As schools and colleges return from half-term, many are still feeling the effects of this year's exams results fiasco.I challenged the Education Minister about the Government’s actions this summer and pressed them to take action to avoid a repeat of this terrible scandal.Watch my comments here.
I visited IDAS and met with Lauren to talk about the challenges they have faced, supporting those who have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence - incidents have sadly increased in recent months.If you or someone you know needs help you can contact them on 03000 110 110.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 30th October:Before the election the Government talked a good game about ‘levelling-up’.They even announced a new fund that they said would invest in left-behind towns like ours, which are long overdue investment.But instead of matching the promises they made, the Tories have interfered with the funds to give tens of millions to their favoured areas and they have left Barnsley with nothing.Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Communities, is hoping that people will forget that his constituency (Newark) was chosen by his own Minister to receive between £25-50million in regeneration funding.Average pay in his constituency is more than £40 a week higher than it is here in Barnsley. It has half the level of unemployment. And Barnsley has had over 5 times more cut from its council budget than Newark’s local council in the last decade.Yet his department has decided that they should receive millions in support and Barnsley should receive nothing at all.It is a scandal that 60 out the 61 areas picked by government ministers for the new funds were in Conservative-held seats or Tory election targets, with public money being used politically rather than invested in the areas they know it is most needed.Far from what was promised, the Tories have continued to ignore our towns and villages and have played politics with public money at a time when we need their support most.Labour councils like Barnsley have shouldered the pain of cuts to local government over the last decade, losing 40% from its day-to-day spending.This has had a huge knock-on effect on the local services we rely on, from adult social care to road maintenance and local bus services - and now, emergency support in tackling the Covid emergency.In Parliament, I asked the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, if the Government would issue a statement on their shameful decisions over the Towns Fund. I was shocked, but sadly unsurprised by his answer which dismissed and disregarded areas like ours.We already needed investment and faced difficult challenges. The pandemic has not only laid bare the challenges and the inequalities we face, it has made them worse and more difficult to overcome.Unemployment has doubled to almost 6.5%, local businesses face a more difficult climate than ever before, with many on the brink, and we are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic, to save lives and protect the NHS.We cannot fight the pandemic, regenerate our towns and fund local services on broken promises. We need support.My office remains open to all constituents who need help during this crisis. My email is [email protected]
I was pleased to support this year’s Royal British Legion appeal today helping out selling poppies.Thanks to local British Legion members for the work they’re doing in these difficult times - find out more about their work and how you can support them here.
Nearly 8000 children in Barnsley are eligible for free school meals.The Government should reconsider its decision to provide meals during the holidays.I spoke to ITV Calendar about the issue.You can watch my comments here.
Important meeting today with Barnsley CCG.We discussed preparations for winter, and the impact of COVID-19 on local healthcare services and staff.It is going to be a difficult few months, and I passed on my thanks to the CCG and NHS staff for all they are doing to keep us safe.
I visited FareShare Yorkshire in Wombwell.I spoke to CEO Gareth and thanked them for their work to support local residents and tackle holiday hunger during this pandemic - they have seen a huge increase in demand this year.Read more about how you can support them: https://fareshare.org.uk/fareshare-centres/yorkshire/
Join in UK Parliament Week, an annual event engaging people from across the UK with their UK Parliament and empowering them to get involved.Schools and community organisations can all take part.Sign up for your free kit at ukparliamentweek.org
This week I supported Breast Cancer Now and its efforts to beat breast cancer and support patients.Charities have been hit hard by COVID-19.Nurses, scientists, and families affected by breast cancer urgently need our support.Now more than ever.https://www.wearitpink.org/
As we enter October half term, I want to thank teachers and staff across Barnsley who have worked so hard to ensure a safe return to school.I have been in regular contact with local schools to offer support, and I will continue to support schools, parents and students in any way I can.