I started the week with a meeting with Baroness Vere as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Trailer and Towing Safety where we discussed the long-running campaign to improve trailer and road safety and the new voluntary accreditation scheme. I believe the Government’s move to remove the requirement for additional tests for towing a trailer between 750kg and 3,500kg, without assessing the possible risks to the safety of other drivers and pedestrians, could have negative consequences for road safety. A voluntary scheme will lack regulatory power and relies on businesses and individuals to “do the right thing”. However, now the law change has been made, I agreed with the Minister that we need to work together to make the new scheme work. I am pleased the Baroness confirmed her attendance of the AGM of our APPG on 3 February to provide an update to all members.
This week I was pleased to be able to speak in Health Questions in my first question from the front bench team on the issue of delayed discharge from hospital. Around 10,000 medically fit people are currently in hospital when they should be at home with their families or in a supported setting. That is a tragedy for them and a mark of shame on this Government. Short-term cash, taskforces or threatening legal action are not solutions. Social care support is a lifeline not a luxury, so I called on the Government to now work with us cross-party in line with the joint Select Committee report of 2018 to bring forward immediate change and offer hope and respite to those receiving and giving social care. Hospitals should be for the treatment of those requiring hospital care only. It is a waste of hospital resources and detrimental to the mental health of those remaining in hospital beyond their need to do so. The Government must recognise the value of social care workers and ensure that the incentives to join this profession are fair.
I was pleased to then meet with Carers UK, a support charity for unpaid carers across the UK. 6.5 million people in the UK are carers – that’s 1 in every 8 adults who cares for a loved one and does so without pay. Caring is part of being human, but for many who care for a loved one living with illness or a disability, they can feel stretched to the limit – still juggling work, family life, their own health alongside their new caring responsibilities. Carers UK provide vital help and support – they offer information, support with complicated paperwork, or simply provide a person to talk to. They do such fantastic work and the Government must do more to ensure that our unpaid carers are supported by professionals and that those they are caring for are receiving all the care they need to ensure they continue to live fulfilled and happy lives.
I recently wrote to the Prime Minister about the crisis in NHS dentistry in Bristol South. Access to NHS dentistry in Bristol South, and indeed in the wider Bristol area, has become increasingly challenging over the last 18 months. As more and more dentists switch to private practice only, constituents who are NHS patients are increasingly unable to access treatment. I know that dental practices have faced huge challenges over the last two years, with staff shortages and difficulties accessing much-needed PPE, but normal people are paying the price now. This has become a health inequality issue with lower-income families unable to pay for dental treatment. Over the last 18 months I have contacted ministers on a number of occasions raising this urgent issue, I have been told that money is being put into the sector, but this won’t have an effect on NHS dentistry accessibility until years down the line. A plan needs to be put in place to address the issue now.
In Bristol South there is so much anger about the revelations about Downing Street parties, which I completely understand. I am disgusted, in particular, by the excuses being given that Downing Street staff had been working so hard. I cannot imagine how they think that is acceptable given the images we have grown used to seeing of doctors and nurses after their shifts, with red marks on their faces from their PPE and their eyes showing their utter exhaustion. We as a country deserve a much, much better leadership and a government that shows decency and integrity.
If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.email@example.com or by calling 0117 953 3575.The post Weekly Round-Up first appeared on Karin Smyth.
This week in parliament MPs debated the Building Safety Bill. The Bill is a response to the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in which 72 people lost their lives.
After the horror of Grenfell, the Government and industry must take shared responsibility to make all buildings safe and ensure the costs of doing this are not passed onto leaseholders.
Labour did not oppose the Bill as we welcome many of measures within it. However, there is real concern about what is not included in the Bill. Labour has called for the Government to go further and legislate to ensure leaseholders are protected from the costs of removing or fixing any historic cladding and non-cladding defects. So far, the Government has failed to do this.
Ministers have promised on at least 17 occasions that leaseholders should be protected from ruinous fire safety costs, but time and time again their situation has got worse not better. You can see Liz call out the Government’s record of failure on this issue here.
Locally, Liz has met with people in Leicester West who have been caught up in the cladding scandal and will continue to push for the Government to provide them with the safety and support they deserve.
Labour’s priority is to protect innocent homeowners. We are committed to working cross party to resolve this crisis, and we will continue to try and amend the Building Safety Bill to give leaseholders the protections in law that have long been promised by the Government.
The post Labour calls on the Government to do more to protect leaseholders appeared first on Liz Kendall.
On the floor of the House of Commons this week, South Lakes MP Tim Farron urged the President of COP26 Alok Sharma to finally axe plans for a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria.
A report released by the think tank Green Alliance estimated that the mine would produce 8.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year - the equivalent of the emissions of more than one million homes.
A Public Inquiry into the proposed coal mine closed back in October with the Government expected to make a final decision soon.
Speaking during COP26 questions in Parliament on Wednesday, Tim said: "It would be entirely appropriate for the COP President to comment and intervene on this - it is a political decision whether to go ahead with a new coal mine in Cumbria.
"Should he not cancel it now and instead invest in wind, hydro, marine and tidal energy that can be championed by Cumbrian businesses such as Gilkes, investing in green jobs rather than dirty, old-fashioned ones?"
Responding, Alok Sharma MP said: "I thought that the honourable gentleman liked independent processes and that is what is running now."
Speaking afterwards, Tim said: "Alok Sharm is right, I do like independent processes - but I like clean energy even more.
"If we're serious about reaching net zero and providing secure jobs for the future, then we need to stop digging coal and start seriously investing in renewable energy."Published and promoted by P Trollope on behalf of T Farron and the Liberal Democrats, all at Yard 2, Stricklandgate, Kendal
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has today welcomed the initiative by the Scottish Government to look into tunnels on the sounds of Harris and Barra, as well as a tunnel link between Mull and the mainland.
Commenting Angus MacNeil said:
“This shows that persistence pays, I am glad to see that this has reached government level and Transport Scotland are now looking into the feasibility of tunnels.
“Our neighbours in the Faroe Islands, not too far away, are currently constructing their fourth tunnel with three in operation. It would appear to me that tunnels provide the natural progression in our links, from the causeways that joined the islands in the 90’s and the early part of the century.
“Now we must catch up with people like the Faroese who have been linking the islands, over lengths of 10km, at about 10million per km to construct. Over 25 years this is very doable and affordable, this could revolutionise transport on the islands and on the west coast of Scotland.
“ Tunnel links will make it easier for us to travel between the islands and will also give us more options to use other ports to get to the mainland. The tunnel link to Mull would obviously benefit Mull but also Coll and Tiree and could make Tobermory the port in the south end of the west coast.
“We look forward to seeing what the proposals bring forward and I hope that we can follow the Faroese model which is very successful indeed. In the Faroe Islands no one would go back to having ferries once they have the tunnels, similarly with the causeways, people would not want to go back to ferries either in the Hebrides.”
Great news & I make clear developers are responsible for both their external & internal fire safety defects. Eg firebreaks, save lives as they help prevent the spread of fires internally from flat to flat & give the emergency services time to respond. @ukcag @EOCS_Official https://t.co/bNubsqCz6s— Stephen McPartland (@SMcPartland) January 21, 2022
The conventional media, the Labour opposition and a handful of Conservative MPs are out to topple the Prime Minister. The method is well known, as it was used extensively against Mrs May and took a long time to get rid of her. That was animated by a major battle over policy, where those who wished to see her replaced were shocked by her close working with the civil service establishment and opposition parties to dilute or thwart Brexit. We felt this was against the clear wish of the public in the referendum and against the spirit of the Conservative Manifesto. The way the civil service negotiated, surrendering our position with the approval of the PM,was in conflict with the strategy the Brexit Secretary was trying to pursue and was unacceptable.
The current rebels do not seem to be united in fundamental criticism of policy or in defence of the Manifesto. They are trying to get to 54 Conservative MPs who want a vote of No Confidence based on the strong feeling shared by many that senior officials in Downing Street who devised elaborate rules for the rest of should have led by example. The PM has apologised and claims most of this happened without his presence or initiation . The facts and gloss placed on this by Sue Gray who is investigating will shape how many more Conservative MPs seek a change at the top as a result.
It is difficult to buy into the idea that whips could credibly threaten to remove grants from constituencies of MPs who were disloyal. Money is distributed on the decision of Ministers, not whips. Ministers are guided and supervised by officials when allocating money to ensure the law and budget rules are followed. A Minister cannot make a decision based on favouritism or spite.
The rebels need to recall that they need 180 Conservative MPs to get rid of the PM. They have to win the confidence vote as well as securing it. They may be holding back some letters pending the Gray Report or because they judge they are a long way off having a majority. They may simply have failed to persuade more than a handful that now is a good time to change Prime Ministers.
For me what matters most is how the PM now develops a post lockdown agenda. There needs to be an early move to take control of GB/ NI trade. There needs to be a change of energy policy. We need tax cuts. If the PM can complete Brexit and tackle the cost of living crisis he can ride out party gate. If he does not use the majority to help people be better off then partygate and the poor organisation of Downing Street will weigh ever more heavily on the minds of MPs already cross about recent news coverage.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women has submitted a formal representation to the Parliamentary Health and Service Ombudsman (PHSO).
The PHSO is currently in the second stage of its investigation into how the DWP communicated changes to the women’s state pension age. Stage one of the investigation concluded that the DWP had committed maladministration, a verdict that 1950s-born women had long argued was the case.
It is the hope of the APPG that this submission will inform the work of the Ombudsman in the second stage of its investigation, and further highlight the significant amount of hardship that 1950s-born women have faced as a result of this long-standing injustice.
The APPG would like to sincerely thank all parties who took part in this inquiry, and all of the individuals who submitted evidence.
To read the full submission, click here.
Transport East is a partnership providing a single voice for councils, business leaders, political leaders and partners on our region’s transport strategy and strategic transport investment priorities – working in close collaboration with government and the rest of the UK.
That’s why, having followed the progress of Transport East over recent months, I am delighted to hear that their public consultation on the draft regional Transport Strategy for the East is now open.
The public consultation is your opportunity to help refine the Transport Strategy and shape the future of transport in the region. To take part, please complete the online survey by Sunday, 30 January 2022.
It also includes questions about the Investment and Delivery Programme – an evolving programme of schemes which will set out Transport East’s investment priorities to Government. A virtual exhibition and other consultation materials are also available on their website.
To learn more about Transport East, please visit their website here.
One of the worst starts to this year was the news of the sudden death of my friend and colleague, Jack Dromey.
He was taken from us far too soon. His death coincides with the release of new figures which show that life expectancy, for most of us, is falling steadily.
As a former trade union leader, Jack blamed factors like unemployment, poor working conditions and inadequate social policies. He was fond of making his point by telling a story of an imaginary train journey between Erdington and Sutton Four Oaks stations. Over that short distance, life expectancy between wealthy Sutton Four Oaks and Erdington varies by as much as seven years for a man and four for a woman.
After years of improvement, longevity is decreasing in this country, down by a fifth in some parts of the Midlands. People in urban areas have the lowest life expectancy. However, it’s up by as much as nine years for those living in the more affluent areas.
Men in richer neighbourhoods can live up to 10 years longer than those in poorer neighbourhoods. It used to be the case that, in wealthy countries, lifespan only declined because of things like war or pandemics but the latest data shows it’s been falling long before
Covid struck. When that happens, in normal times, it’s usually associated with growing poverty, poor housing, homelessness and a lack of adequate health and social care services.
If we’re going to arrest this dreadful situation, we need a step change with proper investment in our communities and health services. The government claims that’s part of a ‘levelling up’ agenda but surely they must realise it requires more than a few competitions for town centre grants or bungs to constituencies where Tory MPs won seats at the last election. There must be more.
A place like Birmingham needs sustained long term support to help us maintain our health and care services and rebuild our crumbling communities. The alternative is that the lives of more and more people are cut short in this, the sixth richest country in the world.
Last year the Government announced it’s “Ask for ANI” initiative in pharmacies and created a lifeline scheme for victims of domestic abuse.
The “Ask for ANI” codeword scheme enables those at risk or suffering from Domestic Violence to discreetly signal a need for help in the safety of their local pharmacy.
One year on since the launch of this scheme and we have seen many communities embrace this initiative and build upon many other measure we have taken to improve support for Domestic Violence victims including a further £28 million for DA Charities and strengthening the rights of victims.
The latest figures from the NHS show that at the end of November 2021, there were 184 956 people on the waiting list at University Hospitals Birmingham. 31, 770 people had been waiting for more than a year for an appointment and 2008 people had been waiting more than 2 years. These astounding rates are the worst in England.
In March 2020, at the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, there were 4,235,970 people on the NHS waiting list in England, then a record high. Nationally, the standard of 92% of people seen within 18 weeks of a referral has not been met since 2016. Now, 1 in every 9 people in England are on the NHS waiting list.
The Conservative Government has no plan to deal with the chronic shortage of GPs, doctors, nurses and social care staff, and has not set clear targets to reduce waiting lists and waiting times. As a result, the NHS went into the latest wave of Covid infections with the longest waiting list ever. Hospitals around the country are reporting unsustainable pressure and an inability to provide high quality care.
However, the Trust, which is also one of largest in the country, has had to face additional pressures with the highest number of Covid patients in the country. Pressures on local hospitals are now becoming unsustainable with many recent reports of critical and high alerts being issued.
Commenting, Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham said: “People across Birmingham are being forced to wait months and even years for treatment, often in pain and discomfort. It is unacceptable and will have appalling consequences for patients.
“Our local health care staff at the University Hospitals Birmingham worked heroically throughout the pandemic, but they are now stretched like never before. Our local hospitals are part of the largest NHS Trust in the country and it’s plain to see how they have been neglected by this Government.
“I’ve written to the hospital trust to both raise my concern and offer my support. However, the Government must give us the staff and support so that hospitals can get through this winter. It simply isn’t good enough for waiting times to be this long and for Birmingham to continue to have the highest rates in England.”
Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “The NHS went into this wave of Covid infections with 6 million people on waiting lists for the first time ever. As a result of a decade of Tory mismanagement, the NHS was unprepared for the pandemic and didn’t have any spare capacity when Omicron hit.
“It’s not just that the Conservatives didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining, they dismantled the roof and removed the floorboards. Now patients are paying the price, waiting months and even years for treatment, often in pain, distress and discomfort.
“Labour will secure the future of the NHS, starting by building the workforce it needs to deliver better care and shorter waiting times, just as the last Labour government did.”
Notes to Editors:
South Shropshire MP, Philip Dunne, has welcomed confirmation today in the House of Commons that the government intends to let covid restrictions expire, as we learn to live with the pandemic.
With case numbers reducing significantly from their mid-December peak, and evidence that Omicron is a milder infection than previous variants of the virus, the government has announced that England will revert to Plan A measures from Thursday next week (27th January).
Mandatory certification of covid-status for large scale events will end, though individual businesses can choose voluntarily to use the scheme if they wish. The advice to work from home where possible ends today, and the government will no longer mandate the use of facemasks anywhere. Advice will continue that the public should think about wearing one in enclosed or crowded spaces.
From tomorrow (20th January) the government will no longer require face masks in classrooms, and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas.
Plans to ease restrictions on visits to care homes will also be announced in coming days.
It will remain a legal obligation for those who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate, but the government has announced this will be removed in future, with no legal requirement to self-isolate for covid, just as there is no requirement with flu. The self-isolation regulations expire on 24th March, and the Prime Minister confirmed he is not looking to renew them then – and may even bring forward the date of expiration if the data shows it is safe to do so, subject to a vote in the House of Commons.
Mr Dunne said:
“There is no doubt Omicron tested our communities and our NHS, just as Alpha and Delta variants of Covid did before it. But the remarkable achievement of the voluntary booster campaign, coupled with evidence of milder infection reducing risk of hospitalisation and duration, now means we are able to look towards a future where we live with Covid risk.
“I very much welcomed the government announcement that we will move back to Plan A measures from Thursday next week, which will see people return to their place of work, the end of mandatory covid certification for certain large scale events, and an end to the mandatory use of face coverings, particularly in schools.
“The UK was the first country in the world to administer an approved Covid vaccine, and so it is right that through the remarkable efforts of everyone involved in both delivering vaccine doses, and the willingness of the public to do the right thing and get jabbed, the UK can be the first country to come out of the other side of the pandemic and back to normal life.”
The BBC will have to make deep cuts to its programme budgets after the Government said the broadcaster’s funding would be frozen for the next two years, with the licence fee abolished completely in 2027.
As a #NUFC fan, I have huge sympathy for #DCFC fans whose club’s future is under threat. The Government hasn’t acted on either finance or effective governance & have yet to respond to the fan-led review. We need urgent action to put football fans at the top of the football pyramid!
As a Newcastle United fan, I know something of sorrow and frustration. I have huge sympathy for Derby County. This Government have repeatedly failed to act on issues of financial sustainability and effective governance in our national game, and they are now dragging their feet on their response to the fan-led review of football. Does the Minister really think that the pace of the Government’s response equals the importance of football in the lives of my constituents? Will he commit to putting fans at the top of the football pyramid?
On Monday evening, as a member of the Petitions Committee, I opened the debate in Westminster Hall on e-petition 548682 – Tom’s Law – which was created by the petitioner and Tom’s partner Christina Worsfold. The petition closed on 25th March 2021 with 104,868 signatures.
The petition calls for police officers to be given the power to issue a suspension notice for driving from the moment that an offender is caught with excess drugs, drink, or is driving dangerously until the offender appears in court, to act as a deterrent and to protect other road users. The judge would decide to continue the ban or dismiss it, when the offender appears in court.
A few weeks before the debate, I met virtually with Christina and Tom’s mother Charlotte who told me of the tragic circumstances of Tom’s death. On 24th February 2019, Tom, aged 34, was killed in a hit and run in Plymouth, by a driver who left Tom fatally injured in the road. The driver continued to drive the borrowed car for over 50 miles before stopping to set fire to the car to destroy the evidence. Tom died from serious head injuries shortly after he had been taken to hospital. The driver eventually appeared in court in January 2020, and pleaded guilty to drink driving, failing to stop, driving without insurance, perverting the course of justice after a traffic collision, and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, plus a driving ban of 3 years and 5 months with an extended re-test condition. Tom’s family appealed against the leniency of the sentence, without success. The driver in actual fact served only 3 months 3 weeks of his sentence. I asked the UK Government Minister to answer some questions about the current law and offender statistics, and asked her to meet with the petitioner and Tom’s family, because Tom’s partner and his family are still seeking justice. Read the full debate here.
On Tuesday morning, as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sport I was honoured to host the launch of the excellent report “Moving for Mental Health following COVID-19: How Physical Activity, Sport and Sport for Development Can Transform Lives After Covid-19”, which is a collaborative project between the Sport for Development Coalition and Mind. The guest speakers: Professor Andy Hill, Edge Hill University; Dr Florence Kinnafick, Loughborough University; Emma Dovener, Youth Projects Manager, EnergiseMe, Hampshire and Isle of Wight; and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind told us about their experience and their support for the recommendations contained in the report. There were over 60 organisations and 80 individuals who attended the virtual launch and we all shared a common passion for the mental and physical benefits of sport and physical activity. The attendees posed some very thought provoking comments and questions to the speakers at the end of the sessions. I must thank Ryan McCullough of the Sport and Recreation Alliance for organising the launch. Please read the report here.
Later on Tuesday morning, as a Labour and Co-operative MP, I presented my Ten Minute Rule Bill to make provision about groups of employees at risk of redundancy, buying their employer company as a co-operative, and for connected purposes. This is the third occasion on which I have raised employee ownership in the House of Commons. Last year, I secured a Westminster Hall Debate on 8th September in which I spoke about co-operative purchase of companies and I spoke about Marcora Law in the Co-operatives and Mutuals Westminster Hall debate last December. In my Bill speech, I set out the benefits of employee ownership and the success of the operation of Marcora Law in Italy since its inception during the economic crisis of the 1980s. The Cooperazione Finanza Impresa – an institutional investor – has operated Marcora Law on behalf of the Italian Government’s Ministry of Economic Development since 1986, and I set out the elements of the scheme that has contributed to its 85% success rate. And I thanked Camillo De Berardinis the CEO of the CFI who watched my Westminster Hall Debate last September and invited me to be the guest speaker at the 35th Anniversary of the CFI held in Rome last November. I didn’t make it to Rome, but I spoke virtually from Neath. I also thanked my 11 cross party co-sponsors of my Bill.
My Bill will have its Second Reading on Friday 18th March 2022.
Read about my TMR Bill here.
After I had presented my Bill, I rushed from the Chamber to Westminster Hall so that I could fulfil my duties as a member of the Panel of Chairs, and chair three debates which lasted into the evening.
The first debate was a ninety minute session about the rollout of ultrafast broadband in Devon and Somerset, secured by Selaine Saxby Conservative MP for North Devon. The second was a thirty minute session about plans for Bream Park Station moved by Jon Cruddas Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham. The last debate was a 60 minute session about careers guidance in schools in England secured by Esther McVey Conservative MP for Tatton. I must thank the committee clerks for all their help and advice. Read the debates here.
On Wednesday morning I chaired the Third Delegated Legislation Committee which considered the Draft Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Act 2021 (Airspace Change Directions) (Determination of Turnover for Penalties) Regulations 2022. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can impose a financial penalty when it has determined that a person (corporate) has contravened an Enforcement Order, issued following non-compliance with a direction to progress or co-operate in an airspace change proposal and following a relevant Contravention Notice. These draft regulations set out how a person’s turnover would be determined for the purposes of calculating the amount of penalty that may be imposed by the CAA: the proposal being, a fixed amount (not exceeding 10% of the person’s turnover) and/or a daily amount (not exceeding 0.1% of the person’s turnover). The 17 members of the committee debated the draft regulations which were moved by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, and were not opposed by opposition members, so progressed without a division. Read the debate here.
On Wednesday afternoon I attended our regular meeting of the Parliamentary Co-operative Party Group to listen to the guest speaker – Paul Gerrard, Public Affairs Director of the Co-op Group. Paul spoke about the Co-op being the sixth biggest store group in the UK with 7000 stores, and the challenges of the pandemic and the NI Protocol. In 2021, the local co-ops were very busy, but suffered from reduced staffing levels due to staff isolation and problems with supply chains. In 2022, Paul would like to see staffing levels stabilise and the Co-op Group will take part in the business rates review, and the online sales levy consultation. The Apprenticeship Levy doesn’t work for the Co-op Group because it can’t be re-invested. But it is beneficial that funeral plans will be regulated by the FCA starting in the summer. Paul looks forward to publication of the National Food Strategy White Paper, which the U.K. Government had stated would take place in the new year. It is very encouraging that more stores from other corporate chains and independent shops are now stocking co-op products.
As chair of the APPG for Vegetarianism and Veganism I joined a meeting of the officers of the APPG and representatives from The Vegan Society and Vegetarian for Life to discuss the progress after the launch of the APPG Inquiry Report “Respect for religious and philosophical beliefs while eating in care” last November. The inquiry was initiated after several reports of protected philosophical beliefs not being respected by some UK care establishments, and gathered evidence from individuals in care, their loved ones and those who work in the care sector. The report was written by Yasmine El-Gabry and Philip Mansbridge on behalf of the APPG, and it made four recommendations to protect in law the right of an individual to practice their religious, cultural, and philosophical beliefs through adhering to specific dietary choices and improve care standards by promoting dignity and person-centred care. The UK Government and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) need to take action to implement the recommendations, and we shall continue to call for action. Read the report here.
I joined in the regular virtual meeting with SBUHB for MP and MS regional representatives to receive an update on Covid-19, flu, and winter illnesses in the SBUHB region. Read the latest SBUHB Covid Vaccine Newsletter.
On Saturday I joined the Welsh Labour Women’s Committee virtual meeting to listen to a presentation from the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership in the Welsh Government Hannah Blythyn, MS for Delyn. 40 women representatives from all over Wales heard about the Welsh Government’s Fair Work agenda which includes the Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill. The draft consultation Bill was published in February 2021, and the summary of consultation responses was published in July 2021. The desire for change to tackle poor employment practices, inequality and strengthen worker power is driven by trends across the UK that has seen a decade of stagnant wages and an increase of insecure and precarious work. The Bill ensures that trade unions have a strengthened role in shaping the work of government and public bodies in Wales to achieve the aims set out in the Bill. The “Social Partnership Duty” amplifies the “worker voice” in the decision making process of Welsh public bodies, and the “Fair Work Duty” requires Welsh Government Ministers to work towards a fair work goal and a set of fair work objectives. The Social Partnership Council, which brings together representatives from Welsh Government, unions, and employer groups is placed on a statutory footing, and it provides unions and other social partners with a direct route for securing actions on pressing issues, such as stronger Covid workplace regulations, tackling poor pay and conditions in the social care sector, or improving financial support for workers impacted by the pandemic. The new duties in the Bill setting out requirements for socially responsible procurement will strengthen the Welsh Government’s ability to leverage its annual procurement spend in order to drive change in the private sector. Read the Draft Bill and the Summary of Consultation here.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01639 630152 – we are here to help.
This article was written by Carrington Walker and published on The Weston Mercury.
Boris Johnson’s anti-corruption champion has said ‘justice will have to be done promptly’ once an inquiry releases its findings on whether Downing Street partied during lockdown.
Yesterday (January 12), the Prime Minister apologised to the House of Commons for attending what he believed to be a work event in his garden after it was revealed an email invited around 100 people asking them to bring their own booze.
Weston MP John Penrose, who was appointed by Boris Johnson to be anti-corruption champion in 2019, was one of the 99 Tory MPs to rebel against his vaccine passport mandate last month.
Mr Penrose told the Mercury that the Prime Minister was right to apologise, though many questions remain to be answered.
He said: “Like most people, I have been extremely concerned about reports of parties or other gatherings in Downing Street that might have broken the covid rules, at a time when the entire country was trying to minimise the risks of infecting our families, friends or work colleagues.
“So the Prime Minister was right to apologise for attending a staff event in the Downing Street garden, but I am afraid there are still a good many questions which remain to be answered.
“We need to let the independent inquiry complete its work rather than prejudging what it will find but, once we have a clear picture of the remaining facts, justice will have to be done promptly.”
An independent inquiry is underway and being headed by senior civil servant, Sue Gray.
Prime Minster’s Questions on January 12 was the first public appearance made by Boris Johnson since the latest piece of evidence to suggest Covid rules may have been broken by Downing Street ministers and staff by holding a string of parties while the UK was in lockdown.
More than 10 parties are reported to have taken place in Downing Street during these lockdowns.
I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the need for the UK Government to urgently do more to enable global access to vaccines for COVID-19. A global response is essential.
Full text of my speech:
I want to declare an interest I’m chair of the all party group on vaccinations for all. And vice-chair of the Coronavirus all party group, where we’ve been taking evidence every fortnight since July, 2020, including hearing from health ministers across Sub-Saharan Africa and other places that emphasize what we’ve been hearing today, the difficulties they have in access, and also the poor quality of supply that they’re actually getting. It is certainly true that all of us have gained from the researchers who’ve developed new vaccines and I too pay tribute to the staff of the four NHS across the UK, for the speed and skill with which they have delivered it.
But we have vaccinated almost 80% of adults with a third or booster shot, when the access to even one shot in low-income countries is well below 10%. And that simply highlights what we mean by, in adequate access and inequity across the globe.
High-income countries have literally hoovered up the vaccines as they were developed over the last year. And that’s indefensible. It’s very reminiscent of aids. When people in Africa who were suffering from HIV or aids couldn’t access the treatments that were available in the richer countries.
The spring before 2020, I keep forgetting it’s a new year. We heard lots of warm words about a global response, to a global crisis. But that is simply not what we’ve seen. We have seen that COVAX was established and the UK government gave over 500 million pounds to it. It didn’t give any vaccines until quite late last year.
And what was meant to happen with COVAX is that they would procure directly from companies – that never happened. And therefore COVAX has ended up completely dependent on getting donated doses from countries that were wealthy and simply did advanced procurements. And that’s the reason COVAX has delivered less than half of the 2 billion doses it was aspiring to deliver last year.
The UK government promised a hundred million doses in June 2021 at the G7 -80 million to COVAX, 20 million bilaterally. There’s been less than a quarter of that, that has actually been delivered to COVAX. We are at the end of 2021, the hundred million is meant to be delivered by this coming June, which means 9.1 million a month to COVAX, a total of 11 and a half million if you include any bilateral donations. So the UK needs to radically step up donations of doses. And donations of doses are the acute response. Because that can be done in the short term. The UK has enough excess that it could carry out its third and indeed for many vulnerable patients, fourth doses, as I’ve had myself as an immunocompromised person.
And still accelerate the donation of doses to more than meet its target by June.
The problem is wealthy countries think they can protect their populations purely by vaccinating their own population. And Omicron shows that simply isn’t true. When you have large parts of the world, particularly in the global south with low access to vaccines, you will generate high spread. You will generate therefore more mutations, and eventually there will be new variants. And some of those variants may be as infectious as Omicron, may be as transmissible, may be as good at at escaping either natural immunity or previous vaccination. They may turn out to be much more severe. This fairy story that inevitably a virus is committed to becoming milder is something that we are not in a position to count on.
So we still right now, two years into this crisis need a global response. And I therefore would call on the government the need to accelerate the donations, using the excess that we have. But these do need to be predictable. They need to be in collaboration with the low-income countries that are receiving them and they need to have a decent shelf life.
We heard of ministers having to visit the ports every day in case something had arrived. Having to keep stopping their own programs because suddenly they get a delivery that’s got a few weeks left on it. So that is disrespectful to countries that do not have the health infrastructure that we have across the UK.
It is critical to include consumables like syringes, needles. It’s also important to try and support the wider COVID-19 responses. If you look at the WHO data, you will notice the incredibly low levels of COVID supposedly in Africa. Africa does not have low levels. They have low levels of access to tests, and therefore the cases are not being registered. And we shouldn’t be using these doses as part of the already reduced ODA budget and certainly not charging them as more than the UK government has paid for them.
That’s the short term approach, but the medium term approach is to massively increase global production. And the problem is the TRIPSwaiver has been being discussed basically for over a year.
We’d be in a totally different position if that had been moved on at the beginning.
The UK is one of a dwindling number of countries, which is blocking it -over 130 countries now support it. And it is important to recognize that most of the leading COVID-19 vaccines have indeed been developed with public funding, either from university settings, which are largely publicly funded or through the huge injections by the UK government, the US government, the EU governments and others.
It is important when we touched on polio, to think about the fact that Salt didn’t patent his vaccine, Alexander Fleming didn’t patent penicillin, Röntgen didn’t patent x-rays because they saw them as part of the global good.
As well as getting rid of the blockage of intellectual property rights and patents,
it’s important that there is proper sharing of data and technology transfer. But MSF have identified a hundred companies across Africa, Asia and Latin America, which are certified by the EMA, by the FDA or the WHO on good manufacturing practice. So to imply that it isn’t possible to produce vaccines to high quality in the global south is frankly insulting.
And messenger RNA vaccines hold a whole hope in the future for many neglected, tropical diseases, such as TB, such as malaria and others because of the technology. So by sharing that technology, now, it isn’t just about dealing with COVID-19. It actually opens up the ability to tackle the scourges of infectious diseases that many countries face.
The other thing is that the UK should be increasing production, to become a net exporter instead of importer. And therefore it is absolutely inexplicable why the UK government pooled funding from the Valneva production site in Livingston, when the trial data was about to be published. That was successful.
And as has been mentioned, because it’s a very traditional whole virus approach. There may be people who have been unwilling to take the messenger RNA vaccines, who would be willing to receive the Valneva vaccine. Because it’s whole virus, it may, and this has not yet been trialed, also provide a broader reaction
that may therefore remain viable, even when other variants arrive. What we’ve seen is that Omicron in comparison to Delta, which had four mutations on the spike protein Omicron has 32, it’s a totally different shape. And therefore, sadly, the AstraZeneca vaccine simply the key no longer fits the lock.
Pfizer does. But it wanes. We need to have broader vaccines so that we might be a bit more resistant to, to variance in the future.
It’s also important for the government to maintain the support for routine vaccination. And that means honoring the replenishment commitments to Gavi because routine vaccinations have suffered due to the disruption of the pandemic.
And it’s important that UK has always been a leading funder of vaccination and they mustn’t now pool back. But also to think about future pandemics, the replenishment of Sepi, the epidemic preparedness initiative is coming up this year. The UK needs to commit to that. We are all talking about humanitarian and the moral need to support people in poor countries to have the access we’ve had..
But on top of the lives lost and the huge multi-trillion economic hit to the world, it is important that we recognize that this was a global challenge. The international community so far has failed. It doesn’t hold great hope for that other challenge of climate crisis if we can’t get our act together now in facing this.
Yesterday in Parliament, Judith challenged the government on their response to young girls and women being spiked. There has been a rise in the reporting of needle spiking in the media and on social networks in recent months. Across September and October of last year, the National Police Chief’s Council reported 198 confirmed reports of drink spiking, and 56 reports of spiking through injections.
Speaking in the commons, Judith Cummins MP asked: “Many girls and women are afraid of enjoying a night out or going to a music festival for fear of being spiked, raped, and assaulted. What work is the minister doing with venues such as bars, nightclubs and music festivals to prevent this from happening and to ensure appropriate safeguarding measures are in place, and what is the assessment of the scale of problem at these venues?”
In response, Rachel Maclean, Minister for Safeguarding responded: “The night time economy are playing a key role, and they are taking their responsibilities seriously. We work very closely with them as the government and we’re we are providing funding and helping them provide training to staff so women can feel safe at night.”
Commenting after, Judith said: “No-one should be at risk whilst enjoying time with friends, and the fact is that spiking and sexual assault disproportionally affect girls and women. While I welcome the work to tackle drinks spiking, I remain worried that proper safeguarding measures are not in place. The Government urgently need to improve the understanding of the scale and impact of spiking of this worrying crime, and work with police, venues and event organisers to prevent this type of crime so that women and girls are safe.”
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I hope you’re keeping safe and well. Please find my latest newsletter, with news of what’s been happening in Parliament and what’s coming up with Brexit. I’m also holding another zoom residents’ meeting, on Friday 27th November – please get in touch for the details if you would like to join.
Invitation to Zoom residents’ meeting – 7.30pm, Friday 27th November 2020:
Thank you to everyone who has joined my virtual residents’ meetings so far. My next residents’ meeting will be held at 7.30pm on Friday 27th November 2020, again via Zoom, to discuss the latest on Brexit and Covid-19 measures, and answer any questions you may have.
If you’re a constituent and would like to attend, please reply to this email or email email@example.com and I’ll send you the link to join the meeting.
As always, if you have a personal or specific issue you would like to raise with me, or for a virtual surgery appointment, do also continue to contact me by replying to this email or by ringing 01773 744341.
Time is now getting very tight for a future partnership with the EU to be negotiated, agreed, ratified and in place in time for the end of the Transition period on 31 December 2020. The expectation seems to be that a deal will be done in the next few days or not at all (or at least not until next year).
The issues seem to be much the same as in my last update, namely fishing, equivalence of regulatory standards between the UK and the EU (the so called level playing field) and state aid rules. I have set out a summary of the these issues and potential areas of compromise below.
I remain of the view that the best way forward for the UK would be to agree a good deal with the EU covering not just trade but also security, law and order, travel rights for citizens etc. That said, if we can’t agree a deal which respects our right to govern ourselves than we should walk away. I have seen no sign that the Government will give up this key red line but equally there will need to be some compromises to achieve a deal. Avoiding tariffs on imports and exports is a huge prize that will make the move out of the EU much smoother. As vice-chair of the Select Committee scrutinising the negotiations with the EU, I have been examining many of the key issues for the negotiations and our preparedness– you can see the details here – and I am looking forward to in depth scrutiny of any deal in the coming weeks.
Main outstanding issues:
Latest Covid-19 guidance:
You can find the current Covid-19 guidance here, along with the support available for residents (here) and businesses (here). The latest business grants for businesses affected by the recent restrictions are now available through the local Council, which you can find here. For constituents self-isolating who are struggling financially, there is also the £500 self-isolation NHS Test & Trace Support payment, which you can find further details on the eligibility criteria for here.
If you have any queries about the guidance or potential support available, as always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Defence Spending update:
Last week, the Prime Minister announced an additional £24.1 billion in funding for our country’s defence, to help safeguard our security and revitalise our shipbuilding industry. Over the next four years, this investment will create 10,000 extra jobs.
This is the largest investment in our defence industry in the last 30 years and will allow the Government to invest in cutting-edge technology – positioning the UK as a global leader in domains such as cyber and space and cementing the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
I welcomed this update, and the increased investment, during the subsequent debate on it in the House. I also highlighted the need to spend this additional money wisely and efficiently, and buy from British suppliers wherever possible. You can find the debate in full here and read more about the investment here.
In Parliament I’ve continued my work on anti-corruption and pensions, with questions in the House on preventing economic crime to further reduce corruption. You can find my question to the Chancellor in full here.
With a local focus, I’ve also highlighted the importance of supporting the recovery of our high streets from the challenges caused by Covid-19, with one example being the recent announcement of the closure of many Argos stores, including the one in Alfreton. I know many independent retailers are also struggling (even though they’ve come up with many innovative ways to continue trading during this time), and so I will continue to raise this issue. You can find my most recent question in Parliament here.
Lastly, on a positive note, I welcomed the announcement of an additional bank holiday for the Queen’s platinum jubilee, and raised the issue of support or grants for community groups to hopefully be able to organise events to commemorate and celebrate this big event – you can find more on this debate here.
Pension Schemes Bill:
Earlier this month, I also contributed to a debate in Parliament on the new Pensions Schemes Bill, which continues to progress through the Houses (you can find out more about the bill here).
As a member of the Work & Pensions Select Committee, I’ve been working on this Bill, and I took the opportunity of the debate in the Commons on the latest stage to highlight various amendments I was supporting, including the importance of encouraging a greater take-up of independent free guidance to help people decide which pension option is best for them, scam prevention measures, improving pension dashboards and encouraging pension funds to support investment in climate goals and positive social activities.
I’m really keen for to make pensions guidance as close to mandatory as possible, for instance through auto-enrolment onto the pensions dashboard, as the current take-up of the free, good quality advice provided by Pensions Wise guidance service is very low. I will continue to push the Government to introduce measures to improve and promote usage of pensions advice services.
You can find my speeches in full, and the rest of the debate, here.
In other Work & Pensions Committee inquiries, we’re looking into Universal Credit and the wait for a first payment, the disability employment gap and DWP’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the use of foodbanks and support available for people experiencing food and fuel poverty (which you can find more on here). You can find more about all of these current inquiries and evidence sessions here.
You can also find full details of the evidence sessions recently held by the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, as mentioned above, here.
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.
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Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith today criticised the Conservatives for a decade of dither, delay and poor planning on Britain’s energy sector – as well as calling for a windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas to stop energy bills rising over the next year.
She pointed to the Tory UK Government’s failure to meet the vast potential of British renewable and nuclear energy and its failure to properly regulate our energy market, leading to dozens of energy companies going bust. The result is rapidly rising prices and an energy crisis hitting millions, including many families across Llanelli.
To address the immediate crisis, Labour are calling for fully-funded measures now to reduce the expected price rise in April – saving most households around £200 or more – and targeted extra support to the squeezed middle, pensioners and the lowest earners, receiving up to £600 off bills and preventing all of the increase in energy bills currently expected.
This would be paid for with a one-off windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas producers who have profited from the price rises.
Highlighting how crucial it is to keep energy bills lower in future, Labour have said they would:
NIA GRIFFITH said:
“Ten years of the Conservative’s failed energy policy, dither and delay has created a price crisis that’s being felt by people right here in Llanelli.
“That’s why Labour would give local families security by taking fully-funded measures to save most households around £200 or more, targeting extra support on top of that for the squeezed middle, pensioners and lowest earners.
“But we need more than a short-term fix. Labour’s plan to keep energy bills lower in future would mean really speeding up investment in renewable energy, both to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and to tackle climate change, retro fit millions of more homes to save households an average of £400 a year on their bills, and reform our broken energy system. It is only right, after all, that the energy producers benefitting from this crisis are asked to pay their fair sh
At Full Council on Monday 10th January Nottingham City Labour Councillors are expressing their disappointment with the Government’s response to the social care crisis and pressing them for a fair funding system for social care that does not involve further council tax rises.
Proposing the motion, Cllr Graham Chapman is expected to say “The amount of additional funding, both in the short and long term, will not ‘fix the problem’. The Government continues to rely on regressive council tax increases to plug gaps and there is no long-term strategy for training, recruitment, sustainable wage growth, or professionalising the sector service which struggling to recruit. This results in further pressure on the NHS as social care is less able to prevent admission and the support that people need in order for them to leave hospital safely and promptly – or prevent admission – is in short supply.
“The Government needs to provide a better solution than the piecemeal policy it has just announced. It needs to be properly funded, comprehensive. – if necessary via a levy on wealth of those who can afford it to ensure that there is no further call on council tax payers, many of whom are already struggling. Not doing so is just adding more pressure and costs on the NHS as well as offering an inadequate service to some of the most vulnerable in our community. “
In 2015 the Conservative Government introduced the adult social care precept which put up to an additional 3% on council tax bills to pay for social care services for adults. In the last two years alone that has meant an extra £89 on council tax bills in Nottingham. This comes at the same time as funding from central government to meet the needs of Nottingham people has been cut by £100 million over 10 years,
Commenting on the local context, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health, Cllr Adele Williams said “It isn’t only that government funding for adult social care just isn’t enough- it’s also the way it is done – in piecemeal short term announcement designed to sound like significant funding but actually falling well short of the sustainable long term plan that Labour has called for – along with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care and it seems virtually everyone but the government. It’s also important that we don’t just focus on protecting the assets of wealthy homeowners. Few people in Nottingham will benefit and many will lose out from the changes to the new asset rules that are to be funded by the new levy on National insurance – but nearly all of us will pay for it. It will also do nothing to support the availability of care, the pay that carers get or the quality of the service. “Instead of a real plan to build the social care system we need for the 21st century, we have another inadequate sticking plaster that the wrong people are paying too much for. I hope this motion on Monday will help put pressure on the Government for a fair and sustainable solution to adult social care funding.”
The agenda for the Full Council meeting can be found here – https://committee.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=155&MId=9182
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MP for Welwyn Hatfield Grant Shapps recently met with Adam Sewell-Jones, the new CEO of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust to discuss health services in the area.
During the meeting, Mr Shapps was updated on the current status of the Trust with regard to dealing with the current omicron variant of covid, as well as new investments being made in the local Trust to improve the quality of its services.
Key amongst the announced investments Grant and Adam discussed was a new Community Diagnostic Centre will be built in Welwyn Hatfield, one of 40 across the country – providing a one-stop-shop for key testing to boost early diagnoses and speed up and increase referrals.
The Centres will provide a full range of scans and tests to patients to catch illnesses at the earliest signs – increasing NHS capacity and saving lives as the NHS aims to work through the historic elective backlog caused by the pandemic.
Local MP Grant Shapps has welcomed the announcement that the QEII centre in Welwyn Garden City has been selected as one of 40 sites across England for a new Community Diagnostic Centre to be built, with an initial investment of £2.85 million awarded by the Department for Health & Social Care.
The centre will provide services closer to home for people in Welwyn Hatfield to meet rising demand, as part of the Conservative Government’s plan to tackle the NHS backlog and catch health issues quickly.
The QEII’s new Community Diagnostic Centre will achieve earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster, and more direct access to the full range of scans and tests needed to understand patients’ symptoms – including breathlessness and cancer symptoms.
The centre will also help reduce the risk of Covid transmission and contribute to the NHS’ net zero efforts by reducing the number of patients journeys required in Welwyn Hatfield through providing multiple scans and tests in a single visit.
Also on the cards for the local health service is a £2.4 million investment to create three new procedure rooms, split between the QEII and Lister hospitals.
The rooms will provide extra capacity for minor procedures, freeing up valuable space in operation theatres- improving theatre productivity and supporting efforts to reduce waiting list.
Adam Sewell-Jones said: “It was great to meet Mr Shapps and to share our plans for services in the area, including investing in the New QEII Hospital and working hard to reduce waiting times.
“Work begins shortly on a new procedure room at the New QEII, which will allow for minor procedures to take place locally. This means we can more effectively use our main theatre space at Lister Hospital to treat people who are waiting for more serious operations.
“We are also ensuring better access to diagnostics at the New QEII, such as MRI, CT, X-rays and ultrasound – seven days a week, and with extended opening hours. This will help us to diagnose conditions more quickly.
“The urgent treatment centre at the New QEII is now closed overnight because there were very low numbers of people needing care in those hours. It remains open and well-used during the day and I urge people to continue to seek treatment there for minor injuries and illnesses.
“I’d like to thank the public for their support for our hardworking staff and the Trust while we continue to work through the effects of the pandemic.”
Mr Shapps said: “We know that many people have not been coming forward for key tests throughout the pandemic, which has contributed to the backlog, and can result in worsening health outcomes.
“The new Community Diagnostic Centre will help deliver better services for people across Welwyn Hatfield. By allowing problems to be detected earlier, better treatment can be given to patients.
“Through investing in early diagnosis and increasing NHS capacity we will be able to treat serious illnesses sooner and save lives – levelling up health outcomes across the country. Alongside these new procedure rooms, things are looking positive for our local health services.”
The post Grant Shapps welcomes hospital improvements as he meets new NHS Trust CEO appeared first on The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP.
Often in the worst of times, we see the best of people. That’s especially true in our communities, where, every day, we see people doing incredible work. In fact, they are so busy helping others it is sometimes too easy to forget just how special they are.
I have had the opportunity to celebrate some of these heroes in Parliament – and where it has been safe to do so, meet with them, and thank them, in person. But there are many more, the unsung majority – you will know a few of them yourselves. You may even be one of them but don’t even think about it.
To them all, I say thank you.
There is, perhaps, no better example of the best of our communities than the MFR Cash for Kids Christmas Appeal.
People across the Highlands came together to ensure every local child had a gift to open on Christmas day.
The incredible Cash for Kids team worked flat out to deliver all the gifts across the Highlands – and we owe them a debt of gratitude.
They were supported by local fundraisers, businesses, volunteers, and all of you, who took the time to buy a gift that is sure to have put a smile on a child’s face on Christmas day, not to mention offer some slight relief to struggling parents.
It is heart-warming to imagine the weight lifted off families and the smile on the face of their child – even if it was just for one day.
Especially when more families than ever before are facing a tough time.
Along with amazing local charities, foodbanks and community volunteers, my team and I are doing all we can to help as well as continuing to urge the UK Government to change course.
But the reality is, the UK Government know the impact of the choices they are making, these are deliberate actions.
With its limited powers over Social Security the Scottish Government is showing different choices can be made by putting dignity and respect at the heart of policy.
What better place to start building a Social Security system ensuring every child has a fair start in life?
As we look ahead to 2022, I hope this is a statement of intent on which we can all agree.
To you and your family, from me, my family, and my team, I wish you a Happy New Year.
Keep up to date with new articles at www.drewhendrymp.scot
Find out more about my work in parliament at www.theyworkforyou.com
Matt Warman has welcomed the news that schools in Lincolnshire will receive £648 million in funding next year, a boost of £50million as part of the Conservative Government’s £4 billion increase in spending for schools across the country.
The £4 billion extra funding for school delivers on the Prime Minister’s commitment when entering Downing Street, when he pledged to level up school funding by pledging over £14 billion for primary and secondary schools by 2022-23.
The £50million extra funding can use for hiring specialist teachers, providing training, and purchasing school supplies including textbooks.
The total extra funding for schools means mainstream schools will receive £41.7 billion in 2022-23, an increase of 5.8 per cent per pupil. Every primary school will receive at least £4,362 per pupil, and every secondary school at least £5,669 per pupil.
Matt Warman has also commended the Conservative Government’s targeted £1 billion boost to funding for special educational needs and disabilities, which is a record 13 per cent increase on this year’s funding.
The extra funding will help schools, councils, and other specialist providers provide the right care and support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities – so that every child receives the help they need to learn and fulfil their potential.
The increases in school funding follows the investment of nearly £5 billion in education recovery, which includes £1.5 billion on tutoring in schools and colleges across the country to help children and young people catch up on lost learning during the pandemic.
Commenting, Matt Warman said:
“No child or young person should be limited by where they grow up – they should be supported to get a world class education at school.
“The £50million funding boost for schools in Lincolnshire will help them to hire more teachers, get materials to support pupils learning, and support pupils with special needs and disabilities.
“As we build back fairer, this funding will ensure every young person can receive the education they deserve so they can fulfil their potential.”
Schools Minister Robin Walker said:
“Every pupil, no matter where they grow up or go to school, deserves an excellent education and the chance to fulfil their potential.
“This £4 billion funding boost delivers on the Prime Minister’s commitment to level up school funding – giving significant increases to every pupil in every school – and taken alongside our ambitious education recovery plan with additional investment of almost £5 billion, will support every young person to catch up following the disruption caused by the pandemic.
“This additional investment also represents a significant boost to high needs funding, helping local authorities support pupils with special educational needs, and helping to ensure all young people can thrive and succeed.”
Notes to editors:
I have received a large volume of emails in connection with the further restrictions covering a range of views and suggestions and the Government had repeatedly amended the format of the vote which took place on Tuesday evening. I have noted the contents of every email when forming my view and hope to set out below how I voted on each aspect.
A. Face Coverings in a list of indoor venues
I agree with the re-imposition of masks and face coverings in most settings for those who are able to wear them. There is evidence to suggest that masks are effective in reducing the spread of airborne based viruses and the wearing of masks is uncomfortable at worst for the vast majority of people. If masks provide any protection at all, they are worth persevering with and I was concerned and disappointed to see the Government abandon this mandate earlier in the year, especially when it comes to public transport. I therefore voted in favour of this measure.
B. Self Isolation Changes (Using lateral flow tests instead of isolation for vaccinated contacts of Covid-19 cases)
Quite recently to Government announced that they would be returning to fixed isolation for all contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19 where it is suspected that the positive case was the new omicron variant. The Government then proposed to move away from this to allow those who are vaccinated to continue to take daily lateral flow tests in lieu of isolation.
In my view, as I will set out in greater detail below, the early data suggests that while maximum vaccination provides ample protection against symptoms and illness associated with the omicron variant of Covid-19, there is little data to suggest that the vaccination reduces transmission of the variant. As such, I feel that a negative lateral flow test provides at least a degree of certainty that the virus is not present, and as such this should be sufficient to allow people to continue normal life. I would add that should any person have any symptoms whatsoever, they must seek a PCR test as soon as possible and isolate until they receive their results.
C. Covid Status Certification
I’m fundamentally opposed to any certification programme which does not allow for those who have not been, or can not be vaccinated from obtaining the certification required to access venues and events accordingly. Additionally, I’m opposed to the introduction of any certificate based entry system without the subsequent evidence to show that it would be effective, how it would be effective and why it is necessary.
At present, the data appears to show that while the omicron variant is highly transmissible, vaccination status does not appear to provide any or much protection against transmission and the Government have continued to ignore calls to produce the evidence required to show that this type of scheme would be effective. As a starting point, the Government have failed to convince me, through data, that a scheme to restrict entry based largely on vaccination status is an effective public health measure. I was pleased to see the option to complete a lateral flow test instead, and would have ordinarily been more inclined to support such a scheme on this basis, but for the two issues set out below.
First, it can not be right to bring in a form of certification like this which allows for individuals to satisfy the criteria through the completion of a LFT, on the same week where it would appear almost impossible to obtain LFT devices. Such a scheme in these circumstances, therefore, becomes an actual vaccine passport, which I fundamentally oppose.
Second, even if the distribution of LFT devices was to be resolved, I can not in good conscience vote in favour of a scheme which places huge constraints on the hospitality sector in particular, and larger venues who have been the hardest hit since March 2020; without any discernible support through either financial backing or infrastructure, during the busiest period of the year for many of these businesses.
Without the data to back up such a scheme and show its effectiveness, without proper support for the businesses and employees who are being forced to administer this scheme and without ready access to LFT devices, I felt that I could not support this introduction.
However, should the above be satisfied, I would be happy to support such a scheme in the future and for this reason, I abstained.
D. Extension of Mandatory Vaccination for NHS and Care Workers
I’m generally opposed to mandatory vaccination schemes across society, especially where measures can be introduced to placate the need for vaccinations.
In this instance, as referred to above, it is not clear that vaccinations help prevent transmission of the latest variant to any notable degree, and as such, I’m concerned that vaccination status alone is providing false reassurance of safety. I understand that the alternative plans would be to continue to test through both LFT and PCR all staff who are working in and around the health and care sectors and I completely agree with this. It is imperative that we protect those who are most vulnerable and the best way to do that is to ensure that every precaution is taken to prevent the virus being transmitted from staff to patients. Given the current data, I would think this would be much better achieved through testing than vaccination.
In addition to the above, we are already facing huge vacancy numbers across the health and care sector at a time where both services are under excessive strain. It would be the worst possible time to lose further staff through a scheme of this nature. I could not, therefore, support this action.
I hope the above sets out my view on the most recent vote in Parliament.
Ian Mearns MP
I am writing to you with a further update about the Covid pandemic.
I know that there are strong views on both sides of the argument about the new restrictions, but for the purposes of this message I thought it just helpful to explain what is now required.
There are three major changes in effect from now for the next few weeks.
The self-isolation requirements have also changed. If you test positive for Covid you are still required to isolate for a period of ten days, even if you do not have symptoms. But if you live with or come into contact with someone who tests positive, you do not have to isolate but are instead asked to take a daily lateral flow test to continue to check that you are not positive yourself.
For those seeking to travel to parts of Africa, the system of hotel quarantine has now been scrapped. Everyone travelling abroad is still required to take a lateral flow or PCR test before their return to the UK, and is required to take a PCR test on their return and to isolate until they get the (hopefully negative) result. You then only need to carry on isolating if the test is positive.
All the latest details and guidance can be found here.
I know that there have been some issues locally with the supply of home tests. I have spoken to local pharmacists and ministers about this, and there is no overall shortage of the tests, though the sudden increase in demand means that there has been a problem getting the tests distributed quickly enough. Hopefully that is on the way to being resolved.
Most people over the age of 50 have now had their booster jabs in our area, but the expansion of the booster programme to all other adults means a significant increase in the demand locally and it will take a bit of time for the local health service to get all of this sorted. I would like to extend my thanks to all of those involved in the programme and particularly to people who have come forward this week to volunteer to help accelerate the programme.
I will continue to provide updates as and when I have more information that I hope will be helpful to you.
Lots of people have been getting in touch to ask about my position on the Government's decision to move to Plan B and the votes in Parliament this week. Due to medical reasons I was unable to be in Parliament to vote, however, I wanted to set out my position on this important matter.
Right now, the pros of distance learning in school are not at all obvious to thousands of teachers. It seems that distance education is nothing but inconvenience, a threat to discipline and academic performance. But it isn't: distance education has many advantages. Here are some of them. The opportunity to work with each student individually. 1) Distance teaching technology helps to find a personal approach to each student. There are times when a shy child is shy to work actively in a classroom where twenty classmates are staring at him. But such a shy kid feels freer at a distance, asks the teacher questions in a chat room, and successfully completes tasks. And the teacher can choose additional tasks for such students, which correspond to their aptitudes, to maintain an interest in learning. Distance learning is a great chance to get to know your students better. 2) Automate routine processes. Simply put, technology can take over the most boring part of a teacher's job. For example, checking homework and compiling classroom statistics. On average, using technologies with automatic checking will save at least 1-2 hours per day, if not more. This system works very simply: the teacher goes to the site, selects a subject, class and topic, finds the appropriate assignment and sends a link to the students, and then just look at the same site to see how they did. 3) A chance to learn new technology. The high demand for teachers with distance learning experience is a reality. Knowing how to use interactive learning platforms, Google Docs, electronic workbooks, and video conferencing services increases your value in the job market and gives you a chance to find a part-time job at an online school (and there are many such schools, they are growing and in need of new personnel). But even more valuable are the skills to organize your time, work with students remotely, and be able to monitor and motivate them from a distance. If you can manage it now, by the next school year you can try your hand at online tutoring. 4) Game assignments. Distance learning involves a very active use of digital technology. Including gamified tasks: online games, quizzes, interactive tasks for ingenuity. Let us not forget that for any child the game is the most natural way to learn the world. And older students like these more dry tasks from the textbook. Games not only make learning fun - they help to evaluate progress and bring to school an element of healthy competition. Learning games are not part of the official curriculum, but we recommend that you dilute regular assignments with them. A child who enjoys learning will make more progress than one who is bored in class. Minuses of Distance Education 1. Limited choice Unfortunately, not everything can be learned remotely. In some cases, you cannot do without practical studies under the guidance of an experienced tutor. You can study history or literature remotely, you can become an excellent designer or programmer. But you cannot learn to be a pilot or a surgeon. Perhaps that will change in the near future. One day, virtual reality technology will allow people from different parts of the world to participate in collaborative lab work. When that happens, the list of professions and skills that can be learned remotely will greatly expand. 2. Lack of face-to-face interaction Face-to-face learning is not only valuable as a set of knowledge. An important element of offline learning is personal communication. While getting traditional higher education, a student spends several years simmering in the swirling cauldron of university life. He interacts with professors and classmates in an informal setting. These interactions can generate amazing ideas and dramatically change people's lives. 3. the absence of positive "side effects The fact that distance learning gives a person a specific set of knowledge can be considered not only a plus, but also a minus. By studying remotely, a person deprives himself of many of the positive "side effects" of academic education. For example, the process of taking notes on long lectures trains the speed of writing, develops mechanical memory, and teaches on the fly to isolate the most important fragments from the flow of information. All these skills are very useful in everyday life, but distance learning does not provide them.
Last week, I lead an important debate in Parliament on sewage pollution in Whitburn, an issue that many people in our town are rightly concerned about.
South Shields, like many other coastal towns across the country, takes pride in ensuring our beaches demonstrate the highest environmental standards to make it a place for everyone to enjoy. Yet raw sewage dumping at the Whitburn end of Seaburn beach and into the North Sea has caused problems for decades.
I thought it was important to remind the Government that the European Court of Justice ruled in 2012 that the UK had failed to fulfil its obligations and breached standards for treating wastewater in relation to the sewage dumping at this location. And that in 2020, the European Court of Justice found again that the levels of sewage dumping at Whitburn continued to breach standards.
As the sewage flows, our gorgeous beach is continually damaged. The wildlife and sea life that once inhabited our rock pools is disappearing. Dolphins and seals, regulars on our coastline, now swim through sewage soup and the seagrass meadows in the nearby River Tyne estuary are being ruined. This is wholly unacceptable.
In the nine years that I have been the MP for South Shields and part of this campaign alongside constituent Mr Latimer and the Whitburn Residents Forum, I have seen us stonewalled by various Departments, bodies, companies, Secretaries of State and Ministers who claim this sewage dumping is a figment of our imagination. It is not. We know that, because we live there.
Sewage has rightly been the topic of conversation in recent weeks after the Governments shameful behaviour voting down an amendment from the Lords on the Environment Bill that would have legally required water companies to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows.
The Government has subsequently U-turned over the sewage amendment after fierce backlash from Labour MP’s, campaigners and the public, however, it is a disingenuous attempt to appease the public. If the Government really did care about sewage dumping, why have they sat back while knowing that Whitburn is continually being blighted.
I concluded my opening speech by pleading with the Minister Rebecca Pow to do once and for all what her predecessors have refused to, and outline what steps she is going to take to clean up our beach. The Minister came to the debate unprepared and failed to answer my questions but did subsequently agreed to meet with me.
You can read my full speech here.
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:
Visit my Facebook page for upto date news on my work as your Member of Parliament.
Steve Reed has asked Croydon Council to listen to local people over the future of South Norwood Library. The library’s future is uncertain because the Conservative Government has cut funding to Croydon by 70% and pushed it into a financial crisis.
Local MP Steve Reed has spoken to residents and campaign groups who are fighting to save the library. He’s now written to the Council asking them to consider how closing the library will affect the areas poorest residents who may not have access to WiFi or quiet spaces for learning or reading at home. He’s also asked the Council to fully involve the local community before taking any decisions.
Steve Reed said: “Croydon Council is faced with some really difficult decisions after ten years of Conservative funding cuts. But they do not have to go it alone. Now more than ever people want a say over what happens in their area. The Council should harness this enthusiasm and work with residents to come up with plan that could protect library services for South Norwood.”
If you would like to get involved in the campaign to save South Norwood library, email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 calls on Council to work with residents to save South Norwood Library appeared first on Steve Reed MP.
The local Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed that the funding is in place to build a new GP surgery 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."
Alec urges all constituents to book their COVID-19 vaccination or access the NHS Test & Trace system if you have symptoms.
The UK medical regulatory agency has approved a number of vaccines for COVID-19. The Government has organised the largest nationwide vaccination programme in history, with all adults now eligible to book a vaccine. You can book your vaccine online here.
Anybody with symptoms can book a test. To book a test click here.
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 email@example.com or via 01937 589 002.
The post Very proud day today – the law change I fought for to protect pensioners comes into force appeared first on Mark Tami.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch with me with any queries.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THESE PROPOSALS
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.
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.
Wigan Constituency Labour Party have reselected Lisa Nandy MP as their candidate for the next General Election.
At meetings held over the last fortnight, members in all of the branches that make up Wigan Labour Party voted overwhelmingly to reselect Lisa. All affiliated organisations, including Unite the Union, the Communication Workers’ Union, GMB, Unison and Usdaw, also voted to reselect.
“I’m grateful to Labour members in Wigan for choosing to reselect me so overwhelmingly. Being the Member of Parliament for Wigan is the privilege of my life, and I couldn’t do it without the members who turn up year in, year out and in all weathers to campaign for the Labour Party. With a General Election looking likely, we will be out once again fighting for every vote and to put an end to the damage inflicted on Wigan by this reckless Conservative government.”
Wigan Constituency Labour Party said:
“We’re delighted to have reselected Lisa Nandy as our candidate for the next General Election. For 10 years Lisa has worked tirelessly to represent Wigan in Parliament, fighting for constituents hit hardest by this Conservative government’s brutal cuts and ensuring that Wigan’s voice is heard on the national stage. The overwhelming level of support Lisa received from local party members is testament to that work. We’re proud to have Lisa as our MP and we’re ready to fight and win the next General Election together.”
From June 2020 only households with a pensioner in receipt of Pension Credit will be eligible for a free TV licence. This follows a government move for the BBC to take on responsibility for funding the £745m cost of the scheme.
In Wolverhampton, 11,360 pensioners across the city’s three constituencies – two thirds of all households currently eligible for a free TV licence – will no-longer be eligible.
Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds previously met pensioners who would be affected by changes to the scheme, and joined the other city MPs – Eleanor Smith and Pat McFadden – in signing a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright against any change.
On the announced changes, Emma said:
“At the last election the Conservative Party stood on a platform to keep free TV licences for the over 75s. Now, 11,000 Wolverhampton pensioners have been betrayed by a government which promised to keep them.
“Two thirds of Wolverhampton’s pensioners are to lose their free TV licence as a direct result of the government forcing the BBC to take on the cost. The £745m cost of the universal scheme is around a fifth of the BBC’s entire budget, and the government were warned the BBC could not take on this cost and keep the scheme in full. When Labour brought in free TV licences, it was government policy so the government rightly covered the cost.
“It is plain wrong that Boris Johnson is championing big tax cuts for the wealthy, while all but the poorest of pensioners now face having to pay for their TV licence. According to Age UK, 400,000 over 75s neither meet nor speak to family and friends every week. When I met with local pensioners, they told me how essential a TV is. A TV is often their only form of companionship, and the only way of knowing what is happening outside their home.”
The post Two thirds of Wolverhampton pensioners lose free TV licence appeared first on Emma Reynolds MP.
We did it!
Thank you to each and every one of you that volunteered time to canvass with me, deliver leaflets, stuff envelopes and most importantly those who voted for me.
I cannot wait to get back up to Westminster and be the voice for Swansea East.
This website will be closing down shortly, but you can keep up to date with my work on my main webpage.
A vote for the SNP is a vote to stand up for young people against the Tories, Mhairi Black has said, she urged young voters to use their voice in this Thursday’s election.
In government, the SNP has protected and expanded the Education Maintenance Allowance which has been scrapped south of the border, and has abolished university tuition fees in Scotland while the Tories have increased them to £27,000.
The SNP has also increased the number of Modern Apprenticeships, with a target of 30,000 new starts by the end of this Parliament.
The SNP manifesto commits to a real Living Wage – projected to be just over £10 by the end of the parliament for all workers aged 18 and above – creating a new single adult rate.
SNP MPs will also support a ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts and will support votes at 16 at all elections.
Commenting, Mhairi Black said:
“A vote for the SNP is a vote for a strong team of MPs who’ll stand up for young people – calling for a fair and equal minimum wage, protecting rights in the workplace and votes at 16 in all elections.
“The SNP are already delivering for Scotland’s young people, delivering free university education and with youth unemployment at the lowest level on record – while the Tory vision is just cut after cut.
“The Tories think they can do anything they want to young people and get away with it – from hiking tuition fees to slashing housing benefit for young people and much more.
“That’s why it’s so important that young people turn up and vote – don’t let the Tory government leave you behind.
“Any Tory MPs elected in Scotland will simply rubberstamp whatever the Tory government does to young people, and Labour can’t win this election in Scotland – meaning that voting Labour risks letting Tory MPs in by the back door.
“Now more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland. Only then can we protect Scotland from the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster.”
Here’s how strong SNP voices will stand up for young people at Westminster.
– SNP MPs won’t let the Tories trade away Scottish jobs in the Brexit negotiations – we will work to protect Scotland’s place in the Single Market.
– We will back a transition over the next parliamentary term towards payment of the real Living wage for all adults above the age of 18. This will mean a new single adult rate and will see the UK minimum wage to rise to the real Living Wage, projected to be just over £10.
– We will guarantee the continuation of free university education in Scotland, protecting students in Scotland from paying up to £27,000 of fees.
– In Scotland, we are mitigating the Tory decision to withdraw housing support from 18 to 21 year olds. We will fight for the restoration of this support across the UK, alongside scrapping the Bedroom Tax.
– SNP MPs will look to introduce our own legislative proposals to give 16 and 17 year olds a vote in all elections.
– In Scotland, youth unemployment is already at the lowest level on record. SNP MPs will support the devolution of employment and employability powers so we can extend our successful approach on youth employment.
– To help businesses create jobs, we will propose a doubling of the Employment Allowance – the discount businesses receive on National Insurance when they create jobs.
– We will press the UK government to ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, and to ensure that workers have appropriate rights and protections, including holiday and sick pay. And we will work to ensure that the rights and protections currently safeguarded by EU membership are not diminished.
– We will work to protect opportunities for young people to study and train in other European countries through the ERASMUS+ scheme.
– We will continue to work with Scotland’s universities and institutions to seek clarity from the UK government on what will replace EU research funding for Scotland’s universities.
Over recent days I’ve received hundreds of emails from local residents about the refugee crisis. It’s extremely heartening to know that so many of you not only share my anguish at the human cost of the crisis but agree with me that more needs to be done to help those seeking sanctuary from civil war, sectarian violence and authoritarian regimes.
The crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian challenges that Europe has faced since the Second World War. It is therefore shameful that so far the Government’s ‘Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme,’ begun in March 2014, has only assisted 216 Syrian refugees.
As a result of concerted public pressure the Prime Minister reluctantly agreed to welcome more Syrian refugees to Britain. In my view his Government is right to prioritise the most vulnerable Syrians – victims of sexual violence, elderly and disabled people, and victims of torture living in camps across the Middle East – for resettlement and to argue that we need to redouble efforts to help tackle the traffickers and people smugglers who prey on people’s fear and desperation. However, given the scale and immediacy of the present crisis the pledge the Prime Minister gave the House of Commons on Monday, to receive only 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of the next five years, is woefully inadequate.
The Government should think again about taking more refugees – both directly from Syria and from Southern European countries who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. The Prime Minister should also engage with EU leaders to agree a process for dealing with this crisis at Europe’s borders and work with local authority leaders across the UK to see what more can be done in our local communities to support refugees and asylum seekers.
Please rest assured that I will continue to press the Government on this issue while also supporting local efforts by the council, community groups and individual residents to help those in need.
With Northern Ireland once again in politcial crisis and continuing divisions within unionism, we need to consider carefully the consequences, both for the Union itself and for efforts to create a shared future here.