It has been wonderful over the last week to be part of so many great community events organised for Christmas.
There was a wonderful buzz at the Caldicot Christmas lights event which was bigger than ever before, the Woodlanders Group drew the community together for a celebration in the park, and the Beechwood Park Group Christmas event on Sunday to name just a few. These are events initiated by local groups, run by volunteers, and a big thank you on behalf of those who benefit from your hard work.
This year my office in Clarence Place has dealt with more cases than ever before. Nearly 3,000 constituents have contacted us on a range of issues, some of the most regular being the impact of changes on the disabled. Many people have been in touch in recent months with problems with the new Personal Independence Payments scheme. I have raised the issue a number of times in Parliament and last week I had the opportunity to speak again in a debate about the scheme which sees some of the most vulnerable in our community being left in limbo for nearly a year. I hosted a Citizens Advice Bureau Cymru event for Welsh MPs last week and they confirmed what MPs are seeing in their advice surgeries, and just how many people are approaching them for advice on the new system which is highlighted in their detailed report titled ‘One Day at a Time’.
My recent visits to steelworks have highlighted the challenges that continue to face the steel industry in the UK and in Newport. The need for more Government support for energy intensive users such as the steel industry, and more active use of procurement policy was highlighted in a debate in Westminster Hall last week. In the debate I pointed out just how hard the workforce has adapted, often accepting changes to terms and conditions, and hitting targets in difficult times. The Government announcing some support for the industry is one thing but actually delivering on it is crucial for those who have worked so hard to weather the storm. Alongside colleagues I will continue to press this point.