Due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chancellor abandoned plans for a long-term Comprehensive Spending Review (which would have allocated departmental spending for the next three years) in favour on a one-year spending review, allocating funding to government departments for the year from March 2021. The economic forecast, produced by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, made for grim reading. The UK is facing a 11.3 per cent economic contraction – the largest for three hundred years and the worst hit of the G7 (the seven largest economies).

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Many FE colleges are struggling financially, with concerns raised by the National Audit Office and Ofsted about the resulting impact on students' education.

 

This Thursday at 10am, the Public Accounts Committee will be challenging officials from the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency on how they'll support colleges to retrain and reskill people for the post-COVID jobs market.

 

Click here to watch the hearing in full.  

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This week I focused on a report from the National Audit Office that called out the Government's approach to contracting during the first stage of the COVID-19 crisis. There was a lack of transparency, poor or non-existent record-keeping, and a failure to safeguard against conflicts of interest. I'll be investigating with the Public Accounts Committee in December. Click here to read the report in full. 

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The hidden homeless crisis is also a public health crisis.

 

I'm working with Karen Buck, the MP for Westminster North, to press the Government for a new Housing Market Package. This would create a Government-backed fund for local authorities and housing associations to buy up unsold private homes.

 

I'll keep pressing the case. 

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This week we received good news about the early promising signs of a vaccine that could help tackle the COVID-19 virus.

If the vaccine is successful, it is vital the Government grapples with the key logistical challenge of ensuring enough doses are successfully rolled out across the UK at speed. I challenged the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, about his plans for this (see here) and I will continue pressing the Government to get this right. 

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The Government’s sudden and chaotic lockdown announcement last weekend has dominated parliamentary discussion and debate this week.

Weeks ago Keir Starmer called for a shorter, circuit break lockdown over half term. Instead we are locked down again until 2 December. The Government’s economic planning has been inadequate, with the announcement of the furlough scheme extension made within hours of its planned end. The announcement came too late for those already made redundant.

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Many constituents have contacted me to raise their concerns about the danger posed to hen harriers and other birds of prey as a result of wildlife crime. 

 

I wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and received this response. Please open the pdf attachment at the bottom of this post to click on the links and see the response in full.

 

I will continue pressing the Government to take this issue seriously.  

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