Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

Current News

For many people living on the Gloucester Grove and North Peckham Estates the first signs of spring have come not a moment too soon.  They have had a horrible winter thanks to the failing of the estate heating system.  For months over the coldest part of the winter the heating and the hot water has been going off in 1,200 flats.  Tenants have told me about going to bed in their overcoat – and even then still not being able to keep warm.  People have spent money on buying electric heaters and then spent huge amounts on their electricity.  Some tried to keep warm by leaving the gas on.  Expensive – and dangerous too.  And the only way to get hot water was to heat it in the kettle.  People had to go out to escape the cold in their flats.  And that costs too.  All the expense and inconvenience was compounded by finding that the heating was back on – but only at half strength.  Or it was back on and then went off again.

The Council have had contractors constantly down there to try and sort it out.  But now that it’s back on there are two issues that need to be dealt with.  Firstly the compensation.  It’s not enough for the Council to ensure that people are not charged for the heating and hot water they didn’t get.  People must be compensated for the extra costs they have incurred.  And for the misery and inconvenience they have endured.  The Council’s housing budget has been slashed by the Government but even so the Council should not, and I’m sure will not, penny-pinch and haggle about the amount of compensation.  One tenant has been offered £25!  That does not begin to be enough.  So the Council needs to put a lot of effort into sorting out the compensation.  After such inconvenience the last thing that tenants need is to have to chase the Council for compensation.

The next thing that needs to be sorted out is ensuring that this doesn’t happen again next winter.  Huge estate boilers were built when the estate was built with the aim of ensuring a constant supply of heating and hot water to all the flats and a low cost.  The problem is that when it goes wrong it’s a huge problem to sort out and hundreds of tenants are hit.  The Council is now working out what to do for the future.  It’s important that the tenants have a big say in this.  They are not technicians but they are the people directly affected.  Some of the blocks have always had small boilers for each flat.  And now with “combi” boilers they can be small and cheap to run.

So let’s be sure that the tenants can be properly compensated for all the expense and inconvenience and look forward to being cosy indoors next winter.

*The print version of this article is slightly shorter.

Southwark News Column - Southwark Council must compensate and work with Gloucester Grove and North Peckham tenants to fix heating problems

For many people living on the Gloucester Grove and North Peckham Estates the first signs of spring have come not a moment too soon.  They have had a horrible winter...

During February constituents in Camberwell and Peckham have sent me 434 emails on 77 different policy issues – from tax avoidance to unlicensed puppy breeding.  Here’s a full breakdown of the issues people have raised:

 

  • HSBC and allegations of tax evasion and tax avoidance – 120

  • Serious Crime Bill – Sex-selective abortion amendment –  Vote For - 34

  • Serious Crime Bill - Sex-selective abortion amendment - Vote Against - 10

  • Support humane and sustainable farming – 31

  • Human rights in Palestine – 28

  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home campaign to end unlicensed breeding of puppies – 25

  • Cancer on the health agenda – 12

  • Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations – Vote For - 5

  • Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations – Vote Against - 7

  • Modern Slavery Bill – 12

  • Jim Fitzpatrick MP’s Wild Animals in Circuses (Private Member’s) Bill – 10

  • Westminster Hall dpebate on non-stun slaughter of animals on Monday 23rd February – 10

  • Living Streets campaign to support older pedestrians – 8

  • Support a NHS Reinstatement Bill to reverse privatisation – 6

  • Support a rental cap in London – 5

  • Energy Bill Revolution ‘End Cold Homes’ campaign – 5

  • Climate Change – 5

  • Infrastructure Bill – Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy – 4

  • Mental health – 4

  • Infrastructure Bill – community pubs – 4

  • Trident – constituents want to know your views – 4

  • Save the Children’s ‘Read On. Get On.’ campaign to improve literacy among children from disadvantaged backgrounds – 4

  • Constituents have contacted you saying privatisation of energy has been a disaster – 4

  • Alcohol Duty – Call on the Chancellor to make a 2% cut in the 2015 Budget – 4

  • Religious freedom – 3

  • EDM (Early Day Motion) 746 – The Big Palestinian Bike Ride3

  • Support a Nature and Wellbeing Act in Labour’s manifesto – 3

  • Serious Crime Bill – Support better legal protections for child abuse victims – 3

  • BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) and Cruelty Free International campaign to reduce the number of scientific experiments on animals – 2

  • Attend Backbench Commons debate on epilepsy on Thursday 26th February – 2

  • Immigration – Labour’s plans – 2

  • Westminster Hall debate on respiratory health on Tuesday 3rd February – 2

  • Social care and military compensation for veterans – 2

  • Ticket touts – 2

  • EDM 488 – Youth Services2

  • EDM 636 – Animal Welfare (No. 2)2

  • Tackle global violence against children – 2

  • Dementia care – 2

  • Labour’s announcement on paternity leave – 1

  • Equal pay transparency – 1

  • Breast cancer – drug treatment – 1

  • Support VSO’s (Voluntary Service Overseas) ‘Women in Power’ campaign – 1

  • Support standardised packaging for tobacco products – 1

  • A constituent emailed with concerns about the cost of childcare – 1

  • Protect the countryside and oppose major road-building projects – 1

  • 2015 Nigerian presidential election – 1

  • Teacher workload – 1

  • Opinion polls – 1

  • International Development and the UK’s role in helping developing countries – 1

  • Union of South American Nations dialogue with Venezuela – 1

  • UK help for Syrian refugees – 1

  • A GP who lives in the constituency emailed with concerns about the NHS – 1

  • Counter-terrorism powers – 1

  • EDM 646 – Rail Fares1

  • EDM 612 – Buffer Zones Around Abortion Clinics and Pregnancy Advice Bureaux1

  • EDM 648 – Employment of Supply Teachers1

  • EDM 445 – Naloxone Availability1

  • EDM 701 – Imprisonment of Human Rights Activists in Mauritania1

  • Ban letting agents fees for tenants – 1

  • Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend Scheme – 1

  • Use of antibiotics on farm animals – 1

  • Independent Living Fund – 1

  • Air pollution in the Middle East – 1

  • Pubs and Planning Regulations (England) debate on Thursday 12th February – 1

  • Mandatory scanning of pets found killed on the road – 1

  • Cats Protection's Manifesto for Cats campaign – 1

  • National Housing Federation’s Homes for Britain campaign – 1

  • Thameslink train services into central London – 1

  • Women’s pensions – 1

  • Attend British Lung Foundation event in Parliament on Wednesday 25th February – 1

  • Concerns about landlords checking the immigration status of tenants – 1

  • Multiple Sclerosis – 1

  • Support the Medical Innovation (Private Member’s) Bill – 1

  • Allegations of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) hacking SIM card manufacturers – 1

  • Support the work of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) – 1

  • Support a Public Service Users Bill – 1

  • Labour’s proposals for GP access – 1

  • Attend rally in Parliament on Leveson on Wednesday 25th February – 1

  • Radioactive waste regulations – 1

     

Policy issues raised by constituents in Camberwell and Peckham

During February constituents in Camberwell and Peckham have sent me 434 emails on 77 different policy issues – from tax avoidance to unlicensed puppy breeding.  Here’s a full breakdown of the...

You can read my monthly newsletter for February 2015 here.

Monthly newsletter - February 2015

You can read my monthly newsletter for February 2015 here.

As part of Labour’s ‘Woman to Woman’ campaign tour, the pink bus made its way to Bermondsey and Old Southwark in support of the Labour’s candidate, Neil Coyle.

It was a great turnout and I was pleased to be joined by Gloria De Piero MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Diane Abbott MP, London Assembly member Val Shawcross, local Labour councillors from across Southwark, including Lorraine Lauder MBE, and lots of Party members. 

We talked to local residents in East Street Market about the issues that will be a priority for them at the General Election in May. 

W2W2_BoS_18.2.15.jpg

W2W3_BoS_18.2.15.jpg

 

Bermondsey and Old Southwark - 'Woman to Woman' tour

As part of Labour’s ‘Woman to Woman’ campaign tour, the pink bus made its way to Bermondsey and Old Southwark in support of the Labour’s candidate, Neil Coyle. It was...

GG_estate_walkabout3_11.2.15.jpg

The Gloucester Grove estate is one of the largest estates in Peckham. The Tenant's Management Organisation (TMO) is responsible for managing the housing needs of all tenants and residents and I met Bassey Bassey (Chair of the TMO) and Abiola Olatunji (estate manager) to discuss residents concerns about the recent problems with heating and hot water.

Gloucester Grove Estate advice surgery and walkabout

The Gloucester Grove estate is one of the largest estates in Peckham. The Tenant's Management Organisation (TMO) is responsible for managing the housing needs of all tenants and residents and I... Read more

Nunhead_door_knock_7.2.15.jpg

Joining our great local campaign team of members and councillors to talk to residents in Nunhead.

Campaigning in Nunhead

Joining our great local campaign team of members and councillors to talk to residents in Nunhead.

Cllr Richard Livingstone

Cabinet Member for Housing

Southwark Council

160 Tooley Street

London SE1 2TZ

 

6th February 2015

 

Dear Richard,

 

Disruptions to heating & hot water services on the Gloucester Grove & North Peckham Estates

 

As you know estate residents have contacted me about the breakdown of heating and hot water on the North Peckham/Gloucester Grove estates in recent weeks.

 

It has been extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable for people to be without a reliable supply of heating and hot water, especially at this cold time of year. It will also have been expensive for residents to use the portable electric fan heaters distributed by the Council as a temporary solution.

 

I’m writing to ask for your assurances that the Council will take action on the following:

 

*To ensure the heating and hot water system is working and continues to stay working.

 

*For the Council to not charge residents for the period when they did not receive heating and hot water and to compensate them for the inconvenience.

 

*To ensure tenants have the opportunity to be involved in the independent review that will look at the whole heating system and recommend options for the long term.


Thank you for keeping in touch with my office and I will stay in close contact with the local councillors and tenants associations.

 

I know you are doing your best to get all this sorted out. 
 

Best wishes,

 

Harriet Harman

Southwark Council must compensate and work with Gloucester Grove and North Peckham tenants to fix heating problems

Cllr Richard Livingstone Cabinet Member for Housing Southwark Council 160 Tooley Street London SE1 2TZ   6th February 2015   Dear Richard,   Disruptions to heating & hot water services...

Peckham_Library4_5.2.15.jpg

It's National Libraries Day on the 7th February when libraries around the country hold events to encourage people to visit, and highlight the importance of local libraries to residents, communities and the wider public.

Visiting Peckham Library ahead of National Libraries Day

It's National Libraries Day on the 7th February when libraries around the country hold events to encourage people to visit, and highlight the importance of local libraries to residents, communities... Read more

It was good to join Labour's candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Neil Coyle, to open his campaign office on Tower Bridge Road this weekend.  Lots of local members turned up for the occasion, and stayed around to campaign in the constituency afterwards.

 

Campaigning in Bermondsey and Old Southwark

It was good to join Labour's candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Neil Coyle, to open his campaign office on Tower Bridge Road this weekend.  Lots of local members turned up...

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...

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