Tonia Antoniazzi MP proudly showed her support for the animal rescue sector at an event in Parliament hosted by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
The event celebrated the vital role rescues play in caring for animals and supporting communities, and Tonia was delighted to meet some of Battersea’s furry ex-residents who showed off what amazing pets rescue animals are.
Animal rescues have had an uncertain few years due to COVID-19 with organisations facing significant financial and welfare pressures. At the event, Tonia met with representatives of small rescues from across the country who described how the pandemic had affected their organisations and how proposed future regulation of rescues could affect them.
Tonia also heard about specific challenges such as puppy smuggling and ear cropping, which will be addressed by the Kept Animals Bill. Tonia vouched her support to work with Battersea to make sure it completes its urgent passage through Parliament in the coming months.
With the surge in demand for pets since the pandemic began, Tonia was also struck by the importance of Battersea’s campaign to promote pet friendly housing. Tragically too often pet owners are forced to give much-loved dogs and cats to rescues due to rental restrictions. Battersea is calling for reform of the rental sector to widen the availability of pet friendly properties and Tonia pledged to offer her support to this campaign.
Following the event, Tonia said:
‘Rescues do amazing work, helping pets and their owners in difficult situations, and Battersea is a champion for the best of rescue. There’s lots we can do in Parliament to tackle issues encountered by rescues, from cracking down on puppy smuggling, eradicating mutilations and supporting more people to find pet friendly properties, and I’m delighted to pledge my support.’
Michael Webb, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Battersea, said:
‘Thank you to Tonia for pledging her support for rescues. With new legislation and regulation that impact animals rescues due in Parliament, X’s support means that together we can fight to promote the welfare of cats and dogs, along with the organisations and communities that protect them.’
Families are split across Europe. The UK should be doing much more to help unaccompanied child refugees.
With the end of the Dublin Regulation in the UK and the closure of the Dubs scheme, I am deeply concerned about the lack of new proposals to provide safe and legal routes for unaccompanied child refugees.
The Government is legislating for significant changes to the UK’s asylum system through the Nationality and Borders Bill. I have opposed this Bill at every opportunity as I do not believe it deals with the fundamental issues in our asylum system. It proposes unworkable solutions that will cost the taxpayer and it undermines international humanitarian conventions at a time when cooperation is needed more than ever.
We know that a lack of safe routes leads to more people, including many children, risking their lives by making dangerous journeys. Despite the Government noting the importance of safe and legal routes, the Dubs scheme was shamefully closed after accepting just 480 unaccompanied children rather than the 3,000 expected.
The Labour opposition proposed several amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill during its consideration in the House of Commons on 7-8 December 2021, including amendments to reintroduce a safe route for unaccompanied children, expand family reunion for unaccompanied children, and mandate the negotiation of a new asylum agreement with the EU including safe, legal routes and safe returns. Sadly, the Government made its opposition to all these amendments clear, and they were not added to the Bill.
However, Lords Dubs subsequently tabled an amendment to the Bill to require the Government to allow unaccompanied children in European countries to come to the UK to join family members here. I am pleased that this amendment passed the House of Lords with Opposition support. I voted to keep this amendment when the Bill returned to the House of Commons on 22 March. Disappointingly, the Government again rejected it. However, on 4 April, the House of Lords voted for a reworded amendment, meaning MPs will have another opportunity to vote on it.
Families are split across Europe, and children who seek safety with family members are at very high risk of taking dangerous journeys across the Channel and elsewhere to be reunited with their loved ones. The Government should no longer turn its back on unaccompanied child refugees and young people in need of protection.
I will continue to press for more action to ensure vulnerable children are protected from exploitation and suffering.
There's no denying the use of cash has been declining for some time. This has only been accelerated by the pandemic. However, that change is not taking place equally across all parts of society. In recent years we've seen major high street banks closing their branches in Gorseinon, Pontarddulais, Clydach and Mumbles, resulting in many of us losing access to cash across Gower.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) research shows that five million adults use cash for most of their purchases. The Bank of England found that 1.2 million adults in the UK did not have bank accounts, and an analysis from Which? showed that one in six people have struggled with the shift towards cashless payment as a result of the pandemic.
This is much more likely to impact lower-income households and those in rural areas that do not have or cannot use the internet as readily.
Even as technology advances, therefore, there is still an important duty to maintain an easy-access and free-to-use cash network. We do not want to see people cut off from full participation in society, unable to access goods and services. We must also not force small businesses to go cashless simply because it becomes too inconvenient to work with cash. An unmanaged drift towards a cashless society clearly risks seriously disadvantaging these people, businesses and communities. It is vital that we find ways to manage and protect access to cash and that the Government ensures the decline in cash use does not contribute to inequality.
Having promised to bring forward legislation on this issue in 2020, the Government finally published a consultation on proposed changes to the law on access to cash on 1 July 2021. It sought views on geographic access requirements for providing access to cash withdrawals and deposits, on which firms should be required to provide access and on proposals to ensure the FCA has the appropriate power and responsibilities to hold firms to account on this issue. The consultation closed on 23 September and the Government says it is analysing the feedback received.
I have long supported calls for the Government to bring forward legislation on this issue and I will continue to support efforts and press the Government for a serious plan of action now for protecting access to cash. Any further delay risks leaving behind the most vulnerable in our society.
Find out more about the Post Office's "Save our Cash" campaign at:
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has shown her support for the local Parkinson’s community on World Parkinson’s Day, 11 April. Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world and currently there is no cure.
Tonia attended a parliamentary drop in session last month to hear from a number of people affected by the condition. With more than 40 symptoms, everyone’s experience of Parkinson’s is different, making it hard for people to understand without first hand experience. The session was designed to start conversations and increase understanding among MPs and members of the House of Lords of what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s or as the carer of someone with the condition.
The session was held as part of this year’s activities to mark World Parkinson’s Day. This year, members of the Parkinson’s community chose to encourage people to Talk About Parkinson’s to increase visibility and understanding of the condition.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said:
“It was incredibly powerful to hear people telling their Parkinson’s story. The complexity of the condition coupled with the impact of the restrictions on the clinically vulnerable during the pandemic. And the challenges families face in accessing timely, high-quality Parkinson's care demonstrate there is much we can all do to show our support for people living with Parkinson’s and their families.
More than 7,600 people are already living with a Parkinson’s diagnosis in Wales, and every week, about 19 people are diagnosed. That’s almost 1,000 each year.
Laura Cockram, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Parkinson’s UK, said:
“We’re incredibly grateful to Tonia for coming along to Talk About Parkinson’s and pledge to support constituents affected by the condition in Gower.
“One thing that we know is that not enough people really understand Parkinson’s. They don’t know it’s a serious condition, that treatments are limited and that there is no cure. They don’t realise just how much people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones have to fight to access the care and support they are entitled to.
“We hope that through talking about Parkinson’s this World Parkinson’s Day, we can start to address that. If more people understand Parkinson’s, they can support people in their local communities, join our cause to improve health and care services and the benefits system, help fundraise, and, ultimately, get us closer to that cure.”
Tory cost of living crisis could see 619,368 working pensioners in Wales £1,400 worse off over next two years
A Tory triple whammy of soaring prices, a tax hike and a lower State Pension could see 619,368 working pensioners in Wales £1,400 worse off over the next two years, according to new analysis published this week.
New analysis from the House of Commons Library, commissioned by Labour, shows that working pensioners could be an average of £1,400 worse off over the next two years.
A working pensioner earning the average salary, who is in receipt of the State Pension and liable to pay the Health and Social Care Levy, face a real-terms reduction in their income of £770 in 2022/23 and £622 in 2023/24, an almost £1,400 loss.
The analysis also shows the value of the State Pension is eroded in real-terms by nearly £300 next year and will still be lower in real-terms in 2023/24 even if it is uprated by 5.9%, the rate of inflation that is forecast for September 2022.
Commenting on the figures, Tonia Antoniazzi MP said:
“Many retired people in Swansea and Gower work, to contribute to our communities or to supplement their state pension which is facing a real terms cut this April.
“Its disgraceful that working pensioners are facing a triple whammy of soaring prices, tax rises and a real terms cut to their state pension. Under the Tories, pensioners are worse off.”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said:
“Instead of protecting pensioner incomes as Boris Johnson promised, the Tories are cutting the state pension and clobbering pensioners in work with a tax rise; leaving them worse off by an eye-watering £1400.
“It's daylight robbery and Boris Johnson has betrayed retired people.
“Pensioner poverty is increasing with older people facing impossible choices between eating and heating. The upcoming NICs rise should be halted this week and action should be taken to reduce energy bills by hundreds of pounds for those who need help as Labour has proposed."
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I am proud that Swansea is a City of Sanctuary. We have a history of welcoming people of different nationalities, ethnicities and religions as well as those fleeing war and persecution in other countries.
I know residents across Swansea & Gower will want to do their bit to support those who have been forced to flee their homes because of the invasion. Here is how you can help. #StandWithUkraine
The current advice from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is that the best way to support the people of Ukraine is through cash donations with more details available by following this link: https://www.dec.org.uk/
With many logistical routes closed and transportation systems under significant pressure, sending physical goods could add more stress to the situation on the ground.
Making cash donations, to organisations responding to the crisis in Ukraine, allows for emergency relief goods to be sourced locally.
Homes for Ukraine
The UK Government has set up two routes for people fleeing the war in Ukraine to seek safety and sanctuary in the UK and Wales.
If people in the Ukraine have family ties in the UK they can apply for a visa through the Ukraine Family Scheme. This scheme allows people to join their family members or extend their stay in the UK. It is free to apply and people will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds.
The other route is the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which is specially designed for people in Ukraine who do not have family links in the UK. It allows people in the UK to sponsor someone in Ukraine to come and live in the UK.
People in Wales can sign up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme, offer to become a sponsor and offer a space in their home to someone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine to live for at least six months. People signing up to the scheme via the Homes for Ukraine website can be matched with people escaping the war in Ukraine who want to come to the UK.
Helpline and support
Guidance on the support available to Ukrainian nationals and their family members can be found on GOV.UK, including detail on the latest information on Ukraine visa schemes and resettlement.
If you need any assistance, call the free 24 hour helpline on +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 if you’re in the UK). If you cannot contact UK 0808 numbers, please use +44 (0)175 390 7510.
The situation in Ukraine may be traumatic for family members, friends and those currently in living in Wales. The CALL (Community Advice & Listening Line) Mental Health helpline is available 24 hours a day to listen and provide support. Call 0800 132737 or text ‘Help’ to 81066.
This week, I had the opportunity to speak about the great work of Swansea Council in a Westminster Hall debate. Read on to find my full speech.
The Tories are planning to ditch plans to ban imports of fur and foie gras. I implore them to reconsider.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP for Gower pledged to work with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to help make ‘science fiction a reality’ during a special parliamentary reception.
The event, held on Wednesday 2nd March, celebrated the BHF’s 60th birthday and the pioneering research it has funded.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP heard about the BHF’s life saving research over the last six decades, and met with some of the BHF-funded researchers who have made these advances possible.
Since the BHF launched in 1961, the number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK each year has halved.
BHF-funded research also contributed to the first UK heart transplant, and the charity was behind discoveries that revealed the cause of a heart attack - helping to transform treatments ever since.
The BHF’s research has also identified many of the genes responsible for conditions that cause sudden heart attacks and cardiac arrests, meaning people can be identified before these deadly events strike.
Today, the BHF is the UK’s biggest non-commercial funder of research into heart and circulatory diseases. However, despite six decades of progress, there is still more to do to improve the lives of the 7.6 million people in the UK who are living with these conditions.
The leading charity is now urging more people to donate to the BHF so that it can help turn more mind-blowing ideas from the realms of science fiction into life saving treatments and potential cures.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP for Gower said: “I was delighted to attend the BHF’s parliamentary reception and hear more about the huge advances in research that the charity has made possible over the last 60 years.
“Today, heart and circulatory diseases are one of the biggest killers in the UK, so it is important that the BHF continues to receive support to help fund the scientific breakthroughs of the future. I look forward to working with the BHF to help highlight the crucial part it plays in the UK’s research and development landscape and how the work it funds benefits my constituents.”
The event was hosted by Elliot Colburn, the Member of Parliament for Carshalton and Wallington.
Elliot Colburn MP said: “The BHF’s research has been pivotal in helping to advance treatments for the millions of people living with heart and circulatory conditions in the UK.
“It was inspiring to hear from the BHF’s researchers and to also find out more about how their work is directly benefiting patients.”
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “It was great to speak with Tonia to not only recognise the improvements made for people living with heart and circulatory conditions across the UK, but to also highlight the progress we urgently need for those living in their constituency.
“Beating heart and circulatory diseases is still one of the world’s biggest challenges and, despite huge steps forward over the last 60 years, the BHF’s research has never been more needed.
“We want to thank all MPs and peers who attended our parliamentary reception and signed our pledge to help make science fiction a reality. We look forward to working with them in the future.”
During my St David’s Day debate speech last week, I spoke about my passion for empowering women and girls through sport, because sport changed my life.
I’ve been blown away by the response I’ve had to that speech, so on International Women’s Day, I wanted to elaborate more on this.