The Labour leadership contest continues this month, and can I say how pleased I am that Blaenau Gwent CLP nominated Keir Starmer to be the next leader of our party.

I believe that Keir Starmer is the right person to unite the Labour party and the perfect antidote to Boris Johnson.

British Steel Pensions
I am continuing my Parliamentary campaign to tackle rogue financial advisers and secure justice for pensioners who have been ripped off.
I recently hosted a meeting of fellow MPs, British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) members and other concerned parties in Parliament.
I also spoke in the House, calling for Government action in response to reports that the Financial Conduct Authority is concerned about 76% of the firms which were issuing advice between 2015 and 2018.
I have written to the Pensions Ombudsman to request a six-month extension for British Steel workers to complain about changes in the values of pension pots and to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to call for an investigation into the handling of BSPS complaints.
We know how serious this situation is and we urgently need to know what is being done about it.
I want to see far more aggressive use of financial penalties, especially for cases of poor pension transfer advice, and I want to see lifetime industry bans for rogues found to have preyed on people’s life savings.

Defence Procurement
I spoke in Parliament recently about how it is mostly French and Swedish steel that is being used to build British ships. I asked the Minister for Defence Procurement about supporting the steel industry by ensuring that UK steel suppliers are prioritised in the future.
Unfortunately, I received a very poor response which completely failed to address the point.
On the same subject, I co-signed a letter last month which calls for the awarding of defence contracts to centre on ensuring positive impacts throughout the UK.
I have seen first-hand the impact of British companies working on UK defence contracts at General Dynamics in Merthyr.
Much like when I argued in Parliament for UK military vehicles to be built with British steel, I believe it’s crucial that we keep big defence opportunities in the UK.
This Government should give every opportunity to manufacturing companies based in the UK and help contribute towards the regeneration of less prosperous areas.

Ensuring a better pension deal for our former mineworkers and their families is another of my campaigns I will be continuing in this new Parliament.
Along with my Labour colleague Stephanie Peacock MP (Barnsley East) I met with the Business Minister to push for a clearer timescale of when the Government’s commitment to protect the pension bonuses of retired miners will be brought forward.
We also pressed about the current 50/50 split which sees the Treasury take half of the profits the scheme makes.
In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to work with the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme members, the Mineworkers’ union and my fellow coalfield MPs to push this campaign forward.

Universal Credit
Universal Credit (UC) has, again, been a big topic of debate in the house.
Particular attention has been focused on the Prime Minister being caught making an entirely untrue statement about how UC “has got 200,000 people into work.”
This is nonsense.
That figure is a Department of Work and Pensions projection of what UC is estimated to achieve by 2024/5.
In fact, UC is continuing to cause misery for families in Blaenau Gwent and across the UK.
My office hears from people week-in, week-out who are being let down by Universal Credit. These are often hard-working people who have been left without enough money to get by.
Universal Credit was supposed to make the social security system simpler and yet people’s lives are being ruined by its complex rules, confusion over payments and the reliance on a “digital only” approach.
Universal Credit was supposed to reduce poverty but in Blaenau Gwent and many other places families are being forced to rely on the foodbank to feed their children.
The Prime Minister and this Tory Government must accept that Universal Credit is broken and in urgent need of revision.

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