Barnsley Hardest Hit by Austerity

It was revealed this week that nowhere in the UK has been hit as hard by the Government's policy of austerity than Barnsley. New figures produced by the Centre for Cities charity showed Barnsley Council's day-to-day spending has reduced by over 40% since 2009 - equivalent to £688 per person and the heaviest fall in the country. Read more below, including Stephanie's comments in the Barnsley Chronicle:  

Holocaust Memorial

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st February, Stephanie signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in Parliament. The local MP pledged her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day, honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust and paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today. Holocaust Memorial Day is marked annually on 27th January, the anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Torn from Home’. After signing the Book of Commitment, Stephanie commented: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Barnsley and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. “As the Holocaust moves from living history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. “I would encourage everyone to show their support for such an important day.”  

COLUMN: Failed Privatisation Agenda

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st February, Stephanie wrote her recent column on the Government's failed privatisation agenda. She referenced the failings of Capita in fulfulling their outsourced contract to recruit enough soldiers for the British Army, along with other instances of how outsourcing public contracts to private bodies fails taxpayers. You can read her full comments here.  

Stephanie Opens Barnsley Brew

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley Gazette, Stephanie recently visited the Barnsley Brew company and opened their factory in Grimethorpe.The company produces tea here in Barnsley using ingredients sourced from as far afield as India and Kenya.Having only recently opened, the company invited Stephanie to officially open their factory and meet their staff.Commenting, Stephanie said:‘As a long-standing supporter of our local businesses here in Barnsley, it was a real pleasure to visit the Barnsley Brew company, meet their staff and open their factory. ‘It’s a great story about how the company have relocated to Grimethorpe and launched a local tea, and soon coffee too. ‘I’ve always loved a good cuppa, and I’ll be drinking Barnsley Brew from now on.’  

Stephanie criticises TV license U-turn

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and Barnsley Chronicle on 25th January, thousands of elderly people in Barnsley are set to lose their TV licence in 2020, according to Stephanie . Despite the Conservative Government promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect free TV licences until 2022, over 4,000 people aged over 75 in Barnsley East alone look set to lose out. As part of the last BBC charter the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC. The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020 and they are currently consulting on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it, for example by linking it to pension credit. New figures produced for the Labour Party show that under each of the changes proposed by the BBC in their consultation, millions of pensioners will lose their free licences. The House of Commons Library calculated that were the free licence linked to pension credit, i.e. means tested, over 3 million people would lose their free licence. If the eligibility age was raised to 80 over 1.8 million older people would lose their free licences. The House of Commons Library has also calculated local figures, with 5,880 older households in Barnsley East at risk of losing their free TV licences. If the age threshold is raised to 80, 2,390 local pensioners will lose their TV licence. If free TV licences are means tested 4,120 will lose their free licences. Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company. Said Stephanie: “The loss of a TV license will be a huge blow to older people in Barnsley who already struggle to make ends meet, and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their TV for company.  “The Government knew what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC – an outsourcing of a social policy that the Labour Party strongly opposed after introducing free TV licenses when last in Government.  “This Tory Government needs to come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences for the elderly are not cut.”    

Stephanie urges support for Holocaust Memorial Day

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Stephanie signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in Parliament this week. The local MP pledged her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day, honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust and paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today. Holocaust Memorial Day is marked annually on 27th January, the anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Torn from Home’. After signing the Book of Commitment, Stephanie commented: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Barnsley and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. “As the Holocaust moves from living history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. “I would encourage everyone to show their support for such an important day.”

Column: Policing and Recent Crime

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie wrote her recent column on the recent spate of crime experienced across Barnsley, and the efforts both she and South Yorkshire Police are making to tackle it. She also discussed the huge impact Government cuts have had on our local police services, and how this impacts crime on our streets. You can read her full comments here.  

Stephanie Takes part in Digital Survey with Local Students

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie recently took part in a digital surgery.The surgery, a thirty minute Q&A with students from Barnsley College, was organised by the Politics Project.The Politics Project aims to provide education on our democracy to teachers, students and politicians, and, through its digital surgeries, connects politicians with local students.Commenting, Stephanie said:‘It’s always a pleasure to chat to local students, to hear their views, and to discuss my role and the current political situation with them.‘So it was great to take part in this Digital Surgery with students from Barnsley College, and I’m pleased so many of our own people are engaged with politics, how it impacts their communities, and how they can get involved and make a difference.’  

Stephanie Meets Church Drop-In Service Volunteers

As reported in the Barnsley Gazette and Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie recently visited the Barnsley Churches Drop-in group in Barnsley town centre.The group runs drop-in sessions three times a week to support those who are facing complex situations like addiction and homelessness, and the MP had the opportunity to spend time with clients there and hear about their use of the project’s services.The group also provides a hot meal and hot and cold drinks, as well as clothing and sleeping bags.During her visit, Stephanie made a donation, met some of the group’s volunteers, and chatted to some of those who use the service regularly.Commenting, Stephanie said:‘I was humbled to meet such passionate, dedicated and committed volunteers who are making a real difference in our community here in Barnsley, and to chat to some of those who visit the drop-in regularly.‘Groups such as this have become all too necessary in recent years, and I was pleased to be able to support them, even if only in a small way, through making a donation.’  

Stephanie Pledges to Support Sexual

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie has pledged to support sexual violence and abuse services after a report revealed the financial cost of sexual violence against women and girls was nearly £40,000 over the last year. The local MP attended the Parliamentary launch of a report into the ‘Funding and Commissioning of Sexual Violence and Abuse Services’, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual Violence. The report describes a sector struggling to keep up with increasing demand and the financial toll sexual violence takes, revealing that violence against women and girls in Barnsley East cost £36,403,619 in 2017. It also outlined that specialist sexual violence and abuse services are facing serious challenges to maintain sustainability, with demand for Rape Crisis services rising 17% on last year but funding has not increased in kind. The report recommended a statutory right of access to specialist services for survivors; long-term sustainable funding for those services; the introduction of minimum levels of specialist services per head of the population and a Victim’s offer that outlines the available services in each region. Commenting on the report, Stephanie said: “I was shocked to find that the cost of violence against women and girls in my constituency is over £36,000 in a year. That is nothing compared to the personal cost to victims and survivors. “Specialist sexual violence and abuse services provide victims with the crucial support they need to become survivors the Government should make a transformative effort to put the needs of victims and survivors at the heart of government policy.”