This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, announced his Budget and for me, there were three big problems:
1) The Conservatives have no plan to tackle the growing cost of living crisis.
2) They have no plan to remove the enormous tax burden they have placed on working people and businesses – in fact it came to light on Wednesday that households will pay £3,000 more tax by 2026/27 than when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. This is simply staggering!
3) And they have no plan for growth, which is crucial to boosting our economy.
This Budget comes at exactly the wrong time, just as people are feeling the pinch - with energy prices rising, the cost of petrol at record levels, and food bills soaring. The Conservatives have created this crisis where thousands of people are struggling with the basic cost of living and for many, it will be an extremely tough Winter.
In Edgbaston, 11,440 households have already been impacted by the cut to Universal Credit which will see them lose more than £1,000 a year. More than a third of claimants in Edgbaston are in work, and it affects more than 7,189 children who live in a household claiming Universal Credit.
Simply put, this is an out-of-touch, high tax, low growth budget that will do nothing to help the residents of Edgbaston constituency.
Labour has a plan to ease the pressure on households and businesses right now. We’d abolish VAT on domestic energy bills for 6 months to help people get through the winter months, and we’d cut Business Rates next year.
These measures would be paid for through higher than expected VAT receipts in the first half of the year, and a temporary increase in tax on digital services firms like Google and Facebook who’ve done so well out of the pandemic.
We must end the routine discharge of raw sewage into our local rivers
Preventing the release of raw sewage into our local rivers should not be a party-political issue. That is why when the Amendment that would put an end to this appalling practice came to Parliament as part of the Environment Bill, I voted in favour of it (along with all Labour MPs). However, the Conservative Party voted against this amendment meaning we will continue to see this happening right across the UK.
While Edgbaston constituency hasn’t been affected as badly as other areas of Birmingham, it is occurring and it worries me. Severn Trent has actively discharged sewage at Scotland Lodge in Bartley Green into Merritts Brook. There have also been multiple instances of storm overflows where sewage has been released at Stanley Road and Tennal Lane in Quinton affecting the Bourn Brook as well as occurring on Vicarage Road in Harborne.
This is happening because water companies haven’t been using the tax relief Government has provided them, to put into the infrastructure that would prevent this from happening.
In the last year alone, raw sewage was discharged into UK rivers and seas over 400,000 times. There were 2,941 discharges into UK coastal bathing waters during the May-September bathing season alone, severely impacting coastal communities. The UK is ranked last in the EU for bathing water quality. None of our rivers are in a healthy condition, with none meeting good chemical standards and only 14% meeting good ecological standards. It also damages the precious river habitats for marine life, birds and mammals.
I am proud to have voted to stop this dreadful practice, one that’s killing our natural environment. But we now need more MPs from across the political divide to stand up for what is right and not to just blindly do as they’re told by a government that is showing a total disregard for the planet.
Next week the Bill is set to return to the House. I will be waiting with interest to see what is being proposed and how watered down the measures might be. However, this is something we need to see clear action on.
Ahead of COP26, Preet meets with local Women’s Institute Groups
Yesterday, I met with Harborne Village branch of the WI where local members presented me with ‘no more loopholes’ bracelets. It was fantastic to see their passion and enthusiasm and hear their views around this pivotal summit.
The bracelets were designed to represent how at previous climate conferences, loopholes have been manufactured which allow Governments to avoid fully implementing high-ambition climate agreements or emissions reductions.
As hosts of COP26 next week, the UK Government has a responsibility to make sure that the climate agreements made are without these loopholes, delivering a greener, cleaner and healthier future for everyone, especially those that are the most climate vulnerable.
The bracelets which were crocheted, where a series of loops are formed using a hook, were a physical representation of this situation.
I fully support the WI’s initiative to create these bracelets and raise awareness about the pitfalls around climate conferences. We all need to continue to push and challenge the Government to ensure that COP26 is a success.
For more on this meeting and the impact of climate change on women and girls, read my article.
The Birmingham Commonwealth Games is soon approaching and one of the big benefits of hosting the Games is the additional community funding it brings. With this in mind, Birmingham City Council has made funding available to all charities and community groups who have a project they need funding which would benefit their local ward.
The funding is focused on three main areas and will be awarded to projects which:
1) Help to reduce loneliness and social isolation
2) Encourage communities to get out and get active by participating in sports and recreational activities
3) Develop community-led cultural events and initiatives that encourage intergenerational activities
Groups can apply for three levels of funding: up to £1,000, £5,000 or £10,000. So far, wards across Edgbaston constituency have received limited applications and the deadline is looming – Tuesday 30th November.
I want to make sure that this funding is used to improve our local communities. If you’re a charity or community group please make sure you apply in time. If you aren’t accredited but still have a great idea for how this money could be used, please get in touch with me and I can look to pair you up with another organisation that can help you to apply for the funding. Email me at email@example.com
We have launched our constituency news group. This new channel will help you stay up-to-date with the latest news and information across Edgbaston, Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green and North Edgbaston. Follow the link below to join us and get added to WhatsApp on Birmingham: Edgbaston news.
To get access, please follow the link using your mobile phone.