This week we saw a slew of grim news for the UK economy. It was confirmed that the UK is going through the worst downturn in the G7, with record redundancies in the last quarter and a million people out of work.
At the Spending Review, we needed the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take the responsible choices our country needs. Yet, apart from some welcome announcements including on coronavirus support next year, his overall package fell short.
Economists, such as those at the IMF and IFS, agree that now is not the time for spending cuts and tax rises, and yet that is exactly what the Chancellor announced.
Taking a sledgehammer to consumer confidence, the Chancellor chose to freeze pay for police officers, teachers, firefighters and many other key workers, and snuck out a council tax bombshell to boot. The Government should be doing all it can to build up confidence in the economy, not choking it off at the worst possible time.
Cutting through the spin, the Office of Budget Responsibility provided the honest picture of the nation's finances. It put a £12 billion cost to the Chancellor's decision to veto a short, sharp circuit-breaker before the virus got out of control. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak made no mention of what support would be available once we exit lockdown on 2nd December.
Moreover, despite just five weeks to go before we could exit the EU with no deal, not a single mention of Brexit made it into the Chancellor's speech. This in a week where the Conservative-appointed Governor of the Bank of England has said that the long-term economic impact of Brexit could be worse than Covid.
When national lockdown restrictions end next week, Birmingham will be placed into the Very High Tier 3 of restrictions. I know this is very disappointing news for many of us in Edgbaston, but by no means a reflection of the efforts I know that the vast majority are making to follow the rules, make their businesses Covid-secure, and keep safe.
At present, we are awaiting a much-needed level of detail before the regulations are brought to Parliament, and as ever if you have any queries please do not hesitate to reach out and I will make sure they are brought to the relevant minister's attention.
While a level of restrictions is necessary to protect public health and our NHS from being overwhelmed, I am clear that the proposed closure of hospitality must come with timely and adequate support. Again, this was absent from the Chancellor's Spending Review.
I have teamed up with the Leader of the Council and a cross-party group of Birmingham MPs to ask for the evidence behind the proposed closures and lay out our asks in a letter to Rishi Sunak here. You can find more information on what the Tier 3 restrictions mean by clicking below.
The Spending Review was not only a missed opportunity at home, but also a disaster for the millions of people around the world who we support through overseas aid.
Britons are rightly proud of our world-leading work supporting the most vulnerable people on earth.
Between 2015 and 2018, Edgbaston helped over 16,000 children to get a decent education, nearly 60,000 people to access clean water and 53,500 people to be vaccinated against meningitis and pneumonia, saving hundreds of lives.
The Conservatives' short-sighted decision to cut aid has broken their own manifesto promise to the poorest people in the world, and undermined Britain's standing on the world stage.
I reacted to the announcement on Sky News. You can watch by clicking below.
Earlier this week, I wrote to the Government to raise the plight of leaseholders trapped in the building safety scandal in Edgbaston.
It is now over three years since the Grenfell Fire tragedy took 72 lives before their time. However, for hundreds of people in Edgbaston, the cladding scandal that this horror exposed remains a living nightmare.
As builders, freeholders and developers are often legally protected from liability, it falls to ordinary leaseholders to try to navigate a sprawling and expensive process to secure remediation works for their building, while paying tens of thousands of pounds on stopgap safety measures, legal fees and rocketing insurance premiums.
Despite bearing no responsibility for the fire safety faults in their buildings, the cost of this crisis has fallen on those least able to pay.
I had hoped to hear an acknowledgement from the Chancellor that things are getting desperate for the ordinary families caught up in this, and that he must do more to speed up remedial work. We sadly heard nothing.
You can read my letter to Rishi Sunak by clicking below.
On Monday 30th November, applications for the third SEISS grant will open, to provide much-needed financial support to eligible self-employed workers in Birmingham whose businesses continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. You can find more information about eligibility and how to apply by clicking the button below.
Birmingham City Council has translated general advice on the current national restrictions into 10 different languages, including Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Polish. Click below to read, download and share.