Report Back with the Constituency – October 2022

It was fantastic to see almost 100 people at our Report Back on Thursday. It is clear that people are fed up with the latest crisis engulfing this Tory Government. With the new Chancellor promising Austerity 2.0, there was plenty for us to talk about. 

I also want to thank those of you who responded to my cost of living survey, here’s the feedback I have received: 

  • Only 9% of constituents said that they are feeling positive about the future. 
  • 67% of constituents do not think that their income will keep up with inflation. 
  • A majority of constituents stated that gas and electricity is creating the most pressure for them in the current cost of living crisis. 
  • Your greatest concerns were the rising cost of living, NHS waiting times, and social care provision. 
  • Your greatest concern regarding changes brought about by Covid-19 is the increase in services only being available online, followed by using public transport. 
  • 85% of constituents are worried about a revised education formula leaving Birmingham with less money for our children. 

On Thursday, I kicked off the discussion by outlining how the Tories have failed the economy. The mini-budget has unleashed financial chaos. One of the greatest worries is mortgages increasing by £500-£700 a month for the average household. Additionally, inflation has hit 10% in recent weeks; this means that grocery bills will increase by an average of £643 this year. The Tories have tried to blame this on the war in Ukraine, but this does not explain why the UK is suffering more than other European countries. I am extremely concerned about the impact of high inflation rates on the most vulnerable in society. This is why I have raised the issue of Pension Credit with the new Chancellor, demanding that the minimum income guarantee (which has only increased by £20 in the past 4 years) is raised in line with inflation so that our pensioners do not see a cut in real terms.  

I was also keen to hear what everyone had to say regarding spiralling energy costs. Even with Liz Truss’ price cap, bills will still reach £2500 for the average family. I believe that the UK is way behind where we need to be in terms of wind companies and nuclear power stations. Given our energy insecurity, it does beg the question as to why the Tories closed our gas reserve station in 2017?  

I am greatly concerned by what you all had to say about how the Tories’ economic incompetence has impacted your lives. We cannot let the Tories continue their false narrative that the economy is safer in their hands; Labour actually has a stronger record. Based on 2021 prices, the average Labour government borrows £33.9bn, whereas the Tories borrow an average amount of £45.9bn per year in office. The best way to ensure a strong economy, is to vote Labour back into power. 

Another crucial issue that I wanted to discuss with you all was crime. Tory austerity savaged police numbers, which has had grave consequences in this constituency, as well as all over the country. In the West Midlands, we have seen the spending power of the police force reduced by £175m, which has led to over 2200 fewer officers on the streets. My office has been inundated with calls and emails from residents that have been victims of crime and have struggled to receive justice because of how underfunded our police service is. The Tories can never again claim to be ‘the party of law and order’; we need a Labour government that will invest in policing to reduce crime and keep communities safe. 

Given the perilous economic conditions we face, we need to be realistic and admit that we cannot make lots of promises because our economic situation is still uncertain, especially while we wait for the Office for Budget Responsibility Report. However, we can guarantee that the Green Transition Plan will be central to a Labour Government because it means borrowing money that pays for itself. Additionally, it will lead to greater employment, energy security, and help achieve our climate goals. 

I then opened the floor to my constituents and there were several concerns raised, such as manufacturing, social care and transport. 

Labour’s Green Transition Plan will focus on British companies employing British people to build wind farms and install insulation in homes. Renewables offer a chance for a long-term manufacturing plan in this country, which we have not seen since the days of Thatcher. 

Social care is in crisis and the Tories have spent 12 years refusing to offer a solution. Labour will raise minimum wage to a living rate to ensure that our key workers are paid enough to support themselves and their families. We also need to implement a proper career structure in the care sector to ensure that we can retain the amazing care workers we have, and recruit more. 

Public transport is an issue that I know affects many of my constituents; it needs to be speedy, reliable and safe. London and Manchester have seen fantastic improvements under their respective Labour Mayors, Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham. London receives far greater investment than the West Midlands, which obviously puts us at a disadvantage, but there are still options available for improvement. Andy Burnham has taken control of bus networks which seems to have been successful, potentially our mayoral authority could investigate similar schemes. 

I really enjoyed hearing from you all on Thursday and reading your survey responses, it is a crucial part of my job to stay up to date on the issues that matter to my constituents. I will be sure to use all of this feedback to inform my work in Parliament. 

You can keep up to date with my work in Parliament and the constituency via my Facebook page

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