Budget Resolutions

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Tuesday 12th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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The Chancellor’s final Budget has confirmed what the British public and my constituents in Nottingham South have long known: we are all paying a heavy price for 14 years of Tory failure. That is failure to grow our economy, failure to raise living standards and appalling failure to deliver the quality public services that people need and deserve. We have all been left living in a lost decade because of a succession of chaotic Conservative ideological projects that have harmed economic growth, scared off private investment and widened inequalities across our nation, from austerity to a no-plan Brexit and the kamikaze mini-Budget of September 2022.

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister claim that our country has turned a corner. Perhaps we have, but it turns out that around that corner was yet another Tory recession and the highest tax burden for 70 years. Households in my constituency of Nottingham South will be on average a further £870 worse off because of the Budget and other recent economic announcements from this rudderless Government. For every £10 that the Government are taking from our hard-working families in higher tax, they are giving back only £5. Forget robbing Peter to pay Paul—the Tories are giving with one hand and taking twice as much with the other, while expecting us to thank them for the privilege.

Many of my constituents were already having to make daily difficult decisions to make ends meet because of the sky-high inflation and rocketing rents and mortgage payments unleashed by the last Prime Minister’s irresponsible and economically illiterate mini-Budget. Now, because of the failure of this Prime Minister and his Chancellor to get our economy growing again, raise living standards or actually cut the tax burden, my constituents will have to try to make do with even fewer pounds in their pocket.

The Conservatives are inflicting yet further pain on my constituents, because the combination of £1 billion-worth of cuts to Nottingham City Council, the failure to fix the crisis in social care and spiralling homelessness has pushed our council over the edge. To fill that black hole made in Westminster, the council has been forced to agree devastating cuts to local services, including the arts, culture, libraries, community protection, youth services and more. This ill treatment comes as no surprise to us in Nottingham, because successive Tory Governments have failed to make the important investments needed to help our great city grow, cancelling first midland main line electrification and then phase 2 of High Speed 2, and refusing to invest in the Broadmarsh project to regenerate our city centre and create more than 6,000 much-needed jobs. We in Nottingham have been a target for Tory cuts since 2010, but I am proud that I and others stood up to the Government to force them to deliver on the extensions to Nottingham’s tram network, the upgrading of the A453 and the scheme to insulate and retrofit thousands of homes across Nottingham South.

Unlike for the Conservatives, sound public finances and economic stability are non-negotiable for the Labour party. A future Labour Government will not play fast and loose with our economy by carrying out ideological Frankenstein experiments like the Prime Minister’s £46 billion unfunded plan to abolish national insurance. Instead, we will stick to our tough fiscal rules. Our spending plans will be fully costed and fully funded, including a loophole-free windfall tax on the extraordinary profits of oil and gas multinational giants. We will root out waste, corruption and those abusing taxpayers’ money by setting up a new office for value for money, halving Government consultancy spending, and appointing a covid corruption commissioner, to ensure that all of our taxpayers’ hard-earned money is spent wisely.

A future Labour Government would end Tory short-termism and instead work with private business to encourage stability, investment and reform to build the world-leading industries of the future in Britain. We would reform our sclerotic planning system, support our working people to develop the skills they need to thrive, and make work finally pay with a genuine living wage and a new deal for working people.

The Conservative Government have broken their promises to the British people. We are all paying more and getting less because of repeated Tory failures. If this was a private contract, the Government would have been taken to court for misrepresentation under the Trade Descriptions Act long ago. Instead, the Prime Minister, who lost his last election test to his predecessor and her snake-oil economics, is steadfastly refusing to let the British public have a say on his and his party’s record of chaos and national decline. He should do the right thing and call a general election for 2 May to let the people of Nottingham South and Britain elect a Government who will put them first.

Economy Update

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Thursday 26th May 2022

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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My hon. Friend speaks with experience on this matter, given his previous roles.

I will give a couple of examples. One we have touched on, which is energy supply and making sure that we can improve it, but there is also the labour market, which we know is tight. That is why it is important that we move people off welfare and into work and reform high-skill migration. Beyond that, we will go after all opportunities across all sectors where we can deregulate and improve our productive capacity.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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On the Chancellor’s watch, we have had 15 tax rises, and this year the UK is the only G7 country to be raising taxes on working people. He has known for months that our constituents are going hungry, sitting in the cold, worried sick about their bills and facing the biggest fall in their living standards since the 1950s. Why did it take the Prime Minister’s boozy lawbreaking being all over the news for him to finally impose a windfall tax on the bumper profits of energy companies?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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Well, we did act, and that is why there is already £21 billion of support to help people with the cost of living this year. We are adding £15 billion to that today, after having more certainty about what energy bills will be in the autumn, and that is why we have acted now.

Financial Statement

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Wednesday 23rd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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That is exactly what we are doing. The increase in the personal tax threshold in July was brought in far quicker than these things normally are, but we wanted to do it as quickly as possible. This will put £330 in the pockets of 30 million people up and down the country.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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This year, the Chancellor is delivering the largest fall in living standards since Office for National Statistics records began in 1956-57. Will he tell us how many more people will fall into poverty as a result of his failure to ensure that increases in social security match inflation?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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The hon. Lady is describing the impact of inflation on people’s incomes. Of course that will have an impact; we have been very clear and honest about that. That is not just happening here; it is happening everywhere across the world as we grapple with higher inflation, but the measures we are taking today will make a significant difference to support working families in weathering some of the challenges ahead. Again, for those who are most vulnerable, we started this journey in autumn with a tax cut to universal credit, and we are doubling the household support fund today to £1 billion.

Covid-19: Government Support for Business

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Thursday 16th December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

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John Glen Portrait John Glen
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I recognise that, which is why I have set out today the engagement that we are having to try to determine exactly what we need to do.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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For more than a week, hospitality businesses and workers in Nottingham have been contacting me desperately worried about falling custom at what should be their busiest time of year. I have also heard from hair and beauty salons in my constituency that are facing cancellations and wondering how on earth they will get by on a reduced income when they are already struggling to pay back the loans that they took out to survive lockdown. Why do the Government not seem to understand the urgency of the situation and what will the Minister now do to help?

John Glen Portrait John Glen
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What I will do is ensure that the hon. Lady’s point is passed to the Chancellor. I will also ensure that the engagement is as broad as possible across Treasury Ministers, so that the full impact of the evolving circumstances is reflected in our response.

Downing Street Christmas Parties Investigation

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Thursday 9th December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Michael Ellis Portrait Michael Ellis
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My condolences to the hon. Gentleman’s constituent. The Prime Minister has said, as I have said from this Dispatch Box, that disciplinary action will be taken if appropriate. I hope that the hon. Gentleman’s constituent can be reassured by that. As to the course of action the police choose to take, if any, that is a matter entirely independent of Her Majesty’s Government; it will be up to the police as they are operationally independent. We have said that the Cabinet Secretary will involve the police if, during the course of his investigation, he uncovers any criminality.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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The Prime Minister has repeatedly told this House that all covid rules were followed in Downing Street. Will the Minister publish the covid risk assessments undertaken prior to any parties, social events or gatherings that took place on Government premises in November and December last year?

Michael Ellis Portrait Michael Ellis
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I have noted what the hon. Lady says. That will be a matter for the Cabinet Secretary, and he will be free to seek any documents he needs during the course of his investigation.

Working People’s Finances: Government Policy

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Tuesday 21st September 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Matt Western Portrait Matt Western
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I absolutely agree—it is such a key point. There are so many schemes that could be introduced, and there is some excellent practice across Europe; I think it is currently beyond the wit of the Government, but as chair of the all-party parliamentary group for council housing I am certainly keen that we should push for it.

On energy costs, I go back to the point about heavy manufacturing. I am passionate about our manufacturing sector—not just the automotive sector, which I have talked about often, but chemicals, aerospace and steel. We have heard the comments that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) made about the impact on steel, but the impact will be felt throughout our manufacturing: steel goes into the food and drink sector as much as into automotive and elsewhere.

The reality is that the price varies for energy. For gas in the UK, I think that I am right in saying that there is a 40% premium against the average in Europe, which is making us uncompetitive in comparison and will have an impact on future investment and, ultimately, on jobs.

Food prices are another big driver of inflation. The price of food and drink in shops and supermarkets has risen by more than 1% in August, the highest growth since 2008. Food commodity prices have increased by 17% since the start of the year. The Food and Drink Federation says that the cost per household of food and drink shopping will increase by more than £160 per year because of Government policies—that is the federation speaking, not me.

Various hon. Members have mentioned the supply chain disruption, which will lead to higher prices. We have heard about the shortages of heavy goods vehicle drivers, but there are also shortages of refrigerants and carbon dioxide, and of course there is the additional complexity of delays at borders and ports.

I turn to travel. I asked the Minister about the price of petrol, but in July petrol prices hit their highest level in almost eight years. It now costs £74.26 to fill a 55-litre family car with petrol, a 17% increase—17% seems to be a repeating figure—since the start of the year, by the Government’s own data. Diesel, by comparison, has risen by just 14%.

Rail fares are not faring any better. The Government are planning fare rises of 4.8% next year, way ahead of inflation. The average commuter faces paying £3,300 for an annual season ticket, 50% more than in 2010. An annual season ticket from Leamington to London, incidentally, now costs £8,700, a significant amount of money.

As for housing, rents have risen at their fastest rate since 2008, at a time when we are seeing declining home ownership, and the vulnerability that confronts so many people as more and more are living in the private rental sector. Rents in the west midlands are now £1,192 higher than they were in 2011, and incomes have certainly not kept pace with that.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech. I think those who are listening will appreciate that for some families the combination of rising prices, rising rents and rising costs of travel to work will lead to absolute desperation—and, of course, this does not just have an impact on individuals and families; it has a wider societal impact. If people are unable to pay their rent, if they are made homeless and if that affects their mental health, an enormous strain will be placed on our public services and on society more broadly. Measures such as the cut in universal credit are complete madness, because the longer-term costs for the Government will be even higher than the costs of maintaining the uplift.

Matt Western Portrait Matt Western
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My hon. Friend is spot on. Short-term thinking often costs much more in the long term, and impacts of that kind will have very long-term consequences on people. We all know about the impact on mental health and how that can then affect people’s home lives, social lives and family lives, but it can also affect their working lives, which can have an economic consequence too, as well as increasing costs in the national health service and elsewhere.

We need to build more social housing for rent. Just 21 social rent council homes have been built in the Warwick district since 2010.

Let me now turn to the unimaginable and, I think, inadmissible cut in universal credit. It just underlines how out of touch this Government are that they are cutting the £20 uplift. Reversing that decision would prevent families from experiencing an even sharper hit during this cost of living crisis. I think it shameful that the very workers who got us through the crisis are now in the firing line for a £1,000 cut in their income every year. I think about the carers, the shop workers and the delivery drivers—all the people who kept the wheels of the economy turning through such difficult times. Data from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that in Warwick and Leamington, which I think many people would assume to be a prosperous area, 13% of working-age families—6,300—and 29% of working-age families with children will be affected by the cut. This really is a poverty policy.

We have heard a great many claims about levelling up, but the one area in which the Government seem to be succeeding is levelling up on taxes which are more regressive than ever. We may think back to the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20%; now we are seeing a rise in national insurance and rises in council tax across our local authorities. The average band D council tax set by authorities in England in 2021-22 is just under £1,900, a 4.4% increase on the 2020-21 figure. These are real costs to people. As we have heard, the national insurance increase is the biggest tax rise for families—the most significant change—in 50 years. Graduates now face a marginal tax rate of nearly 50%: that, surely, is a tax on aspiration.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Tuesday 26th January 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Kemi Badenoch)
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I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is a doughty champion for his region and he should know that we remain focused on the commitment we made at Budget 2020 to have 750 roles across the economic campus by the end of the Parliament. The Treasury is still considering a range of location options for the new campus. We want to ensure that the chosen location supports our wider levelling up agenda, but we will certainly take his comments and representations into account.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab) [V]
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The Government claim that their central economic mission is to level up. Can the Chancellor assure me that his Government will deliver HS2 in full, including the whole of the eastern leg, because this will be the litmus test of their real commitment to levelling up?

Steve Barclay Portrait The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Steve Barclay)
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The hon. Lady is right to draw attention to the commitment the Government have made to infrastructure, including in the forthcoming integration infrastructure plan, but the levelling up is not just about rail, as the Chancellor said; it is also about the £4 billion levelling up fund and, most importantly, about the review of the Green Book. As Lord O’Neill and others have commented, that ensures that a whole range of projects better address the levelling up alongside the significant investment in rail and other transport infrastructure.

Financial Reward for Government Workers and Key Workers

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Monday 14th December 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Stringer. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) on her powerful and eloquent opening speech. I am not sure that I will add anything unique to the debate, but some points bear repetition.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who have been delivering our public services during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them are in public-facing roles that simply cannot be done from home, including social care workers, refuse collectors, firefighters and border control staff. They have been working hard, day in, day out. They have exposed themselves and their families to additional risks to help to keep us safe, secure and well.

Others who have been working just as hard are often invisible. They are among the unsung heroes of the crisis. I am thinking of the staff working at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to administer the job retention scheme, or those in the Department for Work and Pensions coping with a huge influx of new universal credit claims. Their work has been just as essential in helping to protect jobs and livelihoods. They were often unprepared and under-resourced to deal with that new sudden demand, but they stepped up. Of course, there are many others. Their reward for that work is to be handed a real-terms pay cut. The Chancellor might try to use softer language, with talk of a pay pause rather than a freeze, but soft language does not pay the bills. Prices are set to rise by 1.4% next year, and many people will be even more shocked when they realise that their council tax bill will go up by 5%. Thousands of public sector workers will be worse off, including every single police officer, every single teacher and 90% of armed forces personnel based in England. As many hon. Members have said, for many of those workers, that is just the latest kick in the teeth, because public sector staff have already endured a decade of cuts in the value of their wages, with many seeing their buying power cut by almost a fifth between 2010 and 2020.

Government Ministers want to pit public sector workers against private sector workers, but it is all smoke and mirrors. Private sector wage growth has fallen behind this year primarily as a result of furlough, having previously run ahead. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, once we adjust for the different profile of public sector workers in terms of experience, education and other factors, there is no difference in hourly pay rates compared with the private sector. The truth is that such divisive language helps no one. We all lose as a result of the proposals. It is noticeable that not a single Back-Bench Conservative MP has dared to turn up and defend them.

In Nottingham, 23% of all employees work in the public sector, which is significantly higher than the average for the east midlands or Britain, although of course there are parts of the country where it is far higher still. When the pay of those workers is cut, they have less to spend in local shops and with local businesses. Freezing their pay harms the local economy and risks the jobs of the private sector workers employed in those shops and businesses. At a time when our local high streets are suffering real damage and small businesses do not know whether they will survive the pandemic, this pay policy delivers a further blow to confidence and risks further weakening a weak recovery.

The Minister should think again. We need action to save jobs, rebuild businesses and get the economy back on its feet. Instead of cutting real wages, the Government should be boosting them, particularly for the lowest paid. That is the right thing to do ethically and economically.

Graham Stringer Portrait Graham Stringer (in the Chair)
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Unusually, there have been no interventions and some Members have not turned up, so I will increase the time limit for Back-Bench speakers to five minutes.

Spending Review 2020 and OBR Forecast

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Wednesday 25th November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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My hon. Friend is, as ever, a passionate champion for the hospitality sector, and he is right to be so. It employs 2 million people, often lower paid, and it has been hit harder than almost anybody by this crisis, which is why, as he acknowledged, we have put in place unprecedented support, from VAT cuts, initiatives over the summer such as eat out to help out, business rates holidays and now cash grants when those businesses are either closed or in tier 2 areas facing restrictions to help get them through the winter. Those grants in general will equate to the rental payment of most of those businesses—we have that information and that is the single biggest fixed cost of hospitality businesses; and, of course, they can furlough their staff. I know that it is difficult, but, hopefully, those interventions will make a difference, because he is right that we want them to be able to bounce back strongly.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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The midlands engine has identified priorities for investment as transport, digital connectivity and energy. That is what we need to enable the midlands and the UK to recover from this pandemic and to build back bigger, better and greener, but, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the east midlands has suffered the lowest level of transport spending per person since 2014-15. We have also been at the back of the queue for all capital spending for at least five years. If the Chancellor is serious about levelling up, can he guarantee that the east midlands will receive the highest allocation of any region when he hands out his new levelling-up fund?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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The hon. Lady talked about a few different things, transport and digital connectivity being among the most important to her region. This spending review delivers on both those priorities, with record amounts of spending on road, rail, intra-city transportation, buses and cycling, and, on digital connectivity, with our plans to bring 85% of the country to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, we are also delivering on the green plan that I outlined. I very much look forward to hearing from her and her local areas once we launch the levelling-up fund, because I am sure there will be projects we can make a difference to.

Covid-19: Disparate Impact

Lilian Greenwood Excerpts
Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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My hon. Friend is right. Household composition was definitely one of the things that we looked at; it was identified as a factor, and we are looking further into its significance. In the interim, the Government have provided a range of guidance to support those who are living in multigenerational housing, alongside detailed advice to employers and key workers on how they can protect themselves. We will continue to ensure that our guidance is clear, enables people to protect themselves adequately and includes guidance for those who are shielding. To support this, we have given councils an additional £1.6 billion of the covid budget fund to help them to protect and support people during this national emergency. As I always say, the Government will do everything that we can, but we cannot do everything, which why we need people to know how they can protect themselves.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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Since the start of the covid pandemic, the all-party parliamentary group on deafness has repeatedly called on Ministers to ensure that all communications are accessible and inclusive, but on Monday we saw reports that deaf children are being deprived of their access to education. I note that the Minister has promised future updates, but is the Race Disparity Unit working across Government to ensure that all communications are accessible to deaf and blind people? What is she doing to ensure that black, Asian and minority ethnic disabled people are not doubly disadvantaged by the measures needed to control the virus?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Lady is absolutely right. This is an issue that we have looked at; for instance, the Government have looked at sourcing personal protective equipment for people who need to lip read, so that they can continue to communicate. She is also right to point out that some people are affected in multiple ways, but looking at each issue separately does not mean that one aspect will be forgotten. They will be helped by all the separate work that is being done across the board to look at vulnerability.