Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Current News

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On a visit to Pinewood Studios I met with CEO Ivan Dunleavy and Communications Director Andrew Smith to talk about the creative industries and to get an update on the progress of their £200m long-term scheme to address the increasing global demand for production facilities in the UK.

Pinewood Studios

On a visit to Pinewood Studios I met with CEO Ivan Dunleavy and Communications Director Andrew Smith to talk about the creative industries and to get an update on the... Read more

When I hear government ministers talking about welfare reform and benefits they often talk as if there are two different sorts of people  – those who are dependent, don’t work and claim benefits and those who work, are independent and don't claim. But the reality of the people I meet is very much more complicated than that.

Most people want to be fully independent. But if they are low paid and their rent is high then they have to claim housing benefit - not because they want to but because otherwise they would get into arrears.  And if someone is working and then finds the place where they work is closed down and they lose their job, they will need to claim to keep going while they find another job.  

Most people want to stand on their own feet and don't want to claim but if a problem hits them then they have to. That doesn't mean they are "a problem family". It means they have been hit by a problem and that is what the system is for - everyday people who find that they need extra help. Perhaps for a long period of time if, for example, they are disabled or perhaps just for a short time, if they are ill.

All sorts of different people in all different circumstances can find themselves having to claim benefits. Here are just two examples of people who’ve asked for my help when they find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

A nurse who lives in Camberwell with her 16 year old son got into rent arrears in her private flat when she was unable to work for a few months because she was ill. She did not receive her usual salary during this time because she works as an agency nurse and is not paid for the days she doesn’t work. She was receiving housing benefit but it wasn’t enough to cover the rent. When she recovered, she returned to work and managed to pay off the arrears but the landlord still evicted her. The Council found her temporary accommodation but later ruled that she had made herself intentionally homeless because she had failed to pay her rent. She now has to find new private rented accommodation but with an income of £1300 a month and the average monthly rent of a two bedroom flat in Southwark costing £1500, she and her son will have to move out of the area where they have lived and leave their friends and neighbours.  

Mr D lives in a two bedroom flat and shares custody of his 7 month old daughter who stays with him regularly. He was unemployed and receiving £1000 a month housing benefit to help him pay the rent which was £1,100 per month. Although this left him with a £100 shortfall every month, he had never missed a rent payment. But when he was hit by the Bedroom Tax, his housing benefit was reduced by £300 a month.  He soon fell into rent arrears and when they built up to £3000 his landlord gave him notice to quit.  He contacted me before the eviction took place and the Council awarded him a discretionary payment of £3000 to stop the eviction.

Too many people in Southwark are struggling to keep their heads above water, finding themselves in debt and rent arrears for the first time. Instead of helping people who get into difficulties, this Government is making things worse for people on low incomes by cutting benefits and 3,497 households in Southwark have been hit by the  Bedroom Tax costing them each, on average £1,058 per year. The Government should scrap the Bedroom Tax, freeze fuel bills, and invest more in childcare. Labour will do that if we get into government next year. That would give some help with the Cost of Living Crisis that so many people are facing.

*The print version of this article is shorter and does not include all of the above examples

Southwark News column - For hardworking families in Southwark benefits are a lifeline not a lifestyle choice

When I hear government ministers talking about welfare reform and benefits they often talk as if there are two different sorts of people  – those who are dependent, don’t work...

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This morning I visited The Charter School in East Dulwich and met the Head Girl and Head Boy. I also met Christian Hicks, the Headteacher and Betsan Williams, Deputy Head, along with Manny Amadi and Yvonne Wilcox to discuss their bid for a new secondary school in East Dulwich.

Visit to The Charter School in East Dulwich

This morning I visited The Charter School in East Dulwich and met the Head Girl and Head Boy. I also met Christian Hicks, the Headteacher and Betsan Williams, Deputy Head,... Read more

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Following the defection of Mark Reckless to UKIP and his decision to stand down and stand for UKIP in the by-election on 20th November. I joined Labour’s candidate Naushabah Khan alongside Labour Councillors, members and supporters to campaign in the constituency. On the doorstep people raised with me their concerns including rising bills and the cost of living in the area and the NHS.  

Campaigning in Rochester and Strood

  Following the defection of Mark Reckless to UKIP and his decision to stand down and stand for UKIP in the by-election on 20th November. I joined Labour’s candidate Naushabah...

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Creative industries are incredibly important – because creativity is important to us as individuals, communities and as a nation.  They bring great joy to people’s lives, put this country on the map and provide jobs for the future.

Speech to Nations and Regions Media Conference

  Creative industries are incredibly important – because creativity is important to us as individuals, communities and as a nation.  They bring great joy to people’s lives, put this country... Read more

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Today I challenged Nick Clegg on the fact that whilst the Government has been saying they have fixed the economy, everyday working families are now on average £1,600 a year worse off than in 2010, and in this time millionaires have had a tax cut. 

Challenging Nick Clegg on the Economy Deputy Prime Ministers Questions

Today I challenged Nick Clegg on the fact that whilst the Government has been saying they have fixed the economy, everyday working families are now on average £1,600 a year... Read more

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Visited Harris Academy in Peckham this morning with Sir Dan Moynihan (CEO, Harris Federation), Lord Harris, Lord Adonis and Carol-Ann Alcock (Headteacher). Harris Peckham is making progress and I will continue to work together with the Council, the school and the Federation to ensure this progress continues.

Meeting with Harris Federation

Visited Harris Academy in Peckham this morning with Sir Dan Moynihan (CEO, Harris Federation), Lord Harris, Lord Adonis and Carol-Ann Alcock (Headteacher). Harris Peckham is making progress and I will...

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Suzy Stride is Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate in Harlow for the next General Election. I attended her fundraising dinner this evening in London. Over 120 people attended the dinner including, Councillors, council candidates, members of the Labour Party, youth and community workers and Trade Union members. I spoke about the fact that whilst working people are being told by the government that the economy is recovering, people are not feeling the benefit. It is only the Labour Party who has a plan which it would put in place to deal with the cost of living crisis. I also spoke the benefit having Suzy in Parliament would make to Parliament, the Labour Party but most importantly for the people of Harlow. 

Dinner for Suzy Stride with Team Harlow

Suzy Stride is Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate in Harlow for the next General Election. I attended her fundraising dinner this evening in London. Over 120 people attended the dinner including, Councillors,... Read more

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This evening I joined Iain Dale for the next instalment of my regular monthly phone in at LBC.

We took calls and answered texts on the topics that are currently leading Britain's conversation. We discussed Labour’s six point plan for Britain, welfare, the economy and Europe.

 

LBC - Phone In w/Iain Dale

  This evening I joined Iain Dale for the next instalment of my regular monthly phone in at LBC. We took calls and answered texts on the topics that are...

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Local people, the Mayor, councillors, civic leaders and members of our armed services paying tribute at a service of remembrance at the war memorial on Borough High Street in Southwark.

Remembrance Sunday service in Southwark

Local people, the Mayor, councillors, civic leaders and members of our armed services paying tribute at a service of remembrance at the war memorial on Borough High Street in Southwark....

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Joining local Labour Party members and councillors to talk to people on the Brimmington Estate in Nunhead about the issues they are concerned about.

Campaigning on the Brimmington Estate, Nunhead

Joining local Labour Party members and councillors to talk to people on the Brimmington Estate in Nunhead about the issues they are concerned about.

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Packed conference for Southwark Council tenants and leaseholders to discuss affordable housing in Southwark.

Southwark Tenants Housing Conference

Packed conference for Southwark Council tenants and leaseholders to discuss affordable housing in Southwark. Read more

Joined a packed meeting of local Labour Party members at the community hall in Peckham Rye for their monthly branch meeting.

Peckham Rye Labour Party Branch Meeting

Joined a packed meeting of local Labour Party members at the community hall in Peckham Rye for their monthly branch meeting.

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Welcoming constituents Henry & Margaret Quenelle to Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

Welcoming constituents to PMQ's

Welcoming constituents Henry & Margaret Quenelle to Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

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Southwark Music Hub is a partnership of 60 organisations working in Southwark to create opportunities for all young people
to learn music. Southwark Music Service, led by Denise Barber, is the leading partner for the Hub and works closely with schools in Southwark offering lessons and musical activities using a wide range of instruments and a variety of m
usical styles. They also support the Southwark Youth Orchestra, the Saturday Music Centre at Walworth Academy, and in partnership with the David Idowu Foundation, they support the David Idowu Choir, open to young singers throughout Southwark.

Southwark Music Hub

Southwark Music Hub is a partnership of 60 organisations working in Southwark to create opportunities for all young peopleto learn music. Southwark Music Service, led by Denise Barber, is the...

This Government talks a lot about devolution and supporting the regions but when it comes to the arts they are not walking the talk.

Imbalance in arts funding - DCMS Select Committee report

This Government talks a lot about devolution and supporting the regions but when it comes to the arts they are not walking the talk. Read more

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Joining South Camberwell members and councillors for campaigning in Dog Kennel Hill. Despite the lashing rain, lots of Labour support on the doorstep!

Campaigning in South Camberwell – 2/11/2014

Joining South Camberwell members and councillors for campaigning in Dog Kennel Hill. Despite the lashing rain, lots of Labour support on the doorstep!

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This year’s North West Regional Conference was held in Blackpool and was attend attended by over 600 members.

North West Regional Conference – 1st November 2014

This year’s North West Regional Conference was held in Blackpool and was attend attended by over 600 members. Read more

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At the Wickway Community Centre on the Gloucester Grove estate in Peckham to celebrate its recent refurbishment and 35 years of service provision to the community with local residents, volunteers and Little Angels Nursery.

Wickway Community Centre in Peckham – 31/10/2014

  At the Wickway Community Centre on the Gloucester Grove estate in Peckham to celebrate its recent refurbishment and 35 years of service provision to the community with local residents,... Read more

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It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the internet, to every business and household, in every region and for every community.

Government actions “too little, too slowly” on telecommunications, 9th Annual Parliament and Internet Conference – 30/10/14

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the internet, to every business and household, in every region and for every community. Read more

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