Calling on the Government to keep the Universal Credit uplift

I spoke to Westminster Hour about the difference that the Universal Credit uplift has made for families across Barnsley.The Government must re-think their plan to cut it.

Meeting with Flood Re

I met with Flood Re to discuss the availability of flood insurance.Insurance continues to be a major issue for flood prone areas. Please get in touch to share your experiences, questions or concerns.You can find out more about the scheme here.

British Gas: stop the fire and rehire

Hardworking, loyal employees are being forced to take further industrial action against the shameful fire and rehire practices of British Gas and its owners.I met with striking workers in Barnsley to support their fight to defend their pay and conditions.

Meeting with the Environment Agency

I met with the Environment Agency to discuss the recent flooding and the situation facing South Yorkshire. I highlighted with them local concerns, particularly those raised by residents of Low Valley, and I’m pleased that they will be looking into the issues that local residents have raised with me. If you have not already you can follow the flood updates and sign up for flood warnings from the Environment Agency at: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings. We also discussed the regional and national challenges of flooding facing many parts of the country. I believe it is essential that we have a joined-up approach between government, agencies, emergency services and local authorities for a coordinated response to flooding. We also need to ensure proactive steps are taken to mitigate flooding and protect communities as best we can. Nature based solutions with a catchment-wide approach are essential to this. On this note, I also want to welcome the successful bid for £80m that has been announced by the Sheffield City Region. There is still a funding gap for our flood defences, but there are important steps that we can take with this by investing in the right schemes in the right areas and I will work closely with authorities to ensure we make the most of the funding we have secured. I also attended a briefing with the Flooding Minister to discuss the situation across the country. I will continue to monitor the situation closely and want to thank all of the frontline workers who are doing so much to protect local communities.

Column: Free School Meals and children's education

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 22nd January:Many of you, like me, will be appalled by the shocking scenes we saw of food parcels being delivered to families up and down the country where, in some cases, there was barely enough food for a couple of days, let alone a week.This week, Labour MPs in parliament demanded the government give families the support they need while schools and colleges are closed to most pupils for the duration of the current lockdown. Free school meals provide a vital service to children whose parents simply cannot afford to feed them during the day, and a lifeline to those parents who are already struggling to make ends meet.The intervention in parliament follows news that the government will not be providing Free School Meals funding during February half-term, leaving 1.4 million children nationally at risk from going hungry that week.This equates to 3,251 children across Barnsley East at risk of going hungry, which is a disgrace. Providing a healthy lunch for 1.4 million children shouldn’t even be something we have to debate. Ensuring that our youth are well fed should be a basic human right in one of the world’s leading global economies.The Labour Party has also called on the government to guarantee that all eligible children receive the full value of free school meals during this school year, including during all holidays. To enable this, the government should set-up cash payments so parents can choose the spend the £15 free school meal funding on the food and supplies that are right for their children.Children’s education is being further put at risk by the government’s failure to provide the laptops and digital access needed for remote learning. The government missed its target for delivering laptops and tablets to pupils in the first lockdown. Two weeks into this third lockdown with 600,000 promised laptops yet to be delivered to schools, and 58,800 of the government’s promised laptops still have not been delivered to children across Yorkshire and the Humber. This is an issue I have raised in parliament previously and will continue to raise in the future.Once again, this government is letting down our children, and denying them the education and nutrition that should be their right, not a privilege.

Mineworkers' Pension Scheme

I’m proud to be leading the campaign for a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme. Since 1994, the 'sharing arrangements’ have resulted in £4bn being taken from the Scheme, which has not been used for the benefit of mining communities, whilst pension scheme members have been left with an average pension of only £84 a week. Fifty MPs have written to the BEIS select committee calling for a parliamentary inquiry and asking the government to consider fairer arrangements which would better serve our coalfield communities.

Tories vote to cut Universal Credit

Last night, the Tories refused to support the 8485 families in Barnsley East who are relying on Universal Credit in the pandemic.These numbers have increased by over 20% in the last 6 months alone.Almost half of all claimants are in work.Families across Barnsley deserve better than this.

Rain and flood warnings in Barnsley

The Met Office have issued an amber rain warning which covers our area and the Council are now warning that flooding is expected.The Council teams are currently out checking gulleys and drains in high-risk flooding areas to make sure they're as clear as possible.If your area is at a high risk of flooding, the Council are urging you to begin preparing your property for flooding.You can find some information about flooding advice, high risk areas and prevention tips at https://bit.ly/2RcJTCA.I have repeatedly raised my concerns about flood preparedness with the Government in Parliament over the last year.I also met today with Yorkshire Water and have been in contact with the Council.Our communities cannot afford to be left to fend for themselves by government; far more must be done to prevent flooding in the first place, rather than reacting to crises.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Cervical cancer can be prevented.Smear tests are the best protection against cervical cancer and save thousands of lives each year.This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, you can find out more information about cervical cancer and what you can do to prevent it by visiting https://www.jostrust.org.uk/ or by calling their free helpline on 0808 802 8000.

Opposing cuts to the Union Learning Fund

The Union Learning Fund makes a real difference for workers and employers.I have written to the Government urging them to think again about their ideological decision to cut it.Watch my video on this here.