Weekly Update – 11th September 2020
This week the Government revealed that it intends to break international law, abandon the withdrawal agreement and leave the transition period without a deal at the end of this year. It is worth reminding ourselves that Boris Johnson told the British Public that Conservatives had an ‘oven ready’ deal at the general election last December. That was clearly not true at the time and now the Government is having to admit it.
A lot of constituents have written to me concerned about the consequences should the Tories pursue a no-deal Brexit. I share their concern and will never support leaving the transition period without a deal. The consequences for the local economy in Edmonton would be disastrous and yet another blow on top the current recession we are experiencing. It is unacceptable that Boris Johnson would put his own fringe ideological beliefs ahead of the country, but sadly not surprising.
The Furlough Scheme must be extended
On Tuesday I wrote to the Chancellor urging him to extend the furlough scheme. While many other countries have extended their furlough schemes for at least 12 months, and sometimes up to 2 years, our Government appears ready to let the economy fall off a cliff at the end of October and abandon workers altogether. Millions of workers remain on furlough with entire sectors of the economy are still unable to operate as normal. Coronavirus cases are rising, restrictions are being re-imposed, and it is simply impossible for many businesses to operate and survive under these conditions.
Many business owners in Edmonton are contacting me to tell me of the risk they face if the Chancellor goes ahead and ends furlough prematurely. The consequences could be disastrous, with a longer and deeper recession and a harder recovery being far more costly than continuing the furlough scheme in a targeted way. I sincerely hope the Government listens to the experts and sees sense before the scheme ends. Businesses and workers need clarity now. Another last-minute U-turn isn’t good enough.
The Conservatives have let down Grenfell survivors
This week the Tory MP for Kensington, the constituency in which 72 people died in the Grenfell fire, voted against implementing the first phase of recommendations on building and fire safety. Unsurprisingly, so did the rest of the Conservative party. This was a deeply distressing moment for many of the survivors and the Grenfell community at large. They have been let down endlessnessly by the Government and three years since the fire, thousands of residents are forced to sleep every night in buildings with flammable cladding. The fact is that this Government has done nothing to stop another Grenfell from happening and a similar tragedy could occur tonight, tomorrow or in a years’ time. If it does, those who frustrated progress and change will have to take the blame.
We have to face the rent debt crisis head on
I’m relieved that this week the Government took some limited action to stave off a homelessness crisis by extending the notice period for evictions by 6 months. However, the only action taken so far has been to delay the issue and push the problems down the road. The central problem is that as a result of COVID-19 a huge number of renters have incurred rent arrears through no fault of their own. That debt is going nowhere and for many it is increasing. Given the economic situation and the fact that for many people, they spend more than 50% of their income on rent, it will be impossible to pay it back for most renters.
The issue that needs resolving is that debt and so far the Government has only delayed evictions, not prevented them. The only solution is debt relief. Otherwise we will inevitably see an avalanche of evictions once the Government decides it no longer needs to protect renters from eviction. There are many ways it can be done, from permanently banning evictions due to arrears occurring during this crisis to direct payments to renters. But something has to be done, which is why I completely support Generation Rent’s campaign to end the rent debt crisis and prevent thousands of people being made homeless due to COVID-19. It’s time to face this crisis head on and tackle the root cause.
Thank you for taking the time to read my latest update, if you have any issues that you would like to raise directly with me then please do email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help whenever possible.
Kate Osamor MP