Speaking to residents in Bounds Green about the Tory cost of living crisis and the impact on households across our community
Speaking to residents in Bounds Green about the Tory cost of living crisis and the impact on households across our community

My latest monthly e-newsletter has just gone out to thousands of homes across Hornsey & Wood Green.  You can read a copy below or online, with all the pictures, here.  If you’d like to receive my e-newsletters, and you don’t already, you can sign up here.

Welcome to my February e-newsletterSoaring energy prices are set to push a quarter of households into fuel poverty this winter. I’m already seeing the impact in my inbox and at my constituency surgeries.  Residents telling me they’re struggling to afford the essentials or worried about putting their heating on because they don’t know how they’re going to pay the bill.  It isn’t just residents affected – I’ve spoken out in Parliament about the soaring cost of energy bills for schools.  One local primary told me their annual bill had gone up by £30,000 with no financial support from the Government to ease the pain.  What’s the Tory plan? A sticking plaster that would give more cash to energy giants, whose profits have soared during the pandemic, and see the cost piled on households for years.  The loan shark Chancellor refuses to cut people’s bills now by introducing Labour’s one-off windfall tax on oil & gas producers or plan for the future by investing in renewables and insulating Britain’s cold and leaky homes While families struggle, the Chancellor has sat back and gifted £4.3 billion to fraudsters.  It is a disgrace and one that our community is now paying for.  Labour held a Parliamentary debate on the subject where I also highlighted the wastefulness of the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, charging taxpayers for lavish food at a Tory donor’s restaurant despite civil service opposition.  It symbolises everything about this Government’s approach during a pandemic, that has seen their mates and donors grow richer from multi-million pound PPE contracts whilst ordinary households struggle to pay their bills.  As the government is paralysed by chaos and incompetence, the latest local unemployment figures for Hornsey & Wood Green are 5,165, that’s 2,585 higher than before the pandemic.   Even for many in work, life has got tougher with a rise in zero hours contracts and the disgraceful “fire and rehire” that the Tories refuse to outlaw.  We need a Government and a Prime Minister focused on these issues.  Sadly we don’t have one.

In Parliament:

Covid-19: living with COVIDLiving with COVID cannot mean leaving clinically vulnerable people without the support they need to enjoy life or forcing workers into unsafe environments because they can’t afford to stay home.  The Tories broken system of sick pay is not only wrong, it is a public health risk.  Labour has been clear that we would fix this broken system by raising statutory sick pay, making it available to all workers and ensuring sick pay is a day one employment right.   I’ve received lots of messages from residents anxious about what the end of self-isolation and free testing means for them and the people they care for, and I’m concerned that decisions are being made not on science but to save Johnson’s own political skin.  Testing is crucial for keeping infections under control and avoiding the need for further restrictions that impact on our lives, livelihoods, and liberties. This additional cost will also hit families at a time when they face a cost-of-living crisis. It means people simply won’t take them, putting others at risk.  It’s incredibly short sighted.In Parliament, I asked the Prime Minister if he would confirm or deny reports that the Government was looking to sell off the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre.  The UK’s vaccine rollout was built on the back of great British scientists, but he couldn’t answer, what should be, a straightforward question. I’ve now written to the Health Secretary for an answer.  Future of the NHSI took part in the Parliamentary debate on the future of our NHS, called in response to the petition demanding the Government restore England’s publicly funded, publicly provided NHS by reversing all privatising legislation, ending ongoing PFI contracts, and scrapping plans for Integrated Care Systems and for-profit US-style ‘managed care’.  You can read my speech here.  Make misogyny a hate crimeI welcomed the House of Lords vote to make misogyny a hate crime (during the Third Reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill) and am appalled that the Home Secretary has now said she will reject this amendment.  There is an urgent need for a long overdue change in the law so that misogynistic acts are treated as the serious hate crimes they are.  What’s more, the Home Secretary is still refusing to establish specialist rape units in every police force area or minimum sentence for rape and stalking, and shockingly is still resisting Labour’s proposals for action against landlords who pressurise tenants into sex for rent.  Labour will keep pushing for change when the Bill returns to the Commons.

Edmonton IncineratorI attended the Westminster Hall debate on the environmental and health impacts of the proposed Edmonton Incinerator expansion and was pleased to have the opportunity to repeat my support once again for a pause and review.  You can watch my full speech here. Save our BeesWithout bees our ecosystem would collapse, but we’ve already lost 13 species of bees native to Britain and a further 35 are under threat of extinction.  Now, despite their promises, the UK Government is using a loophole to allow a banned bee-killing pesticide to be used in England.  It’s wrong and potentially devastating and I have written to the Environment Secretary urging him to think again Kept Animals Bill and Cats and KittensThe Government’s Kept Animals Bill will be returning to the House of Commons soon and I’ve had lots of emails from constituents who would like to see greater protections for cats and kittens against smuggling.  Whilst the Bill in its current form includes stricter regulations about the importation of dogs, I share the belief it should include cats.  I also believe there is no justification for the commercial importation of pregnant cats and dogs (a loophole used by unscrupulous illegal importers) and support banning non-commercial importation of animals over 42 days pregnant. The Government must act quickly and efficiently to tackle international animal abuse and finally put an end to cruel puppy and kitten farms in the UK.Every month I ask Government Ministers to answer questions on a whole range of different issues.  You can see my latest questions, and the responses I have received, here.  

In the community:

Dark Kitchens“Dark kitchens” can be bad for local restaurants, disruptive to residents and exploitative to workers. The Royal Society for Public Health has found concerning evidence that chefs in these secret kitchens are hidden away in “cramped and low paid” environments.  Following concerns raised by Haringey Council’s Leader, David Lammy and I have writen to the Secretary of State for Business to urge the Government to act.  You can read our letter and the Ham & High’s coverage of the issue Access to broadbandToo often slow internet is thought of as a rural problem, but there are still pockets of Hornsey & Wood Green where the basic infrastructure isn’t in place and internet speeds are extremely slow.   For years now I’ve been working with residents and local Councillors to push Ministers and OpenReach to act.  I am delighted that full fibre broadband is coming to Crouch End but I know that there are other “forgotten” areas including parts of Wood Green and Stroud Green.  Here’s my letter in the Ham & High and please do get in touch if this affects you.  I’ll keep pushing for all forgotten homes to be connected.  Housing for children with life limiting conditionsI met the Housing Minister to discuss establishing a special fund so local authorities can respond adequately and quickly to the very specific housing needs of disabled children and those with life limiting conditions.  Sadly the Minister just referred back to the Disabled Facilities Grant which we know isn’t sufficient for the scale of the issue and currently leaves many families struggling for years in unsuitable homes.  The funding for local authorities through the DFG has been frozen from 2022-23 to 2024-25.  The Minister told me updated guidance will be published soon which will outline how local authorities can use this funding more flexibly.  I’ll be following this closely.   Delays at the DVLAWith the appointment of a new Leader of the House, I took the opportunity to highlight the issue of delays at the DVLA.  I’ve had so many emails over recent months, from a taxi driver who couldn’t renew his black cab license to a resident who couldn’t travel to see her terminally ill mum because the DVLA had held onto her passport for so long.  Over the last decade, the Tories have slashed the number of full time equivalent staff at the DVLA by a third so it’s absolutely wrong to blame all these issues on the pandemic.  This is a failure by the Government to invest properly in our public services and support workers and yet again the public pays the price.  You can watch my question here African Caribbean Cultural Centre (West Indian Cultural Centre)I met the Chair and Vice-Chair of the African Caribbean Leadership Company Ltd to discuss the urgent repair works needed for the centre to re-open. The ACLC is self-funded and relies upon hiring out its spaces or hosting educational events to generate income. It was recently awarded funding to assist Windrush Compensation Scheme applicants with their claims, and they are also keen to re-start their counselling services. I’ve linked them up with Mind in Haringey and raised these issues with Haringey Council to see what further support can be provided to this important centre.
Shadow Ministerial Update:Russia/UkraineLabour stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people who have shown incredible dignity and resilience throughout Putin’s aggression.  After weeks of heightened tension and a steady stream of intelligence briefings Russia has illegally recognised the breakaway insurgent held areas of eastern Ukraine as independent Republics and deployed troops as “peacekeepers”, in a clear and obvious breach of international law designed to further undermine the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.   This is an attack on democracy and the UK must work with international allies to respond immediately with strong sanctions.  Today’s announcements are welcome but we must go further.   During my time in Labour’s shadow Foreign Office team, I have consistently made the case to the government that our ability to stand up to President Putin and deter Russian aggression is hampered by the failures to implement in full the findings of Parliament’s Russia Report and clean up our financial sector from the dark money propping up the Russian regime. Nearly two years after the publication of the report we are still waiting for key measures to be introduced, including the reform of Companies House and a overhaul of our cyber security. My Labour colleagues and I will continue pressing the government to implement the findings and ensure we are not a weak link in the international community standing up to President Putin. TaiwanI took part in a debate in Parliament on the friendship between the UK and Taiwan. While the UK does not hold formal diplomatic links with Taiwan there are strong – and growing – links between our businesses, our universities, and our scientists. Taiwan is facing a growing threat from China and it is vital that Taiwan’s future is decided peacefully, and not through coercion or the use of force. IndiaI am deeply concerned about the rising number of reports of anti-Muslin and Islamophobic incidents in India. India is a proudly diverse and secular state, and it is right that its Muslim minority continue to feel safe and valued in their own country. I have urged the British government to underline our belief in the freedom of belief and religion, and I have asked several Parliamentary Questions relating to actions the government is taking on this issue.

Advice & Support:
Remember, these e-newsletters are only a snapshot of some of the things I’m doing each month.  If there’s an issue that concerns you which I haven’t covered here, please drop me a line.

If you’d like to speak to me at one of my regular advice surgeries, held by telephone and in-person, find out here how to book an appointment.

You can also keep up-to-date on my work in Parliament and in the community on TwitterFacebook or through my website at www.catherinewest.org.ukBest wishes,Catherine

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