Thank you for taking the time to read my latest newsletter, updating you on the work I’ve been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.
As always, if you would like to get in touch, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting Black victims of domestic violence
On the 28th March, I led a debate on support for Black victims of domestic violence. I have been working with Sistah Space to campaign for mandatory training for the police and other agencies to spot the specific signs of domestic violence against Black women and girls, and to better support Black victims and survivors.
Data from Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, shows that Black women who experience domestic abuse are less likely to be referred by police for specialist support. Agenda also found that Black women who are supported by Refuge are 3% more likely to have experienced physical abuse and 4% more likely to have experienced sexual abuse than white survivors of abuse. That suggests that Black women are more likely to reach Refuge services when they are experiencing the most visible and extreme forms of abuse, and that they may not be taken seriously when they report more hidden and insidious forms of abuse, such as psychological and financial abuse.
In the debate, the Minister committed to working with Sistah Space and the Royal College of Policing to look at the training that is provided to police officers. I recently met with the Minister, a representative of the Met and the College of Policing to take this work forward. This is a welcome development, but I will continue to campaign for mandatory training for all police officers and agencies supporting victims and survivors.
Cost of living crisis
We face a cost-of-living crisis in this country, and the Conversative Government has failed to get a grip of it.
As part of my frontbench role, I have been setting out Labour’s plan for an emergency budget that would tackle rising prices and support people through the coming months. I know that people across Erith and Thamesmead have already been hit with record rises in energy prices, record high petrol prices and staggeringly steep hikes in the cost of food and other essentials.
I am calling for several measures including a windfall tax on oil and gas producers to cut energy bills for families and extra support for struggling businesses. I also believe the Government must scrap the rise in National Insurance which is hitting people at the worst possible time. The Government also needs a plan to insulate homes to cut bills. Finally, I believe the National Crime Agency must investigate the £11.8 billion of taxpayer funds lost to fraud and error, so no more taxpayer money is wasted.
Labour also recently announced that we would scrap the non-dom status which allows wealthy people to avoid paying tax. If the UK is your home, you should pay tax here like everyone else.
On the 24th March, I spoke in the National Insurance about how the Government’s budget failed to meet the scale of the challenge our country and economy faces. You can read my speech here.
Home Office Delays
I am very concerned about the delays from the Home Office for people waiting for important documents such as visas and passports.
In a recent urgent question, I raised the unacceptable delays at the Passport Office with people waiting for months for new passports or renewals. I know many people haven’t been on holiday for years and having been saving up to go away.
I told the Minister he must get a grip of the issue, fix the delays, and ensure that people waiting are given regular updates.
You can watch my question here.
I am also helping a number of constituents who are trying to bring refugees from Ukraine to this country, either under the family route or the Homes for Ukraine scheme. I recently asked Ministers to help with an urgent issue where a constituent was struggling to get proof of address for their family member. You can watch my question here.
Sexism in Politics
In recent days there has been a renewed focus on sexism and misogyny in Westminster. My colleague Angela Rayner has been subjected to vile misogynistic smears, while there have been other shocking reports from across the political spectrum.
As Chair of the Labour Women’s Network, I have taken part in several interviews calling for a change of culture in politics and Parliament. We must not let these events prevent women from standing for public office or getting involved in politics. You can hear one of my interviews here.
Supporting local businesses
I recently met with Edible Oils, based in Erith and Belvedere to discuss the supply chain issues they are facing as a result of the war in Ukraine. We discussed how they are making changes to their products and the support they may need from the Government.
I have written to the Government asking them to take action to ensure the switch to alternative cooking oils to be both sustainable and environmentally friendly.
I will continue to support local business across Erith and Thamesmead.
Meeting local organisations
I recently visited the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, to thank the staff for their hard work over the enormously difficult last few years.
I also visited HerCentre, local charity based in Greenwich which seeks to eradicate violence against women and girls. I discussed support services for local women and how I could support their work.
Parliamentary meetings and receptions
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to attend parliamentary receptions and speak to a number of charities, stakeholders, as well as chatting to pupils from my constituency.
- I met with Slight Loss Councils to talk about the issues facing blind and partially sighted people in London.
- I met with Unicef at their #WorldImmunisationWeek event with UNICEF Ambassador David Harewood. The Covid pandemic and crisis around the world mean children are missing out in essential immunisations for diseases like measles and polio.
- I attended the Vaisakhi reception, celebration of Sikh tradition, heritage and culture.
- I welcomed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to Parliament and congratulated my colleague Tulip Siddiq, who worked so hard to get Nazanin home.
- I was delighted to join pupils from St Thomas a Becket Primary School to discuss everything from why I got into politics to what my hobbies are.