It has been an extremely busy month since my last update – in Leeds I have spoken at a number of events, held surgeries and visited some fantastic businesses, charities and schools. In Parliament we have seen the coalition government announce the full extent of their spending cuts.
In the last month Ed Miliband announced his shadow front bench team. Amongst a number of new MPs to be given roles on the front bench, I was delighted to be chosen to join the team for Work and Pensions. I have been spending time since that announcement looking in detail at my pensions brief.
I look forward to holding the government to account on the changes it is making to pensions. Reform was already in the pipeline under the Labour government, and I want to make sure that the consensus we achieved can continue to improve pensions both now and in the future.
Comprehensive Spending Review
The government’s comprehensive spending review (CSR) announcements contained many worrying elements. I am particularly worried that, at a time when the government is cutting 500,000 jobs in the public sector, they are also threatening cuts to housing benefit for people who are out of work for a year. The government should not be punishing people who can’t find work in this economic climate – it should be supporting them.
The Department for Transport also announced this month that Kirkstall Forge railway station had to be taken back to the drawing board to find more value for money. With significant private sector investment and extensive benefits promised for our area, it is a decision I am not happy with and I will continue to work hard with developers, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Metro to make sure the scheme does go ahead.
Positive news came last week with the announcement that there was nearly £1m available for much needed refurbishment of the Stonecliffe 5Ms in Farnley – making sure that the last government’s drive for decent homes goes on.
Hawksworth Wood Post Office
I am particularly concerned about the Post Office on Hawksworth Wood. The Post Office is approaching local shops to ensure that there is a Post Office in the local area very soon. I am keeping in close contact with them, and am doing all that I can to get a solution to the problem. I would like to start a petition about this, calling on the Post Office to keep a Post Office in the area, and to get the situation resolved as soon as possible. If you would like to sign this petition then please reply to this email with the subject title ‘Post Office petition’.
Robin Hood Tax
Last week I spoke at a Robin Hood tax event in Leeds. It was really well attended, and the discussion was very lively! I want to see a Robin Hood tax, or financial transactions tax, which could raise up to £20bn a year from the banks. This compares to £81bn of cuts that have just been announced in defence, housing, transport and welfare payments. Do let me know what your thoughts are on this.