You can find out what I have been up to in Parliament and my work in Lewisham, or read my latest blog posts below.
Earlier today we held the Youth Violence Commission's first parliamentary evidence session on the role that youth services can play in tackling youth violence, and the current challenges the sector faces.
Earlier today we held the Youth Violence Commission's first parliamentary evidence session on the role that youth services can play in tackling youth violence, and the current challenges the sector... Read more
After two years of trying, today I was finally successful in the ballot for Prime Minister’s Questions!
I used the opportunity to raise the case of a woman who came to my office fleeing domestic violence. She had all her belongings with her, but no money and nowhere to stay that night.
My caseworker tried to find her a bed in a refuge, but every single one in London was full. I asked the Prime Minister what advice she would have given to my constituent.
After failing to give a direct answer, the PM claimed that the Government has been putting more money into refuges - this is not what we are seeing on the ground. She also stated that the Government will be using new legislation (the Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill) to look at what more can be done to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.
I will be watching the Government’s progress on this very closely. It is clear a huge amount needs to be done before victims can be guaranteed the support they deserve.
After two years of trying, today I was finally successful in the ballot for Prime Minister’s Questions! I used the opportunity to raise the case of a woman who came...
A number of people have contacted me recently to raise their concerns about care home standards.
I am very concerned about the current state of adult social care in England. In July, 3,200 care services were rated as “requires improvement” and more than 340 as “inadequate”. That means that some 92,000 vulnerable people are receiving poor care and some 10,000 people are receiving inadequate care.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services found that £4.6 billion had been cut from adult social care budgets since 2010. The Health Foundation has also said that that six years of real-terms reductions in social care budgets have left 400,000 fewer people receiving essential help. This shows the Government’s neglect for one of society’s most vulnerable groups.
In October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its annual state of care report, revealing that the number of nursing homes beds has fallen by 4,000 in two years. The number of people not getting support for their social care needs has also risen by 18% and the future quality of care has been described as “precarious”. I believe such figures are simply unacceptable.
The CQC report is evidence of the Government’s inability to maintain health services at the standard patients and their families both expect and deserve. Reductions in social care budgets since 2010 have also caused problems for the recruitment and retention of staff, which is at the heart of the poor care that is being reported.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion to tackle the immediate financial gap in social care, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This would ensure care staff were paid the National Living Wage and extend publicly funded social care to 36,000 people with the highest needs.
I am aware that Independent Age is working with Healthwatch England to improve the information available to help local people assess the quality of care homes.
I can assure you my Labour colleagues and I will keep up pressure on the Government to provide our health and care system the resources it needs to provide the best possible care. I very much hope the Chancellor will use his budget in November to finally put the NHS on a secure financial footing for the long term.
A number of people have contacted me recently to raise their concerns about care home standards. I am very concerned about the current state of adult social care in England....
Many of you have contacted me recently expressing concerns over human rights in Myanmar and persecution of the Rohingya community. According to the UN, over half a million people have fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh since August, a situation described by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Like many, I am horrified by widespread allegations of torture, killing, arson, rape and many other forms of violence against the Rohingya community. Human Rights Watch revealed the scale of destruction to the Rakhine State through burning villages by releasing satellite imagery this August.
Following the escalation in violence from 25 August 2017, the Government has announced a suspension of military cooperation with Myanmar’s armed forces in response to calls from colleagues in Parliament and many others. Our shadow Foreign Office Minister, Liz McInnes MP, described this announcement as “welcome, albeit belated”.
Immediately, the Government must now continue to put pressure on the civilian and military authorities in Myanmar to help bring the violence to a complete close. It is also vital that those displaced urgently receive the food, water and medicine required to combat the crisis they face. We must press the Myanmar authorities to allow the currently denied access of NGOs and humanitarian organisations into the area.
Once this has been achieved, the process of establishing a lasting peace must begin, through building on the recommendations of the recently published report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, including a formal recognition of the rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people.
I was glad that Jeremy Corbyn spoke out about this in his speech to Labour Party Conference, calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the violence, rightfully stating “the Rohingya have suffered for too long”.
I will continue to keep up pressure on the Government on these essential stages of action and follow this issue closely, keeping my website updated on any further developments.
Many of you have contacted me recently expressing concerns over human rights in Myanmar and persecution of the Rohingya community. According to the UN, over half a million people have...
As winter approaches, an increasing number of constituents have been in touch with me about household energy bills and price increases. I have long supported a cap on energy price rises and believe we should go even further to lower bills.
Since 2010, household energy bills have increased by 9.2% in real terms, while this year all of the “big six” energy companies have also announced dramatic increases. In my view, such large increases cannot be justified.
An investigation into the energy market conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority last year, found that 70% of big six customers are on expensive default standard variable tariffs. It also revealed that households had been paying £1.4 billion a year more for energy than they would have if the market was operating responsibly.
The big six energy companies have been exploiting customers in pursuit of generating excessive profits for too long. The market is clearly failing, whilst all people want, and deserve, is reliable and affordable energy.
During the past election the Prime Minister pledged to introduce a cap on energy bills that would save 17 million households up to £100 a year. However, it has yet to act on this and it remains unclear when and how it will do so. After months of uncertainty, we need action. The Government must legislate for a price cap.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised to introduce a cap to ensure that the average dual-fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year, while we move to a fairer system for bill payers. If such a cap had been in place since 2010, it would have saved the average consumer £1,149 so far and a further £142 per year in future. I also committed to bringing energy back into public ownership, to make it more affordable and accountable to local communities.
I can therefore assure you that I will continue to push for further action to ensure fair energy bills.
As winter approaches, an increasing number of constituents have been in touch with me about household energy bills and price increases. I have long supported a cap on energy price...
Many of my constituents have been in touch recently over waiting times for Universal Credit. I agree that the handling of this issue by the Government is unacceptable and is of great concern to many people in Lewisham Deptford.
As you will know, it currently takes five to six weeks for claimants to receive their first payment after applying for Universal Credit. The Government considers this waiting and assessment period as fundamental to its policy, designed to mirror the world of work and prevent welfare dependency. However, clearly, the design and management of the Universal Credit system is flawed and is having a disastrous impact.
I understand that waiting times are proving incredibly frustrating and problematic for people in practical terms. Figures from the Government itself show that nearly half of new Universal Credit claimants required an advance on their payment and nearly a quarter did not even receive their first payment in full and on time. Furthermore, they show that 49% of claimants in arrears said they fell behind in their payments after making their claim, highlighting waiting time as a key reason.
The disastrous terms of the Government’s implantation of Universal Credit is proving counterproductive to its purpose by causing further problems. As stated by Citizens Advice, over half of those helped onto Universal Credit were forced to borrow money while waiting for their first payment. Advances available to those in need must also be paid back. I believe it is unacceptable for people to be unfairly pushed into additional debts in this way.
The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network, has said that the waiting time is responsible for a rise in the demand for charity food. Our Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has condemned the “shambolic roll-out” of Universal Credit which is “pushing so many families into poverty”. Even some Government MPs have argued that the roll-out of Universal Credit must be halted, in order to stop the distress caused by the Government’s mishandling of this programme.
At the June 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that committed to reforming and redesigning Universal Credit. I remain committed to calling for action on this issue and pressuring the Government to end the six week wait.
Many of my constituents have been in touch recently over waiting times for Universal Credit. I agree that the handling of this issue by the Government is unacceptable and is...
Many of my constituents have contacted me recently about the Capped Expenditure Process (CEP). I share these concerns and believe that the Government should cancel the CEP immediately.
In June this year, various NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups, as well as the Health Service Journal, reported that a number of health regions have been placed into a CEP. The British Medical Association has described the CEP as a new regulatory intervention “designed to radically and rapidly cut spending in geographical areas with the largest budget deficits.”
I am very concerned over the lack of transparency provided by the Government on these plans – despite having been going on since at least April, there has been no announcement from the Health Secretary, and full details remain unpublished. The Government has also confirmed that no consultation has taken place regarding the process.
Worryingly, the CEP appears to be another example of hidden cuts. The House of Commons Library published a report in September discovering that, in addition to reviewing existing financial plans, CEP areas were also asked to consider closing or redesigning services and restricting access.
As we approach winter, I am aware of concerns over how our health service will cope – I wrote previously about this issue here. Further spending reductions will inevitably result in waiting times drawn out, wards closed, staff numbers cut, units shut and treatments rationed or restricted.
However, I can assure that, should our health services come under threat in Lewisham Deptford (as with Lewisham Hospital), I am prepared to fight hard against this.
Many of my constituents have contacted me recently about the Capped Expenditure Process (CEP). I share these concerns and believe that the Government should cancel the CEP immediately. In June...
Many people in my constituency have been back in touch with me recently with concerns over the protection of bees and current European ban on neonicotinoids.
Whilst the European Commission is expected to complete its assessment on this issue by November 2017, I’d like to re-affirm my views on this very important issue (stated here).
Draft proposals for a full ban on the three most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides could be voted on by EU member states as early as May 2017.
This June Conservative MEP, Julie Girling, attempted to block the full ban on neonictinoids – though thankfully, this was rejected by the European Parliament’s environment committee.
I will continue to follow this issue closely and anticipate a full ban is indeed enacted.
Many people in my constituency have been back in touch with me recently with concerns over the protection of bees and current European ban on neonicotinoids. Whilst the European Commission...
While Parliament was in recess over the summer, I had more time to focus on some of the areas I care most about. This summer I have been working with the Youth Violence Commission's (YVC) strategic and academic partners in order to organise our next steps.
While Parliament was in recess over the summer, I had more time to focus on some of the areas I care most about. This summer I have been working with... Read more
Thank you to everyone who emailed me regarding the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. As always, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents who voted to remain in the EU and (like me) have major concerns about Brexit.
My Labour colleagues and I believe that, as drafted, this bill is fatally flawed. It puts huge and unaccountable power into the hands of government ministers, side-lines Parliament on key decisions and puts crucial rights and protections at risk. Far from bringing control back to Parliament, it would result in a power-grab for Tory Ministers.
As you may already be aware, on Monday evening I voted against allowing the bill to progress to the next stage. Unfortunately, the Tories managed to scrape together enough votes to pass it by 326 votes to 290. We must now seek to amend this deeply flawed bill during the committee stage. MPs (including some senior Tory backbenchers) have already tabled more than 150 amendments.
On Tuesday night the Government attempted another power grab, this time looking to side-line opposition in Parliament by rigging the select committee system so that they are guaranteed a majority on each committee.
Previous governments have passed motions to ensure they retain a majority on committees, but they have always been linked to the Government maintaining an overall majority in the House of Commons. As you know, the current Tory Government does not have a majority in the House and is relying on its agreement with the DUP.
Despite our best attempts, the Government also won this vote by 320 to 301.
The minority Tory Government is fast losing its moral authority and the very people who told us Brexit was about restoring parliamentary sovereignty are now voting through measures that will side-line Parliament and grant ministers unprecedented powers.
Labour recognises that legislation is needed to ensure there are no gaps or drop in rights and protections as we leave the EU. But I can assure you that we will not give the Government a blank cheque to drive through this divisive and deficient bill.
Thank you to everyone who emailed me regarding the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. As always, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents who voted to...