Welcome To My November Newsletter

Wednesday will see the government announce its Spending Review. In his statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out government spending priorities for the year ahead. Many of you have emailed me to tell me that the government's priority should be supporting vital public services and those who work to deliver them.

The pandemic has shown if we ever needed reminding, just how dedicated all of our NHS workers are. Through each wave of the virus, we have seen doctors and nurses working gruelling hours to save lives, together with other NHS healthcare and support workers without whom the NHS would cease to function. 

Many of you have been in touch regarding providing adequate funding for the Fire and Rescue Service and our firefighters. Since austerity began in 2010, firefighters have been asked to do more and more such as driving ambulances and responding to an increase in climate change-related threats. Despite these additional responsibilities, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Services budget is 7% smaller than it was in 2010.
We’ve also seen huge cuts to local government budgets since 2010 too. In Luton, there have been over £100 million of central government grant removed since 2010. Local councils have been at the frontline of supporting our communities to tackle the virus and have used their knowledge and expertise to target support where it is most needed. It is our local public health teams that have shown themselves to be more effective at contact tracing than the privatised Serco Test, Track and Trace system. It is time the government understood the value and importance of local councils and provided them with a long-term funding settlement. Funding that will allow councils to enhance our local services instead of cutting them.

All public sector workers have done a fantastic job during the crisis and many have not had a pay increase for many years. From doctors to nurses, porters to cleaners, firefighters and teachers, to police and council workers, the government should recognise the hard work of all public sector workers and give them the pay rise they deserve.
Real Living Wage and Free School Meals

The past few months have demonstrated how many people are struggling to get by. Be that through low wages, high living costs, unemployment or a combination of these and other issues. I was pleased to support Marcus Rashford's campaign to provide food vouchers for children during the school holidays. I’m glad the government eventually U-turned and agreed to fund them, but there are still millions of families living beneath the breadline across the country.

In the long-term, there needs to be real action to reduce poverty and tackle inequality. One solution would be to ensure that all workers are paid a real living wage. Last week the Living Wage Foundation recommended that the real living wage should be £9.50 outside of London and £10.85 inside London. The government should stop subsidising low wages from employers and make the minimum wage the Real Living Wage.

High housing costs push many people into in-work poverty. I recently questioned the government as to why thousands of children are spending a second lockdown in temporary accommodation. You can see the video here.
NHS Trade Deal

Over the last few months, many of you contacted me worried about the impact that any future trade deals would have on our NHS, rightly pointing out opening it to the free market would expose the NHS to profiteering and cost-cutting. This week I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate calling on the government to protect the NHS and legislate to keep it safe from in any future trade deals.

You can watch my full speech here.
Small Business Saturday

It has been an extremely difficult year for small and independent businesses. With many struggling for their very survival this Christmas. The first Saturday in December is ‘Small Business Saturday’. I’m hoping that we’ll have moved out of the current restrictions by then, and that many of you will join me in shopping locally, instead of ordering all your Christmas gifts online. We want to see our local shops and independent businesses survive and this is one way to help. 

If you are, or if you know a great local business who you think I should come and visit then please email me: 


Survey Corner

In my last month's 'Luton South Says' survey, I asked you what you thought about the government's proposed changes to the planning system. Here's what you told me:

  • 57% of you disagreed that the planning system was in need of urgent reform to reduce 'red-tape'.
  • 85% said they thought that developers should have to seek planning permission before converting shops and offices to housing.
  • 85% also agree that they thought local people should have more say over individual developments in Luton.
  • 94% said they would not like to see an increase in Homes under Multiple Occupation (HMO's) in Luton.

In my next survey, I’m asking you about pay and welfare. You can take part here.

Find out more


Earlier this month I asked the Prime Minister about the disproportionate impact COVID-19 was having on ethnic minority communities and urged him to increase testing. I was pleased to see that Luton has been named as an area identified to receive the new rapid testing. You can find the latest advice here.
Bullying Report

In Committee I questioned the former Cabinet Secretary, Mark Sedwill, about a long-awaited report into bullying by the Home Secretary. He revealed that the PM appeared to have been sitting on the report for some months. Subsequently, we’ve found out why.
Free TV Licenses for Over 75's

During periods of isolation, the TV has proved vital in keeping many older people informed and entertained and has helped to combat loneliness. Earlier this month I asked the government if they would restore funding for free TV licenses for over 75's. You can see their response here.
Remembrance Sunday

This year's Remembrance commemorations were very different. I paid my respects at the war memorial to our armed forces with Luton North MP Sarah Owen.  We must always remember their sacrifice for our freedom.
Rachel Hopkins MP for Luton South