This month was the 3rd anniversary of the Covid lockdown, and we heard Boris Johnson attempting to defend why he misled Parliament over the events in that period. His attempts to discredit the inquiry showed the utter disdain he has for standards in public life. If he’s found in contempt of Parliament, he must finally take responsibility for the damage and hurt he has caused.
Next month will also be the deadline to register for a postal vote – you’ll need to do this by 18thth April. If you haven’t yet registered and want to do so, you can do this via: www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/postal-voting. Voting by post can be an easier way to have your say in the local elections on Thursday 4th May.
Baroness Casey report into the Met Police
Last week, Baroness Casey released her report into the Metropolitan Police. The report lays out in stark reality the institutional misogyny, racism and homophobia within the Met Police and leaves nowhere for the Police Force to hide. They must now accept these findings in full and work tirelessly to make the changes needed to win back the public’s trust. Labour have been calling for some time for national standards on vetting, training and misconduct.
Making Britain’s Streets Safer
Labour set out our mission last week to make Britain’s street safer by halving serious violence and restoring confidence in the police and criminal justice system to its highest level within a decade.
Labour will halve levels of violence against women and girls, halve knife crime, raise confidence in every police force across the country to its highest ever levels and reverse the collapse in the proportion of crimes solved.
I attended two sobering and heart-breaking debates this month – the first in Westminster Hall about the important issue of suicide prevention, and the second about male suicide.
Some fantastic campaigning is being done by parents of children who have died by suicide, and they are working tirelessly to raise the profile of this issue and to try and secure funding and resources to support people who might be struggling with their mental health.
There was a petition that was presented by three dads whose daughters had died by suicide. Their campaign calls for suicide prevention in the national curriculum. Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under 35 and more than 200 school children die by suicide each year.
We need to discuss mental health and suicide more openly and dispel the myth that talking about this issue is a way of creating more risk.
Opening of the Mo Mowlam studio
It was great to go back to Derry to attend and celebrate the opening of the Mo Mowlam cinematic arts studio. Mo was a giant of our labour movement, loved by the people of Northern Ireland and an inspiration to so many.
We owe it to keep her legacy alive and this studio will enable us to do just that.
Many women up and down the country will know the daily effects the menopause can and does have on their life. In 2022 alone, one in 10 women aged 45 to 55 left their job due to menopausal symptoms.
That’s why a Labour government will require large firms, of more than 250 employees to set out Menopause Action Plans detailing how they will support women with menopause at work.
This is a simple and effective way to improve productivity, keep more people in work and ultimately grow our economy for all.
This month saw more rail chaos for passengers, with more trains delayed and cancelled, rail fares hiked to a near- record 6% and Ministers deciding to reward poor service by extending the contract of Avanti West Coast.
On top of this, the government announced that they were going to delay HS2, because they say that it will save money. Actually, leaked documents show that the exact opposite is true and that the delays themselves would increase costs. They even admit that this delay would affect construction firms and even cost jobs.
Once again, it’s clear that this government are not committed to improving our railway infrastructure, holding failing rail operators to account or putting passengers first.
TransPennine Express have been causing chaos for millions of passengers across the North of England for more than a year. On a regular basis their trains are delayed and often cancelled at the last minute.
I asked the Secretary of State why he refuses to strip TransPennine Express of this contact and to bring it under the operator of last resort – when the operator has said they have capacity to run the operation.
The government are letting ideology stand in the way or delivering a better service.
Labour understands the need to invest in electric vehicle manufacturing and that’s why we’re investing in eight new battery plants which will support £30billion in growth in the UK and power more than 1.8million cars.
Under the Tories, the UK risks losing the race to build the electric vehicle revolution. A Labour government will invest £2billion to part-finance the creation of the eight new gigafactories, accelerate the roll-out of public charging points to make it easier to own an electric vehicle and make the UK a clean-energy superpower by 2030.
Improvement to bus services
I’ve been working with Labour Mayors across the country to make improvements to bus services that our communities rely on.
I’ve been in Liverpool City Region with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and seen all the great work he’s doing to bring buses back into public control. They’re delivering new publicly owned hydrogen buses and cheaper fares. They’re taking control of their fares, routes and timetables.
Our South Yorkshire Mayor, Oliver Coppard is also on the same track, by extending his £2 cap on bus and tram fares until June and delivering bus driver training to ensure there are enough drivers for the network.
Under a Labour government we would extend powers to all areas that want it to enable them to bring buses back under public control.
Warm Homes Discount
I was shocked to learn that thousands of people across the country and hundreds across Sheffield Heeley are now not entitled to the governments Warm Homes Discount, despite receiving it since the scheme began in 2011.
I’ve been contacted by constituents who told me that they only find out they weren’t entitled to it, after they didn’t receive it this year and enquired as to why.
This has not been communicated with those who rely on the scheme and I’m calling on the government to urgently rethink this outrageous decision.
The government has finally issued their Specialist Educational Needs and Disability Improvement Plan after their 16-week consultation.
This was the government’s opportunity to reform the system, be ambitious for our children and really start standing up for children with SEND needs and their families.
Instead, the plan won’t meet their needs or end the scandal of families facing lengthy court battles.
I’ll continue to focus on this issue, and I want to hear from you if you are a parent or carer and have tried to get your child the support they need. I also want to hear from teachers and staff who work in schools about your experience of supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Please get in touch with your stories via: Louise@LouiseHaigh.org.uk
A report published by the charity Action for Children shows the true extent of child poverty in Sheffield Heeley. The report shows that poverty rates have steadily increased across the country over the last decade, since the Conservatives came to power.
Here in Sheffield Heeley, more than 6,400 children were in poverty in 2020/21 – that’s 36% of children which has increased by nearly 7% since 2014/15.
These are truly shocking figures and a national disgrace that millions of children across the country are living in poverty.
I’ve been contacted by many constituents this month who are being forced to wait months on end for their DBS checks to be returned, meaning that they are unable to work.
One person contacted me who was a single mum who had managed to secure a Teaching Assistant position but that was now in jeopardy, because she had to wait so long for her DBS check to be returned.
This is another example, in a long list of examples as to how the government aren’t even delivering the most basic of services, and once again letting people down.
Damp and mould
Once again, this month, my office has been inundated by residents needing help with damp and mould in their properties.
I spoke to Radio Sheffield about a resident and her son who have been fighting for three years to have their property repaired and the damp and mould removed.
We need to urgently invest in our social housing, only then can we ensure everyone who needs it has a safe and secure place they can call home.
One year ago, this month P&O Ferries brazenly and illegally sacked 800 workers. The Tories shouted at the time and promised it would never happen again. They said P&O would face legal action, that they would end fire and rehire, and they would bring in legislation to make sure this never happened again.
A year on and they have broken each and every one of those promises. The government won’t listen, but Labour will. We’ll guarantee a Seafarers Charter and a New Deal for Working People.
A Labour government will always stand side by side with workers.