Justin actively campaigns on a number of issues both locally and in Parliament:
Both locally and in Parliament, Justin has continued to champion opportunities for people with disabilities. A highlight of Justin’s time as Minister for Disabled People was organising a ‘Reverse Jobs Fair’, making employers more aware about the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities. Justin introduced employer to charities who could offer support on hiring disabled people, attracting over 70 employers and 30 charities.
Justin also serves on the APPG on Learning Disabilities, working to ensure that Government policy provides the best opportunities for people with learning disabilities. As part of this Justin has regularly visited charities such as Scrappers Gym, a project set up to provide access to fitness and boxing skills for people with disabilities.
As Minister, he ordered an urgent review of apprenticeships for people with a learning disability. Under the old system, young people wanting to start an apprenticeship were unable to do so unless they met an inflexible set of academic criteria which meant this exciting pathway to employment was closed off. Justin, and Ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, changed the criteria to remove this barrier that prevented people with a learning disability from progressing.
He has also proactively worked locally with charities to support improved access to mental health support.
Justin has been a long-term active campaigner in Parliament for protecting the welfare of animals and has worked closely with organisations including WWF, IFAW, Animals Asia, Guide Dogs, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Cats Protection.
As an animal lover, Justin has campaigned in Parliament on a range of animal welfare issues. He took the lead on the “Chip It, Check It” campaign, to ensure all pets are microchipped. The Kennel Club, the UK's largest dedicated to dog welfare, has said that by microchipping dogs and keeping personal details up to date, thousands of dogs could be identified and reunited with their owners instead of facing the risk of being needlessly put down.
He is also strong advocate for ending puppy farming, leading a debate on it in Parliament in 2014. Justin recently met with the PupAid charity to call for a total ban on the third-party sale of dogs. This added protection would ensure that only regulated, approved organisations would be able to sell puppies in England, and only if they could show the puppy’s mother.
Justin has also championed the work with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to highlight concerns about wildlife crime across the globe and ending the illegal ivory trade. Justin has hosted several events and led parliamentary debates on ending the abhorrent practice, which mutilates rhinos and elephants and often kills or seriously disfigures these rare animals. He has campaigned for changes to be made to the law on ivory sales and recently welcomed the Government’s announcement that it would strengthen legislation in this area following his campaign.
Justin is eager to support people with both physical and mental health problems on a local and national scale. As well as backing a campaign to attract more GPs to Swindon, Justin worked with Robert Buckland MP (South Swindon) and the late Dr. Peter Crouch to secure funding for the new £10m health centre in the Town Centre and the new Radiotherapy Unit at the Great Western Hospital. Justin has also met with health charities, such as MacMillan and the Prospect Hospice, to discuss support for patients living with cancer.
As Minister for Disabled People, Justin also ensured that the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service was established. This helps individuals with a mental health condition who are absent from work or finding work difficult. He has also raised money for charities including the Olive Tree Café, TWIGS and Rethink.
This is in addition to campaigning to secure additional funding for NHS services across the town. Under the old system, Swindon CCG would have received an annual increase of £5-6 million a year. However under the new allocation formula, annual growth for Swindon instead ranges between £7million and £12million per annum. When the cumulative impact of the introduction of the new allocation formula is taken into consideration, instead of receiving an increase of £30million between 2016 and 2021, the CCG will now receive an increase of around £44million. Overall, the change driven by the new formula represents an increase in cumulative investment in the Swindon CCG healthcare economy of £45million over five years, with investment up from £82million to £127million.
As the former chair and a current member of the Libraries APPG, Justin has always spoken up on the best practice to support and sustain the long-term future of community libraries. Justin has continued to support libraries locally and nationally, hosting the annual launch of the Summer Reading Challenge - the UK’s largest promotion encouraging children to read for pleasure- and encouraging more young adults to volunteer in the scheme to help improve children’s literacy.
As a Councillor, he was responsible for delivering the £10 million town centre library on time and on budget and has helped lead the campaign to deliver a sustainable future for libraries across the Borough.
Justin is hugely passionate about sport and the opportunity it provides to gain valuable life skills. He successfully campaigned to save the £150 million a year School Sports Partnership - promoting sport in schools and highlighting the positive role that sport can play in tackling obesity and constructively engaging with young people. He has also been a big supporter of the StreetGames initiative, which aims to make sport available to some of the most disadvantaged young people in society.
Locally, Justin has supported Draycott Sports Camp, a holiday camp that keeps children fit and active during the school holidays by offering a range of sports including lacrosse and gymnastics. Justin hopes that camps like this will be supported across the UK using the £415m raised from the Soft Drinks Levy, something he actively campaigned for in Parliament.
Working alongside Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, his Co-Chair of the APPG for Sport, Justin is campaigning ensure that every young person has the opportunity to access high quality sporting facilities as part of guaranteeing a healthy lifestyle.
Justin strongly believes that education is a right for all children across the world. As the former chair of the APPG for Global Education Justin has been involved in several campaigns, including ‘Send my Friend to School’. Justin visited local schools and invited students to Parliament where they met with campaigners and other politicians to discuss the important role the Government would play in achieving this goal.
He has also supported the Government’s move to prioritise global education and education for girls in the next round of development spending.
Justin is passionate about driving up the standards of housing developments in Swindon and across the UK. He has campaigned for better quality housing, street scene maintenance, access to green spaces and improved infrastructure, which he believes will deliver and improved quality of life.
He is proud to see this in place in the new Tadpole Farm development and, as Swindon is one of the fastest expanding towns in the country, he will continue to champion this. One of his key aims is to ensure that the land around new developments is kept free for sport and recreational use. This ‘green lung’ will ensure that all new developments are built with a space that residents can use to stay healthy and be active.
One of Justin's central campaigns throughout his time as an MP has been in the area of leasehold reform. In many cases new homes are built and sold on in this way, with some of them being sold to new home buyers who are left with unfair agreements that lead to exploitative surcharges and spiralling ground rents. As Swindon has continued to expand with an increasing number of new build housing developments, Justin has raised these issues in Parliamentary questions to ministers, as well as organising public meetings alongside Cherry Jones from Home to Home Property Management, who has worked tirelessly to ensure local residents are not disadvantaged by these types of agreements. As a result of Justin's campaign, the Government has committed to ending the practice which Ministers have described as an "extortion racket"
Justin has worked alongside local businesses and championed Swindon at all levels to attract jobs and investment. He has also been a keen supporter of apprenticeships from day one, and is firmly behind the Governments ambition to achieve full employment and create a further 3 million apprentices (on top of the 2 million already created in the last Parliament). Since 2010 more than 10,600 people across Swindon have started an apprenticeship, benefitting from the on-the-job, skills-based training that comes with it.
He is also proud of the work done on supporting people into work; efforts that have seen unemployment in Swindon fall to record low level and more than 8,400 jobs more people in work across than the town than in 2010. Justin has championed efforts to improve support for those out of work for the longest, with new tailored supported provided by dedicated work coaches and major refurbishment of the town’s jobcentre ensuring that more people in the town can benefit from the certainty and security of work.
As a former business owner, Justin has been keen to support businesses of all sizes in order to create the next generation of jobs. He has promoted greater access to finance, pushed for less regulation and supported business mentoring. He was appointed as a Small Business Ambassador for the Conservative Party and continues to support businesses across North Swindon.
Justin regularly meets with the Federation of Small Businesses, to discuss how the Government can help to support small businesses, of which there are 700 in Swindon. He has called for more business owners to become involved in local politics, believing individuals with relevant business experience would prove to be a valuable asset for many councils.