Harriet Harman

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

Current News

Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Caxton House

Tothill Street

London SWIH 9NA

 

30th January 2015

 

 

Dear Iain,

 

Discretionary Housing Payment funding for the London Borough of Southwark

 

I am writing to you about the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) funding provided by the DWP to the London Borough of Southwark, which includes my constituency.

 

DHP funds for the 2014-15 financial year were spent by the 31st December 2014 and I’m concerned that no additional funding has been forthcoming from the DWP. In October 2014, Southwark Council wrote to the DWP requesting additional DHP funding and was advised that a decision would be made shortly but to date no such decision has been communicated to the Council.

 

Southwark has high levels of deprivation and social housing, and the second largest number of tenants in London affected by the Bedroom Tax. 3,497 households in Southwark have been hit by the Bedroom Tax costing them each, on average £1,058 per year. So the Bedroom Tax is a big issue in Southwark.

 

I’m concerned that without additional DHP funding, Southwark Council will not be able to continue to protect people affected by the Bedroom Tax which will mean an increase in evictions from both council and private rented accommodation, and consequently homelessness.

 

Because of the Bedroom Tax many people on low incomes in Southwark are struggling to keep their heads above water, finding themselves in debt and rent arrears for the first time. A number of constituents have contacted me desperately concerned about their rent arrears after being told by the Council that DHP funds are no longer available.

 

For example, a single mother from Peckham lives with her severely disabled daughter in a 3 bedroom property specially adapted to meet the needs of her daughter who has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user. When the Bedroom Tax was introduced, her housing benefit was reduced even though she needs the extra bedroom for an overnight carer. She applied for a DHP to cover the shortfall in rent, which was granted, and continued to receive payments until they were stopped at the end of September 2014. She re-applied for a DHP but the Council had to refuse her application because there were no funds left in the DHP budget. She is now in rent arrears of £150 and is anxious that this may lead to eviction proceedings.

 

While a number of local authorities, like Southwark, have exceeded their DHP allocation this year, others have not used significant proportions of their DHP funds. It’s unfair that the money to help people with their housing in Southwark has run out not because the Council has spent it unwisely but because of the high level of demand.

 

Please can you arrange for your officials to meet Southwark Council officials as soon as possible to discuss DHP funding arrangements for the remainder of this financial year, and make extra funds available for Southwark.

 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

 

Best wishes,

 

Harriet Harman MP and Tessa Jowell MP

 

 

Extra funds needed for emergency housing payments in Southwark - Letter to Ian Duncan Smith

Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Caxton House Tothill Street London SWIH 9NA   30th January 2015     Dear Iain,   Discretionary...

Sometimes it seems that environmental challenges like global warming are so big we can’t possibly do anything about them as individuals. Or we are so busy and stressed in our everyday lives that we don’t have time to think about it, or to take action.But tackling environmental issues - from climate change to energy use, waste to transport - is important for our future and in our daily lives we can all be doing something to reduce the harmful impact of our actions on the environment.

Here are my five key points for action:

*Bring the tube to Camberwell and Peckham: Good public transport cuts car use, cuts noise and air pollution and cuts traffic jams. I strongly support extending the Bakerloo Line to Camberwell and Peckham. It would cut local traffic congestion especially along Walworth Road and Old Kent Road.

*Recycling household waste: Putting waste in landfill sites is very bad for the environment as some waste contains toxic substances that leak in to our soil and groundwater, and food or plant waste releases methane which contributes to global warming. Two thirds of our household waste could be recycled or composted. Recycling is easy in Southwark – your recycling, food and garden waste can be collected from your home or you can take it to the Council’s Reuse and Recycling Centre on Old Kent Road. In Southwark we've doubled our recycling rates since 2010 but we should aim to divert more than 95% of waste away from harmful landfill.

*Saving energy at home: Making small changes to the way you use energy can reduce your carbon footprint as well as saving money. Even small things make a big difference. Like turning off the lights when you leave a room, turning off your appliances at the wall rather than leaving them on standby, boiling your kettle with only as much water as you need, and drawing the curtains at night to stop the heat escaping. When Labour was in government we set up the ‘Warm Front’ scheme to properly insulate homes but the Tory-Lib Dem Government scrapped it. The next Labour government will have a major push on home insulation with at least 5 million homes upgraded over 10 years, saving the average household more than £270 a year in energy bills.

*Safer cycling: Cycling is a good thing. As well as being great exercise and a cheap way to travel, it cuts down on traffic jams and pollution. But cycling needs to be safer. Labour will make cycling safer in London and throughout the country. We have put forward a plan for tough new safety rules for HGVs. And in Southwark we want a ‘safe cycling hour’ with lorries banned from the roads at rush hour.

*Tackling environmental problems globally. The last Labour Government made progress in tackling climate change not just in the UK, but working with other governments in Europe and globally, and helping developing countries to develop more sustainably. More than ever Britain and the world need leadership on tackling the key global issues - climate change, poverty and inequality. 2015 is an important year for international action with a series of summits and conferences that can shape our future. Labour will seek a binding international agreement on climate change and global targets for cutting carbon emissions.

*The print version of this article is slightly shorter.

Southwark News column - Tackling environmental problems important for our future

Sometimes it seems that environmental challenges like global warming are so big we can’t possibly do anything about them as individuals. Or we are so busy and stressed in our...

Yesterday, Monday 26th January, MPs voted on the Infrastructure Bill.  Labour took the opportunity to put forward a series of important amendments to protect communities and ensure that fracking does not take place without proper restrictions and robust regulations.  We welcome the Government’s decision, having previously ignored legitimate environmental concerns, to accept Labour’s proposals to tighten fracking regulations.

My view is that shale gas extraction should only go ahead if there is robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement, and in a way which is consistent with decarbonising our electricity supply by 2030.  It is disappointing that so far, the Government has failed to listen to legitimate environmental concerns that have been raised about the extraction of shale gas.

One of the key concerns people in Camberwell and Peckham have raised with me is about underground access rights.  Currently, other activities which involve drilling or excavating horizontally in this way have deep-level land access rights, including coal mining or the laying of gas, water or sewage pipes.  These rights enable operators to access deep-level land without having to acquire permission from the landholder above.

Shale gas, however, is not currently covered by these existing rights.  This means that, at present, a shale gas operator has to seek permission from each individual landholder for drilling operations at all depths.  The Government is proposing that for shale gas operations taking place at 300m or deeper, no permission is required.  For surface access the company will still have to obtain a right of access from the owner of the land.

Labour’s believes that the entire environmental and safety framework needs to be much more robust.  The amendments we have put forward would prevent fracking from happening until the environmental framework is fit for purpose.  Our view is that this is a much more effective position than trying to remove the provisions on underground access, which might delay fracking but would do nothing to ensure the entire environmental regulation framework is fit for purpose. 

The conditions we believe must be met before fracking can take place are as follows:

  • Require shale gas operators to individually notify residents of activity, rather than publishing a generic notice;

  • Prohibit shale gas extraction in groundwater protection zones;
  • Put the payment of community benefit onto a statutory footing;

  • Introduce a presumption against development in Protected Areas;

  • Prohibit the use of “any substance” in the frack fluid, as in current legislation;

  • Ensure that decommissioned land is returned to a state required by the planning authority;

  • Place an obligation on operators to monitor and report fugitive emissions;

  • Empower local planning authorities to consider the cumulative impact of multiple developments in their area;

  • Ensure that there is independent inspection of well integrity;

  • Require 12 months of baseline assessments;

  • Require all shale gas sites to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments;

  • Make water companies statutory consultees in the planning process; and

  • No fracking operations to take place at a depth of less than 1,000m.

Only by fully addressing legitimate concerns about fracking with robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement can people have confidence that the extraction of shale gas is safe and reliable.

As the Infrastructure Bill makes its way through Parliament, Labour will continue to hold the Government to account and ensure the important changes we made to the Bill stay in place.

Fracking must not go ahead without robust regulations and restrictions

Yesterday, Monday 26th January, MPs voted on the Infrastructure Bill.  Labour took the opportunity to put forward a series of important amendments to protect communities and ensure that fracking does...

BoS_doorknock_24.01.15.jpg

Fantastic turnout on Saturday morning for campaigning in East Walworth to support Parliamentary candidate Neil Coyle and also East Street Market in Faraday ward.

Campaigning in Southwark

Fantastic turnout on Saturday morning for campaigning in East Walworth to support Parliamentary candidate Neil Coyle and also East Street Market in Faraday ward. Read more

You can read my monthly newsletter for December 2014 to January 2015 here.

Monthly Newsletter - December 2014 - January 2015

You can read my monthly newsletter for December 2014 to January 2015 here.

Kris Hopkins MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Department for Communities and Local Government

Eland House, Bressenden Place

London SW1E 5DU

 

22nd January 2015

 

 

Dear Kris,

 

Fairer funding for Southwark Council

 

I am writing to you in regard to the provisional local government funding settlement figures for the London Borough of Southwark, which includes my constituency. I’m concerned to hear that Southwark Council stands to lose £21.2m of spending power in 2015-16 and faces a budget gap of over £30m, which is about 10% of its budget.

 

While I appreciate that many areas of public spending are being cut, I am concerned about the unfair nature of the distribution of the proposed cuts amongst local authorities. Southwark will suffer the third highest spending power reduction in the country despite its high levels of deprivation and social housing. And after five consecutive years of local government spending cuts, it may be the case that some council services will have to be reduced or stopped altogether.

 

The Government has hit the communities with the most need the hardest and frontline services that residents rely on are bearing the brunt. There should be a fairer funding settlement and I would therefore ask you to reconsider the proposed settlement for Southwark to ensure it receives a fairer share of resources. 

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Best wishes,

 

Harriet Harman

Fairer funding for Southwark Council - Letter to Minister for Local Government

Kris Hopkins MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Department for Communities and Local Government Eland House, Bressenden Place London SW1E 5DU   22nd January 2015     Dear Kris,  ...

peter_john_20.01.15.JPG

This morning I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the campaign to extend the Bakerloo line through Southwark, local government funding for Southwark, leaseholder policy and the council's adoption of the 'Ethical Care Charter' committing the council to better employment conditions for staff.

Meeting Southwark Council Leader Peter John

This morning I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the campaign to extend the Bakerloo line through Southwark, local government funding for Southwark, leaseholder policy...

Brunswick_Park_door_knock3_17.01.15.jpg

Joining our great local campaign team of members and councillors to talk to residents on the Southampton Way estate in Camberwell.

Campaigning in Brunswick Park, Camberwell

Joining our great local campaign team of members and councillors to talk to residents on the Southampton Way estate in Camberwell.

You can read my quarterly casework report for October to December 2014 here.

Quarterly Casework Report - October-December 2014

You can read my quarterly casework report for October to December 2014 here.

Peckham_door_knock_10.1.15.jpg

Joining local Labour Party members and councillors on a windy, rainy Saturday for campaigning on the Willowbrook Estate in Peckham. We also helped to clear a hoarding that had blown down and was blocking the road!

Campaigning in Peckham

Joining local Labour Party members and councillors on a windy, rainy Saturday for campaigning on the Willowbrook Estate in Peckham. We also helped to clear a hoarding that had blown... Read more

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