I was very pleased to be appointed to Keir Starmer’s front bench team as Shadow Deputy Leader of the House last week.
It is sad to leave the brilliant Public Accounts Committee, but I’m delighted to be working alongside Lucy Powell MP in holding the Government to account, supporting democratic renewal, and helping shape Labour’s future programme for government.
We are on a fantastic footing for the next election, we must not let up now.
It is only Labour that can offer Britain a better future through a mission-driven government, and by putting an end to short-term sticking-plaster politics.
Delivering a powerful and effective Parliament representing the needs and views of our country will be crucial. These are exciting times for the party and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in from the front bench.
With Parliament back in session I will be picking up my campaign to get to the bottom of what happened during the collapse of funeral firm Safe Hands, a folding that resulted in around 46,000 people losing more than £60m in total.
In the House, I recently raised the issue, mentioning the case of a constituent from Nantyglo who lost £6,000, with the Treasury Minister agreeing to meet with me to discuss the scandal.
I have since found out about another constituent from Rassau who lost £2,000. I’m sure there are likely to be more examples across the constituency.
What I want to find out here is whether the Treasury or the Financial Conduct Authority had received sufficient warning about Safe Hands to act to prevent this.
I understand that concerns were being raised as early as 2017, if that’s the case then why weren’t they brought to the public’s attention so that customers could better understand the risks to their payments.
I spoke in the press recently about my push for a National Audit Office investigation of the Government’s Pension Dashboard, a project that is now set to be delivered 11 years after it was announced and has cost the taxpayer millions pounds in additional government spending.
This is yet another example of big promises being made and not followed through properly.
These delays are not good enough.
An estimated £37bn is lost in forgotten pension pots across the UK with around 22% of people having lost track of their pensions.
The Pensions Dashboard Programme has the potential to both unlock this money and improve pension literacy across the country.
The longer that the programme remains undelivered, the longer the pensions system remains inefficient.
It was great to pop along to Coleg Gwent Ebbw Vale for A-level results and then Brynmawr Foundation School on GCSE results day.
Another set of fantastic results across the borough. Well done to the students and all the staff and parents who have supported them.
It was especially nice to catch up with students from the Cyber Hub I helped set up at Ebbw Vale College, and also to speak with a GCSE student in Brynmawr who was heading on to join the course.
I’m glad to hear that the course is thriving and lots of young people are taking the opportunity of learning the skills needed for the jobs of the future on their doorstep.
It’s always good to catch up with Tudor Brewery, a fantastic family-run business based in Llanhilleth.
During my most recent visit I was very pleased to hear that the company has won yet another award, this time the Gold Star at the Great Taste Awards for their Sugarloaf dark beer. Well done!
Good to hold an advice surgery at Ebbw Vale library last month, always happy to be able to lend an ear to those who attend and help out if I can.
My next surgery is scheduled for Blaina Institute on Friday, September 22nd at 4.30pm.
Please come along if you want to speak with me about anything I may be able to help with.