|I hope my November update finds you well.
The last few weeks have been pretty tough as we have tried to come to terms with the tragic murder of Sir David Amess. My office also continues to be exceptionally busy as we deal with the knock-on effects of the Afghanistan crisis and an ever-increasing number of people facing unacceptable housing conditions.
My team has been absolutely brilliant, though, and as always I am very grateful for the support they give to both me and my constituents.
Deptford First (a local charity I chair) has set up a campaign to raise money to help those affected by the Universal Credit cut. With rising food costs, energy prices and National Insurance contributions, the cut could not have come at a worse time.
It’s been an eventful few weeks in Parliament. From rows over whether MPs should be wearing masks to concerns about security, it’s fair to say tensions have been running pretty high. We have also had some depressing defeats (such as Barry Gardiner’s fire and rehire bill and amendments to the Environment Bill, particularly those around sewage pollution )
On a more positive note, I had a great time meeting several Lewisham Deptford school groups who were visiting Parliament via the Education Service. I also enjoyed taking part in Elect Her last week, an online event where participants were able to ask sitting MPs questions about standing for office. I was pleased to learn that many of the participants were from working class backgrounds.
The Chancellor presented his out-of-touch, high tax, low growth Autumn Budget to the Commons on 27th October. As expected, it contained no plan to tackle the growing cost of living crisis. It also showed that the Tories have no plan to remove the enormous tax burden they have placed on working people and businesses, and no plan for growth, which is crucial to boosting our economy.
Staggeringly, households are set to pay £3,000 more tax by 2026/27 in comparison to when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. Labour would tax fairly, spend wisely and after a decade of faltering growth, we’d get Britain’s economy firing on all cylinders.
|Prime Minister’s Questions|
I was pleased to be drawn for PMQs on 3rd November, for only the second time this year. I used the opportunity to further boost our Deptford First campaign. It seemed to work as we received some healthy donations in the days that followed (I’m guessing none of them were from Boris’ wealthy mates, though).
|Tories Looking After Their Own (as usual)
I’m sure it will not have escaped your attention that Owen Paterson, now former MP for North Shropshire, was caught lobbying on behalf of two firms which also happened to employ him. Last week the Government blocked a proposal from the Commons Standards Committee to suspend him for 30 days and instead called for a review of the whole investigation system. Less than 24 hours later (following a huge outcry from Opposition MPs, the public and even some of their own MPs), the Government backtracked and Mr Paterson resigned.
The timing of this whole debacle has been especially terrible as it has taken attention away from COP26 and the vital discussions underway in Glasgow. Labour has long called for MPs to be banned from taking directorship and consultancy roles and it’s time for the Government to finally act.
At Work and Pensions questions on 8th November I took new Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith to task over the disability pay and employment gaps. Although the figures make it look like the gaps are reducing, academics have found that this is skewed by that fact that more people are now identifying as disabled.
|I also asked her to push the Chancellor for further funding and to push for a full debate on the Government’s disability strategy if she wants to convince disabled people that she is giving it the attention it deserves.|
Over the last few weeks, my team and I have really been pushing ahead with our plans to hold another series of regional roadshows to inform our policy-making process. We now have provisional dates in the diary for next year and I am inviting shadow ministerial colleagues along so we can ensure our work is truly inter-departmental. As ever, we are also working closely with regional disabled people’s organisations.
In the Constituency
I seem to be saying this every month now, but my office continues to deal with a huge amount of casework. My team opened well over 250 new cases in October. Alongside the Afghanistan cases, housing continues to be a huge issue. My caseworkers and I are in close contact with several of our housing providers after seeing an unacceptable drop in service levels.
Last month we also responded to close to 200 policy enquiries on a wide range of issues. If you would like to know my views on current policy issues, please do take a look at the Your Campaigns section of my website.
The constituency office remains closed to the public for the time being. If you know anyone who is in need of support, please do encourage them to email email@example.com or call 020 8469 4638. Details of my upcoming surgeries are available here .
Creative Industries Roundtable Update
We now have a date for our next creative industries roundtable. It will take place online on Friday 26th November at 13.00. We will be discussing Lewisham’s exciting year ahead as London Borough of Culture 2022, as well as hearing how the creative industries are faring in Lewisham Deptford at the moment. If you’re interested in joining us, please email vicky.foxcroft.mp@parliament for further details.
On 23rd October I joined the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network for a rally outside Lewisham Hospital to commemorate the four-year anniversary of the introduction of the upfront charging of migrants by the Tory Government. The rally was part of a national week of action organised by Patients Not Passports and Medact.
Station User Groups Since I was elected in 2015, I have done a significant amount of work with user groups based around several of our constituency stations. Much of this has been paused during the pandemic, but I’m pleased to report that the groups are starting to get up and running again now. I’ve recently held meetings to discuss improvements needed at Crofton Park and St John’s. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you in touch with the organisers.
Lewisham Youth Theatre
As some of you know I studied performing arts at college, so I was really pleased to catch up with Lewisham Youth Theatre last week. We discussed their plans for action around mental health and youth opportunities next year as part of their work leading a new cross-borough youth social action partnership in Lewisham and Greenwich. Our young people have missed out on so much as a result of the pandemic, so it’s brilliant to see local groups stepping up like this.
Parliament Week 2021
I was pleased to see a number of local schools and organisations get involved in Parliament Week 2021. I was invited to join 1st New Cross Scouts for their event on 5th November and had a great time helping them write and debate their manifestos. It’s so vital that our young people have access to political education.