South Tyneside MP reflects on her first year in office and vows to fight for constituency facing 'really difficult times' ahead
The new Jarrow MP reflects on her first year as parliamentary representative for the area, vowing to continue fighting for South Tyneside while fearing a possible ‘tsunami of redundancies’ in 2021.
Kate Osborne was one of the few new Labour MPs to win a seat in last December's general election, which saw the Tories regain a parliamentary majority at Westminster by a landslide margin.
Labour’s Jarrow stronghold constituency had previously been occupied by Stephen Hepburn, but Ms Osborne took the seat with a 7,120 majority.
Ms Osborne held the seat 12 months ago, albeit with a reduced majority, on a night that saw a number of her party’s ‘heartlands’ in the North East turn blue, including Durham North West and Blyth Valley.
Speaking with The Gazette one year on, Ms Osborne paid tribute to Jarrow’s historic role in the labour movement and vowed to fight for the area – pointing out the scale of the challenges that lie ahead.
"As we look to the future, there is no underestimating that we are facing really difficult times,” she said.
"I worry once the furlough scheme ends, we will see a tsunami of redundancies. If both furlough and the Universal Credit uplift come to an end at the same time, we will see more and more people struggling.
"I want the community to know that myself and my office are there for you if you need any support at any time.”
The pandemic has placed unprecedented levels of strain on South Tyneside’s healthcare services and the area’s small traders, with many of the issues raised with Ms Osborne’s office this year linked to “employment rights, welfare benefits and business-related advice”.
The ex-North Tyneside councillor noted, however, that the development of the Covid-19 vaccine signaled light at the end of the tunnel for residents.
She added: “It’s not all doom and gloom – this week we have all had our spirits raised by the roll out of the vaccine and I’d like to pay tribute to all those who have worked hard to make it possible.
"This week in Parliament, I asked Matt Hancock to ensure that communities like ours will not be left behind in the vaccine roll out...never has our community’s strength and resilience been more tested than this year.”