We were promised a new deal from the Chancellor's mini-budget statement on Wednesday, but instead, all we got was a meal deal.
Businesses are in trouble not because people want money off meals – but because customers don’t have the confidence to return yet. Confidence will only return when the government takes meaningful action to join up its health response with its economic response. Getting Test, Track and Isolate fully operational then should be a priority.
With 6,000 people claiming out of work benefits here in Birmingham Edgbaston alone, a rise of over 50% since the start of the crisis, and 10,000 people on furlough anxious about the future as the scheme starts to unwind, the statement needed to have a laser-like focus on jobs. Sadly, this week's announcements failed to meet the scale of the challenge our country faces.
Millions of jobs and livlihoods depend on the government getting the response right. 12,000 job losses were announced in just two days last week, and here in Birmingham, hundreds more jobs are at risk with the announcement that John Lewis and Boots will be closing their stores permanently. It's clear then that the government has not gone far or fast enough to protect jobs and that the one size fits all approach is not working.
The announcement also failed to provide anything for one of our region's best performing sectors: manufacturing. Manufacturing output has dropped by 40% during lockdown here in the West Midlands and, without targeted support, the sector will face further decline and job cuts for the tens of thousands it employs.
You can read my reaction to Wednesday's statement by clicking below.
It was a pleasure to catch up with some of our fantastic volunteers who have been helping to support residents during lockdown.
Working with social enterprises, local residents and Edgbaston Labour Party members have delivered over 2,000 food and dignity packs to vulnerable residents in Edgbaston throughout this crisis - providing a much needed lifelife for so many in our community.
Speaking with some of the volunteers earlier this week, they told me that their experience shone a light on the inequalities and poverty still present in our city.
Communities don't want to go back to business as usual after this pandemic. Working together, unmet need in the community has been identified which volunteers want to continue to address long after lockdown ends. It's heartening to hear that so many people are keen to play their part as we build back better from the pandemic.
PM tries to shift the blame to care homes
The Prime Minister started the week by trying to shift the blame for care home deaths to care homes by saying that they failed to follow the procedures.
It's not clear which procedures he was referring to, but throughout this crisis, care homes in my constituency have told me they felt pressured to take discharged patients who were either known to be Covid-19 positive, or still awaiting test results, as per government guidance.
Given how inadequate and inconsistent government guidance was for care homes, I can't help but think how much worse things could have been had care homes followed all of the government's procedures. For example, their irresponsible guidance given to care home staff on PPE.