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A government in chaos, a country in crisis

Judith's latest op-ed for the Telegraph & Argus Weds 13 October 2021:

With winter almost upon us, we see the Government of our country in chaos and our country teetering on the brink of crisis with queues at the forecourts; empty shelves and energy prices skyrocketing. A basic principle of government is to insulate the country from external shocks, but a lack of planning, a Prime Minister seemingly absent from duty and soaking up the Marbella sun and cabinet ministers squabbling is in fact risking turning crises into disasters.

Over the past week we’ve seen denials from the Treasury that the claims of the Secretary of State for Business, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, that he is speaking to the Chancellor about urgent support for firms struggling with fast-rising energy prices are untrue – who are we meant to believe? But more importantly, the question I ask is why the Chancellor and the Business Secretary are not talking to each other to avert a fast-approaching crisis.

A crisis where millions of families are set to be squeezed by a triple whammy of rising energy prices, an increase in national insurance, and the cut to Universal Credit. This will be felt by families not only in my Bradford South constituency and the wider Bradford District, but right across the country. Recent statistics show that the decisions of the Government will leave the average working family over £1700 worse off by April 2022.

The Government must change course and protect working families whilst they still have the chance. By cancelling the Universal Credit cut, dropping the tax rises on working people and businesses, and urgently exploring further measures to help households alleviate the cost of rising bills.

Turning now to Northern Powerhouse Rail, reports are rife that the government is expected to block the inclusion of Bradford on the route in a bid to save money. Whilst for the current government spending money on Transport infrastructure in the South East is seen as an investment it appears that once again, spending money in the North is non-existent. This is just not acceptable.

It’s time for the Prime Minister to put his money where his mouth is and deliver action on his levelling-up agenda, starting with a Bradford stop on the Northern Powerhouse rail route.

As well as delivering on improved infrastructure and opportunity for the North, the Prime Minister and his Government must work to urgently address backlogs in the DVLA. This coupled with the HGV driver shortage has left motorists struggling to fill up their cars and shops unable to fill the shelves to their usual capacity. Over the past few months, I’ve had many Bradford South constituents contact me to say that their license renewal has been pending for weeks; they are unable to contact the DVLA to progress or check the status of their application and some have even approached me to say that their employment is at risk because of DVLA delays. This cannot continue. We need the DVLA backlog to be resolved sooner rather than later. The government needs to get a grip.

As well as issues with the DVLA, my mailbox has recently seen an increase in constituents contacting me who are struggling to get a face-to-face appointment with their GP. Whilst I and many others appreciate that for some people digital and remote consultations with their GP will be welcomed, it is imperative that face to face appointments continue to be commonplace and that all GP Practices are open and operational. Access to GP services is vital and I know that our GPs are trying their best in difficult circumstances, but they need better support from the Government to be able to triage and treat patients in way that works for all. That is why I have previously and will continue to raise access to GPs both locally with the Bradford District and Craven CCG and nationally with the Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care to try and secure a better deal for both GPs and patients alike.  On a final note, next week parliament will return from the conference recess and there will be an important adjournment debate on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) within Bradford. I’m clear that we need to reflect and learn lessons from the past and ensure that such acts cannot happen again. But I also feel just as strongly that we need to ensure that this debate looks at the ways in which agencies and individuals can all work together to make Bradford not only safer but the safest place in the country for children to grow up in. We’ve seen first-hand in our city what can happen when we don’t get this right, we cannot afford to let that happen again.

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