Harriet Harman

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

Current News

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Campaigning in Peckham on Thursday 1st May with Cllrs Cleo Soanes, Chris Brown and Barrie Hargrove, candidate Johnson Situ and local members.

Campaigning in Peckham - 1/5/14

Campaigning in Peckham on Thursday 1st May with Cllrs Cleo Soanes, Chris Brown and Barrie Hargrove, candidate Johnson Situ and local members.

Southwark Council is right to be setting up a Childcare Commission, chaired by local MP Tessa Jowell, to look at how all families can have access to good quality, affordable, flexible childcare. For all the progress on childcare made in recent decades, that is slipping back under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Something needs to be done.

Since 2010, there are more children under 5 in Southwark but fewer childcare places. 15 hours a week free childcare is just not enough for many mothers to get a job or work the hours they need.  And childcare is too expensive for many families. The average cost of a part time nursery place in Camberwell & Peckham for a child under 5 is £110 a week. For a mother on average local earnings this is almost 40% of her pay on childcare. And some parents have to give up work and rely on benefits.  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.

Many parents have let me know the problems they have trying to balance work and childcare. For example, a self-employed single mother of 2 children from Peckham told me that the 15 free hours don’t offer enough flexibility to allow her to expand her mobile hairdressing business. So she has had to reduce her working hours to look after her children – just like her mother had to.

A mother of 3 children from Camberwell said that she had left her senior role in a national charity to become a professional child minder and look after her own children at the same time because she couldn’t make work pay and afford the childcare she needed.

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. There were no community nurseries and no help with the cost of the very few private nurseries, or with the cost of childminders.

When we got in to government in 1997, 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.

Today the Government is cutting back on childcare tax credit - which helps parents pay nursery or childminders fees - and the Government Grant to Southwark for children services like Sure Start. 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.

Southwark News column: Childcare in Camberwell & Peckham - 10/4/2014

Southwark Council is right to be setting up a Childcare Commission, chaired by local MP Tessa Jowell, to look at how all families can have access to good quality, affordable,...

Door Knock

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane ward.

Campaigning in Lane Ward - SE15 - 03/04/2014

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane... Read more

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Today I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the regeneration plans for Peckham, local policing, school choice, childcare and the Council's future plans re: housing, education and public health.

Meeting Southwark Council Leader Peter John - 31/3/2014

   Today I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the regeneration plans for Peckham, local policing, school choice, childcare and the Council's future plans...

This morning I met Chief Superintendent Zander Gibson, the new Police Borough Commander for Southwark. We discussed police numbers, victim confidence to report rape and serious sexual assault, race relations and recruitment, and police engagement with young people and community stakeholders.

Meeting Southwark Police Borough Commander Zander Gibson - 26/03

This morning I met Chief Superintendent Zander Gibson, the new Police Borough Commander for Southwark. We discussed police numbers, victim confidence to report rape and serious sexual assault, race relations...

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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