Speaking on the Apprenticeship Levy

Following discussions I've had with Barnsley College I spoke in the Apprenticeship Levy debate.Mid-career professionals are reaping the benefits of a policy that was meant to give school-leavers a better start in life.Read more here.

Speaking on social mobility

We need to put social mobility back on the agenda.I spoke in this important debate in Parliament recently.You can watch my comments here.

Industrial Communities Alliance event

I dropped into the Industrial Communities Alliance event in Parliament with Councillor Tim Shepherd and Councillor Robin Franklin to discuss how to rebuild the economy of Britain’s older industrial towns.We need more jobs and better jobs closer to home.This can only be achieved with investment in our local industries and skills training.

The Best Bar None awards

It was a pleasure to meet Garreth Robinson and Frazer Grimbleby from Barnsley, who were finalists in the Best Bar None awards.   The awards aim to promote responsible management of alcohol licensed premises and tackle crime related to drinking.

Meeting the acting Principal of Netherwood Academy

It was good to meet Eric Jackson, the new acting Principal of Netherwood Academy.We discussed a range of issues, from how the school works with the local community, to student aspirations, school funding and the national curriculum.

Meeting the South Yorkshire Police borough commander for Barnsley

I’ve met with South Yorkshire Police’s new borough commander for Barnsley, Sarah Poolman.We discussed the issues facing Barnsley, from crime and anti-social behaviour to off-road bikes.We also talked about what the new neighbourhood policing team, covering Hoyland, Rockingham, Wombwell and Darfield, will do to keep our community safe.

Pressing the Government on resources for flood-affected areas

Households and businesses are still struggling in the wake of the floods last November.Following my Commons debate last week I spoke to ITV’s Calendar and will keep pushing for the resources we need from this Government.You can watch my comments on Calendar here.

Visiting the RAF Museum

As part of the Armed Forces Scheme I visited the RAF Museum.Hendon was London’s first airport and after the RAF100 has lots of exhibitions for young people interested in STEM while showing RAF history.And I learnt about Vulcan bombers and how the RAF keeps us safe today.

Meeting the Government on the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme

I met the Business Minister with Labour MP Nick Smith to continue our Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme campaign.   We discussed: - Protecting ex-miners’ bonuses - The current surplus split - And a fairer deal for former miners

Column: supporting local pubs and breweries

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7th February:Working class pub culture has been at the heart of communities like ours for hundreds of years. Local breweries and pubs are an important part of our area and economy here in Barnsley. They occupy a central place in the cultural heritage of our community, providing somewhere to meet and be sociable with friends and family.The brewing and pub sector add a lot to our local area. The Acorn and Geeves breweries produce world-class beer, which I know is enjoyed not just across Yorkshire but also in Parliament. In addition, over 561 jobs rely on these breweries and the 65 locals from Barnsley.However, pubs across the UK are currently under threat. The UK has one of the highest tax rates in Europe, leaving pubs struggling to survive. Even though they contribute £12.1million to our local economy almost £1 in every £3 pounds pubs make is sent to the taxman.Pubs and breweries should be supported by this Government instead of taxed into bankruptcy. This is an issue I have spoken about in Parliament after seeing pubs and breweries from our area forced to close their doors due to unaffordable beer duties, business rates and VAT.A cut to beer tax is the only solution to keep their doors open. For this reason, I have supported the Long Live the Local Campaign that celebrates pubs whilst drawing attention to the specific challenges they face.On average each pub in the UK pays more than £140,000 a year in tax. It is a huge burden that had left many publicans and landlords no option but to give up on pubs that have existed for hundreds of years.This is nothing short of a tragedy. Communities like ours risk losing buildings that have been part of the physical and cultural landscape of our areas for hundreds of years.As I’ve mentioned in Parliament, we have already lost the Black Bull Pub, which was 250 years old. Hardworking publicans, many of whom have worked in pubs their entire lives alongside their parents and grandparents, are struggling to make ends meet.If we are to save pubs and breweries it is crucial that the Government reconsider the beer tax in March’s budget. This would allow pubs to compete with cheap supermarket alcohol.Breweries and pubs are at the heart of British communities like ours. I will continue push for a reconsideration of the tax burden that is currently placed on these British institutions and stand up for them in Parliament.