Stephanie back Guide Dogs Access All Areas Campaign

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.”  

Stephanie comments on Government's 'Ghost Policies'

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.”

Stephanie slams rail price hike

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.”  

Stephanie Pushes for Fairer Miner's Pension Deal in Parliament

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.”  

Stephanie Presses Government on Tackling Workplace Sexual Harassment

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.”  

Stephanie Challenges Government on Homelessness Scandal

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and Barnsley Chronicle on January 4th, Stephanie challenged the Government on  statistics that show over 120 people are homeless in Barnsley. Questioning the Government in the House of Commons, she also pushed for greater funds for local authorities like BMBC to tackle rising homelessness. According to the housing charity Shelter, there are around 320,000 people recorded as homeless in Britain – a rise of 13,000 on the previous year and the equivalent to 36 people becoming homeless every day. Recent figures show that deaths of homeless persons have increased by nearly a quarter over the last five years, with over 600 homeless people dying in England and Wales last year The numbers follow the news that a homeless person died recently feet away from the entrance to Parliament in Westminster tube station – the second to do so this year. Questioning the Government Minister overseeing housing in the House of Commons, the Barnsley MP stated society where a man can die on the steps of Parliament because he does not have a roof over his head is not one that should be accepted. Stephanie went on: “The rise of homelessness over recent years is a national scandal and shames us all. “In a country as rich as ours homelessness is not inevitable and nobody should be forced to live rough without a roof over their head, yet since 2010 the numbers of people doing so has more than doubled because of decisions made by this disastrous Tory government. “We should urgently set about addressing the root causes of homelessness, and instead of further cuts this Government should make funds available for local councils to properly help those in need.  

Stephanie Raises Schools Rating Delay

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th January, Stephanie questioned the Government in the House of Commons on their proposed Schools Health Rating system that was proposed back in 2016. You can read her comments below. 

Stephanie pushes for protection against workplace harassment

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.”

Column: Our NHS in Winter

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 4th January, Stephanie wrote her recent column on the NHS over winter. She paid tribute to the staff in our local health services and Barnsley Hospital, but warned the Government against similar mistakes that led to last year's winter crisis.  You can read her full comments here.  

Column: Loneliness over Festicve Period

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 21st December, Stephanie wrote her recent column on loneliness at Christmas, and the importance of reaching out to those who may have nobody.  You can read her full comments here.