My latest monthly e-newsletter has just gone out to thousands of homes across Hornsey & Wood Green. You can read a copy below. If you’d like to receive my e-newsletters, and you don’t already, you can sign up here.
Welcome to my August e-newsletter
It is heart breaking to watch the desperate situation in Afghanistan.
My office has been working flat out over recent days to try and help Haringey residents concerned for friends and family who are seeking to flee, and those who’ve worked with Britain for years and are struggling to reach the airport and British processing centre. If you need my help, or know someone who does, please urgently get in touch.
We need to step up evacuation efforts immediately to protect vulnerable people and ensure no one to whom we owe so much is left behind. Read Keir Starmer’s letter to the Prime Minister here.
As we face the tragic rollback of those gains, particularly for women and girls, that have been worked so hard for over the past 20 years, there are very serious questions about the failed political and development strategy that has led to this day.
It is utterly shameful that the government recently slashed development support to the country by 45% just as it faces a grave crisis. It is vital the UK takes immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need and prevent a humanitarian crisis.
The immediate priority must be for the government to accelerate efforts to get UK nationals and eligible Afghans out of the country, and British troops and officials are working in incredibly difficult circumstances on the ground in Kabul. I believe the government has been far too slow to provide sanctuary to those Afghans who have served alongside and supported the British presence in Afghanistan. This is a shameful dereliction of duty. Even now, there are reports of Afghans facing unacceptable bureaucratic hurdles.
The announcement of the Afghan Citizen’s Resettlement Scheme is just not good enough. I do not believe this scheme meets the scale of the challenge – only 5,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban are to be welcomed to the UK in the year ahead. Not only does that risk leaving people in Afghanistan in deadly danger, it will also undermine the leadership role Britain must play in persuading international partners to live up to their responsibilities. The Prime Minister needs to provide more clarity over the resettlement scheme and how he’s going to implement it.
More widely, the Taliban’s return is likely to lead to a refugee crisis. The UK Government must urgently put in place specific safe and legal asylum routes and help support Afghans who are fleeing to neighbouring states. I believe it is our moral and international duty to provide a safe refuge to those who want to leave Afghanistan and come to the UK, and claims must be assessed on need never on method of travel.
If you’re interested in getting involved locally, Haringey Welcome campaign for dignity and respect for migrants and refugees in our borough. In Parliament, I work closely with Refugee Action on campaigns including to lift the cruel ban on asylum seekers working.
|Here are some of the other things I’ve been doing this month. If you know anyone who would like to receive these updates, please share this link.
Making Work Pay
Over the past year I’ve received more emails than ever from constituents worried about their futures. Many fear redundancies or being behind on rent. Others still have a job but have lost working hours in their zero-hour contracts or their employers have fired them and offered to rehire them on worse terms than before. For many people, the post Covid workplace is even less secure and less dignified than before.
Labour’s newly announced deal for working people would change that, with an immediately increased minimum wage of £10 an hour, protection against unfair dismissal, sick pay for everyone and a right to flexible working. We’d also cancel the cruel Universal Credit cut that will be devastating for six million families who face losing £1,000 a year when they can ill afford it. Read my latest column in the Ham & High on the need for dignified, secure work for all.
Summer NHS crisis
5.5 million people are now waiting for hospital appointments – the highest on record – and demand for GP appointments and visits to A&E are soaring. Summer is supposed to be the quietest time for our precious NHS but with the backlog from the pandemic it’s anything but. If the Government doesn’t act now and provide the NHS the resources it needs to tackle these immediate challenges and, crucially, deal with the longer-term staffing problems, capacity concerns and crisis in social care the problem is only going to get worse. I’ll continue to raise questions when Parliament returns, particularly around access to GP appointments as it’s vital people have access to telephone and face-to-face care and vulnerable people don’t find themselves struggling to access vital primary care.
Opening up opportunities for all our kids
We only get one childhood, yet ten years of Tory Governments have seen too many children denied experiences that set them up for learning and for life. Extra-curricular activities are in freefall, especially for kids from the poorest backgrounds, and I’ve seen that first hand as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming where so many children are leaving primary school without this basic, lifesaving skill. Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would change that, with a starting ambition that all children can take part in ten life-enhancing activities by the time they’re ten, with a clear plan on how to achieve it. If the Tories won’t step up – a Labour Government would.
Cleaning Up Fashion
As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics & Sustainability in Fashion, I am pleased to have published our Cleaning up Fashion report which you can read here. In light of the global pandemic and the evidence we heard: from non-payment of Bangladeshi factory workers, the Uighur crisis with its implications on cotton manufacture and closer to home the Leicester scandal and its impacts on our fast fashion sector, the report outlines the escalating concerns and issues impacting the supply chain. It also highlights the unsustainable consequences of the overproduction of garments and outlines the opportunities for a just transition towards a future well-being economy. This would support businesses to be more sustainable, workers to be paid fairly for their labour and scope the possibilities for innovation to support greater circularity of finite resources. In the lead up to COP26 this has never been more important or timely.
Build More Social Housing
Every day I hear from constituents in desperate housing need and across the country 1.5 million people are living in overcrowded social homes, an increase of 44% in just five years. The problem is getting worse because of a decade of Tory underinvestment in social housebuilding, despite local councils own best efforts. That’s why I’m backing Shelter’s #BuildSocialHousing campaign and why I always object to planning applications that don’t provide the genuinely affordable housing our community actually needs.
|Betrayal: Mary Feilding Guild
Despite their warm words, the new owners of the Mary Feilding Guild kicked out the elderly residents in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s disappointing but not surprising that their promise to provide long-term care on the site also turns out not to be true. I’ve given the Ham & High my thoughts on the new plans for the site
and, in Parliament, I’ll continue to push for better safeguards and protections for elderly care home residents.
Volunteers needed: can you help St James’ Legal Advice Centre?
St James’ Church free Legal Advice Centre has been a vital lifeline to so many local residents since it was founded by Peter Thompson QC over 20 years ago. As years of Government cuts to legal aid have made it ever harder for people to access justice, their services are more in demand than ever. But they urgently need more legally trained volunteers to keep running their Wood Green (Wednesday afternoons) and Coppetts & Colney (Tuesday mornings) clinics. If you can help, find out more here
Get vaccinated today
With schools due to return and autumn approaching, it’s more important than ever that everyone who can be vaccinated is. If you still haven’t had yours yet, it’s safe, effective, free and protects you and your loved ones. Click here for details of all the scheduled vaccine clinics in Haringey – for both walk-in and pre-bookable appointments.
Advice & Support:
I’m pleased to be returning to in-person advice surgeries from September, but I’ll also be continuing my telephone advice surgeries which I know many people have found helpful. Find out here how to book an appointment.