Monday’s Budget revealed just how clueless the Tories are about the impact of their eight years of crippling austerity. Offering up a few thousands for “little extras” when Haringey’s schools face a real term funding cuts of £10.6 million between 2015-20 is derisory and won’t stop schools having to send begging letters to parents to cover basic costs.
Likewise, £650 million for long term adult social services would be welcome, albeit nowhere near enough, if it didn’t come alongside another £1.3 billion of cuts local authorities face next year. Giving with one hand and taking with the other, more concerned with getting the PR headlines than actually tackling the problems our schools, hospitals, vital public services face.
I used my speech in Monday night’s Budget Debate to talk about ever rising household debt, now the highest level on record and lambast this Government for failing to act on exploitative employment practices that have led so many people into problem debt. Watch or read my speech here.
On Tuesday I hosted a roundtable of housing providers in Haringey, bringing together Homes for Haringey as well as the major housing associations operating in the Borough. Housing is consistently the number one issue in my advice surgeries, so I wanted to get everyone in one room so we could talk about key issues such as funding, safety in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy, and the impact of universal credit. It was a very useful morning with plenty of opportunity for the providers present to share best practices, and I was pleased that all present agreed to more regular meetings and to a greater emphasis on collaborative working and partnership in the Borough going forward. David Lammy and I also had the opportunity to outline our work on housing in Parliament, and to ask the attendees how we can better support housing providers in our roles as representatives of Haringey in Parliament.
I also spoke at the Annual Reception of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, of which I’m the Secretary. Our group, established in 2015, is the first time an APPG has been dedicated to London and this year we’ve already looked at knife crime (in a joint roundtable event with the APPG on Knife Crime), the role of the voluntary sector in supporting Londoners, how London’s businesses can meet their skills and recruitment needs, and the potential impact of the Budget and Spending Review on local services. Our next meeting will be focussed on apprenticeships.
When Wood Green Crown Post Office moved into the back of WH Smith two years ago I feared this would be the first step in turning it into a franchise. I was right and on Thursday I met with senior Post Office staff to make my concerns clear. I don’t want to see good jobs lost in place of minimum wage contracts and I don’t want to see service quality decline. With WH Smith issuing its own profit warnings it also raises questions about the long-term future of this vital service. Since 2013, 60 per cent of the UK’s Crown Post Offices have gone and these latest proposals to ‘franchise’ 74 more branches put at risk up to 700 jobs. I am working alongside Labour colleagues to seek a Parliamentary debate and fight to defend our Crown Post Office Network. I’d encourage everyone to respond to the consultation, which has just opened here : https://www.postofficeviews.co.uk/national-consultation-team/wood-green-n22-6he-204004/ because it’s crucial the Post Office are aware of the strong feeling locally.
Back in the constituency, I joined Haringey’s National Childbirth Trust to launch an important report on perinatal mental health, spoke at Haringey’s Rise Against Racism event and attended the Muswell Hill & Highgate Branch British Legion Service of Remembrance. I also did a walkabout on the Pages High Estate and was extremely concerned about the conditions on some of the stairwells and inadequate security. I’m raising these issues urgently with Sanctuary Housing.