It’s been another busy week in Swansea and Westminster. On Tuesday morning I met with women from the Future 4 Fairgrounds campaign who have been campaigning to raise awareness and gain support for the fairground industry. The fairground industry has a long and proud history and has long been part of the fabric of our society. However, Covid-19 has caused many local authorities to cancel planned fairs, even though fairgrounds have worked hard to put in operating measures to ensure that they were Covid-secure. Fairgrounds have been part of village and town life for a long time and it would be such a shame to lose an important and enjoyable part of our cultural heritage.
Later on Tuesday I was pleased to co-chair a meeting of the Beauty, Aesthetics, and Wellbeing All-Party Parliamentary Group. It was our fifth inquiry session into non-surgical cosmetic procedures, this time focusing on ethics and mental health. We heard from Antonia Mariconda, founder of the Safety in Beauty campaign, Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Director for England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, Professor Nichola Rumsey OBE, Professor Emerita at the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE Bristol, Professor Clare Chambers, council member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and Professor David Veale, trustee of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. It’s important that we consider the reasons why people have cosmetic surgery and whether there is a necessity for improved mental health screening so that people don’t simply use cosmetic surgery as a plaster to cover up other, serious mental health worries. Of course not everyone who chooses to have cosmetic surgery has a mental health condition such as body dysmorphia, but there are those suffering with the condition who believe that cosmetic surgery will fix everything, and unfortunately, it cannot. We need to better safeguard vulnerable patients, especially those who need another form of medical support, such as counselling.
Wednesday brought us the Chancellor’s Spending Review and it was disappointing – but not surprising! – in its lack of funding for Wales. The UK Government have promised that Wales would not be worse off outside the EU, but the Shared Prosperity Fund investment falls far short of what we would have received from the EU Structural and Investment Funds and will have serious implications for our businesses, communities, and people across Wales who are struggling after a decade of austerity and now the significant effects of the Covid pandemic. The UK Government must respect the devolution settlement and provide the funding Wales requires to be able to recover the economy and contribute to the health and wellbeing of the United Kingdom as a whole.
The Chancellor has also betrayed our key workers – those who have worked so hard for us during this crisis – by handing them a real terms pay cut. This will not help the economy recover as hard-working people will have to tighten their belts even further as prices continue to rise. He also continued with the inhumane plans to cut Universal Credit, despite a tacit recognition that the original level was not enough to live off as it was raised to support people during the crisis. To cut it now is cruel in the extreme. We need investment, not tax hikes and pay cuts – especially with Brexit just around the corner.
I was pleased to be interviewed this week along with my MP colleague Judith Cummins for BABTAC & CIBTAC’s monthly membership publication – beauty membership and training organisations. Judith and I are really keen to support the industry and have been campaigning, as I’m sure you’re all aware, for the UK Government to do more to support this industry which is both significant for the UK economy and for female employment across the country. It’s really important that we keep up the pressure because these businesses must be there once this pandemic is over – to support the UK economy as a whole, to support the local economy and bring people into town centres, to support employment and growth, and to help mental health. We know how important it is for us to feel comfortable in how we look and beauty salons have a huge role to play in that, as well as lifting spirits with the conversation and chat they offer to those feeling lonely and down.
We’ve had more meetings for the Christmas Hamper #EveryoneDeservesAChristmas campaign, and I was so pleased to see the deliveries of advent calendars to schools and nurseries across Swansea East this week. It’s such a simple thing but such a thrill to bring joy to children at Christmastime. Thank you to all for their generous donations.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, 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 – my team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!