From Stephen Kinnock MP <[email protected]>
Subject February 23 Newsletter
Date February 20, 2023 10:14 AM
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** February 23 Newsletter

** Pension Credit Days

We had two very busy Pension Credit Advice events at The Business Community at Glan Afan this month, checking whether people are entitled to pension credit and a receiving the help they are entitled to.

So many people don't know that they are entitled, and there is more than £2 million of unclaimed pension credit in Aberavon.

We had experts here helping people check their eligibility and apply, from Citizens Advice, Riverside Advice and Age Connects.

Over the two days, 125 households received vital advice about Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and other support that they were entitled to. Many didn’t know they were eligible.

Head to the website below to see if you are eligible for pension credit:
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** Port Talbot Sea Cadets Visit

I attended Port Talbot Sea Cadets unit to present the cadets with the awards gained over the last few months.

I was impressed by the dedication of the cadets, they work very hard and take part in a large variety of activities. I was equally impressed by the running of the cadets, the volunteers there put their heart and soul into making it a welcoming place which teaches young people a wide range of important skills.

If anyone has a child interested in going, I fully recommend signing them up. It's only £1.50 per session (£11 per month) and it's well worth it!

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** UK Parliament Week Ysgol Cwm Brombil

It was a pleasure to visit Ysgol Cwm Brombil to learn about their school Senedd and the changes they are making to the school through student feedback.

I was also thoroughly grilled by the student Senedd members on many political topics. I was impressed with their wide range of knowledge.

** St Therese School Visit with GoodsforGood

It was great to visit St Therese's school; I saw and heard about the great work that A2B CIC and the Goods For Good charity is doing, ensuring everyone who wants to go online can get online and benefit from the opportunities the internet and other digital technologies provide.

The pilot looks to ensure digital inclusion at schools in the Aberavon and Sandfields areas, through the donation of Vodafone SIM cards that help pupils and families, struggling in the current cost of living crisis, to get online.

Digital exclusion and the resulting data poverty are major issues made worse by the ramifications of the Covid-19 crisis and the current Tory Government’s stewardship of the UK economy. Digital access has to be considered an essential utility in the same way that we consider the need for gas and electricity. Data poverty discriminates against those in the lower income brackets and the rising cost of living and the cost of connectivity are major concerns - a scheme like this is therefore a great help and of major benefit to pupils and families.

It was encouraging to hear from St Therese how this donation will benefit and support pupils and their families.

** Margam Stags Inclusion Football

It was great to visit Margam Stags Inclusion Football with Cllr Laura Williams, and to speak with John Heycock about the brilliant work they are doing to make sure sport is accessible and inclusive to all. John is very passionate about making sure children of any ability and background are able to take part.

The Club has gone from strength to strength since it was set up and they are doing something very special. It was a joy to see all the children joining in, smiling and enjoying themselves.

What the club has achieved so far is incredible and they have some exciting plans to build on what they've achieved so far and to improve the facilities.

** Doorknocking in Margam

Great to get out knocking doors in Margam recently and to hear feedback on a number of issues from local residents.

Thanks to all those who took the time to speak with us and to everyone who came and knocked doors.

** This Month In Parliament

Celtic Freeport Bid Drop-In

The Celtic Freeport is backed by members of all major political parties in Wales, as well as local business.

It stands ready to underpin an entire green ecosystem for Wales – from floating offshore wind to Green Steel and well paid, local jobs.

I am grateful to my parliamentary colleagues who came and showed that they support our bid for a freeport.

Funding for Universities Wales

I was pleased to speak at an event organised by Universities Wales.

The UK Government has completely botched delivery of the Shared Prosperity Fund, so Welsh universities are facing a funding cliff edge - possibly leading to 1,000 job losses.

The prize-winning, globally renowned Specific project at Swansea University is a truly inspiring example of net zero innovation. It’s still EU-funded, but the money is running out & there’s no guarantee that it’ll get any of the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) money. It is absolutely vital that Specific is sustained.

As Chair of the Shared Prosperity Fund APPG, I will continue to raise this issue with UK Government Ministers.
Ambulance and Paramedic Strikes

Pleased to be able to meet with GMB Union paramedics recently who are striking against low pay. How can it be that a newly qualified lone parent is better off on benefits?

They are clear that the Tory UK Government must make an improved offer, and offer Welsh Government the equivalent financial settlement.
Holocaust Memorial Day

I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust (UK)'s Book of Commitment, in doing so, I pledged commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

Holocaust Memorial Day falls on 27th January every year, the anniversary of the liberation of the infamous former Nazi concentration and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1945. Across the UK – and world – people will come together to remember the horrors of the past.

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Ordinary People’.

On Holocaust Memorial Day we also remember and pay tribute to all of those persecuted by the Nazis, including Roma and Sinti people, disabled people, gay men, political opponents to the Nazis and others. We also remember all of those affected by genocide since, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Aberavon to reflect on the darkest times of European history. Today, I pledge to remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered in the Holocaust.
Prepayment Energy Meters

It is shameful that the forced installation of prepayment meters is cutting off people’s heat and power, including some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I believe it is well past the time for action to halt energy companies cutting people off by the backdoor.

Unfortunately, I believe the UK Government has been far too slow to act on this issue. It has been clear for some time that we need a ban on the forced installation of prepayment meters, at the very least for the duration of this winter. Ofgem reviewed the issue in September and November and highlighted the problem. In early January meanwhile, Citizens Advice reported that three million people on prepayment meters had been disconnected. Yet even after this, the Business Secretary refused to put in place a ban. As a result, in January 33,000 people had warrants issued for forced installation of prepayment meters. Indeed, over 6,000 warrants were issued to energy companies in the week after the Business Secretary had written to them asking them only to use forced installations as a last resort.

Now that a pause on forced installations has been put in place, I believe the UK Government needs to make clear how long it will last. At the very least, it needs to pledge that it will not be lifted until the current broken system is properly reformed. I also believe it needs to look at the case for energy companies to have to supply a minimum amount of power to all customers – as is the case in France, and as we do for water in this country. Furthermore, it should act to end the injustice that people on prepayment meters have to pay more for their energy than those on direct debits.

I recently pressed the UK Government on this issue using formal written questions, which you can see below:

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Steel APPG

Pleased to welcome Minister Nus Ghani MP to the Steel All Party Parliamentary Group recently. She recognises the critical role steel plays.

We just need the UK Government to recognise the scale of investment our European competitors are ploughing into this vital, strategic industry - & match their ambition.
Celtic Sea Reception

It was great to recently support Celtic Sea's reception in Parliament.
It drew attention to the huge potential our community has in making Wales and Britain international leaders in floating offshore wind (FLOW).

This is closely linked to our bid for a Celtic Freeport and the drive towards Green Steel.
Economic Crime Bill

I led for Labour on the frontbench with my colleague Seema Malhotra MP on scrutinising the Economic Crime Bill (I spent 44 hours going through it line by line in Committee!)

The Bill is a step forward, but 5 years is too late and doesn't go far enough on SLAPPS, Golden Visas information sharing, corporate transparency & liability, or compensating victims.

The UK Government should be legislating against wealthy elites & oligarchs using aggressive lawyers to silence journalists. But instead the Conservative Party Chair has himself been using 'lawfare' to prevent legitimate questions about his shady tax affairs!
Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum

I am deeply concerned by recent reports that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have gone missing from Home Office-procured hotel accommodation. On 24 January, the Immigration Minister admitted that 200 asylum-seeking children remained missing. They include at least 13 children under the age of 16.

According to Sussex Police, one in four unaccompanied children in a single hotel have gone missing and around half of them are still missing. It would therefore appear that this one hotel accounts for 40% of the missing children. I believe the Home Office must immediately end its contract with the hotel in question and move the children to safer accommodation.

I believe the UK Government should also consider the need for a proper inquiry and team to pursue the links between organised crime, trafficking and children in these hotels. We need urgent and serious action to crack down on the criminal gangs, and to keep children and young people safe.

Additionally, decisions on asylum claims desperately need to be sped up. People are being left in limbo for years, with genuine refugees being denied the help they need. However, instead of getting a grip on the growing asylum backlog, the Government is resorting to unworkable and unethical gimmicks such as the Rwanda policy.

The UK Government should instead reform resettlement schemes to better target those most at risk of exploitation by trafficking and smuggler gangs, such as those with family connections in the UK. A replacement for the Dublin agreement, which included safe returns and safe family reunions, should be negotiated. We must also work internationally to address crises leading people to flee their homes.

I recently tabled 11 written questions to UK Government Ministers on this issue which you can see via the link below. You can also see the responses from Ministers to each question.

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** Media Highlights
Channel 4 Dispatches

"Many believe the Conservative Party still needs to account for the extent to which they emboldened Putin", say Channel 4 Dispatches in this important documentary about the £5m donated to Tories by Russia-linked sources.

It includes a section on how the then Tory chair used 'lawfare' to block my questions about the origins of Treasurer Sheleg's donations. I was pleased to contribute.

Sheleg was later reported to NCA by Barclays!

You can watch it on catch up below:
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ITV Wales and BBC Wales Today

I spoke on both news programmes about how the UK Government's offer to support Tata Steel UK's decarbonisation is a step in the direction, but more must be done to match the ambition of other European governments if we are to keep our steel industry competitive.

We need our steel for good jobs, our security, & the green transition.
The Mirror

I spoke about how Kemi Badenoch's recent words about the steel industry are a kick in the teeth for firms determined to transition to green steel, & for thousands of steelworkers, their families & communities.

Kemi Badenoch should withdraw this comment and apologise to the steelworkers who rightly expect the Business Secretary to be fighting their corner, rather than actively undermining their proud commitment to this critically important foundation industry.
Politics Live

We discussed Labour's long-term funding plans for the NHS (paid for by ending non-dom tax status), Rishi Sunak sacking Nadhim Zahawi, county lines, and 5 years of Tory government failure on housing since Grenfell.
Times Radio, ITN, LBC News, Sky News & GB News

I spoke about fact that the oil & gas giants, rather than working people, should shoulder the burden of high energy prices.

Labour is calling on the UK Government to close loopholes. Our windfall tax targets the excess profits, generated because of Putin's invasion. They are the profits of war.
The Guardian & The House Magazine

I spoke in these publications of the importance of preserving our steel industry and of competitive decarbonisation.

I stated that investment in Tata is welcome, but what we need from UK Government is an ambitious long-term Green Steel plan similar to other European nations. Add in a Celtic Freeport & Floating Offshore Wind and Wales can pioneer a Green Industrial Revolution.

You can read the full articles below.

The Guardian:
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The House Magazine:
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BBC Online

I was pleased to talk to BBC about how the game-changing Celtic Freeport can unlock a green jobs revolution and put Wales at the cutting edge of green technology - from Green Steel to Floating Offshore Wind.

Strong cross-party & business support for the bid.

You can read the full article below:
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Talk TV

I spoke about small boat crossings and asylum seekings being kept in hotels for weeks and months. I spoke of how rather than chasing headlines, Labour would do the hard work of clearing the backlog of asylum applications.

** Contact Details

You can get in touch with us by calling the office on 01639 897660 or ending an email to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected] )

Check my website ([link removed]) , Instagram ([link removed]) or Facebook ([link removed]) page for details of my next advice surgery.
All the best,

Stephen Kinnock
MP for Aberavon

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MP for Aberavon
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