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Levelling up

John Redwood (Wokingham)

The government is launching a £4.8bn Levelling up Fund. Councils and Transport Authorities can bid for money to help pay for projects that can boost jobs,investment and the local economy in their areas.

When I was Local Government Minister I was asked by the Secretary of State to run a City Challenge Fund. This was similar to features of this wider Levelling up fund, seeking as it did to stiumulate investment, jobs, prosperity and improved environments in urban areas that needed a boost. I was keen to ensure that any public money spent was geared to attracting substantial private sector investment in new facilities, jobs and people. I thought the plans could often be most useful where they concentrated on doing those things that the state had to do. Very often it helped bring derelict or disused public sector land back into better use. It could provide better roads into areas that could then be good destinations for new businesses or homes. It helped train local people to be able to take on new jobs that the investors were providing. It could improve the quality and appearance of the public realm in the local area to make it a more desirable place for the private sector and new residents to flourish in. The idea was to use government money to help and harness local efforts and private enterprise. You can only help create a great city or a flourishing town if you have a vibrant private commercial sector, and a range of voluntary and community groups and institutions alongside Council and government services.

I assume these features will be built into the Levelling up Fund.It will be more capital grant than revenue costs, so bidders will need to choose schemes which provide that backdrop to a successful lift off in private and community activity, drawing on a wide range of investors and companies. I suggest this fund could assist with the task of increasing the UK’s capacity to make things for ourselves. Local and national government could bring better roads and rail links, cleaned up land, permissions and potential public sector orders for items the new and expanding businesses can make. Requiring substantial local and private sector involvement and effort is essential to continuing success. It is no good doing a place up with public ownership and money without allowing a much wider rage of activities and investors to enrich the local area and provide a broader base and more stability for future jobs and incomes.

Gwynne supports campaign for more women in leadership

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

On International Women’s Day, Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne is backing the Stop Telling Half the Story campaign for more women in leadership.

This year, #March4Women is demanding more women to lead us through the Covid-19 and climate crises. The Stop Telling Half the Story campaign sends a clear message that we need to acknowledge women’s contributions and have more women in leadership.

The campaign is calling for:

  • UK Aid for women’s leadership and rights, including support for women’s rights organisations responding to crises
  • Diverse women’s leadership and priorities to shape the G7 agenda on recovery from COVID-19
  • Gender justice and women’s leadership to be central to the COP26 agenda.

Andrew Gwynne said:

“The best decisions are made when the group making those decisions reflects the wider population, but unfortunately women remain under-represented in leadership both nationally and globally.


“The pandemic has had an uneven impact on communities and it’s important that our recovery from this crisis addresses this.


“This is why this campaign is so important. We have come a long way, but we have still have so much further to go.”

The post Gwynne supports campaign for more women in leadership appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

Preet Kaur Gill MP, Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary has today launched a consultation on how the UK can help achieve gender equality around the world as it recovers from the COVID19 pandemic.

Over the next few months, Labour is encouraging like-minded countries, think tanks, civil society, NGOs, communities, and activists to submit ideas to its consultation to explore and build a transformative policy agenda that supports women and girls to achieve gender equality worldwide.

The world needs gender equality to ensure that everyone has the same rights and protections and to ensure that our recovery from Covid19 builds toward a fairer, environmentally sustainable world.

Worldwide, COVID-19 and measures to fight it have highlighted and exacerbated inequalities. Women’s jobs are being lost at a much faster rate than men’s; an additional 47 million women worldwide are expected to fall into extreme poverty this year; and an additional 20 million girls, on top of the 131 million out of school before the crisis, may never return to the classroom. 

Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods exacerbated by the climate crisis are disproportionately affecting women and girls. Addressing gender inequality will support those women and girls and help societies adapt more quickly to the impacts of changing climate.

Alongside providing immediate support for women and girls, the government must take an active role to support gender equality with long-term goals, understanding that the work must be embedded across different thematic areas.

The consultation, which will run until the end of July, will involve virtual round tables with experts, as well as town hall style engagement events online with groups interested in supporting women’s, and the public to get their views.

These responses will form the basis of Labour’s plan for supporting women and girls to achieve gender equality.

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Preet Kaur Gill MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for International Development, said:

“This is a moment of profound economic, social and environmental crisis around the world which is disproportionality impacting women and girls.

“As part of Labour’s deep commitment to human rights and tackling inequalities wherever we find them, we want to work with partners to build a transformative international development policy which takes us forward towards a more gender equal world.”

“This consultation will seek views on specific measures that can be taken to achieve real, sustainable change for women and girls around the world. We know how important this work is to counter the worst impacts of the pandemic and meet our commitment to achieve gender equality by 2030.”

The consultation will be live here: https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/gender-inequality


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Pink background with the title, "Achieving Gender Equality in Development"
8 March 2021
Dunne thanks GPs as South Shropshire vaccinations race ahead

South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has praised the work of local clinicians and volunteers as latest data shows 200,000 people in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin have received a vaccine dose against Covid19.

Latest figures show the Ludlow Constituency is in the top fifth of English constituencies for vaccines delivered. This week vaccine appointments in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin will double, to help even more people stay safe from coronavirus.

The continued success of the vaccine programme is a key part of the roadmap to recovery. So it is a great relief people in South Shropshire are now being protected from this dreadful virus at such a fast pace.

Philip Dunne MP

Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will begin for local residents in South East Shropshire who had their first dose at the Bridgnorth Medical Practice. Thanks to the rapid rollout of the vaccine, letters from the National Booking Service (NBS) are expected to go out this week to those residents in Cohort 8 who are 56yrs and over, for them to start booking appointments. By Thursday of last week some 69% of those in the 60-64 year age group and 92.5% of the clinically extremely vulnerable across all ages, have had their first dose in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

Mr Dunne revealed he has written to every GP practice in the constituency to thank clinicians and their staff for their superb work during the pandemic, balancing the ordinary needs of busy GP surgeries with the significant extra demands of the vaccination programme.

Mr Dunne said: “The fact that South Shropshire is now in the top fifth of all constituencies in England for the number of vaccines administered is testament to the incredible work of our local GPs, NHS staff, pharmacists and volunteers. I have written to every GP practice in South Shropshire to thank all of those involved, for their continued hard work, managing to balance the usual work routine of a busy GP surgery with the biggest national vaccination programme in the country’s history.

The continued success of the vaccine programme is a key part of the roadmap to recovery. So it is a great relief people in South Shropshire are now being protected from this dreadful virus at such a fast pace.”

Transport Convener: Why we need to adapt to thrive

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, writes for City Transport & Traffic Innovation (CiTTi ) Magazine on the future of travel in Edinburgh.

Dan Jarvis meets Barnsley charity TADS

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

Barnsley Central MP and South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis met with Carly Turnbull, General Manager of Therapies for Anxieties, Depression and Stress (TADS) to discuss the crisis in mental health amongst children and young people.

Nottingham City Council Budget 2021/22

Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

Today Nottingham Labour will agree a package of budget proposals to establish a sustainable financial footing amid the Covid crisis.

This budget comes during an extremely difficult time for the people of Nottingham, the nation as a whole and the council. The impacts of Covid have been devastating. The health effects coupled with the economic situation has dealt a blow to many of our residents. During this most difficult time for our City the council has stepped up to support our most vulnerable residents and taken on new responsibilities ranging from getting every rough sleeper into safe accommodation to administering tens of millions of pounds worth of business grants to help small employers through the pandemic.

Nottingham City Council has had to make over £271m of budget savings between 2010/11 and 2019/20, and during the current pandemic has had to deal with £25.9m unreimbursed Covid response costs and loss of income. We are having to take difficult decisions in this budget which includes £15.6m of savings.

Proposals include some service changes, as well as a workforce reduction of 272 full-time equivalent posts – 109 of which have been held vacant. We will also be implementing the Government’s proposed 3% social care precept towards the rising costs of care services for elderly and vulnerable adults, which now accounts for over 35% of the council’s net budget.

Over the last couple of months we have been listening to the feedback on draft budget proposals and will be making a few changes as a result. We will be:

  • Scrapping the staffing reduction to the Missing Children’s Team.
  • Scrapping the proposed 30p charge for public toilets in the City.
  • Continuing the grants to arts and cultural venues with a much smaller 15% funding reduction rather than the 37% that had been considered.

There are many proposals in today’s budget that we are bringing reluctantly. To avoid similar decisions in the future we need the Government to change course. We will be using Full Council today to call on the Government to urgently address a number of issues which will be significant for the Council’s budget and financial stability over the coming years including:

  • The need to bring forward the promised Green Paper on Adult Social Care with a funding model that does not rely on continued increases in Council tax
  • Services for vulnerable children where provider pricing nationally is spiralling – Nottingham City Council is facing an estimated additional cost pressure of more than £12m over the coming year 
  • Further support for businesses and employment services which will be

You can watch Full Council here.

The post Nottingham City Council Budget 2021/22 appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

International Womens Day

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

For #InternationalWomensDay I’ve written for @politicshome why increasing women representation must be at the heart of our STEM education, employment practices, policy development and digital economy if we are to thrive #WomenInSTEM #ChooseToChallenge


Covid Statement (Quarantine and New Variants) 02/03/2021

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

This week I asked the Secretary of State for Health if the UK Government’s border quarantine restrictions are sufficient for preventing the import of new Covid variants into the UK.

The current hotel quarantine system only applies to 1% of international arrivals and the South African strain of Covid has been found to be prevalent in 35 countries NOT which are on the UK’s ‘red list’.

Indeed, issues with locating a positive case of the Brazilian variant just this week highlights the shortcomings which exist both in the quarantine system and in the ability of the UK Government’s ‘test, trace and isolate’ to successfully track new variants.

As lockdown restrictions are eased across the UK, it is vital that a rigorous hotel quarantine system coupled with an effective ‘test, trace and isolate’ programme is in place to prevent avoidable outbreaks of new and existing Covid variants.

Instead of clarifying the Government’s position, the Secretary of State chose to, as he has been inclined to do so often recently, patronise me suggesting that all is well with the quarantine system, despite just a few minutes earlier describing in great detail the huge logistical effort which was underway in south-east England to try and find the sixth individual who tested positive for the Brazilian variant but had failed to complete the paperwork relating to his test sample on arrival into the UK.

You can watch my full contribution to the debate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR6-TtX5fck

Dr Philippa Whitford MP

Although the number of cases of the Brazilian variant is thankfully small, it is a warning that being tested in advance does not rule out travellers carrying covid. The South African variant is resistant to antibodies in previous covid patients, and there is concern that both variants may be resistant to vaccine-induced immunity and could therefore undermine the success of the vaccination programme.

The Brazilian variant has already been identified outside South America, and the South African strain is present in 35 countries not on the red list. The arrival of the Brazilian strain via both Switzerland and Paris demonstrates the various routes to the UK from high-risk countries and shows how a traveller can avoid the current hotel quarantine system by separating the legs of their journey. Those infected spent several hours in close quarters with other travellers, who would not be subject to hotel quarantine even now.

I assume that the Government are tracing the passengers from the flights, but with genomics taking some time, the window for worrying variants to get a foothold in the UK before they are discovered is significant. The situation would not have arisen with comprehensive hotel quarantine, as advised by SAGE, so why did the Secretary of State agree to such an inadequate system? Can he tell us the view of the Joint Biosecurity Centre? Does he recognise that quarantining just 1% of international arrivals does not protect the UK from these variants, or protect it from those that may evolve in other parts of the world? Will the Government now review their hotel quarantine policy and make it fit for purpose?

Matt Hancock

The hon. Lady is completely wrong, and she knows it. Quarantine is in place for 100% of passenger arrivals in this country. In fact, this episode, in which all those we have successfully contacted—all five—have fully isolated and quarantined at home as required, demonstrates that the policy is working. We have further strengthened it and introduced hotel quarantine, and that will no doubt give further reassurance. The hon. Lady’s characterisation is wrong, and some of the descriptions of the organisations involved are wrong as well. I am happy to ensure that she gets a private briefing so that she can understand the situation in future.

The post Covid Statement (Quarantine and New Variants) 02/03/2021 appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

Weekly Highlights 1-5th March

Robin Millar (Aberconwy)

Big investment at Borders Jobcentre

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

The UK Government has revealed that 17 new Work Coaches have been added to the team at Galashiels Jobcentre. It is part of a UK wide policy to double the number of Work Coaches across the country to 27,000 by the end of March 2021. This is to help those who have lost their job due to the pandemic…

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Last Wednesday saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, set out the government’s Budget for 2021. The last year has been incredibly tough for individuals, families, businesses, and the country as a whole, so it was critical that the Chancellor set out a budget which focused on protecting…

On the floor of the House of Commons this week, South Lakes MP Tim Farron said he was "appalled" at the Government's decision to turn their back on the outdoor education sector.

Last week, in a response from a question in Parliament from Tim, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he "cannot see why" outdoor education couldn't reopen alongside schools on March 8th and that he would get back to Tim to confirm if they could.

With just three days to go, the industry is still waiting for an answer.

Meanwhile in this week's Budget, the Chancellor failed to follow the devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland in providing a specific financial support package for outdoor education centres.

Speaking during a debate on the Budget in Parliament, Tim said: "Representing a constituency that is so dependent on the outdoors and what it does for our economy, and indeed for our mental health, I am appalled that the Government have failed to follow the lead of Northern Ireland and Scotland and provide any support whatsoever for our outdoor education sector, despite the fact that the Prime Minister promised me last week that he would do so.

"We see outdoor education as an industry, with 15,000 employees, but 6,000 have already lost their jobs.

"Why can we not reopen safely so that young people can have residentials? If outdoor education centres cannot reopen, why is there not a financial package to help them, as they are vital to our future?"

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MP Raises Concerns About Dog Theft

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)


Over the past week Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham has been contacted by a number of concerned residents regarding the recent spate of dognapping incidents in the area.

As a dog owner Jon Cruddas MP shares the concerns raised by constituents and has been liaising with the local police to ascertain how prolific reports of dognapping are across Dagenham and Rainham. Residents have alleged that the Rush Green area, among others has been targeted.

Jon said: “these reports are very worrying, especially given the nature of some of the allegations which suggest pets being taken in the street. As a dog owner I know just how much our pets mean to us, so I am urging residents across the constituency to be aware and remain vigilant.”

In the coming days Jon and his team expect to be updated by the police with figures and details of incidents in the constituency. Following this Jon will be working to ensure that all routes are explored to prevent these crimes in the future.

Jon added: “my constituents should not be in a position where they are fearful of taking the dog for a walk, and I will certainly be following this up. To help me get a clearer picture of the issue I hope residents will take the time to fill in the short survey on my website.”

To take part in the survey on dog theft follow this link: https://joncruddas.org.uk/dog-theft

RISHI Sunak has vowed to tackle the dominance of tech giants such as Facebook and Google by ensuring they pay a fair rate of tax and do not abuse their market position to squash rivals.

In the wake of his £65billion raid on household incomes and company profits in Wednesday’s Budget, the Chancellor is preparing to set out plans on March 23, which is being called tax day’, to fill the £407billion hole left by the pandemic.

Among the options is an online sales tax’ targeting the explosion in internet shopping triggered by the crisis, which has benefited companies such as Amazon at the expense of traditional high street stores.

Mr Sunak said he was talking to the US and other members of the G7 to tackle the ruses used by the companies to limit their tax bills.

The Chancellor added: One of my priorities in the G7 this year, which I’ve already started work on, is to try to get international agreement on a new way to tax these companies. I spend a lot of time talking to my finance minister colleagues around the world about this issue.’ A Treasury source added that President Joe Biden’s administration had signalled an openness to engage constructively in the debate and try to reach resolution on it’, with hopes rising that an agreement will be reached this year.

Mr Sunak is studying a review by Tory MP John Penrose of the laws meant to prevent big businesses becoming monopolies that can dictate prices and smother rivals.

Mr Penrose said Ministers needed to introduce a parliamentary Act to update Britain’s consumer institutions to reflect the rise of the digital economy, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulator tasked with devising a way to allow customers to compare the price’ of free online services. Companies such as Google and Facebook do not charge customers for many of their services – instead they gather customers’ data as their fee’ because it allows adverts to be more precisely targeted.

A Treasury source said the companies were not well captured by our current approach to competition regulation’, and reform was needed, adding: What we currently have in place and what hasn’t been in place is that we’re not perfectly equipped to deal with the dominance these businesses have.’

Last month, Lord Rothermere, chairman of The Mail on Sunday’s parent company, DMGT, condemned the Australian government for watering down laws forcing tech giants to pay for news. Describing it as a bad day for democracy’, he said it would let Facebook decide what news is read on social media and how much, if anything, it pays for it’.

He said politicians in democracies worldwide must decide if they will let tech giants choose what news the public sees in secret deals with the publishers they favour’ or act to ensure fair and transparent treatment for all’.

In a letter to the Financial Times, Lord Rothermere wrote: Reporting news costs money; but for years Facebook and Google have plundered news content without paying for it while at the same time extracting ever greater profits from advertising markets they dominate.’ Referring to Australia, he added: A nation was held to ransom – and it surrendered.’

Politicians and officials around the world are becoming increasingly worried about the economic dominance of the tech titans.

Google receives around 90 per cent of all advertising spending by companies who want to display their products and services on internet search result pages. That brings the company revenues of around £7?billion a year in Britain alone – but it pays UK taxes on just a fraction of its earnings. Facebook has around half of the entire market for display advertising, worth around £5?billion a year.

The CMA found last year that Google and Facebook were able to demand inflated prices for adverts, pushing costs to suppliers that were passed on as higher prices.

It is a pleasure to speak in the second day of the Budget debate. This Budget has one overriding aim—to kick-start our economy, which shrank by 10% last year. We are now set to borrow a peacetime record of £355 billion this year. This is jaw-dropping, I agree, as is the fact that 700,000 people…

The Chancellor of the Exchequer today announce that Worcester has been named as one of the top priority areas to benefit from a £4.8 billion fund that will provide capital investment for major projects.

The Levelling Up Fund was announced at the 2020 Spending Review to support places like Worcester to grow their economies and bind communities.

The Fund will focus on capital investment in local infrastructure, and will build on prior programmes such as the Future High Streets Fund which Worcester is benefitting by £18 million from, and the Towns Fund bid which has the opportunity to transform Worcester.

Bids will be favoured that have a visible impact on people and their communities. This includes a range of high value local investment priorities, including local transport schemes, urban regeneration projects and cultural assets.

Applications to the fund will be managed by local authorities and today’s budget allocated £150,000 to support them in writing their bids.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said:

“This news is a further commitment to Worcester by our government and demonstrates a real desire to level up opportunities to areas like ours.

“I lobbied hard for us to be included in the Future High Streets Fund and I was delighted when we were allocated £18 million for our City Centre in December last year. That funding will allow Worcester City Council to purchase and redevelop sites for cultural, commercial and residential use. In particular it will enable the reopening of the long-neglected Scala theatre providing Worcester with a major cultural boost and allowing for the Worcester Live theatre group to move from their site at the Swan to a better connected city centre location.

“I have also worked with the Towns Fund Board to ensure the Town Improvement Plan is exciting and ambitious and I was delighted when this was submitted last month. It is possible we will benefit from a £28 million cash injection from government, matched by funding from Worcester City Council that has the potential to transform our city.

“I now look forward to working with my colleagues in government and Worcester City Council to ensure we see the maximum possible impact from the Levelling Up Fund.”

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

On Saturday 27th February Llafur held their second Zoom event in their Spring Series “Migration and Wales” dedicated to the memory of Llafur’s President Hywel Francis, who sadly and tragically passed away on the 14th February. Part 1 of the series is looking at “Communities and People”, and this meeting’s theme was “Revisiting Tiger Bay”. Chair of Llafur Ian Rees introduced the event which was chaired by Vice President Gaynor Legall. We heard from three speakers, Trevor Godbold, Yasmin Begum and Mymuna Soleman, reflecting on the history of Tiger Bay.

On Monday 1st March we celebrated St David’s Day, but in a very different way due to the restrictions imposed on our nation by the coronavirus pandemic. However, it was very uplifting to see the many photographs of children dressed in Dewi Sant costumes.

On Tuesday 2nd March, in advance of the UK Government’s Budget, I attended the Gaps in Support All Party Parliamentary Group. As vice chair of the Group, I paid tribute to my dear friend Hywel Francis. We discussed the APPG Pre-Budget Reportand listened to trade union leaders, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community Union and Mike Clancy General Secretary of Prospect, representing the views of their members who have received little, or no, support from the Chancellor, and suggestions for solutions.

As an officer of the All-Party Group for Mutuals, I attended the first evidence session for our enquiry into the planned demutualisation and takeover of Liverpool Victoria by Bain Capital. We listened to and asked questions of Martin Shaw, CEO of Association of Financial Mutuals, and John Gilbert Friendly Societies and Mutual Insurance Legal Expert.

On Tuesday afternoon it was the funeral of Hywel Francis. His cortège left his home in Crynant, passed up the Dulais Valley through Seven Sisters and Onllwyn, then down through Taibach to Margam Crematorium for a family funeral. Hywel’s friends and colleagues lined the streets to pay their respects. I stood outside the Palace of Culture (Onllwyn Welfare) with Wayne Thomas (NUM), Sian Williams (South Wales Miners Library), Rob Humphries, Cllr. Dean Cawsey (County Councillor for Onllwyn, where Hywel was born), Lesley Smith of Dove Workshop and Onllwyn Choir – Hywel has been President for 40 years – and many, many more people. Matthew Sims, the conductor of Onllwyn Male Voice Choir and also independent funeral director, walked in front of the hearse, and stopped the cortège in front of the Palace of Culture. We brought the Banners – South Wales Miners, Seven Sisters Lodge, Abercraf Lodge – it was a truly iconic moment that will stay with me throughout my life.

On Tuesday evening I attended the PCS Union Parliamentary Zoom call. We received an update into the number of coronavirus cases, the health and safety issues, and the proposed industrial action by PCS members working at the DVLA. The six MPs across the Swansea region have signed a statement of support for the workers.

Later that evening, as a Labour and Co-operative MP, I attended the AGM of the Swansea Neath Port Talbot Co-operative Party branch zoom meeting and was honoured to be elected vice-chair.

The big news in Westminster this week was the Budget.  Sadly, the Chancellor gave a very weak and disappointing response to the enormous impact of the pandemic on our communities. In a country that has experienced both the worst death toll and the worst economic crisis, we needed to see a Budget that put people first, that emphasised the importance of investment in job creation and training, that ensured businesses were given the support they need to rebuild and return strongly, and that supported the families that have suffered so much.

Instead, we see no immediate support for business and suggestions of tax rises that will hit struggling families hard. This is not levelling up; this is returning to the same insecurity and inequality that has wreaked havoc over the past ten years. An unequal economy is not a prosperous one. We need investment across the whole of the UK, and jobs to give people the security and the local economies the strength that they need to really rebuild after this crisis.

Although he extended the Furlough scheme and the uplift in Universal Credit, it was only for six months, creating a new cliff edge for people in receipt of support at the end of September. The majority of the three million excluded from the Chancellor’s support schemes, remain without support. The Chancellor’s only concession being to extend support to the newly self-employed with tax returns for 2019/20. The Welsh Labour Government has filled in the gaps by providing the most generous support package in the UK despite its funding from the UK Government being cut, for example the £2 billion Economic Resilience Fund has secured 141,000 jobs in Wales. But this UK Conservative Government Budget yet again has cut funding to Wales by 4% per head in real terms than in 2010-11 and provided nothing in capital spend for the future. This is played out against the background of the Internal Market Act which has taken back powers from devolved nations. The Counsel General for the Welsh Government and MS for Neath Jeremy Miles has issued proceedings against the UK Government alleging that the Act is contrary to the devolution settlement. There was good news for Neath in that the Chancellor announced the long awaited £30 million funding for the Global Centre of Rail Excellence to be built on the Nant Helen Opencast site and Washery in Onllwyn. This project has been driven by Welsh Government in partnership with landowners Celtic Energy and rail companies, and I eagerly await written confirmation of the contract agreement.

This week is Food Waste Action Week. Staggeringly, around a third of the food we produce worldwide is lost or wasted and not surprisingly, it’s having a significant impact on climate change. There are so many ways that we can make little changes to the way we eat to support the environment. For those who do eat meat, consider having a few vegetarian meals each week – there are some fantastic recipes out there for curries, pasta dishes, and soups that can help you feel healthy and environmentally friendly. We can also try and shop local as much as we can to ensure that our food has as small a carbon footprint as possible and with the added bonus of helping local businesses. We can do so much to stop wasting food, which will also benefit our wallets as well. Make a list and plan your meals and portions for the week, making sure to consider how you can use up leftovers and what food could be frozen and kept for later. Check your fridge temperature and turn it down to 5°C or lower to keep your food fresher for longer and keep an eye on use-by dates to make sure you use up food before it goes off.

We also marked World Book Day on Thursday, another of those days that has gained a new significance thanks to the lockdown. The OECD have found that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family’s circumstances, their parents’ educational background, or their income. It’s so important, therefore, that we encourage children to read and ensure that everyone, regardless of their family budget and circumstances, is able to access reading materials that are fun and inspirational. There are so many fantastic children’s authors out there and every child should be able to find books that match their interests, from dinosaurs to space, sports to history. Neath’s libraries are still operating an online and ‘call and collect’ service – take a look if you aren’t already a member and see what books interest you and your children!

As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch about matters that fall under my role as an MP, please do not hesitate to drop me an email on christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk or call on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain there for you should you need our help.

I hope you stay well, and remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe.

Weekly round-up #Working4Wycombe

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

What I have been up to this week #Working4Wycombe: Supported DVSA to provide a new driving test centre in High Wycombe Met with the Conservative Party Chairman Met the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the 1922 Committee Met with the Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment Briefed by the Office for Budget Responsibility on our economic and fiscal outlook Met with local businesses, Bucks Business First and the Minister for Tourism & Sport for him to answer questions and help businesses […]

Census 2021: Sunday 21 March

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed yet another nail in the coffin to HIAL’s ill-thought, island-damaging plans for empire building at Inverness Airport. HIAL’s plans which would cost the public purse £2.5 million extra, each and every year, are now seen for the ill-conceived, ill-thought through concepts they always were. 

Mr MacNeil, who has just written to Audit Scotland to look into this huge potential waste of public money, advises HIAL to confine this nonsense to the dustbin now and for government to get a grip over the wayward waste of public money which has cost us £6.5 million to get to the point of understanding that removing jobs from islands and harming communities is not the way for a Scottish Government agency to go.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“Currently our airports provide excellent local jobs with no issues of staff retention, particularly when local staff are recruited, in both Stornoway and Benbecula. The money that HIAL have wasted so far could have upgraded all our airports and secured these jobs with a lot less ongoing cost to the public purse. 

“Islands will be particularly impacted with a loss of high quality jobs in the community if the high cost alternative of centralising in Inverness were to go ahead. Our fragile islands will lose population, this is surely not something that Scottish Government Ministers will sit back and let happen, playing Pontus Pilate is not a responsible option where fragile communities are concerned. Currently our airlines, our ferry companies, our crofting commission, even the board of the Gaelic language are headquartered off the islands, and so much more besides. Regardless of politics everyone needs to rally around and lend support to the issue for keeping these jobs on the islands. 

“If HIAL don’t drop these plans, Audit Scotland needs to investigate at least two alternatives that are cheaper than HIAL’s pet project and which would keep jobs on the islands. However, hopefully these plans will be consigned to the dustbin of history and our communities can breathe a sigh of relief, with the government saving many millions annually in the process.” 


Walsall Healthcare Trust recognised by the Government!

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I was delighted that Matt Hancock recognised the incredible work being undertaken across Walsall and my own Aldridge-Brownhills constituency to roll out the vaccine.
The effort to deliver the vaccine has been an amazing effort and I would like to add my own congratulations to Richard Beeken, Darren Fradgley and all our healthcare professionals, Walsall Council, and volunteers for everything that they are doing!
Matt Hancock Tweet: –
I’d like to thank Richard Beeken, Darren Fradgley and the team at Walsall Manor Hospital for their incredible work during the pandemic, and more recently for ensuring the vaccination programme is progressing well in Walsall.
I’d also like to thank Mike Bird and the team at Walsall Council for the work they are doing, with GPs and health partners, to ensure vaccination sites are set up across the borough, including the Oak Park Centre at Walsall Wood which is up and running already, and the former T J Hughes site which will soon be capable of doing over 3500 jabs per day.

Rishi Sunak’s budget on Wednesday had absolutely no mention of social care. This pandemic has exposed the impact of 10 years of social care funding cuts, and our carer workers and families deserve better.

The Chancellor then told the BBC that the reason that social care plans hadn’t been brought forward was that the Government were trying to build cross-party support. As Shadow Care Minister, this has not once been raised with me, or other members of the Shadow Health Team. This is despite of me asking about it multiple times over the last year.

Proper cross-party talks isn’t the Government deciding and expecting other parties to agree. It’s about finding common ground that will last for years to come. 

The Prime Minister said over 18 months ago that he had a plan to fix social care. We need to see this plan urgently and end the crisis in social care once and for all.

Read more coverage in the Daily Mail, Sky News, the Yorkshire Post, the i, and the Daily Mirror.

The post Liz speaks about lack of support for social care in the Budget appeared first on Liz Kendall.

Karin Smyth MP condemns the Government for neglecting the NHS in this year’s Budget

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, condemns the Government for neglecting the NHS, social care and schools in the Budget announced by the Chancellor on Wednesday.  With just one mention of the NHS, and no mention of social care or school funding, Smyth has criticised the Government for having the wrong priorities.  

Budget documents revealed that NHS England core resource spending, including Covid spending, will fall from £147.7 million this year down to £139.1 million next, meaning there is no plan to deal with the ongoing cost to the NHS from Covid-19.  The Government has also not allocated any additional resources to tackle the crisis now facing cancer care or waiting lists that have built up during the crisis.

The climate emergency and job crisis were also neglected in Wednesday’s budget announcement, with no new investment for green recoveries in key industries including automotive, aerospace and steel, and just £20m announced for floating offshore wind technology. 

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said: 

“This Budget was the opportunity to put our country back on the road to recovery and right the wrongs of the last decade by rebuilding our economy, but the Chancellor is simply papering over the cracks and has shown how out of touch he is with what this country needs. 

“Today’s speech saw just one mention of the NHS and no mention of the huge challenges facing social care. With no plan for NHS recovery, this Budget is ignoring the enormous backlog of cases that have built up during the crisis and is following through with plans to freeze pay for our key workers in the public sector.

“I am also gravely concerned that in this Budget the Chancellor has turned his back on the green stimulus that the jobs and climate emergency is crying out for.  Labour has repeatedly called for a £30bn green economic recovery which would create so many opportunities for youth employment and apprenticeships in clean industries in Bristol.  

“The Chancellor should have learned lessons from the pandemic, but instead he is choosing to go back to the same insecure economy and unequal society so cruelly exposed by the virus. He has got his priorities totally wrong.”

The post Karin Smyth MP condemns the Government for neglecting the NHS in this year’s Budget first appeared on Karin Smyth.

Anne-Marie's latest email newsletter

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Update from Westminster and Northumberland Good morning everyone. There has been a lot of Budget news this week (you can read my Budget update HERE if you missed it) but here is what else has been going on that you may have missed. Great news from my colleague Liz Truss that the UK and US have…

Harriett Baldwin speaks in Budget debate

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

Harriett Baldwin welcomes the Budget, in particular innovative measures to encourage business investment and growth but calls for a rethink on the scrapping of the 0.7% GNI commitment to international aid. read more »

Alex urges TS19 residents to get tested

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, today (4th March 2021) visited the Covid-19 vaccination centre at Newcastle Racecourse in her constituency in Gosforth. Catherine joined Rebecca Haynes, Chief Operating Officer for Newcastle GP Services, Dr Jane Carman who is lead GP at the centre for the day, and Andy Robinson from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to visit the site and see … Continue reading Catherine visits Newcastle Racecourse Vaccine Centre to thank local heroes as 50,000th Vaccine delivered today
It is I hope a sign of the times that this week I am writing about something which indicates better things to come. This is the 60th anniversary appeal of the Kent & East Sussex Railway, which is looking forward to welcoming back passengers to its station in Tenterden this summer. The railway…

Crown Heights Relief Fund

Maria Miller (Basingstoke)

Local MP Maria Miller has been working with residents in Crown Heights, who have contacted her about the problems with fire safety identified in the blocks. Maria has been in direct contact with the chief operating officer of the building management company and also the Chief Fire Officer for…


Martin Docherty (West Dunbartonshire)

West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has responded to the UK Chancellor’s Spring Budget statement, warning that it fails to deliver the level of support needed to help hard-pressed families and businesses recover from the coronavirus crisis. The Westminster government has … Continue reading


Budget 2021

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Jonathan Djanogly MP: Budget shows Government’s commitment to protecting jobs and livelihoods as we build our future economy.  read more »

Chancellor Announces a Freeport for Southampton

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

It is excellent news that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced today in his Budget that Southampton has been awarded freeport status. The Solent Freeport will cover sites across the region, including the Port of Southampton and Southampton Airport and will facilitate billions of investment and promises thousands of high quality jobs for the region [...]

The post Chancellor Announces a Freeport for Southampton appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Local MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart, had a virtual catch up with Headteacher of Hornsea School and Language College (HSLC), Steve Ostler, and the Chair of Governors, Graham McDonald, after the Government confirmed all pupils were set to return to school on 8 March, as part of their roadmap for leaving lockdown.

Graham heard about the school’s plans to welcome pupils back in March, particularly their impressive testing regime, which they are aiming to have available daily, including weekends. Steve emphasised that 80% of the school community has opted in for the testing they are offering.

They also discussed the Government’s ten-year School Rebuilding Programme from which Steve is hoping to secure funding to upgrade existing buildings and for new buildings. On 5 February, the first 50 schools were confirmed for the first wave of funding. Unfortunately, HSLC was not included. Nonetheless, Graham is determined to lobby the Schools Minister to ensure HSLC is included in upcoming rounds. Graham will visit the school to see exactly what work needs to be done.

Graham Stuart said, “I am delighted to hear that Steve and his team are going above and beyond with their weekend testing plans for their school community, and I applaud their enthusiasm to welcome pupils back to school next week – I wish them every success.

“I know they are disappointed not to make the first round of funding for the School Rebuilding Programme, but I will continue to lobby the Minister to include them in future rounds of funding and I am looking forward to visiting the school very soon.”

Steve said, “I really appreciate Graham having a catch up with us so we could update him on our progress. We are really looking forward to welcoming the kids back next week – I think the quicker we get them back, the better for everyone concerned.

“Inevitably we are disappointed not to be included in the first round for the Rebuilding Programme, but I am thrilled that Graham will be coming to visit the school and I am grateful for the work he is putting in to help us secure funding.”

Graham McDonald said, “It was great to chat with Graham again and I am delighted he is keen to visit the school, so we can show him the work needs to be done.”

30% of Folkestone & Hythe vaccinated

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

NHS data published on 26th February showed that over one third of residents in the Folkestone and Hythe district had received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is above the national average, and the highest vaccination rate in Kent. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the […]

Drew Hendry MP, Chair of the UK Government All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness, and Harry Potter actor, Jason Isaacs, have joined forces to support end of life charity Marie Curie provide care and support to more people living with a terminal illness.

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey MP Drew Hendry and Marie Curie Ambassador Jason Isaacs, are backing the Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign held every March. The campaign, which reached its 35th anniversary in March, has for the first time, had to cancel all of the public collections, leaving the charity with a potential loss of over £3 million.

The last 12 months have been extremely difficult as key fundraising events have been cancelled and all Marie Curie’s charity shops have had to close. Last year, the charity saw a 16.5% rise in the number of people they cared for at end of life, compared to 2019 and their support line saw a 20% increase in calls too.

Drew has pledged his support to the Great Daffodil Appeal and is encouraging constituents in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey to donate and wear one of the charity’s daffodil pins to help fund vital care and support for people living with a terminal illness, and their families, in a year where Marie Curie have been on the frontline providing care to people dying both with and without coronavirus.

Commenting, Mr Hendry said:

“I am delighted to support Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal this March. I work closely with Marie Curie as part of my ongoing work as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness and the work they do to support people at the end of their lives, and their families, is remarkable.

“Every five minutes, someone in the UK dies without getting the care and support they need at the end of their life, and this last year has been a stark reminder to us all of just how valuable end of life care and support is, that’s why I’m supporting this appeal and asking my constituents to do the same.”

Jason, who became a Marie Curie Ambassador in 2018, said:

“Marie Curie does amazing things, and when people don’t have the family members around, they provide love. Towards the end of life, they help the end to be as serene and beautiful and loving as it can be. The work Marie Curie do is needed now more than ever as the Covid-19 pandemic has had a big impact on their ability to fundraise.

“So, I’m here to support them and the Great Daffodil Appeal and encourage everyone to wear their daffodil or join in fundraising any way they can as every donation means that when the time comes, Marie Curie can be there for people and their loved ones when they need it most.  For anyone who chooses to support them too, you’re supporting a really wonderful charity.”

Ruth Driscoll, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said:

“Having the support of Drew and Jason makes a huge difference to our Great Daffodil Appeal, which we need people to support more than ever this year.

“Over the past year, our nurses, doctors and other staff have been on the frontline providing care for people dying both with and without coronavirus. But still too many people miss out on the care and support they need at the end of life.

“By donating and wearing a daffodil pin in March you are helping us to support more people at the most difficult time of their lives. We want to make sure that everyone affected by terminal illness, wherever they may live, gets the right support, at the right time – whether that is high quality nursing care, emotional and practical support, or fast access to the benefits they need.”

During the Great Daffodil Appeal the first annual National Day of Reflection will take place. Since the first lockdown began in 2020, millions of people have been bereaved. Join Marie Curie on 23 March, the first anniversary of UK lockdown, for a day to reflect and commemorate this tragic loss of life.

For more information on how to fundraise, donate or set up a virtual collection for Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal visit: www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil

Keep up to date with new articles at www.drewhendrymp.scot 

Find out more about my work in parliament at www.theyworkforyou.com

The post RELEASE: Drew Hendry MP & Jason Isaacs Support Marie Curie ‘s 35th Great Daffodil Appeal appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.

A year on from the start of the pandemic, Judith is joining Alzheimer’s Society, TIDE, Dementia UK and John’s Campaign to remember the tens of thousands of people with dementia whose lives have been lost to Covid and to call for lasting change this Coronavirus Action Day.

Judith has written about the need for a national rehabilitation strategy to support people with dementia to recover as we leave lockdown

You can read the full article here

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February 2021 Newsletter

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Click here to read my February 2021 Newsletter

In my newsletter, you will find information about the work I’ve been doing this month as Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kiburn and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years:

  • Encouraging take up of the vaccine
  • End the cladding scandal
  • Less than two weeks left to bring Nazanin home
  • Holocaust Memorial Day
  • LGBT+ Labour event on adoption rights
  • Thumbs Up For Early Years
  • Meeting with special school headteachers
  • Local community support

Rushanara Ali MP tables EDM on Myanmar Coup

Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow)

On 24 February, Rushanara Ali MP tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) on the current political and security situation in Myanmar



Local MP and Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps thanks NHS staff and volunteers as he urges people: ‘when you get the call for your vaccine- go and get it’

Grant Shapps MP yesterday attended the vaccination centre at the University of Hertfordshire College Lane Campus in Hatfield.

The centre caters for 4 different GP surgeries in Hatfield and currently vaccinates around 350 people per day. The centre is organised so that people are vaccinated by the staff from their own GP surgery.

Mr Shapps becomes the first cabinet minister to have received a jab for the coronavirus, having had treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma 21 years ago.

On arrival, Mr Shapps took a lateral flow test to make sure he was not bringing COVID into the vaccination centre. He spoke to volunteers and staff outside the centre before entering to have his first dose, and tour the centre.

Receiving the jab, Mr Shapps said: “I received my call from the GP surgery to come for my first vaccination- actually I was so surprised to receive the call I actually called back and checked they got it right. Turns out that it’s because a couple of decades ago I had cancer and have been in remission for a very long time from that- but here we are.

“I’m going to have my jab and then have a little tour to thank the volunteers and NHS staff.

“The most important thing is this: when you’re called for your jab, make sure you book it in and make sure you go and get it, and together we can protect each other.”

Mr Shapps released a video on the day of his vaccination, which can be viewed below:


Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, spoke virtually in the House of Commons debate yesterday (23 February) on Supporting Businesses and Individuals. Sir David began his speech by welcoming the roadmap that will guide us cautiously…

Health in All Policies APPG launch inquiry report on the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act

A new report by a cross party group of MPs as part of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health in All Policies which I Chair has concluded that, five years on, the effect of the Welfare Reform & Work Act 2016 has been ‘devastating’ to the health and wellbeing of people on low incomes.

The report which was launched today  can be read here.

This report shows there is strong evidence from several sources that the cuts in social security support have contributed to increasing poverty and financial hardship in low income households which has particularly affected the poverty levels of children and disabled people.

The analysis has found overwhelming evidence showing how the Act has pushed many low income households into poverty and financial hardship, disproportionately affecting children and disabled people. The report describes the strong evidence showing the adverse causal relationship that this poverty has had on the health and well-being of those affected, particularly children, with every 1% increase in child poverty associated with an extra 5.8 infant deaths per 100,000 and a third of the increases in infant mortality between 2014 and 2017 attributed to rising poverty.

The report also reveals how the treatment of those people reliant on social security by the Department for Work and Pensions often leaves them feeling worthless and even ‘dehumanised’.

Looking at 5 specific measures within the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act – the benefit cap, the benefit freeze, the two child limit, the abolition of £30 a week support for disabled people who were unfit for work (ESA WRAG) and the extension of sanctions to ‘responsible carers’ (parents of pre-nursery age children) – the APPG inquiry sought to identify the impacts of  these specific measures on household income and the impact that this may have on the behaviour and health of claimants and their families in the context of the 2012 social security cuts, and other wider ranging tax and public service changes.

The APPG also looked at the Government’s objectives for the 2016 Act to see how effective the measures had been in achieving these objectives and has made 16 recommendations including

  • Making the social safety net sufficient for people not in full-time work to receive a minimum income for healthy living
  • Making permanent the £1,000-a-year increase in the standard allowance for Universal Credit
  • Removing sanctions and reduce conditionalities in benefit payments
  • Eradicating benefit caps and lifting the two-child limit
  • Providing tapering levels of benefits to avoid cliff edges
  • Ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit and providing cash grants for low-income households
  • Giving sufficient Government support to food aid providers and charities.

In 2015 we looked at the potential impacts of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on child poverty and health, and we wanted to compare these with the actual impacts. Again the focus was on the relationship between poverty, inequality and health, and in particular child health. (Read the APPG’s earlier report here.)

Five years on, we have conducted a follow-up review of the actual impacts of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.

There is a growing evidence base of the direct and negative impacts of different aspects of the social security system on the mental and physical health of claimants and their families, in addition to the indirect impacts mediated by poverty as a result of having inadequate income from work and/or social security support.

In addition to quantitative evidence we looked at qualitative studies which pointed to a process of ‘dehumanising’ claimants that eroded their self-esteem and confidence, making them feel worthless. In some cases, the whole experience had proved too much for some claimants and they have taken their own lives.

It’s important to note the knock-on impact that this ill health will have on health services and for social protection to be recognised as mitigating against socio-economic health risk factors.

Although the Government achieved their aim of cutting welfare spending by introducing these measures – working age spending on social security has shrunk by £34bn since 2010 – there has been minimal impact on helping to get people into work who wouldn’t have got into work without these measures.”

The full report was launched with a panel of speakers to discuss the findings and recommendations of the report including:

Professor Clare Bambra, University of Newcastle

Helen Barnard, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts

Professor David Taylor Robinson, University of Liverpool

Geoff Fimister, Disability Benefits Consortium

‘Aurora’ (not her real name) – a widowed parent of two children

‘Aurora’ said: “Our situation has been greatly impacted by the changes to the benefits system. We can no longer afford the essentials to ensure even a basic standard of living. After rent and deductions are paid there is nothing left. I do not feel supported by the DWP, and I feel our group have been ignored. The pandemic highlights a desperate requirement for reform.

“We need help to participate and become productive members of society. It is our children who invariably suffer, poverty has lasting effects, they bare the consequences of these policies.”

Helen Barnard, JRF Director, said: “In the last year, millions more people have turned to social security to help them stay afloat during the pandemic. The importance of a strong social security system to act as an anchor for all of us, preventing us being swept into poverty by unexpected events, illness or job loss has never been clearer.  This APPG report demonstrates starkly the damage done to individuals, families and communities by weakening social security.

As we look forward to the easing of the public health emergency, we must learn the lessons of the pandemic and of previous recessions and ensure that social security is strengthened. There is a long way to go before the economic storm passes; the government must live up to the promise of bringing us through that storm safely, starting by keeping the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and extending it to those on legacy benefits who have been unjustly excluded from additional support so far.

Professor David Taylor-Robinson, University of Liverpool, said: “Even before covid-19, extremely disturbing trends in health were emerging in England. Growing child poverty, homelessness, and food poverty led to an unprecedented rise in infant mortality, mental health problems, and stalling life expectancy, especially for women in the poorest areas and cities. These were the same areas where 10 years of austerity measures had hit the poorest groups the hardest.

“The APPG report shows how reductions in social security for families with children have hit the most vulnerable communities. In addition larger cuts in government funding to local authorities with higher proportions of children in poverty have meant a reduction in spending on vital preventive services in areas where they were needed most.

“We know that rising child poverty has myriad adverse impacts on multiple aspects of child health and development that will have repercussions for decades to come. It is time for the government to reverse these extremely concerning trends, establishing a welfare system that protects children from poverty and material deprivation.”

Geoff Fimister, Policy Co-Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium, said: “As the economic fallout from the Covid crisis threatens to make life even tougher for disabled people, in or out of work – and as the Chancellor prepares his Budget and the Government proposes to announce details of its disability strategy later this year – this important report could hardly be more timely. It sets out clearly the impacts of austerity on disabled people and the measures needed to set a new direction and start to put things right.

The Disability Benefits Consortium is a network of more than 100 organisations concerned with achieving real social security for disabled people. We gave evidence to this inquiry – based on our research and on feedback from our members – and are very pleased to see such clear and well-founded analysis and  recommendations. We hope that the Government will take notice.”

Professor Clare Bambra of Newcastle University commented: “Our results show the importance to protecting people’s mental health of adequate social safety nets. This is particularly relevant now as the lock down and the COVID-19 pandemic is already leading to deteriorations in people’s mental health. Our research suggests that the current increase to Universal Credit of £20 per week should be maintained in order to protect the mental health of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “I very much welcome the report launched today. Since 2010, extensive work has been undertaken by Disabled People’s Organisations, charities, academics and journalists to investigate, document and research the disproportionate impacts of welfare reform measures on those with the lowest incomes in society including disabled people. Interrogating and reflecting upon that wide evidence-base, the APPG has produced a stark report that succeeds in cutting through the spin and selective use of figures to present a hard-hitting portrait of Britain today. We are the sixth richest country in the world and yet infant mortality is rising and life expectancy declining. The Resolution Foundation calculated that by 2022, the total annual savings in spending for working age social security claimants from 2010 would be £34billion.

“In December 2020, the Marmot Review and analysis into the UK’s “high and unequal” Covid-19 death toll exposed key causes of this as existing poverty and inequalities driven by 10 years of austerity including social security cuts. Even after the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift, benefit claimants are receiving just 43.4% of the minimum income standard (MIS), which is the amount required for an acceptable standard of living. For those still on legacy benefits who have never been granted an uplift, their incomes are just 33.9% of the MIS. Many of these are disabled people, many have been shielding for over a year now and have seen their expenditures rise sharply as a result. The Disability Benefits Consortium recently published findings showing that 66% of disabled people on legacy benefits surveyed are having to choose between eating or heating.

“The news that the Universal credit uplift is set to continue for a further six months is welcome, but we need to urgently pressure the government into extending the uplift to legacy benefits. There is no question that the failure to do so has been detrimental to disabled people’s health and I echo the report recommendation calling for research into the long-term health effects of different social security levels to be carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions in conjunction with the Department for Health and Social Care. Ultimately what we need is a new social security system, one that provides a genuine safety net for all and that guarantees a decent standard of living. Only then will we begin to see a reversal of the regressive health and inequality trends of the past decade.”

Feel strongly about this article?

The post Five years on: The health effects of the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act on Children and Disabled People appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Croydon Covid-19 Vaccine Update and FAQs

Steve Reed (Croydon North)

The vaccination programme is expanding across South West London and there are now over 238,000 vaccines across 40 vaccination centres, including 25 GP led centres, 8 hospital hubs, 4 pharmacy-led services and 3 large vaccination centres. With over 70% of vaccines delivered at primary care sites GPs have been leading the way in vaccinating local people to make sure vaccines are offered to all over 70s and front-line health and care staff by Monday 15 February 2021.

Everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t  yet had an invitation for a vaccination is being asked to come forward and contact the NHS to book a jab through the national booking servicewww.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. The national booking service allows people to book an appointment at their nearest large vaccination centre or pharmacy service. If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice.


FAQs about the vaccine and booking an appointment from NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Group

I am confused about my second dose of the vaccine. Can you explain this to me?

Both vaccines have been authorised on the basis of two doses because the evidence from the clinical trials shows that this gives the maximum level of protection.  To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.  The evidence doesn’t show any risk to not having the second dose other than not being as protected as you otherwise would be.  Please be reassured that there are no safety concerns in the new guidance, and it will not impact on how effective the vaccination is in protecting you from Covid-19 once the course is complete.

You do not need to do anything to arrange your second dose. The NHS will contact you with your appointment details. Wait to be contacted. The second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer-term protection. It’s important to get both doses to protect yourself against coronavirus.

You may have a second appointment booked already and you should have a record card with details of your next appointment written on it, this will be around 12 weeks after your first appointment and at the same location where you received your first dose.


What happens if I am over 70 and haven’t been contacted by my GP?

Until now the NHS has asked people to wait until they are contacted to help ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected first- and that remains the case for most people. However, whilst we have now vaccinated well over 84% of over 70s, to ensure absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine, people aged 70 and over can now contact the NHS so they can be vaccinated by the middle of this month. The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking services which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. If you are unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. The national booking service allows people to arrange a vaccination at their nearest vaccination centre or pharmacy service. If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice.


Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with long term conditions?

Vaccines will be approved if it is considered safe for people with long-term conditions.  These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts. Your GP can advise on when you are eligible and will contact you with an appointment when it’s your turn.

A very small number of people who are at risk of COVID-19 cannot have the vaccine – this includes people who have severe allergies. Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine.

The MHRA have updated their guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks. Women of childbearing age, those who are pregnant, or breastfeeding should read the detailed information available on NHS.UK.


What do I need to do before I get my vaccine?  

The NHS will contact you and invite you to book a vaccine appointment when it’s your turn. You may receive a phone call, letter or text message from your GP practice or a letter from the national booking service, so it’s useful to:

  • keep an eye out to make sure you receive the message (for example if you have a mobile phone but don’t typically use text messages)
  • let your GP surgery know if you are caring for someone with underlying health conditions who would struggle to cope if you became unwell. You can help the vaccination effort by emailing your GP practice or using its website to make sure your local surgery knows you are an unpaid carer.
  • update your contact details if they have changed lately – it’s a good time to make sure your GP practice has the most up to date information.

As long as you’re registered with a GP and have up to date contact details you should receive an invitation in due course. For more information how to register with a GP and to find your local surgery visit: www.nhs.uk/register

To find out about what to expect at your vaccine appointment please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/what-happens-at-your-appointment/


Are teachers eligible to receive a vaccine?

The NHS is currently only offering vaccines to people within England’s first four priority groups, in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidelines. This does not include teachers, unless they also meet age or health-related criteria. Vaccinating the priority groups first will save the most lives and provide the quickest and safest route out of the pandemic.

  • Steve Reed
    Steve Reed Member of Parliment for Croydon North

Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.

Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.

The post Croydon Covid-19 Vaccine Update and FAQs appeared first on Steve Reed MP.

I recently coordinated a cross party letter with Robert Halfon MP which gathered almost 100 signatures across both Houses in support of my School Breakfast Bill.

As a result of the reduced parliamentary calendar during lockdown, my Bill has been indefinitely postponed. However, with child food insecurity rising and the educational attainment gap growing, there is now an urgency for this Bill.

I am deeply concerned that the Government’s National School Breakfast Programme reaches just 7% of the schools meeting the government’s own eligibility criteria and that funding will end altogether in July 2021. This will leave thousands of children without access to the free school breakfast they have come to rely on.

The proposed School Breakfast Bill would address this issue. The Bill proposed scaling up school breakfast funding to all the 8,700 schools with high levels of disadvantage in England. The Bill also proposed making support to schools permanent at a cost of just over £300m annually. This could be funded by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) which continues to raise approximately £340m each year. In addition to this, research from Sustain has found more than £700m raised from the Levy since 2018 is unaccounted for. The unspent SDIL revenue can be allocated towards scaling up school breakfast provision.  

I really hope the Government accepts our proposals in the School Breakfast Bill so that every child at risk of hunger can have a free, nutritious school breakfast and be ready to start their day of learning.

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal
Tue, 16/02/2021 - 13:51

The local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed that funding is in place for a new medical centre for Shifnal.

Commenting, Mark Pritchard MP said:

"I'm delighted that, in the last 24 hours, the Shropshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed to me that the new GP surgery in Shifnal will go ahead this year.  The building plans are well advanced and NHS England has provided the extra funding needed.  Local councillors and Shifnal Matters 2021 have supported me in pushing for this new surgery, and I'm glad that the NHS has listened to local needs."

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)


Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

The post MELKSHAM CAMPUS UPDATE appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

*Cold Weather Payments*

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

The cold weather has been harsh enough recently to trigger the Cold Weather Payments System, and some residents will receive an additional £25 towards the costs of heating.

Eligibility of CWPS is for those who are currently in receipt of some benefits, with pension credit serving as the most common eligibility criteria.

Residents in the following postcodes will be eligible; RG28, SO21, SP10, SP11, SP4, SP9, RG19, RG20, RG21, RG22, RG23, RG25, RG26, RG7

A full list of eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment/eligibility


Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Winter 2020/2021 newsletter

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

Happy New Year and welcome to my new MP newsletter. Like most people my movements have been hugely curtailed due to the pandemic and I haven’t managed to be out and about as I’d want for several months. I am, however, still very busy with parliamentary business and I wanted to share with you some […]

Reopening of Gyms and Leisure Centres

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

COVID-19 Advice and Assistance

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Alec is advising all constituents to follow Public Health England advice for their own safety and the safety of others.

Please read, share and regularly check the Government guidance as the situation and the response to it is changing daily.

Read the regulations here: FAQs- what you can and can’t do.


Anybody with symptoms can book a test. To book a test click here.


The UK medical regulatory agency has approved two vaccines for COVID-19. The Government has begun the largest nationwide vaccination programme in history, starting with key clinically vulnerable groups. Your GP will contact you directly with a date to get your vaccine.

Volunteer Support

Alec is working with local Leeds City Councillors to best co-ordinate volunteer efforts in our community. If you’re able to offer help please go to www.doinggoodleeds.org.uk

Help from Alec

If you have a unique issue to raise with Alec that is not covered in the information above, please get in touch at alec.shelbrooke.mp@parliament.uk or via 01937 589 002. In line with national guidance, Alec and his team are working remotely but are working hard to get back to constituents as soon as possible.

The post COVID-19 Advice and Assistance appeared first on Alec Shelbrooke.

Brexit Deal or No Deal

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

I wanted to take a moment to explain my reasoning behind abstaining from the vote in Parliament on Wednesday (30/12) as the Governments’ Brexit deal returned to the House of Commons.

From the outset, I have sought to respect the decision of the referendum in 2016 and have been happy to work with colleagues in Parliament to deliver a compromise between those 16 million people who voted to remain in the EU, and the 17 million who voted to leave with the myriad of different options that would entail. It has become clear to me over the last 4 years that many people who voted to leave the EU in Gateshead, did so for very different reasons and with very different expectations of our future relationship ranging from close alignment like Norway, to what has now been termed a hard Brexit, essentially no formal trading relationship with the European Union, operating on basic WTO rules instead. I was re-elected to represent Gateshead at the last General Election on the pledge to respect the result of the referendum and to negotiate a deal that would meet the 6 key tests.

It would seem that successive Conservative Prime Ministers have seem set on rail-roading their respective deals through Parliament without proper scrutiny our accountability, and this week is no different. It appears to be the case that the Government may have sought to hold out for demands within the negotiations that they knew could not be agreed, around fishing quotas as an example, knowing that once these demands were dropped a deal could be agreed between both sides. They have then sought to drop these demands as Parliament goes into recess for the Christmas period, and bring back a deal of some 1200 pages for 5 hours of debate at 3 working days’ notice; 48 hours before the UK would end the transition period with no deal if this was not agreed.

The deal itself does not satisfy the 6 key tests I was elected on, and the way in which the Government appear to have manipulated the Parliamentary calendar to force MP’s into a vote quite literally between this deal or no deal, brings great shame on any type of Parliamentary Sovereignty. What we now have in the UK is Government sovereignty without proper input or scrutiny from democratically elected Members of Parliament.

To this end, I found that while a deal, even this deal, is better than a no deal, I could not in good conscience vote in favour of a deal which did not satisfy the key tests in the manifesto on which I was elected, and in essence to vote to help the Government extricate themselves from a mess entirely of their own making. It is the Government who have sought to negotiate this deal alone, it is they who have forced the timetable for approval and who have removed any Parliamentary Sovereignty and scrutiny from the timetable and it is the Government who must be judged on the success or failure of this deal.

As a local resident of Gateshead for over 40 years, I absolutely hope that this deal goes far enough to safeguard jobs and livelihoods of families across the North East. I also hope that this does not lead to shortage of supplies or price increases. This affects us all, and in many ways I do not wish the Government deal to fail to protect us from any negative consequences of it. However, with the way the whole process has been manipulated to force MP’s into a corner, and with the deal not meeting the 6 key tests set out in the manifesto on which I was elected, I could not see fit to vote in favour.

This is the Conservative Government’s deal, their deliberate mismanagement has brought it to Parliament, on a timetable manufactured by them, with no time for appropriate scrutiny, it’s their deal and they should own it!

I hope this sets out my reasoning, as ever please do get in touch should you have any further questions.

From sending Boris Johnson into isolation, to being trolled on social media, dealing with coronavirus and Brexit, it’s been a busy year for former miner Lee Anderson who has clocked up one year representing his home turf as Ashfield MP. The married dad of two, raised in Huthwaite, is the area’s…

Nigel’s December Newsletter

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley)

Subscribe to my future newsletters here

Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my December email newsletter. I know this year has been incredibly difficult for many families, and will continue to be very challenging, especially given the new variant of Covid, but the rollout of vaccines and community testing, which are gathering pace in Derbyshire, gives some hope for the new year. I’m sure, like me, you particularly welcome today’s announcement of the approval of the Oxford vaccine for rollout in our communities. Under these challenging circumstances, I nevertheless wish you a very safe and happy new year in 2021.

Heanor Future High Streets Fund bid success – £8.5 million:

Following Heanor’s bid towards the Government’s £830 million Future High Streets Fund, I’m delighted that Heanor has been successful and has been awarded over £8.5 million to help transform its town centre and recover from the pandemic. You can find the full details of the Borough Council’s bid here, which focuses on plans to regenerate the Market Place and Grammar School site. The Council now have a few months to confirm the final version of their plans, and I look forward to continuing to support and work with them to ensure we can maximise this funding.

Brexit deal latest:

On Christmas Eve, the Prime Minister reached a deal with the EU regarding our future relationship after the end of the transition period, from the 1st January 2021. Parliament has been recalled today, on the 30th December, to consider the deal and vote on it. You can read the deal here and the legislation enabling it here. The select committee on the Future Relationship with the EU on which I serve has published a report on the deal this morning, which you can read here.

I can confirm I will be supporting the deal when it comes to a vote later.

Many constituents have contacted me throughout the negotiation period, and I think this deal delivers on the key areas whilst also providing certainty and security for businesses and residents already impacted by Covid-19.

This deal delivers on Brexit, the referendum and last year’s election result by taking back control of our laws, borders, money, trade and fisheries.

– there is no role for the European Court of Justice and no requirement for the UK to follow EU law, so regaining parliamentary sovereignty;

– we will trade with the EU on the basis of zero tariffs and zero quotas, which will allow businesses to be able to trade smoothly and continue to access EU markets;

– Allows us to introduce our own modern subsidy system. This new subsidies system will operate in a that best suits the interests of UK industries – outside the EU State Aid regime.

- offers streamlined co-operation on law enforcement, ensuring we continue to effectively tackle serious organised crime and counter terrorism, protecting the public, and bringing criminals to justice. It also provides for future cooperation between the UK and EU on emerging security challenges, such as cyber and health security, including continuing to work together on tackling the spread of Covid-19.

- Recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters and puts us in a position to rebuild our fishing fleet and increase quotas, overturning the inequity that British fishermen have faced for over four decades. By the end of the five year transition we will have full control of our waters and the amount of fish available to UK fishermen will have risen from half to two-thirds.

- Provides for the UK’s participation in certain EU programmes, furthering our commitment to making the UK a science and research superpower. This deal will fulfil our manifesto commitment to participate in the Horizon Europe programme, but also the Euratom Research and Training programme, and the space programme, Copernicus.

The deal also includes arrangements for airlines and hauliers that provides them with certainty, and gives people the ability to travel to and from the EU easily for work and holidays; a social security agreement that has practical benefits for UK citizens including accessing healthcare when travelling in the EU; and agreements on energy which will benefit consumers by helping to keep prices down.

As I set out in previous newsletters, compromises were necessary to achieve a deal, especially on fishing and the level playing field. Having been through the deal I am satisfied that these compromises are acceptable in the context of the importance of tariff free access to the EU market. This is a good deal achieved at great speed and gives us the best possible platform to make a success of Brexit.

Coronavirus guidance latest:

Following the last review of the tier restrictions on 16 December, Amber Valley and all of Derbyshire remained in the tier 3 restrictions. The next review takes place today. Amber Valley currently has a high case rate, of 332 cases per 100k, which is one of the highest in Derbyshire, and up 44% on the previous week. This is a very concerning situation and may lead to further restrictions being out in place locally.

On the positive side, mass testing has started in Swadlincote in the south of the County and will spread further in the county, including to Amber Valley early in the new year. This programme, along with similar roll outs in health, care and school settings will help identify cases earlier and slow the spread.

Vaccines are also now starting to be rolled out across the County, and I’m pleased that Ripley is one of the first primary care centres to begin rolling out the vaccine, which you can read more about here. Now that the Oxford vaccine has been approved for us, the roll out of vaccination should increase rapidly at dedicated centres as well as local GPs and pharmacies. Please do wait to be contacted about the vaccine though rather than asking your GP.

We are now at a critical point in this pandemic with cases rising rapidly and the problems of 2 new variants. But the end is in sight now we can rapidly vaccinate the most vulnerable. At this time we all need to show as much caution as possible to reduce the number of cases and minimise the new restrictions needed. We’ve got this far, let’s not ease off now.

I will continue to engage with ministers, the public health team and the local NHS to ensure that this area sees the full roll out of the vaccines and mass testing as soon as possible and that support is in place for those who can’t work and those businesses forced to close as a result of the tier measures.

You can read my contributions in Parliament here including on highlighting the need to roll out the vaccine to people who are unable to leave their homes as soon as logistics allow here and about consideration of more localised geography for tier restrictions here.

As always, you can find the latest Covid-19 guidance, and support available, here.

Coronavirus – support for local businesses & high streets:

In Parliament, I’ve continued to highlight the difficulties faces by our local businesses, such as the events industry and conference centres (you can read my question to the Secretary of State for Business on this here), and supporting local high streets (which you can read more on here).

I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021, and the extension of the business loan schemes until the end of March. You can find more information on the support and grants available for you or your business here.

Street Watch:

As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.

GDPR and privacy notice:

Data laws have recently changed with the introduction of the new GDPR legislation. You can find my office’s privacy policy here and, if you don’t want to receive these emails anymore, you can unsubscribe here.

Get in Touch!

As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.

Twitter and Facebook

You can also follow me on Twitter @NigelMills and like me on Facebook here to stay up to date with news and events in Amber Valley throughout the month.

Yours sincerely,

Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH.

You’re receiving this newsletter because you subscribed to my mailing list.

Would you like to unsubscribe? Unsubscribe from this Newsletter here.

How to write a script for an e-course

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Easy level: information courses. The main goal is to inform employees and tell how to use the acquired knowledge in work. For example, to get acquainted with a new product of the company. There may not be a hero and a plot. Therefore, in the scenario it is enough to describe on which slide what to tell: for example, on the first – about the main characteristics of the product, on the second – about the advantages over competitors.

Intermediate level: motivational courses. The main goal is to motivate employees to change their approach to work or attitude to something. For example, staff do not follow fire safety rules in the workplace, and you need to motivate employees.

In such courses, the character works well – involves in training. In the material about fire safety, a fire instructor will look logical. He will tell you what the neglect of the rules leads to and how to avoid an emergency. It is also important to add more practical assignments.

Difficult level: training course. The main goal is to pump up an old skill or develop a new one. There must be a history. Here it is important to think about the plot, the conflict, the place and time of the action, the main character and more.

Below I will tell you how to write a script for a training course. If you take this height, it is easy to handle tasks easier.

The results of the step: you have determined what type of course will best solve the tasks.

The post How to write a script for an e-course appeared first on Berger.

Statement on Tata Steel Group Announcement

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)


None of us wanted these new restrictions, and the Government has done everything in its power to avoid them.

As the Prime Minister said on Saturday night, we understand the huge impact further restrictions have on jobs, on livelihoods and on people’s mental health.

Throughout this pandemic we have sought to protect our businesses and limit the intrusions on personal liberty as much as possible. For those of us who came into politics to help hardworking people and small businesses to thrive, it is heartbreaking to place these burdens upon them. For those of us who value personal freedom deeply, it pains us to inhibit it in this way.

But the data left us with no choice, but to take this course of action and introduce new restrictions until 2nd December.

As Local Government Secretary, I strongly believe that we were right in pursuing a local and regional approach to tackling this virus. I want to thank the millions who have put up with local restrictions and the local leaders who have stepped up to deliver this approach. Councils and local leaders have done wonderful work to help tackle the virus in their areas, and I firmly believe that in the longer term that is the approach that works best.

That’s why after we ease restrictions on 2nd December we are planning to continue with a local approach according to the latest data and trends.

But for now, the stark reality is that infections, hospitalisations and deaths continue to double, meaning that the virus is now a national problem.

The NHS and its workforce is weeks from being placed in an impossible situation. And those concerns are shared by our NHS colleagues from rural Cornwall to Nottingham to Newcastle. And a significantly higher death toll than the first wave is now predicted without taking further restrictions. We owe it to the country to act, and to act swiftly.

The Prime Minister made a decision that any responsible leader would make when presented with the new medical evidence last week and will set out his plans to parliament ahead of a vote on Wednesday.

Non-Covid healthcare can continue as normal – so that you can continue to use the NHS for your treatments, appointments and scans.

And the furlough scheme has been extended for a further month, covering 80% of employees’ wages. The Prime Minister and Chancellor have always been clear that we will do whatever it takes to protect businesses and their employees.

These are tough national measures, but they are different from those in the Spring. Our schools, colleges and universities remain open and we should resist those who would close them. As a parent I know there is simply no substitute for face to face teaching and our children’s education must not be set back again.

Unlimited exercise outdoor is permitted and single person households can form a support bubble. Children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside, meaning that a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children, and children and adults who are dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, will also be included in this exemption. Churches and places of worship will remain open,  providing solace and comfort for people, albeit for private prayer rather than communal worship.

If you can work from home you should, but if not, you can and should go to work, following the relevant guidance for your workplace. Too many jobs and businesses have been lost already, with all the harm that comes with that, so we must do everything we can to keep working and we in Government will do all we can to support you.

As Housing Secretary, I can confirm that the housing market will remain open throughout this period as will construction sites, building the homes and sustaining the jobs we desperately need. Tradespeople like plumbers and electricians can come into your home as long as they follow social distancing guidance.

Those we previously asked to stay at home and shield, the clinically extremely vulnerable, will be given new guidance shortly that will be less restrictive. But nonetheless they should continue to be cautious.

These changes are important to protect our way of life and our livelihoods, but I am under no illusion that the things people really want to do are hug their grandchildren, finally have the postponed wedding or simply share a cup of tea with old friends. But it is by taking these tough decisions now that we will get through this together.

Members of the public have shown incredible forbearance, patience and dignity in responding to this unique situation, and shown the character that has always been present in this country at moments of great challenge.

Amidst this winter gloom, there are rays of light piercing through and raising our eyes to the horizon. We know more about this virus with every day that passes and there are ever better medicine and therapies, along with the realistic chance of a vaccine being available for those that need it most in the first quarter of next year.

We expect to have quick turnaround tests that will tell you whether or not you have the virus very soon – with a massive expansion of these planned in the coming weeks.

These are reasons for optimism – but there is no denying that there are hard days ahead of us.

But by acting now, it is our hope that families across the country can be together for Christmas.

So, from Thursday: rejoin in a further national effort to protect the NHS, save lives and move forward together.

Rubbish dumping survey

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)

The post Rubbish dumping survey appeared first on Liam Byrne MP.

New Hospital in Sutton Confirmed

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

I am delighted to write and tell you that local NHS leaders have confirmed plans for a new hospital to be built in Sutton and to upgrade facilities at St Helier. This represents a £500 MILLION plan that will not only build a brand new state of the art hospital near to the Royal Marsden by 2025, but ALSO invest AT LEAST £80 MILLION into upgrades at St Helier.

The new specialist emergency care hospital, just a few minutes from St Helier, would treat the sickest 15% of patients, those normally arriving by ambulance. This larger specialist team would be available 24 hours a day to diagnose what is wrong with patients more rapidly, start the best treatment faster, and help patients recover more quickly. St Helier and Epsom Hospitals will remain open 24/7, with updated and improved facilities, providing all the other services that they currently do.

My children were born at St. Helier so healthcare provision in Sutton has been an issue that is a very personal one to me. Ever since being a councillor in Carshalton, some 14 years ago, I have been campaigning for a solution that protects the future of St. Helier whilst ensuring that Sutton residents have access to the very best treatment in cutting edge modern healthcare facilities. I believe that this decision can finally put to rest the political arguments so that we can get on with doing what’s best for residents across the whole of the borough of Sutton.

With this plan, the refurbished St Helier Hospital is here to stay providing the majority of local health services, and the sickest patients will get state-of-the-art treatment in the brand-new specialist emergency hospital right here in our area.

You can find out more about the plans, including the answers to some frequently asked questions at the NHS’ website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk. You can also contact them at hello@improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk, or get in touch with me with any queries.


Why is this being done?

To improve the care that we receive. As St Helier’s buildings continue to age over time, it’s necessary to upgrade our healthcare facilities to improve outcomes. Surviving illness and recovering quickly is the number one priority.

Is St Helier closing?

No, quite the opposite. St Helier is here to stay with a multi-million-pound improvement package.

Is a new hospital being built?

Yes. A new specialist emergency care hospital will be built in Sutton, in addition to improving St Helier hospital.

Is St Helier getting an upgrade?

Yes. At least £80 million of the funding promised will go towards improving the facilities at St Helier hospital.

Who developed these proposals?

For the first time, we have a plan that was developed by local clinicians, not national bureaucrats or politicians. Local healthcare professionals made the case for funding to deliver this improvement, which has been rewarded with a £500 million investment. Sutton Council also supported the proposals last year.

Will I have to travel outside my area for services now?

At the moment, if you have a stroke or heart attack you will be taken past St. Helier to be treated at St. George’s. This plan means that we will still be able to treat people within the local area, not moving more services away from Sutton.

Will we still use St Helier?

Yes. From 2025, Epsom hospital, St Helier hospital and the new hospital at Sutton will all have a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) (which already treats the vast majority of people going to St. Helier in an emergency). Under the plans, 85% of services will remain at St Helier. Both Epsom and St Helier hospitals will still have a 24/7 UTC.

Diagnostic tests, such as MRI, x-ray or ultrasound, the heart problem diagnosis unit, the dialysis unit, Croft Ward (which takes care of patients who are stable but not ready to leave hospital), the eye care unit, the gastroenterology unit, and so many more services are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

What about bed numbers?

The NHS have calculated that they will need the same number of beds as they do now.

What about A&E?

Unlike previous plans, which saw A&E diverted away into Tooting, A&E is now staying right here in our Borough at the new hospital. Most of the time you will still use St Helier for matters requiring immediate medical attention like broken limbs or cuts. Major trauma cases needing a blue light ambulance transfer will be treated in Sutton at the new state-of-the-art hospital next to The Royal Marsden.

What about maternity services?

Maternity services have also been protected and kept locally. Post-natal and ante-natal care are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and births will take place in the brand-new maternity unit at the new hospital in Sutton built to the very latest healthcare standards. Women need the very best care and facilities when giving birth, and the new plans will provide that.

Where will children services be provided?

Most children will continue to receive care and treatment in the same place as they do now. Care for children who need to stay in hospital overnight – as a result of a serious illness or complex problems – will be treated at the new specialist emergency care hospital. This includes children’s surgery.  

What will happen until the new hospital in Sutton is built?

All services will continue to be carried out at Epsom and St Helier hospitals until such time the new hospital in Sutton is ready for patients.

Where will the new hospital be built?

After consulting residents, patient groups and healthcare professionals, the decision was taken to build a brand-new specialist emergency care hospital in Sutton. This will be combined with the necessary infrastructure and transport links to ensure the site of the new hospital is accessible to all that need to use it.

For more facts, and to find out what this multi-million-pound government investment in our local NHS will mean for you and your family, visit the following website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk/faq.

Hull MP reacts to the Budget

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

Diana Johnson spoke in the Commons debate on the Chancellor's Budget Statement.
The Hull North MP's remarks ranged across several key issues for Hull North, including support for workers over the Coronavirus, the NHS and public health, flood resilience and devolution for the Humber.

Raise the Rate debate

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

I have said from the very beginning that if we are to ensure a 24 hour A&E Service at RGH then we need to forget about Party Politics, and come together to work cross-party.

We need you to play your part too, by signing the below letter. If you wish to do so then please let me know by filling in the form at the bottom of this page:


The configuration of Emergency NHS services across Cwm Taf Morgannwg has changed over the years – and will continue to change along with medical advances and changes in the local population. We welcome, for instance, the development of the new Major Trauma Centre at UHW, which will almost certainly save lives and we recognise that for some specialist forms of care it will be necessary to travel to a regional centre of excellence such as the Burns Unit at Morriston. We also understand that there is a UK-wide shortage of Emergency Consultants. and that Cwm Taf Morgannwg is not in a unique position with the recruitment challenges it faces,but would note that 5 of the 7 LHBs in Wales have substantially increased emergency consultant numbers over the last 6 years whereas Cwm Taf Morgannwg has not. We would argue that the uncertainty created over the future of the hospital due to the South Wales Programme has itself created a self-fulfilling prophecy about recruitment problems.

Our starting point, however, is that all NHS services should be safe, efficient and delivered as close to people’s homes as is medically and logistically feasible. Time-critical medical interventions can make the difference between life and death in many emergency situations and we are concerned that if the A&E were permanently to close at any one of the three hospitals, significant numbers of patients in some of the most deprived communities would not be able to get to an Emergency Department in time. A&E cannot be seen in isolation from other services such as GP surgeries, local minor injuries units and out-of-hours support. Additional capacity in these services would almost certainly lighten the load in the Emergency Departments, but this must be put in place before any changes to the configuration of Emergency Care is considered, let alone implemented, with evidence that they have substantially reduced the load on Emergency departments required before any changes. Changes to A&E provision at any one of the hospitals would have serious implications for other services within the hospital, including ITU and theatre and might harm the recruitment of other specialists.

There would be significant knock-on effects if the A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital were to be downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit, as the hospital would almost certainly lose its Intensive Care Unit and operating theatre. This could jeopardise the long-term future of the hospital. The RGH’s Emergency Department is the most used in the area, with roughly 65,000 attendances a year, and ranked the best in terms of viable outcomes.  We fear the two other Emergency Departments would find it impossible to cope with the additional workload and that many patients will travel instead to UHW, which is also already over-stretched. We are also concerned that extra A&E admissions to PCH and POW would put additional pressure on not just their respective A&E depts but onwards and throughout the hospital system. We are determined to work with people of all political parties and trades unions (and none) to get the best possible outcome for the communities we represent. We believe the eventual decision should be informed by clinical best practice and local experience on the ground – and not by any partisan consideration.

We are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to do the following:
1) Rule out the closure of A&E at the RGH or changing it to a 24-hour Minor Injuries Unit.
2) Reinstate the option of maintaining a full consultant-led A&E at all three hospitals. This would require a serious new attempt at recruiting Emergency Consultants who would have secure full-time permanent posts working across all three hospitals. It would also require at least a ten-year commitment to RGH so that potential staff can apply with confidence.
3) Bring forward proposals to extend the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and make these units more readily accessible for walk-in patients.
4) Bring forward other proposals for community health services, including improvements in the out-of-hours GP service, that might alleviate the pressure on all three A&E departments
and bring services closer to local communities.

In addition, we are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to publish the following:
1) A socioeconomic and equality impact assessment of any proposed changes.
2) Detailed analyses of travel-to-hospital times, average ambulance response times and levels of car ownership, for all electoral wards in the area. that analyses such times during periods of poor weather.
3) Detailed statistics for levels of ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke and infant and adult mortality for all electoral wards in the area. and how they compare with the Welsh averages/wealthier wards in Wales.
4) An assessment of how many patients from each electoral ward would be affected by a proposal to move to an 8 to 8, and 8 to 10 and an 8 to midnight Emergency Department.
5) An assessment of capacity in the Emergency Departments at POW, PCH, and UHW and how they would cope with additional patients.
6) Statistics for the number of patients who are admitted on towards at each hospital from A&E.
7) An assessment of the impact to the Welsh Ambulance Service, Ambulance response times, handover response times, in terms of waiting times at hospitals, blue light trauma travel times
and non-emergency transport between hospitals.

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Reflecting on Defeat

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

First of all, thank you to everyone who has sent such kind messages to me after last night’s result in Birmingham Northfield. Even though I never took this election – or any election – for granted, it is still a big blow to lose the seat I have represented for 27 years and which is […]

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

Labour has pledged compensation packages for millions of women hit by state pension age rises imposed by the Tories.

Pay-outs of up to £31,000 will be made, with an average payment of £15,000.

The scheme will be delivered within Labour's first full five year term of government.

Payments will go to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age hiked.

David Cameron's coalition government presided over a change in the law that increased the women's state pension age to 65 in November 2018 - followed by 66 in October 2020.

Labour will introduce a compensation scheme as rapidly as possible for the 3.7million women hit by the changes, which Cameron's Tory-Lib Dem government imposed in 2011.

It comes after Boris Johnson u-turned on his pledge to help those affected.

He dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered.

The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.

They were not able to prepare and have had to suffer serious financial consequences as a result.

We have a historic debt of honour to them.