Harriet Harman

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

Current News

When I first became an MP in the 1980's, one of the biggest complaints from local mothers bringing up young children on their own was the lack of childcare.


The difficulty of trying to keep a toddler happy and entertained - especially in a small flat; the dread of rainy days because even going to the park would not be an option. Too many felt isolated – with their own parents living far away from them. There were no community nurseries and no help with the cost of the very few private nurseries, or with the cost of childminders.


Their aspirations for themselves and their children were the inspiration for what we did when we got into government in 1997.
Parents should have access to childcare which is affordable, accessible and high quality.  Our National Childcare Strategy – through childcare tax credits, Sure Start Centres and nurseries in the NHS and colleges – led to a massive increase in childcare provision. There were 2,500 more childcare places in Southwark alone.

Now, 3 years in to a Tory/Lib-Dem Coalition Government – that progress on childcare is slipping back.

Childcare tax credit, which helps parents pay nursery or childminders fees, has been cut. The Government Grant to Southwark for children services like Sure Start has been cut.

There are more children under five in Southwark but fewer childcare places. Fifteen hours a week free childcare is just not enough for many mothers to get a job or work the hours they need. 

As mothers, whose pay has stagnated, save money by cutting back on the hours of childcare they use, they rely more on a patchwork of family and friends.  And this undermines the continuity of care for the child.

And some have to give up work altogether and fall back on benefits.  As the Government is cutting back, the price is being paid by children and parents and a growing benefit bill.

That's why Southwark Council is working hard to protect children's services and why we, if we get back into government, will guarantee parents 25 hours free childcare.

South London Press column: Childcare in Camberwell & Peckham - 21/03/2014

When I first became an MP in the 1980's, one of the biggest complaints from local mothers bringing up young children on their own was the lack of childcare. The...

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ARK All Saints Academy visit - 20/03/2014

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This morning I visited ARK All Saints Academy in Camberwell to meet the new principal, Lucy Frame, see the new building, and talk to the scholars about the challenges facing young people today, being an MP, and their plans for the future. I was also shown around the new school building which was opened earlier this year.

Visit to ARK All Saints Academy in Camberwell - 20/3/14

This morning I visited ARK All Saints Academy in Camberwell to meet the new principal, Lucy Frame, see the new building, and talk to the scholars about the challenges facing... Read more

On Wednesday 5th March Baroness Onora O'Neill, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), attended a meeting where we discussed the ongoing work of the EHRC, including an inquiry into the cleaning industry.  The EHRC is seeking contributions from cleaners and housekeepers on their experiences of working in this sector.  Many constituents from Camberwell and Peckham are cleaners and their views should be heard.  That is why I wrote a letter to Southwark News and the South London Press, encouraging people in Southwark to come forward and share their thoughts.

Full text of letter -

Businesses and services in London couldn’t operate without the army of hardworking cleaners who, often in the small hours and usually for low pay, make sure our offices, hospitals, schools, cinemas and leisure centres are clean and safe for the people who use them.

Many of London's cleaners live in Camberwell and Peckham.  Many keep the House of Commons – and my office – sparkling clean. 

Some who work as cleaners have asked for my help when they have been unfairly treated.  I strongly believe those who work in cleaning deserve dignity and respect in the workplace.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is holding an inquiry into the cleaning industry and wants to hear the views of cleaners about how they are treated at work.  If you work in cleaning and want to share your experiences then please email cleaning@equalityhumanrights.com.  And send me a copy at harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk.

I hope that cleaners from Camberwell and Peckham make their views about working in the cleaning industry heard, to help ensure all cleaners are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Harriet Harman Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham

Invaluable cleaners in Southwark deserve to be heard

On Wednesday 5th March Baroness Onora O'Neill, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), attended a meeting where we discussed the ongoing work of the EHRC, including an...

This afternoon I met with the landlords of the former Church Commission properties in Walworth along with local councillors Dan Garfield and Lorraine Lauder, and Tenants & Residents Association members Henry Quenelle, Lynda Tilbry and Paul Flemming. Tenants are concerned about a number of issues related to the management of the estate. We reached agreement on key issues and I will be monitoring the situation to ensure that the agreements are adhered to.

Walworth Estate Housing meeting - 27/2/14

This afternoon I met with the landlords of the former Church Commission properties in Walworth along with local councillors Dan Garfield and Lorraine Lauder, and Tenants & Residents Association members...

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This morning I visited the Harris Academy in Peckham. I was pleased to be shown around the school, meet the new Principal Carol-Ann Alcock, and talk to the students about their work and what plans they have for the future. 

Harris Academy Peckham Visit - 27.02.2014

This morning I visited the Harris Academy in Peckham. I was pleased to be shown around the school, meet the new Principal Carol-Ann Alcock, and talk to the students about...

This afternoon I met with the landlords of the former Church Commission properties in Walworth along with local councillors Dan Garfield and Lorraine Lauder, and Tenants & Residents Association members Henry Quenelle, Lynda Tilbry and Paul Flemming. Tenants are concerned about a number of issues related to the management of the estate. We reached agreement on key issues and I will be monitoring the situation to ensure that the agreements are adhered to.

Walworth Estate Housing meeting - 27/02/2014

This afternoon I met with the landlords of the former Church Commission properties in Walworth along with local councillors Dan Garfield and Lorraine Lauder, and Tenants & Residents Association members...

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This morning I joined residents of the Silverlock estate for an advice surgery and walkabout with David and Bonnie from the Tenant's Association, local Councillor Richard Livingstone, Council candidate Evelyn Akoto, and Kate Emmanuel, Housing Officer.

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Silverlock Estate advice surgery & walkabout - 26/02/2014

This morning I joined residents of the Silverlock estate for an advice surgery and walkabout with David and Bonnie from the Tenant's Association, local Councillor Richard Livingstone, Council candidate Evelyn...

One of the most constant complaints I get from people who live and work in and around Peckham is the need for a boost to the shopping and station area around Rye Lane.

I've been around long enough to remember when Rye Lane was a self-confident shopping ‘experience’ with lots of different sorts of shops- including M&S. Now, even the traders in the Rye Lane Traders Association are concerned that Rye Lane is not what it could be.

There's no reason that that should continue to be the case.  Local people should be able to look forward to walking down to a great shopping area and people should want to come in from outside Peckham to shop for what it has to offer.

And then there's the station.  Peckham Rye station is one of the gems of the old South East Railway.  But right now that's hard to spot because the area around the station has become closed in and uninviting.

Again, there's no reason that should continue to be the case. 

So I'm strongly in favour of the redevelopment around the station which can give the area a real boost.

But the redevelopment plans put forward by Network Rail have caused dismay and Southwark Council have rightly called for a rethink.

Nearly everyone agrees that redevelopment is needed around the station. But it’s harder to get agreement on what that redevelopment should include.  It’s right that the Council has decided to take extra time to rethink the plans and consult the local community. 

After further consultation the next steps will be the Council considering the granting of planning permission.

There are a number of key issues which should be addressed in the new plans which are brought forward.

*There's a real shortage of affordable housing in Southwark. More housing is a good idea but it must include homes which local people can afford to rent or buy.

* The new scheme must ‘open up’ the area in front of the station so it can be seen and admired in all its glory.

*But, at the same time, the lovely 1930s Art Deco buildings like 12-16 Blenheim Grove home of the Peckham Refreshment Rooms and the Sunday Painter must be kept - not torn down.

*The redevelopment should support the growing and dynamic arts scene in Peckham and ensure that local independent enterprises are not squeezed out by Starbucks and Costa.  This can be done by a ‘lettings strategy’ which would give priority to local independents and ensure a mixture of uses including light industrial i.e. not only commercial or retail.

*The whole scheme must be financially viable - the sums must add up or we will end up with no redevelopment at all.

The Council, Network Rail and the local community are all working together now to get the right balance for Peckham. It’s a great opportunity. Let’s keep the best of the past - Peckham heritage and history, the best of today - the vibrancy of the local community and for tomorrow - get a development which is fit for a dynamic future for Peckham.

Southwark News Column - Peckham Rye Station regeneration - 13/2/

One of the most constant complaints I get from people who live and work in and around Peckham is the need for a boost to the shopping and station area...

There’s no doubt that people here in Southwark are feeling the squeeze right now.  Prices are going up, with big heating bills and rising food prices – while pay has been at a standstill.

Southwark News Column: Cost of Living Crisis - 13/02/2014

There’s no doubt that people here in Southwark are feeling the squeeze right now.  Prices are going up, with big heating bills and rising food prices – while pay has... Read more

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