Chuka Umunna, Labour Party Parliamentary candidate for Streatham
Housing is one of the most pressing issues right across London. I believe there are three areas we need to tackle. Firstly, building more council housing and housing association homes – this is really important for our community as there are over 20,000 people on the housing register in Lambeth. Our council is working hard to do the best they can in difficult circumstances, but their budget has been cut by nearly half by this Tory government and the Tory-Lib Dem coalition before it. Central government must do more to support our councils so they can build the new housing we so desperately need.
Secondly, we must build affordable homes for people to buy. If elected, Labour will build one million new homes, over 100,000 of which will be affordable. We will also extend the help to buy scheme up to 2027.
Finally, we need to properly regulate the private rented sector. A Labour government will ban letting agent fees, create a register of landlords and protect tenants from rogue landlords.
Since Sadiq Khan became our Labour London Mayor last year, he has proposed an increased charge for heavy polluting vehicles on top of the current congestion charge, extending the Ultra Low-Emission Zone and introducing more environmentally friendly buses – with a new Low Emission Bus Zones in Brixton and Streatham. I support all of this.
I support the Safer A23 campaign and helped to bring them together with Transport for London to ensure better road safety, more cycle lanes and lower pollutions levels on Streatham High Road.
The best way of tackling pollution from our roads is getting more people on to public transport. Southern Rail is failing and its performance is getting worse. Frankly, I have lost patience with Southern Rail and the Government for letting our community down time after time. The Government need to act now to bring Greater London suburban services under the control of Transport for London. We cannot face more of this appalling level of service – making people late for work, students late for exams, and unnecessary stress on our daily commute. I have spoken on several occasions in the House of Commons and put down motions demanding a better service. Labour put the railways back into public ownership.
Lambeth was the second most pro-Remain borough in the UK, what will you do to ensure voters feel their opinion is valued? How will you ensure international residents in the multi-cultural area feel welcome?
I am really proud to have represented the most pro-Remain place on the UK mainland. Whilst the Tories are fighting amongst themselves on how hard a Brexit they want and Theresa May panders to UKIP, I, along with other Labour MPs, voted for amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2017 that would have kept Britain in the European Single Market, allowed EU citizens the right to stay in the UK and ensured Parliament had a final say on the Brexit deal. I also tabled an amendment, which would have forced the Government to explain how they would provide the promised £350m extra per week for the NHS. Sadly, all of these amendments were voted down by Tory MPs.
As the Member of Parliament I set up and Chair Vote Leave Watch, a grassroots organisation holding Vote Leave Ministers in the Government to account. I have been working hard, in a cross party manner, to hold them to account on key issues of the Vote Leave campaign like the promised £350m extra per week for the NHS, the rights of EU nationals here in the UK and protecting workers’ rights.
4. Local business.
I believe both are important to our local economy, as both offer different things to shoppers and provide local jobs and an identity for our community.
I have been pleased to support and work together with the Brixton and Streatham Business Improvement Districts to build our business community and give local small businesses the support they need. I have always been clear that government must take a more active role in supporting micro and start-up businesses to back the innovators of tomorrow.
I brought the grassroots Small Business Saturday campaign over from the US in 2012, and since then the campaign has gone from strength to strength. Our small businesses are an essential part of our community. We are so lucky in Streatham to have a vibrant, unique range of independent businesses, and we are rightly proud of our local entrepreneurs.
I am hugely proud of our schools in Streatham. They are nearly all rated excellent or outstanding by Ofsted – a great achievement for all our schools right across the constituency. I think schools need 3 things – great teachers, invested parents and fantastic leadership – this formula makes for happy kids and great results. I went to school in Streatham and regularly visit to talk to students and teachers, so I know first-hand what is going on in our schools.
However, the Tories are looking to slash nearly £25m from Lambeth’s school budget – that is £743 less per pupil per year! The last Labour Government made education a priority – that is why our local schools improved so much during our time in office. Labour will reverse these Tory cuts and invest in our young people and their future.
You can see the full list of questions and candidates here