It’s Living Wage week, where 180,000 people working for any of the 4,700 Living Wage will see their wage rise to the new rates (£10.55 in London, £9 elsewhere). I am delighted that Haringey Council has become the latest fully accredited Living Wage borough, it’s so important as Haringey has a larger proportion of people earning below the London Living Wage than any other inner London borough.
But that still leaves 5.75 million low-paid workers struggling to get by on poverty pay. Including cleaners in some Government departments. I keep on challenging Ministers about this, because they should be showing leadership and demanding contractors, suppliers and partners pay the living wage. The Chancellor talked about his “aspiration to end low pay” in last week’s Budget – that should start on his own doorstep. I’ve now put in for a Parliamentary debate to give the issue the attention it deserves and won’t stop until the scandal of poverty pay is eradicated.
I met with Hornsey & Wood Green residents taking part in the day of action “last mile citizens’ lobby” on Monday, calling on the Government to safeguard the post-Brexit citizenship rights of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and the 2 million UK citizens living in the EU. I signed the pledge giving the campaign my full support. It’s utterly appalling that these people who work in our schools, our hospitals, our universities, who live in our communities and contribute so much have been forced to live under a cloud of uncertainty for two years. I want to see Brexit reversed, but whatever the outcome of the negotiations I believe the Government must guarantee – in law – the rights of all EU citizens in the UK. We are losing talented people, who have been left feeling unwanted and insecure by this Government’s failure to defend their rights and are choosing to leave the country rather than even attempt to apply for residence. This must not be allowed to continue.
Parliament broke for a short recess on Tuesday, so I’ve been able to spend more time in the constituency. I spoke at an event at Campsbourne School, celebrating pupils’ involvement in the Heartstone Project aimed at exploring and tackling sensitive topics such as racism, sexism, extremism and discrimination in all its forms, and attended the unveiling of the newly refurbished and renamed George Meehan House. It’s a fitting tribute to someone dearly missed and I am sure he would have been very proud.
I held my regular advice surgery at Wood Green Library followed by a special drop-in at the Birchwood Centre in Muswell Hill to talk to residents concerned about Royal Mail’s plans to close the delivery office. I think it’s a terrible idea, as do the 1,000+ local residents who have already signed my petition. I’m meeting Royal Mail bosses later this month and will be urging them to rethink.
Over the weekend I marked the Remembrance Centenary with Hornsey, Wood Green and Alexandra Park Road memorial events and a minutes silence at the Tetherdown Synagogue Civic Service. As we remember those who gave their lives or have been injured in past or current conflicts, I’ve been thinking a lot about the sense of common purpose around peace and stability that has come out of the EU and that we must not lose if we leave the EU. It was extremely moving to see Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron standing together in a show of unity at Compiègne, the first time since 1940 that leaders of France and Germany have met at the historic site where the ceasefire that ended WWI was signed.