Visiting the Community During Recess

Each summer Parliament is suspended for a few weeks, known as the summer recess. However, that doesn't mean that I take a break from being your MP. Instead I've been getting out into the constituency and visiting people, businesses and charities in the community. Here are just some of the things that I have been up to during recess.

Small Business Recovery
It was good to get out and about in Luton South's bustling Bury Park shopping district with some of the local councillors. I met with a number of independent business owners to hear how they are recovering and was also pleased to find out how more people were shopping locally in response to the pandemic.

Cultural Walkabout
I also joined Luton Council's cultural coordinator for a meeting with some of Luton's 'Creative Leaders' to discuss arts and culture in Luton. After a particularly tough time for the sector, I heard about how they planned to ensure art and culture are at the very heart of our town's future.

Luton Airport
I met with Alberto Martin, Chief Executive of Luton Airport, to talk about how the airport, and all the associated jobs, were recovering from the pandemic. I was happy to see business picking up again and staff returning to work. However, the aviation sector has been affected by the crisis more than most industries. The Government should recognise that and provide targeted support to support jobs until the sector is running at full capacity again.

Active Luton
I dropped by the Energise Luton camp at Inspire. The camp sees schools and community organisations working in partnership with Active Luton to bring together children from across Luton. The programme is packed full of fun sport and games to keep them fit and engaged, and a healthy lunch is provided for all those that attend. It was great to see different organisations working in partnership for the benefit of the town's children. 
Building Safety Bill

Just before Parliament broke up for recess I had the opportunity to speak about the Building Safety Bill. It has been over four years since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, but there are still thousands of people trapped in dangerous accommodation, including the leaseholders of Point Red in Luton town centre.

I met with leaseholders earlier this week, who told me of the astronomical costs they are facing for remediation and interim safety measures. Government schemes designed to help out with these costs simply don't go far enough, with many buildings excluded entirely and many safety defects not covered. It is simply not fair that leaseholders are being asked to pay to correct the defects they had no responsibility for. I will continue to speak up for leaseholders in Parliament to ensure that those who are truly responsible pay the remediation costs. You can see my full speech above.
Luton Citizens Advice Bureau and Universal Credit Cut 

I recently joined my colleague Luton North MP Sarah for a tour of the office of the local branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau. We spoke about the work that they do to support local people and about the Government's upcoming cut to Universal Credit. Luton CAB help many Lutonians through the complicated Universal Credit application process and also know how important it is for people to be supported through a crisis. 

At the start of the pandemic, the Government raised the level of Universal Credit by £20 per week, effectively admitting that the existing level was too low. The Government is now planning to end this uplift in the Autumn, which will have serious implications for hundreds of thousands of people across the country and thousands in Luton South.

I wrote to the Government earlier this year on behalf of Citizens Advice Luton warning them of the devastating impact of cutting benefits during a jobs crisis. The number of people claiming Universal Credit in Luton South has increased by 134% since March 2020. The £20 per week uplift has provided a vital lifeline and supported the local economy. The Government must cancel the planned cut and further extend the uplift to other legacy benefits.

If you need help or support with Universal Credit visit: 

Kashmir Debate

Last summer I asked the Leader of the House to schedule a debate on the human rights situation in Jammu & Kashmir. Over a year later and the Government are yet to provide such a debate.

Many constituents across Luton South have family and friends in the Kashmir region and are extremely concerned by reports of human rights abuses and the communication blackout across the region. I recently pressed the Government once again to provide Parliament time to debate this important issue. It is vital that the UK takes a leading role in standing up for human rights across the world. You can see my full speech here.
Survey Corner

In my last survey, I asked for your opinions about the relaxing of public health restrictions. 

- 82% said they would be worried about using public transport once restrictions were eased.

- 55% said they would continue to the NHS Covid-19 app.

- 81% said they believed it was wrong to ease public health restrictions whilst cases were still rising. 

In my next survey, I want to hear what think about the Government's proposed expansion of Permitted Development Rights and its implications for building safety. You can take part here.

Find out more

Queen's Voluntary Award

I was delighted to join the Luton Irish Forum and the Luton Council of Faiths and their volunteers for ceremonies to celebrate them winning the Queen's Award for voluntary service. I also formally congratulated them both in Parliament before recess. The last 18 months have demonstrated the importance of having charities in the community so it was great to see their work formally recognised.
Foreign Travel Red List

Earlier this month I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for the Government to provide greater transparency over foreign travel. The Government recently announced that India would be moved onto the Amber list, whilst countries with similar case rates, such as Pakistan, have remained on the red list. It is unclear what the rationale is behind these decisions. The Government should come forward and provide clarity over how their decisions are made. You can read the full letter here.
GCSE and A-Level Results

I would also like to congratulate all of the students across Luton South who received their GSCE and A-level results this month. It has been an extremely challenging period to be in full-time education, with lessons and exam preparations disrupted multiple times. All students should be proud of their achievements and I wish them all the best for whatever path they wish to take next.
Blood Donation

The NHS is in urgent need of blood donors. Donating is quick, easy and could save someone's life. Thank you to all of the staff at Luton Blood Donation Centre who were so welcoming, friendly and efficient when I went to give my donation earlier this month. You can find out more about blood donation using the link below:

Giving blood for the first time - NHS Blood Donation
Rachel Hopkins MP for Luton South