A lot of people have been contacting me this week about the Unpaid Trial Work Periods Bill, which is due to have its second reading on Friday 16th March.
As many of you may know, prior to becoming an MP I spent many years as a trade union official and have long campaigned for the protection and strengthening of employment rights. I therefore share concerns about the exploitation of ‘trial shifts’ whereby businesses can employ workers for up to 40 hours of unpaid work.
A lot of people have been contacting me this week about the Unpaid Trial Work Periods Bill, which is due to have its second reading on Friday 16th March. As... Read more
I have recently received a number of emails from constituents regarding changes to university staff pensions. I have long believed that decent pay and working conditions are vital for those who work in education, and that all university staff should have access to a secure pension in future.
I am therefore concerned about plans by Universities UK (UUK) to close the defined benefit portion of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and replace it with a defined contribution scheme.
These proposals would see employers and staff pay an extra £500 million a year more from the sector’s payroll and retirement income would depend on returns from money invested in the stock market. Analysis by the actuarial consultancy First Actuarial has shown that a lecturer starting work today could be £208,000 worse off over the course of their retirement as a result of the changes.
I fear this would significantly reduce the security of retirement income for academic staff in many UK universities and that further erosion of USS benefits could reduce their ability to attract and retain staff in an increasingly competitive sector, making careers in these institutions less attractive.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto pledging to restore confidence in the workplace pension system and put people, rather than profit, at its centre, by enabling the development of large and efficient pension funds – meaning more cash for scheme members and lower costs for employers.
As rightfully stated by our Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, “the USS is the largest private pension scheme in the UK and it is vital to our economy as well as to the education sector that it continues to enjoy the confidence of its current members and their employers”.
Therefore, although the Government have dismissed intervening (viewing universities as autonomous institutions responsible for their own pension provision) I believe that it should step in to review the situation and urge Universities UK to work with University and College Union to find a better solution.
I can assure that I will follow this issue closely, keeping my website updated on any developments.
I have recently received a number of emails from constituents regarding changes to university staff pensions. I have long believed that decent pay and working conditions are vital for those...
A number of people have been in touch with me recently regarding the planned closure of the existing childcare vouchers scheme for new entrants from April 2018. I share concerns over the transition to the Government's new system of tax-free childcare and I am particularly worried about those families where only one parent is working, who will unfairly miss out.
It is very worrying that the Childcare Voucher Providers Association (CVPA) has suggested that only 7% of the parents expected to sign up to tax-free childcare by April 2018 will have done so. The CPVA notes that this is particularly alarming given the plans to close access to childcare vouchers, which risks hundreds of thousands of parents being left with no childcare support at all.
The Government has acknowledged that applications for tax-free childcare accounts have been lower than expected. However, it believes that the new scheme is fairer and better targeted than vouchers.
I strongly support investment in childcare and at the 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to overhaul the existing childcare system in which subsidies are given directly to parents who often struggle to use them, and transition to a system of high-quality childcare places in mixed environments with direct Government subsidy.
It also pledged to phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern. The manifesto further committed to extend 30 free hours to all two-year-olds, and move towards making some childcare available for one-year-olds and extending maternity pay to 12 months.
I am aware that over 112,000 people have signed the petition to keep childcare vouchers open beyond 2018 alongside tax-free childcare. Therefore, I am pleased that parliament will be given the opportunity to debate these issues on 15 January.
I believe that the Government should recognise the contribution made by ordinary working families to the economy, society and Government finances by not removing this crucial support.
A number of people have been in touch with me recently regarding the planned closure of the existing childcare vouchers scheme for new entrants from April 2018. I share concerns...
On Tuesday 5 December I attended a parliamentary reception to mark 200 years since Parkinson’s was first recognised as a condition.
On Tuesday 5 December I attended a parliamentary reception to mark 200 years since Parkinson’s was first recognised as a condition. Read more
Like many, I am horrified by instances of violence and abuse against emergency service workers – those paramedics, nurses, police, firefighters and more, who work hard to protect us all. We have seen this right here in Parliament, where PC Keith Palmer was tragically murdered earlier this year. We also witnessed two other cases of similar nature – whereby a British Transport police officer was stabbed when he faced the London Bridge Attackers, followed by a Met Officer, stabbed when he came to defend the public that same day, despite being off duty.
There have been far too many cases as such and it is incomprehensible that any of our emergency service workers should be subjected to any form of abuse.
Due to constituency commitments I was unable to attend the debate on Chris Bryant MP’s Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill on Friday 20th October, though plenty of my Labour colleagues were present. The bill was first introduce to Parliament last year by our colleague Holly Lynch, but sadly it did not progress due to time constraints. I have been very supportive of the bill form the beginning and am delighted that this time it passed its second reading and will now proceed to the committee stage.
At the debate, Chris Bryant rightfully stated that an attack on an emergency worker “is an attack on us all. And when we are all attacked, we all stand firm together.” I would like to reassure constituents that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to push for greater protections for our brave national heroes.
Like many, I am horrified by instances of violence and abuse against emergency service workers – those paramedics, nurses, police, firefighters and more, who work hard to protect us all....
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 people have been in touch with me outraged with the Government’s changes to eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and dozens have shared their stories of how they are personally affected by the changes. Constituents who already find themselves in difficult positions, have had their situations worsened after seeing significant changes to their income.
Many people have been in touch with me outraged with the Government’s changes to eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and dozens have shared their stories of how they are... Read more
A number of people have been in touch recently regarding Ian Mearns MP’s Early Day Motion calling for a statutory maximum workplace temperature. As an opposition whip I am unable to sign EDMs but I wanted to share my thoughts on this issue.
I know that a number of organisations, including several trade unions, have campaigned on this issue for a number of years. As the Trades Union Congress has stated, high temperature is a significant health issue and can cause dizziness, fainting and heat cramps, as well as increasing the risk of heat stroke or collapse. It can also lead to loss of concentration and increased tiredness, making workers more likely to put themselves or others at risk. I therefore agree that this is an important issue.
In 2009 the Labour government asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to review the case for a maximum workplace temperature. While the report that the HSE produced was inconclusive, the government at the time stated that it was still actively considering the issue of a maximum temperature. However, in the last Parliament the coalition government stated that it had no plans to set a maximum temperature and the current Conservative government continues to argue that existing legislation and guidance on this issue is sufficient.
Prior to the 2015 general election my shadow frontbench colleagues committed to a review of excessive workplace temperatures and I believe that the government should consider such a review. In the meantime, I note that employers have a duty under the current regulations to ensure that workplaces remain at a reasonable temperature and to consult with employees and their representatives to establish sensible measures to cope with hot weather.
A number of people have been in touch recently regarding Ian Mearns MP’s Early Day Motion calling for a statutory maximum workplace temperature. As an opposition whip I am unable...