LGBT+ History Month is the perfect time to launch the Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ Action Plan, which I did in the Senedd on Tuesday. The Action Plan strengthens protections for LGBTQ+ people, promotes equality for all and helps to coordinate actions across government and communities in order to achieve the Welsh Government’s ambition of making Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe – we want to create a Wales where everyone feels free, supported and safe to live their lives as their authentic selves.
Many of us will not forget the harm that discrimination, hate and exclusion has caused to so many LGBTQ+ people, or the progress and achievements that have been made over the past 40 years, thanks to the activists and allies who worked tirelessly to create change. Many of these people have been lost to history, which is why LGBT+ History Month is a good time to remember them and their contributions. But we cannot be complacent and LGBTQ+ people can still face discrimination and harassment – we’re in an age where it can feel like LGBTQ+ people are under attack and our rights are at risk of being rolled back, with LGBTQ+ communities routinely being weaponised in the name of political and media debate, none more so than that of the trans community. The Action Plan shows a clear commitment to defending and promoting the rights and dignity of trans and non-binary people.
I was extremely proud to be able to launch this ambitious and wide-ranging plan and to explain that the Welsh Government stands together with our LGBTQ+ communities in Wales. That’s why LGBTQ+ rights are embedded in our Programme for Government and why we have published this bold and ambitious LGBTQ+ Action Plan.
Last week saw the UK Government’s hugely-damaging Strikes (Minimum Services Level) Bill pass through the final stages in the House of Commons. This piece of legislation is not only designed to restrict workers’ rights and deny them the right to strike, but it also delves into areas of devolved matters such as health and education and my colleague Mick Antoniw, Counsel General, will be looking at the legal basis to challenge this law. Unlike the UK Government, here in Wales we aren’t responding to the strikes by bringing forward new draconian laws which restrict workers’ rights. Instead, we are working in social partnership with unions to explore the ways to resolve the current disputes and I’m proud of the way we’re leading the way on industrial relations and improving the labour market for us all.
I discussed this legislation and other matters last week during my trip to Edinburgh when I met the Scottish Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work Richard Lochhead MSP. We talked at great length about Wales’ Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill, currently going through the Senedd, which will provide a statutory framework to enhance the wellbeing of the people of Wales by improving public services through social partnership working, promoting fair work and socially responsible public procurement.
January marked the tenth anniversary of the Welsh Government’s flagship Business Wales service which has supported more than 390,000 entrepreneurs and businesses, assisted the creation of more than 19,000 start-ups and directly helped to create nearly 47,000 jobs in the Welsh economy. The service not only inspires our next generation of entrepreneurs, but also provides dedicated support for those people wishing to start, sustain or grow their business through a range of face to face, telephone and online provision. Particularly important is the new Young Person’s Start Up Grant which has helped 465 young people to access one-to-one advice to develop their plans to start a business and 107 awards worth nearly £203,000 have already been issued to budding entrepreneurs.
Finally, have you claimed your Winter Fuel Payment? Eligible households, regardless of how they pay for their fuel, can claim a one-off £200 payment from their local authority to provide support towards paying their fuel costs. The scheme will be open to households where an applicant or their partner is in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits at any time between September 1, 2022, and January 31, 2023. For full details of the Winter Fuel Payment scheme, along with other support available, visit the Flintshire County Council website – this is a real help from your local authority so if you’re struggling with the cost of living I urge you to apply as soon as possible. All applications must be received by 5pm on February 28.
As always, if you would like advice and/or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on any of the following contact details – 52 High Street, Mold, Flintshire, on 01352 753464 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also keep up to date via my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/hannahblythynMS. Constituents are, of course, welcome to contact my office to arrange an appointment to see me, you don’t need to wait until an advice surgery.