It’s no understatement to say that I was utterly gobsmacked by what the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced in his “mini-budget” last Friday. Make no mistake, there was nothing “mini” about it: these are sweeping changes that are hugely unfair and completely irresponsible.
It’s unfair because this is a fat cat budget that benefits the wealthiest and will hit the poorest the hardest. While the highest earners enjoy tax cuts, bankers have their bonus caps lifted, and oil and gas companies rake in huge profits, regular hardworking people will be feeling the pain.
It’s reckless and irresponsible because we now face huge levels of borrowing, rising interest rates, a plummeting pound, the worst inflation in decades, and an economy heading into a recession.
The cost-of-living crisis will only get worse, with families left facing soaring energy and food prices, and higher mortgages. Meanwhile, I dread to think what this unfair budget means for our struggling schools, hospitals and other public services.
This is not a plan, but a recipe for disaster. The Government has shown just how out of touch it is with people in Twickenham and across the country.
We need a real plan to grow the economy to deal with soaring energy bills, sky-high petrol prices and rising food costs. The Liberal Democrats would scrap unfair tax handouts for banks and other multinational companies raking in huge profits, and use the money to help struggling families with their bills instead. You can learn more about what the Liberal Democrats are calling for here.
We must recall Parliament NOW so MPs can address the unfolding economic disaster.
In the media
In an appearance on ITV’s Late Debate earlier this month, I told the panel how rising rents are causing misery for households in Twickenham and across London. To help tackle this crisis, I’ve been campaigning to ensure that public assets – such as the former Teddington Police Station – can be sold on for community good, including for new social and affordable housing. You can read more here, and watch the clips below.
I was also quoted in The Guardian on the Government’s lack of support for schools amid the energy crisis.
“Their bills will still go up and the cliff edge has just been pushed back for six months,” I told them. “Children’s learning will suffer when money meant for teachers and equipment is diverted to keeping warm.” Read the article here.
Local meetings, events and news
Honouring Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy in Twickenham
Like so many people around the world, I was deeply saddened by the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In a special edition of my newsletter, I reflected on her legacy, and shared some of the ways we honoured Her Late Majesty in Twickenham. Read more here.
Help me support two amazing Twickenham mental health charities
Regular readers of this newsletter will know that children’s mental health has been one of my biggest priorities since becoming an MP. Another of my passions is running – and on 18 October I’ll be combining the two when I run the Cabbage Patch 10 to raise money for two incredible Twickenham charities that support our children and young people who are struggling with their mental health. If you’d like to help raise vital funds for The Purple Elephant Project and Off the Record Twickenham, you can sponsor me here.
Getting creative with recycling at the Trash to Treasure Fest
My daughter and I had a great time at the Trash to Treasure Fest at Landmark Arts Centre. We came away with some great ideas for getting creative with our recycling, and it prompted us to think about just how much “stuff” we collect and what we might be able to get repaired, rather than throw out.
Clean and Green: Learning how to do my bit at the Teddington Sustainability Festival
Following on the sustainability theme, Richmond Borough’s “Clean and Green Week” takes place from 23 September to 2 October. At the Teddington Sustainability Festival, hosted by St Mary with St Alban church, I met locals and businesses working to help us do our bit for a more sustainable planet. I got to meet the St. Mary’s and St. Peter’s Eco-Warriors, too!
Joining locals, families and businesses for the “What’s on in Hampton?” event
I popped into the “What’s on in Hampton?” event this past Sunday, hosted by Hampton Inspired Hub and Linden Hall Community Centre. Nice to chat with Hampton & Richmond Borough F.C., Hampton’s Hygiene Bank, Hampton Pool, and branches of the Hampton Women’s Institute. I bought some delicious blackberry jam from the Real Junk Food Project!
Visit to the Down’s Syndrome Association
At the Down’s Syndrome Association in Langdon Park, Hampton Wick, I had some lovely chats with children and adults with Down’s Syndrome, who told me about their experiences and challenges in leading the full and independent lives they want and deserve.
Learning about innovative early years provision models at LEYF
I had a fun morning doing an obstacle course and checking out the wormery with children at Bushy Tails in Teddington, one of 39 London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) nurseries across London. Through its innovative social enterprise model, LEYF reinvests all of its profits back into the business, including to provide places for children from disadvantaged backgrounds – with the aim of giving all children access to high quality childcare.
Inspiring social action in the next generation with NCS Trust
I really enjoyed meeting the inspiring young people from NCS Trust. As part of their Social Action week, teams were learning life skills including public speaking, and gaining practical experience meeting with charities and other organisations before pitching their own social action ideas.
Prosperity Café’s Ukrainian social club
I was delighted to visit Prosperity Café social club, which provides English lessons and other support for Ukrainian women and children who’ve arrived in the area. I chatted to the guests about some of their concerns and practical questions. Prosperity is such a vital community hub, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they do.
Joining in the community spirit at Linden Hall
It was all happening at Linden Hall Community Centre in Hampton last time I visited! I met volunteers from the Real Junk Food Project, which has served over 23,166 meals and saved 116 tonnes of food from going to landfill. And I enjoyed a chat with members of the Lindeners Social Club, which provides friendship and activities for the elderly in the community.
Enjoying the artistic delights of Eel Pie Island
It was so nice to wander along the paths of Twickenham’s quirky and wonderful Eel Pie Island – such a special place, buzzing with creativity. I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Campbell, one of the island’s many talented artists.
Teddington’s Skiff Club Regatta
At the beginning of the month, in the final days of summer, I joined the Skiff Club in Teddington for their Regatta and to present prizes. The home team came away with a lot of glassware!
Standing up for you in Parliament
Took my oath in Parliament
It was a privilege to swear allegiance to His Majesty the King in Parliament last week. It remains an honour to serve my constituents and country as MP for Twickenham, Teddington, the Hamptons, St Margarets, Strawberry Hill and Whitton.
Continued my fight for a mental health counsellor in every school
Children and young people are still waiting months, if not years, for mental health support. Many of these children and young people have already reached a crisis point, but it’s clear that children aren’t a priority for this Government. I and the Liberal Democrats will keep campaigning until every child has access to a counsellor at school.
Backed the No Child Left Behind UK campaign to extend free school meals
No child should go hungry at school. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, the Liberal Democrats are backing the No Child Left Behind UK campaign to extend free school meals to all primary school children.
Demanded answers from the Government on helping schools with energy costs
The Government’s energy announcement still leaves schools and colleges under a cloud of uncertainty. Schools’ bills will still go up and the cliff edge has just been pushed back by six months, with only “vulnerable sectors” getting support beyond that. I tabled a series of Written Questions demanding answers, including:
- If education settings be classed as vulnerable
- If school budgets, which have already been set for 2023-24, will be changed following the announcement
- If the Government will publish the details they asked schools to send about energy contracts
- If the Government will re-open the loan scheme for insulation, heat pumps and solar panels to help schools become more energy-efficient
Read more here.
Asked the Government to help schools invest in insulation and solar panels
Schools and colleges can’t plan for next year when they don’t know if their bills will skyrocket in six months. In a question to the Minister, I specifically asked the Government to help schools invest in insulation and solar panels to reduce their energy use and tackle the climate crisis.
Urged the Government to help residents left unprotected by Ofgem energy caps
I was shocked to learn that nearly 400,000 Londoners would be left unprotected by Ofgem energy caps, as a result of their homes being connected to communal heat network. Earlier this month I presented a petition in Parliament on behalf of affected people in Twickenham and Teddington, and called on the Government to take urgent action. Read more here.
The latest development is that the Government confirmed that households connected to heat networks will be supported second-hand through suppliers – with a six-month versus two-year cap provided to other households.
It’s a step in the right direction, but hardly the “equivalent” support promised by the Prime Minister. Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, and I have written to the Secretary of State to call for immediate clarification on behalf of constituents facing price hikes of 500%+.
Tabled amendment to Levelling Up Bill so public assets can be sold for community good
I have tabled an amendment to the Government’s new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that would ensure that public assets – including former police stations, fire stations, NHS properties and more – can be sold on for community good and used for new social and affordable housing. My campaign to re-purpose the former Teddington Police Station for a new GP surgery and affordable housing is a prime example.
We MUST put people before profits when selling public assets, rather than simply sell to the highest bidder. I wrote to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan asking him to publicly back my amendment.
Called on the Government to fund outdoor facilities for kids’ sport
The Lionesses’ historic victory this past summer united a nation and inspired a new generation of footballers. Yet cash-strapped schools are being forced to sell off playing fields. I tabled a Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to fund outdoor facilities so every child can play sports at school. Read more here.
Listened to young people’s views on education at the Youth Voice Roundtable
I had the pleasure of participating in the Edge Foundation’s Youth Voice Roundtable, where I listened to young people’s experience of education and the issues that on their minds. We talked about tuition fees, mental health, skills training, and what the new Education Secretary’s priorities should be. Read more here.
Helped spread awareness of Group B Strep
Group B Strep is the most common life-threatening infection among newborns in the UK. I was pleased to meet with representatives from Group B Strep Support (GBSS) in Parliament to spread awareness about the GBS3 Trial, which is incredibly important for keeping babies healthy and safe. Glad West Middlesex University Hospital is taking part!