March Roundup

As the vaccine rollout continues across Birmingham we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel after what has been a truly difficult year for all of us.We all know someone whose health or employment has been affected by the events of the past 12 months, and as we look to the end of the covid restrictions I'm determined to see the government provide Birmingham with the support it needs to rebuild its healthcare and employment capacity.While the numbers of covid patients is decreasing, our NHS will have a mountain to climb to provide care for those with other conditions whose treatment has been deferred. Recent figures show 300,000 patients now waiting a year or more to receive care as a result of the pandemic.Please don't hesitate to  contact me in the coming months if you have been affected by these issues and I can help in any way.Birmingham Coronavirus UpdateFollowing the first stage of the unlocking process, the following changes to the coronavirus restrictions came into effect on the 8th March:

  • Wraparound childcare and other supervised children’s activities can resume where they enable parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group
  • Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor provided they are tested and wear PPE
  • The Stay at Home requirement will remain, but people can leave home for recreation outdoors such as a coffee or picnic with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household
  • Some university students on practical courses will be able to return to face to face learning 

Call for an independent inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemicAlongside my fellow Birmingham Labour MPs and Council leader Ian Ward, I have called for a full independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.Many residents have raised this issue with me, and want to know why the UK had the highest death rates in the world and whether these deaths were preventable. I believe we have a duty to those who have lost loved ones to ensure a full, independent, and transparent investigation into how our country has handled the pandemic."The pandemic has undoubtedly presented unprecedented challenges to governments around the world. There has not been a crisis like this is living memory and combatting this deadly virus was always going to be difficult. However, it must be acknowledged that the UK has seen one of the highest death tolls in the world and questions are now rightly being asked about what led us to this position."You can read the full letter here.Support for a nurses pay riseOver the past year our health workers have given everything while under historic pressure to save lives and cope with the huge number of extra patients in our hospitals. After all they've been through it cannot be right that the 12,289 nurses in Birmingham have been offered a real terms pay cut by the government. We must do better for them than that, after all they've done for the country there must be a fair pay settlement.We've all been encouraged to show our appreciation throughout this crisis, but claps don't pay the bills. I sincerely hope that the government will reconsider its recommended 1% pay increase. Celebrating St Patrick's DayThis St Patrick’s Day was unlike any other in generations.Coming from an Irish family, I saw the great solidarity and cohesion of the Irish community in Britain. It is heart-warming to witness this togetherness reaffirm itself during these challenging times.I hope that all members of the Irish community in Hodge Hill found a way to mark the day, and that next year we will be able to come together as usual! Fighting to safeguard employmentSecond only to the health impact of Coronavirus is its impact on the economy and employment. That is why I've written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for a £7.8 billion Budget ‘fair share funding’ boost for our area to tackle the jobs crisis.Businesses need help to bounce back from the Covid crisis, and we must do every we can to support them by extending the furlough scheme in a targeted way, extending business interruption and bounce back loans, enabling interest free deferral of VAT, and extending targeted business rate relief.Alongside help for existing business we must make sure big projects such as HS2 and the Commonwealth Games deliver jobs and long term benefits for local people.You can currently apply for one of over 200 vacancies with HS2 and its partners at the following link: https://www.hs2.org.uk/careers/careers-with-our-supply-chain/jobs