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You won’t have missed the big debate on free school meals last week. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United and England star and a brilliant campaigner, was calling for free meals to be provided over the coming Christmas holidays. Labour agrees and forced a vote on it in Parliament, but unfortunately all but 5 Tories voted against. As they have a large majority, that means that free meals will not be provided. The amount that this would cost is far less than one single week of Eat Out To Help Out in August. If we can subsidise people’s Nando’s during this crisis, surely we can also feed kids at risk of going hungry?

Not according to Conservative MPs we can’t.

If you watched the debate, you would have seen all sorts of bizarre justifications for voting against feeding hungry kids. They were very keen to emphasise that there were celebrities supporting the plan, as though that made it any less legitimate. Marcus Rashford is indeed a celebrity, but he grew up in Wythenshawe on free school meals and is now using his celebrity to campaign to help those growing up in similar circumstances. That is something to celebrate not to sneer at.

Another Tory MP said she was voting against because it was just a “sticking plaster”. This is ludicrous. It is true that this only deals with the issue in the short-term, but the alternative is the Government’s approach of doing nothing. Then we had another calling it virtue signalling – if feeding children is virtue signalling then how should we describe voting not to? I’ve got a few ideas, but I’ll keep them to myself! There was even one who said that it would be the equivalent of “nationalising children” – what planet is that man on!?

Then we had the return to that old favourite argument “they shouldn’t have kids if they can’t afford them”. Putting aside that we should never punish children for decisions made by their parents, we’re in the middle of one of the worst economic crises in history. Lots of people who were fairly comfortable will be struggling this winter as they lose jobs or take pay cuts. That is why it’s particularly important at this particular moment in time.

I was really disappointed to see such basic compassion lacking in so many Tory MPs, but I’ve been really inspired to see so many councils, small businesses and individuals – all already struggling as a result of the crisis – step in to try to help. They understand that, in one of the richest countries in the world, we cannot let children go hungry.

The post Tackling food poverty is a must – My weekly article for the Tameside Reporter appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has welcomed the news that the Dumbarton family of a local man detained in India for 3 years have won an appeal against the UK Home Office. The Singh Johal family, who have been fighting … Continue reading


Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has today (Friday) written to the Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles to commend the local NHS staff and communities of North and South Uist, Berneray, Benbecula and Eriskay for their efforts to supress the spread of Covid-19 during the most recent island outbreak.

NHS Western Isles have confirmed that the outbreak has now officially come to an end as more than 14 days have passed since confirmation of the last positive case associated with the outbreak.

In a letter to Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson, Mr MacNeil said: “I am writing today to thank you and your staff for all the work done to end the outbreak of Covid-19 in South Uist.

“It is testament to the work of NHS Staff, Test and Trace and to the community of South Uist that this outbreak was contained in the way it was and very pleasing to read that we have now had 14 days without a further case.

“The speed of the outbreak and the sad death of the Care Home resident reminds us all of the dangers associated with this virus and as you have said we must all remain vigilant. I would be grateful if you would pass on my thanks to the Staff of NHS Western Isles and their partner agencies for their work in dealing with this outbreak and the ongoing work of the current pandemic.”

To access testing in the Western Isles, contact the COVID-19 Response Team on 01851 601151 or email: wi-hb.covid19queries@nhs.net The phoneline will be staffed from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday with an answering machine available out with those hours.

Alternatively you can complete the online COVID-19 Testing Programme Referral Form (NHS Western Isles) https://www.coronavirus.wi.nhs.scot/?page_id=2195 ocked0 L

Remembrance 2020

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Right across my Aldridge-Brownhills constituency new and innovative ways are been found to be able to bring us all together virtually to commemorate Remembrance Sunday.

Although this Remembrance Sunday we will not be able to gather for the annual Remembrance Parade and Service in Aldridge the service will be streamed via Facebook and You Tube on Sunday 8th November.

I am pleased to have been able to participate in this year’s virtual event and I hope you will be able to join with the Aldridge Remembrance Parade and Service and The Royal British Legion on the 8th November when we commemorate the 2020 Act of Remembrance.

The service will be streamed on: –

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AldridgeRemembrance/ and

You Tube – https://youtube.com/channel/UCcdhCi3L5_SirmI7eU6QF7g

An inglorious fact about Britain has been brutally and devastatingly exposed by Covid-19we are one of the most unequal societies in the western world. The Lawrence report, released yesterday, showed us why this is the case and how we can fix it.

The coronavirus pandemic has left many of us feeling utterly powerless. Our lives have been upended, our futures thrown into uncertainty. Reading Doreen Lawrence’s (pictured above) excellent report, however, I was struck by just how much of the devastation wrought by the virus could have been contained and by how so many, especially in the Bame community, were left to stand in the path of its devastation because of conscious decisions made by this and preceding governments.

The most obvious of these is the repeated failure to act on socio-economic inequality. In the middle-third of the 20th century, income inequality fell dramatically. The Second World War not only shone a spotlight on the inequities in Britain, it also served as a reminder of the sanctity of life and of our mutual interdependence. Successive governments felt a moral duty to improve livelihoods, share resources, and invest in futures.

Gradually, as the lessons of war faded from memory, the commitment to reducing inequality began to wane. The election of Margaret Thatcher paved the way for heavy deregulation, privatisation, and the individualisation of the economy – and with it a dramatic increase in inequality.

Today we are paying a heavy price. The inherent weaknesses in our social structure meant that Covid was able to tear through our communities. Those living in our poorest communities were already suffering from some of the worst health outcomes, working long hours in insecure jobs, and, in many cases, living with and for caring for family members in cramped conditions. Our government had failed to protect them and so it was inevitable that the virus, and with it fear, grief, and sorrow, would spread so rapidly.

No one can pretend that we were not forewarned. The impact that inequality has on a society has been well documented, though action has remained limited. Decades of research had shown that inequality is bad news for everyone: not only does it cause worse educational and health outcomes for those at the bottom of society, it also increases rates of depression and anxiety at every level. Countries with high inequality are also characterised by more financial instability, lower happiness, and higher crime rates.

It is for the good of everyone, not just those living in the most vulnerable circumstances, that the government must introduce one of the potentially most transformative – and yet wonderfully simple – recommendations from the Lawrence report: to enact Article 1 of the Equality Act, the so-called socio-economic duty.

This would require that all public bodies (including the government) commit to reducing inequality. In one move the government could formalise and legislate for the “levelling-up” agenda that they have promised but not delivered. They could make reducing inequality a key priority in British public policy decision-making, diverting the funds, resources, and person power that they have at their disposal towards this essential, humanitarian task. And just as importantly, they could send a signal to the rest of society that gross inequality is not desirable, inevitable, or sustainable.

In doing so our government would “level-up” itself to our nearest neighbours. Scotland has already enacted the socio-duty through the Fairer Scotland Duty and the Future Generations Act in Wales serves a very similar purpose. Not only that but some councils in England – such as Newcastle City Council – have put the socio-economic duty on their own statute books and committed to reducing local inequality.

These are vital and valiant efforts but it is essential that our national government joins in this concerted effort to reduce inequality. In the New Year I will be presenting my own private members’ bill aimed at introducing the socio-economic duty into British law and I will be working with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Compassionate Politics, which I co-chair with Baroness Warsi, and the think tank Compassion in Politics – as well as JustFair and the Equality Trust who have long argued for this change in the law – to try and persuade the government to support our collective cause.

Because that is what all this is about – the collective. As Marcus Rashford has said on many occasions during his campaign to end food poverty: issues like inequality, hunger, and homelessness go beyond personalities and party politics. I hope that now, as after the Second World War, those in government can appreciate the role they must play in protecting, preserving, and enhancing every individual life.

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The post If the government wants to ‘level up’, it should tackle inequality first appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Tomorrow marks the end of the first week in Tier 3 lockdown for Barnsley and South Yorkshire. On the news this week, I saw a chart that illustrated Coronavirus figures in the Yorkshire and the Humber region. Our four local authorities were in the top five places; Barnsley’s infection rate of 545.6 was the highest in the region and has continued to rise this week. This is one league table where we do not want to be at the top.

Thousands of packed lunches delivered to children during half-term

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

More than 4,000 packed lunched have been delivered across Newcastle during half term. On Wednesday October 21, the Government defeated a motion in the House of Commons to fund Free School Meal provision during school holidays until Easter 2021. Restaurants, cafes, sports clubs and a host of voluntary and community sector organisations throughout the city … Continue reading Thousands of packed lunches delivered to children during half-term

47 more police officers in Surrey

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

Yesterday, new Home Office statistics showed Surrey Police has recruited 47 additional police officers since the government began its major drive one year ago. This brings the total number of police officers in Surrey Police to 2,041, and contributes to the government’s target of recruiting 20,000 more officers by April 2023.

It is very welcome news for residents in Elmbridge and across Surrey. New crime figures this week showed a 3% fall in crime in Surrey and a 2.2% fall in Elmbridge, so these extra officers will help to ensure that this trend continues.

Beyond increasing numbers, the government is backing the police in other ways, for example by doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker to two years. We’re also giving them the tools they need to do the job – allowing more officers to authorise enhanced stop and search powers, and introducing new powers to target known knife criminals. I’m looking forward to being out and about with the local police in Elmbridge soon, to see first-hand how all of these changes are making a difference in our community.

Letter to the Home Secretary

John Redwood (Wokingham)

The tragic loss of life at sea near France this week has highlighted again the need to change policy in tackling illegal migration.

You have rightly condemned the actions of people smugglers. They take profit to put people at risk on dangerous boats and encourage them to break the law of the country they wish to enter. It would be good to know what more can be done to find and prosecute the people in France responsible for organising this vile trade.

The UK needs to reinforce your clear view that people should not attempt illegal entry through dangerous crossings in boats or by illegal and dangerous use of trucks and road vehicles with or without the knowledge of the drivers. To do so the courts need a new instruction from an Act of Parliament to help ensure there is no incitement to try the dangerous sea route or back of the lorry method with smugglers. No-one should be paying a people smuggler to evade the law and no-one should be funding and organising dangerous journeys for children.

The message has to go out that it is possible to become a refugee or economic migrant legally and safely. The UK should not accept any attempted illegal entry. The last thing we want to do is to send out a message that attempting illegal entry is likely to work as that would be an incentive to put more lives at risk. Too many have died at sea or in or on lorries already. Let’s take action to save lives.

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire, has reacted to the Government’s decision to upgrade the region’s ‘Local COVID Alert Level’ to high, starting from 00:01 on Saturday 31st October.

Also known as ‘Tier 2’, it is the middle of the three bands of restrictions introduced by the Government on 12th October in order to simplify the rules of local lockdowns across the country.

More than half of the population of the UK are currently living in either Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas, with the East Riding and Hull set to be the latest area to have added restrictions placed on them, following extensive discussions between Ministers, local councils and public health bodies.

Under Tier 2, people from different households are banned from meeting indoors, including in restaurants and pubs as well as in private homes. The ‘Rule of 6’ must be adhered to in all outdoor settings, including in private gardens as well as public spaces. People should follow social distancing rules when meeting friends and family from other households outdoors.

Exceptions to the ban on the indoor mixing of households include where a single-adult household has joined with another household to form a ‘support bubble’ and ‘childcare bubbles’, where someone another household can provide informal care to children under 13. More information can be found here.

Commenting on the measures, Graham said: “With cases in our area rising sharply in our area over the last few days and weeks, particularly around Hornsea in my constituency, it’s vitally important we take steps to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“I appreciate the concerns that some of my constituents might have after their significant sacrifices over the past few months, but moving up to Tier 2 will help us to reduce the ‘R-rate’, protect the most vulnerable, and prevent our local health services from becoming overwhelmed.

“I will continue to work closely with East Riding Council, the Humber Local Resilience Forum, Government Ministers and other local bodies to ensure that people in my constituency are supported.

“I’d strongly encourage everyone in Beverley and Holderness to follow the council’s 3 steps to safety – Prevent, Notice, Act – washing your hands more regularly and following social distancing rules, being aware of Covid-19 symptoms, and self-isolating and getting a test if you have symptoms.”

Edinburgh placed in level three

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

The First Minister has confirmed changes to lockdown restrictions in Edinburgh under Scotland’s new five-tier approach.

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For this week’s column I want to take a pause from the big issues of Covid and Brexit to salute one of the town’s quiet success stories. If you enter the Designer Outlet two of the first units you pass on the left are occupied by the Jasmin Vardimon contemporary dance company. These are temporary…

MP praises ‘phoenix’ revival of Regal Theatre

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

Tenbury’s historic theatre is planning a return of cinema audiences following completion of work to repair the flood damaged auditorium. read more »

(Newspaper column as seen in The Pigeon in October 2020)

This month sees the end of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, which was put in place at the start of lockdown to avoid mass job losses. It leaves many people in Bristol South facing a very uncertain future.

I, and my Labour colleagues, have been pushing to see the scheme extended for those hardest hit sectors which are still unable to operate properly due to ongoing restrictions. Disappointingly, the Government chose to ignore the calls from us, from business owners, trade unions, think tanks, the cross-party Treasury Select Committee and some of its own MPs; in doing so, it has let down hundreds of thousands of people working in vulnerable industries such as hospitality, leisure, travel and the arts.

Bristol South does not have lots of large employers which can accommodate mass remote working set up. Families across Bristol South rely on paid work with Bristol Airport and in cafes, bars and restaurants as well as the creative sector. It’s home to lots of small businesses, many of which were struggling before the pandemic hit and this has made things a hundred times harder. I’ve heard from local business owners and self-employed people with heartbreaking stories of their family business, in the community for decades employing local people, suddenly facing financial ruin and closure as a result of this pandemic.

The percentage of people claiming unemployment-related benefits in Bristol South has already risen from 3.6% in March to 6.2% this summer, and this is likely to increase further. I’m hearing from lots of people who’ve always worked and have never had to apply for government support before. And it’s hitting women and young people particularly hard. We must act now to avert the biggest jobs crisis of a generation.

The Government announced the launch of a Kickstart scheme to support younger jobseekers in August, but we’re yet to see this in action and there appears to be no job guarantee at the end of it. I welcome the offer of extra paid incentives for businesses taking on new apprentices and would encourage employers in Bristol South to explore this further, but they too will need jobs at the end of their training and, at the moment, there is no guarantee there either.

This piecemeal approach is not enough. We need a national plan for job retention and creation as well as retraining. I will continue lobbying the Government on this and am working on plans for my 2021 jobs and apprenticeships fair to help link local people up with jobs and training opportunities. In the meantime, there is help available locally to support people with job hunting and employability skills, see here for more details.

The post OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on a rise in unemployment in Bristol South first appeared on Karin Smyth.


The number of unemployed claimants in Dagenham and Rainham for September 2020 was 6,580. This represents a rate of 9.4% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 6.5%. 

This is the highest rate of unemployed claimants since the constituency was created in 2010. It is worth noting that the number of claimants had been stable at around the 3,000 mark until the start of lockdown. Since the start of the pandemic and subsequent safety measures coming into force there has been an increase of 3,845 unemployed claimants.

Jon Cruddas MP said: “these are unprecedented times. We knew that there would be economic repercussions to lockdown with businesses having to adapt to safety guidelines, and many did not get the support they needed from government to survive. Couple with that changing work practices where many are now based at home leaving offices in the City empty, and that translates into job losses for the lowest paid, most economically vulnerable workers.”

The newly introduced tier system means that based on Covid-19 case rates London could yet be facing tighter restrictions again. Taking this into account it is important that tailored support packages are available to protect people facing increasing pressures.

The Government’s refusal to extend free school meals to the most vulnerable children throughout the holidays has also served to exacerbate the financial pressures caused by Covid-19. Jon Cruddas voted to provide this vital service and continues to be vocal on the issue.

Jon added: “we aren’t out of the woods yet with this, so it is vital that government have lifelines in place for those in dire need. With that in mind it is even more disappointing that the Government voted against extending free school meals into the holidays. The Tories are failing families at a time when people are under immense financial pressure.”

There is hope on the horizon and despite the global pandemic, investment continues to come into Dagenham and Rainham. The delivery partner for the Dagenham East film studios will be announced next week, and London’s historic wholesale markets are still on their way to Dagenham Dock. These large-scale investments will bring skilled jobs, and opportunities for young people.

Jon concluded: “things are bad, but I am working hard alongside both Barking and Dagenham and Havering to deliver the investment that local people need to get back on their feet. As we come out the other side of the pandemic it is important that we have the capabilities to support people to retrain where necessary, and create more opportunities for the whole community.”

Policy Issues raised by constituents AUGUST 2020

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Government support for families

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

Since the start of the COVID 19 crisis the government has introduced a number of important measures to support people and businesses, which have so far required an additional £200billion in funding. Such a large increase in public spending has been necessary but is also unprecedented in peacetime. The furlough and job support schemes provided […]
At the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, IT equipment was rolled out rapidly by the Department for Education to deliver an ambitious programme, enabling children to access remote education. A group of leading IT service providers and equipment manufacturers rose to the challenge – working with the Government to achieve the goal. As we approach the second part of the autumn term, the Department’s approach will ensure allocations are more effectively targeted to the children and schools that have the […]

Borders businesses need guaranteed support ahead of tiered system

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

John Lamont MP, Rachael Hamilton MSP and Tweeddale East councillor and Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Shona Haslam, are calling on the Scottish Government to provide adequate support to Borders businesses ahead of the suggestion that the region will enter Tier 2 when the new system comes into…

On 22 October Rushanara Ali MP attended the unveiling of the '200 Nationalities, One NHS' giant mural on Rix Mix arts and community venue. 

Working from home could see rates of intercity and commuter travel permanently affected.

Conservative members have urged Boris Johnson to scrap HS2 and spend more on ending broadband and mobile blackspots.

A report by the party’s official grassroots think tank highlights demands for the £100 billion scheme to be cancelled, with members calling for construction of the rail line to start from the northern end, rather than London, if the Government presses ahead.

John Penrose, the former minister who chairs the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) said there was a “strong vein of scepticism about whether infrastructure projects move fast enough … or offer good enough value”.

He added that the “particularly strong” doubts about HS2 could partly be down to the prospect of rates of intercity and commuter travel being permanently affected by Covid-19 and the shift to working at home.

The report was submitted to No10 and senior ministers this week, as Baroness Vere, a transport minister separately acknowledged that ” there may well be long-term effects on the way that we travel in the future”, as a result of the pandemic.

Lord Berkeley, a critic of HS2 who was deputy chairman of Mr Johnson’s review of the scheme, told the House of Lords that the Government should produce data on “the continuing trend for working at home and the likely long-term effect that this might have on rail travel, whether it is commuter services or HS2.”

Baroness Vere said Lord Berkeley was “quite right” about possible effects on travel, adding: “We will consider the future demand requirements for rail on all the enhancement projects in the pipeline.”

Of 70 local Conservative Policy Forum groups across the country, 41 per cent “insisted that HS2 should be scrapped”, when asked for ideas on infrastructure, investment and devolution policy, according to the CPF report.

“If it must proceed, they suggested that construction should start from the northern end. One-in-six (17 per cent) said East-West connections should be the priority.”Meanwhile three-in-five CPF groups (62 per cent) “emphasised the need to invest in high-speed broadband.”

In a comment that the CPF said was representative of other remarks on broadband, one local group said: “Continued blackspots in broadband and mobile coverage, particularly away from large urban areas, leaves opportunity unfairly distributed geographically.”

Summarising the report in a foreword, Mr Penrose said: “We like investment, but it’s got to be value for money. There’s a strong vein of scepticism about whether infrastructure projects move fast enough, given all the layers of government bureaucracy, or offer good enough value. The doubts are particularly strong around HS2, although whether the value-for-money concerns are because we are unsure how much intercity or commuter travel we’ll all be doing after COVID, or because of doubts about the business case more generally, isn’t clear, But a large minority of us think it should either be scrapped, or at least built from north to south (that rebalancing point again) rather than the other way around. “

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

On Wednesday, I was one of 5 Conservative MPs to vote in favour of an Opposition motion to continue directly funding provision of free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021. I thought it would be useful to set out why I voted the way I did, what the Government position is, and…

COVID-19 Funding Sources

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

COVID-19 funding sources

Below is an updated list of COVID-19 funding for Voluntary Organisations and Charities, as of 23rd October 2020.

New COVID-19 Funds communities as at 23.10.2020

The post COVID-19 Funding Sources appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

Free School Meals

Bob Stewart (Beckenham)

On Wednesday 21 October, if the Labour Party had won a vote to institute free school meals for disadvantaged children in the school holidays it would not have resulted in any children getting free school meals. It was not that sort of vote. That requires a vote on money and also a resolution of the…

Veterans Railcard Now On Sale

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

The new Veterans Railcard has now gone on sale. The railcard will offer an additional 830,000 veterans who are not covered by existing discounts or railcards up to one-third of most rail fares from 5th November at the introductory price of £21 for a year. A named travelling companion will also be offered the [...]

The post Veterans Railcard Now On Sale appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Free School Meals Vote

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

Several constituents have written to me about the vote on the expansion of free school meals in school holidays to Easter 2021, which unfortunately is the latest in a series of misleading Labour tactics during opposition days and is something I have written about several times this year.

Let me be clear – I entered politics to create opportunities for the people of Chippenham constituency and to support vulnerable residents. I would not and never would, leave children to go hungry as the story has been spun.

What happens is Labour use opposition day debates as a political tool to make it appear as though we are against something that in reality we support. They put forward a motion that forces the government to vote against it, often for procedural reasons, or the aim is being met by other means, or the unintended consequences have not been mitigated or it is incompatible with existing legislation.

They then claim that because the government voted against the motion, that the government must be against the aims – which is absolutely untrue in this case and in all others like this. As someone who says it how it is and doesn’t play political games, I see this as a dishonest tactic.

My focus is on our community and especially the vulnerable and those who need help the most. That’s exactly why I do so many surgeries and stalls in supermarkets, pubs, fetes etc so that I can reach out and find the people who need my help but would never dream of asking for it.

I have served as the Children and Families Minister and championed the needs of families in Wiltshire and thousands more across the country. I believe unequivocally that no parent should be in a position where they can not afford food for their child – indeed, contrary to what some of the reports are saying this week, this is not a controversial opinion. I can’t actually imagine how anyone would disagree with this.

Until this week, the Labour Party wholeheartedly supported the fact that the Government is providing an unprecedented level of support to children and families. This year alone, we have expanded free schools meals to cover the Summer holiday for the first time ever; we have increased universal credit payments; we have provided families with over £380million of supermarket food vouchers; we have built government-funded breakfast clubs and promoted nutrition in school; we have built £9million summer holiday activity and food programmes for children; we have drastically increased school budgets including for food; and we have expanded free school eligibility to include an extra 1.5million children – all in less than a year.

I don’t for one moment want to give the impression that I am under playing the effect of the pandemic because it has been and continues to be so very hard for our constituency and country. That’s exactly why we have given so much unprecedented support to those in need and boosted the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit by over £1,000 per year for the next 12 months. We have also provided nearly £1 billion of additional support for renters affected by coronavirus, by increasing local housing allowance rates for housing benefit and universal credit. Through our income protection schemes we have so far protected 12 million jobs at a cost of almost £53 billion.

On another note I do think I should point out that it is this Government that has expanded the eligibility of free school meals to more children than any other Government in over fifty years by offering a free school meal to every child in reception, year 1 and year 2, to those students from lower income eligible families in further education colleges and, most recently during the pandemic, to children of families on lower incomes with no recourse to public funds.

However I am not convinced that free school meals are the best or even the correct mechanism to deal with holiday hunger. Targeted support for low income families is a matter for the welfare system, not our schools. In fact unlike schools, the welfare system was designed as the safety net to provide direct support all year round. This can be seen in the increase this government has put in place both in Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element.

I have spoken before on the issue of holiday hunger and my concerns – it’s an issue I believe we need to keep addressing but not with a sticking plaster but a long term solution that also deals with the other associated needs. I believe we must target support to those that need it most with initiatives like the recent £63 million local authority welfare assistance fund to provide essential food and other items to those that need it – a fund which will be active over this half-term holiday.

This Government has committed in Parliament that it is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure families and children have the support they need to get through this challenging time. So please ignore the empty political point scoring and let’s push for more cross party working on topics like this this! Please do get in touch if you or someone you know is struggling so I can check you are accessing everything that you are entitled to.

The post Free School Meals Vote appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

Cats Protection - Microchipping

Robin Millar (Aberconwy)

On Tuesday I was pleased to attend Cats Protection’s virtual event to discuss the urgent need for compulsory microchipping of pet cats. It is devastating when a beloved pet goes missing – but a chipped cat has a much better chance of finding its way home and being reunited. Microchipping is the…

Covid 19 outcomes for BAME patients

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

My collegaue, the Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, has written to MPs to update us on the important work she is doing to investigate the disparity in outcomes for covid-19 patients from a BAME background. Attached below is Ms Badenoch's letter to MPs and the full report can be viewed HERE.  

The Ability to Work From Home

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

People working from home, if they are able to, is vital in preventing the spread of coronavirus. However, we all know that there are those employers who are not using best practice.

I submitted a written question to the Department of Health & Social Care to enquiry about this:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage employers to follow the Government’s guidance pertaining to allowing employees to work from home in response to increased covid-19 cases.

The Secretary of State’s reply can be found here: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2020-09-29.96852.h&s=speaker%3A24919#g96852.q0

Herefordshire to benefit from extra £1.51 million in funding announced by the Government Councils have received £6.4 billion in additional direct support since April. Local authority has been provided with £20.91m in extra funding since the pandemic began. People living... Continue Reading →

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

As a result of increasing levels of infection across Wales, the Welsh Government have implemented a ‘firebreak lockdown’. From 6pm today until the start of Monday 9 November, there will be a new set of restrictions in place.  We must now stay at home, except for limited and specific purposes, and we must not visit other households or meet with people indoors or outdoors who do not live in our households. Most shops and hospitality venues will close, including pubs and restaurants. For the week after half term, secondary schools will provide online learning for all pupils except those in years 7 and 8, but primary schools and childcare settings will remain open. Face coverings will continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open, such as in supermarkets and on public transport.  I know this will be a difficult and frustrating fortnight, but it’s clear that we are facing a very difficult winter and we must all play our part to help keep levels of infection down.  For more information and to find the answers to frequently asked questions, take a look at the Welsh Government website here.

This week we had some success connecting the constituency with the twenty-first century. The local health centre in the Dulais Valley has never had access to fibre broadband, which has caused all sorts of problems in our modern, internet-reliant world, and which have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. With so much of life now taking place in the virtual world, from local health care to Parliamentary business, the Practice Manager was naturally desperate to see some changes. Thanks to support from Openreach, the practice has been put on their capital works programme and this week completed the work to connect the practice to fibre broadband! We are very grateful to Openreach for working with us on this as it is so important for our local services to have quick and reliable broadband, especially in these trying times.

I was pleased to chair a Delegated Legislation Committee this week discussing legislation put in place around universities and student cap numbers. When the impact of Covid on universities was first being understood, the UK Government put caps on the numbers of students universities could accept to prevent an uneven distribution of students and financial insecurity for some institutions. With the exams fiasco meaning many more students were accepted to the first-choice universities eventually, the Government have had to reconsider the cap to prevent universities now being unfairly fined for accepting the students who made their grades. These delegated legislation committees are a really important part of the procedure in Parliament where MPs are able to discuss the detail of legislation. This is the nitty gritty of parliamentarians’ work that often isn’t seen or understood by the wider population – but its so important that legislation is properly scrutinised by MPs before the Government can pass it into law.

This week, Labour tabled an opposition motion to ensure that free school meals were provided during the holidays in England until at least Easter 2021. The Welsh Government has already committed to this, but 322 Tory MPs voted against it being implemented in England. They voted against ensuring that the most vulnerable children in our country had at least one square meal each day. I cannot quite believe that this is an issue that divides politicians in our country – surely, ensuring children do not go to bed hungry should be something that unites and galvanises politicians to work to do better, to level up, to help everyone in the country feed their children? It’s very disappointing news, but will motivate Labour to continue to fight for equality and for the most vulnerable in our communities who are being left behind.

This week we marked the anniversary of the Aberfan disaster when 116 children and 28 adults were killed when a coal tip slid down the mountainside, the school in its path. We will never forget the unimaginable tragedy that occurred there, nor will we stand by and wait for another such disaster to pass. We must ensure that our coal tips are maintained, especially considering the increase in flash flooding events in the area, so that no more lives are lost in such awful and unnecessary circumstances.

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

I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend, and remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!

Preet hosts the Birmingham Cladding Scandal Summit

Preet Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

On Thursday evening, Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston chaired a Birmingham Cladding Scandal Summit attended by more than 100 people affected by cladding and fire safety issues in the city. The event, co-hosted by Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, gave residents an opportunity to share their testimonies and put their questions directly to Lord Greenhalgh, Minister for Building Safety and Communities, along with Mike Amesbury MP, Shadow Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government.


After introductory remarks from Preet and the other politicians on the call, the attendees and panellists heard presentations from leaseholders living in buildings with unsafe cladding in the city, which included Jen Reid from Islington Gates, a first time buyer who bought her flat last year and who is now facing bills of up to a third of the original cost of her flat, which is currently valued at zero. She said:


“We are facing losing our building insurance at which point I will also be in default of my lease and my mortgage. This situation has been a living nightmare every day since I found out.”


Tom Brothwell from Brindley House, spoke about the financial fallout from the scandal, including a huge spike in insurance costs for the building which have increased 1000% over two years, from £23,000 two years’ ago to £500,000 this year, as well as rapidly rising service charges. He said:


One of my neighbours is housing association, she is a pensioner, she owns a quarter of her property but she is paying 100% of these costs.”


Vickie Pargetter from Hemisphere, spoke about the serious impact it has had on her family life and mental health. She spoke about how the situation has left her and her husband feeling trapped and severely impacted their mental health to the point that they have both been prescribed antidepressants. Vickie went on to say:


Besides the stress and anxiety that this situation causes us on a daily basis, if we can’t secure funding from the government, or elsewhere, and the costs fall to us leaseholders it could wipe out all of our savings, and more, meaning we can’t move even when all of this is sorted. The likely timeframe for getting a resolution is lengthy – so much so it will probably prohibit us from trying for a sibling for Blake as I will be too old when it is resolved.”

Tom White, also from Hemisphere, spoke about the impact the scandal has had on him as a first-time buyer with no safety net. He said:


“There is no such thing for someone in my position as an affordable amount to pay towards remediation, not when the associated costs of waking watch and rising insurance premiums are threatening to price me out already.


“If these costs fall on leaseholders, I and many others will be trapped in our flats with rising bills and unable to sell. my mental wellbeing is taking a severe hit—I have already taken days off work to cope with these stresses, and I expect many more sleepless nights in the months ahead.


“We as leaseholders did not design the buildings, we did not build the buildings, and we don’t own the land they are situated on either. We were each told, unequivocally, that these buildings were safe to live in.”


In his response to leaseholders’ concerns about the costs for remediation work, Lord Greenhalgh acknowledged that the projected £1 billion Building Safety Fund most likely won’t last beyond next summer at the current pace they are going at. Lord Greenhalgh also said that they are close to having a risk-based approach to fire safety that will be adopted by lenders.


Preet asked what the government is going to do to make sure that leaseholders don’t have to spend any more money, and what it is going to do to show it is on the side of leaseholders.


Lord Greenhalgh said that he is in public life to do good and to try and make a difference. He said:


“I’m an unpaid minister, I’m doing this because I want to do good. I’m not trying to harm anybody. I want to see the right thing happen. I’m trying to make progress on this, but it is not straightforward.”

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Tories deny free school meals to 2 million children

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

Conservative MPs – including all Scots Tories – refuse to back free meals for children in school holidays Yesterday afternoon in the House of Commons, Brendan O’Hara MP led for the SNP in the Opposition Day debate on access to free school meals and called on the UK Government to commit to tackling widespread poverty, […]
Basingstoke's MP, Maria Miller has welcomed the opening of a Local Test Site at The Anvil, making it easier for many people in the constituency to access testing.  The location of the new Coronavirus test centre has been decided by the local NHS, Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke Borough…

Grant Investigates Flooding with Billy Byrne

Grant Shapps (Welwyn Hatfield)

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps visits residents of street plagued by flooding.

Billy Byrne from DIYSOS, and his neighbours on Wellcroft Close in Welwyn Garden City recently met with local MP Grant Shapps to discuss major flooding from drains on their road.

The issue has persisted on this street for months- Heavy rainfall causes the drains next to their houses to fill up in as little as half-an-hour and cascade down driveways and into homes, gardens, garages and sheds.

During the rainy meeting, Mr Shapps was told about the problems this caused for residents of the close.

One homeowner, Dennis, said: “It can be any time of the day or night. We’ve been out at 3 in the morning…both gardens are absolutely flooded, it goes down my neighbour’s garden, comes under my shed…it’s been going on for years now.”

Grant was told by Jill, who also lives on the close: “If you stay here long enough today, I think it will do the same.”

This problem is very distressing for residents. One went so far as to say: “I would never have moved into my house if I’d have known of the flooding.”

Billy and Grant discussed potential solutions. Billy stressed the need for a “camera to be put down the drain to see where the blockage is.”

Residents were appreciative of Grant’s visit. “At least there’s someone listening now,” said one.

Billy said: “It’s great that someone has taken it on board.”

Grant Shapps said: “Thank you for taking the time to coming out, in the rain and talk to us about this…we’re going to try and do everything we can to get this resolved.”

See our short film on the visit below:


A total of 1,260 Bounce Back Loans worth £35,083,591 have been offered under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme in Ashfield. These are 100 per cent government-backed loans which are interest free for the first 12 months. The scheme ensures that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating…

Grant for the Silk Mill

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

12th October: Whitchurch Silk Mill receives £131,500 grant from government.  

  • Government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Scheme awards the Whitchurch Silk Mill
  • Kit Malthouse MP: ‘An iconic landmark well deserving of protection’

Today, the first announcements from the Culture Recovery Fund Grant have been made, with the Whitchurch Silk Mill receiving £131,550.

Over £275 million in grants has been invested in 1,385 venues in order to protect vulnerable heritage and cultural sites from the impact of the pandemic as part of a £1.57bn culture recovery scheme.

The £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

The announcement today represents the first round of grants with further rounds, and larger grants, due to be announced imminently.

Kit is urging local communities to support their cultural organisations at this time through donations or purchases to help negate the impact of the pandemic and preserve our treasured history.

Kit Malthouse MP said:

“The government is determined to protect our cultural heritage from the pandemic and I’m delighted by this grant to the Silk Mill.  I’ve visited the Silk Mill on a number of occasions and I highly recommend their silk scarves to anybody looking to buy a gift this Christmas season – my mother is a very happy recipient of one.”

“The Silk Mill is an iconic local landmark that recently won a Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Award because of the outstanding experience it brings to all who visit it, I couldn’t imagine our area without it and I encourage everyone to support the Silk Mill where possible.”

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: 

“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce back post Covid.”

Rubbish dumping survey

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)

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

Bexleyheath & Crayford Ladies Group Afternoon Tea

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

On Wednesday 14th October the Bexleyheath & Crayford Ladies Group held a socially distanced Afternoon Tea at the IVI Club, Bexleyheath.   Sir David and Lady Evennett attended the event as did the Association President, Mark Brooks.                

As the Portfolio Holder for Planning I believe in the power of democratic planning to shape a fair and sustainable future for everyone. The planning system must operate in the public interest and should be democratically accountable and genuinely participative and must reflect the different needs of the country.

I believe the best people to make local decisions are local people and that the current proposals in the Government’s White Paper will undermine that principle. As was seen with the National Planning Policy Framework introduced in 2012 by the then Conservative and Lib Dem coalition, changes to planning by the Conservatives put the interests of big developers over the interests and needs of local communities.

Many residents already feel a democratic deficit when it comes to planning and I am concerned that replacing consultation on specific items with consultation on Local Plans (5-yearly Strategic Plans) will only make people feel further removed from local decisions. I also wait to hear more details about their plan to replace Section 106 funding with a Community Infrastructure Levy. There is concern that some developers get away with not paying their fair share in Section 106 funding and I am concerned that the new guidelines would create more exemptions for developers.

As a council committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2028, we know how important green space and biodiversity is towards that goal, as well as being important to people’s quality of life. Sustainability should not be seen to be in conflict with economic growth and the government’s White Paper should reflect that.

At the same time I recognise the demand for housing in our city with large numbers of people on the current waiting list. It is our experience that planning legislation and decisions are not what prevents us from building more homes for local people. Rather it is the limitations of borrowing against the Housing Revenue Account (how the Government expects council’s to fund council house building) and restrictions on the use of Right To Buy refunds, which means that there is insufficient funding to build homes, unnecessary restrictions on spending RTB refund money. Also RTB means council houses are lost at a faster rate than we can build them. Nottingham City Council has lobbied the government on these issues a number of times

The post Government’s Planning White Paper to Take Decision Making from Local People appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Britain, We Need Our Steel

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)

Treasury must take action on bounce back loan scheme to protect businesses

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

Following a new report, the SNP has renewed calls for the Treasury to protect thousands of jobs and businesses from going under by turning its Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) into grants or equity – as well as writing off repayments for struggling firms.

It comes after the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted in its report that the scheme succeeded in initially supporting small businesses, but the Treasury faces a potential loss of £15 billion to £26 billion through businesses not being able to repay the loans and fraud.

Drew Hendry MP, the SNP’s business spokesperson, warned that the loan scheme in its current form could force thousands of small businesses to close their doors for good, due to taking on unmanageable debt and being unable to repay loans due to the economic cost of the coronavirus crisis.

CityUK, the financial services body, has said that £35 billion of the debt is unsustainable and posing “a real threat to UK jobs” – with around 750,000 small and medium-sized businesses and three million jobs at risk.

Commenting, Drew Hendry MP said:

“The Bounceback Loan Scheme was welcome and is necessary, however, it’s clear that more needs to be done by the UK government to address the severe financial pressure burdening small and medium-sized businesses in the long run.

“With the growing threat of further hardship and unmanageable levels of debt facing hundreds of thousands of businesses – potentially costing around three million jobs – it’s vital that Rishi Sunak heeds our calls and takes urgent action to protect firms that are on the brink. Extending the repayment period is not enough.

“The Scottish Government recently announced it would allocate an extra £190 million for business and the arts, taking the total committed so far to dealing with the pandemic to 6.5 billion – but if the UK government don’t turn Bounce Back loans into grants or equity, the Scottish Government will essentially be trying to mitigate disaster with one hand tied behind its back.

“The SNP has repeatedly called on the Treasury to do this to protect small and medium-sized businesses and ensure their long-term survival – as well as extend the furlough scheme. If it does not, many businesses will be left with no choice but to pull down their shutters and lay people off.

“The SNP will continue to press for the powers and serious investment that other independent countries are already using to safeguard jobs, protect businesses and kickstart their economies.”

More on: NAO press release 

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 Treasury must take action on bounce back loan scheme to protect businesses appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.

Jonathan Djanogly moves amendments to the Bill that would ensure a level of pre-ratification Parliamentary scrutiny of Private International Law treaties in the UK similar to the level of scrutiny by treaty partners.  read more »

September Newsletter

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

September Newsletter

Click here to read my September 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:

  • Fighting for the Royal Free children’s A&E
  • Standing up for jobs in Hampstead and Kilburn
  • Promoting clear face masks to help lip readers
  • Helping children with SEND return safely to school
  • Nazanin facing further injustice in Iran
  • The impact of Brexit on women
  • Time is running out for the childcare sector
  • Away day with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
  • More support needed for children’s services

Local Lockdown

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside)

The post Local Lockdown appeared first on Mark Tami.

A sharp rise in Covid infections in Llanelli over the last week has led to the country’s first micro lock-down. Local Senedd Member Lee Waters, and MP Nia Griffith, are urging people in the area to stick to the new rules to stop the virus spreading further.

From 6pm tomorrow, a ‘health protection zone’ will be set up in Llanelli Town. This will cover all of Llanelli town, Bynea, Llwynhendy, Dafen, Felinfoel, Swiss Valley, Hengoed, Llangennech and Hendy.

As in other parts of south Wales where there have been local lockdowns the rules on extended households no longer apply – meaning you cannot gather indoors with anyone outside of your own household. You are still allowed to meet with up to 30 people outdoors, provided you observe social distancing.

You will only be allowed to leave the areas listed if you have a reasonable excuse such as going to work, school, caring or shopping that cannot be done locally. The same will apply to people entering the area.

“These new restrictions have been put in place after the Llanelli area’s rate of infection rose to 151 per 100,000 people. This is a significant rise, and a rate far higher than Cardiff. Through successful use of the Welsh track and trace system Public Health Wales have been able to identify the 109 people in Llanelli who have tested positive for Covid and have traced 977 people they have been on contact with and given them advice on whether they should self-isolate and get tested”  Lee Waters said.

“This is the first time a lockdown hasn’t been applied to on a county-wide basis. That’s because the vast majority of new cases in the past week have been in and around Llanelli, accounting for eight out of ten cases in Carmarthenshire as a whole. So this targeted lockdown is designed to try and stamp it out quickly. We’ve seen in Caerphilly that where people comply with the new restrictions that the virus can be successfully brought under control so we appeal to people locally to do the same”  Nia Griffith said.

Lee Waters added “We’re urging people in the area to please abide by these new restrictions, think carefully about the journeys you make and people you see, and above all help us to protect our most vulnerable residents. These restrictions are going to be reviewed after 14 days, so if we pull together now, we can get through this. Our teams will be available to answer any questions you have, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.”

Lee.waters@senedd.wales         (01554 774 902)

Nia.griffith.mp@parliament.uk   (01554 756 374)

Cllr Rob James, Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council added: “It is right that these measures be taken now after we have seen a significant, and concentrated, rise in Coronavirus cases recently.  Labour Councillors will work with Carmarthenshire Council and Dyfed Powys Police to ensure that the rules are enforced in an appropriate manner.”

“We have seen in other areas of Wales that by all of us playing our part, we can reverse this trend and protect our communities.”


Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Network Rail is preparing the final stages of delivering step-free access at Garforth Railway Station, it has been announced.

Alec had been campaigning for new step-free access at Garforth for over a decade before finally securing funds direct from the Department for Transport. Alec will continue to work closely, cross-party, with Garforth’s Independent Councillors to represent the views of residents through the planning process.

Announcing the scheme in 2014, the then Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “After years of false starts and broken promises under Labour, it is a testament to the local Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke’s persistent campaigning that I can announce that this scheme is finally happening for the people of Garforth”.

Since 2014 Alec has been in regular contact with Transport officials pushing for firmer plans and no further delays. He also raised the matter several times in the House of Commons Chamber.

But today it has been announced that the final stage before construction is now underway.

Alec said: “Today I’m delighted that Network Rail has formalised a plan with four options for stakeholders to choose from before the submission of a full planning application to Leeds City Council. It is my hope that Leeds City Council can deal with the application swiftly to avoid no further delays”.

“I have been campaigning for step-free access at Garforth Station for many years. We had an original plan submitted but this then incurred unnecessary delays along the way but I have been committed to providing disabled people and pushchair users with the same access to travel as everyone else – and delivering step-free access at Garforth station will help thousands more people travel easily and without additional cost, time or stress”.

Previously, Garforth resident Mrs Morris said: “We’ve waited far too long for disabled access at Garforth. The elderly, disabled and those with pushchairs have not been able to use the station so we’re extremely grateful to Alec for fighting alongside us to deliver this disabled access”.

The Government’s Access for All programme was first launched in 2006 and has delivered more than 200 accessible routes into selected stations so far.

A further 1,500 stations have received smaller scale improvements such as accessible toilets, platform humps to reduce stepping distances and improvements to help those with a visual or hearing impairment.

The post Garforth Station – step free access ready for planning permission. appeared first on Alec Shelbrooke.

I am concerned that the shift towards contactless and chip & pin payments, hastened by COVID-19, is disadvantaging older and vulnerable people locally who still use cash. Cash is a vital payment method for businesses and residents in St Helens North, as it is for 18 million people who regularly rely on it across the UK. Yet, one in ten have recently had cash refused in stores and ATM transactions […]

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.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to enable the early resumption of shooting after the covid-19 outbreak.

Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer has appointed Steve Reed MP into the Shadow Cabinet. Steve is now Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Steve has a strong local government background having previously served as shadow local government minister and was leader of Lambeth Council where he oversaw dramatic improvements in key services.

Steve said:

I’m honoured that Keir has asked me to be Labour’s spokesperson on communities and local government.   Councillors and council workers are responding heroically to coronavirus, and I want to make sure they have all the resources they need to succeed.

We’ve never needed good councils more than we do today, and I’m proud to stand up for local government in Parliament

  • 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 Steve Reed joins Labour’s Shadow Cabinet appeared first on Steve Reed MP.

Stewart Hosie has expressed his disappointment that planned BT works to install fibre optic broadband in Monifeith have been delayed.
The Dundee East MP received assurances from BT late last year that planned work would be finished by the end of March 2020 however this has been pushed back to May, with the possibility of future delays due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Commenting Stewart Hosie said:
"I am disappointed this work has been delayed, particularly as so many people are expected to work from home and are now being forced to rely on the poor internet service that currently exists in the area."
"When I received assurances in October last year that fibre optic broadband would be available in Monifeith by the end of March it was great news for my constituents who have had to make do with slow speeds for some time."
"I hope that the work will now be carried out by May, however with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the restrictions on movement and working it is only right that BT's priority is focused on repairing and maintenance for the foreseeable future."

The spread of coronavirus presents an unprecedented challenge and is leading to people across this country making huge sacrifices to protect one another.

As the Prime Minister has said, while we need to create physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for each other.

That means looking after the most vulnerable people in our society, and alleviating worry as much as possible, at what is of course an anxious time.

All of us in Government are working hard to do just that, and make sure that practical support is forthcoming during this national emergency. We are mobilising every part of Government to protect both our people and our country.

As Housing Secretary, I know that renters and landlords will have been particularly worried about paying their rent and mortgages. As a result, I have moved swiftly to ensure that nobody needs to worry about losing their home at this difficult time, when the security of a home has never been more important.

I have taken decisive action and will bring forward emergency legislation to ensure that no renter will be forced out of their home through this period, and that landlords will be protected too.

For renters in both the private and social sector, there will be a moratorium on all new evictions and clear guidance has been issued stating that existing eviction processes should be dealt with appropriately, prioritising the safety and health of citizens across the country.

Let there be no doubt: renters do not need to be worried about the threat of eviction.

This Government is also clear that no one should be concerned about not being able to afford their mortgage if they fall into financial difficulty due to this challenging time.

We recognise that landlords may also face additional pressures, with concerns about meeting mortgage payments. We have therefore confirmed that all Buy to Let landlords can benefit from a three-month mortgage payment holiday where they are experiencing difficulties due to corona virus.

This is designed to alleviate the pressure on landlords, who I know will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves while also ensuring that no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

This mirrors the mortgage payment holiday that other mortgage holders will also be able to access. These measures will protect renters and landlords, ensuring everyone gets the support they need.

The way that landlords have engaged with us on this issue has been hugely positive. I congratulate them for stepping up to the plate and working collaboratively with us to ensure that tenants are protected at this difficult time.

Part of my Ministerial portfolio is also to tackle homelessness. This is always a priority for me and requires even more of my attention during this crisis.

To address the specific danger posed to rough sleepers by coronavirus, I have announced an initial £3.2 million of emergency funding to support them if they need to self-isolate. It will ensure that councils are able to put emergency measures in place to avoid urgent assistance.

Local Government is at forefront of our national effort, and I have spoken to over 300 council leaders and sector bodies to ensure they are well placed to respond to coronavirus and protect vital services for communities.

The weeks ahead will not be easy, but ruthless and determined collective action will allow us to succeed, turn the tide and return to normality.

We have an enormous challenge ahead of us and but my message is clear – this Government will do whatever it takes to help people across this country at this difficult time.

Originally published by The Daily Telegraph 20/03/20

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.

Philip Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what provisions are included in the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill 2019-20 to protect national parks and AONBs from aircraft noise.

Raise the Rate debate

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

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