Parliamentary Report to AMM
In the constituency office we are now well and truly settled in, with a full contingent of staff since the end of last year. We continue to work very hard on casework of varying complexity. Housing remains high on the agenda, with the shortage of good quality affordable and social housing a matter of serious concern; people living in impossible situations and others who have become homeless or are threatened with homelessness due to rising rents. In terms of benefits, we are increasingly seeing the impact of Universal Credit, the benefit cap, and the five-week waiting period before UC claims are processed – even for those who were already on benefits before making their claim – pushing people into poverty and homelessness. Also high on the casework agenda have been problems with the NHS and the home-care system.
In Parliament, Brexit has dominated. The Bill is now passed through the Commons - with some minor amendments - but the government played hardball and we voted against it at the third reading. It’s a very unsatisfactory Bill, mainly because it represents a huge power grab by the Executive. The Government’s 25-year environment plan has now finally been published – it’s long on aspiration and short on detail, and it avoids some controversial areas such as incineration which, as you know, I continue to work and campaign against. The Carillion disaster has demonstrated that we need to re-think the way in which we provide services to the public sector and the best way to do that is through the public sector. With regard to the NHS Subcos, people might want to watch the video I’ve just made, discussing my conclusion that what’s happening locally with the Subcos is similar to the Carillion situation, which involves externalising jobs. Also locally, there has been some controversy around the grammar schools’ expansion of numbers, drawing able pupils away from local secondary schools. This is not good for our local education system and eventually will be very bad for our children. On a lighter note we’ve seen the cancellation of the intended visit of Donald Trump, who I’ve often said should probably be subject to a travel ban!