On Tuesday the Prime Minister announced his decision to abolish one of the best performing and most important departments, the Department for International Development (DfID), a department that is crucial to global vaccine development, provides healthcare and helps the world’s poorest.
To scrap a department during a global pandemic without first speaking to his Secretary of State, and without consulting his cabinet or the development sector is not only reckless, but irresponsible and wrong. It is the wrong decision at the wrong time by a Prime Minister who wants to deflect attention away from his failings in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
DfID is a world leader in providing life-changing and life-saving support to millions of people around the world. It is consistently rated as the most effective, transparent department at delivering real value for money for British taxpayers.
The government should be completely focused on steering our country through the challenges we face right now. We have had one of 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.
Yet, the Prime Minister has decided to undertake a large-scale restructure costing millions of pounds of public money and instead, UK aid will be spent through departments which the TaxPayers’ Alliance found “neither contribute to poverty reduction or the national interest".
This retreat from the global stage is a mistake and I firmly oppose this attempt to abolish the department. It will not only have a life-threatening impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, but it will reduce our ability to make the world safer, fairer and better for all.
After pressure from Marcus Rashford, campaigners and Labour MPs and members, the government finally reversed their decision on free school meals and will now fund them over the summer.
I want to say a huge thank you to Marcus and everyone who campaigned on this. This is a victory for the 1.3 million children, including the 4,400 childen in my constituency, who were at risk of going hungry this summer.
Calls for Back to Work Budget for the West Midlands
Analysis of new labour market data from the ONS this week shows the scale of the economic challenge facing the West Midlands, as claimants for Universal Credit and other unemployment benefits rose by almost 100% to more than 275,000.
Although an imperfect measure of unemployment, these figures show a severely strained jobs market and show that the government cannot afford to delay its next full budget until after the summer. They must urgently bring forward a Back to Work Budget to protect jobs and livelihoods here in the West Midlands.
Yesterday, I sat down with Sienna Rodgers of LabourList to talk all things international development. We covered a lot of topics including the importance of DfID, my priorities for the role, and of course the events of this week before taking questions from readers.