Government must close gaps in COVID-19 support schemes affecting pregnant women - Letter to Chancellor
Read my Coronavirus Crisis Report 1 - 2nd April 2020 here
Full text below:
Fairness for the Self-Employed and Freelancers in the Creative Industries throughout Coronavirus Crisis - Letter to Chancellor
Link to letter here Full text below:
Helping Constituents Stranded Abroad Get Home - My Letters to Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary
I have been contacted by a number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who are understandably very anxious about empty shelves, the lack of key groceries and cleaning products and delivery slots. I appreciate this is a very difficult and unsettling time.
I have written to the 10 major supermarkets with one or more stores in Camberwell and Peckham to ask what reassurances they can offer local people about the steps they are taking to ensure shelves remain stocked with food and essential supplies throughout the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.
I've also asked supermarket chief executives to let me know what adjustments they are making to ensure elderly and vulnerable people can get the supplies they need, including prioritising them for online food deliveries and creating designated shopping hours.
I enclose the determined and sensible response I've received from Iceland below. I share Iceland's frustration with those whose actions threaten others.
I will post the other supermarkets' replies I receive as they come in.
I have been contacted by a number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who are understandably very anxious about empty shelves, the lack of key groceries and cleaning products and...
The government is rightly taking tough powers to enable it to take action necessary to cut the number of deaths in this corona virus crisis. And they are rightly giving...
Coronavirus is a new virus, there is no vaccine or treatment and we don’t know what path it will take.What we do know, though, is that it spreads rapidly and the elderly and ill are most at risk. So every action possible must be taken to contain it and care for those who fall ill.
King’s College Hospital will be in the front line.But King's is already overstretched after years of cuts from the Conservative government and with more people needing care. People already regularly wait longer than 4 hours in A & E and bed occupancy levels are 94%, well above the 85% limit So it’s vital that the government give Kings more money to bring in more staff and open up more beds. And they need to give extra resources to the Maudsley too so that people in mental health crisis are cared for there and not left waiting in Kings A and E.
King's was the first hospital to report that patients had contracted coronavirus and everyone saw that on the. But there was no information to tell patients whether they should go in for outpatients’ appointments or if planned surgery was going ahead. Nothing to tell visitors whether they should come as usual or stay away. And no information to GPs on whether they should continue to refer patients to Kings as usual despite the coronavirus outbreak. The NHS communications system needs to be much quicker so everyone knows they can just look on the website for the up to date position.
The Prime Minister has promised that people who stay off work because they are ill with suspected virus or if they are “self-isolating” will get Statutory Sick Pay from the first day off.But we need to ensure that that change actually happens on the ground. We don’t want people feeling that they have to go in to work when they are feeling ill or risk infecting others because they can’t afford to stay off. And there will need to be help too for people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, because they are self-employed or on zero hours contracts. There are 2 million people in this country who don’t earn enough to qualify for sick pay. The government must set up a special fund and payment system for them. Nor must the government cancel the benefits of people who are unable to go to Job Centre appointments or job interviews because they are ill but can’t get a doctor’s certificate or self-isolating. The benefit sanctions regime can be a blunt instrument at the best of times but it must take account of coronavirus.
Coronavirus is hitting businesses too as they struggle as supplies from abroad dry up or employees have to take time off. So they will need compensation too.
It’s inevitable, as the virus progresses, that there will be new challenges and unforeseen problems.And there have been reports that Parliament will be shut down so that we don’t spread the virus to the 650 different constituencies represented in Westminster. But we must keep the pressure on the Government to help people who need it and back up the NHS and that’s Parliament’s job. It makes sense to consider that at some point we might need to stop the thousands of visitors who come every day to Parliament. And we might need a slimmed down version of Parliament, with fewer MPs (nominated from each country, region and party) operating out of our mini-chamber in Westminster Hall. But the Government need to be accountable publicly for what they do in this most challenging of times. And Parliament must be able to continue to effectively scrutinise it.
Coronavirus is a new virus, there is no vaccine or treatment and we don’t know what path it will take. What we do know, though, is that it spreads rapidly...
I am contacted by a growing number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who can’t get the quality social care their older relatives need. People come to me distraught, concerned that the care their vulnerable parent with dementia is getting is suffering due to cuts. One man told me that the poor and inconsistent standards of care have caused his 89-year-old mother such frustration and distress it has accelerated the decline in her health.
A decade of Tory cuts to local council budgets and a growing number of elderly people needing care has pushed care services to the brink and is causing thousands of people untold misery. Councils across the country are having to make impossibly difficult decisions about who receives care, there is currently a 122,000 national staffing shortfall and millions of people are left to cope at home, alone, without the support they need. Despite the brilliant efforts of staff, many vulnerable people are waiting longer for treatment and standards of care are not being delivered. And families are pushed to breaking point
The care you receive in your older years should not depend on your income. Quality social care must be a universally-available public service. Families across the country deserve peace of mind that their relatives will be safe and looked after. The measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable.
And if people can’t get the help they need at home or in the community they are more likely to go to A& E or their GP surgery, causing extra strain on already desperately stretched hospital and GP services.
It has now been almost 3 years since the Government promised a consultation on social care and 7 months since the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stood on the steps of Downing Street and claimed he had a clear plan to fix the crisis in social care. But there is, as yet no plan?
The Government’s proposal this week to increase funding by £1 billion per year does not go anywhere near far enough. 1.5 million people are currently going without the support they need. The local Government Association estimates that by 2024 the funding gap will be £3.5bn.
Locally Southwark Council are working hard to help older residents and people with dementia stay safely in their own home, despite deep Tory cuts. The council has just announced it is building 50 extra care homes and a new day centre at Tayo Situ House in Peckham, named after the late Mayor of Southwark and dedicated Peckham Councillor, Tayo Situ. Extra Care homes are self-contained flats that allow people to live independently in their own homes, but with round the clock care support on site so there is help if they need it and so they feel less isolated or alone.
Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. I’ve co-signed Helen Hayes MP’s Early Day Motion to demand the Government urgently brings forward proposals to Parliament so we can ensure everyone gets the support they need and can live with dignity in their old age. We are also pressing Ministers to invest in the social care workforce. Carers play a vital role in our society, yet they are often unappreciated and underpaid. We need to pay care workers a real living wage and develop a sustainable, cross-party solution, otherwise the 122,000 staff shortfall and the crisis in social care will grow and more older people and their families will suffer.
People need dignity in their old age - families need support, social care must be a universal public service
I am contacted by a growing number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who can’t get the quality social care their older relatives need. People come to me distraught, concerned...
A remarkable symbol of peace. Pleased to attend the unveiling of the dove sculpture in the new Southwark Peace Garden at Walworth Methodist Church. Made from knives seized by Southwark Police, it represents the local community’s determination to tackle knife crime.
A remarkable symbol of peace. Pleased to attend the unveiling of the dove sculpture in the new Southwark Peace Garden at Walworth Methodist Church. Made from knives seized by Southwark...
A number of constituents have contacted me about the recent petition calling for those with British National (Overseas) passports to be granted full British citizenship.
I understand that individuals who were British Overseas Territories citizens by connection with Hong Kong were able to register as a BN(O) before 1 July 1997.
In recognition of the fact that those with BN(O) status were at a disadvantage compared to those with other British nationalities, the then Government changed the law in 2009 to allow BN(O)s without another citizenship or nationality to apply to register as a British citizen under section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981. Those with BN(O) status can also register as a British citizen if they have lived in the UK for five years and meet the residence requirements.
To grant all BN(O)s British citizenship would require a change in the law and the Government has said it has no plans to do so.
The Government has noted that the 2007 Review of Citizenship by Lord Goldsmith recognised that to automatically give BN(O)s full British citizenship would be a breach of the commitments made between China and the UK in the 1984 Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong.
The relationship between the people of the UK and the people of Hong Kong is built not only on the foundations of our history but on shared principles. The UK has a moral and a legal obligation to the people of Hong Kong and I therefore understand why the matter of British citizenship has been raised.
I am very concerned by the situation in Hong Kong and the erosion of compliance with the Joint Declaration that we have seen over recent years. The recent protests have rightly prompted serious reflection on the condition of democracy in Hong Kong more widely, and on the increasing crackdown on dissent and protest.
Unfortunately, I believe the UK Government has been too quiet on this issue and I think it should reassert to the Chinese Government its commitment to upholding the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong citizens that were guaranteed in the Joint Declaration. I hope the Prime Minister will also speak up and stand firm in defence of the Joint Declaration.
A number of constituents have contacted me about the recent petition calling for those with British National (Overseas) passports to be granted full British citizenship. I understand that individuals who...
Thank you for your service Reverend Rose. Proud that you will be Church of England's first black woman bishop! Congratulations & best wishes!
Thank you for your service Reverend Rose. Proud that you will be Church of England's first black woman bishop! Congratulations & best wishes! #Trailblazer
Packed meeting on the Brandon Estate tonight after tragic killing last week. Fear, anger and frustration. Important Southwark Council sort lighting, tree pruning and CCTV. Residents feel less safe than they did before police cuts.
Packed meeting on the Brandon Estate tonight after tragic killing last week. Fear, anger and frustration. Important Southwark Council sort lighting, tree pruning and CCTV. Residents feel less safe than they did...
Joyful unveiling of the inspirational Peckham Portraits at Mountview Theatre in Peckham.
Congratulations to photographer Franklyn Rodgers, Fraser James and everyone at Mountview and Southwark Council who made this happen.
Joyful unveiling of the inspirational Peckham Portraits at Mountview Theatre in Peckham. Congratulations to photographer Franklyn Rodgers, Fraser James and everyone at Mountview and Southwark Council who made this happen. #BlackHistoryMonth
As Chair of Parliament’s Human Rights Select Committee I’m demanding the Government use the Bills they are bringing forward in their Queen’s Speech this week to end human rights abuses, including to introduce a time limit on immigration detention in the Immigration Bill. To make the child’s human right to family life a central concern when a judge is deciding whether to send their mother to prison, particularly for non-violence offences, in the new Sentencing Bill.
As Chair of Parliament’s Human Rights Select Committee I’m demanding the Government use the Bills they are bringing forward in their Queen’s Speech this week to end human rights abuses, including...
Greta Thunberg and climate protesters across the world have raised global awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis. Their action is a wake-up call to the Government and to all of us as MPs. We can see the science. It is now our responsibility to act. I’ve co-sponsored Jane Dodds MP Early Day Motion to demand the Government establish a UK Citizens’ Climate Assembly to debate climate policy and deliver proposals to government.
Greta Thunberg and climate protesters across the world have raised global awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis. Their action is a wake-up call to the Government and to...
The Brandon Estate community in Camberwell are again facing unfathomable grief and distress after 18 year old Clinton Evbota, a former resident of the estate, was stabbed to death in the centre of their estate on Grimsel Path on Thursday 10th October. Clinton is the third young man who has been murdered on the Brandon Estate in just 18 months after Rhyhiem Barton, aged 17, was killed in May 2018 and Siddique Kamara, aged 23, was killed in August 2018.
The morning after Clinton was killed I met up with the tenant’s association chairs and talked to residents on the estate with Cllr Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Southwark Council & local councillor Alice Macdonald. For families and the community who live on the Brandon this is not just a newspaper headline, this is their lives, and for Clinton’s family, it’s their worst nightmare.
It is vital that the longstanding demands of the tenant’s association are met. They’ve been asking for CCTV. It’s installed, but not yet operational. And the trees that they’ve been asking to be cut back are still in full leaf. The TRAs are the heart of the community and know what’s needed. They are holding a community meeting this week and Southwark Council will need to come with clear timelines on how they will meet the demands so the whole community can feel safer. Council action is one important part of the picture, but the causes of this horrific violence are complex and developing over years. Government cuts have hit every service. There are fewer after school clubs and holiday play schemes, fewer support workers in schools and child and adolescent mental health are under strain. These services are vital, especially for young people who are losing their way and are at risk of getting into trouble. In every area there should be youth clubs, and services for young people to help tackle knife crime and problems such as mental ill-health and school exclusions. Southwark is a great place to live. But too many young people are dying violent deaths. This is a national crisis. We need leadership and more resources from government, and an end to the cuts.
The Brandon Estate community in Camberwell are again facing unfathomable grief and distress after 18 year old Clinton Evbota, a former resident of the estate, was stabbed to death in...
Current free movement rules allow EU artists to undertake tours in the EU and to travel for one-off or short-term engagements, without the need for a visa.
I appreciate the very real concerns of UK musicians and crews about the end of freedom of movement and the impact this could have on their ability to tour in the EU, particularly in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
Firstly, I am firmly opposed to leaving the EU without a deal and was pleased to support legislation to prevent this from happening on 31 October 2019. The Prime Minister must now obey the law, fulfil the will of Parliament, and take No Deal off the table.
I believe musicians’ rights and ability to tour should be protected. The creative industries make a vital contribution to our economy and national life, and we must ensure musicians do not lose out because of Brexit.
Earlier this year, the UK Government said it was seeking an accord with the EU to allow mobility for UK musicians to perform in the EU, and vice versa. When pressed recently about the possibility of creating a musician’s passport, the Government insisted its focus remains on leaving the EU with a deal.
I am dismayed that considerable uncertainty remains for UK musicians and technicians, and that the UK Government’s own guidance – published recently – indicates that touring in the EU would become considerably more difficult in the event of no deal.
I therefore hope the Government will engage with the music industry on these important issues and respond to the concerns that continue to be raised by organisations like the Musicians’ Union and Incorporated Society of Musicians.
I can assure you I will follow developments closely and will continue to stand up for the music industry and our creative sector.
Current free movement rules allow EU artists to undertake tours in the EU and to travel for one-off or short-term engagements, without the need for a visa. I appreciate the...
Men who kill their wife or girlfriend are escaping murder charges claiming “rough sex gone wrong". She is dead and can’t say otherwise. Listen to my BBC Radio London interview on the change in the law I’ve proposed to the Domestic Abuse Bill to end the “50 shades of grey” defence which has strong cross-party support.
Men who kill their wife or girlfriend are escaping murder charges claiming “rough sex gone wrong". She is dead and can’t say otherwise. Listen to my BBC Radio London interview...
Quality child mental health services is an equality and human rights issue. A child being able to get the support they need should not depend on how much money their parents have. All credit to Southwark Council and Cllr Jasmine Ali launching the new Southwark Child and Adolescent Mental Health Commission and insisting that 100% of children with mental health problems get the services they need. Thanks to Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield for her backing. I hope other councils and Clinical Commissioning Groups follow Southwark’s leadership.
Quality child mental health services is an equality and human rights issue. A child being able to get the support they need should not depend on how much money their...