Column: Climate Emergency

In her Barnsley Chronicle column on 11th October, Stephanie wrote about the climate emergency, and the importance in tackling the threat cause by climate change. You can read her full comments here.

Stephanie Write to EU to Encourage Brexit Deal

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 11th October, Stephanie and her Barnsley colleague Dan Jarvis MP wrote to the EU this week to encourage the chances of agreeing a deal that would see the UK leaving the EU with key protections in place. You can read more about her letter below:

Stephanie Slams Government on Homelessness Deaths

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 11th October, Stephanie has labelled the Government ‘callous’ after figures show the biggest increase since records began in the number of homeless people who died last year. In figures revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), twice as many homeless people died in Barnsley last year compared to the previous five years combined. Last year, four people homeless people tragically died on Barnsley’s streets. This compares to two from 2013 to 2017. The figure reflects a huge increase nationally, in which an estimated 726 homeless people died across the UK. The number represents an increase of 22 per cent on the previous year – the biggest rise on record. Since data collection began, there has been an overall increase of 51 per cent in the number of homeless people dying on Britain’s streets. In Yorkshire and the Humber there were an estimated 70 deaths, up from 26 in 2014. Charities have identified increased drug use, austerity, and cuts to support services as the main cause of the rise. Commenting on the figures, Barnsley MP Peacock said: “People being left to sleep rough without a roof over their heads should shame us all, and the increase in those who have tragically died on our streets shows this is a national emergency. “After falling under the last Labour Government, homelessness is skyrocketing as the Tories have spent the best part of a decade slashing vital support services like housing benefit and funding for homelessness facilities. “Instead of removing the vital safety nets some of the most vulnerable people in our communities rely on, this callous Government should immediately address this homelessness crisis and end this national shame.”

Stephanie Challenges Education Secretary

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th October, Stephanie has challenged the Education Secretary over funding proposals after nearly a third of teaching assistants and school support staff in Barnsley’s schools have been lost under the Government. The exchange with the Government’s education chief Gavin Williamson in the House of Commons came following a funding announcement, which the Barnsley MP sought assurances would not come at the expense of further losses to school support staff. Peacock asked for a firm commitment from the Education Secretary to ‘rule out funding his plans by cutting school support staff further’. Williamson’s response included simply that ‘he does not determine staffing levels’. Commenting, Stephanie said: “Schools and teachers in Barnsley do incredible work giving young people in our community an education and chance to get on in life, but have been forced to do so amidst unprecedented cuts to resources and support staff. “Any increase to school funding is welcome, but must not come at the expense of already depleted resources. “After support staff and teaching assistants have fallen by almost a third in Barnsley, the Education Secretary did little to allay fears more could be lost under this Government’s continued obsession with austerity.”

Stephanie Signs Coalfields Pledge

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th October, Stephanie met with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust recently and signed their coalfields pledge to support the reinstatement of a specific fund for coalfield areas. The MP backed to the pledge, which the Coalfields Regeneration Trust says would allow it to scale up its activities and deliver positive socio-economic impacts in former mining communities like Barnsley. The Coalfields Regeneration Trust aims to champion and strengthen former coalfield communities and generate the resources to develop and deliver programmes that can make a difference for the people living in them. Barnsley MP Peacock has long supported the Trust, and took the opportunity to reiterate her backing and lend her support to their calls for a dedicated coalfield fund. Commenting, she said: “The Coalfields Regeneration Trust does fantastic work in coalfield areas across the country, and works tirelessly to ensure communities like Barnsley are not disadvantaged by our mining legacy. “A dedicated fund directly targeted at helping former coalfield communities could have a huge economic impact for local people, and I’m delighted to pledge my support for this excellent campaign.”

Stephanie visits Barnsley Canister company exhibition

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th October, Stephanie recently visited Experience Barnsley’s exhibition on the Barnsley Canister Company.The exhibition, which ran from April to September, chronicled the history of the company from its beginnings as a First World War munitions company, to later becoming one of the leading exporters of tins around the world.Commenting, Stephanie said:“It was a pleasure to visit the exhibition on the Barnsley Canister Company.“This is another part of our area’s rich industrial heritage, and it’s great to see Experience Barnsley and Barnsley Council doing such important work in chronicling and preserving that heritage.”

Stephanie Continues Mineworkers Pension Campaign

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th October, Stephanie met with representatives from the National Union of Mineworkers recently, to continue the campaign on getting a fairer deal for retired miners in the Mineworkers Pension Scheme. The local MP has long campaigned on the issue, namely calling for a change to the surplus sharing arrangement of the Scheme amongst other alterations. Agreed in 1994, the surplus sharing element sees the Government entitled to 50 per cent of any surplus made by the Scheme. The agreement has seen the Government pocket over £4bn from the scheme since, all without paying in a single penny of their own. It was later revealed by the Government in response to a parliamentary question from local MP Peacock that the deal was agreed without expert actuarial advice on the arrangement. Along with regularly pressing the Government to make changes that would give more money to retired miners, the Barnsley MP has secured Parliamentary debates on the subject, met with Scheme trustees, and recently co-signed a letter to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Parliamentary Select Committee calling for an enquiry into the Scheme. Working alongside the NUM and parliamentary colleagues in other coalfield communities, Barnsley East’s MP is pushing for several changes to be made to the Scheme that would see bonus elements of the pension guaranteed, and the 50:50 sharing surplus arrangement reviewed in order to be shifted in favour of miners and their families. Commenting, Stephanie said: “In the same way that mining powered our community, our community powered a nation, and those who did so deserve nothing less than a fair arrangement that properly looks after them in later life. “But the Mineworkers Pension Scheme has for too long shifted money into the reserves of the Treasury instead of the pockets of the retired miners and their families who need it most. “I will continue to push the Government at every opportunity to amend the Scheme and finally acknowledge the contribution miners in Barnsley made to our country.”

Stephanie takes part in Pioneering Women's Football Match

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th October, Stephanie took part in the first ever 11-a-side game of the Women’s Parliamentary Football Club recently. Facing Lewes FC Women, the match brought together parliamentarians from all sides of the political divide in what in what was their first competitive effort on 11-a-side pitches. The game was won 4-2 by Lewes. Despite it being their first game of 11-a-side football, this isn’t the first time the Women’s Parliamentary Football Club have made headlines. Last year the Barnsley East MP received a ticking-off from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, after playing football in the Commons chamber after-hours to promote the launch of the women’s team and sport for women.  Despite the controversy, the local MP maintains the club is a great way of bringing people together. Commenting, she said: “Football plays a huge role in our community, and whilst we often focus on the differences between clubs and fans the sport brings people together from amateur games on a Sunday morning to Saturday afternoons at Oakwell. “Whilst I won’t be running out for the Reds any time soon, it was great to have a kickabout with members from across the political spectrum and remind ourselves that even in these divided times we still all have more in common.”

Column: Arts and Creative Classes in Schools

In her Barnsley Chronicle column on 27th September, Stephanie wrote about the importance of creative subjects in schools such as art and drama, and the local success story of the brass band at Birkwood Primary School in Barnsley. You can read her full comments here.

Stephanie's comments on Austerity

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 27th September, Stephanie joined up with fellow Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis to comment on the continued austerity under the Tory Government. You can read their comments below: