I welcome the announcement of further assistance which will help the most vulnerable households in particular.
Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – June 2022
A stronger economy ([link removed])
Having called for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to go further in securing support for Crawley families I welcome the announcement of further Government assistance which will help the most vulnerable households in particular.
While no government can solve every problem, this new support will help people in Crawley with cost of living pressures which are being caused by global factors including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Government will be ensuring that in these difficult times, targeted support will reach the pockets of the most vulnerable.
Every household on means-tested benefits will receive a £650 cost of living payment.
More than 8 million of the most vulnerable households will be sent a one-off payment of £650, paid in two instalments, with the first due from July and the second in the autumn. Payments for those on Tax Credits will follow one month later.
Government has confirmed that those in receipt of Universal Credit, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Pension Credit are eligible.
There will be a £300 pensioner cost of living payment for every pensioner household in receipt of Winter Fuel Payment, in addition to a £150 disability cost of living payment for those in receipt of disability benefits.
Existing support for local authorities such as Crawley Borough Council is also being boosted, with Government providing a further £500 million for local councils to use at their discretion.
This backing for families follows the support which was announced earlier in the year. Last month the Chancellor confirmed that the £200 ‘smoothing’ rebate, which was due to be paid back over the next five years, will no longer need to be paid back. This support is also being doubled, meaning a £400 cash grant for all households ([link removed]) to help with the cost of energy bills.
My call to ministers continues to be for support to get where it is needed the most.
Columns ([link removed])
Bill of Rights ([link removed]) : At the last General Election I was elected on a manifesto which committed to reform human rights legislation. Earlier this month in Parliament I asked ([link removed]) the Home Secretary about the progression of this important work and last week the Secretary of State for Justice came to the House of Commons to announce the new Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights will strengthen freedom of speech, curb bogus human rights claims, and provide a long-awaited reform to Tony Blair’s 1990s legislation.
Our country has a strong tradition of freedom going back centuries and this will be enhanced even further through this new Bill of Rights; it will reinforce our tradition of liberty, curtail abuses of human rights, and restore British common sense to the justice system.
The Bill of Rights will make it easier to deport foreign criminals. It will permit future laws to restrict circumstances in which the right of criminals to family life would trump public safety and the need to remove them.
This will tackle abuse of the system that has seen those convicted of hurting their own partners and children evade removal by claiming it would breach their own right to family life.
The Bill of Rights will confirm that interim measures from the European Court of Human Rights like the one which prevented the removal flight to Rwanda, are not binding on UK courts.
The legislation will establish a free speech ‘trump card’ which will address how this has been eroded in recent years. The Bill of Rights will also recognise that trial by jury is a fundamental component of the British justice system. It will also empower courts to apply human rights in a UK context, making explicit that the Supreme Court is this country’s ultimate judicial arbiter.
We cannot have rights without responsibilities. It is time our legislation reflects this.
40 years since securing freedom on the Falkland Islands ([link removed]) : This month marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands conflict. On 14th June 1982, Argentinian forces surrendered 74 days after they invaded.
The democratic Falkland Islanders opposed Argentina’s aggression perpetrated by its military dictatorship; it was also condemned by the United Nations. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Operation Corporate was the military campaign which retook and liberated the islands. Within three days of invasion, the British Task Force had been dispatched.
More than 900 lives were lost during the war, including 255 British and three Falkland Islanders.
Some 30,000 UK sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and merchant mariners took part in the Falklands War, along with many civilians who supported the war effort. It is right that our nation remembers the sacrifices made by those who fought to secure the freedom of this British Overseas Territory.
Alongside the commemorations is the knowledge that we must continue to provide support for our veterans when they leave the Armed Forces.
The Veterans’ Recognition Scheme is being rolled out in two phases. The first phase is complete, with service leavers receiving an HM Armed Forces Veterans’ Recognition Card, with more than 45,000 of these Cards issued to service leavers since December 2018.
The second phase of the scheme will see it extended to existing veterans, so that they can more swiftly show they served in the UK Armed Forces. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that veterans do not require a Recognition Card to prove their status or access veteran-related services. Veteran status can be verified by the veteran themselves or any veterans' service by contacting Veterans UK: www.gov.uk/veterans-uk
Through the Department for Work & Pensions’ network of 50 Armed Forces Champions and 11 Group Leads, support is being provided to veterans including additional support to get former service personnel into work. I note that 83 per cent of veterans are employed within six months of leaving the Armed Forces.
The Department for Work & Pensions’ National Employer & Partnership team actively encourages its national employers to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging to recruit veterans.
Unnecessary rail strikes ([link removed]) : This month in Parliament I voted to condemn the RMT union’s rail strike action which will have a devasting effect on Crawley workers this week. In recent years unions like the RMT have directly funded Labour by over £100 million – that party’s leadership should have called on union bosses to call off this damaging industrial action.
During Covid-19 the Government delivered £16 billion of taxpayer-funded support for rail services. This is the equivalent to £600 per household, or £160,000 for every rail worker. As a result of this backing from Government, none of the 100,000 staff employed directly by the railways were furloughed, and services for our key workers continued to run.
With our country on the road to recovery from the pandemic, we simply cannot ask the nation to continue this level of financial support.
While the threat from Covid-19 has decreased, the importance of our key workers has not. I am acutely aware that the RMT’s actions only prolonged travel times for those who keep our health and care sector going.
The Transport Secretary has been clear that he wants to see a fair deal including increasing pay for rail staff, which is part of a sustainable and growing railway. At present, however, the median wage for rail workers is £44,000 and the median salary for train drivers is some £59,000, with a fifth of drivers earning more than £70,000.
The answer has to be fair for rail workers but also fair for passengers and taxpayers. Rail workers are certainly not shouldering all responsibility. The number of senior managers, and their pay, is reducing, and the chief executive of Network Rail is paid over a quarter less than his predecessor.
In the years ahead, Government aims to use £35 billion to maintain and grow the rail network. If this dispute is not resolved, ministers will consider action including repealing the ban on transferable staff filling in for striking workers.
Platinum Jubilee ([link removed]) : At the start of this month we gave thanks for HM the Queen’s 70 years of dedicated service to our nation and the Commonwealth.
Other news ([link removed])
West of Ifield ([link removed]) : At Prime Minister’s Questions I spoke on behalf of Ifield residents concerned about proposals from Homes England which would see some 10,000 housing units built to the west of the community.
Alliance for Better Care ([link removed]) : After nominating Crawley’s GP federation earlier in the year I was delighted to congratulate the Alliance for Better Care on the recognition they have received in the NHS Parliamentary Awards.
They have played an instrumental role in delivering Covid-19 vaccines locally, and have been selected as a Regional Winner in the NHS Parliamentary Awards category of Health Equalities.
In Crawley more than 82,000 people have been double jabbed against Covid-19, with over 62,000 people receiving the extra protection from getting a third dose.
The Alliance for Better Care have been an integral part of Crawley’s recovery from Covid. It is thanks to the UK’s vaccination programme on a local, regional and national level which has meant that our country has been able to open up as we recover from the effects of the pandemic.
My congratulations to all Alliance for Better Care staff on this deserved recognition and I wish them the very best of luck at the national finals in July.
Stopping people smuggling ([link removed]) : Questioning the Minister for Tackling Illegal Migration about the necessary work of Government to break the business model of evil people smuggling gangs, who trade in human lives.
Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill ([link removed]) : Introducing legislation to ban British hunters from bringing ‘trophies’ of endangered and vulnerable animals into Britain.
The world’s wildlife faces an extinction emergency of extraordinary proportions. We have to do everything we can to support conservation and to put a stop to these horrendous activities. They are unnecessary, cruel and only make matters worse.
Metropolitan Police ([link removed]) : Questioned the Crime & Policing Minister about the role of the Mayor of London following the Metropolitan Police being placed into special measures.
To keep up to date with my work standing up for Crawley please visit: www.henrysmith.info/news. Additionally you can follow my daily activities via Facebook ([link removed]) – Twitter ([link removed]) – LinkedIn ([link removed]) – YouTube ([link removed])
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Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley . House of Commons . London, SW1A 0AA . United Kingdom
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