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MP tackles Covid-19 casework

Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Abena Oppong-Asare, updates local people on her work to address their concerns about Covid-19.

 

March saw the takeover of our lives, news and parliamentary business with Covid-19. This led to lockdown by the government and myself and my office are working from our respective homes. My team and I have been working hard to support constituents of Erith and Thamesmead at this difficult time.

Getting people home

This was a big issue this month. I have had numerous queries from constituents stranded overseas, from cruise ships in the Caribbean to holidays in New Zealand, India, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and elderly people in Cyprus. Many of them I have been successful in assisting, and they have either returned home or are en-route. I have had to use many different methods, from simple conversations with travel agents to smooth the cogs, to asking questions in the Chamber and writing to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Supporting the self-employed

Whilst the budget saw many welcome financial measures (from a government that once insisted on harsh austerity!), it soon became apparent this was not nearly enough. The Chancellor and PM rolled out further support for the employed, which will be a great help for many. However, we have so many self-employed people in our constituency who will not be supported. Therefore, I have written to the Chancellor on this issue, to implore him to take further action with regards to the self-employed.

Religious rights

In the government’s emergency Covid-19 legislation there was a potential issue regarding religious burial rights: that these could be removed and enforced cremations placed in place. However, my colleague Naz Shah MP wrote an amendment to the legislation to allow religious burials to take place; I was one of the first signatures to this. Luckily, the government took note and actually tabled their own amendment, which allowed the opposition to focus on other important matters rather than forcing this to go to a vote.

Panic buying and stock piling

I have written to the Business Secretary calling for concrete measures to limit panic buying & stockpiling. Trade unions, major supermarkets, and the Food and Drink Federation must be central to any decision to improve conditions for emergency workers and keep the shelves stocked. Naturally, this is also an area of focus for the Shadow Defra team, and I am fully engaged on this issue. You can watch this space for further action on this in the coming days and weeks.

Scrutinising the Covid-19 Bill

The opposition made the sensible decision not to have all MPs attending these parliamentary sessions. Instead we passed our concerns onto the front bench, who put those to the government on our behalf. My particular concerns relate to the mental health powers, as well as the way that the care bill has been repealed and the impacts this may have on some of our most vulnerable residents.

If you have any questions or concerns during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and my team and I will do what we can to support you.

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MP seeks improvements to Environment Bill

Abena Oppong-Asare, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, has been working to improve the Government’s Environment Bill.

A small number of MPs have been scrutinising and proposing amendments to the Government’s Environment Bill as part of its passage through Parliament.

Bill Committees consist of a small number of MPs who provide line by line scrutiny of legislation and propose changes to it. Abena Oppong-Asare as serving as a member of the Bill Committee for the Environment Bill, which sets the UK’s environment policy for years to come.

Abena has used her role to question Ministers and experts and support proposals to strengthen the Bill in order to take tougher action to tackle climate change and clean our air.

You can watch the Bill Committee hearings here, here and here.

MP calls for action to improve cancer diagnosis

Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare used Ministerial question time in Parliament to call for faster cancer diagnosis.

Abena raised the issue of ovarian cancer diagnosis for women with Health Minister Jo Churchill in Parliament today, asking the Minister to ensure that women referred are diagnosed our ruled out within 28 days in line with the Government’s stated faster diagnosis standard.

Cancer charities are concerned that targets for faster diagnosis and access to treatment are not being met.

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Local MP joins influential Select Committee

Abena Oppong-Asare, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, has joined Parliament’s influential Housing and Local Government Select Committee.

Housing was made a priority by Abena in her maiden speech in Parliament following conversations with constituents during the election campaign and after which made clear this was a big concern for local people. Huge cuts to local councils over the last decade has significantly impacted on their ability to deliver vital local services to people in Bexley and Greenwich and across the country and challenging these cuts is also a key issue for Abena.

Abena’s new role on the select committee means she’ll have a direct line to question and challenge Ministers and senior figures in housing and local government and work with colleagues from across all parties to hold Government to account and propose improvements to policies on issues such as homelessness, council funding, housing safety, affordable housing and protections for renters and leaseholders.

Abena said “I will use this role to put the concerns of local people directly to decision makers and fight to improve housing and invest in local government in Greenwich and Bexley and across the country.”

You’ll be able to keep up to date with Abena’s work on the select committee and in Parliament here.