Newsletter 5 October

Apsana Begum

In this issue, you’ll find out what I’ve been up to over the last couple of months representing you: 

(1) Working for Poplar and Limehouse

(2) Action on international injustice

(3) Action on gendered violence

(4) In Parliament

(5) Rights for workers

I look forward to seeing you on the doorsteps, at meetings and on the picket lines.

Best wishes, 

Apsana

(1) Working for Poplar and Limehouse

 
On the 15 September, I joined campaigners outside Parliament calling on action against the £20 cut to Universal Credit. The proposed cuts mean so many more will be choosing between eating or heating starting this winter.
 
This is why plans to close and relocate the Dod Street job centre to Aldgate could not have come at a worse time.
 
Toynbee Hall have told me that these plans will present more barriers for the digitally excluded and the disabled, and more likely lead to increased sanctions for benefit claimants who will be challenged with travelling further.
 
I’ve called on the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions to immediately halt and review these closure plans. You can read my letter here.

 

I was saddened to learn of the murder of Ranjith Kakanamalage (known as Roy to friends and locals), at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. I visited the park to honour him.

This murder is being treated as a homophobic hate crime and has sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community, with whom I stand in solidarity and support.

I urge anyone who has information that could help with the ongoing investigation to submit this by clicking here and help with appeals.

 

The Save SLS campaign has gained a partial but significant victory in protecting the Support for Learning Service. At least six jobs have been protected with no compulsory redundancies in the Service which was set for cuts by Tower Hamlets Council earlier this year.

I was pleased to have provided support for the campaign to protect this public service in Parliament, in delivering petitions and in meetings with pupils, parents, the council, campaigners and the National Children’s Deaf Society.

 

On 30 September, I wrote to the new Secretary of State for Housing to ensure there is a democratic ballot on One Housing Group’s proposals to merge with Riverside Housing.

Resident voices should be at the heart of any proposals to merge housing associations, one set to impact thousands of constituents particularly on the Isle of Dogs. You can read my full letter here.

(2) Internationalism and solidarity abroad

Over the summer, I made a number of representations for British and Afghan nationals as the situation in Afghanistan unfolded and the resulting refugee crisis emerged.

The handling of the crisis by our government has simply been disgraceful – from the safe evacuation of British nationals to the small number of refugees that are being allowed to resettle in the UK. 

We in the UK have a special responsibility to the Afghan people due to our failed military intervention which has destabilised the country for twenty years.

I called this out in this statement  on the crisis and supported calls for an amnesty for Afghan asylum seekers and widening the resettlement programme.

I’ve been supporting calls for patents to be waived internationally to allow for Covid vaccines to be made available to all countries, including those outside of the G7.

Our government have not delivered on promises made towards the World Health Organisations COVAX programme to help vaccinations in countries such as Bangladesh and Somalia.

I met with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh to discuss as well as the travel red list and the climate crisis.

I am pleased for constituents and business leaders who contacted me about the red list who are able to resume trade and reunite with loved ones but I appeal to all constituents: please remain cautious as the threat of the virus remains real and serious.

(3) Action on gendered violence

The murder of Sabina Nessa has renewed attention once more on the scale of male violence against women. On 24 September, I attended a community vigil at Kidbrooke, on behalf of our constituency, to honour Sabina.

Following the sentencing of then serving police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard and further revelations about institutional failures leading up to this senseless killing, I spoke to ITV News London about what should happen next. 

On 8 September, I chaired an inquiry hearing of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Abuse & Violence on mental health provision for abuse survivors. I also helped Women’s Aid launch their ‘Deserve To Be Heard’ campaign on this issue.

If you’d like to keep up to date with the progress of this inquiry, do sign up to the mailing list here.

(4) In Parliament

On the 14 September on the Education Select Committee, I questioned education providers on the quality of the provision in prisons. You can watch my questions here.

It is clear to me that prisons are no place for adequate learning for any prisoner of any age. This is why earlier in the year I tabled an amendment to the Policing Bill against this government’s plans to expand prisons through their secure schools proposals.

On 22 September, I asked questions of the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and others , about child and parental consent for the children’s vaccination programme and managing the risks around heart inflammation. You can watch the interactions here.

The Health and Social Care levy was rushed through Parliament which raises national insurance to pay for the national social care crisis.

This is the biggest rise in tax for working people in over 50 years without any real plan to fix the broken care system.

I supported an amendment to this legislation going further than calls to introduce an impact assessment of the levy on jobs, businesses, groups and incomes. This amendment sought to introduce a wealth tax on those with assets more than £5m to fund a national care service.

(5) Rights for workers – strike action!

There are over 10,000 private hire car drivers in Poplar and Limehouse, many of whom are Uber employees. Uber currently does not pay drivers waiting time despite a Supreme Court ruling on this and more.

I’ve been supporting local Uber drivers claiming unfair dismissal and going on the national #UberStrike. My message for Uber drivers can be viewed here.

I’ve also been supporting Ocado delivery workers on strike in their demands to be paid more than their poverty wages of £5 per hour!