November 2013 Report

Parliamentary Business

Immigration Bill

During November I sat on the Immigration Bill committee. The committee heard evidence from witnesses about the impact of the Bill.

In committee, I expressed concern that the bill is rushed through Parliament without time for thorough examination.

I put forward amendments to the bill. This bill will have a significant effect on people whose immigration status is not secure, as is the case for many Hackney residents who have reapplied for status but have yet to have an answer from the Home Office.

I also tabled amendments about domestic violence, human trafficking and the spread of infectious diseases. I will continue to press these issues.

Olympic Legacy

I spoke in a debate with fellow Hackney MP Diane Abbott on Olympic legacy.

The Olympics was a resounding success but it is important to ensure that over a year after the end of the games, the long term legacy of jobs, homes and participation in sport are delivered.

Over 800 new homes have been created from the Olympic village. BT Sport’s arrival in the media centre at the Olympic Park has already created 300 jobs, with the potential for many more.

But, there is a need to ensure that some homes are affordable to Hackney residents and ensure that businesses follow through with their promises of jobs for local people.

It is important to remind government, that we in Hackney are watching and monitoring the delivery of the Olympic legacy.

European Union (Referendum) Bill

I spoke on this bill, which is setting out the rules for a referendum to decide whether the United Kingdom would remain within the European Union.

The bill is a private members bill but has government backing.

During the debate I argued that the voting age in the referendum should be lowered from 18 to 16, as it has been for the Scottish referendum. In Hackney South and Shoreditch, over a third of constituents are under the age of 24 and about one fifth of constituents are under the age of 16. With such an important decision being taken, it is important to ensure that young adults have a say in our place in the European Union.

I also called for British citizens living inside the EU but not in the UK to be able to vote. This vote would affect them as much as any other Briton and it is important to ensure they get a say.

The bill has now passed its Commons stages and will have its second reading in the Lords in January.

Urgent and Emergency Care Review

I spoke this month in a debate on urgent and emergency care in the NHS. Continued financial strain from the Government’s cuts has placed an ever increasing burden on emergency care in the UK.

In Hackney South and Shoreditch, GPs were willing to ease the burden on emergency departments by running the out-of-hours service. However NHS commissioners were too nervous to do this in fear of a legal challenge.

This is completely unacceptable, as people’s lives are being put at risk through a system that does not have the resources to manage the demand placed upon it.

The government needs to look at and consider any option that will help to reduce the pressure on our emergency services.

The Bedroom Tax

Last month I wrote in the monthly report about the bedroom tax and how it hits the poorest people in Hackney South and Shoreditch.

On 12 November, the Labour opposition pressed a vote to remove the bedroom tax, but it was defeated by 26 votes, 251 – 225. I voted for amendment.

The coalition Government fails to understand the effects this tax will have on the poorest in the UK. The Liberal Democrats voted against the measure at their party conference but for it in Parliament.

In Hackney 3,581 households are affected by the tax, and only 70 have been helped to move to smaller accommodation because there is none available.

Childcare

This month, I spoke twice on the vital issue of childcare. The Government’s response to childcare has been inadequate.

Childcare must be affordable but also high quality. In many areas there are not enough places for children and many local childminders have told me that government subsidies are not enough to cover their costs.

I will continue to press the Government on this issue.

Other Matters

Tour de France 2014

As a cycling enthusiast, I am delighted to see that the Tour de France will be running through the streets of London on Monday 7 July 2014.

Following the success of British cyclists in the Olympics in 2012, and consecutive British Tour De France winners, it is fitting that this festival of cycling will be accessible to Londoners.

Inquiry into leasehold management

The Office of Fair Trading has recently announced that it will be undertaking a study of residential property management services. The OFT are looking at five key issues in this study including whether leaseholders feel that they have sufficient involvement in appointing managing agents, whether the property manager is providing value for money; whether there is effective competition, including evidence about how easy it is to switch between providers.

Crucially it will also look into the time, effort and resources required to complain and seek redress.

A growing number of Hackney residents are leaseholders either with Hackney Homes or housing associations or in the growing number of new private developments. It’s often difficult for residents to get redress and there is often too little information about service costs.

If you have comments email propertymanagers.study@oft.gov.uk or write to Residential Property Managers Market Study, Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Sailsbury CHECK Square, London, EC4Y 8JX.

Hackney Issues

Visit to Salvation Army Employment Plus Service in Hoxton

In November, I visited the Salvation Army Employment Plus Service in Hoxton. This is a centre run mostly by volunteers which aims to help jobseekers to find work.

The centre opens four days a week and jobseekers can receive friendly and professional advice from volunteers on how to improve their CVs and ultimately get back into work.

I met users who were full of praise for the support they were receiving. The initiative is a community in which people can find support as they overcome barriers to employment, irrespective of their starting point.

I am meeting a number of organisations which support Hackney residents back to work. Many charities do this for free while the Government is paying Work Programme providers a fee for every long term unemployed person on work for 6 months, even if the support has come from other organisations.

For more information visit here

Visit to Affinitext

On 14 November, I visited Affinitext, one of the innovative technology companies that are established in Hackney South and Shoreditch.

Affinitext is pioneering a new form of smart document which allows the ease ad security of PDF but with more flexibility so that the reader can use it more like a web page.

I have also been working to encourage the Government to work with Hackney busineses to deliver Whitehall contracts. Cabinet Office minister Nick Hurd has promised to come and see for himself some of the work local businesses are doing.

At the recent Tech City News awards dinner I met a number of tech entrepreneurs keen to bid for Government contracts but put off by the bureaucracy and practices of government.

Visit to London Youth

I visited the headquarters of London Youth, a charity set up to deliver programmes for young people across the whole of London.

London Youth supports a network of over 400 youth organisations which reaches 75,000 young Londoners. It sets out to give many young people opportunities that they would not have access to otherwise.

London Youth does this through various methods; youth action and youth leadership, sports development, employability, the environment, tackling youth crime, youth work training, the London Youth Quality and two outdoor residential centres, Woodrow High House and Hindleap Warren.

For more information visit here

Tuberculosis in Hackney

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis, has produced a repot about TB rates.

This deadly infectious disease, and while vaccination against this disease has been extensive in this country, it still poses a significant public health threat in Western Europe.

In the UK, London is the epicentre of TB, with a rate of 42 cases per 100,000 people. In Hackney South and Shoreditch, there is a rate of 32.9 cases per 100,000 people.

The good news is that the TB rate in Hackney has fallen since 2004 but it is still at a high level.

Visit to St Anne’s Parish in Hoxton

I was delighted to visit St Anne’s Parish in Hoxton this month and meet Reverend Christopher Woods, who has recently taken over the parish in Hoxton.

Trowbridge Health Surgery

I was delighted that Trowbridge Health Surgery was recently awarded the Quality Practice Award. This is in recognition of the good quality care that is given to patients by staff at the surgery.