Monday, November 29, 2021
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View from Westminster: Two-year anniversary of London Bridge attack is important time to reflect

It is two years since terrorists attacked our community at London Bridge and Borough Market.

It is an important time to reflect on their vile act of cowardice. We should pay our respects to the eight innocent victims and their families who came from across the globe and have been reliving the trauma through the inquest into the attack.

Two years on it is a time to acknowledge again the heroic actions of so many people that fateful evening.

Some were out to enjoy themselves but got caught up in the attack, others helped get people away from the area. Our frontline NHS ambulance crews and police officers worked so hard to prevent greater loss of life and to end the attack swiftly.

The attack revealed a loophole in terror insurance law that left 150 local employers out of pocket. I helped close this loophole by getting the Government to accept an amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 to prevent long-term damage to other businesses or communities.

I also campaigned to end the grotesque policy of online fundraising platforms taking not just admin fees for handling donations from members of the public, but were pocketing profits on top.

JustGiving are believed to have taken £500,000 following the attacks here, at the Manchester Arena and after the Grenfell tragedy but recently announced they would end this sick policy thankfully.

Theresa May visited our community after the attack but is now on her way out of office. She warned in 2016 that leaving the EU would bring greater security risks but has pursued exactly that in office.

Her legacy is one of failure but the rivals seeking to take over are, if anything, even less likely to have the solutions for our community.

One issue desperate for fixing is Universal Credit, introduced under the Cameron/Clegg Coalition.

It was meant to: save money; make benefits simpler; and get more people into work. It has failed all three aims but has damaged thousands of lives whilst Ministers continue to ignore its faults. I hosted a performance in Parliament of the play The Vortex based on Southwark mums’ experiences of Universal Credit.

The play highlights how the system makes it harder for some mums to work, has inbuilt delays and reductions in payments, and fails to fund sufficient childcare.

In the 1820s, Charles Dickens’ family were in Marshalsea Prison on Borough High Street for non-payment of debts, and aged 12 he was forced out of school and into work. 200 years later and, as a direct result of Government policy, debt and poverty are rising in Southwark again with the UN recently describing today’s social security system as a “digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse.”

Last week Parliament was not sitting and it was great to visit the Ballers Academy at the Docklands Settlement and Tideway Sailability who took me out on the Greenland Dock.

Meeting local people I am always blown away by how active and generous our community is and it always serves as a reminder how lucky I am to represent Bermondsey and Old Southwark at Westminster.


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