Amidst the Government's inadequate promises on workers' rights, I questioned them recently on their delay in scrapping the Swedish Derogation.It's unacceptable agency workers must wait until 2020 for equal rights in the workplace. You just can't trust the Tories on workers' rights.
The Government acknowledged what we’ve all been telling them for the best part of a decade: their cuts have had devastating consequences in towns like Barnsley.In an attempt to make amends, the Prime Minister has offered towns struggling under this Tory Government funding worth £1bn over the next seven years, with £600m more available through bids.That may sound large, but just £197m has been allocated to Yorkshire and the Humber.And to put Theresa May’s offer in greater perspective, £7.3bn has been cut from council budgets by the Tories since 2010.Across Yorkshire and the Humber, £932m has been cut.In Barnsley alone, £145m – not much less than the Prime Minister’s offers for the entire region over the next seven years.Any money given to address the effects of this Government’s austerity policies is welcome, but this derisory offer will do little to reverse the damage caused by Tory cuts over the last 9 years.Nor will it buy the Prime Minister the political support she needs to prop up her Government – people in Barnsley aren’t so easily fooled.I challenged the Government on this in Parliament - you can watch my comments here.
Great to pop in to Citizens Advice Barnsley and meet their Chair and CEO. Good to chat to them about the challenges they face and the ways I can support them, as well as the work they do to help people right across our area.
I opened the BIADS AGM at Barnsley Town Hall this afternoon. BIADS does such important work supporting those living with dementia and their carers here in Barnsley – I’m proud to be their patron, and look forward to supporting them in the year ahead.
The recent spate of crime in Hoyland, Hoyland Common and Elsecar is very concerning.Residents have a right to feel safe and secure in our community, and as the MP for Barnsley East, that’s always my first priority. That’s why I’ve been working with our local police and Police and Crime Commissioner on tackling these issues, including a walk round Hoyland to chat to businesses with Sergeant Mark Ellis, my recent meeting with the PCC, and my previous question on this in Parliament. I’m pleased to hear that arrests have been made by the police, and enquiries are ongoing. However, I still believe it’s unacceptable that our nearest police station is eight miles away, in Goldthorpe, and I believe it’s vital we establish a base for our police in Hoyland.I’ve written to the PCC regarding this issue, and I recently raised it with the Government.You can watch my comments here.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st March: Loneliness is something I’ve spoken about many times. It’s a blight on our society, where people of all ages are socially isolated and left to feel alone. But many more could be affected if it wasn’t for something lots of us take for granted: our TVs. It’s a form of entertainment and relaxation after a day at work for many of us, but for elderly people around Barnsley it’s a vital source of company. In fact, the Campaign to End Loneliness recently found that 40 per cent of older people say that TV is their main source of company. That’s why I was shocked to hear the free TV licences for over 75’s that many of them depend on are under threat from this Government. Despite a manifesto pledge to protect them until 2022, the Government has devolved the responsibility – and cost – of the licences to the BBC. This means it’s up to the BBC to decide whether the free licences are maintained. There are a range of options for the BBC, including footing the bill themselves, scrapping the licences, raising the eligibility age to 80, or means testing it. To fund the licences themselves would cost the equivalent of BBC 2, BBC 3, BBC 4, BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies combined – covering the cost would almost certainly have an impact on the quality of service they provide. An alternative is to scrap free licences altogether, but this would have a devastating impact on many people in Barnsley. Age UK have estimated that in this case, over 2 million over-75s would have to go without their TV or cut back on other essentials. This could affect over 11,000 pensioners in Barnsley alone, many of whom could be faced with the choice of company from their TV, or paying for food and heating. The free TV licences scheme introduced by the last Labour Government is a social policy, and the Government’s decision to outsource it along with the costs could have appalling consequences, possibly making many vulnerable people experience loneliness. They should step in immediately and save the TV licences people here in Barnsley depend on.
I met the Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force in Parliament yesterday, and spoke to the many cadets and trainers. We heard about their training and the cadet organisation helps its young members prepare for future careers, in or out of our armed forces.
I recently pressed the Government to continue funding free TV licences for the over 75s after the current funding ends in 2020.You can watch my comments here.
Huge budget cuts to local councils by this Government have resulted in devastating reductions local children's services and a £3bn black hole in funding predicted by 2025. I heard from The Children’s Society, Barnardos, the NSPCC, Action for Children and the National Children’s Bureau in Parliament today about what we can do to continue delivering these vital services.
There was an extremely important debate in Parliament yesterday on transport for towns.Too often towns like ours, and particularly those in the North, are overlooked when it comes to transport and infrastructure spending.I spoke about our local bus services in particular, and how these are too often run in the interests of profit rather than the vital public service they provide.You can watch my comments here.