Weekly Round Up

Many of you have contacted me regarding the Governments plans to slash Universal Credit, and I am supporting the #CancelTheCut campaign, calling on the Government to cancel their plans to cut this support. It is shameful that the very workers who got us through this crisis are in the firing line for a £1000 cut to their income every year. This £20 is what enables some families to put food on the table at the end of the week. The cut will take £11.4 million from families in Bristol South. Not only will this drive up poverty with families left unable to feed their families or turn the heating on when the weather is cold, but it will take money out of the local economy at a time when businesses are still reeling from the pandemic. Money spent on groceries, on clothing, on stationery for school – it all contributes to the Bristol economy and will help businesses get back on their feet. There is now near-universal opposition to these plans. Labour, the public, the House of Commons, dozens of charities and campaign groups and now, the six Conservative predecessors as Work and Pensions Secretaries of State all agree that this money must remain in place. The Tories must change course.

I stand with Labour against the UK Government’s plans to diminish our democracy through their Voter ID plans. ID is not free and millions, including the elderly, low income, and ethnic minority voters, cannot afford the privilege of photo ID. The cut to Universal Credit compounds this issue. If the budget does not allow for enough food to feed one’s children or to heat one’s house in the winter, photo ID will not be a priority. Three and a half million people – that’s 7.5% of our electorate – do not have access to any form of photo ID. Voter ID is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when there are far greater priorities. The NHS and its workers are at breaking point – spending £120 million over the next ten years on a non-existent problem while the NHS collapses is grossly negligent. There were just 139 allegations of voter fraud in 2020, which led to just one conviction and one caution for impersonation. Compare that with the record number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England: more than 5.45 million this August. The Conservative’s priority is strengthening their position, not strengthening this country.

This week the Health and Care Bill moved to Committee Stage. This is where a group of MPs begin a detailed examination of the Bill and discuss possible amendments to suggest to the House of Commons. I’d like to see the Government use the new Health and Care Bill to give the NHS renewed life to truly achieve its objective of high-quality healthcare, free at the point of use, fit for the 21st century. We have the opportunity to implement the change that Labour has demanded election after election. How can big and small providers be responsible for cooperating within the NHS local system when they, as individual organisations, still have to account for their own individual budgets? How do you run an integrated NHS body without local authorities and social care when so much spend is on disabled adults and older people care? With so little oversight, could we see ministers awarding contracts to family and friends and end up in the situation where, despite rolling back market forces in NHS England, we see the public locked out of any scrutiny of procurement? These are the questions I will be seeking the answers to in this Committee Stage.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.