Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Member of Parliament for Streatham (and parts of Balham, Clapham Common, Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill)
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill

Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 16st October

Oct 16, 2022 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

16th October 2022

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Oh dear oh dear. This week brought another screeching u-turn from the Government. It’s taken three weeks of economic carnage for them to back down on more of their disastrous unfunded tax cuts. So far, we’ve seen them drop their attempt to hand a huge tax cut to the top 1% of earners and, now, reverse their plans to cut the planned increase in corporation tax next April.

The Tories can change the Chancellor as many times as they want. But they can’t change the fact that their right-wing policies won’t help working people through the next 12 months, let alone reverse the damage of the last 12 years. Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked for announcing the policies Liz Truss told him to and promised to deliver in her leadership campaign. When your only option is to scapegoat your closest allies and u-turn on your key pledges one by one, it’s time for a General Election.

Think tanks are predicting that even after reversing these tax giveaways, the rest of their handouts to the rich will put pressure on our new Chancellor to make £40 billion of new cuts when there is nothing left to cut. And the same tax giveaways have already forced a £65 billion bailout, pushed mortgage repayments up, and sent prices soaring. The damage is already done. If they had any integrity, they would apologise and resign.

I was back in Parliament this week, where I voted to reverse the Tories’ hike to national insurance – a tax which disproportionately hit working people and which Labour opposed when it first came before the commons. I was also happy to vote through the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill, 24 years after this was promised in the Good Friday Agreement. Irish language speakers have been left waiting too long for legislation to protect their language rights. I’m glad this has now been rectified.

I took part in Women and Equalities questions this week with a sub committee examining attitudes towards women and girls in educational settings.

I also tabled two Early Day Motions (EDM) on migrants’ visa fees and settlement routes off the back of Migrant Voice’s detailed report on these policies, Destroying Hopes, Dreams, and Lives. With some visas charged at seven times Home Office administration costs, I tabled an EDM calling on the Home Office to reduce fees and scrap them entirely for children and young people.

I tabled another calling on the Government to abolish their 10-year route to settlement, which pushes families into poverty, mental illness, exploitative work, and huge debts. They should replace this with a shorter route that reduces these unnecessary pressures.

Supporting Local Food Banks

As the Government crashes the economy with tax giveaways targeted at the richest, local food banks are already seeing big increases in demand. I visited Brixton and Norwood food bank last weekend to raise awareness of the urgent need for food, clothing and sanitary product donations.

The number of emergency food parcels distributed by Lambeth food banks increased by 15% between April 2021 and March 2022. They’re expecting this to go higher, especially if the Government inflicts another real terms benefits cut on the thousands of families who need them in our area. As people struggle to feed their families, food banks are asking everyone who can to donate a couple of food items to the baskets in local supermarkets. And people who are struggling don’t just need food, they also need other everyday consumable; in particular: sanitary products, toiletries, warm blankets and clothes.

Up and down Britain, food banks are stepping up to meet ever-increasing demand. But nobody should be left relying on emergency food parcels in one of the richest countries in the world, especially not when money is being handed out to the wealthiest with reckless abandon. That’s why I’m supporting the Right to Food campaign and pushing to make Lambeth a Right to Food Borough. Let’s campaign to put a legal responsibility for the government to end hunger and tackle its root cause: poverty.

Protecting pay, jobs and conditions

People taking part in strike action are showing us one the most effective ways to combat the cost of living crisis. Across our economy, workers are getting organised and refusing to let employers pay for this crisis by slashing their wages and undermining their working conditions. I’m proud to stand with workers trying to protect jobs, pay and conditions during one of the worst squeezes on living standards in living memory.

I started the week as I meant to go on, joining Lambeth College staff on the University and Colleges Union picket line before back into Parliament. With the Tories slashing further education funding, college staff pay has lagged behind inflation by 35% since 2009 with these cuts and other Tory reforms piling pressure on staff to do more and more. They are now coming together to ask for a fair pay rise, action on unmanageable workloads and an agreement on professional respect.

I was proud to join Labour colleagues to stand in solidarity with striking Royal Mail workers on Thursday morning. Royal Mail made £758,000,000 last year and paid shareholders £400,000,000. With RPI inflation running at 12%, the company has imposed a 2% pay offer on them and has upped the stakes this week with threats to cut 10,000 jobs. If Royal Mail can’t operate without driving down workers’ pay and cutting jobs because their first priority is always paying shareholders, then that’s an argument to take the service back into public ownership where it belongs.

It was great to be on the picket line with UNISON members at City University on Thursday. These higher education workers are joining the wave of strike action to fight for real pay rises and call for action on workloads and stress. It’s also great to see them campaigning for fair pay grounding inequalities as they urge their institution to close ethnicity, gender and disability pay gaps.

High Trees

I was so happy to be back at High Trees this week for the grand reopening of their newly refurbished adult learning centre. The work to this building has been many years in the planning and wouldn’t have been possible without the faith and vision of those who have funded it.

Rooted in our community for more than 24 years, High Trees Community Development Trust helps people in our area to gain new qualifications, find job after unemployment and come together to set up local groups. In recent years, they had been held back by their buildings, which had increasingly fallen into disrepair. Their services had outgrown the site and significant renovation was needed. Over the 2022-23 year, they’re expecting to welcome more than 1,000 Lambeth residents to the centre. I’m so glad they now have a building which is suitable for the task.

Visiting the Nehemiah Project

Last Saturday, I visited The Nehemiah Project, an independent recovery charity which works with vulnerable adult men with a history of addiction, to celebrate Black History Month. Working with former rough sleepers and ex-prisoners, they run five residential houses where men can live for up to two years to address the root causes of their addiction. Black men are disproportionately represented among their numbers. I joined them for lunch and a fashion show where they showcased the t-shirts they recently designed.

Opening the Streatham Festival

It was great to open the Streatham Festival last weekend with a launch party at Streatham Library and preview of the art trail which took place in shops all over Streatham this week. The Streatham Festival is one of the highlights of our local calendar, celebrating the diverse range of culture and talent in our community. Thank you to the amazing team who put this year’s festival together and made it one of the best yet!

As ever, if you have any questions about the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch at this address:

Best wishes,

Bell Ribeiro-Addy,
Labour MP for Streatham

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