The country and the West Midlands are in the grip of a national rail strike this week and I deplore the disruption it is causing.

Workers have the right to withdraw their labour - something I will always support – but I have to question what this dispute will achieve at a time of economic uncertainty and real worries about a recession.

Key workers, like NHS staff and teachers, will not be able to go to work or struggle to do so. Roads will be congested, raising pollution levels, and students are sitting exams and now have the added stress of not knowing how they can get to sit them.

West Midland Trains is one of the companies affected but the whole network is disrupted as Network Rail staff that look after the tracks and signalling are also out on strike.

The fact is the Government cannot hand out huge public sector pay rises when global inflation is so high. It will make the situation worse; it will put pressure on the country’s finances at a time when we have spent £400 billion on the pandemic response and now £37 billion to help with cost-of-living pressures for everyone, including RMT members.

I would urge other unions to use restraint for their demands for pay rises. I do understand the pressure everyone is under as prices increase but raising the government's wage bill with big pay rises will not help anyone for very long.

The cost of living continues to be the major concern for many in Stourbridge and my team and I are doing all we can to ensure those in need are directed to the right support and benefits.

There is help out there and the government has found that some benefits are not being claimed by Stourbridge residents.

One is Pension Credit. This benefit is a top up that is worth an average of £3,300. As well as a cash top up to the state pension, it also acts as a passport to other benefits such as help with housing costs, council tax reduction schemes, heating bills and a free over-75s TV licence.

Nearly 2250 claim it in Stourbridge but it is thought around 25 per cent of people who could claim the extra help do not currently do so. I am concerned that there could be hundreds of older people locally not getting this support in these challenging times.

Pension Credit can be claimed online, by telephone or by post.

Information is available on Gov.UK website or by calling the Freephone Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

The Department for Work and Pensions is also sending leaflets to 11 million pensioners.

Please check if you are eligible.