Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Press Office of Ashton Edwards MP

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Ashton Edwards MP
MP for Kensington (2017-) | Labour
Shadow Foreign Secretary (2020-)
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Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary (2019-)

Shadow Health, Education and Social Care Secretary (2019-2020)
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Ashton Edwards
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Addresses Momentum Group in Support of Emily Greenwood

WESTMINSTER - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington, delivered an address to Labour's Momentum movement* in support of leadership candidate Emily Greenwood. His comments came after remarking that both leadership candidates would make fine heads of the Labour movement and in amplifying voices of those who have been ignored, but that the plans from Emily demonstrate her readiness to not ony be an ally of the grass-roots but be an effective convener of voices from Day 1.
“I don’t need to start this speech by talking about just how imperative it is we beat the Tories right now. I don’t need to start with statistics or with imagery talking about those that have been left behind. We all know what that’s like. We’ve seen pictures. So many of us have been in that situation ourselves. And we’ve seen just how little the Tories care as they focus instead on supporting the rich and on selling off the promises made to the people.

“What I do want to talk about is how we as Labour turn things around. That starts here in our leadership campaign, but it continues through to every action we take in Parliament, every campaign we get behind, every statement we make.

“What drew me to Labour was our message, our basic fundamental beliefs that everyone deserves basic rights and dignity as people that live here. We all bear the brunt of austerity, not just the rich. We all bear the brunt of racism and hatred. We all bear the brunt of policies designed to divide us. Labour doesn’t stand for that, and we need a leader who will make sure she can say the same. That’s why I’m proud to support Emily Greenwood as the next Labour leader.

“On day 1, Emily came out with a real plan to focus on support for those that have needed it most and that have been left behind. She came out with a real plan to strengthen the voice of the worker. She came out with a real plan to support and uplift women, minorities, and those who have been targeted by soulless Tory policies. She came out with a real plan to raise wages in a meaningful and lasting way so that a hard day’s work isn’t taken away by those at the top or cut down by regulations and loopholes that benefit the few.

“And that plan has come from listening to the people, in listening to the voices of Labour over the last few years rather than deciding on policies that she decides will be the things to beat the Tories. She believes not just in the Labour Party, but the Labour Movement, and that’s why the voices in Momentum will have a true ally in Emily.

“We need someone with a plan, not someone who will just play the politics game. We need someone who’s going to be a convener of so many different voices and views in Labour, someone who has lived social justice, not someone who tries to co-opt that idea.

“And at the core, I believe in Emily. I believe that when she says ‘comrades,’ she doesn’t say it in the hopes of selling herself. She has seen first hand up in her constituency and in her community what happens when folks get left behind- and she was there to offer a helping hand rather than speeches and empty promises.

“She’s seen first-hand what comes from this idea that the private sector is better when we all know it’s only there to enrich people, which is why she’s come out and said we’re going to end PFI schemes that just see our NHS and our public services sold off to the highest bidder.

“She’s seen first-hand what poor wage policies do to hard-working people and families, which is why she’s come out with strong wage plans that will lift up everyone in this country.

“She’s seen first-hand how a completely uncaring Tory Government has completely left behind those that just need a hand up through their Universal Credit scheme, which is why she’s come out with meaningful and needed reforms to actually provide support to people rather than the budget’s bottom line.

“She’s seen how moderated or unambitious environmental policies have robbed communities of green spaces or served to enrich the oil companies at the expense of public health- now and in the future. That’s why she’s proposing the most revolutionary green policies to transform our country: providing opportunities for workers, protecting the future of our vulnerable people and communities, and turning Britain into a strong leader on tackling our real climate emergency

“I’d rather have these solid promises, these meaningful ideas that will treat people with respect and dignity, than something empty which might sound like we can increase our power but will only leave us in the same boat we are now: outside, looking in, hoping the Tories do the one thing the have no capacity to do when it comes to actually being a force for good.

“And I know with Emily that we’ll ALWAYS have a voice. Because I know Emily is on the side of right and on the side of what Labour has long stood for: respect, rights, and dignity for everyone living in the United Kingdom. She listens to the voices of our movement and uses them to make policy rather than paying lip-service to electoral tricks. She knows the struggles of real people and real communities throughout the United Kingdom, and her experience on promoting social justice is what our grassroots movement needs to really prove that the Labour Movement is there for those who need it.

“Labour has the message that voters want to hear. We have the policies that we know will make Britain better for everyone that works, visits, and lives here. What we need is the leadership who will take these ideas and run with them, give them the support that they need to actually get enacted. I know Emily is the one that can get us there. She’s not there to choose the policies that will ‘beat the Tories’ but instead to build a movement of people that can stand up for real justice for all. And she’s the one I know we should support for leader. Thank you!”
* - Approved by Amelia
Ashton Edwards MP
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Brings “Every Community Counts” to Kensington

NORTH KENSINGTON - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington, returned to his constituency to highlight Labour’s “Every Community Counts'' campaign which aims to focus on regional inequalities. Even within communities, there are inequalities that need to be addressed: Kensington is not uniformly wealthy and there are groups that are too often left behind by gentrification and development. Ashton’s remarks focused on the importance of the community in social care, which has suffered heavily from Tory cuts since 2010, but also highlighted Labour’s overarching goal to provide economic and social benefits to all communities- including ones that might be otherwise written off as wealthy.

Labour’s campaign, kicked off by Emily Greenwood, seeks to promote policies and fund investments that support communities that are left behind, from individuals and families to business groups and local councils. And even in London, which is considered to be well-positioned to weather the turmoil of an uncertain future, there are communities- such as those in North Kensington- that could benefit from these programs to help address years of crowding out by wealthier groups and individuals.

From investment into council housing to finally building a long-promised Crossrail station in North Kensington, the “Every Community Counts” campaign can bring benefits to those that need it more.
“As the Prime Minister talks about a ‘Bigger Britain,’ about some of these grand plans after Brexit, it’s important for us to really consider what those proposals mean not for aggregate balance sheets but rather in the lives of those who live in our communities. There’s this grand desire to point to a larger GDP and a higher number of profitable firms which is obvious; what’s less obvious from this plan is how this Government is going to actually uplift and provide for those that need it most.

“North Kensington was always a diverse community, but as the drive for wealth has grown we’ve seen too many left behind. Affordable housing is bulldozed over- or even allowed to burn- to make sure that the community is palatable and tasteful for the rich few. The council sold its last social care home last year to a company that is selling apartments for a minimum of £3m and with a servicing fee that is double the state pension. Those who have real needs are simply packed up and bussed to other communities.

”I know the Government will think this is just a measure of success, but it’s not. It’s not a success to those who see themselves priced out of communities where they’ve lived for years. It’s not a success to those who have seen opportunities dry up.

“That’s why Labour has our ‘Every Community Counts’ campaign. Much of the investments we’ll make and the policies we’ll promote are going to focus on strengthening local councils to provide services, rather than having to see further cuts and being told to make do with less. The plan for a Crossrail station here will finally be a reality, making commutes easier for those who have built lives here and who want to keep them. Plans for care homes- care homes that are actually affordable rather than just designed for the super-rich- can turn into reality. Support for affordable housing will keep this community diverse and safe from the power of international investors who want to park money here but not contribute.

“‘Every Community Counts’ is about uplifting everyone, and I’m glad to be a part of a party that is focusing on everyone rather on a Bigger Bottom Line. Because the bottom line is when you look at Kensington, you think ‘rich’ and you think that it’s not worth investing. But it is- and because there are people who can really benefit here from not being forgotten or written off in the quest for the Bigger Bottom Line. Labour’s here to make sure that Every Community Counts, and I’ll be there to make sure that my own constituency is included as a part of that.”
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards: Jerusalem Embassy Proposal Is A Threat to Lasting Peace

WESTMINSTER - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington, hit at the proposal from the Conservative Government to move the British Embassy from Tel Aviv, where most countries have their main embassies to Israel, to Jerusalem. The move was sold as little more than a bit of diplomatic trivia by the Government, but it’s clear, said Edwards, that there are implications for a peace process that is aimed towards ensuring that Israel can continue to exist as a free, democratic state alongside a state of Palestine.

“The Government says that ‘oh, we’ll use our consulate in Jerusalem for this’ without realizing at best- and without caring at worst- that the consulate is in occupied East Jerusalem. This move delitigimises the long-standing UK position that the status of Jerusalem should be determined by negotiations… and legitimises an illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in particular that the international community has denounced,” said Edwards.

Previous Governments had taken the position that Jerusalem should not be a divided city and that the status of the city should be determined by the parties involved: Israel and Palestine. Previous Governments have also criticised Israel’s attempts to try to annex or settle East Jerusalem- anything that might prejudice the ability of Palestine to use the city as a capital based on negotiations.

Placing the British Embassy, even temporarily, in East Jerusalem, could very easily be used to suggest British acceptance of the occupation of the city and disrupt a fragile peace process- even looking beyond the Government’s comments.

Edwards also highlighted comments made by former Prime Minister Theresa May, which were echoed by Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy in remarks in Parliament today. In response to the move by President Donald Trump to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, May noted that the move was “unhelpful” for the cause of peace. Edwards said the move was certainly unhelpful, if not moving in the wrong direction entirely.

“The Government said this is recognizing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem- which might mean a tacit acceptance of an occupation that we have said is illegal and a throwing out of a very vital and important part of the peace process. The Government says they want to see peace and will stand for it, but they don’t have any clue that this is moving us away from peace, or at least a just peace that will be fair to everyone involved. I know they’ll say I’m wrong, and I hope I am. Israelis deserve security, Palestinians deserve justice, and people in both communities deserve peace. This decision puts all of those out of further reach,” Edwards added.
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Speaks to National Education Union on Abuse of Teachers

CAMDEN - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington and Shadow Education Secretary, spoke to members of the National Education Union (NEU)* on Labour’s proposed policies to protect teachers and staff from violence and abuse in schools. In a letter sent to the Prime Minister, the heads of the largest teachers’ unions in the country- the NEU, the NASUWT, and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)- urged action to protect teachers in the classroom and to provide a safe place for abuse and violence to be reported. According to the unions, some teachers have even been warned against reporting abuse and violence for fear of losing their jobs.

While the Government blasted the unions for “not having ideas” and reportedly suggested putting more police in schools and even corporal punishment, Edwards noted that Labour was listening to teachers’ unions and incorporating their ideas into a national strategy to protect teachers and staff. While the Government later denied those positions, it has yet to suggest any reforms in response to the serious concerns of the teachers’ unions.
“I know when the last Prime Minister and current Prime Minister came to meet with unions including the NEU to raise the issue of abuse and violence against teachers and staff, they came back and sent out some tweets- talking about how unprepared the NEU and other unions were.

“‘Would you believe,’ he said, ‘that the country’s three largest teachers’ unions have not a single idea about how to keep teachers safe in schools.’

“I couldn’t believe what I read. Who would accuse teachers of being unprepared? Who would really say the same people who dedicate their lives to sharing knowledge with students are the ones who have no ideas?

“It would be funny if it weren’t so insulting.

“Since 2010 we’ve seen the Tories toss a pittance to education when it comes to funding, while class sizes are increasing; teachers are being asked to do more with less. Teacher pay has lagged behind their peers in other countries. And there’s been an obsession with free schools that consider expansion of these schools as an unqualified success without asking what that does to the teachers and staff who make it their lives’ work to educate future generations.

“But I’m not just here to attack the Tories. I’m here because, unlike a Government that seeks to blame everyone else for their shortcomings, we’re here with a plan. And a lot of it actually comes from the same people that the former and current Prime Minister blasted as unprepared. It comes from the very people in this room.

“See, unlike the Government, we know that the NEU, along with other teachers’ unions, actually has looked into this issue with the aim of making schools safer for teachers and staff.

“And it’s policies that have been suggested by the NEU and other unions that Labour will help implement. We’re not in Government now, but I fully intend for Labour to use our voices to get the Government to finally act. After all, they said they wouldn’t sit by while teachers and staff were suffering… and then have moved on to ignoring the issue like they have since coming to power.

“Our voices are going to push the Government to mandate, not recommend, that all employers of teachers and staff conduct yearly risk assessments on violence and abuse towards staff and teachers. These assessments will clearly identify the risks of violence and abuse, the effects that they have on teachers and staff, and most importantly identify how those risks will be addressed. Employers at every sort of school will be required to take action to address the risks and make sure that teachers, staff, and the public know what they’re doing.

“Our voices are going to push the Government to mandate, not recommend, that all employers also respect the right to report assaults. This respect will mean that every report will be treated seriously. This respect means that teachers and staff who report violence or abuse do not lose their jobs just because they filed a report. And this respect will mean that employers share information with teachers’ unions and with the government through the Health and Safety Executive so that you- and we- are doing everything we can to protect teachers and staff.

“Our voices are going to push the Government to mandate, not recommend, that all employers have a policy in place that will cover reporting of potential crimes to police.

“And most important, our voices are going to push the Government to mandate, not recommend, that employers have policies in place to actually protect teachers and staff who are attacked. These policies include providing a safe space for teachers and staff that need it, providing contact with union members and officials for support, providing medical treatment if needed, providing counseling services, and providing those teachers and staff a chance to weigh in on a revised risk assessment.

“Where we need to, we’ll push for these proposals to be enshrined in legislation and in statutory guidance that will apply to all schools; if the Government can mandate all schools fly a Union flag then they had better be ready to require them all to actually do something to protect teachers and staff from assault.

“I want to say again all these policies were ones that came from the NEU and its members. The same union and members that the former and current Prime Ministers thought were unprepared.

“And rather than sit and wait and hope future Governments can act when needed, we want to empower our teachers to take action on setting standards through reforming the Chartered College of Teaching into a new Royal College of Teachers, complete with the financial support it deserves. This reform will boost the recognition and prestige of teachers to a level that they ought to be at. And it will help give teachers a stronger voice when it comes to setting standards in schools and providing opportunities for teachers to better their craft while also giving them a venue to ensure that concerns are heard and tackled, rather than talked and tweeted about.

“I’m not all that removed from being taught by some amazing teachers on the Wirral, and I’m honoured to work with Emily Greenwood who’s not all that removed from being a teacher herself. We both understand how hard it is to be a teacher. Emily because she’s been there, and me… because I probably wasn’t the most well-behaved. We both absolutely draw the line at teachers and staff feeling unsafe. And that’s why we’re going to push this plan, while the Government continues to stand by.

“Teachers and staff deserve better. And working with the NEU and other teachers’ unions, it’s Labour that’s going to make sure they get it.”
*- Approved by Amelia
Ashton Edwards MP
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Defends Free Speech, Jobs, and Cultural Influence of Channel 4

WESTMINSTER - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington and Shadow Culture Secretary, spoke in Parliament against the Government's Broadcasting Act 2019, legislation that Edwards said is not based in truth and that contains chilling attacks on free speech. The legislation would see the Government sell off publicly-owned Channel 4, even though it does not use any government or public funds to sustain itself, as well as put in place draconian anti-free speech codes against those the Tories see as "politically biased."

Edwards did note in his address that the legislation contains some positive points: the requirement to use more British Sign Language in programming as well as the requirement that all catch-up services and streaming services provide closed captioning. The moves, said Edwards, are a strong step forward in promoting accessibility.

Couching these measures in legislation that represents a step backwards in other ways, however, was concerning.

With respect to Channel 4, Edwards noted that "in 2018, it spent just under £500 million on original content, with most of this money supporting production houses outside of London. Independent analysis commissioned in 2017 by Channel 4 shows that 3,000 jobs are supported by Channel 4’s spend in the Nations and Regions. And just this year it announced its plan to open a National Headquarters in Leeds, joining creative offices in Glasgow and Bristol as hubs for creativity and innovation in broadcasting and in movie making outside of the Home Counties." Additionally, much of this spend is on independent production houses, whereas other channels often create programmes in-house. The funding supports creativity in areas outside of London and takes advantage of innovative new ideas to educate and entertain all at once.

"Channel 4 also has a mandate to provide educational programming; this mandate would disappear with the Government's actions. I think there's reasonable debate to be had about the benefits of educational programming, but studies show that it helps children develop and has positive outcomes for young people and families. Losing that is losing a part of our culture."

Edwards also spoke against provisions that would see a regulatory agency of the central government policing speech for political bias. These provisions would also require the BBC put in place a code of conduct that would control what any BBC employee- of any level- says even when they're off the job. "People may say things we disagree with. But it is an unquestioned right that they have the right to say things so long as it does not promote violence or threaten our democracy. That's the core of the Human Rights Act. And yet this Government wants to ditch that because they're disappointed with what some people have said about issues like Brexit."

Edwards called on the Government to pull the legislation given the assault on truth made when it was introduced... and on the assault on lasting human rights that must be protected. Edwards also added he'd do everything he could to support Channel 4 and the 3,000 jobs that depend on it and the right to free expression more broadly.
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Hails Labour's Pledge to establish National Violence Reduction Unit to Support Communities on Knife Crime

WESTMINSTER - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington, hailed a speech by Shadow Home Secretary Liam McMahon as part of the Opposition's "Every Community Counts" initiative that would see a national initiative to help communities establish Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) to reduce knife crime and other violent crimes which even the Tories have admitted are on the rise under their watch. VRUs were pioneered in Scotland after Glasgow was dubbed the "murder capital of Europe" by the World Health Organisation. VRUs take a more complete, holistic approach to combatting crime and particularly its causes, which is where true toughness is needed, said Edwards.

According to a study by St. Andrew's University looking at the impact of Scotland's VRU - which was centered around Glasgow and created several initiatives - was strongly positive, with violent crime falling by 46% over the course of thirteen years of the program being operational. Weapon carrying fell by 85%, gang fighting fell by 73%, and the satisfaction and the feeling of safety of tenants in targeted neighborhoods rose from 63% to 84%. These particular findings were specifically linked to the VRU and its efforts.

"There's no question that the VRUs- which look at fighting crime as well as its causes by getting the entire community involved in policing- are successful. Scotland's program was funded with just £1 million a year. Aside from the immeasurable personal cost, the cost of investigating a single murder is £1.4 million- so the Scotland program has unquestionably paid for itself just looking at that. But when you see statistics like the fall in violent crime, you also have to remember that every one of those statistics represents lives saved, families kept intact, and people kept healthy. It's absolutely something we should incentivise across the country, and I'm proud that the Shadow Home Secretary is spearheading this initiative on our side. We'll see if the Government can keep up," said Edwards.

The initiative to establish a series of VRUs across the country with the support of the national government is exactly the kind of policy that fits into Labour's "Every Community Counts" programme. It pulls in resources that ought to be cooperating on fighting crime and its causes and allows them to do so, making every member of the community from police to shop owners to mental and physical health professionals to schools a part of the solution.

"The Government itself has said knife crime has risen during their time in power, so we need a new approach rather than more of the same. The Shadow Home Secretary is showing that he and Labour are going to be tough on crime in a way that will actually yield positive results, with less crime and less violence tearing apart our communities. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of Labour right now.," said Edwards.
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Stands with Teachers Against Violence and Abuse in Government Bill

WESTMINSTER - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington and Shadow Education Secretary, responded to a proposed bill by the Government that would create an "ineffective" reporting procedure that would fail to help protect teachers from abuse and violence in the classroom. His response highlighted the grave concerns with legislation that would make Ofsted- an oversight agency without any ability to perform investigations into individual cases of abuse or violence- an agency that teachers can go to, and he offered an amendment that would change the legislation for the better by offering real protections for teachers.

The draft legislation, presented by the Prime Minister, would set up a hotline in Ofsted for teachers to report abuse and violence against them and have Ofsted provide counseling services to students who are the subject of a complaint. The problem, according to Edwards, is that "Ofsted itself clearly and definitively states they cannot and do not act as an investigator for specific instances of abuse or violence as this Act would have them be. They do not have an investigatory arm nor even meaningful experience in investigating complaints about violence and abuse against staff."

However, Edwards also stated that using the bill to do right by teachers was a far better use of Parliament's time rather than scoring political points. He proposed an amendment that would move the responsibility away from Ofsted- which has no power- to employers of teachers and administrators where it belongs. The protection of teachers and staff against violence and abuse is an important part of existing health and safety rules; employers are already required to ensure the health and safety of workers. In schools, that requirement extends to protecting students as well.

"So the answer is not to create a system wherein teachers and staff may freely report abuse to a system that is incapable of handling it, but rather pushing for employers to do their statutory duty to protect teachers: to identify the real risks posed to teachers and staff of violence and abuse, to develop a plan to mitigate those risks, and to ensure teachers that do suffer are provided with meaningful support. None of those provisions are provided for under the Government’s legislation, which I think represents a missed opportunity to get things right," said Edwards of the proposed legislation.

The amendment would, as Edwards told the NEU in a recent speech, require that risks relating to violence and abuse be assessed and addressed, that protections be offered to teachers that allow them to report violence and abuse and then receive support if they are affected, and put in place strong oversight by the Health and Safety Executive and Ofsted to make sure schools were following procedures and ensuring their effectiveness.

The draft legislation also has provisions protecting the right of teachers and staff to submit complaints free from interference and free from having employers or administrators or other staff trying to block an investigation. Edwards hailed that provision as it was reported by the teachers' unions that such a provision was needed. His amendment would keep those provisions as well.

"What teachers need is a system that will actually work. I want that, the unions representing teachers want that, and at the end of the day I know in my heart the Government wants that too. I've wanted to be a partner in a real solution, and I hope the Government will take me up on that."
Ashton Edwards MP
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Unveils Labour’s National Care Service Plan with Speech to AgeUK

CAMDEN - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington and Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, spoke to the AgeUK* charity and unveiled Labour’s plans to implement a National Care Service which will radically change how the UK supports and funds social care for those who need it. Despite political statements saying that providing social care is important, Tory Governments have cute funding for social care out of local authority budgets since coming to power in 2010, meaning that there is less funding now to take care of those in need- from working-age adults who need assistance for mental health ailments to those over the age of 65 who need support in their pension years. Labour’s proposal would establish a National Care Service which, like the NHS, would fully fund social care needs for every adult, free at the point of use.

There have been significant costs for not having a robust system to provide social care, from 1.4 million older adults who struggle to get through daily tasks without assistance despite requests for assistance to the 2.6 million people who have left the workforce since 2017 to care for family or friends in the absence of a needed safety net. Some of the most important questions on AgeUK’s own websites regarding social care ask “do I need to sell my home to pay for care” and “can I give away my home to avoid paying.”

Edwards laid out a path forward towards a National Care Service, noting that there will be challenges along the way in getting local authorities, which have long been responsible for social care, the resources they need and getting them to work collaboratively with various aspects of the NHS. But the challenges, he said, pale in comparison to the need, as a civilised society, to make sure that those who are in need get the care they deserve.

The proposal is a core part of Labour's “Every Community Counts” initiative, because rather than centralise decisions on health with the NHS and attempts to try to centralise how care is commissioned and delivered, more authority is focused at the local level- where people who need care live and are treated.

Edward’s full remarks are reprinted below.
”I had considered opening with a poignant quote from a poem by Robert Browning- though I’ll admit I think I first heard it from John Lennon- that said ‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.’ It seemed as though it would be a great way to get attention and start a speech.

“I was disappointed to see that this had been used before- by Jeremy Hunt, two years ago. So I should apologize at least for stepping on his toes.

“But in that speech two years ago, Mr. Hunt said, in effect, that we had a lot of work to do to make the poignant line meaningful for millions in this country. In response to that, he pledged another green paper about what could be done about social care. That pledge would merely add to a pile of documents- more than a dozen White Papers, Green Papers, and consultations- about what we need to do and add little to the forward progress of providing social care.

“What is perhaps the strongest condemnation of that pile of documents on social care that has not resulted in meaningful reform actually comes from this group. The fragmented and rather poorly managed funding of social care- blame that ought to be placed almost solely on the shoulders of the national government- has become so bad that AgeUK has, on its website for discussing how to pay for social care, frequently-asked questions about whether someone should worry about losing their home to pay for care or whether they can give away their home to qualify for benefits.

“Benefits which are already paltry as is.

“And in laying out a plan that would result in another green paper, Mr. Hunt said that we as a country could do better. A country that has seen millions turned away from assistance in paying for care. A country where people leave the workforce to take care of family because there’s no one else there to do it- and where those who leave work as carers for sometimes no funding at all. A country where care home providers- when you can find them- are failing financially or failing to provide the quality and dignity of life that everyone deserves. A country where- like in my home constituency of Kensington- the council sells off a publicly-funded home to a private concern where penthouses are going for a minimum of £3 million.

“Well, we can do better. To get there, we're also going to do better than another green paper. Labour has proposed a National Care Service. And while there will be consultations and efforts to make this work, we’re also ready to start acting now.

“In the immediate term, this means that we’re going to expand funding for local authorities which are the providers of social care. First, we’re going to make up the £6 billion that is needed to bring care up to the level that it was at in 2010- right as austerity started to pull care support away from those in need. We know that the demand for social care services has grown, and we know that the Government has long asked for local authorities to do more with less. This new funding is going to get councils the resources they need to approve applications for assistance- rather than having to turn them down for lack of funds.

“In the immediate term, we’ll use £1 billion in funding to expand allowances and support to carers through local councils. These efforts will have the target of ensuring that those who care for others get compensation on par with the National Health Service. This both provides a meaningful thank you to those who are standing up to care for family, friends, and loved ones, and will help attract care workers into a field where there’s already a shortage of workers. I respect those who are willing to give up careers in order to care for those that they’re close to. Those individuals are just as much heroes as the front-line workers in our NHS, and they absolutely deserve to be rewarded and treated that way.

“And lastly, in the immediate term, we’ll use £10 billion to actually start expanding care. Currently, in order to qualify for aid on social care costs, the total value of your assets- including your home if you own it- is around £24,000. If you own- not make, but just own- more than that, your odds of getting meaningful financial help for social care are slim. It’s why AgeUK has to put up advice on whether you might need to sell or give away your home just to access basic social care. We’re going to immediately raise that to £125,000, and continue to raise it with inflation. That’s going to unlock access to care for a half a million adults who have no choice but to either face catastrophic costs on their own or go without. We’ll also put a cap on lifetime out-of-pocket expenses at £25,000; the moment you’ve paid that much- even if you already have- then our National Care Service will be funding the care you need from then on.

“This funding will also allow us to make personal care at home absolutely free for every adult over the age of 65, and provide a stipend equal to that amount for those who are in care homes. This personal care will be there to help with getting dressed, with cooking, with cleaning- with the services that people may need help with around their own homes on a day-to-day basis. Our funding will make sure that the pain or difficulty of doing tasks at home is no longer a barrier to a quality lifestyle for pensioners- because the last thing anyone should be worried about is whether they’ll have the strength or the ability to do those tasks alone.

“Our efforts in this end are just the start. They’re things that we can do easily enough… and that’s when it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and get to work making a National Care Service that helps everyone.

“Over the course of the next few years, we’ll be phasing out the means test and lowering the lifetime costs cap. We’ll extend the payment of free social care to all adults. We’ll be raising the wages and benefits of caregivers to recognise their efforts on helping those who need it most. And we’ll expand the ability of local authorities to provide care services themselves- so that we’re not stuck relying on the £3 million care homes that almost no one in this country can afford. Local authorities will have the power to buy up underperforming or failing care service providers and given funding to start their own services as well to boost the availability of critically-needed care services

“We’ll also be working to put in place standards of care, a system to ensure those standards are met, and rules that help local authorities work more closely with the NHS on coordinating a combined approach that will help reduce the costs but also ensure that every adult who needs social care and medical care can get treated and cared for. Instead of having to worry about who to contact when you need a service, instead of worrying about dozens of different caregivers for different needs, every adult who needs one will have all their health needs assessed, shared, and most importantly covered- at no cost to that adult.

“A system like this is a large undertaking. There are questions to be answered about eligibility, about how to best deliver services, about how to ensure that this system is going to be around for the long term. They’re answers we’ve been working on, and they’ll include conversations with caregivers of health and social care, with those receiving care, and with groups like AgeUK and others that represent those who are most vulnerable but who will also benefit the most from this National Care Service.

“Some of the structures are already there. Through Health and Wellbeing Boards, local authorities and local NHS commissioners and providers already build relationships that we’ll need for a truly universal National Care Service to work. These boards also represent and will be open to carers and those in need alike. We’ll strengthen these institutions and ensure they’re funded to make sure that we can deliver a high standard of care across the country.

“And as part of Labour’s ‘Every Community Counts’ campaign, this also lives up to our promise to ensure that communities are the ones given the voice on how to deliver care to the people who live there. Care decisions should be made closest to those receiving them; this is how you get the best health outcomes and the best support for those in need.

“Through National Insurance contributions, we’re already making sure that there’s some funding available for health and that we can appropriately ringfence funding so it goes to where it’s needed. We’ll need to expand what we’re asking for- particularly from working age adults- to help pay for care, but by making sure that we have a fully-funded system, then it will always be there, for everyone.

“This year is the 72nd birthday of the NHS. And there were many challenges that had to be faced, questions answered, in setting up a system that has become a world-class example of what could be for other countries. But we addressed those challenges and developed a system that Britain is rightfully proud of.

“Our NHS is an example of the saying that what comes easy won’t last… and what lasts won’t come easy.

“Each time a Government puts out a green paper or a white paper or a consultation, they’re looking for that easy answer. A Government that promises they can do all this in one bill and without working with service providers and those in need, they’re looking for the easy answer.

“Our proposal is not an easy answer. It will take time and effort to implement. But we’ve been supported already by the work of so many: AgeUK, which has put together great resources to help people find care where it’s available now. The King’s Fund, which has put together some potential paths forward. Scotland, which has had free personal care at home for some time now. Carers, who have shown us that there is unending compassion in the United Kingdom towards those in need and who have shown me that we can do this. And those in need, for never staying silent, for pushing for all of us to find the best within us. But our National Care Service can last.

“And then, 72 years from now, when another speaker is talking about the NCS and the collaborative approach to health and wellness that we’re building on, they can cite Robert Browning and say ‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.’

“And with our work, they’d finally be right.”
*- Approved by Amelia
Ashton Edwards MP
MP for Kensington (2017-) | Labour
Shadow Foreign Secretary (2020-)
Shadow Health and Social Affairs Secretary (2020-)
Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary (2019-)

Shadow Health, Education and Social Care Secretary (2019-2020)
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Re: Press Office of Ashton Edwards

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Ashton Edwards Tackles Government's Brexit Plan: Only Benefit Seems to Be "Better Than No-Deal"

WESTMINSTER - Ashton Edwards, MP for Kensington and Shadow Foreign Secretary, has been leading Labour's examination of the latest Brexit arrangement announced by the Government, saying that the deal, which has been poorly explained and poorly supported by the Government, is better than a no-deal Brexit, but that a lot of questions remain.

While the announcement from the Government that the UK would join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein and also join the European Economic Area - the Single Market - was an attempt to define the future relationship with Europe, the announcement also overturns a number of the decisions made as part of the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement. Part of the Government's new agreement will keep the UK in the Single Market, it will continue to subject the UK to EU rules without a means of affecting their development, and it will eliminate almost any chance for the UK to regulate immigration from EU countries.

The Government's support for the agreement has, according to Edwards, come down to two arguments: "It's better than no deal," and "vote for this because it's our last chance."

Edwards has taken a leading role in pushing for greater clarity, which the Government has been unable to provide. "I wonder what the aim of the Government really is," said Edwards. "They don't seem to recognise the difference between EFTA and the Single Market. They don't seem to recognise how many EU rules and regulations we will have to accept without question. They don't seem to recognise that we will still have to pay potentially billions of pounds a year to the EU as part of the Single Market. And they seem to completely ignore the fact that one of the biggest reasons people voted for Brexit- control of our borders- is just scrapped by this deal entirely."

Edwards did note that the Government was right in saying that this new agreement is better than having no deal. "The Government has talked about the economic and social concerns with a no-deal Brexit. They've spent more time on that than they have focusing on the benefits of their deal, and for good reason: no deal would be uncharted waters that I worry about this Government's ability to navigate," added Edwards.

In a statement in Parliament, Edwards noted that lost in the Government's position is the cost to people: farmers who would still be subject to rules on food production and safety, businesses that are still subject to employment and competition law, families who are concerned about immigration. "We have to deliver a Brexit for the people. I worry the Government has not only forgotten that... but that they don't care."
Ashton Edwards MP
MP for Kensington (2017-) | Labour
Shadow Foreign Secretary (2020-)
Shadow Health and Social Affairs Secretary (2020-)
Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary (2019-)

Shadow Health, Education and Social Care Secretary (2019-2020)
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