I had a very fruitful and interesting meeting with members of the Deafblind charity in Neath discussing the issues that affect those with hearing and visual impairments in our community. Some of the issues covered included the community accommodating deafblind people, public loop systems, benefits help for deafblind people now the system has changed, Blue badges and public toilets. The work that Deafblind do to support people who have a combined sight and hearing loss is fantastic and their continuing fight so that deafblind people have the same rights, access and opportunities as others is vitally important to allow them to live independent lives.
During the budget debate in the House of Commons Peter Hain said,
“The Chancellor delivered last year’s budget in the week that the clocks changed. We had hoped to hear that the economy was about to spring forward. This budget confirms instead that it has fallen back – yet again. For the third time in a row he has stood up on Budget day to announce that things have got even worse than he forecast the year before. The Prime Minister says his economic policies are beginning to work, but where he sees signs of success the country can’t even see a brighter shade of fail.
All we got in this budget is more of the same from a Chancellor who looks increasingly like a loser, a spent force who talks aspiration but delivers stagnation.”
To read the whole speech click here
Support is continuing to grow for saving Neath Post Office and the vital services it provides. The branch on Windsor Road is one of 70 across the UK earmarked to join with a retail franchise which would mean a loss of key services. I’ve met with workers and addressed the public meeting in Neath town hall. It is crucial that we show our support for the Crown Office and the service provided there. Sign the petition (in my office) and show your support.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend comment on a particular feature of the Neath food bank? Some 1,400 people in the Neath area are dependent on the food bank. Around half of those are in work. It is not solely people on benefits who are dependent on food banks; people in work are, too. The Wales Office website has still not taken down the Secretary of State’s commitment that people in work will always be better off than they would be on benefits. Those people are dependent on food banks in my constituency.
Kevin Brennan: Indeed. In a recent debate led by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger), my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) mentioned that he had collected food for FareShare in Penarth. Many of the people being helped by the food bank were not the people one might expect, but people in work who were struggling to get by. The hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) has been keen to intervene; I note that a new food bank has opened up in Chepstow. I am sure that he will pay it a visit shortly, if he has not already done so.
In Wales, the rapid expansion of food banks is a subject that resonates and rankles. It is symptomatic of an approach by the Government that represents a shift away from the British belief in the importance of social security, founded by the three great Welsh pioneers and symbolised by the old-age pension, national insurance and the national health service, and its replacement with the alien American concept of welfare stigmatism—the demonisation of the poor and the replacement of the state’s responsibility with the vagaries of the charitable handout. The good society has been gazumped by the ill-named “big society”, in which well-meaning individuals try to patch the gaping holes created by austerity economics.