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News from Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin

Welcome to the May edition of my e-newsletter as we continue to abide by the Government's guidance to try and beat Covid-19.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced some changes to its official advice, which included loosening restrictions on working which will allow some to return to work, in instances where it’s not possible to work from home and when it’s safe to do so. This will allow some sectors and businesses to begin to return to some normality.

The Government has also altered the rules on outdoor activities, allowing us to take unlimited exercise, travel to outdoor spaces to exercise and to sit, picnic or sunbathe in outdoor spaces. We can also meet people from other households in outdoor areas, as long as we maintain social distancing, and play sports outdoors with members of our households or one other person from a different household, abiding by social distancing rules. Being able to get more active and see loved ones in public places will be a boost for many people's mental health, even if we can't hug or embrace each other yet. 

Despite these changes, it is clear that we are a long way from being out of the woods yet and some of the changes have left people confused. If you are in any doubt about what is and what isn’t now permitted, please check the latest official advice here.

Regrettably hundreds of people continue to lose their lives to this horrible virus every day, and the UK now has the highest number of recorded deaths from the virus in Europe, and the second highest total in the world.

In Kirklees there has been more than 600 confirmed cases and over 160 deaths, and my thoughts are with all the families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19.

Over the past month my team and I have continued to speak up for and support local businesses, residents and communities to get people the help and guidance they need to get through the lockdown period. We'll never stop working for the people of Batley and Spen so that when the Government's restrictions are lifted our community is ready to get back on its feet.

For full guidance and advice during the Covid-19 crisis, please visit my website here, and if you need any help or support, please email me on [email protected]
Coronavirus - Working hard for you

Over the past month, my team and I have been communicating and working with businesses across Batley and Spen to try and ensure as many as possible are protected and given the best possible chance to survive through the Covid-19 crisis.

With so many local businesses employing thousands of people, especially in the manufacturing industries, it's crucial jobs and businesses are protected so our area is able to get back on its feet once lockdown is over.

I have spoken with local bed manufacturers, travel agents, nurseries and others hearing their concerns due to a lack of Government support.

I’ve pressed ministers on a number of occasions (see sample letters below) asking for an extension of the Business Rates Holiday for manufacturing companies that have closed due to Covid-19, to allow companies to defer import VAT payments on orders made before March 20, and making the Job Retention Scheme more flexible to cover those who’ve had hours reduced but not stopped altogether. You can read this letter here.

Many early years practitioners and nurseries are also unable to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme after Government’s recent U-turn, leaving 25% worried they will close in the next year. I spoke to Little Leprechauns in Batley who are worried they may have to lay off staff unless they get support, and have written to the Chancellor asking for urgent action to support our nurseries which do crucial work supporting children’s early development.

I have also been pushing Kirklees Council to support businesses that due to business rates being part of rent, are currently ineligible for business rates relief. This is a particular problem for us here in Batley and Spen with many of our large mills now turned into retail outlets, home to many small businesses.

I'll always fight to protect business to ensure companies and the self-employed have fair access to Government funds to keep people in their jobs.

With many local families still stranded abroad, 68 at the last count, my team and I have been working flat out to ensure they can get home safely, managing to get a large percentage home to their families. We will continue to work hard until everyone is safely back in Batley and Spen.

If you need support, know someone who needs help or if you want to join the Community Response, call 01484 226919 or visit the Kirklees Council website.

My team and I are here to help everyone in Batley & Spen at this trying time so please contact me on [email protected] 01924900036

In April, my chosen charity of the month was Rainbow Baby Bank of Heckmondwike, pictured above when they visited Westminster for the Kids Count Inspiration Awards in October. Since the charity was founded last year it has done amazing work across Batley and Spen providing young families and expectant mothers with essential items that aren't always affordable for all. Since the Covid-19 lockdown began they have seen requests for support rise, as people's finances are squeezed with many people furloughed or unable to work and earn a living. The charity is doing incredible work to help those who are in need. Donations of essential items are always welcome to help the team continue their vital work. Sadly due to the lockdown I haven't been able to visit the team, but once the restrictions are lifted I will be paying them a visit.
If you want to donate to Rainbow Baby Bank, or need support, visit the charity's Facebook page here or email [email protected]
VE Day 75
Friday marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, when the Allied Forces triumphed over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

It offered the nation the opportunity to reflect and show our respects to the Second World War generation who made so many sacrifices, some making the ultimate sacrifice, to make sure we can live in a free and peaceful world.

The current worldwide Covid-19 crisis has drawn stark comparisons to wartime, but this time it's against an invisible enemy and it's heroic NHS and care workers, bus drivers, emergency services and other key workers putting their lives at risk to keep the rest of us safe.

Many of us had planned to attend events organised to mark the day which unfortunately had to be cancelled, but I hope everyone was able to mark VE Day in your own way. The Royal British Legion organised an incredibly touching and inspiring livestream on the VE Day anniversary featuring stories and memories from the Second World War generation, and a great educational pack for young people to learn more about the sacrifices they made. The BBC's People's Celebration show was a fitting tribute to that generation.
In Westminster, we’ve had to adopt a new hybrid model to allow us to get back to business, with virtual debates and questions taking place in the House of Commons, as well as committee meetings. Since social distancing began I've been in countless virtual meetings covering all manner of issues including speaking in Parliament and holding constituency surgeries over Zoom or by phone.
In these unprecedented times these changes have ensured meaningful debate can take place and the Government can continue to be held to account, while MPs are still able to abide by lockdown rules and social distancing.
It's definitely different - Prime Minister's Questions without hundreds of jeering MPs is still taking some getting used to - but this is the new normal now and we must get used to it until the Government's restrictions are relaxed.
Domestic Abuse Bill
Last month this extremely important piece of legislation finally came back before the House of Commons to be debated again by MPs, and I was honoured to take part in another extremely constructive debate.

I’ve heard devastating and frankly terrifying examples from local people who have been victims of financial and domestic abuse, and on their behalf and for those who never escape I contributed to the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Domestic abuse is an unseen crime, taking place behind closed doors hidden away from society. Since social distancing confined us all to our homes, calls to domestic abuse charities have surged as victims have nowhere to go to get away from abusive partners.

I welcome the addition of economic abuse to the statutory definition of domestic abuse; it’s another way partners try to exert control and power over their victims, and I’ve heard the impact this has first-hand in constituency surgeries.

Once this piece of legislation comes into law it will be a huge step in protecting the victims of abuse, but we need to ensure it is as effective and wide-ranging as possible - including offering couples separate Universal Credit payments as a default, exempting domestic abuse survivors from legal aid means tests, and a duty of care for banks and financial institutions to support and protect victims of domestic abuse.

Family courts also need to be reformed so domestic abusers cannot cross-examine their victims in civil cases, and in criminal courts the "rough sex" defence can’t be used to reduce a murder charge as no woman would consent to being killed.

I look forward to the next time this Bill comes before Parliament.

Over the past couple of weeks my team have been hard at work making improvements to my website. The new layout makes it much simpler to navigate the various sections of the site to make it clearer and easier to find the information you need. Everything you need to know about Covid-19, how I can help, my activities in Parliament and in the constituency, and about Batley and Spen is on there, as well as how to contact me and to book surgery appointments. To see the updated site, go to

Write to me at:
Tracy Brabin MP
House of Commons

For details of my upcoming surgeries, call my constituency office on:

01924 900036

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