In the past week, we have seen a number of important issues brought to the spotlight. This includes the Firefighter’s Pension Scheme, Government Housing allocation and the Bedroom Tax.
As I made clear in the Commons, the Firefighter’s Pension Scheme is not fit for purpose in its current state.
I myself am a former firefighter and was a member of the firemen’s pension scheme when I served in the London fire brigade from 1974 to 1997.
Firefighters currently contribute 14.2 per cent towards their pension, making it a very expensive scheme for them, and currently it requires firefighters to remain employed until the age of 60. This clearly raises alarm bells from a health and safety perspective.
An assessment commissioned by the Government found that up to see two thirds of firefighters would not make the cut.
Taking both of these points into consideration, it is appalling to some firefighters stand to lose out on up to a quarter of their pension because of current rules.
The second issue I want to talk about is the issue of housing.
I receive lots of representations from my constituents about housing. It’s by far the biggest issue locally.
This is why I am delighted to see through the Government’s announcement of almost £25million of funding to improve the quality of housing in Tower Hamlets. However, despite the cash injection, it is clear that more will need to be done.
Now I will move onto what has now become dubbed the Bedroom Tax.
Thanks to Labour, MPs were given the opportunity to debate and vote to scrap the tax on Wednesday.
Since the Bedroom Tax was introduced around half a million low-income households have been forced to find, on average an extra £700 a year. In Poplar and Limehouse, 1203 people have been hit by the Bedroom Tax.
Despite our efforts, the Tories and Lib Dems defeated the motion with 298 MPs voting against and 266 voting in favour.
Reflecting on the above, the Government’s response to each of these key issues provides an insight into just how out of touch the Coalition is with local issues and local people in Poplar and Limehouse.
I hope to see an end to this in only 6 months when we can elect a Labour government.
Finally, I’d like to sign off with a special thank you to my readers, wishing you all a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2015.