Fighting for Welsh Farmers, addressing the Cancer backlog, and Small Business Saturday - Weekly Update 04/12/2020
I was pleased to speak this week in the House of Commons of the issue of support for Welsh farming. The Secretary of State George Eustice continues to say that he has maintained the budget for the devolved nations. However, farmers in Wales will be £95 million short compared to if they were still in the EU. I find it extremely tedious that the Welsh Conservatives and the UK Government continue to point the finger at the Welsh Government for the lack of funding, when they are rightly acting in accordance with the EU rules for agricultural funding until 2023, which the National Farmers’ Union of Wales have confirmed. The UK Government promised the devolved nations that they would not lose any funding from our exit from the EU and they must keep that promise. We did not vote to be made poorer by this UK Government.
I was in Westminster Hall this week as part of my role as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cancer, in a debate on the backlog facing NHS cancer services. Despite the amazing efforts of clinicians working in the NHS and the additional support by the Government, the backlog for cancer treatment is big, and it is real, caused by the impact of addressing the first wave of the pandemic. But it’s not just about the backlog of people within the cancer system; the real backlog is of undiagnosed people yet to come forward and present their symptoms to the NHS. In the Forgotten ‘C’ report by Macmillan, using the Government’s own data, they’ve projected that there are currently 50,000 missing diagnoses and this means that around 50,000 fewer people have been diagnosed, compared to a similar timeframe last year in 2019 – that is a huge number of people that we just cannot ignore.
I know that it can be a lot easier to bury one’s head in the sand instead of getting worrying symptoms checked out, and the Covid pandemic has almost given us all an excuse to avoid the doctors with concerns about catching the virus or not wanting to burden the NHS. But cancer is serious. And it has not gone away because Covid has taken over. Please, if you are concerned about any symptoms – GPs are still there. We need to make sure that cancer referrals are in the system, that the NHS are aware of patients, and that the UK Government know that they need to put more funding in to deal with the backlog.
I was also pleased to discuss the rollout of superfast broadband across Wales during a question session of the Welsh Affairs Committee with Richard Wainer from the BT Group, Mike Dugine from Wrexham and Flintshire Council, and Kim Mears from Openreach. The Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru programme has already rolled out superfast broadband access to many homes and businesses across Wales and they have plans to extend the reach of fast broadband even further. Openreach are delivering this work using a mixture of public and private funding in order to provide fast, reliable broadband to those still left without. Connectivity is so important these days – we’ve seen that during this pandemic – not only for keeping in contact with friends and family, but also adapting and expanding our businesses and ensuring that the connection between business and customer is as strong as ever.
This week it’s Electrical Safety Week Wales and it’s really important in the run-up to Christmas that we raise awareness of the dangers of buying electrical products online. Electrical products must meet a high standard of regulations to be sold in UK shops, but unfortunately, many products sold by third-party sellers online do not meet those standards and can therefore pose a risk to the health of your family and friends. If you’re buying electrical goods this Christmas, remember to buy from a trusted seller – even online! Saving money isn’t worth the risk to friends and family from faulty electrics.
Finally, this Saturday is Small Business Saturday. There are around 2,995 micro and small businesses here in Gower. This year's campaign has had to change, so I will be promoting some of the amazing small businesses we have here in Gower on my social media over the weekend. Small businesses have faced an unprecedented challenge in Coronavirus. Please get involved and give them the help and support they deserve.
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!