As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie evealed that fire services in South Yorkshire face a £4 million black hole in their budget over the next three years due to government funding cuts and new costs imposed by the Treasury. An internal assessment warns that this will lead to a “reduction in level and quality of services provided to citizens, residents, businesses and partners across South Yorkshire”. The information, provided in a report for the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority and revealed to the Barnsley East MP following a Freedom of Information request, lays bare the scale of the crisis facing firefighters in South Yorkshire due to the government cuts, and new costs imposed by the treasury. The document makes clear that homes and businesses may be at risk because of the resulting deficit. In the document, service chiefs admit that they will be unable to balance the budget in 2020-2021 and 2021-22 because of further cuts, increased costs and “uncertainty” caused by the government, causing a total gap of £4.3m over the two years. They warn this is likely to have a direct impact on their level of fire protection and emergency response, concluding that “the majority of savings required will now have to come from reducing fire cover” with “increased risk to residents, citizens, businesses and partners of South Yorkshire”. Commenting on the revelation, Stephanie said: “After the tragedy of Grenfell, fire prevention and cover should be a top priority for the government but this report show clearly that local people will be put at risk unless Ministers get their act together and provide South Yorkshire fire service with the resources they need to do their job. "Our hardworking firefighters have been doing their best against years of austerity, but there’s only so much they can do. With the Tory government imposing a double whammy of further cuts and new costs on our fire service, we could hit crisis point in the next few years. I will urgently raise these concerns in the Commons and fight for the money we need for local homes and businesses to be protected.”
As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie's explanation for voting against Theresa May's Brexit deal was provided. You can read her full comments below.
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Stephanie is seeking action on behalf of a constituent who lost her life savings of over £150,000 to an investment company. You can read more below.
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Stephanie recently met with Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services.The charity, based in Barnsley town centre, offers a range of support to survivors of sexual abuse and violence, including counselling and wellbeing services as well as online text and email services.Stephanie met the charity to discuss their work and ways she can support them in delivering support services in future.Commenting, Stephanie said:“Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Service do an amazing job supporting women, men and young people whose lives have been affected by rape and any form of sexual abuse. “The support they provide is absolutely crucial in helping local people to begin to recover from trauma, and I will do all I can to support them.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Stephanie has joined the Dogs Trust in callIing for the government to take urgent action to end the cruel practice of puppy smuggling. The call comes following the MP’s recent meeting with the charity in Parliament, where the terrible conditions in which puppies are transported across Central and Eastern Europe to be sold to unsuspecting buyers in the UK were laid bare. The Dogs Trust described the journey from Lithuania to Great Britain to provide an insight into the conditions puppies are forced to endure. Dogs Trust has been investigating this problem since 2014 with its reports revealing shocking evidence of the Pet Travel Scheme being exploited by illegal puppy importers. Stephanie Peacock MP said: “Dogs Trust has unveiled a horrendous trade that has been growing over the past few years, and now have the opportunity to make a positive change to stop this practice. “I’ve been shocked by the findings of all four of the reports and am proud to support the case to bring an end to puppy smuggling with the introduction of tighter controls and the need for much stronger penalties to deter this horrific crime.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley Gazette on 9th January, Stephanie attended an event in Parliament run by the charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of discrimination against guide dog owners. The local MP heard from guide dog owners about the impact of being turned away by businesses because of their dog, and gave her backing to the Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign that seeks to ensure nobody is refused entry. It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances. However, a Guide Dogs survey found that three quarters of assistance dog owners reported that they had been refused entry by businesses. Businesses that closed their doors to assistance dog owners included shops, supermarkets, gyms, campsites, places of worship, public transport, taxis and minicabs, pubs and hotels. Commenting, Stephanie said: “I was shocked to hear about cases of guide dog owners being turned away by businesses. “This isn’t just poor customer service; it’s discrimination and it’s unacceptable; disabled people have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local pub. “I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to open all doors to guide dog owners this festive season.”
As reported in The Independent, Stephanie has commented on the several flagship policies shelved by the Government and Prime Minister amidst the task of leaving the EU. Theresa May has shelved flagship policies that promised help to workers, householders and abused women as the Brexit crisis has devoured her government, according to The Independent. As reported on 23rd December in The Independent, "A batch of key pledges – now dubbed “ghost policies” – have hit the buffers as the huge task of leaving the EU has sidelined her other priorities. Among them are moves to prevent restaurant and bar bosses snatching workers’ tips, to stop residents being “exploited” by ripoff leases or rogue bailiffs and to ban wild animals from circuses. Other crucial policies gathering dust would use schools to tackle childhood obesity and help women suffering sexual, psychological and violent abuse." Commenting, Stephanie said: “It appears the Tories are so divided and distracted that they can only offer ‘ghost policies’, with repeated consultations, endless delays and vague promises of legislation that simply never appear. “It’s just the latest sign that the government has ground to a halt, brought to its knees by its own shambolic Brexit mess. The prime minister may still be clinging to office but her flagship pledges have sunk without trace.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Barnsley News and Sport and Doncaster Free Press on 9th January, Stephanie has slammed the increases in train fares which will see rail users pay 3.2 per cent more for their tickets. The price hike was introduced by train companies at the turn of the year, and research by the Labour Party shows that across the UK the average commuter will be paying £786 a year more than in 2010. This shows regulated fares – including peak fares and season tickets – have increased by 36 per cent since 2010, nearly three times faster than wages. A monthly ticket for Barnsley commuters to Leeds will now cost over £190, for instance, whilst a season ticket will cost little less than £2,000. The hike comes as a blow to commuters after a year of rail chaos, with timetable changes and delays resulting in train punctuality reaching a 13-year low. Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress has claimed more than £1bn has been paid out to rail firm shareholders in the last 6 years alone, rather than reinvested back into the railways. Commenting on the price hike, the local MP slammed rail companies and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling: “Following a year of chaos on our railways, rail companies have seen fit to hit commuters in their wallets with a staggering price hike. “As if the persistently delayed, dilapidated, and crammed trains are not bad enough, commuters in Barnsley are now being forced to pay more for the privilege. “Under hapless Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, who decided not to prevent these price hikes, our railways have become nothing short of a disgrace that fail thousands of commuters here in Barnsley every day. “It’s high time our rail system was brought back into public ownership where funds can be reinvested and trains run in the interest of passengers, not private profit.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th January, Stephanie recently pressed the Government for an urgent debate to discuss the Mineworkers Pension Scheme arrangements that has seen them take more than £4.4bn out of the miners’ pension fund. Acting as the guarantor to the pension scheme since the deal was struck in 1994, under the surplus sharing arrangement the Government has been entitled to 50 percent of any surplus in funds – with the rest going to mineworkers and their families. However, they have not contributed a penny to the funds or pensions themselves. With the fund doing better than expected, this means over £4.4bn has been taken by the Treasury in the last 24 years. The Government recently revealed they also plan to take a further £617m next year. The Barnsley East MP, a long-time critic of the terms of the arrangement, called on the Government in the House of Commons to debate the issue, with a view to renegotiating a deal that would see mineworkers receive a greater share of funds. Commenting, Stephanie said: “Over more than two decades the Government has taken billions from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme – money that should be in the pockets of former miners and their families. “It’s time this deal was renegotiated so miners can receive a greater share of surplus funds, and I’ll continue pressing the Government to ensure this is the case.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th January, Stephanie pushed the Government for greater action to tackle workplace sexual harassment in Parliament recently. The move follows the Government’s announcement of a new code of practice to prevent harassment in the workplace, something the Barnsley MP says falls short of what’s required. The code of practice was revealed recently in an attempt to make employers understand their responsibility to protect staff from harassment in the workplace. However, the Fawcett Society charity has voiced concerns that the code does not go far enough in addressing the issue. Echoing these concerns in the House of Commons, the Barnsley East MP pushed the Government to include a formal duty on employers to prevent harassment, without which she claims the code will have little practical impact. Commenting, Stephanie said: “Any move to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace is a welcome step, but unfortunately the Government’s long-awaited Code of Practice does not go far enough. “Along with charities like the Fawcett Society, I raised concerns in the House of Commons that without a formal requirement on employers to prevent harassment, many women in Barnsley and across the UK will be left to simply deal with the problem of sexual harassment on their own. “I hope the Government listens to these concerns and produces regulations that will genuinely help people in the workplace in Barnsley.”