I hope you’re well and that you enjoyed the long bank holiday weekend (whatever your views on the monarchy!).
You will know by now that Boris Johnson survived his vote of no confidence last night, but with only 59% of the ballot going in his favour he is far from being out of trouble yet. Watch this space.
Here are some of the highlights from what I’ve been doing over the last month. As always, please do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
Parliament has now started to get going again properly following the Queen’s Speech on May 10th. Unfortunately I was not successful in the Private Members’ Bills ballot for this session, but I have already put in a few appearances at departmental questions, including this one on Government plans to scrap BTECs from May 23rd.
Cost of Living Support
This month the Chancellor announced a new support package of over £15 billion, on top of the previous £22 billion, to help families face the rising cost of living. Around 8 million people who receive means-tested benefits like Universal Credit will get a one-off payment of £650, while around 6 million people who receive disability benefits will receive a one-off £150 payment. The Chancellor also announced the Government’s U-turn decision to implement a windfall tax, a Labour-backed proposal that was previously discredited by the Conservatives.
After his statement on May 26th I raised the issue of the exclusion of around 200,000 disabled people from the Warm Home Discount scheme, asking the Chancellor whether this new announcement would mean they are eligible for the support. You can see his response to me below. While I welcome these announcements that will provide greater support to those set to be hardest hit by the rising cost of living, we need longer term solutions to relieve the financial burden of rising energy bills and inflation.
Shadow Minister for Disabled People
At Work and Pensions Questions on June 6th I continued to hold the Government to account over the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on disabled people.
Over the last month I have held two more roadshows with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations. As ever, these were a great opportunity to hear about the direct impact the crisis is having. There are only a couple more roadshows left, but if you would like to sign up you can do so here. https://www.vickyfoxcroft.org.uk/regional-disability-roadshows/
In other brief-related news, Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care Karin Smith MP and I were invited by the Jewish Leadership Council to visit some fantastic organisations in Harrow run by Langdon’s and Kisharon. We first met the team at New Chapters who employ disabled residents to catalogue donated books for sale online and mentor them as they move on with their careers.
We then visited Kisharon Noé School which provides excellent on-site facilities for disabled children including speech therapy, occupational therapy and Hydrotherapy. Unfortunately we couldn’t stick around for the barbecue being prepared for lunch to celebrate a Jewish holiday, but moved on to a social enterprise in Hendon where Kisharon employ disabled people to repair and service bicycles.
Lastly, we briefly visited some sheltered accommodation owned by Kisharon and offered to disabled women. The self-contained flats enable residents to live independently with easy access to support and within a residential street.
It was an inspirational experience and I hope to be a part of the Labour government which works with disabled people to ensure they have the support they need as valued members of our society.
I also recently visited We are 336, a charity in Vauxhall which provides accessible and affordable office space to communities of disability, older people’s and carers’ charities, which deliver a wide range of much-needed frontline services.
The hub houses 17 disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) that carry out vital work for disabled people. The Government needs to do so much more to support them and I will continue to push Ministers on this. I am determined disabled people will play a key role in Labour’s policy development, ensuring we go into the next election (and government!) with a bold manifesto.
Commission on Young Lives Update
Earlier in the year, I was invited to join a Parliamentary Advisory Group of the Commission on Young Lives and was happy to join the first meeting in May alongside Labour colleagues and MPs and Peers from across the house. The commission was launched by former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield and aims to design a new system to prevent crisis in vulnerable young people and support them to succeed in life.
At the first Advisory Group meeting we discussed how to secure support for teenagers at risk and what opportunities are available in Parliamentary legislation to add to this support. I look forward to working closely with the group in the coming months. Please get in touch with my office if you would like to hear more on this.
In the Constituency
Although it feels like our constituency caseload may have calmed down very slightly, the team still opened well over 250 new cases in May. As you can see from the below graphic, 35% of last month’s cases were housing/planning and 21% were immigration cases. We are also starting to hear from a lot of people who are struggling due to the cost-of-living crisis. My caseworkers and I had a very positive meeting with our new councillors last month, during which we discussed how we can work together to ensure our constituents are getting the best possible support from both the council and my office.
Our policy casework slowed down for a few weeks thanks to breaks in Commons business due to the State Opening of Parliament and recess, but we still responded to almost 150 emails and letters about various issues last month.
I have met with numerous school groups over the last month, both in person and online. This really is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job and I look forward to doing more over the coming weeks. In May my office also hosted a work experience student from Addey and Stanhope; always a pleasure to help young people think about possible future careers.
The first weekend in May saw the return of Brockley Max Festival. I had a great time introducing the Brockley Max radio broadcast at the Fox and Firkin to celebrate the 21st Birthday of the festival. I spoke about what the festival means to me, and how important it is for Lewisham to be London’s borough of culture in 2022.
A highlight of Brockley Max every year is the Opening Night celebrations at Brockley Station, and this year didn’t disappoint! I also really enjoyed meeting with local people and businesses at Art in the Park at Hilly Fields last weekend.
I spent the June bank holiday weekend meeting constituents at some of the 120 street parties and community events that took place in Lewisham to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.
I really enjoyed the brilliant tea party for older residents at Honor Oak Community Centre organised by 60 Up CIC, and thanks so much to St. Swithun’s Church in Hither Green for welcoming me to their sing-along party. These were two of many successful events where funding was provided by the Council.
I also visited a street party on Kitto Road where I spoke to Telegraph Hill residents as they celebrated the weekend.
There were so many great events and parties all across the constituency that brought people of all ages together. Thank you so much to everyone who worked hard to put these special events together!