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MP welcomes Cardiff Sports Trust grant for new equipment

Caerau Ely Sports Trust has been awarded a £1,500 grant helping them to purchase new equipment.

The group received the funding after their local MP Kevin Brennan nominated them for a cash award from Western Power Distribution’s (WPD’s) ‘In This Together – Community Matters Fund’.

The fund was established by the local electricity distributor at the start of lockdown to support grass root organisations deliver care to vulnerable people and families. It initially supported over 300 organisations with £500,000 funding. As the lockdown lifted, WPD extended its support by a further £250,000 and offered MPs the opportunity to put forward a community group or charity for a grant to help towards its work to support the community during these challenging times.

Carl Meredith, Trust Chairperson said: “During lockdown, we could not run any sessions at all and our funding stream was non-existent, the grant from WPD has enabled us to be ready to support our community as soon as we are again allowed and to put all our voluntary resource into this rather than fundraising.”

Kevin Brennan MP for Cardiff West said:"The Caerau and Ely Sports Trust is a grassroots initiative triggered by the desire of local clubs to save the disused pavillion on Trelai Park. Working with the area’s elected representatives they raised the funds to do the work to bring the pavilion back into use.  As a result hundreds of local children and grown ups are able to use these facilities to the benefit of all.  Any extra funding they receive will be of huge benefit to the community in this area which faces multiple economic and social challenges."

Alison Sleightholm, WPD’s Resources & External Affairs Director, said: “Throughout this crisis we have worked tirelessly to support our local communities and keep the energy flowing to our nearly 7.8 million customers. The crisis is far from over and as we enter the next phase of the UK’s response to the pandemic, we’re delighted that Kevin Brennan MPs has nominated deserving causes for up to £1,500 of funding.  

“We’re proud that, so far, we have been able to fund nearly X00 charities and groups within our area. Through the extension of our fund and with the fantastic support of our MPs, we’re able to support even more organisations doing valuable community work.”

I was deeply angered by the brutal murder of George Floyd in the USA, adding yet another victim in a long list of black men who have needlessly died at the hands of the police. Protests all over the world including in Cardiff have highlighted the desperate anger and utter exhaustion of BAME people after decades of activism has been met with woefully insufficient action.  It is sad for me to reflect, as someone who joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Anti-Nazi League and marched with the Rock Against Racism campaign as a 15 year old schoolboy in the 70s, that racism is still a feature of society. It is shocking that a campaign called Black Lives Matter should be so essential in 2020. I also recognise that as someone with a significant platform I must amplify their voices and stand in solidarity with them.

I will continue to participate in the strong tradition in the Labour Party of fighting against both overt racism and the less visible racism which exists within the structure of our society, disproportionately resulting in BAME people having less job security, lower wages, inferior access to higher education, housing and jobs in large parts of the economy, and less safety in their day-to-day lives.

I was proud to see people of all ages and backgrounds in Cardiff join together spontaneously and peacefully in the city centre in condemnation of years of inaction. As you know regulations have been put into place by the Welsh Government to stop the spread of the spread of Covid-19 and save lives which includes a ban on mass gatherings, including protests  but it is commendable that organisers cooperated fully with the police in arranging last Sunday’s demonstration in the city centre, and that social distancing was maintained throughout. In the interest of preventing further spread of the virus, I would encourage people to refrain from meeting physically for now, and to follow social distancing guidance, particularly given that we are fighting a virus which kills BAME people at four times the rate it kills white people. We must use this time, in the eloquent words of Killer Mike, to plan and organise until it is safe to come together physically once again.

Our Labour Shadow Secretary for International Trade, Emily Thornberry MP, has written to the Secretary for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss MP, asking for exports of British-made riot control equipment being used to attack unarmed protesters and journalists to be immediately stopped. You can find her letter here in full:

I have added my voice to these demands, and have written a letter to the Secretary of State for International Trade regarding the suspension of export licences for the sale of these products being used brutally and indiscriminately by police in the US during the ongoing protests. The UK Government has a duty to condemn police brutality across the world, and ensure than it does not grant licences for exports of products which might sustain and support the violent suppression of peaceful protest.

I have written to the Foreign Secretary asking him to lobby his US counterparts to stop what appear to be violent, targeted attacks on peaceful protesters and journalists covering those protests. Progress can never be achieved if the basic rights of our democracies, such as the right to a free press and the right to free speech and protest, are eroded.

I have also written to the Welsh Government's Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams AM, to ensure that the curriculum in Welsh schools thoroughly and critically addresses BAME histories in Wales and the UK, and integrates the stories of positive BAME people’s contributions throughout our history.

As a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the House of Commons, I also feel it is my duty to hold large social media companies to account in tackling fake news and removing poisonous and racist content from their platforms.

Lastly, a number of people have written asking me to urge the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, to publish the Public Health England report into the effect of Covid-19 on BAME people. Following pressure from the Labour frontbench team, the UK Government decided to publish its report, which showed that:

“…being black and minority ethnic is a major risk factor. This racial disparity effect holds after accounting for the effect of age, deprivation, region and sex.”

The Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, Marsha de Cordova MP, and Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP, have both expressed their deep disappointment, however, that the report fails to address structural inequalities or put forward any recommendations. They have called for a risk-assessment to be complied for businesses to ensure that they do everything to protect their workers, similar to the risk assessment tool published by the Welsh Government which you can find here: https://gov.wales/written-statement-all-wales-covid-19-workforce-risk-assessment-tool.
Rest assured that I am here to represent and amplify your voices as my constituents in the battle against racism in all its forms.

Kevin Brennan MP
Cardiff West
Kevin Brennan MP is backing a campaign to help people who were due to start a new job after February, but due to the coronavirus have either lost the job or are not receiving government help.

Kevin said, "Too many people are falling between the gaps of government help in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak."

"I have received correspondence from several constituents who were due to start a new job after the Chancellor's cut-off date of February 28th.

"In many cases their future employer has not taken them on because they would be ineligible for the furlough scheme - this is unacceptable.

"That's why I've joined forces with a group of cross-party MPs and signed New Starter Justice's letter below calling on the Chancellor to remove the cut-off date and allow these people to be part of the furlough scheme.

"They have done nothing wrong and should not be punished for it.No one should be left behind"

Here is New Starter Justice's letter which Kevin has signed:

Dear Chancellor,

We are New Starter Justice –the voice for the new starters your Job Retention Scheme has left behind. You may have heard of us. You certainly haven’t listened.

We don’t envy your task. It’s never easy to start a new job, and you’ve certainly been thrown in at the deep end, immediately faced with the responsibility of steering the nation through an unprecedented economic challenge. We imagine when you started your new position, you were excited for the future and the opportunities it would present. The current situation must feel a world away from that. This is, perhaps, a small something we have in common.

We have felt the excitement of better prospects too—except ours have turned into a living nightmare. Through no fault of our own, we are left without work, income or financial security. All because we stepped forward into what we thought might be a brighter future.

Our campaign represents a vast collective of individuals from all sectors and backgrounds. Every day, the number of people you seem to have forgotten grows. We now estimate in excess of one million people have fallen through the cracks of this policy. And now, as our incomes start to dry up, our families are suffering too. Is this fair?

Over a month ago, you made the first announcement about the Job Retention Scheme. You made a direct promise that each and every person would “not be left behind”. It provided the nation with the comfort that we needed as we faced these difficult times.

Unfortunately, you have failed to deliver on this promise to over a million families and, despite thousands of us calling out to you, you have yet to acknowledge our fears. How can you continue to publicly laud the Job Retention Scheme as a roaring success, when it leaves so many at risk of losing everything?

When you announced your policies to save UK jobs, hidden amongst the fanfare was a stipulation that those who started—or were due to start—new jobs following 28th February would be ineligible for the Job Retention Scheme, despite our new employers being desperate to access the grant to retain us. This leaves us both struggling in the present and scared for the future. How can you fail so many workers and employers?

As you have scrambled to plaster over the cracks in other hastily-made policies, those in the Job Retention Scheme are left open and ignored. To date, your proposed solutions to address these gaps in the scheme are wholly inadequate.

First, you suggested we approach our former employers to re-hire us to immediately place us on furlough. A survey of over 8,000 members showed that this was unsuccessful for 96% of us. The process of returning to our employers, begging and pleading, was an embarrassing and inhumane proposal. Many left following experiences of bullying, discrimination and abuse. You forced them to return, ‘cap in hand’, understanding that this would be the only way to provide safety and security for their families. This solution, which you continue to suggest, simply isn’t viable. It’s emotional torture. We invite you to take a second to imagine how that would feel.

You then asked us to apply for Universal Credit. Yet the vast majority of us have been told we are not eligible for this support. And for those that are, the amount offered does not cover a fraction of our household bills. Whilst we appreciate that many people rely on the Universal Credit system day-to-day, we have always worked. We have built lives for ourselves that are reliant on our incomes. The amount offered to those few who have been told they are eligible will not keep a roof over their heads, pay their bills or feed their families. Why should we be expected to live on less than 10% of our income (if we’re lucky) when others are offered 80%—just because of unfortunate timing?

A small glimmer of hope emerged when you announced an amendment to the scheme. For a moment, we thought our voice had finally been heard. On the surface, this appeared to be an extension of the ‘cut-off date’ to 19th March. Initial elation turned quickly soured as it proved to be nothing more than a smoke screen. The requirement for our RTI to have been submitted to HMRC by this date means it offers no hope to those who are paid on a monthly basis – over 84% of the workforce. It was a mere clarification that only helped a small proportion of those who you had left behind. In fact, it took that support away from many who would have previously been eligible. Your treasury reported that this would provide support for an additional 200,000 people–a figure that has been widely debunked. You have left millions of families feeling abandoned, desperate and frustrated. How can you continue to ignore us?

You argue, in defense, that to extend the scheme to save us would leave it open to fraud. Yet by your own admission, you have the capabilities to mitigate against such crime and have systems in place to carry out checks. You allow this for the self-employed. You allow this for TUPEd workers. But you choose not to allow this for new starters, despite it being proven as possible. You openly admit this, but dismiss it as an administrative ‘burden’. Are millions of people and their families not worth the time or effort?

You have brushed us aside and written us off. And you have remained suspiciously quiet on acknowledging the flaws in your policy or the millions of people they will impact. We can assure you, we will not stay so quiet.

We are the taxpayers that you repeatedly state you must protect. For our entire working lives, each and every one of us has supported the government. Like everybody else, we will continue to pay the cost of COVID-19 for years to come. It is so undeniably right that the government must provide us with equal support through this crisis too. How can you show such blatant disregard for the taxpayers you claim to respect so much?

The stories we hear every day from our members, each one heartbreaking and desperate, highlight the number of ways people fall through the cracks in the Job Retention Scheme. They show that a ‘cut-off’ date isn’t a viable solution for all. Our members may be in a variety of different situations, yet we all have something in common: contractual proof of employment. We have signed contracts. We have offer letters. We have tax records. So many have attended work, for days, weeks, and have paid taxes on the earnings through payrolls but you fail to accept that as proof. Many were not even lucky enough to get the opportunity to start, left in limbo and waiting for this living nightmare to end. But both our past and present details and contributions are logged on HMRC systems. The evidence is available and so clearly displays that a solution that works for all is achievable. We have proof. We’ve done everything right—so why are you punishing us?

We do not profess to have the answers. We’re not policy makers. That’s your job. We are the families facing poverty because you took our jobs away.

You are disregarding us as collateral damage, Chancellor. We rely on you to support us through this and right now, you are failing us. We will not accept this any longer. How far are you going to push us?

People will suffer, homes will be lost, and children will go hungry as a direct result of this neglect. You are pushing millions of people to the edge. Reports show that 100,000 people attempt suicide each year due to debt and financial hardship. Will it take somebody to end their life before you listen to us? Could you live with that on your shoulders?

It’s not too late. All we ask is that you keep the promise you made and that you do the right thing.

Please, do not leave us behind.

New Starter Justice