As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on Saturday 6th December, Stephanie has attacked the Government for failing to prevent a winter crisis in the NHS, as Christmas figures for Barnsley Hospital were revealed. The latest figures show that in the week following Christmas, bed occupancy rates far surpassed national safety targets. With rates of beds taken above 85 per cent considered unsafe, Barnsley Hospital averaged 98 per cent occupancy between December 26th to 31st – one of the highest rate in the country. And on December 31st, Barnsley Hospital reached 100 per cent occupancy, meaning all general and acute hospital beds were taken. Nationally, the figure was also above the safety target, with 91.7 per cent of hospital beds in England occupied. The hospital also suffered a number of ambulance handover delays, in which patients were forced to wait outside the A&E department in ambulances rather than being immediately transferred into the hospital. In the week following Christmas, 513 patients arrived at Barnsley Hospital in an ambulance, with 11.7 per cent of these forced to wait longer than 30 minutes outside the hospital. This included 9 patients who were trapped in ambulances for longer than 60 minutes on December 31st alone. Commenting on the figures, Stephanie laid the blame squarely on the Government for failing to prepare and support Barnsley Hospital: “Once again, despite the heroic efforts of hard-working staff at Barnsley Hospital, patients and staff have been badly let down by this Government. “These figures are dismal, and demonstrate the appalling lack of support this woefully under-prepared Tory Government has given our local hospital this winter. “For Theresa May to continue denying a crisis in our NHS whilst Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt offers listless apologies is an insult to NHS staff and vulnerable people here in Barnsley whose health is being put at risk. “Eight years of underfunding, cuts and neglect of our vital NHS services have led to this entirely preventable crisis, and it’s time this Tory Government got a grip of the situation.”
As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on January 5th, Stephanie gave her New Year message. She discussed the need to thank everyone who spent the Christmas season working to keep our vital services running, and how she'll be fighting for better for them and others across Barnsley in 2018. You can read Stephanie's full column here.
As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, MP for Barnsley East Stephanie Peacock is encouraging households in the borough to take advantage of the Energy Switch Guarantee to save money on energy bills. New figures released from the Energy Switch Guarantee (ESG) reveal that 17 per cent of households in Barnsley East have switched electricity supplier and potentially saved hundreds of pounds during the last year. The Energy Switch Guarantee is a commitment by energy suppliers – from the largest to some of the newest in the market – to make switching simple and safe. Stephanie is encouraging more people in Barnsley to save money by switching and she said: “Plenty of people here in Barnsley have already taken advantage of the savings that are on offer but it would be great to see more join them. “People could save hundreds of pounds – especially if they have been with the same supplier for years. “This winter I encourage everyone in Barnsley to take a few minutes to find out if they could be on a better energy deal.”
As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on December 22nd, Stephanie gave her Christmas message. She discussed the festive season, and how important it is to think about others at this time of year. She called for an end to the loneliness the affects many people in our community, and asked everyone to make sure nobody in Barnsley has nobody at this time of year. You can read the full column here.
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 15th December, Stephanie recently announced the winner of her Christmas card design competition. Open to all primary schools in the Barnsley East constituency, the competition gave them the chance to design the local MP’s Christmas card. With the help of her judging panel, including the Mayor of Barnsley Cllr Jeff Ennis, and representatives from the competition sponsors, Stephanie decided on hundreds of entries from over seven local primary schools. She announced the overall winner as Harvey Bailey, aged 10, from West Meadows Primary School, along with an overall 2nd and 3rd place, and a winner and two runners up from each school. The winner was awarded his prize by the MP on Friday, and Harvey’s design has now be made into a card to be sent on to hundreds of politicians, civic leaders, businesses and volunteer groups. Commenting, Stephanie said: “I was delighted to see so many pupils across Barnsley East’s primary schools enter my annual Christmas card competition. “Their designs were fantastic and a real testament to the creative talents of young people here. “Although there could only be a few winners, I enjoyed looking at every design and all those who entered should be extremely proud of their attempts. “The overall winner can now look forward to having his card design sent to politicians, businesses and organisations right across the country.”
As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 13th December, Stephanie Peacock, welcomed Barnsley’s Acorm Brewery to Parliament this week. The local MP arranged for the brewery’s flagship ‘Barnsley Bitter’ to be served in the Parliamentary bar as the guest ale. Along with fellow Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, Stephanie was joined by Acorn Brewery’s Managing Director Dave Hughes and Director of Business Christy Hughes, before getting behind the bar themselves. Said Stephanie (pictured) after showcasing the Wombwell-based business, which was formed on 2003: “I was delighted to arrange for Acorn Brewery to be featured as Parliament’s guest ale this week, and to welcome Dave and Christy to the first serving. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase such a fantastic local brew and show off what Barnsley has to offer. “Acorn Brewery produces some extremely popular beers, and I’ve no doubt our local bitter will be enjoyed by many down in Westminster.”
As reported in the Barnsley Gazette and Barnsley Chronicle on 15th December, 30 per cent of all junior-age pupils in Barnsley are taught in class sizes of 31 according to figures blasted by Barnsley East MP Stephanie. She has challenged the government this week over the figures which show in primary schools at both key stage one (infants) and key stage two (juniors) class sizes in Barnsley are higher than the national level.An average of 28 pupils are in each Barnsley key stage one class, rising to 28.4 for key stage two - the second highest in Yorkshire and Humber and higher than the national average of 27.7. But almost 3,000 Barnsley primary pupils are being taught in class sizes of 31 or more. While the average class size in key stage two in Barnsley is 28.4 pupils per class, a shocking 29.4 per cent of all key stage two pupils (seven to 11-year-olds) are taught in classes of 31 or more, compared to just 17.5 per cent nationally. And in Barnsley 156 pupils are taught in classes of 36 or more - more than four times as many as across the country. Speaking in the House of Commons, former teacher Stephanie questioned Education Secretary Justine Greening on the figures, and outlined the detrimental impact this could have on pupils.“Once again, young people in Barnsley are being forced to make do with conditions worse than others,” she said. “With schools witnessing unprecedented funding cuts and an exodus of hardworking teachers because of increasing workloads and a pay cap, children in Barnsley are finding themselves in excessive class sizes.“As a former teacher I’ve seen first-hand how important it is that children learn in good size classes.“I challenged the government on this issue in Parliament, and they should urgently set out how they intend to address Barnsley’s oversized classrooms.”
The story of our town’s mining heritage is one we’re all familiar with and proud of. Our community was part of the industrial backbone that powered a nation, and our county’s success owes so much to hard-working miners at the heart of the industry. They put up with terrible conditions for years, and many now suffer debilitating illnesses for their troubles – while the rest of us were able to heat our homes and keep the lights on thanks to their hard work. That’s why we’ll always owe them a debt of gratitude, and remain proud of our mining heritage. But gratitude only gets you so far. It doesn’t put money in the bank or food on the table for those former miners who are now struggling to get by. They deserve remuneration as well as respect, and we can start by addressing the pension scheme many of them rely on for retirement. Because it’s appalling to see those who suffered under Thatcher now getting treated with similar disrespect by another Tory government. Under the terms of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme (MPS) agreed in 1994, in a year that more money goes into the scheme than is paid out, the extra can be split between miners and the Government. Using the small print of this deal, the Government has now taken over £3.4bn out of the scheme. Despite helping themselves to this money, the Government hasn’t made a single contribution over that period. That’s £3.4bn taken away from miners who spent their lives working hard to build up a pension pot for their retirement, including thousands here in Barnsley. Money that could be spent on food, bills, or the cost of living with the health problems so many former miners experience as a direct result of their life’s work. But instead it’s money that has been taken away from them. And that’s just not fair or right. I’ve met with the MPS Trustees to discuss the existing arrangements, and this week I pressed for a fairer scheme when we discussed it in Parliament. We owe former miners better, and it’s time we gave them the retirement they’ve earned.
As featured in the Huffington Post on December 6th, Stephanie outlined her anger after revealing top Tories have delayed the roll-out of the disastrous Universal Credit policy in their own constituencies, despite enforcing it on Barnsley since July. You can read the full article here.
As reported in the Daily Mirror and Barnsley Chronicle, on December 2nd Stephanie revealed that the Tories are secretly pausing the disastrous roll out of Universal Credit in Theresa May’s constituency. They are also delaying the benefits shake-up in the constituencies of a string of top Tories, including that of Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke , under fire First Secretary of State Damian Green and UC’s architect Iain Duncan Smith. The announcement was slipped out the day after Chancellor Philip Hammond refused to pause the programme in the rest of the country. Stephanie, whose constituents in Barnsley East are struggling with the impact of UC, said: “The very people who dreamt up the whole idea and made such a mess of it are putting off the consequences in their own seats. It’s one rule for them, another for the rest.” Last week the Government caved in to pressure to cut the waiting time for first payments from six to five weeks. But it will be too late for struggling families at Christmas as the change will not come in until February. The move means that all three Work and Pensions Secretaries who designed and implemented the Universal Credit across much of the country will all see it delayed for their own seats - until the reduced waiting time and other reforms are in place. The government has consistently refused to "pause and fix" the scheme which has seen families pushed in to debt and rent arrears - despite losing a vote called by the Labour Party to do so. The document titled “Universal Credit Transition Rollout Schedule” was published on the DWP website the day after the budget, replacing a previous version. It lists the point at which UC will be rolled out in each JobCentre. However, an analysis of the new timetable for, comparing it to the previous rollout schedule, showed that Maidenhead, Ashford, Hemel Hempstead, Walthamstow and Redbridge Job Centres Plus will all now delay the roll out by three months. These cover the bulk of the constituencies of Maidenhead, Ashford, South West Hertfordshire and Chingford and Woodford Green. Only South Oxhey, a small, working class and generally Labour-voting area of David Gauke’s constituency will continue to have Universal Credit imposed on time. The other Job Centre Plus in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which serves Labour seats rather than Iain Duncan Smith’s seat, will implement UC earlier. When questioned on the decision in parliament David Gauke told MPs: “We are rolling out Universal Credit in a way that is safe, we are making adjustments as and when we need to but I am pleased to say the date on which UC will be fully rolled out remains unchanged March 2022 if it could be earlier I would make it earlier but that is the safest point at which we can do it.” Stephanie Peacock had asked the minister: “I note in his department’s recent statement last week the right honorable gentleman postponed the rollout of Universal Credit in his constituency and those of the prime minister and the first secretary of state. “As he’s in the mood to reconsider the policy, can he do the same and pause the rollout of Universal Credit for the people of Barnsley East?”