Last week I spoke in the debate on the Queen’s Speech, my chance to comment on the Government’s plans. I’ll support measures that help my constituents. I believe I should use Parliament to address problems people here are raising with me.
Many families are concerned about the future for their children and yearn for a home. There are ideas in the Queen’s Speech which could help but we need to go further.
I welcome proposals for Family Hubs and the 1,001 critical days plan. The 1,001 days from pregnancy to age two, set the foundations for an individual’s development.
Ten years ago, the Tory Party seemed to ignore this when it implemented cuts resulting in the closure of many SureStart centres.
Over that period, we’ve witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of children taken into care which rather than improve life chances is more likely to curtail schooling and job opportunities and increase the risk of homelessness in early adulthood.
Equally, our prisons and youth custody settings are full of people with speech and language difficulties which have gone undiagnosed for years. Diagnosis and proper support, in the early years, and less use of the care system, makes sense to me.
The Government also says relaxing planning laws will improve housing supply but surely they must address the illegal conversion of family homes into houses in multiple occupation which, when coupled with the exempt accommodation market, is destroying existing homes and creating a gravy train for crooks, spivs and, in some cases, organised crime. It’s a disgrace that women and children fleeing domestic abuse, find themselves housed alongside ex-prisoners with a history of violence or people with major alcohol and drug problems.
The Queen’s Speech contains the Victims Bill and the Building Safety and Planning Bills. We could use them to stop dangerous conversions that turn family homes into HMOs. We should guarantee safe and reserved accommodation for victims of domestic violence and ensure that supported accommodation means exactly that. I hope the Government will show willing when it comes to trying to amend and improve their plans.