Please note: lower down in this blog post I refer to mental health services and to gaps in these for people seeking treatment. I do not describe any mental health conditions but please be aware of this if you are feeling vulnerable. Right at the bottom of the blog are details of mental health services you can contact if you need help.

This week saw the Prime Minister indulge in a Government reshuffle. This has subsequently been labelled a ‘heshuffle’, and a failed attempt to hide the truth: this Tory Government is out of time.

The Government reshuffle saw my opposite number for the last six months, Rt. Hon. Jacob Rees Mogg MP, Leader of the House, replaced Rt. Hon. Mark Spencer MP, moved across from being Government Chief Whip. As I have said in media this week (see my comments here), it is completely inappropriate for the Prime Minister to appoint, as Leader of the House of Commons, a man who faces an ongoing investigation into grotesque racism. He has also been publicly accused by a Tory MP of blackmail and threatening to withdraw investments for schools and hospitals.

This week in my regular weekly speech at Business Questions, I raised the 14,000 cases of fraud taking place every day. This equates to millions of cases of fraud a year. Thousands of people are being scammed out of their hard-earned savings, whilst the Business Secretary claims that fraud is not a real crime. Perhaps this is why the Chancellor is happy to simply write off £4.3 billion worth of fraudulent loans.

The Prime Minister himself doesn’t seem to understand his Government’s record on tackling crime. Last week, he claimed that they “have been cutting crime by 14%”. However, figures from the Office for National Statistics found that there was in fact “a 14% increase in total crime, driven by a 47% increase in fraud and computer misuse”. As fraudsters develop new ways to target money that people have rightfully earned, the Government finds new ways to turn a blind eye. This is a government that is soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime.

Coupled with the prices of everyday essentials and energy steadily increasing, this Government is squeezing British people to an appalling extent. Foodbank use was already unacceptably high before the outbreak of Covid-19 and has skyrocketed, as households felt the financial strain of the pandemic. Food insecurity has grown and households with children are particularly affected. Families up and down the country are facing energy bills set to rise by more than £700 pounds a year, whilst the Tories let oil and gas producers run riot, as they boast that they are making over £700 pounds profit per second.

Instead of helping working families, the Government is choosing to plunge them into debt. The Government’s forced loan means that households will be paying an extra £19 billion on their energy bills next year. Meanwhile, the Chancellor continues to pretend that this is in fact a a discount. This truly is a buy now, pay later Government.
Labour’s plan would keep bills low through a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas profits, and households getting £200 off their bills. It would also give £600 to those who need it most. It is still unclear why the Government choose not to back this plan and ease the extra pressures people are facing now.

Throughout the pandemic, incidences of new, resurfacing and continuing mental health difficulties have been consistent and widespread. During these inexplicably testing times, our already overstretched mental health services have been unable to provide the care that people so desperately need.

The Government continues to ignore the rising demand for mental health services. In England 2020/21, more than a third of children were turned away from mental health services, despite a referral from a professional. For vulnerable young people, the waiting time to taking these crucial first steps on their path to recovery is absolutely agonising. We are facing a crisis in mental health services, with two fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatment forced to contact emergency services prior to receiving treatment. One in ten end up in A&E before they receive help.

Unlike the Tories, Labour have a plan. On Tuesday, we brought forward a debate on children’s mental health, as we know that early intervention is key. In light of this, Labour pledges to:

  • Guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it, setting a new NHS target, ensuring that patients start receiving appropriate treatment – not simply an initial assessment of needs – within a month of referral
  • Recruit 8,500 new staff so that one million additional people can access treatment every year by the end of Labour’s first term in office
  • Put an open access mental health hub for children and young people in every community, providing early intervention, drop-in services
  • Provide specialist mental health support in every school to support pupils and resolve problems before they escalate. This plan would see a full-time mental health professional in every secondary school and a part time professional in every primary school
  • Improve service quality, bringing in the first ever long-term, whole-Government plan for improving mental health outcomes, making early-intervention a reality, and broadening the range of services to those with severe mental health illnesses
  • Give mental health its fair share of funding, pledging that NHS spending on mental health will never fall and a fair share of mental health funding every time new funding is provided to the NHS.

Many of my constituents have reached out to me regarding this matter, and I am so glad they have. We have been running a local campaign for better mental health support in Bristol schools, and a guarantee that young people needing mental health treatment get it within a month. You can read more about my campaign here.

You can view this week’s Business Questions here.

If you are feeling vulnerable, please contact the Samaritans for free on 116 123 or use the contact details for the Bristol branch for other methods of contact.



Thangam Debbonaire MP speaking in Parliament
Thangam Debbonaire MP speaking in Parliament
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