Representing Birkenhead in Parliament
In 1979 Frank was elected Member of Parliament for Birkenhead and has since displayed a unique attachment to his constituency. During the 1980s he led the campaign to make the Labour Party electable, which not only involved the very public countering of Trotskyites in Birkenhead, but also the development of policies which had widespread appeal. To this end, he led the transformation of the debate on welfare from one that believed in a process of pure altruism, to one which had a more sane view of human nature.
Between 1980 and 1981 he served as Shadow Education and Social Security spokesman under the leadership of Michael Foot. In 1990 he took up the chairmanship of the Social Security Select Committee and continued in this role up to 1997. From 1997-1998 he accepted the position of Minister for Welfare Reform in Tony Blair’s first cabinet. He then served as a member of the Public Accounts Committee between 2002 and 2005. Frank currently chairs the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
Before the 2010 General Election, when Frank was returned with an increased majority, Frank led the campaign against the removal of the 10p rate of tax which saw 5.3 million households financially lose out. In 2010, in recognition of his expertise in the fields of poverty and welfare, Frank was appointed Chair of the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances. Frank established, and now chairs, the Foundation Years Trust to implement the Review's main findings on how to prevent poor children becoming poor adults.
Frank serves as Co-Chair of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration and is a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups (which are established by MPs in order to investigate issues of interest in greater depth), including the All-Party Group on Zimbabwe, the Group for Clean Coal and the Group for Dying Well.
In 2013 Frank was appointed by the Home Secretary to chair an Evidence Review to scope a new Modern Slavery Bill. Frank then chaired the Joint Committee of Both Houses on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill in 2014, and the Bill was passed into law in 2015.
Campaigning against poverty and low pay
Between 1969 and 1979, Frank worked as Director of the Child Poverty Action Group, during which time it became one of the premier pressure groups in the country.
In 1974 he also became Director of the Low Pay Unit until 1980. The Unit was established to make sure wages councils properly protected the rights of workers in certain industries. It was the first to campaign for a national minimum wage, along with Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former general secretary of the National Union of Public Employees, now Unison; a goal that was eventually achieved in 1998.
In 2013 Frank set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger which published a major report on the growth in the numbers of people relying on food banks. The Group has since presented a reform programme to prevent children going to bed hungry each night and taking their hunger to school with them each day. Frank set up Feeding Britain as a charitable organisation with a cross-party group of MPs and Peers to put the Group's proposals into action, thereby relieving and preventing hunger in this country.
Commitments outside politics
Frank believes that climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our society. In order to take effective action in 2007 he co-founded the charity Cool Earth, which aims to combat climate change by working with local communities around the world to protect endangered rainforest.
In 1999 Frank helped set up the Pension Reform Group. The group acted as an important independent think tank promoting the Universal Protected Pension as the best means to reform pensions.
Frank is a member of the Advisory Board of the think tank Reform, whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity. Alongside the former Home Secretary, David Blunkett MP, Frank is one of the Labour members of the Advisory Council for The Centre for Social Justice, a think tank that aims to develop effective solutions to combat poverty and social breakdown in the UK.
Between 2005 and 2015, Frank served as chairman of the Cathedral Fabrics Commission for England, the planning authority for English cathedrals. He has also chaired the King James Bible Trust, which was established to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version (King James Version) of the Bible (taking place in 2011).
In 2016 Frank established the Cathedral Academies Trust which aims to enable English cathedrals to set up academy schools in their cities which specialise in music and maths.
Most importantly however Frank has been delighted to have the opportunity to take up a number of important roles within his constituency. He currently serves as Chair of the Liverpool City Region Poverty and Life Chances Commission. He writes weekly columns for the Liverpool Echo and the Wirral News.