Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

Jo Stevens - Labour MP for Cardiff Central

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A number of constituents have contacted me about the Roath Flood Defence Scheme over a period of time and I have worked with them and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed wherever this is possible.

More recently, following a meeting with local residents and campaigners against the felling of trees in Roath Brook Gardens and Mill Park, I made representations to NRW and to the Welsh Government Environment Minister. Here is the exchange of correspondence prior to  the Council's Scrutiny Committee meeting on 5th December to which residents and NRW gave evidence.

I am making this correspondence public in order that concerned local residents can see what I have been doing to reflect concerns about the Scheme.

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Edit Sun 10th Dec: Natural Resources Wales have today announced that the tree felling will be paused for a short time in order for NRW officers to liaise with the Minister. You can read the announcement on the NRW website here.

Roath Flood Defence Scheme

A number of constituents have contacted me about the Roath Flood Defence Scheme over a period of time and I have worked with them and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to...

 

When Theresa May became Prime Minister, she stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised that she would govern in the interests of the “just about managing” acknowledging that people can work every waking hour and still be struggling to make ends meet. But this agenda is increasingly looking like a sham. Last week, the entire Social Mobility Commission which was set up under the Tory and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government resigned, with the Chair, Alan Milburn saying that “the worst position in politics is to set out a proposition that you’re going to heal social divisions and then do nothing about it.”

 

 

 

The numbers are damning. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation charity has published a report this week setting out figures showing that since 2010/2011, nearly 400,000 more children have fallen into poverty, and they mostly come from families where the parents are in work. This is compunded by the proposed two child limit on child tax credits, that the Government is insisting on ploughing ahead with. Analysis by the trade union UNISON has found that a couple with one earner, who have a third child born after the 6th April 2017, will be £2,780 worse off as a result of the Tories’ two children limit on tax credits. This breaks the Prime Minister’s promise to help the “just about managing”, represents a direct tax on a child, and is an attack on the idea of family. It will leave some families unable to make ends meet.

 

 

 

We also know that the amount of unsecured debt is spiralling in the UK as families struggle financially. But, calculations by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies show that this Tory tax credit “reform” will make things worse for just about managing families, not better. Nearly 600,000 families with 3 children will on average lose around £2,500 per year and 300,000 families with four or more children will on average lose £7,000 per year once the change has been fully rolled out.

 

 

 

These changes are a deliberate tax imposition on third children born on or after 6th April 2017, but they of course impact on all members of affected families, adults and children alike. The changes make no allowance for families falling on hard times, no matter how hard the parents have worked, or how much they have paid into the system.

 

 

 

The new rules are an attack on the very idea of family. If a single dad caring for two children and a single mum with a child of her own, wanted to join their families together under these rules they would face a financial penalty of £2,780 if any of those children were born after April 6th 2017. Families come in all shapes and sizes, with circumstances that can and do change.  

 

 

 

These new rules punish working families. A child born after 6th April 2017 is no less a child, and has no fewer needs, than a child born a day earlier. There can be no policy important enough, or the marginal saving worth enough, to justify deliberately placing children into poverty. Let’s be clear, without this money some families will be unable to meet their basic needs. Hunger and cold do not discriminate between the “deserving” and "underserving". Therefore, every child deserves support regardless of the choices and circumstances of their parents.

 

 

 

Which brings me onto the other element of this dreadful policy; the “rape clause” exemption.

 

 

 

Exemptions to the tax credit limit of two children include children who have been conceived as a result of “non-consensual” conception.

 

 

 

The rules require rape victims to relive their trauma in trying to justify their tax credit claim on an application form they must complete. They must name the child. The Department of Work and Pensions have described the changes to tax credits  as a “key part of controlling public spending.”

 

 

 

I can think of a lot better ways to do this. I bet you can too. That’s why I am supporting the campaign to overturn this dreadful policy.

 

Tax Credits and the Tories Two Child Limit

  When Theresa May became Prime Minister, she stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised that she would govern in the interests of the “just about managing” acknowledging...

 

Earlier this month I visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh as part of a fact finding visit with the UNHCR and a small number of MPs. Nearly 1 million Rohingya people have fled Rakhine Provine in Myanmar (Burma). Since 25th August 2017, over 600,000 people, mainly women and children have arrived in the refugee camps. Many are victims of sexual violence and torture and many have witnessed the murder and rape of members of their family by the Burmese military as they have fled. Their homes and villages have been destroyed by the military. Yesterday I spoke in a debate about the crisis. We were limited to 3 minutes so I didn’t have enough time to say everything I wanted to.

 

 

 

Speech Transcript
 
It's a pleasure to follow on from the Honourable member and I'd like to thank my Honourable Friend the Member for the City of Durham for securing this important debate and it's so good to see so many colleagues here.
 
Particularly, from the CPA delegation of which I was a member just a couple of weeks ago. I have a very substantial British Bangladeshi diaspora in my constituency and when the Rohingya crisis developed at such speed and such scale during the last couple of months I received a lot of representation and a lot of concern expressed about what was going on and so I felt very privileged to take part in that delegation to actually go and see for myself what was actually happening and I wanted to understand the nature of the crisis, but also the role the Bangladeshi Government and its people have played in the humanitarian effort.
 
Most importantly to see then what I, what we, what the Government can do and should do both in terms of humanitarian support and political, international solutions. I'd like to reiterate the praise that we've heard today for the Bangladeshi Government, for the Bangladeshi host families in Cox's Bazaar, the NGOs and the generous fundraising efforts of the British public and in relation to the last point I just wanted to mention my local Councillor Ali Ahmed and the Bangladeshi Association in Cardiff who so far have raised £30,000 for the international relief effort.
 
But, what I saw and what I heard directly at the Kutupalong camp will stay with me for a very long time and just one thing that I saw this mass of humanity as far as the horizon and that was not the entire camp it was only a small proportion of that camp. Just a mass of humanity, no space, no water, no sanitation, and people picking up shelter packs. I don't know where they were going to walk to in order to erect these pieces of tarpaulin and bamboo shoots to make some sort of shelter, because there was no space. As we approach the cyclone season I really worry that if a cyclone hits that camp we will see the destruction and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people so I have 3 questions for the Minister.
 
I would like to thank him for a very frank, discussion at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh last week but I know that he was visiting Myanmar recently. I would like to ask him what representations were made and to whom on that trip, can he tell us about a bit more about the response that he got, what can he tell us about the agreement between Burma and Bangladesh about the return of the Rohingya to Burma which disturbs me and obviously several other members very greatly and what efforts to take up the point of the honourable member about China, what efforts are being made diplomatically with the Chinese who clearly have significant leverage in order to make the Burmese regime deal with this situation, because so far they’ve done nothing and have been complicit in what I and others would call genocide. 

Rohingya Refugee Crisis

  Earlier this month I visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh as part of a fact finding visit with the UNHCR and a small number of MPs. Nearly...

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