Welcome to my regular newsletter, keeping you updated on my work as your Member of Parliament.
From the announcement of the government’s Tier system, to the start of a second national lockdown, I know the past month has been really difficult and uncertain for many of my constituents. I have received messages from hundreds of you, concerned about your businesses in Hallam; worried about your loved ones in care homes; or struggling with your mental health. I am continuing to do everything I can to hold the government to account over their response to this crisis, and make sure the people of Hallam get the support they need.
Whilst this has been my priority, I have also been working hard to push the government over action (or lack of) on the climate emergency, campaigning against a no-deal Brexit, and standing up for refugees and asylum seekers in Hallam and beyond. Read on to find out what else I’ve been up to, and hear about how you can get involved.
- During half term, I visited The Greystones pub, to help with their amazing work providing free lunches to children who need them during half term, and to hear about how lockdown is affecting local business. Thank you to everyone in Hallam, who during these difficult times are helping look after each other.
- When the 2nd lockdown began, I received 100s of messages from constituents asking about the science behind new Covid-19 restrictions. I put these questions to Sheffield University public health expert, Dr Andrew Lee.
- I went on BBC Look North to speak about the important campaign Hallam resident Anna is running, calling on Health Minister, Matt Hancock, to adapt restrictions so both parents can visit their sick children in hospital. You can sign Anna’s petition here.
- Last week the government announced that Sheffield would be in Tier 3 of the restrictions. As it stands, my colleagues and I in the Labour Party are not satisfied with the level of support for businesses across the tiers, so we won’t be voting in support of these new rules. However we recognise the need for continuing public health measures, and so we will abstain from this vote until proper support is provided. Please be assured I am continuing to question ministers and public health officials on the evidence to make sure the case for restrictions continues to be justified in Sheffield.
- In light of the second lockdown I have been doing everything I can to hold the government to account over their failing economic support package. Following the unacceptable stats on youth unemployment in Hallam, I wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, calling on him to fix the holes in the Job Retention Scheme so that Sheffield’s young people don’t fall further through the gaps. I’ve also signed an open letter, calling on the Chancellor to allow councils to trial universal basic income, and for the introduction of a minimum wage flaw in government support.
- This month I held a debate on moorland burning in Westminster Hall – to put pressure on the government to ban the destructive practice completely, so we can reach net-zero and tackle the climate emergency, halt biodiversity loss, and protect our communities from flooding. You can watch my opening speech below:
- In my role on the Public Accounts Committee, I questioned Treasury officials over the regional differences in Covid-19 support, and particularly why Tier 3 support was so much less than the support provided once we entered a national lockdown. I have also questioned officials from the Department of Education over their support for the many Further Education Colleges struggling financially.
- I have been campaigning for a National Nature Service, as part of Labour’s green economic recovery plan, to improve access to quality local green spaces up and down the country and create secure, unionised, green jobs rooted in equality and diversity.
- In my role as chair of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) All Party Parliamentary Group, this month I’ve heard from young people and parents about the difficulties they are facing during the pandemic. I will use their experiences to continue to hold the government to account over this important issue.
- Many of you have written to me to raise concerns with immigration bail reporting and how the current system is putting people at risk of infection. I have contacted the Home Secretary about this issue and written an Early Day Motion, calling for in-person reporting to be immediately suspended. I am asking MPs from across the parties to sign. You can share the campaign with your friends and family here.
- Finally, alongside brave colleagues, I shared my own experience in a debate on #BabyLossAwareness in the hope that no one else is forced to go through the same incredibly difficult situation.
- Ending the Hostile Environment in our NHS: This month I joined campaigners across Sheffield in a week of action. I wrote to the Home Office and spoke in Parliament about Sheffield resident Simba, who was left without access to lifesaving treatment because of hostile environment policies. You can get involved by signing and sharing the petition:
- Renters rights: The pandemic has highlighted just how precarious housing conditions are in Sheffield, and renters union Acorn are continuing to fight for safe homes and fair treatment. You can join their dedicated Member Defence Team by getting involved with Acorn:
- Asylum seekers & refugee rights: I have recently written to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, to raise issues with the conditions at Urban House initial accommodation centre. If you would like to donate to Yorkshire Refugee Foodbank, who are currently providing Asylum seekers at the center with food, clothing and PPE, you can do so here. I am also supporting Sheffield Universities Student Action for Refugees and ASSIST Sheffield campaign, calling on the University to open empty accommodation to asylum seekers this winter.
- A Green New Deal in Sheffield: Sheffield Labour for a Green New Deal are building a campaign around Community Wealth Building. You can get involved by messaging them on fb here or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ending the digital divide: The Sheffield Star are doing up old computers and giving them to young people from disadvantaged communities in Sheffield, so they can do their school work from home. You can find out more about how to donate a laptop, or support the campaign in other ways here.
As always, if there is an issue you would like me to raise, or a campaign you would like me to support please do get in touch!
MP for Sheffield Hallam