On Friday I finished my Big Conversation with a great discussion with students at King Edward VII School. After 37 events involving 968 people, and a survey completed by 1051, yesterday’s debate on the Queen’s Speech gave me the opportunity to take what I’ve heard to Parliament.
The Queen’s Speech itself was a farce, with a collection of headline-grabbing promises that cannot be delivered by a failing Government without a majority, but the debate allowed me to set out the views and concerns from Sheffield.
I couldn’t cover everything, but I raised the concerns of carers over access to respite, of care workers over inadequate training and support, and of parents over special needs funding. I spoke about the young people who had talked about access to mental health services, knife crime and school funding. I raised the concern over the rise in homelessness, rough sleeping and street begging – with a call for more affordable housing and the intensive support needed to help people off the streets
I drew the connection between these different issues – that nine years of cuts have sapped the capacity of our public services and much of the voluntary sector to meet the needs of people who need them most, that austerity has corroded the quality of life, and that these decisions were a political choice, and not forced by necessity.
I reflected the concerns on Brexit – sharing my survey result that 71% wanted a further public vote, in which 77% said that they would vote to remain, 15% said they would support leaving the EU with a close relationship and only 8% wanted to leave without a deal – and on the climate emergency, highlighting the need for stronger action.
Read my full speech here, and look out for the full report on the Big Conversation which will be published next week and shape my work in Parliament over the year ahead.