The government’s failure to protect our care homes at the start of the pandemic is a source of national shame. Care homes in my constituency told me they felt forgotten and unprepared for what was to come.
The government was too slow in getting PPE to care homes, too slow to roll out tests, and its guidance encouraging the sending of infected patients, and those untested, into care homes resulted in the spread among those most vulnerable.
I raised the alarm with the Health Secretary about the inadequate and inconsistent government care home guidance back in early April. Despite my warnings and those of countless others, the government failed to act fast enough.
Given all this, it is especially galling that the Prime Minister sought to shift the blame to care homes last week, and in yet another blow to the sector, we learnt this week that our skilled and dedicated care workers will be excluded from the UK's new visa system for health workers. It is clear that this government does not appreciate our care workers who have risked their lives during this crisis.
It has also emerged that warnings over the known risks to social care during a pandemic have been ignored. The government’s own 'Exercise Cygnus' from 2016, which simulated how the UK would handle a pandemic, found that there was little attention paid to the care sector. The Chief Executive of Care England revealed in May that the report’s clear recommendations have not been implemented.
This week saw the government finally publish its 'Preparing for a Challenging Winter' report. It makes a number of recommendations to improve the UK's Covid-19 resilience ahead of the winter months, and specifically states that ‘July and August must be a period of intense preparation’.
Keir Starmer called on the Prime Minister to implement the report's recommendations in PMQs this week. And when pushed on the details, the Prime Minister said he was aware of the report but failed to confirm if he had actually read it, despite it being commissioned by his government. With a second wave of the coronavirus risking 120,000 more deaths, what we need from the Prime Minister is more than mere awareness, we need action.
Meeting with members of the black community in Birmingham
I was pleased to arrange the first meeting of many between MPs and members of the black community here in Birmingham this week. We had a frank and constructive meeting, and the call to action was clear. I am looking forward to working with the group and others from our city to bring about the necessary change.
I am honoured to be joining the John Smith Centre's Director, Kezia Dugdale, in conversation on Monday 27 July at 1pm, where we'll be discussing my background, journey into politics, as well as my international development brief, among other things. You can sign up for the event, and submit any questions you might have, on the registration page by clicking on the button below.
Three years after the Grenfell fire, and tower blocks across the country still have unsafe cladding. Earlier this year, I wrote to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on behalf of my constituents who raised serious concerns about a Fire Engineer's report indicating a 100% failure rate of their tower block's external wall system.
Building owners, freeholders and managing agents have until 31st July to apply to the Building Safety Fund which will support remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding on residential buildings 18 metres and over in both the private and social housing sectors. You can apply here.
I also strongly encourage any leaseholders who are concerned that their building owner is not taking sufficient action to remediate unsafe cladding, or is passing remediation costs onto leaseholders, to fill out the feedback form here.
The BBC Archive team posted footage of Birmingham's bid to host the 1992 Olympic Games on social media this week accompanied by a condescending message.
It's an inappropriate post at the best of times, but it feels in especially poor taste considering the BBC is planning job cuts here in Birmingham.
As I told the i news, instead of a condescending Tweet, the BBC needs to recognise the talent that exists in our wonderful city and commit to produce more programming and commission content here in Birmingham, the UK's second city.
We have had one the highest death tolls from Covid-19 in the world, millions of children are out of school and we face the worst unemployment crisis in a generation which could hit the West Midlands hardest.
The government should be totally focused on getting on with its job of governing the country and steering us through the huge challenges we face. Instead, the Prime Minister has decided to try and score some cheap headlines with a completely unnecessary large-scale restructure that will see the Department for International Development taken over by the Foreign Office.
This takeover is expected to cost at least £15 million to the British taxpayer, money that could have been better spent during this crisis paying for more than 600 qualified nurses for our region, or 2.5 million Covid-19 antibody tests.
Click below to read my Express & Star article setting out why the Prime Minister's decision to scrap an independent DfID during a global pandemic is irresponsible, counter-productive and wrong.
Ahead of the last ever DfID questions on Wednesday, I set out the mounting evidence against the Prime Minister's plans to axe DfID in my Times piece, as well as highlight the many questions still left unanswered.
I used the last DfID questions on Wednesday to ask the Secretary of State to set the record straight on whether she misled the select committee, or the Prime Minister misled parliament over the claim that their was a "massive consultation" on the plans.
It is clear that the Prime Minister's decision to axe DfID was done a whim. That's why there are still no details of what the new department will look like, how it will operate, or how it will be scrutinised. I will continue to ask these questions until the government provides the answers.