This week the Government presented its plans for the forthcoming Parliament in the Queen’s Speech. The lack of content and ambition for a positive agenda to end the cost-of-living crisis and level up our country demonstrated again a government out of ideas, out of excuses and out of time.
I can point to things in my Bristol South constituency that were delivered by the last Labour Government—schools rebuilt, a brand-new hospital, and the investment that came there that those people deserved after the 18 long years under the previous Tory Government. Sadly, history is repeating itself. We have had Tory Government for 12 years and once again the public realm has got tatty and services have been ripped from our community.
I spoke in the Queen’s Speech about how, as a new MP seven years ago, my early speeches in the House of Commons were all about apprenticeships, devolution and the need for us to work together locally to grow our local economy and share in the prosperity of Bristol. That has always been my politics. In 2015, apprenticeships were a Tory flagship policy. However, we now know that apprenticeship starts have declined since 2010 by nearly 200,000, or 41%. Apprenticeships are so important in Bristol South because of the poor attainment of people in getting to university. Apprenticeships are also crucial for the small businesses that dominate Bristol South, which are desperately short of skills, and for my constituents, who are desperately short of well-paid, secure work. As we have heard, apprenticeships are crucial to building the green jobs of the future to help us tackle the climate crisis head on. Why not insulate our homes? Why not support those jobs? Why not save energy on the demand side as we face this terrible supply-side crisis? It should not be so hard in a prosperous city such as Bristol to match the desire and needs of business with the ambition of local people.
On Thursday, I was pleased to welcome more than 50 employers, including Agincare and Professional Apprenticeships, who are all based in south Bristol, as well as First Bus, St Monica’s trust, the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, One Front Door and the National Careers Service, to my sixth jobs and apprenticeships fair at the Skills Academy. Apprenticeships offer such vital pathways to young people who do not see their future through an academic pathway at university but who want to learn the skills that will give them the opportunities to make a good living and take on interesting careers. The Government’s failure to appreciate the importance of funding apprenticeships and to support businesses take on apprentices is weakening their levelling up plans and limiting the opportunities of our young people.
It was great to be out in the community today. I visited Bluebird Care and chatted to some of the staff who do such excellent work looking after many of our older loved ones. Providing the services that allow people to grow old with dignity and control over what happens to them is a vital part of our democratic and modern society. The staff at Bluebird are amazing – caring and dedicated to all those they look after. I also talked to the staff at Hawkspring, a community organisation based in Hartcliffe which supports people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. They have been offering video and telephone sessions with 15 structured support sessions to help them through their recovery. I was also pleased to visit The Park at Knowle West. The centre offers space for community learning, business, support services, and various leisure activities. The staff there try to offer something for everyone and are dedicated to helping people find new interests or pursue qualifications. There are some truly fantastic people working to help build a real community in Bristol South and it was great to meet some of them.
If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0117 953 3575.