I am delighted to have been promoted to Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.
In this role I will be working across all policy areas, challenging the government to bring forward the right legislation, at the right time and in a way which can be scrutinised properly. This is an essential part of holding the government to account.
As Shadow Leader of the House I will have a key role in shaping the debates which lead to legislation. From the climate emergency to the pandemic response, from the cladding crisis to the standards that govern public life, I believe there has rarely been a time when good government decisions are more important.
In this job I will also have a key role in the running of Parliament, as a member of the House of Commons Commission which oversees management of the Parliamentary estate. This work covers the physical building and also the wellbeing of staff.
I am proud to follow my colleague Valerie Vaz in this role, who helped keep us focussed throughout the last few years, picking up critical concerns about content, policy and process and challenging the government. It is an honour to follow many other highly effective MPs into this job, including Chris Bryant, Angela Eagle and Hilary Benn.
Reflecting on the last year in housing policy
As I move on, I’ve reflected on my work as Shadow Housing Secretary over the last year.
Throughout the pandemic, millions of renters were thrown into real hardship as their incomes disappeared. My team and I pushed the government to U-turn and extend the ban on evictions several times, preventing a wave of homelessness and destitution.
People living in high-rise buildings have also been badly let down by the government this last year, as government inaction allowed the cladding scandal to unravel, pushing eye-watering costs onto leaseholders for a problem they have not caused and leaving homes in apartment blocks across the country at risk of fire.
Together with a broad coalition of campaign groups, we pushed the government into announcing billions of pounds of funding to make buildings safe. The support most recently announced still falls short, leaving thousands of blameless leaseholders out of pocket, but we have come a long way over the last year.
I am also proud of the work that my team and I have done on homelessness and rough sleeping, highlighting the government’s failings which led to thousands of people sleeping on the streets during the pandemic.
I have also been working with colleagues on Labour’s climate policy. Housing contributes 14% of our carbon emissions, so net zero housing is vital for us to deal with the climate crisis.
I wish Lucy Powell all the best as she takes on this critical role and I know she will do a fantastic job of tackling the country’s housing crisis and working with campaigners on building safety, renters’ reforms and more.
I’ll continue to make the case for solving the housing and climate crises in my new role.