People contact their MP for numerous reasons – it may be a campaign they are interested in, an issue they feel passionately about or something they want to celebrate.
There are also those who get in touch when they are at their lowest ebb or when they feel they have nowhere else to go.
To put it another way, they go to their MP when the state has failed them. These people, who are often the most vulnerable in society, are crying out for help.
I bring this up because I’ve recently had several constituents contact me about their Personal Independence Payments (PIP) being abruptly cancelled as a result of punitive reviews.
Among those who contacted me was Joanne, a local woman whose debilitating condition means that she needs 24-hour care.
Her PIP was reviewed a full year before her claim was due to run out and ultimately stopped, leading to what she describes as a ‘catastrophic loss financially’.
Joanne and her family now rely on the food bank to put food on the table.
I had the opportunity to raise her case in the House of Commons with the Government Disabilities Minister; her response was patronising, cold and demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of a system she is employed to oversee.
These decisions have real human consequences. As Joanne so articulately put it, PIP allowed her to ‘have something beyond merely existing’.
Another constituent who voluntarily gave up PIP after feeling well enough to return to work later discovered how cruel the system can be.
She suffers from PTSD and her vivid flashbacks led to her employer eventually advising that it was unsafe for her be at work.
But she was found fit to work.
A staggering 14,805 of the DWP’s PIP decisions that have progressed to the Appeal stage, have been over turned in the first three months of the year, and yet the Government is still throwing vast sums of cash at providers Independent Assessment Services (formerly Atos Healthcare), and Capita.
The Tories are rewarding failure while the most vulnerable suffer the consequences, and it needs to be stopped.
This week saw another worrying development surrounding plans for the transpennine rail route.
Reports emerged that the long-promised full electrification of the route – which runs through Batley – was not going to materialise.
I asked Transport Minister Jo Johnson in the House of Commons if he would confirm if the whole route is to be electrified, rather than whichever parts are cheapest. As I expected, he failed to answer my question.
The people of Batley & Spen and across the north expect and need this investment, anything less than full-electrification would be a betrayal.
Finally, I can’t let such a milestone anniversary as the NHS’s 70th birthday go by without a mention.
Our NHS is so more than the sum of its parts and it is undoubtedly this country and the Labour Party’s proudest achievement.
This is why it’s so important we celebrate its contribution to our society, and fight to protect it from the very party who voted against its inception all those years ago.