Access to Medical Cannabis, examining the benefits system in Wales and being scam-aware - Weekly update 19/06/21
This week saw a moving intervention from 9-year-old Thomas, calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that legal access to medical cannabis is ensured. Thomas is the brother of Eddie, who suffers from severe epilepsy. 9-year-old Thomas has written to tell the Prime Minister that his parents should not have to have the added worry of finding the money to pay for Eddie’s medicine on top of helping him manage up to 100 seizures a day. It is utterly heart-breaking that a 9-year-old child, who has had to watch his brother suffer, has felt the need to write to the Prime Minister of this country to beg for help for his parents. Medical cannabis can have an astonishing effect on the wellbeing and standard of life for children with severe epilepsy and that the UK Government have to be called out time and time again to take action on this issue is appalling. It is uncompassionate, it is uncaring, and it is immoral. I am constantly staggered by the strength and dignity of the families fighting for their children in this scenario, and I will keep working until the UK Government does the right thing.
The Welsh Affairs Committee have this week launched an inquiry to examine the benefits system in Wales, following a period of unprecedented challenge with the impact of Covid-19. Current figures show that 282,274 people are on Universal Credit, an 82% increase since March 2020 and that between 18 March 2020 and 15 April 2021, there were 192,717 COVID-19 related Emergency Assistance Payments, with a total value of £12.82 million. With key Covid-19 support measures due to end in September, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more people may make claims on the benefits system, with latest figures showing that 159,600 jobs are still furloughed and that some regions remain particularly reliant on the scheme, such as Conwy, which has 18% jobs furloughed. We will examine the key challenges for the benefits system in Wales and how the pandemic has changed the type and amount of support that people need. We will also consider how effectively the Welsh Government’s allowances and grants - such as the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, the Discretionary Assistance Fund and Free School Meals - meet people’s needs. The Welsh Government have provided unprecedented levels of support, but there is always room for improvement.
Citizens Advice have launched an important campaign to inform young people, especially those in their twenties, about the risks of falling victim to scams. People in their twenties often think they are too savvy to fall victim, but unfortunately research shows that people in their twenties are most likely to be scammed. You can protect yourself by following a few simple rules: don’t ever give money or details to anyone you’ve met online and don’t click on unsolicited links or links from people you do not know.
This week is Men’s Health Week and I am taking the opportunity to spread the word that most men with early prostate cancer don’t have symptoms - and so it is vital that they get themselves checked. You can use this prostate cancer risk checker to assess your risk – it takes just 30 seconds – so do it now! Covid-19 has disrupted so much in society; with so much else going on it has perhaps been difficult to remember to think about cancer and checking for symptoms but it is so important that you continue to do so and talk to your GP with any concerns. Cancer has not gone away and your GP is still there for you.
It is fantastic news that every adult in Wales has now been offered the Covid-19 vaccine. In Wales, our NHS staff and fellow vaccinators have been working so incredibly hard to get the rollout moving well. If you think you’ve been missed out, check what to do on the Welsh Government website here.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increased, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Keep well and remember – and remember - observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!