I am proud and humbled to be asked by Sir Keir Starmer to join the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I know just how big a brief this is to both individuals here in my constituency and the UK economy. Sir Keir has also asked me to be one of his representatives on the NEC – a real honour.
This crisis has brutally confirmed that our existing welfare state is not fit for purpose. Too often it leaves people without support and fails to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Many people who have contributed are finding for the first time that the assistance they need and expect is just not there.
People may know I also have a family interest in disability policy. I will defend, at all times, the right of every person in this country to live the decent life we should all be entitled to.
I will campaign vigorously against the disgraceful levels of child poverty, food bank need and homelessness this country has after 10 years of Tory government. We also need serious long-term thinking on pensions – I know from my time as Shadow City Minister there are many people who want to work with us on this agenda.
Special thanks to all my friends at Christian on the Left and the generations of Christian Socialists who helped make the Labour movement what it is, and to outgoing Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for his leadership of the Treasury team over the last few years. I am particularly pleased to be working alongside my friend his successor Anneliese Dodds in this new role.