Congratulations to Cllr Debbie Harvey from Alway, a former Farepak agent, for her input into a recent Law Commission Report which recommends how consumers’ money can be protected in the future in pre-payment schemes. Although it is 13 years since the collapse of Farepak, when 116,000 savers lost their money in the Christmas savings scheme, it is welcome the Government has finally committed to tackling this issue.
Brexit clearly continues to dominate the political landscape in Westminster. I received hundreds of emails and phone calls from constituents ahead of the meaningful vote on the Government Brexit deal on January 15th. The overwhelming majority of constituents who contacted me – including both leave and remain voters in 2016 – urged me to vote down the deal.
Parliament’s eventual rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal by 432 votes to 202 – the greatest defeat for a Government in the Commons since the 1920s – was a damning indictment of Ministers’ incompetent approach to negotiations over the last two years. The Prime Minister remains in office, but not in power, while her Government is rapidly descending into even further division and chaos. Events in the Commons are fast-moving, and Labour has now tabled an amendment to the Government’s ‘Plan B’ Brexit motion in order to break the political deadlock and protect the UK from a no-deal outcome, which would hurt jobs, workers’ rights and living standards.
In the Commons last week I pressed the Welsh Secretary for clarity on what will replace current EU structural funding rounds in Wales when they come to an end in 2020. EU structural funding in Wales has been hugely beneficial over the years – in South East Wales alone EU funding has invested £49million in support for employment and economic growth programmes since 2015. A new Shared Prosperity Fund for the nations and regions of the UK was a key pledge in the 2017 Tory Manifesto, but almost two years on we are still awaiting detail on the form of the funding and what it will mean in practice for Welsh communities. We need answers from Government Ministers, and concrete assurances that Wales will not receive a penny less under the new fund.
A written question to the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that a staggering 76% of appeals against PIP (Personal Independence Payment) decisions in Wales are successful. In the Gwent region, the appeal success rate is 77%, and in Newport East it rises to 80%.
This data shows that both the initial PIP assessment process run by Capita and the mandatory reconsideration process managed by the DWP are unfit for purpose. The system is failing disabled people across the country, and the statistics themselves do not convey the misery and anxiety inflicted on each person forced through the unedifying tribunal process.
We can’t go on like this – the Government needs to review the way it assesses PIP claims and move towards a system that treats disabled people with the dignity and respect they deserve.
My Annual Report for constituents is now available to read online at www.jessicamorden.com. I email out regular detailed reports on my work throughout the year – if you are a constituent and would like to be added to the mailing list please email email@example.com.