Last week, the Chancellor announced his budget and the financial roadmap ahead for businesses and workers as we hopefully exit from the Covid-19 crisis. Once again, he did next to nothing for the 3 million people excluded from Government support schemes.

I was also disappointed by the lack of support for our high streets. They need the business rates holiday to continue to the end of the year, giving them a chance to reopen and rebuild their businesses before being hit by this tax which is only applied to companies with physical premises.

The Chancellor’s other major omission shocked me. He was silent on spending on social care and barely mentioned the NHS.  There were no announcements on children’s mental health which has been so badly impacted by school closures and isolation. The government went on to announce a derisory 1% pay rise for NHS staff following their heroics over the past year.

Read my response to the Budget is here and the speech I gave in the House of Commons is here

Useful Information

Latest Covid Numbers

At the time of writing, from 27 February to 5 March, there were 66 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. This represents a roughly 50% decrease from two weeks earlier. The incidence rate is 34.3/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 41.5/100,000 and England-wide rate of 60.4/100,000.

Data source:

Virtual event on COVID-19 vaccine for local people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

A panel of health and care experts from across Richmond upon Thames are set to chair an online question and answer session to help provide reassurance on the coronavirus vaccine to concerned people from the borough’s black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The event will be via Zoom on Tuesday 23 March between 2-3.30pm. Register here

I urge EU nationals in Twickenham to apply for settled status

EU nationals living in the borough risk not being able to remain in the UK if they do not apply for settled status by the 31 June 2021. If you are an EU, EEA or swiss citizen, find out how to apply here.

Book a lateral flow test

All residents in the borough who are essential workers, volunteering or providing vital support for a vulnerable resident can now book a rapid COVID-19 test in Twickenham, Hampton & East Sheen. The test is for people NOT experiencing symptoms.

Book now:

Healthwatch Richmond COVID-19 vaccination for unpaid carers webinar

Healthwatch Richmond, in partnership with Richmond Carers’ Centre, NHS in Richmond and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is hosting a free live event with local doctors and vaccinators on 10th March.

More information and to sign up to the event visit Healthwatch Richmond here:

Local meetings and events

Supporting our NHS staff and volunteers vaccinating the local community

I visited the Greenwood Community Centre vaccination hub in Hampton Hill to meet patients and thank staff and volunteers for their efforts.

It was wonderful to see the quick, safe and efficient way that the NHS is vaccinating tens of thousands of local residents. The Greenwood Centre alone is delivering up to 400 jabs a day. This is all made possible by the hard work of the local NHS team and many volunteers.

The vaccination programme is key to saving lives and allowing us all to return to normality. Over 20 million people have now had their first dose nationally and the COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective. As soon as people are contacted by the NHS for their jab, I urge them to make and attend their appointments.

More information and photos of my visit can be found here:

Over the last couple of weeks I have also:

  • Met university leaders, including the Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University to support their campaign against cuts to the teaching grant London weighting
  • Met with Esther Mmbago from Richmond AID for an update on the support they are providing to local residents
  • Met Natalie O’Rourke from Park Lane Stables to pledge my continued support to their efforts to secure the future of the stables

Standing up for you  

Challenging Ministers over the measly 1% NHS pay rise

Yesterday, I challenged Government ministers over their decision to award an insulting 1% pay rise to NHS staff, when the budget for Test & Trace has sky-rocketed by almost 150% to a staggering £37bn. The Minister struggled to respond.

Read more here:

Pressing Ministers to prioritise children’s wellbeing as they return to school

With children returning to school this week, I co-led a parliamentary debate with two Conservative MPs on the education routemap for schools and colleges out of Covid-19. I urged ministers to take a holistic approach to catch-up, to focus on wellbeing alongside academic catch-up and I thanked our fantastic local school staff across the Twickenham constituency.

You can read more and watch clips here:

Pushing Minister for action over children’s mental health waiting times crisis

I met with Health Minister, Edward Argar, to urge the Government to publish more information on waiting times and spending on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Currently, no information is published publicly on waiting times for many different types of CAMHS services. The data that is published on CAMHS spending can also be opaque.

In the meeting, I argued that this lack of information makes it difficult for people to see where the problems lie in CAMHS. The Minister agreed to look into the matter further and I will be following up.

Read more here:

Uniting MPs against Government plans to cut London university funding

I am leading a cross-party group of MPs to oppose the Government’s proposals to cut funding for teaching grants to London universities. I also challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg in the House of Commons over these plans to level-down London. Watch the exchange here:

The cuts will hit the city’s poorest students hardest. Those universities who have high proportions of BAME or students from disadvantaged backgrounds will struggle to provide the same facilities if the proposed cuts, worth £64 million, were to go ahead.

In Twickenham, I met with the Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University which is at risk of losing more than £800,000 per year. St Mary’s trains many of the next generation of key workers from teachers to healthcare professionals. It is a terrible policy to cut funding for student support just when universities are re-opening and support is needed most.     

Read more about this cross-party effort here:  

Standing up for the wedding industry

I signed a cross-party letter to the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, on the support required to save the wedding industry.

The industry has faced an impossibly tough year with large events banned under coronavirus regulations. It has been an extremely difficult time for the 400,000 employees and 60,000 businesses relying on the sector, with Covid limitations threatening the complete collapse of their industry. Locally we have wedding venues, dress shops, caterers, and event organisers all badly impacted. 

The cross-party letter calls for the government to provide a cash injection and support through a VAT reduction scheme, allowing the industry to provide clients with reassurance as well as ensure the survival of thousands of viable businesses until restrictions lift. Read more here:

Join my campaign for better air quality

In 2005 the World Health Organization (WHO) put air quality guidelines in place. Over 15 years later, they are still not UK law, causing serious health problems. I’m campaigning for the Government to put stricter rules in place for the sake of our community. Join my call here: