The big news this week was of course the new UK Chancellor’s Budget which was a stark reminder of the utter contempt that this Tory UK Government has for the people of Wales. The supposed “extra” £360 million being allocated to the Welsh Government barely takes us back to the financial position we had in 2010. There wasn’t even a single mention of the devastating flooding that has caused such terrible damage and misery for people in our Neath constituency and across South Wales. Not a shred of additional support was announced for the hardest flood-hit communities in Wales which is frankly insulting. Added to this, the lack of news regarding Wales’ post-Brexit funding settlement is incredibly frustrating. Welsh businesses need to be able to plan for the future and at the moment this is impossible due to the intransigence of the UK Government. Wales deserves so much better than rehashed announcements that haven’t gone anywhere near towards ending austerity in Wales.
Following International Women’s Day on Sunday, I was so pleased to attend a reception in Westminster celebrating the House Magazine’s inaugural list of 100 influential women. This list includes women from across public life: MPs, journalists, directors, and chief executives who inspire by challenging the boundaries of what women can and should do in public life. I’m so pleased to work alongside so many inspiring women every day – and it was great to be able to celebrate this at such an important event.
It was fantastic to meet with Citizens Advice this week to discuss the great work they do in our communities up and down the country. For 80 years they have been providing advice and support, and campaigning on important issues, helping some 2.7 million people last year alone. Their campaigns are so important and stem from the issues they see every day working with the public. Currently they are calling for local authorities to ensure they use efficient means of tax collection in order to support people who are in danger of falling into debt. They are also campaigning for an independent review system of the bailiff industry so that people at their most vulnerable face greater protection than they currently have. If you need any advice or support from Citizens Advice, you can find a local office or contact details on their website here.
I was pleased to be elected Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer this week. It was great to talk to the charity Target Ovarian Cancer about the disease, and the support that can be provided to women. Every year, 7300 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer with around 35 per cent surviving for 10+ years, and 46% surviving for 5+ years. The earlier a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the more likely it is that she will respond well to treatment. We need to improve the awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer among women, as well as training for GPs to recognise the symptoms for diagnosis. Too often, women are tempted to scale-down symptoms maybe because they’re scared, or maybe because they’re too busy looking after everyone and everything around them. We must ensure that we shout about the symptoms of cancers affecting women and provide a loudspeaker for the great charities that are doing some amazing work. I’m looking forward to working with the other MPs on this important group and to improve awareness among women around the country.
It’s British Science Week and I had great fun meeting with some of the members of the Royal Society of Chemistry, where I even got to play around with glow-in-the-dark goo! We also had a really interesting discussion about the importance of getting children, particularly girls, interested in science so that they go on to study it further and advance UK research. That’s no easy task considering the often male-dominated teaching departments and science departments, and the perceived level of difficulty and complexity of the subject. We need to begin by introducing science in a way that is fun, engaging, and crucially, shows children and young people the real-world application so that it is relevant. We need a diverse scientific base in order to tackle some of the burning problems facing our planet and country and children and young people are the key to this. I recommend all and any school teachers to have a look at British Science Week’s website at the activities they have there. I hope your students have as much fun as I had!
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I hope you all have a lovely weekend!