Last Wednesday saw the shocking news that my Greater Manchester colleague, Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East had died on Tuesday evening, just over a week after collapsing whilst jogging with his son.
Paul was a lovely man, who never shirked from asking difficult questions and I will never forget his kindness to me as a new MP. The scale of tributes paid by the Speaker, Ed Miliband, the Prime Minister and colleagues from all sides of the House throughout the day show the shock we all felt at losing one of our best. The House will be poorer for his absence.
The mood was subdued and shocked, but the day was an extremely busy one, as I had been drawn in the ballot for a PMQ, there was a statement on the Northern Ireland talks and Labour had then called an Opposition Day Debate on Housing.
I asked the Prime Minister about the real costs of social care for older people, given the large cuts to social care budgets:
“I would also like to pay my sympathies to Paul Goggins’s family; he was a lovely, lovely man. The Government have cut £1.8 billion from the social care budget, which means nearly half a million fewer people are eligible for social care. With home care charges up £740 a year since 2010 and the Government’s care cap nothing more than a care con, why is the Prime Minister not being honest with older people about the real care costs they will face under this Government?”
His response can be read here
During the Housing debate, I raised the need for the Government to show support for self-builders, such as the Saddleworth Eco Community, particularly as we have the lowest rates of self build housing in Europe, with less than 20% of housing built by self builders, compared to around 80% in Austria, and 60% in Germany and France.
The debate also gave me the opportunity to raise the issue of the bedroom tax, which affects over 2,300 households in Oldham. There are only 500 smaller properties into which people affected could move and I am seeing the effects of the additional housing costs, coupled with increases in energy and food bills, in my advice surgeries every week. Labour has already committed to repeal the bedroom tax.