PM's Town Funding Offer 'Derisory'

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 8th Feb, Stephanie has slammed the Prime Minister’s new offer of funding for struggling towns as ‘derisory’. Under their new ‘Stronger Towns Fund’, the Government has pledged £1bn until 2026 to towns who have ‘not shared in the proceeds of growth’, with another £600m available through a bidding process. However, just £197m has been earmarked for local authorities across the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber for the next seven years. Since 2010, councils across Yorkshire and the Humber region have been subject to cuts worth £932m. According to the Centre for Cities recent report on austerity, Barnsley Council alone have experienced cuts to budgets of £145m since 2010. This means the entire funding pledge for region barely covers the funds lost by this single local authority.  Nationally, councils will see cuts of £7.3bn this decade. The Barnsley MP directly challenged the Government on the proposal in the House of Commons, stating the 40% cuts to Barnsley Council budgets and asking the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government: “Does the Minister honestly thinks that today’s announcement makes up for the huge cuts that the Government have made to my town?” Commenting afterwards, Stephanie said: “It has taken the Government almost a decade to finally acknowledge what people across the country have been telling them for too long: that their policy of austerity has had a devastating impact on our communities. “Any money to address the damage caused by this Government to towns like Barnsley is welcome, but the Prime Minister’s derisory offer falls woefully short of what’s required to do so. “Under the proposal, it will take the best part of a decade for the entire Yorkshire and Humber region to receive little more than Barnsley local authority alone has lost through cuts under this Government. “The Prime Minister’s token gesture won’t fool people here in Barnsley, where people have seen first-hand the damage the Tories continue to inflict on our community”.  

Column: Free TV Licences

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st March, Stephanie wrote her recent column on the importance of free TV licences, particularly for older people in Barnsley for whom TV can be their only source of company. She called on the Government to protect free TV licences. You can read her full comments here.    

Stephanie Reveals Cuts to school staff numbers

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st March, one in every four support staff in Barnsley’s secondary schools has been lost since 2011, Stephanie has revealed. The figures were admitted to the local MP by an Education Minister in response to a written parliamentary question. According to the Government, the number of teaching assistants in secondary schools across Barnsley has fallen from 287 in 2011 to 202 in 2017, a fall of nearly 30 per cent. Other support staff have fallen from 273 to 207 in the same period, a reduction of over 24 per cent. Combined, this means that staff other than frontline teachers in Barnsley’s secondary schools have reduced by over a quarter since 2011. Support staff are particularly important for children with special needs, often providing dedicated support and preventing increased workload pressure on teachers. Even auxiliary staff employed by schools, including everything from cafeteria workers to bus drivers, seen their number fall by over one in five. Since 2013 Barnsley’s schools have faced cuts to funding of £3m, equal to 5 per cent of the total schools block allocation funding. This is significantly higher than cuts across the region, equivalent to 3 per cent. Per pupil funding has fallen by over £500 in the same period, a drop of 8.4 per cent and higher than the national average of 4.9 per cent. Commenting, Stephanie said: “Once again, we see the real impact of this Government’s near decade-long obsession with austerity, as support staff in our schools have fallen by over a quarter since 2011. “Teachers are already under pressure after being asked in too many cases to do more with less, and now we see their vital support workers reduced significantly over recent years. “Many schools here in Barnsley are doing a fantastic job in trying circumstances, it’s time this Government properly supported them in doing so.”  

Stephanie Reveals Funding Snub to prevent violence against women

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 1st March, not a single penny from a Government funding package for tackling violence against women and girls has been allocated to Barnsley or South Yorkshire, Stephanie has revealed. The Government’s ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Service Transformation Fund’ was established to provide £17m between 2017 and 2020 towards schemes addressing this issue. Yet in response to a parliamentary question tabled by the local MP, the Government has admitted that no money from this fund has made its way to Barnsley or the wider South Yorkshire region. In their response to Stephanie Peacock’s question, the Government stated that decisions on allocation “were taken to ensure a reasonable spread of funding geographically”. Despite this, no funding has been provided from the service directly to schemes in Barnsley and South Yorkshire. Other fund allocations include £400,000 awarded to a project in Prime Minister Theresa May’s local Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner in the Thames Valley. Commenting on the figures she forced the Government to reveal through her parliamentary question, Stephanie said: “It’s greatly disappointing that, despite the Government’s pledge to offer geographically diverse funding to tackle violence against women and girls, not a single penny has been allocated to Barnsley or South Yorkshire. “In addressing such a pressing issue, money should be no obstacle, yet this Government appears to have focused funding on a select few areas. “Any intent to tackle violence against women and girls is of course welcome, but on the back of staggering cuts to the local authorities and police forces at the forefront of these efforts, the Government must do much more.”

Modern Slavery Event

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 1st March, Barnsley East Labour Party Women’s Forum are to hold an event in March on tackling modern slavery here in the UK. It is estimated that there are currently 14,000-16,000 people living in modern slavery in the UK, and the event will discuss the nature of this practice, and ways it can be identified and tackled. Speakers include Jane Williamson, a tutor who has worked on Northern College’s ‘Free Thinking Programme’ to provide education to survivors of modern slavery, and Mark Burns-Williamson, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and national lead for tackling modern slavery. The event will be chaired by Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock (pictured) who says: “Modern slavery is an absolutely appalling practice, where people are forced into work without pay and life without freedom. “It’s staggering that this practice is still so widespread in the UK in the 21st century, and it’s so important that we do all we can to fight it. “That’s why I’m pleased to be chairing this important event, so that we can work towards understanding, identifying and tackling modern slavery, and ultimately ending it once and for all.” The event will be held on Saturday, 9 March at Barnsley Town Hall from 1.00pm to 2.30pm.

Stephanie Reveals Yorkshire Fire Services cuts

As reported in the Yorkshire Post, fire bridges in Yorkshire have suffered real-terms cuts of £19m since 2016, Stephanie has revealed. Read more below:

Stephanie reveals Barnsley School staff reductions

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 20th February, one in every four support staff in Barnsley’s secondary schools has been lost since 2011,  Stephanie has revealed. The figures were admitted to the local MP by an Education Minister in response to a written parliamentary question. According to the Government, the number of teaching assistants in secondary schools across Barnsley has fallen from 287 in 2011 to 202 in 2017, a fall of nearly 30 per cent. Other support staff have fallen from 273 to 207 in the same period, a reduction of over 24 per cent. Combined, this means that staff other than frontline teachers in Barnsley’s secondary schools have reduced by over a quarter since 2011. Support staff are particularly important for children with special needs, often providing dedicated support and preventing increased workload pressure on teachers. Even auxiliary staff employed by schools, including everything from cafeteria workers to bus drivers, seen their number fall by over one in five. Since 2013 Barnsley’s schools have faced cuts to funding of £3m, equal to 5 per cent of the total schools block allocation funding. This is significantly higher than cuts across the region, equivalent to 3 per cent. Per pupil funding has fallen by over £500 in the same period, a drop of 8.4 per cent and higher than the national average of 4.9 per cent. Said Stephanie: “Once again, we see the real impact of this Government’s near decade-long obsession with austerity, as support staff in our schools have fallen by over a quarter since 2011. “Teachers are already under pressure after being asked in too many cases to do more with less, and now we see their vital support workers reduced significantly over recent years. “Many schools here in Barnsley are doing a fantastic job in trying circumstances, it’s time this Government properly supported them in doing so.”

Stephanie to Attend BIADS AGM

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 22nd February, Stephanie will be attending the Barnsley Independent Alzheimers and Dementia Support AGM next week. Read more below. 

Stephanie Meets with Openreach

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 22nd February, Stephanie recently met with Openreach’s Project Officer for Barnsley.Stephanie has been campaigning for improved coverage in the local area for over a year now, including writing to the Government and broadband providers, raising this issue in the House of Commons, conducting a residents’ broadband survey, and meeting with Superfast South Yorkshire.During the meeting with Openreach, Stephanie outlined her concerns regarding broadband coverage in Barnsley East, and the ways in which poor coverage can impact on her constituents’ day-to-day lives.Commenting, Stephanie said:“A stable and reliable internet connection is so important for people right across our area in their day-to-day lives, with people relying on the internet for shopping, paying bills, or dealing with benefit claims.“Unfortunately, coverage in Barnsley lags behind other areas, and often isn’t satisfactory – something constituents regularly raise with me. “That’s why I’ve been campaigning to improve connectivity and will continue to do so until broadband coverage here in Barnsley is at an acceptable level for my constituents.”

Stephanie Visits Exodus Project

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 22nd February, Stephanie recently visited the Exodus Project.The Project works with children and young people, providing activities, clubs and trips, as well as working with the local community on outreach events and activities.During her visit, Stephanie met with Martin Sawdon, the Project’s Co-founder and Development Manager, and had a tour of their centre.Commenting, Stephanie said:“It was a pleasure to visit the Exodus Project, and see the work they’re doing with children and young people in our area.“Given the cuts to children and youth services since 2010, local groups like this here in Barnsley are so important.“That’s why I’m pleased to see the Exodus Project going from strength to strength, and I’ll support them in any way I can in future.”