud Labour and Co-operative MP, I supported the Co-op's ‘Unlock the High Street’ Campaign and at a local level launched my own ‘Save our Banks’ campaign which has seen local communities able to retain their local branches and remaining open to thousands of people who still rely on having access to cash. For me, Levelling Up has to put people at the heart of plans which gives real powers to communities to shape their own futures.
Volunteers needed for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Commonwealth Games
With the Birmingham Commonwealth Games soon approaching, there are a number of fun and interesting opportunities that you can apply to be part of. The Birmingham 2022 Ceremonies Team is calling for the most ambitious, outgoing, and dedicated local people to apply to be part of the performance that opens and closes the biggest sporting celebration since the London 2012 Olympic Games. You can apply to be a volunteer for the opening and closing ceremonies here. However, if that doesn't grab your fancy, the search is on for 2,022 inspirational people to carry the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton around England. The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that builds anticipation for the forthcoming Games by celebrating, connecting, and exciting communities across the Commonwealth and shining a light on untold stories and unsung local heroes from the places it visits. If you would like to find out more, click here.
Would you like to work in my office?
I have two fantastic roles in my Birmingham Edgbaston office that I am looking to fill. I will be recruiting for a new caseworker and a new constituency assistant. If you think that you might have the right experience and would like more details, then please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton