The Windrush scandal has continued to dominate parliament this week, as MPs raise concerns about case after case affecting constituents who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean between the 1950s and early 1970s with the right to work and live in the UK, but who don’t have documentation to prove it.
The Home Office has now set up a hotline to help those people get the documentation they need, free of charge, but I know that many people remain very distrustful, and doubtful that they’ll be treated fairly. I’ve been alerted to cases in Stretford and Urmston which I’m doing my best to help with, and I’d urge anyone who thinks they might be affected, or who knows someone who could be, to get in touch with my office. Meantime, I’ve been asking questions of the Home Secretary all week, and will continue to press for action.
We’ve had two very interesting debates in parliament this week, one on schools funding and one on social care, both issues of interest to us in Stretford and Urmston. I’m shocked by the figures that the National Education Union has provided that suggest that schools in Stretford and Urmston stand to be around £3million worse off by 2020 compared with 2015/16, while overall, schools in Altrincham and Sale West are hardly affected. This can’t be right or fair, and I’m keen to hear from heads, governors, teachers and parents about what this means for your school.
I’ve also been looking at some very poor figures for our care homes and homecare provision for elderly or disabled people in Trafford. 43% of residential settings and 45% of care provided in people’s homes has been rated inadequate or requiring improvement by the Care Quality Commission. In the past few weeks, we have seen care homes in the constituency closing down because they can’t find the investment needed to make improvements to bring them up to modern standards. This is a very worrying situation for residents and their families, and I was glad to have the chance to raise their concerns in the debate in parliament on Wednesday. You can watch my contribution here.
Thursday saw me turning my attention to priorities for businesses in my constituency which export to the Republic of Ireland. We still don’t know how the government plans to keep the Irish border open, tariff-free, and without checks on goods crossing the border, if we leave the European Union. I was glad to have the chance to raise this in the chamber on behalf of businesses in Trafford, but didn’t get much of an answer.
There are still many unanswered questions about Brexit, covering everything from regulation of plastics to investment in space exploration to regulations on paediatric medicines. This week, I attended a debate on defence and security arrangements after Brexit, where the picture is also uncertain. We don’t have a lot of time left to negotiate the exit arrangements, and it’s very worrying for families, businesses and for our country.
It’s always good to welcome Wendy and the 1950s-born Trafford Action Group campaigning for fair pensions, and I was glad to snatch a few minutes with them when they were in parliament this week.
Away from Westminster, I was very interested to visit UK Power Reserve in Carrington, which provides backup to the National Grid when there’s high demand for power (just before Corrie, when everyone goes to make a cup of tea, for example!). It was also great to visit St John’s in Old Trafford to celebrate Earth Day – thanks for inviting Councillor Sophie Taylor and me to join you.
And just to finish, may I remind everyone that elections to Trafford Council take place next Thursday, 3 May. I’ve been out and about speaking to literally thousands of residents in recent months, and I know many of you are fed up with poor service from the Tory council, fed up of unemptied bins and poorly kept streets, angry about long waits for assessments for children with special educational needs and about the lack of support for families caring for elderly relatives. Many people are telling me it’s time for a change in Trafford, so please get out to vote for your great Labour candidates on Thursday!