Lilian Greenwood – 2019 Speech on Funding and Maintenance of Local Roads

Below is the text of the speech made by Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, in the House of Commons on 4 July 2019.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for the opportunity to make a statement to the House on the 10th report of the Transport Committee, “Local roads funding and maintenance: filling the gap”, which we published on Monday. The successful preparation of all our reports depends on the hard work of the Committee’s Clerks and staff, the diligence of the Members who make up our Committee—I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner) in the Chamber—and the generosity of our witnesses, who give up their time to prepare for and take part in our sessions.

I particularly thank Paula Claytonsmith, Lynne Stinson, Lynne Wait and Anne Shaw for ensuring that we heard expert female voices in a male-dominated sector. I am sorry that the Roads Minister, the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis), cannot be here today, but he has conveyed his sincere apologies, and I am sure he will pay close attention to Hansard tomorrow.

There is a plague of potholes blighting our local roads and pavements. This is not a new phenomenon, but one that successive Governments and councils across the land have failed to tackle. The consequences of this failure are all around us—we see them every day. I want to talk about the impacts of poor road and pavement conditions, why Government and local authority actions to date have been ineffectual and our report’s recommendations for tackling the problem.

On my journey to work, here in Westminster and out and about in my constituency, I see many examples of cracked and crumbling roads. Just today, a constituent emailed me about Green Lane in Clifton. Last week, Westminster City Council filled a pothole just around the corner from the Department for Transport that I had ridden into on my way home—I confess that it caused me to use some very unparliamentary language.

Our witnesses told us about the serious impacts that potholes have on the lives of pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and other road users. For example, poor pavements can strand older, frail and vulnerable people in their homes. Living Streets has found that nearly a third of adults over 65 felt reluctant to leave the house on foot due to the volume of cracks and uneven surfaces on surrounding streets, and almost two thirds of older people were ​worried about the state of street surfaces. Nearly half said that well-maintained pavements would make them more likely to go for a walk. Poorly maintained roads create real risks for vulnerable road users. DFT data shows that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured due to defective road surfaces more than tripled between 2005 and 2017.

Local authorities must compensate motorists for damage to vehicles resulting from poor road conditions, and the cost of doing so has risen dramatically in recent years. Kwik Fit has estimated that the damage caused to vehicles from potholes in 2017 cost £915 million to repair, an increase of more than a third on the repair bill in 2016. Based on its share of Britain’s car insurance market, the AA has estimated that 3,500 claims had been made for pothole damage in 2017. The cost of this compensation ultimately falls on taxpayers, and it diverts money away from funding vital public services.

One of the most frustrating things about poor road conditions—this came through very clearly in our evidence—is the lack of any consistent reporting tool that drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users can use to report problem potholes. Some councils have their own online tools, and there are nationwide sites such as FixMyStreet, but there is a lack of transparency around the whole reporting process, little clarity about what will be done and no guarantee that people will get a reply. Mark Morrell—“Mr Pothole”—for years a doughty campaigner against the pothole scourge, made a powerful case to us to fix this.

Why, year after year, do these problems persist? Why have successive Governments and local councils not done anything about them? In truth, they have tried, but their efforts have been inconsistent, and as a result the outcomes have been sub-optimal. They are constrained by three key things: funding, information and collaboration.

The key issue is funding. For decades, councils have complained that they do not have the funding to undertake a preventive—and, ultimately, cheaper and more effective—approach to maintaining their local roads and pavements. Successive Governments have responded to this by providing short-term, stop-start capital pots, such as the pothole action fund. Any extra funding is of course welcome, but the wrong funding in the wrong place at the wrong time means that councils simply mitigate the most obvious damage. It does not encourage the more effective, proactive maintenance that is the key to the long-term renewal of our local roads, as we heard from council after council.

The second issue is that councils sometimes do not have a full picture of the state of their road networks. If they do not know what they are dealing with, how can they plan and price maintenance properly? This lack of knowledge can be improved by innovating in data collection methods. There has been good work in this area in recent years, and there is a real desire on the part of Government and industry to work together to find solutions.

We heard about a similar willingness to innovate in the third area—good practice and collaboration. There is a real opportunity for initiatives such as the use of recycled plastic, self-repairing technology, graphene and even drones to bring down the cost of road repairs. We heard about the innovation and good practice going on across the country, but it was not always easy for this to be shared beyond individual councils and regions.​

Our report makes a series of detailed recommendations to the Government to tackle these problems, and I want to highlight four of them. First and foremost, funding: there is not enough of it, and what there is is not allocated efficiently or effectively. Local government revenue funding has fallen by about 25% since 2010. The allocation within it for local roads is not ring-fenced, and it is often used by councils to plug gaps in other budgets. Capital funding, through the pothole action fund and other pots, is sporadic and time-limited.

To tackle this problem we recommend a front-loaded, long-term funding settlement for local councils in England. The DFT should champion it, and the Treasury should seriously consider it as part of the forthcoming spending review. This would enable local authorities to address the historical road maintenance backlog and plan confidently for the future. The settlement should not only include capital pots managed by the DFT, but roll up into a five-year settlement the revenue support elements of roads funding administered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. This critical funding reform must not be an excuse for a budget cut.

Secondly, innovation is essential if the efficiency and effectiveness of local road maintenance is to continue to improve, which it must in the face of limited funding. It is right that the Government stimulate and encourage innovation, but the value for money of any investment is properly repaid only when new technologies, ideas and ways of working are scaled up and made available to all. In the light of this, we have recommended that the DFT work across government to collate all innovation funding for local roads in one place, establish as far as possible common rules for bidding and properly assess the benefits of innovation initiatives.

Thirdly, local authorities will be able to make better use of available funds for road maintenance only if they can target such funding well, and this requires good data. The DFT needs to be clear about whether the data it receives from local authorities on road conditions is consistent and allows valid comparisons to be made. It needs to be clear what it does with such data, how it is analysed and what action is taken on the back of the conclusions it draws. The DFT should also make it easier for the public to report road condition concerns and access local authority road condition data. We recommend that it does this by running an innovation competition to develop a platform the public can use to make online reports about road conditions directly to their council and to access real-time local road condition data.

Fourthly, making the best use of the available funding requires the sharing and adoption of good practice in road maintenance. This is a key role for central Government. The DFT should commit to monitoring and reviewing the current approach and reporting within two years on its effects and impacts. Local councils and industry are developing good practice in highway survey and maintenance. However, from the evidence we have received, it is not always clear that this is being widely shared. Regional highway alliances should be sharing good practice and benchmarking it against one another. The DFT could do more to facilitate this—for example, by providing a virtual good practice toolkit and repository, so that councils across England can find examples of good practice.

In conclusion, local roads are the arteries of prosperous and vibrant villages, towns and cities. They are critical to the movement of goods, as well as helping people to ​get around. The consequences of a deteriorating local road network are significant. It undermines local economic performance and results in direct costs to taxpayers. The safety of other road users is seriously compromised. This plague of potholes is a major headache for everyone. It is time for the Government to be bold, to take up our recommendations and to give councils the funding and the wider system of support that they need if they are to deliver for our constituents the roads and pavements they deserve.

Lilian Greenwood – 2019 Speech on the Local Housing Allowance

Below is the text of the speech made by Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, in the House of Commons on 17 June 2019.

It is just over nine years since I became the Member of Parliament for Nottingham South and in that time, I have secured a number of debates on housing and homelessness. I wish I could say that my contributions had led to an improvement in the situation for some of my constituency’s most vulnerable citizens, but I am afraid that things have got worse, rather than better. I suggest that every one of us here will have witnessed a sharp rise in the most visible form of homelessness: rough sleeping.

Back in 2010, the official count for rough sleepers in Nottingham was three. I first raised the issue in Parliament in December 2011, because it had risen sixfold in a year. Andrew Redfern, the chief executive of local homelessness charity, Framework, was warning that cuts to services and welfare changes were undermining years of success in tackling homelessness. Earlier this year, the number of rough sleepers in Nottingham reached a record high of 55. In eight years it was no better; it was much, much worse.

In March 2013, I secured an Adjournment debate on the under-occupancy penalty. Despite the best efforts of the coalition Government, the official title never stuck, and we all know it as the bedroom tax. That measure left 6,000 of our city’s poorest households with “nowhere to go” as the Nottingham Post put it.

In March 2015, I led a Westminster Hall debate on affordable housing, and in 2018 I used another Adjournment debate to highlight an Opportunity Nottingham report into persistent rough sleeping. The thing I find most shocking, looking back on those debates, is that on each occasion I was drawing attention to the problems faced by people in the city I represent, not as a result of lack of effort or even just bad luck, but as a direct result of Government policy. What is most shameful is that on each occasion Ministers were warned that their policies would cause hardship, poverty and debt but pursued them anyway.

Last week, the Minister assured us that he wanted everyone to have security in their home and a roof over their head. I hope that he is serious, because if he is, he will not want to continue with policies that he knows will make the lives of people in my city and this country harder and poorer.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)

The hon. Lady and I came into the House at the same time, in 2010, and these are issues that we are both very interested in. Does she agree that it is nigh impossible for people to find a private rented property within the LHA even in what are often known as council estates and that this must be urgently reviewed in areas where the number of houses does not tally with housing need? This causes landlords to push for more to cover their overheads, to the detriment of our vulnerable constituents on housing benefit living on the breadline and having to make up the difference.

Lilian Greenwood

The hon. Gentleman pre-empts much of my speech, but he is entirely right.​
Today’s debate was prompted by research undertaken by Hannah Clemson, policy and communications officer at Advice Nottingham, into the availability and affordability of private rented accommodation in Nottingham city, specifically property within the local housing allowance rate. Advice Nottingham is a consortium of six advice agencies based in Nottingham and providing free, confidential and impartial advice on a range of issues, including benefit, debt, employment and housing. They do an incredible job supporting people who are often in desperate circumstances, and I am glad to have the opportunity to put on the record my thanks to them for the work they do.

The availability of affordable homes to rent is clearly an issue of importance to many of my constituents in Nottingham, but it is not only an issue in our city. This debate is particularly timely, given last Thursday’s urgent question on the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Samuels v. Birmingham City Council led by my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova). That case highlighted the impact of the growing gap between actual rents and the amount of rent covered by local housing allowance, following the Government’s decision to freeze LHA rates from April 2016.

Analysis by Shelter has revealed that there is now a shortfall between LHA rents at the 30th percentile in 97% of broad market rental areas in England. As the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) said, people cannot find affordable rents, and that is true almost everywhere in this country. Nottingham is one such area, where the freeze on local housing allowance is leaving people homeless and in poverty. Many of my constituents simply cannot afford a home in the private rented sector, yet that is the only choice they have. The Government’s outdated LHA rates from 2016 show rents in Nottingham to be as low as £42.54 per week. In reality, Advice Nottingham has found the cheapest property is now at least £63 per week.

Advice Nottingham knew that LHA was not meeting local needs from the work it did with its clients. It knew that rents were too high and that local people were struggling to find affordable accommodation, but it decided to do its own research to find out exactly how many properties were available in the city within the LHA rates. It undertook this research last November within a one-week period. Using Rightmove, Zoopla and Gumtree, it searched the city to find properties. It found only 12 properties at or below the rate for shared accommodation, and many of those were specifically marketed as student properties—I will explain the significance of that later in my speech. It found just five one-bedroom flats in the city at or below the LHA rate. Family homes proved even harder to find: there were only two two-bedroom properties at or below LHA rate; three three-bedroom properties; and one four-bedroom house, in the whole of the city, at a rent covered by LHA.

More recent work by Nottingham City Council confirms Advice Nottingham’s findings. The LHA rate is intended to reflect the bottom 30th percentile of local rents, but it found that it actually covered less than 7% of one-bedroom flats, less than 3% of two-bedroom properties and less than 5% of three-bedroom homes. With a shortage of council or housing association properties available, many families are forced to rent properties that they cannot really afford, forgoing other essential household expenditure, including food, heating and clothing, simply to put a roof over their heads.​

Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)

As usual, my hon. Friend is making a passionate case for our city. The bedroom tax was cruel because even if an individual complied with what the Government were trying to coerce them to do, there was not the housing there for them to go to, and we are seeing that repeated with the LHA. She correctly highlights the gap that people must make up just to get a roof over their head. Does she share my concern that my constituents in the north of the city, like hers in the south, are going without essentials—food, heating, things for their children—just to maintain these tenancies and that that is a sign of a system that fundamentally is not working?

Lilian Greenwood

My hon. Friend makes a very important point, and I will seek to explain precisely the problem our constituents are facing. The problem is that the gap they are seeking to fill between the LHA they receive and the rent they need to pay is not trivial but significant. According to Shelter, the gap between 30th percentile rents and the LHA rate in Nottingham is £15.17 a month for a room in a shared house; £55.01 for a one-bedroom flat; £54.57 for a two-bedroom property; £56.61 for a three-bedroom property; and £121.93 per month for a four-bedroom house. These are not trivial amounts. Trying to cover the shortfall is leaving people in a very vulnerable and insecure position and, as my hon. Friend has said, in poverty.

Jim Shannon

I am sure the hon. Lady, like others, will know from her constituency experience that whenever people’s income is reduced because of rental accommodation or benefit changes, more often than not they are pushed towards food banks. In my constituency, the Thriving Life food bank has been extremely busy due to benefit changes, rental accommodation not being available and being unable to pay the money. As a result, they are falling back on food banks—which we are very glad to have, by the way—with dismaying regularity.

Lilian Greenwood

The hon. Gentleman makes a really important point, and I cannot imagine how many people would get by without food banks, but some people will not go to a food bank—perhaps because they are too proud—and so will be going hungry, sitting in a cold house because they have not turned the heating on or sending their children to school in clothing that is too small or simply not appropriate. I have heard of children going to school in their pyjamas because they do not have proper clothing. It is shameful.

Martyn Neal, a senior adviser at the Meadows Advice Group, spoke to Advice Nottingham’s researcher about his experiences trying to support clients with local housing allowance. He described meeting two clients, one already homeless and one threatened with homelessness. The housing plans given by Housing Aid were almost identical and contained instructions to the client to look for affordable accommodation in the private sector. The LHA was quoted as a guide to affordability, but absolutely no other guidance was given about how the client should go about this or what difficulties, if any, they would likely encounter. No other support was offered, at least for the next few weeks.

Both Martyn’s clients were or had been living in the Meadows area of Nottingham and understandably preferred to remain local to be near schools for their children. Martyn says:

“Under the LHA, both clients were entitled to a three-bedroom home. I logged onto Rightmove and using a 3-mile radius as a ​start, which would fit in with school transport rules, I began my search. There was not a single property available for rent less than £50.00 a month above the local housing allowance.

I extended the radius to 5 miles, which revealed one property, in Bulwell”

—which is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Alex Norris)—

“this met the local housing allowance.”

The Minister may or may not know Nottingham well. Bulwell and the meadows are at opposite ends of the city, a tram ride or two bus rides away from each other. The journey is time-consuming and costly, especially for a large family.

Sally Denton, from Nottingham Law Centre, has described the problems that she has witnessed. She said:

“In the current rental market where there is a shortage of social housing there is an increased demand on the private sector. This means that landlords can charge more due to the demand.”

She said that tenants

“cannot do anything to challenge the level of rent and cannot move to cheaper accommodation as it does not exist.”

She added:

“We see clients regularly who are struggling to pay for unaffordable rents. If an unexpected expense occurs, or there is a change in income (like the 5-week wait under Universal Credit), people can very easily fall into rent arrears and risk losing their homes.”

Nottingham Law Centre is not alone in identifying this problem. Terry Alafat, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, has said:

“Our research makes it clear just how far housing benefit for private renters has failed to keep pace with even the cheapest private rents.

We fear this policy is putting thousands of private renters on low incomes at risk of poverty and homelessness.”

How can the Minister preside over a system that forces people to put themselves at risk of debt and eviction? I am sure that when he responds to the debate he will talk about the Government’s targeted affordability funding, but while that is of course welcome, it is nowhere near enough to address the problem. In Nottingham, the targeted affordability funding means that the LHA rate for three and four-bedroom houses has increased by 3% in the last year. The monthly shortfall for an LHA claimant renting a three-bedroom house at the 30th percentile is now £56.61 rather than £60.22, and for a four-bedroom house it is £121.59 rather than £126.14. Yes, that is an improvement, but does the Minister really think that it is sufficient?

While the freezing of LHA rates is creating this issue, a much bigger problem is the lack of affordable housing. Since 1980 Nottingham has lost 22,010 social homes through Right to Buy, and although Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Homes and other local housing associations have built new homes, there are nowhere near enough to make up for those that have been lost. Indeed, the problem has accelerated since discounts were increased in 2012. In the last year there were 664 applications to Nottingham City Council for Right to Buy, whereas 134 homes were bought in 2012-13. There is a huge gap between the demand for and the supply of social housing. Nottingham City Homes made 1,431 new lets in the last year, but the housing register stood at 8,393.

Of course, some of those on the housing register are in permanent accommodation, but I know from my constituency casework that too many are inadequately ​housed, such as young families living with their parents in overcrowded conditions or in properties that are unsuitable for their needs—perhaps forced to live in high-rise housing. According to a survey carried out by Inside Housing in 2017, nearly 40% of council homes sold under Right to Buy have been resold and are being let in the private rented sector, at higher rents and, even with LHA restrictions, at a higher cost to the taxpayer. What discussions has the Minister had with his colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about this ludicrous situation?

I am proud to represent a vibrant and extremely popular university city, but the rise in the city’s student population has also contributed to the lack of affordable family housing. Landlords have sought to capitalise on the student market by converting family homes into highly profitable shared accommodation. That increase in the number of houses in multiple occupation does not even help the under-35s whose LHA rate is restricted to the shared room rate. Many private rented properties in Nottingham are student-only lets. As students make up the majority of tenants, if someone entitled to LHA lived in a student let, the whole cost of the council tax would probably fall on the non-student tenant. Even when there appears to be an abundance of private rented accommodation, much of it is closed off to my constituents who receive LHA.

Unfortunately, however, that is not the only reason property is closed off. Shelter has revealed that many landlords discriminate against people on universal credit, and the position is no different for other LHA claimants. With the cost of renting so high and the rates so low, private landlords are reluctant to let to LHA claimants; 43% bar them completely, while a further 18% prefer not to let to them. What plans do the Government have to ensure that landlords cannot discriminate in that way?

The struggles that my constituents are facing are being replicated across the country. Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mrs Samuels, a single mum with four children, who was found to be “intentionally homeless” by Birmingham City Council because she did not use the subsistence benefits, intended for essential living costs, to pay the shortfall between her LHA and her rent. Shelter estimates that the majority of LHA households—65%—in private rented accommodation also face a monthly shortfall. Its survey of private renters detailed some of the impossible trade-offs that families receiving LHA are having to make. For example, one in three renters has cut back on food for either themselves or their partner, and 37% have been forced to borrow money to pay their rent in the last year.

This cannot go on, but last week the Minister seemed unwilling to address the issue. Can he tell me what assessment he has made of the hardship suffered by households as a result of the freezing of LHA rates? Does he accept that the freeze has increased homelessness in Nottingham and across the country? Is he really saying that families should be forced to live below the breadline and use subsistence benefits to pay their rent? The Supreme Court ruling in favour of Mrs Samuels set a precedent, and his Department needs to respond urgently.

There is a very clear solution: 92% of local authorities responding to the Local Government Association’s LHA survey thought that lifting the freeze on LHA rates, and ​better aligning them with rents, would help to reduce homelessness in their areas. The Residential Landlords Association has said:

“The LHA has a ‘double whammy’ effect that is driving homelessness. This double whammy means that; first, tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit are more likely other tenants to have their tenancy ended by their landlord; and, secondly, these households are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable, affordable accommodation in the private rented sector.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing has said:

“We are calling on the government to conduct an immediate review and to look at ending the freeze on Local Housing Allowance.”

Shelter, the Child Poverty Action Group, and many other housing and homelessness charities are saying the same thing. It is time to act and lift LHA rates, so that housing benefit covers the true cost of renting in the private sector.

The Government have pledged to halve rough sleeping in this Parliament, and to end it by 2027. I’m afraid that that shows a real lack of urgency, but how can I take the commitment seriously when Ministers have repeatedly ignored warnings over the past nine years, and have pursued the very policies that have caused homelessness to rise? They have cut Supporting People funds, changed the basis on which LHA rates are set from the median to the 30th percentile of market rents, restricted people aged 26 to 35 to the shared room rate, introduced the bedroom tax, subjected families to the benefit cap, and restricted and then frozen LHA rates.

I do not hold the Minister responsible for things that happened before he was even a Member of Parliament, but I will hold him accountable for his actions now. Before he became a Minister, he chaired the all-party group on ending homelessness. Now that he is in a position to make a real difference, will he do so?

Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at Crisis, said recently:

“Homelessness is not inevitable—there is clear evidence that it can be ended with the right policies in place. The government must urgently reform housing benefits for private renters, so they not only match the true cost of renting but also keep pace with future rent changes.”

Will the Minister end the freeze on local housing allowance, and if so, when? Will he provide additional targeted affordability funding to help those who are struggling to pay their rent right now? Will he ensure that LHA rates are restored to at least the 30th percentile of local rents? Given that this is a housing crisis, will he call on his colleagues at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to act now to provide more social housing and controls on rent rises? Now that he is in a position to help to end one of the causes of homelessness, will he do the right thing?

Lilian Greenwood – 2018 Speech on Rough Sleeping in Nottingham

Below is the text of the speech made by Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, in the House of Commons on 2 July 2018.

May I begin by sending my best wishes to the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mrs Wheeler), and her husband? I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), is supporting her at present, and I am sure that he will share the information from this debate with her when she returns.

According to homelessness charity St Mungo’s, the average age of death for a man who dies while homeless is 47; for a woman it is just 43. Rough sleeping is the most dangerous form of homelessness. It can be lonely, frightening and violent. For some, it is quite literally a death sentence. Holly Dagnall, Nottingham Community Housing Association’s director of homes and wellbeing, describes homelessness as a human emergency and who could disagree?

Until 2015, the snapshot figure of people sleeping rough in Nottingham was almost never in double figures, but the latest official estimate, in November last year, was of 43 rough sleepers. Six months on, that figure has not fallen. Nottingham is not an exception; the city ranks 56th of all local authorities for the rate of rough sleeping. Official figures recording a 169% rise in rough sleeping in England since 2010 will surprise no one. We have all seen the evidence of the growing crisis with our own eyes on the streets of Westminster and in many of our constituencies every night.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) The hon. Lady is absolutely right that we have homelessness across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Does she agree that perhaps it is time for a dual strategy that addresses not only homelessness, but the issue of helping people to get employment? We have to give them vision, we have to give them hope and we have to give them a future. The Government need to look at both things together.

Lilian Greenwood The hon. Gentleman is quite right that this is about providing people with not just a home, but the means by which they can sustain themselves in a home.

The reasons for the increased numbers are far from a mystery. Crisis cites the impact of welfare reform, rising rents and the housing crisis. People become homeless and sleep rough for many reasons, but the single biggest cause of statutory homelessness is now the end of an assured shorthold tenancy. The cost of private rented accommodation has risen three times faster than earnings in England since 2010, and real earnings are still lagging behind 2008 levels a decade on.​

Although I firmly believe that the Government bear a great deal of responsibility for the rise in homelessness and fear that their target of halving rough sleeping over the course of the Parliament and eliminating it altogether by 2027 lacks the urgency that the situation demands, I do very much welcome the Homelessness Reduction Act 2018 and the Government’s decision to develop the national rough sleeping strategy. My reason for seeking tonight’s debate is to address the content of that strategy.

Concern about rising levels of rough sleeping in Nottingham was one of the drivers behind a new investigation commissioned jointly by Framework Housing Association and Opportunity Nottingham, the Big Lottery-funded programme supporting people with multiple needs. “No Way Out: A Study of Persistent Rough Sleeping in Nottingham” was produced by Dr Graham Bowpitt from Nottingham Trent University and Karan Kaur from Opportunity Nottingham, with help from Nottingham’s street outreach team.

The study sought to discover how far the recent increase in rough sleeping might have arisen

“not just from more people coming on to the streets, but also from people remaining there longer or repeatedly”.

It sought to identify

“the characteristics that distinguish persistent rough sleepers from the wider street homeless population, and any common features in their circumstances that might help to explain persistence.”

In the remainder of my speech, I will focus on the study’s key findings before commenting on wider issues in Nottingham and at a national level.

For the purposes of the report, and therefore this debate, the definition of persistent rough sleeper is

“someone who was recorded sleeping rough on at least 10% of nights between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017, i.e. 36 nights (the ‘sustained’), or who has been seen sleeping rough in at least three out of the six years between 2012 and 2017 (the ‘recurrent’).”

The report says:

“There were 72 persistent rough sleepers who met the above definition…7 who were both sustained and recurrent, 33 who were sustained and 32 who were recurrent. Of these…10 were women…and 62 men…58 were recorded as of White British ethnicity…most of the others being White (Other)…13 were recorded as having a disability (18%).”

According to the report, Opportunity Nottingham’s beneficiaries are recruited to the programme because they are assessed as having

“at least three of the four prescribed complex needs: homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill-health and offending.”

Of the 72 persistent rough sleepers, 67—that is 93%—had problems with substance misuse. Some 49 were offenders or at risk of offending, and more than half had mental health problems.

Mr Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) (Lab/Co-op) I commend my hon. Friend for securing the debate, and Opportunity Nottingham and NTU for producing the report. My hon. Friend mentioned that over half of those persistent rough sleepers had a mental health issue. Is it not hardly startling that there is a correlation with the reduction in the number of overnight mental health beds—not just nationwide, but specifically in Nottinghamshire? We have lost 176 mental health overnight beds since 2010, and that is one of the core drivers putting people back on to the streets.​

Lilian Greenwood My hon. Friend is quite right to highlight the way in which cuts to our health service and other services are having an impact on the prevalence of rough sleeping.

Of the 38 Opportunity Nottingham beneficiaries, 32% had spent at least two weeks in prison since engaging with Opportunity Nottingham, 42% had experienced at least one eviction from accommodation, 42% had been excluded from a service because of unacceptable behaviour, and 24% reported begging as a source of income. In each case, those proportions are much higher than among the whole beneficiary cohort.

The study also identified common themes in the narratives provided by the street outreach team and Opportunity Nottingham personal development co-ordinators in relation to those persistently sleeping rough, stating:

“rough sleepers…and those who work with them are encountering a diminishing range of options when seeking to leave the streets, arising from cuts in public funding and adverse changes in the housing market. Hostels have closed, Housing Benefit availability is more restricted, affordable tenancies are more limited in terms of quantity and quality, and the supply of tenancy support has all but dried up.”

Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op) I congratulate my hon. Friend on the powerful case that she is making on behalf of our city. I served on the council in our city at a time when we virtually eradicated rough sleeping, and now we are back to where we are today. Does my hon. Friend agree that this situation has been caused by a toxic combination of under-employment, poor housing supply, cuts to drug and alcohol services, inadequate mental health services and other eminently tackleable issues?

Lilian Greenwood My hon. Friend is absolutely right. These issues were preventable and they are preventable. The last Labour Government did a great deal to tackle rough sleeping and it is very disappointing that we find ourselves where we are today.

Financial issues obviously loom large in the lives of many rough sleepers. This was found to be particularly true of migrants with no recourse to public funds, but many local rough sleepers also encountered restricted access to welfare benefits. The system can simply be too hard to negotiate, resulting in a preference for begging. Of course, that is an unreliable source of income, and it puts accommodation at risk, which is particularly relevant to the recurrent group.

The high proportion of persistent rough sleepers who have been in prison find that a lack of support on discharge frequently precipitates a return to a previous chaotic lifestyle. The operation of homelessness legislation itself can act as a barrier in some cases. For instance, rough sleepers fleeing from another locality, perhaps because of domestic violence, can be interpreted as having no local connection to Nottingham, while others vacating accommodation because of intimidation may be viewed as having become intentionally homeless.

The level of complex need generates particular problems, with many specialist facilities having been lost, as we have heard. As a result, many rough sleepers carry the baggage of past evictions and negative risk assessments, leaving them barred from many facilities and making them harder to accommodate. They often miss out on mental health or other assessments that might otherwise have opened up access to specialised support.​

Ambivalent relationships with hostel accommodation are frequently mentioned, with stories of evictions for rent arrears or inappropriate behaviour, perhaps because of a lack of support. There are also stories of intimidation or financial exploitation by other residents, resulting in many refusing offers out of fear or trying to avoid being lured into a lifestyle they wish to escape. Personal relationships may have a toxic effect on the lives of persistent rough sleepers. Women, in particular, can be trapped in exploitative and abusive relationships that impede solutions to their housing problems.

When those factors are combined, it can often create disillusionment with what is perceived as a hostile system, making the option to live on the streets attractive. Experiences of repeated failure, the sense of there being no alternative, and the effect of growing numbers of rough sleepers in generating a mutually supporting community create an inertia in engaging rough sleepers to pursue better options.

While this was a limited study of rough sleeping in one locality, I hope that it will prompt the Minister to consider initiatives that are worthy of further research and experimentation. The report recognises how an ambivalent relationship with hostels can leave rough sleepers stranded, calling on the city council and other social housing providers to adopt schemes such as Housing First that bypass hostels and accommodate rough sleepers straight from the streets with appropriate support. Housing First is being piloted in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool—places with a devolution deal. What resources exist to develop Housing First as part of the solution in areas with high levels of persistent rough sleeping where there is not a directly elected mayor?

The complexities of human relationships should be acknowledged when drawing up personalised housing plans. For example, requirements such as a local connection and intentionality rules should not be applied too harshly to people who have a genuine need to escape a damaging relationship. Couples in a valued relationship should be able to be accommodated together.

As has been said, mental health problems have been shown to feature prominently among Nottingham’s homeless population. The Care Act 2014 was introduced to make social care assessments more readily available, but there is evidence to suggest that homeless people struggle to access this provision. Some councils have taken the view that rough sleepers with poor mental health or alcohol and substance-related problems have no entitlement to a needs assessment under the Care Act because, it is said, their need for care or support is caused by “other circumstantial factors” such as homelessness or rough sleeping rather than an underlying health condition. Can the Minister confirm that that interpretation of the Act, which has the effect of excluding rough sleepers from an entitlement that exists for the rest of the population, is incorrect? Will the Government issue guidance to clarify that people sleeping rough are entitled to a needs assessment under the Care Act on the same basis as everyone else? Does the Minister agree that when an individual who appears to have support or care needs presents to a local authority for assistance under the Homelessness Reduction Act, a referral should be made to the appropriate authority for a care needs ​assessment, with the outcome of that assessment taken into account when developing any personalised housing plan?

The correlation between persistent rough sleeping and recent spells in prison reflects a failure in offender rehabilitation. That was supposed to have been remedied by the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, but there is evidence that despite the passing of this Act, short-term prisoners are still being discharged to no fixed abode. What measures will the Government take to ensure its more effective implementation?

I first started applying for my Adjournment debate on this subject many weeks ago but, as so often happens in this place, the timing of today’s debate has proved incredibly fortuitous, because earlier today St Mungo’s launched a new report here in Parliament entitled “On my own two feet”. That peer research, which I am sure the Minister is aware of, examines why some people return to rough sleeping after time off the streets. It identifies a range of factors that can push people away from housing or services, and also pull factors that can draw people back on to the streets. When push and pull factors work together, they can lead someone to choose to return to rough sleeping or to see no alternative when a crisis comes along. The research also considered how holes in someone’s personal safety net can put them at greater risk. I hope the Government will look carefully at the recommendations in the St Mungo’s report before publishing their rough sleeping strategy next month.

I do not have time to talk at length about the excellent work being undertaken in Nottingham to tackle homelessness over decades. Since 2010, the Framework street outreach team has been identifying rough sleepers and linking them into assessment, support and accommodation. In 2016, Nottingham was successful in bidding for the Government’s £40 million homelessness prevention programme, and it used that to extend the reach of the outreach team across the rest of the county for two years.

Nottingham City Council and Framework have continued to resource and implement a “No second night out” policy after Government funding ended. Since 2016 the city council has committed more than £240,000 in additional funding to enhance its winter measures and ensure sufficient provision to meet the council’s pledge that no one needs to sleep rough in Nottingham. Their co-ordinated approach has formed part of the sound basis for their bid for the new £30 million rough sleeping fund announced by the Department in March 2018 for enhanced year-round support. I hope that the Minister can clarify whether the £30 million announced can only fund emergency measures, or if it can be used to support long-term resettlement for persistent rough sleepers. Is the fund a one-off measure to produce a short-term temporary outcome, or will there be further allocations for future years?

In the 2016 Budget, the Chancellor announced £100 million of capital funding to assist with the cost of developing Housing First and move-on units for people who have been sleeping rough. Some £50 million of that was allocated to the London Mayor, who now has the programme up and running. The other £50 million was for the rest of the country, where rough sleeping has risen more quickly than in the capital. When will it be ​possible for providers outside London to bid for some of the remaining £50 million, and what is the process for them to do so?

Alongside the city council and housing associations, including Framework and NCHA, there are many voluntary organisations and faith groups that make a huge contribution to supporting fellow citizens in Nottingham via food banks, day centres, night shelters and many other support services. We would not be without them. For some rough sleepers, particularly those with few options, they are a lifeline. What advice does the Minister have for local authorities dealing with long-term rough sleepers who have no recourse to public funds? What accommodation and support options are available to them, and how can they be funded?

Homelessness is a human emergency, but ending it is not an impossible task. The Government say they have a target to reduce rough sleeping by half by 2022, and to eliminate it entirely by 2027. If they are not to fail, Ministers must ensure that their strategy addresses the needs of all rough sleepers, including those who are hardest to identify, reach, support and sustain.

Lilian Greenwood – 2016 Statement on Resignation

Below is the text of the speech made by Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, on 14 July 2016.

Thank you Chair and thank you all for coming to this evening’s meeting.

I want to talk tonight about the Referendum, and what followed.

But before I turn to the events of the last few weeks or months, I’d like to begin by looking at what we’ve achieved together.

8 years ago I stood in front of the members of Nottingham South CLP and asked them to select me as their candidate for the next General Election.

A number of the people here in this room tonight were there.

Some of them weren’t sure that I was the right person for the job. They campaigned and voted for other candidates.

But when the contest was over, they put those doubts to one side and we all got on with working together.

Together we held Nottingham South for Labour in 2010.

Together we won council seats from the Tories and the Lib Dems in 2011.

Together we won by-election after by-election, even in the wards we hadn’t held since the late 1990s.

Some of those people who didn’t vote for me are now, not just as my most valued Labour comrades, but amongst my most valued friends. We put our trust in each other and we have made a difference for our Party and our city.

Of course some of you have just moved into Nottingham South, or joined the party more recently, and the increase in our membership has been outstanding.

Many of you have also joined the dedicated band who spend their free time walking miles to deliver leaflets for me and our councillors

Or give up their weekends to come out knocking on doors in all weathers.

I know that not everyone is able to do that and that you support our Party in whatever ways you are able, but we work together because we are proud of our Labour Party, because we want the best for our movement and because we want to see a fairer, better society.

And some of you have joined the Party in the last year, specifically because of Jeremy Corbyn: inspired by his values and principles and because he cares about fighting poverty and inequality, about offering hope for the future.

I share those values and principles. I always have, and I hope you have always felt welcome in Labour.

We’re here in the brand new Hopecentre. I supported Hope Church when this centre was just an idea. And I’ve seen this community turn an idea into a reality.

If you know Clifton, you’ll know how it has been transformed over the past 8 years. The A453, the tram and the solid wall insulation. Fuel poverty in Clifton South has more than halved as a result of Labour action. Down from from 20.2% in 2010 to 9.4% last year.

We did that by working together and campaigning together, working with the people in this community. We offered hope that things could be better and they are.

There’s a long way to go.

There are still huge problems and challenges to address in Clifton, in Nottingham South and across the country. But Labour in power makes a real difference to people facing inequality and poverty – and we could do so much more if we weren’t just in power locally but nationally too.

Now let me turn specifically to recent events.

It’s hard to imagine a more turbulent or disturbing 4 weeks in politics.

Just 4 weeks ago, in the midst of a divisive and frankly xenophobic Referendum campaign, my friend and colleague Jo Cox was brutally murdered in the street on the way to her advice surgery. Murdered for standing up for her beliefs and speaking up for what is right.

3 weeks ago, although Nottingham South voted to remain, people in our city, and especially in this community, voted to leave the EU. To turn their backs on our friends and neighbours in Europe.

20 days ago, David Cameron announced that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister and we faced the prospect of a General Election, against a Party led by some of the most right wing Tories ever, and with UKIP buoyed by huge Leave votes in our Labour heartlands, including in places like Clifton.

And 18 days ago, after 9 months serving in Jeremy’s Shadow Cabinet, I resigned.

You all know that last summer I didn’t nominate Jeremy, and I didn’t vote for him.

I know that Nottingham South did nominate him and that overwhelmingly members across the country did vote for him.

So when he asked me to serve I said yes.

I wanted to make it work and I promise you, I tried to make it work.

In the 9 months I spent in the Shadow Cabinet I never briefed against Jeremy.

I never tweeted what was happening in Shadow Cabinet meetings or spoke to journalists about our private discussions

Whenever challenged, I defended our Party Leader.

I hope you all know that I work hard for my constituents in Nottingham South

I worked just as diligently in the Shadow Cabinet.

Leading the Labour Transport team

Co-Chairing Labour’sTransport Policy Commission.

Holding the Government to account at the dispatch box.

Going on national and local media to speak for Labour, even when it was difficult.

Being a part of the collective decision making in Shadow Cabinet, setting a direction for the PLP in Parliament on challenging issues.

Many of you will know that I’m passionate about transport.

I’ve been in the Labour Transport Team for almost 5 years.

Becoming Shadow Transport Secretary was my dream job, a huge privilege and I’m extremely proud of the work our team did.

It was fantastic to address our Party Conference last September and be able to pledge that a Labour Government would bring the railways back into public ownership.

That was a policy that would make a real difference to passengers, and I believe in it wholeheartedly.

It was brilliant when we forced the Government to u-turn on their plans to cancel the electrification of the Midland Main Line

And I was looking forward to speaking in the Bus Services Bill, in favour of re-regulating bus services and standing up for outstanding Municipal bus companies like NCT.

So I’d like you to imagine how I felt when, even though I was trying my hardest, it became impossible for me to do my job in the Shadow Cabinet.

Some people have asked me for examples of why that was the case, and I wanted to explain tonight what’s happened over the last nine months as fully as I can.

Rail fares go up once a year on 2 January.

It’s the perfect opportunity to show that this Tory Government aren’t on the side of working people.

Commuters who’ve seen their season tickets go up by more than 26% since 2010. Some of whom are paying more for their rail fares than their mortgage. Four, five even six thousand pounds a year.

People who live in Essex and on the Kent coast, in suburbs and small towns, in marginal seats. Many of them are not Labour voters, but they are the people we need to win over.

It is a huge date in the political calendar every year.

We had the opportunity not just to criticise the Government, but to show we had a real Labour alternative. Our flagship policy. One that unites our party.

My staff spent weeks preparing briefing materials for MPs and constituency parties across the country. Trawling through mountains of rail fare information to provide examples of the season tickets that had risen the most and that cost the most. Examples for every MP and CLP.

Like Nottingham to Derby – where the cost of an annual season ticket has risen by almost 30% since 2010.

And over the Christmas period we were listening in to Network Rail conference calls, monitoring the engineering works. Several calls every day including Christmas Day and Boxing Day, even New Years Eve.

On 4 January – a cold dark Monday morning – I was at Kings Cross at 7am doing Radio 5 and BBC TV.

Standing with Jeremy and the Rail Union General Secretaries for the media photocall. It was a crucial day in the Party’s media grid.

And all across the country local party activists were outside railway stations in the cold and the dark, leafleting commuters with the materials we’d prepared. Armed with the briefings and statistics.

Incredibly, Jeremy launched a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle on the same day.

This was the reshuffle that had been talked about since the Syria vote a month earlier. A vote where I supported Jeremy’s position.

The reshuffle that meant all our staff spent Christmas not knowing whether they’d have a job by the New Year.

By mid-afternoon the press were camped outside the Leader’s office. They were there for the next 3 days.

It knocked all the coverage of the rail fare rise and our public ownership policy off every news channel and every front page.

I respect completely Jeremy’s right to reshuffle his top team. But why then?

It was unnecessary and it was incompetent.

It let me down, it let my staff down but most of all it let down the Labour campaigners and trade union members, people like you, who had given up their time to go out campaigning for us that morning.

Now I’d ask you to imagine how you would you feel if you agreed something with your boss but he then did something completely different.

Something that undermined you.

Something they hadn’t even had the courtesy to tell you about.

HS2 has always been controversial, including in our Party, but it is something that I believe is vital for the future of our country.

It has the support of all the rail unions. It has the support of Labour leaders in the great cities like Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds and Nottingham. It is important for jobs and skills in Derby and Doncaster and across the country and it is our official policy to support it, as agreed by the Shadow Cabinet and our National Policy Forum.

I’ve been one of HS2’s strongest supporters so I when I took up the job in Jeremy’s Shadow Cabinet I wanted to be absolutely sure we were on the same page.

I met his Director of Policy to talk it through. We talked about the most difficult parts of the project, the impact at Euston in London. I’d been working with Councillor Sarah Hayward and her colleagues at Camden for more than 2 years to try and help them get what they wanted for their local residents.

It had been very difficult. I’d been to visit several times, meeting residents and businesses and dealing with some hostile media. But we secured real concessions – changes that will make a difference to local residents. It didn’t matter that it was in a nominally safe seat. It was the right thing to do.

Despite our agreed policy, despite Jeremy’s Director of Policy and I agreeing our position, without saying anything to me, Jeremy gave a press interview in which he suggested he could drop Labour’s support for HS2 altogether. He told a journalist on a local Camden newspaper that perhaps the HS2 line shouldn’t go to Euston at all but stop at Old Oak Common in West London – but he never discussed any of this with the Shadow Cabinet, or me, beforehand.

I felt totally undermined on a really difficult issue.

And when 2 frontbenchers voted against the 3 line whip at 3rd Reading in March he did nothing.

Telling one of them “well I’ve done it enough times myself”.

Breaking the principles of collective responsibility and discipline without which effective Parliamentary opposition is not possible.

When I raised my concerns it was simply shrugged off.

It undermined me in front of colleagues and made me look weak.

It made me feel like I was wasting my time.

That my opinion didn’t matter.

And it made me miserable.

I’d discuss it with my political adviser, a Labour Party member of staff and activist from Nottingham who has also lost his job in all this, and we’d agree to go on because the policy mattered. Because we wanted to keep holding the Government to account. Because we love the Labour Party.

This didn’t happen once or twice.

It happened time and time again.

The EU 4th Rail Package is a bit complex to explain here and now, but it had the potential to make it difficult to implement our new rail policy.

I’d been working with MEPs to ensure it was amended or blocked for the last 3 years. We felt we could live with the final draft issued in April but it was a very sensitive issue. ASLEF and the RMT were on the Leave side in the referendum because of their concerns.

So when Jeremy talked about it in a speech, in very Euro-sceptic terms, without giving me any warning let alone discussing it with me, I was concerned and asked to meet him.

Our frontbenchers were being challenged on the issue in the media, but there was no common position.

I asked and asked. After my staff chasing virtually every day for a month, we got a meeting.

We put together a briefing paper in advance.

We drafted some lines to take in any press interviews for us to give to all Labour MPs.

We discussed the lines with his Policy staff and made some changes in response to comments.

We agreed a final version. We sat down together and discussed what was in the 4th Rail Package, how we were ensuring it didn’t stop our policy, how we’d been working with our MEPs and the Socialist Group and we agreed the lines to take.

The lines were circulated to all frontbenchers, to all MPs, to ensure they knew what our policy was and how to deal with difficult questions.

But Jeremy went on SkyNews and took a completely different, eurosceptic line.

Not what we’d agreed.

With the potential to make us look divided.

It undermined me, my staff and his staff.

I wondered why I was bothering to put in the hard work.

You’ve all heard stories about pro-European speeches being downgraded, events, being cancelled, and Jeremy and his staff privately subscribing to Eurosceptic views.

And I felt that I was watching my leader deliberately sabotage the campaign on an issue on which he and I had a personal agreement.

How would you feel if your boss undermined your work and when you complained he listened and then did nothing different?

How would you feel if you were part of a team and you knew that not only was your boss undermining you but that this was happening to other colleagues?

You can agree or disagree about whether Jeremy was half hearted about the Labour In campaign.

You can agree or disagree about whether it’s Ok to take 5 days holiday 3 weeks before the most important vote in my lifetime.

But I sat at the Regional Count with Glenis Willmott the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, my friend, a fellow trade unionist from the East Midlands doing media duty for our Party.

And as we left at 5am, defeated and in despair, we finally got sent lines to take from the Leader’s office. Acknowledging Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart for their work in the Leave campaign. Their work in direct opposition to Labour Party policy.

And shortly after we heard Jeremy calling for the immediate triggering of Article 50. Without any discussion with the Shadow Cabinet or the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party.

Think about that. The country had just voted to leave the EU after more than 40 years and Jeremy made a major announcement on the Party’s position without waiting to discuss it with the Shadow Cabinet, without even consulting the leader of our MEPs in Europe.

How can that be right?

At 6.30am I was interviewed by Radio Nottingham. I was tired and I was gutted and I tried to use the lines I’d been sent, even though they were so inadequate, but when I was asked the question “Is Jeremy the man to lead the Labour Party in these challenging times?” I found it hard to say an enthusiastic yes. Because I didn’t believe it. Because I’d worked with him and I’d tried hard but in my mind, it simply wasn’t true.

And when I saw that Cameron had resigned, I felt like I was looking into the abyss. Towards a General Election in which dozens of my colleagues would lose their seats.

And I already know what that is like and I was in despair.

But at that moment I knew that I didn’t have to put up with it.

I could leave the Shadow Cabinet and return to the backbenches and focus on Nottingham South.

But I was tired and emotional, so I wasn’t going to do anything hasty.

So I talked to some of my closest colleagues.

I discussed it with my staff.

And I told Ravi.

And decided to raise my concerns at Shadow Cabinet on the Monday.

I arranged to meet my agent and several CLP officers on the Sunday afternoon to explain what I had decided to do.

But it didn’t go as planned.

On Sunday morning Ravi woke me and passed me my phone.

Hilary Benn, who I’d been with on the campaign bus with in Derby and Peterborough only 3 days earlier, had been sacked.

And Heidi Alexander, one of my closest friends in the Shadow Cabinet, one of the best and most talented and loyal colleagues I know, had resigned.

So I rang Brian, my agent, and my adviser, Laurence, to tell them. I wrote my resignation letter and I rang Jeremy to explain. And I texted asking him to call me. And I rang Katy Clark in his office and asked her to ask him to ring me.

After an hour or so he did ring me. And we had an amicable discussion and I explained that I has lost confidence in him.

He didn’t even ask me why.

Or what was wrong , or how he could fix it.

I wasn’t part of any coup.

I didn’t plan it.

I didn’t co-ordinate the timing of my resignation with anyone else.

I just knew that I could not go on.

Things were, and are, falling apart.

Jeremy has always treated me politely, and with kindness.

I know that he has strong principles.

I remain proud of our policies on transport, especially rail. And Jeremy is right to set out an alternative to the economics of austerity, to focus on affordable housing, to defending a public NHS and to tackling poverty and inequality.

But through my own personal direct experience I know that Jeremy operates in a way that means progress towards these goals is impossible. He is not a team player let alone a team leader.

Jeremy has a new Shadow Cabinet but it’s clear to me that he doesn’t understand collective responsibility and that he can’t lead a team, so I’m afraid the same problems will eventually emerge in the new front bench. This is not about policy or ideology, it is about competence.

I can’t describe how sad I have felt this last 4 weeks.

I remain very proud to be your MP and to serve my Party and my city.

I will always support Labour as best as I can in Parliament.

I am sorry that many of you feel very angry and let down, but I know that I have done what was right, that I have behaved with integrity and that I had no option but to resign from Jeremy’s Shadow Cabinet. It’s clear that he cannot command the support of his colleagues in Parliament and under those circumstances I cannot see how he can lead our Party to the election victory people in our city so desperately need.

8 years ago I asked Nottingham South members to put their trust in me.

Tonight I’m asking you to do the same again.

I don’t ask you to agree with me, but I hope you will understand and respect my decision. I have tried to be completely honest with you tonight. And I will try to answer your questions.