Tackling health inequality

Life expectancy in Barnsley is five years lower than in Kensington and Chelsea, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only widened these existing health inequalities.We need a proper Government plan to ensure this doesn’t get worse in the months ahead.Watch my comments in Parliament here.

Wombwell Post Office

I’m incredibly disappointed that Wombwell Post Office will be closing this month, and I'm calling on the Post Office to ensure these vital services are maintained in Wombwell for the local residents who rely on them.

Speaking to Hallam FM on food poverty during the pandemic

New research from the Social Market Foundation think tank shows that nearly 1 in 7 kids in Barnsley have missed meals during the COVID-19 pandemic - the highest in South Yorkshire.I spoke to Hallam FM about how concerning this is.You can listen to my comments here.

Questioning the Government on the gambling review

The gambling review announced last month is welcome news.Having called on the Government last year to take action, I am pleased they have raised the age for gambling on the National Lottery.They should now ban the use of credit cards.Watch my question in Parliament here.

Column: North-South inequality

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 11th December:For too long the North has been viewed as secondary to London and the south east - an afterthought for too many in Whitehall.This week, The State of the North report, by the Institute for Public Policy Research, has held up a mirror to the shameful inequalities which have held back the North and shown yet again how stark the divide is. And it is getting worse.5 million workers in Northern England are still paid below a living wage.One third of Northern children are living in poverty.Healthy life expectancy in the North has fallen for 60% of women.The report also found that the North, which has been hit harder by the pandemic, was left worse prepared for the crisis than the South by cuts.The report found that the average public health grant cut, under the Conservatives, was around 15% higher in the North than the national average.Public health cuts were also higher in areas where Covid-19 mortality has been the highest.The areas that have had the highest Covid-19 mortality have experienced three and a half times the public health cuts of areas with the lowest Covid-19 mortality.We’ve seen a lot of branding and PR from this government.The report finds that levelling-up is ‘one of the most striking [initiatives] for its lack of detail on how rebalancing is to be achieved.’But we cannot afford 'levelling up’ to be a meaningless slogan, as so many other so-called ‘rebalancing’ initiatives have been.The Tories’ disproportionate cuts to the North have already cost lives and livelihoods.The true test of any economic recovery must be whether it is felt by everyone no matter where they live - but that must begin with a laser focus on investing in the areas that have long been left behind.As the IPPR have said, ‘this is a wake-up call. The opportunity to live a good life is becoming increasingly unattainable for too many people in the North of England.’We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to build back better.To tackle the crises in poverty, jobs and inequality across our region.That means towns like Barnsley being at the front of the queue for investment and building back better in 2021 - and I will be fighting day in day out to ensure that that is the case.

Opening BSARCS' new centre

Thank you to BSARCS for inviting me to virtually open their new centre this morning.Find out more about BSARCS and how you can contact them if you need support: www.bsarcs.org.uk

Questioning the Government on the Towns Fund

Barnsley Council's budget has been cut by 40% over the last 10 years.60 out of 61 areas picked by Government Ministers for the Towns fund were Conservative seats/targets.I was shocked but not surprised by Jacob Rees-Mogg's answer when I pressed him for an explanation on this scandal.Watch my question in Parliament here.

The Book Trust's Time to Read campaign

As a former teacher, I know how important reading is for children's development.It's great the Book Trust's Time to Read campaign is back this year.Every reception-age child in England is getting a free copy of The Runaway Pea!More info: http://booktrust.org.uk/timetoread

Meeting Safestyle UK

I met virtually with the CEO of Safestyle UK.We discussed the importance of keeping workers safe, the COVID-secure measures at their base in Wombwell, and what challenges they are facing.

Meeting the Environment Agency

As the Labour Party's Shadow Flooding Minister, I met with Sir James Bevan, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency. We discussed their Flood Management strategy and what the Environment Agency is doing to improve and repair flood defences to protect areas like Barnsley from floods this winter.