This week the Labour Party kicked off our local elections campaign where we heard from the leader and deputy leader, Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner as well as other familiar faces from across the party.
In their speeches we heard about the incredible impact Labour Mayors like Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan and Dan Jarvis have all made on their regions, and were reminded how the West Midlands is missing out. If elected as Labour Mayor for the West Midlands on 6th May, Liam Byrne would work with us for a better Birmingham, helping us to build back from a decade of Tory austerity and provide real support for those who have lost livelihoods and loved ones to the catastrophic past year of Covid.
We also heard more from Keir about how Labour will stand up for the 12,289 nurses in Birmingham who have put themselves in the firing line to protect us. The Government recently announced that they would be thanked for this outstanding year of public service with a real-terms pay cut. Labour would ensure they are properly thanked for their dedication and given a proper pay rise.
I joined with Birmingham City Council Leader, Ian Ward and all Labour MPs across Birmingham to write to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to urge them to reconsider their woefully inadequate offer to our NHS heroes.
I was very fortunate that this International Women’s Day I was very privileged to meet with so many brilliant women and to discuss the importance of being active in politics and the added pressures being placed on women as part of lockdown.
And, the theme for this year couldn’t have been more apt, Choose to Challenge. Recent research has found that the pandemic will plunge 47 million additional women into extreme poverty. This is happening at the exact same time when the Government has decided to slash the aid budget.
I was shocked by the scale of the cuts, especially as no strategic plan for deciding where the axe will fall has been published. I fear that it will be women and girls who will suffer the most.
For example, on top of the 131 million out of school before the crisis, 20 million more secondary school-aged girls could be out of school after the pandemic. That’s important as education is how you get them out of poverty, that's how you build a workforce, that's how you create jobs.
As Shadow International Development Secretary, this week I launched a consultation on how the UK can help achieve gender equality around the world as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The world needs gender equality to ensure that everyone has the same rights and protections and to ensure that our recovery from Covid-19 builds toward a fairer, environmentally sustainable world.
This consultation will seek views on specific measures that can be taken to achieve real, sustainable change for women and girls around the world. We know how important this work is to counter the worst impacts of the pandemic and meet our commitment to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Soon, on Sunday 21st March, it will be Census Day and it’s vital that everyone in Birmingham Edgbaston takes part.
The census, which goes back 200 years, will ask questions about every household to build a picture of British society, and it is our chance to stand up and be counted so that local services can be tailored to our community.
The census only takes place once every ten years and so an information pack explaining how to complete the census will be posted to everyone’s home address. Please ensure everyone in your house is listed.
For the first time, this census will be done digitally. All households will get a letter in the post with an access code, which you can use to log into the website. But, if digital doesn’t work for you, you can request a paper copy.
Similarly, if you need language support, help is available by calling freephone 0800 587 2021.
I have received many questions from constituents about Jagtar Singh Johal, the British national who has now spent over three years in pre-trial detention in India and is facing the death penalty. Given the shocking allegations of human rights abuses in his case, including the use of torture to gain a confession, I wrote again to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about Jaggi, to ask what more evidence the UK Government needs to step in and call for his release.
Carers are defined as citizens who are in receipt of Carer's Allowance or, may care for a friend or family member that wouldn’t be able to cope without the support. These carers are sometimes known as hidden or informal carers.
Carers, both those in receipt of carers allowance or informal carers, are now eligible for a Covid vaccination if they haven’t already been invited to have one.
It is really important that if you are eligible that you have the vaccine in order to protect you and those you look after. If you are unsure if you are a carer, this link can help you decide.
You can register as a carer online. This is the quickest and most efficient way to do so, and will automatically ensure that your carer status and eligibility is shared with Birmingham's local vaccination roll-out programme that is managed and led by the NHS.