John, last week Conservatives MPs voted down Labour's
motion that would have seen free school meals extended over the school
holidays, a measure that would have benefitted more than 1.4 million
children and their families.
Since then, Conservative MPs have doubled down by ramping up irresponsible
rhetoric that is fuelling dangerous misunderstandings about the challenges
that children growing up in poverty are facing in our country.
Just some of the incredibly insensitive comments from Conservative MPs
included Ben Bradley MP claiming, in a tweet that has since been deleted,
that the provision of free school meal vouchers over the summer amounted to
"£20 cash direct to a crack den and a brothel”, and Selaine Saxby,
Conservative MP for North Devon, who criticised businesses in her area for
providing free meals over the holidays.
I have been heartened to see the response from communities and councils
across the country who have stepped in where the government has failed to
act. You can find your nearest business offering free meals for children
over the holidays by clicking the button below.
The last Labour government set clear targets to end child poverty by 2020,
but in the last year it has risen, with projections that it will continue
to rise as a result of the pandemic.
Labour will not give up on the fight to ensure that no child goes to bed
hungry. That's why Labour has made clear that it will force another Commons
vote on the extension of free school meals over the holidays if the
government does not change its policy before the Christmas recess.
BUSINESSES OFFERING FSM 
LOCAL SCHOOL SET TO SPEND OVER £70,000 ON COVID MEASURES
Last week, I visited Lordswood Girls' School in Harborne which is set to
spend £72,000 on measures designed to make it Covid-secure for its 1,000
staff and students by the end of the academic year. This is despite not
having the money in its current budget nor any reserves to dip into, and
not having received any additional funding from the government.
As a result of Covid-19, the school has had to implement a number of safety
measures including increasing its cleaning regime, buying PPE, Perspex
screens and hand sanitiser, adapting classrooms by removing and storing
excess furniture to allow for socially-distanced learning and hiring
outside toilet blocks to reduce the number of students using the same
The government guidance states, however, that no school will receive any
additional funding to enable them to reopen, despite the large sums of
money needed to make schools safe for students.
Research from the National Foundation for Educational Research has found
that schools could be spending hundreds of millions of pounds to address
the costs of coronavirus in their schools.
Budgets will be pushed to breaking point if schools are forced to meet the
costs of the coronavirus themselves, with many looking outside of their
budgets to find the money needed to make schools a safe place for staff and
Schools are still feeling the impact of more than a decade of cuts, so
being forced to meet the costs of making their sites Covid-secure is adding
yet further pressure to already stretched budgets. The Chancellor must not
go back on his word, and should do whatever it takes to support schools in
these exceptional times.
READ MORE 
ANTI-SIKH HATE CRIME CASES ON THE RISE
Following a virtual meeting on Anti-Sikh hate crimes earlier this month
with more than 40 cross-party MPs and hundreds of Sikh constituents, the
APPG for British Sikhs, of which I am Chair, produced a report into
Anti-Sikh hate crimes.
The report aims to establish an official term and definition of hate crimes
against Sikhs through consultation with government and the wider public
over the next 60 days.
The report also addresses the lack of government focus and funding to
increase the reporting of hate crimes targeting Sikhs.
The scale of hate crimes targeting the Sikh community is a phenomenon that
is largely invisible to government and the wider public.
Official Home Office data for the last two years shows the level of
reported hate crimes targeting Sikhs has increased over 70%. This should
not be hidden away or ignored.
READ MORE 
SERCO HAS PROMISED TO LEARN LESSONS FOLLOWING OUTBREAK
On a call last week, Serco told me, Cllr Ian Ward and Cllr John Cotton,
that lessons have been learnt following a Covid outbreak in accommodation
run by the outsourcing giant for those seeking asylum in the city back in
Serco revealed that the asylum seekers moved to a city hotel following the
outbreak would be exiting by the end of the month, and that Serco had no
intention of using the city hotel again.
It was reassuring to hear that Serco have learnt lessons and given
assurances that accommodation conditions and Covid measures have been
stepped up to ensure the safety of surrounding communities and those
I will continue to work closely with Birmingham City Council over the
coming weeks and months to make sure Serco stay true to their word.
READ MORE 
EHRC REPORT INTO ANTISEMITISM IN THE LABOUR PARTY PUBLISHED
The EHRC report into antisemitism in the Labour Party represents a moment
of profound shame for the Labour Party - from which we must accelerate our
efforts to make amends and move forward.
It is vital that the Labour Party learns from its mistakes now and changes
for the better. I unequivocally support the findings and recommendations of
the EHRC report, and I will support our party, nationally and locally, in
their effective implementation.
READ MORE 
CANCER SCREENING, TESTING AND TREATMENT BACKLOG
It is estimated that two million people are waiting for cancer screening,
tests or treatment. Shockingly, that means that 1,600 cases of cancer are
currently left undiagnosed each month.
I asked the Department of Health and Social Care what it is doing to clear
the cumulative cancer backlog of undiagnosed, relapsed, and delayed
treatments in Birmingham as a result of Covid-19.
You can read the government's response by clicking below.