One of the issues that affects many local residents, and a central part of My Plan for Morley and Outwood, is mental health. There is a lot to do in this field, but it’s encouraging that spending from the Government on mental health increased to a planned £11.86 billion in 2017/18, with an additional £1 billion by 2020-21 to meet the recommendations published by the independent Mental Health Taskforce.
This money will enable 600,000 more people to access talking therapies every year and will help 20,000 more people with mental health problems to stay in work. I have recently had a meeting with leading experts from the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group and from Leeds City Council, to ensure this money is invested effectively in our area and that local authorities are working together to improve the services available for young people. Last week, authorities launched a new Local Transformation Plan. The partnership has set out 11 priorities and is aiming towards reducing the waiting time needed for support.
Among the people suffering from mental health issues, there are also veterans, who have to face everyday conditions like PTSD and traumas from having been in war zones. Charities like Combat Stress are doing an amazing job in caring for veterans with mental health issues and I’m glad that the NHS is funding a new Veterans' Mental Health Complex Treatment Service.
We are grateful to veterans for their service and the Government must go the extra mile to ensure they are supported in the most difficult times. For this reason, along with 150 other MPs, I’ve signed a letter to the Prime Minister to ensure ‘lasting legal protection for our Armed Services and Security Personnel, wherever and whenever they served’. This includes members of our forces that have served in Northern Ireland during a difficult time for our country, who are now finding themselves being reinvestigated after having been cleared of any wrongdoing. It is baffling to me that our veterans are continuously on the gallows, while many supporters of terrorism found an easy way out. I call for the Secretary of State for Defence, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Attorney General to find a lasting solution to this issue that is becoming excruciating for the former members of our armed services.
I am pleased that Britain is leading the way in a cleaner environment. The Government has recently announced that it plans to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds. As an animal lover, it breaks my heart to see the damages inflicted by plastic in the water on fish, birds, and even to the human body.
In England, we use 1.8 billion cotton buds annually, which are often flushed down toilets leading to plastic accumulating on our shores. I’m glad that the Government has opened a consultation on this matter and that it plans to ban these items in the immediate future
Finally, it’s great to see our high street welcoming new businesses, including a dog-friendly new bar Prospect at Morley Bottoms. As someone who worked in retail before politics, I know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy as they create and distribute jobs and wealth at a local level, keeping our communities alive