I called out the Chancellor for delivering another smoke and mirrors Budget this week. The promises of extra money unravel when you look into the details. There is no money for the properly affordable housing that so many families in Hackney need and the school settlement is not enough to make up for past cuts. The money given to government departments will have to cover pay rises now that the public sector pay freeze has been lifted – but this has not been funded so schools, the NHS, and local government still face financial pressures.
This week Parliament returned from conference recess in a sombre mood following the tragic death of my colleague Sir David Amess MP. Sir David was brutally killed during an advice surgery in his constituency of Southend West last Friday. Supporting constituents is a vital part of our role as MPs in a representative democracy and I will continue to be available through the normal channels. My thoughts are with Sir David's widow and children.
This week the Prime Minister addressed the Conservative Party conference. His speech was heavy with the bluff and bluster but light on the detail for how this Government will support families hit hard by the cost of living crisis. He gave his speech on the same day the Government cut £20 per week from Universal Credit.
I challenged officials from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy over the collapse of energy suppliers and the steep hike in energy prices. This sharp rise in prices is on top of the increase in National Insurance and the £20 per week Universal Credit cut. It means households are being hit hard and the Government must step up with a plan to address this. See here to watch my questions in full.
This week MPs debated the Government’s National Insurance tax rise, and the £20 cut to Universal Credit. Both will hit the poorest hardest. The Government says the National Insurance rise is to raise money for social care, but there is no plan and no detail about how it will do this, nor is there a clear sense of where the money raised will be spent. My colleagues and my committee will continue to press for clarity.
The Government continued its habit of making headline announcements whilst providing scant details – this time on social care. The headline is an increase of 1.25 percentage points in National Insurance. But there’s no detail or plan for care workers, nothing on stabilising the social care market that has been rocked by COVID-19, and nothing on financial support for local authorities. See here to watch in full my speech calling out the Government.
I was out and about with local councillors on the Kingsmead Estate this Saturday and heard from family after family about their housing situation. Too many people in Hackney live in severely overcrowded accommodation and many more cannot afford local private rents or even think about buying their own home.
I spoke out on this in a debate this week and pressed the Government to urgently increase the supply of affordable homes. See here to watch my speech in full.
The Government confirmed plans for the further easing of lockdown restrictions from this Monday 19 July. But, as ever, we got muddled messaging - this time on face masks. On the one hand the Government is encouraging the continued use of face masks in certain settings, but on the other hand it is removing the legal requirement to do so.
The Prime Minister announced the plan for the further easing of lockdown restrictions on 19 July. Subject to a final review of the data next week, from Monday 19 July face masks will no longer be mandatory, all businesses still closed (such as nightclubs) will be able to reopen, and there'll be no social distancing requirements. See here for further details.