NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington
05 Jan 2017
Jeremy Corbyn’s New Year Message
Looking back over the year in his New Year message this week, Jeremy says that “decisions made in Westminster are making people’s lives harder”, referencing rising homelessness, increased waiting times in A&Es, a creaking social care system and an explosion in low pay and zero hours contracts.
In looking forward to the challenges of the year ahead, Jeremy added that “Labour was founded to stand up for people and we founded the institutions that do that day in, and day out, like our NHS. We are the party that listens to you and makes Britain better. Let’s do that, together, in 2017.”
* You can watch the video here
In her six months as Prime Minister Theresa May has shown no regard for the state of the NHS
This week saw warnings from Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, that seven day doctor services are unrealistic and from Dr. Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, that the NHS is facing potentially the worst January in its history. These are yet more warnings from health professionals of the impact that Tory cuts and neglect are having on one of our country’s most important institutions, and the scale of underfunding and understaffing.
As Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary put it, “Record levels of delayed discharges, the crisis in social care, postponing operations, cuts in the public health budgets have all stored up problems for the NHS, to the point where the leader of the national body for acute hospital staff is warning that this could be the worst January in the NHS’s history.
“In her six months as Prime Minister Theresa May has shown no regard for the state of the NHS. The Tories have broken their promises on the NHS and their policies are failing our health service and patients. In 2017 the government simply must not carry on ignoring the warnings. Instead they need to come forward with a genuine plan to give the NHS and social care the resources they need to deliver the very best care every patient deserves.”
Tory cuts to Corporation Tax Damage Our Public Services
New analysis by the Labour Party, using official data, shows cuts in Corporation Tax under the Tories could have paid for much needed teachers, police officers and nurses.
The cost of Corporation Tax cuts worth almost £15 billion by 2021 is equivalent to the cost of employing 10,000 teachers, 10,000 police officers and 12,000 nurses, full-time, every year, for a decade.
Labour is calling on the Government to reverse these deeply unfair tax giveaways and start properly investing in our vital public services.
Requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions a vote
Over the seasonal break, the Government announced plans to require voters to show proof of identification before casting their ballot.
In response, Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, said: “Labour supports measures to tackle electoral fraud and will be backing a number of the reasonable proposals planned by the Government. However, requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions of electors a vote. “
A year ago the Electoral Commission reported that 3.5 million electors - 7.5 percent of the electorate - would have no acceptable piece of photo ID. Under the Government’s proposals, these voters would either be denied a vote entirely, or in other trial areas, required to produce multiple pieces of ID, ‘one from group A, one from group B’.
The Homelessness Crisis and Labour’s Alternative
New figures show homelessness amongst vulnerable groups has risen dramatically in Tory Britain. Since the Tories came to power the number of families accepted by local authorities as homeless where a person in the household is vulnerable through mental illnesses has gone up by 53 per cent. Over the same period the number of households with dependent children accepted as homeless has increased by 62 per cent, and the number being classed as vulnerable through a member of the household having a physically disability has increased 49 per cent.
Since 2010 homelessness has risen dramatically on all fronts with almost 60,000 households becoming homeless last year.
As a first plank of a new national rough sleeping strategy, a Labour government would double the number of homes ‘ring-fenced’ for people who have slept on the streets, renewing a housing scheme started by Conservative Peer and former Housing Minister Sir George Young for London in 1991.
The Clearing House scheme run by homelessness charity St Mungo’s on behalf of the Greater London Authority provides 3750 flats in more than 40 housing associations across London for people who have a history of rough sleeping.
Under Labour’s plan, 4,000 permanent new reserved flats or houses would be created, and the scheme extended beyond the capital. Labour is challenging the government to implement the proposal by striking an agreement with housing associations to make the accommodation available now, and provide funding for replacements.
The number of rough sleepers in England fell dramatically over Labour’s time in government due to a series of government initiatives, and there were only 464 rough sleepers recorded in 2009.
Since 2010 the number of rough sleepers has doubled – with 3,569 people recorded in 2015 under a new annual measure introduced in 2010.
While charities say these statistics do not come close to providing a comprehensive measure of the number of people sleeping rough, which is likely to be much higher than official figures, they do confirm the rapidly rising level of need.
EU Nationals Have a Right to Remain Here
Labour continues to demand that Theresa May give clarity to those EU citizens who were already here on 23 June and abandons her continuing refusal to guarantee that after Brexit the EU nationals who live in the UK will be able to remain. In particular, we have called on the government to pass a domestic law, dealing with the status of these individuals, which would get cross-party support, and could be passed very swiftly.
I have recently written on why the Prime Minister needs to stop treating those already living and working here as bargaining chips, and you can read my piece for The New Statesman on the issue here