COLUMN: I Want to Hear From You on Brexit

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7th December, Stephanie wrote her recent column on Brexit, encouraging everybody to get in touch and let her know your views on the possible outcome. You can read her full comments here.

Universal Credit Error Hitting Barnsley Residents

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7th December, Stephanie has slammed the Government's for a systematic error in their flagship Universal Credit policy that sees claimaints in Barnsley lose out on significant amounts of money they are entitled to. A problem with the housing cost contribution calculation has resulted in every claimaint in receipt of disability benefits being wrongly deducted £72 for every non-dependent living with them - up to as much as £144, or even £216 and £288. Whilst these erroneous deductions can eventually be overturned, it's not know how many aren't noticed by vulnerable claimaints are unlikely to know otherwise without specialist help. After raising the issue with Government Ministers back in February, the Government assured Stephanie a fix for this devastating systematic error was imminent. But nine months later, no fix has been provided, and vulnerable residents in Barnsley are still being affected. Commenting, Stephanie said:  “Vulnerable people in Barnsley are being forced into greater financial distress due to the wilful neglect of this Government and their disastrous Universal Credit policy. “Time and time again, people are subject to erroneous deductions of vital funds they’re entitled to and depend on due to a systematic error with the Universal Credit system – one that the Government has themselves acknowledged. “Yet nearly nine months after I raised this problem and was assured a fix was imminent, the Tory Government has yet to act and vulnerable claimants continue to suffer. "They must take urgent action to immediately address this error.”  

Dorothy Hyman Sports Personality of the Year Award

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7th December, Stephanie is campaigning for local legend Dorothy Hyman to be awarded a proper replica trophy after failing to receive one when winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award back in 1963.  Commenting, Stephanie said: “Dorothy is an accomplished athlete, Olympic and Commonwealth medal winner, record holder, and Barnsley hero. “From her childhood in Cudworth to a national household name, Dorothy was rightly recognised for her achievements with the 1963 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. “But unlike other winners, she was not given a trophy to keep and instead asked to hand hers back. "I hope our campaign can redress this injustice, bring a trophy back to Barnsley, and give a true champion of our community the trophy she richly deserves.”  

Supporting Small Business Saturday

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 3rd December, Stephanie recently supported Small Business Saturday in Barnsley. This annual event, held on the first Saturday of December each year, encourages people to back their local small businesses, and Stephanie said: “Small local businesses are the lifeblood of a community, particularly in tight knit communities like ours here in Barnsley. “That’s why I’m a passionate supporter of our local businesses, and on this Small Business Saturday, it was a pleasure to pop in to Worsbrough Mill for some flour, pick up a lovely Christmas wreath from Grimethorpe, and get my tea from Barnsley Market.”

Universal Credit Hitting North Hardest

The following appeared in The Mirror on 29th November: The north is bearing the brunt of Universal Credit according to Labour. The party said the government's decision to rollout the scheme to northern constituencies first has meant that double the number of benefits sanctions have been doled out in the north than in the south. Labour MP Stephanie Peacock said: “The north is bearing the brunt of a policy that the Tories have delayed imposing on their own constituencies.” Statistics compiled for Labour show the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber had 41.13% of all sanctions applied, with 194,564 northerners being hit. The House of Commons Library figures show more than double the proportion were hit than in the south. The government insist that overall the number of sanctions is falling. They say the statistics fail to take into account the gradual roll-out of Universal Credit to different regions since 2013 and argue that there is more up-to-date data available. Ms Peacock told the Mirror: “It is totally clear that the UC roll out has been nothing short of a disaster so far, and people in northern towns like Barnsley have paid the human price. “People who left are waiting weeks without payment and many of those sanctioned are found to have lost out unfairly. I’ve seen too many people driven to food banks, into debt or even on to the streets, as they struggle to pay the bills without the support they need. “It is long past time to halt the roll out entirely, and Ministers need to get the message. "The Prime Minister promised to govern for the whole country but the stark truth that her government punished, not protected, the people I represent.” MPs on the work and pensions committee have called for a review of the “pointlessly cruel” sanctions system which they say does not help claimants into work. Last year the Mirror revealed the Tories had delayed the rollout of the hated scheme to the constituencies of some of their party’s key figures including the Prime Minister and Chancellor. Analysis of government figures this week showed that more than half of appeals against sanctions were successful, but claimants were left out of pocket during the appeal process.

Stephanie reveals Christmas Card Winner

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport on 27th November, Stephanie recently visited Hoyland Springwood Primary School, where she presented prizes to the first, second, and third placed entries from the school in her Christmas card competition. Year 6 student Kelan Ibbotson designed the winning entry which will now be sent to thousands of people across Barnsley and down in Westminster. Said Stephanie: “It was fantastic to visit Hoyland Springwood Primary and announce the winner of my Christmas card competition.“Kelan’s entry was such a fabulous design, and a deserving winner.”  

Column: poverty

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 23rd November, Stephanie wrote her recent column on poverty, and how it's about time this Government took action to urgently address this national scandal by tackling the root causes of poverty, and immediately set about rebuilding the vital safety nets that help out the most vulnerable people in our community when they need it most. You can read her full comments here.

Stephanie Forces Government into Benefits Error Admission

As reported in the the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport on 21st November, Stephanie has forced the Government to admit it doesn’t know how many people in Barnsley and South Yorkshire have been affected by a benefits calculation error that has seen thousands of people underpaid. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently conceded a mistake had been made with Employment and Support Allowance payments – the benefit paid to those who are ill or disabled and require either financial support or tailored personalised help to work. It’s estimated the error has seen 180,000 people across the UK underpaid by around £1.5bn since 2011. However, following questions from the Barnsley East MP on the numbers of eligible claimants in Barnsley and South Yorkshire that were underpaid, the value of these underpayments, and how many have subsequently been refunded a back-dated payment, the Government admitted it did not know these figures. Following the years of errors, the Government pledged to offer backdated payments to those affected by the end of 2019, but have subsequently stated around 75,000 of those who have missed out may have to wait until 2020. It follows an attempt by the Government to only offer backdated payments from 2014. Commenting on the revelations admitted by Government in response a number of her Parliamentary Questions to the now former Secretary of State for the DWP Esther McVey, Stephanie (pictured) commented: “It’s unacceptable that through no fault of their own thousands of people across the country have been short-changed and not provided with the vital funds they’re entitled because of an error by this Government. “Yet following my questions, the Government went further and admitted they don’t even know how many people here in Barnsley and the wider South Yorkshire area have been underpaid, or how much they’ve been underpaid by. “These welfare benefits are essential for so many disadvantaged people to get on in life, yet this Government have denied them the help they’re entitled to. It’s vital vulnerable people here in our community are properly compensated and given what they’re owed.  

Stephanie Backs Law Change to Help Terminally Ill

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport on 21st November, Stephanie is backing a campaign that will enable more terminally ill people to access benefits more quickly and easily, regardless of the condition they have. She joins the MND Association and Marie Curie, who are working together to push for a change in the law that will enable terminally ill people to get quicker access to the benefits they need to live well until they die. Currently, someone is only considered terminally ill if there is a reasonable expectation of having six or less months left to live. This definition excludes people with complex and unpredictable terminal conditions from accessing the financial support they need in a timely manner.  The current bureaucratic process for accessing crucial benefits can be lengthy, complex and instructive. The proposed change in the law will allow clinicians to determine whether a person is terminally ill, instead of an arbitrary time-limit decided in years gone-by. This would mean that people with complex and unpredictable terminal illnesses, such as motor neurone disease, can apply for benefits in a way far better suited to their needs and circumstances. Said Stephanie: “It’s more than likely that, like me, nearly everyone in Barnsley has been affected by a close one suffering with a terminal illness “It’s absolutely crucial that we make sure that anyone facing such a difficult time gets all the care and support they need, when they need it, and that’s why I’m backing the scrap6months campaign”  

Stephanie Joins Remembrance Day Memorial

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 16th November, Stephanie joined local residents in Darfield this week to mark Remembrance Day centenary commemorations. Taking place on Sunday 11th November at All Saints Church, the local MP was joined by councillors Dorothy Coates, Pauline Markham, and Caroline Saunders. She laid a wreath on the war memorial there to commemorate those who had been lost, before visiting displays in the church and a further memorial on Doncaster Road. Commenting, Stephanie said: “The Remembrance Day service in Darfield was incredibly moving, and I was pleased to join so many residents there to mark this important anniversary. “As we commemorate the Armistice and end of the First World War 100 years on, it’s as important now more than ever to remember the sacrifices made by those in that devastating conflict and all of the wars since.”