Members’ Report: January 2021

Feb 10, 2021 | Members Report

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Attached is my first members’ report of 2021, detailing what I have been doing since Parliament returned in January.

The beginning of 2021 has arrived in similarly chaotic fashion to the end of 2020, with the Government refusing to close schools and dragging its heels over financing a more comprehensive lockdown. Unfortunately, the U-turns on this came too late to stop coronavirus deaths from reaching another grim milestone.

A year on from the arrival of the first COVID-19 cases in the UK, we now have the highest death toll in all of Europe and one of the worst death rates in the world. This is a shocking indictment of our Government’s policy and puts us in the same league as countries like the USA, Brazil and India.

I’d like to extend my condolences to everyone who has lost friends, family and loved ones during the pandemic and pay tribute to the workers who have bravely put themselves on the frontline. We mustn’t lose sight of the loss and sacrifice happening on a daily basis.

The Covid crisis has highlighted the epidemics of low pay and unsafe workplaces experienced by far too many workers in the UK. On Heart Unions week, I’d like to draw next week’s union-themed meeting to everyone’s attention. I’ll be joined by Zarah Sultana MP and some fantastic local trade unionists to talk about how we can boost trade union power in South London and beyond to resist Tory attacks and create a brighter working future for the many.

The meeting is called ‘What Unions Can Do for Us’ and you can register for it here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/what-unions-can-do-for-us-tickets-141036424743

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We all saw the images of substandard food parcels circulating on social media earlier this month. The scandal around these insulting food parcels, which somehow turned £10.50 into barely £5 worth of food refocuses the sheer failure of outsourcing and the devastating impact this is having on communities up and down this country, not least in Streatham.

The Government’s own guidance was barely different to what was provided in these parcels. It also turned out that the chairman of the company that supplied them also helped write the guidelines! To make it even worse, the parent company is trying to avoid a £113m tax bill. All this makes it clear it’s not just a case of one rotten apple – Tory outsourcing is rotten to the core.

There’s a danger that talking about corruption makes these processes seem like an accident – although it’s hard to think of a better word. We need to be clear: that this slow siphoning of public money into the pockets of Tory donors is not an aberration. It is exactly how the Tories have rigged the system to work.

Outsourcing free school meals puts vulnerable children at the mercy of private companies’ profit margins, just as outsourcing Test and Trace has put our health at risk. The pandemic has made it clear that we need resilient public services that make maximum use of the money we put into them.

The free school meals scandal is a stark reminder that Labour must fight to replace these parasitic outsourcing companies with publicly funded, publicly delivered services that actually serve the public.

If you have any questions about the contents of this month’s report or anything else related to the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch in the usual way: bell.ribeiroaddy.mp@parliament.uk