Today is Holocaust Memorial Day and it was a privilege to attend a moving ceremony in Hackney Town Hall. As the Holocaust moves from living memory to history, it’s all the more important we remember it and remain vigilant against such atrocities happening again.
 

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I met with a Minister to press the case of unsafe cladding on buildings in Hackney. The good news is that from the 9 January there are now six high-street lenders offering mortgages on properties with cladding. But there's not enough movement on high insurance costs and a lack of skilled workers to carry out the works that will be required to remove unsafe cladding – I’ll keep pressing.
 

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The Government that was clapping nurses during the pandemic now wants to sack them. It says the new trade union legislation introduced this week is to guarantee minimum service standards but doctors and nurses are striking precisely because they can’t guarantee those minimum service and safety standards during the normal course of work. The bill is only at its first parliamentary stage but I will vigorously oppose it alongside my Labour colleagues.
 

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A stable, secure, and affordable roof over your head is a basic necessity in life. It supports you in getting work, in studying, and is vital for good health. And yet so many in Hackney live in severely overcrowded conditions with little hope of securing a house they need at an affordable price. We need more social housing. I raised this with the Treasury this week (see here) and pressed the Minister on this.

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This week I challenged the Prime Minister on his Government's immigration policies and the backlogs in the Home Office. 
 
The Public Accounts Committee questioned senior officials at the DWP on value for money in the Restart Scheme, a job support programme set up in the wake of the pandemic. Our report will be published in the new year.
 

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As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I’ve been closely following the Government’s procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. This week Parliament agreed that the Government must provide to the Public Accounts Committee all papers relating to the award of contracts to PPE Medpro. That contract is now under investigation by the National Crime Agency but the Committee will still look at these papers before deciding what further action to take.
 

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I challenged the Education Secretary on the shortage of people with digital and cyber skills in our country (see here). After recently visiting the Silicon Milkroundabout jobs fair, I discovered that many companies are not willing to recruit people straight from university or as apprentices. I urged the Government to do more and work with these companies so more young people in Hackney can get the digital skills they need and become the digital backbone of the future of our country. 

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Further chaos in the Home Office this week as it emerged that the asylum seekers who were housed temporarily at the Manston centre were placed in hotels up and down the country. But, crucially, this was done without alerting NHS bodies, MPs, councils and other key stakeholders who would need to give these vulnerable people support. This is an issue that the Public Accounts Committee raised in November 2020 and urged the Government to address.

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The Chancellor announced the Autumn Statement this week, which attempted to fix 12 years of Conservative cuts and economic failure. The good news is that benefits and pensions will be uprated in line with inflation but otherwise the maths just doesn’t add up. The money announced for the NHS is, in fact, a real terms cut and will not be enough for it to even stand still. See me press the Chancellor on this here.
 

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The Prime Minister that promised integrity, professionalism, and accountability chose to appoint Gavin Williamson, who this week resigned after evidence of his bullying emerged. He also re-appointed the Home Secretary despite her resignation six days previously for leaking sensitive information. It’s clear this government really has come to the end of its days and that we need a change. We need a General Election now.
 

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