Thursday 24 June 2010

Yvonne backs 'Getting It Right' Charter

Yvonne Fovargue MP showed her commitment to ensure that people with a learning disability get the healthcare they have a right to by signing Mencap’s Getting it right charter.

The MP for Makerfield signed the charter at a Parliamentary Reception which was part of the launch of Mencap’s Getting it right campaign, the focus of this year’s Learning Disability Week. The charter calls on health professionals to commit to a nine-point pledge that will help make real changes and save lives.

Speaking at the Getting it right Parliamentary Reception, Yvonne said, “This is a hugely important campaign that sets a benchmark of practice to ensure that people with a learning disability have the same access to good healthcare as everyone else. I pledge my commitment and support to help ‘Get it right’ for people with a learning disability from across Makerfield.”

For more information on the Getting it right campaign and charter, and to show your support,

Tuesday 22 June 2010

‘We are definitely not all in this together,’ says Fovargue as ConDem budget breaks promise not to increase VAT

“A budget that will put recovery at risk and hit people on modest incomes,” was the verdict of Yvonne Fovargue MP today.

The Makerfield MP blasted the ConDem coalition government for implementing larger and quicker reductions in the deficit that risk jobs and growth as well as implementing a regressive VAT hike that will ‘off-set’ the rise in personal allowances designed to help poorer income groups.

Yvonne said, “David Cameron was very keen to say during the general election campaign that he had no plans to raise VAT but today we saw the same old Tories penalising the poorest in Makerfield and at the same time signalling cuts in benefits."

“Today’s announcements are a double whammy for the borough coming on top of the axing of the Future Jobs Fund, Child Trust Fund and the already announced £3.5million of cuts to council funding with further cuts on the horizon.”

The new MP attacked the Tories for making the same mistakes which decimated northern towns and communities in the 1980s. She added, “We know what happens when you cut with impunity. These cuts will put jobs at risk in both the public and private sectors. My fear is that they will happen at such a rate that new jobs will not be created in the economy to take their place.”

Monday 21 June 2010

Yvonne Fovargue MP calls for a fair deal for working carers

Yvonne Fovargue MP is calling for a fair deal for Makerfield’s army of working carers in next week’s emergency budget.

Yvonne has signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire that celebrates the £87 billion contribution made to the economy by the UK’s 6 million carers and calls on the government to help the 3 million carers who have to juggle their caring commitments with full or part-time work.

The motion also backs calls from the shopworkers union Usdaw for changes in the benefit system to allow working carers to earn more money before losing entitlement to Carers Allowance.

Yvonne said, “Both the Tories and Lib Dems promised to support carers in their election manifestos and I want them to make good on those promises by upholding the commitment of the National Carers Strategy that no carer should face financial hardship as a result of their caring role."

“The Government should also stand by the recommendation of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and ensure the DWP supports those adults who want or need to combine work with their caring commitments."

“Carers who look after someone for more than 35 hours a week are entitled to a Carers Allowance of £53.90 a week, but if the carer works and earns a penny over £97 a week, all that Carers Allowance is withdrawn."

“To withdraw all the allowance is simply not fair and this cliff-edge benefit is a massive disincentive to the many working carers who need or want to work more hours or find a better paid job.

“That’s why I’m also supporting Usdaw’s call for both an increase in Carers Allowance and an increase in the amount carers can earn before their Carers Allowance is withdrawn.”

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary is delighted that Yvonne is backing the union campaign. He added, “Usdaw is calling for Carers Allowance to be increased to £65.45 a week, the same rate as Job Seekers Allowance and for the £97 earnings limit to be increased to £150 a week."

“In addition we’d like to see a tapered decrease of the allowance meaning that all full-time carers earning up to £300 would be provided with some assistance."

“Thousands of Usdaw members combine their caring responsibilities with work yet many remain in severe financial hardship."

“Because of the existing rules, many Usdaw members who want to work more hours to make ends meet have to keep their hours deliberately low or risk losing carers allowance."

“Usdaw understands that there needs to be rules about who qualifies for carers allowance but when you do qualify then those who care should not be penalised for going out to work to provide a better life for themselves or their families.”

Early Day Motion 246 says:

That this House celebrates the valuable role performed by over six million carers in the UK, in the majority of cases without any financial recognition from the state, saving the country an estimated £87 billion per year; congratulates Carers UK for the valuable work they do in supporting carers and highlighting their needs during Carers Week; further congratulates the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) for their continued campaigning for a better deal for working carers; recognises that many carers need to work to make ends meet because Carer's Allowance only pays £53.90 a week for a minimum of 35 hours caring, urges the Government to match the commitment of the 2008 National Carers Strategy to ensure that carers are not forced into financial hardship by their caring role, and support the recommendation of the House of Commons Work & Pensions Committee 2008 report that ‘DWP should support adults who become carers during their working lives to combine work and care’; therefore calls on the Government to remove the disincentive to work represented by the cliff-edge earnings threshold of £97 per week that prevents many carers from working at all and stops those in working from fulfilling their full working potential.

Friday 18 June 2010

Credit Union expertise recognised as Makerfield MP elected secretary of parliamentary group

Yvonne Fovargue MP has been elected secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions at its AGM held this week in Westminster. Yvonne’s interest and knowledge of the credit union sector, developed through her working life, has been recognised by fellow parliamentarians.

The group will provide a forum for discussing the future role of credit unions as well as seeking to persuade the government that a flexible legislative framework is the best way for local credit unions like Unify and Welcome to flourish and provide financial services to people.

Yvonne said, “Credit Unions offer a safe and reliable way to save and they play a vital role in helping people through difficult financial circumstances."

“Too many low income borrowers face extortionate rates of interest, but credit unions provide loans at low cost and help to keep the loan sharks away from the doorstep."

“Credit Unions also support the growing appetite amongst the public for mutual alternatives to banks."

“One step that I will take is to lobby the government to allow full credit union services to be available through the post office network.”

Monday 14 June 2010

Local MP calls for greater recognition for the UK’s six million carers

Local MP Yvonne Fovargue has teamed up with ITV’s This Morning celebrity GP, Dr Chris Steele MBE, to support this year’s Carers Week (14 - 20 June) and celebrate the contribution made by people in Makerfield, and throughout the UK, who provide unpaid care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled.

The theme of Carers Week is ‘A Life of My Own’ with calls for greater understanding and support for the army of carers who provide vital care for their families, friends and communities. In doing so, many sacrifice much in their own lives, unable to do the little things that most of us take for granted. All too often, these unsung heroes also suffer ill health.

Yvonne met up with Dr Chris at the House of Commons to pay tribute to carers, and to urge that they receive more support in their caring roles.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said, “A trip to the cinema, or even a full night’s sleep – these are luxuries for many of the thousands of carers in Makerfield. I am supporting Carers Week and all those helping to raise awareness of carers, and their priceless contribution they make to our local community. I hope that as a result of Carers Week, many more carers will find out about services and support that exist to help them.”

Dr Chris, who has long been a champion for the health and wellbeing of the country’s millions of carers said, “I am delighted to give my continuing support for Carers Week and its focus on a carer’s right to ‘A life of my own’. Many non-carers take their free-time for granted, whether it’s going to the cinema or meeting with family and friends. As a GP I have met many carers who have never received any help or respite.”

“I know how carers’ own health and well-being has suffered as a consequence and just how isolated they can feel. Who is caring for the carers? Change is needed at grassroots level and Carers Week is vital in raising awareness and promoting carers’ issues.”

Other celebrities supporting Carers Week, all of whom have had experience of caring, include: Lynda Bellingham, Cilla Black, Jonathan Dimbleby, Gloria Hunniford, Sir David Jason, Claire King, Phyllida Law, Miriam Margolyes, Esther Rantzen, Angela Rippon and Tony Robinson.

Carers Week is organised by a partnership of 7 national charities: Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Care, Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

For information about Carers Week, including local events and activities, and where carers can find information and assistance, call 0845 241 2582. Carers Week 2010 takes place from 14-20 June.

Friday 11 June 2010

Yvonne Fovargue MP finds out what it's like to live without sight

Yvonne Fovargue MP met with RNIB at a parliamentary reception designed to give MPs a first hand experience of the everyday challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people.

Wearing a blindfold, Yvonne tried to carry out some everyday tasks, like making a cup of tea and using a cash machine, within the kitchen and bank areas that had been set up in the House of Commons.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said, "It was a real challenge to carry out these simple everyday tasks without the use of sight. It made me aware of the need for support to be in place when someone loses their sight and is struggling to adjust, trying to remain independent in their own local area and home."

There are nearly 2 million people living in the UK with sight loss, and every day another 100 people start to lose their sight. A shocking 23 per cent of people losing their sight leave the eye clinic without even being certain of the name of the condition that caused their sight loss. The majority are getting no support when they lose their sight - most receive no counselling and are left to cope with their diagnosis alone.

Steve Winyard, Head of Campaigns at RNIB, said, "Every week in the UK hundreds of people begin to lose their sight. You might think that support services would be waiting to step in and help, but that's not the reality many people experience. For example, we know that in the weeks after being registered as blind or partially sighted many people will not be visited by social services. A year after losing their sight only about a quarter of people will be offered mobility training to get out and about independently. RNIB is campaigning to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss gets the practical and emotional support that they need to rebuild their lives."

Thursday 10 June 2010

Makerfield Constituency MP Yvonne Fovargue strikes a ‘whale tail’ pose and calls for greater protection for whales

Yvonne Fovargue MP has shown her support for whales by striking a ‘whale tail’ pose with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Yvonne is taking part in IFAW’s ‘Tails for Whales’ online photo petition, which raises awareness of the need for greater whale protection. IFAW is encouraging people from all walks of life to be photographed making the whale tail hands symbol. Model and presenter Twiggy and comedienne Jo Brand are among celebrities taking part and this week almost 40 MPs also struck a whale tail pose for whales.

IFAW works year-round to protect whales from the many threats they face including commercial whaling, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, climate change and man-made ocean noise.

The worldwide ban on commercial whaling is currently under threat with a compromise deal due to be discussed at the next International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Agadir, Morocco, later this month. If passed, the deal would legitimise commercial whaling for the first time in more than 20 years.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW said, “We are very grateful to Yvonne Fovargue for showing her support for whales at such a critical time. IFAW opposes commercial or so-called ‘scientific’ whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary and we believe these magnificent and intelligent creatures should be protected for future generations to enjoy. Support for this project demonstrates that many people feel the same.”

“I am pleased to be taking part in ‘Tails for Whales’, says Yvonne. She added, "Whales face more threats today than ever before and this project sends out a positive message that we should all be working to protect the ban on whaling and safeguard whale populations. I encourage my constituents to take part by submitting their photos for inclusion.”

Whale tail images can be uploaded to the website (JPEG format, minimum 1024x768pix). Please take part and email your friends and family asking them to do the same.

The aim is to collect as many of these positive images as possible on the website, particularly in the run-up to the next meeting of the IWC, to urge all member countries to use their votes to protect, not weaken, the worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

Despite a worldwide ban on commercial whaling coming into effect in 1986, more than 30,000 whales have been killed for commercial reasons since that time.

Japan hunts whales under a loophole for so-called “scientific” whaling, which IFAW believes is really commercial whaling by another name. Iceland has killed whales both commercially and under the “scientific” clause and Norway has continued to hunt commercially under an objection to the ban.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Andy Burnham MP nominated

Yvonne has today welcomed confirmation that Andy Burnham MP has secured the necessary nominations from fellow Labour MPs to go forward onto the ballot to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

Yvonne said, "This is great news for party members and trade unionists who want to be able to back Andy in the forthcoming leadership campaign. I am really pleased that Andy's campaign has resonated with fellow MPs and that he can now take his message to the wider Labour movement and the country."

Yvonne pledges to vote against attempts to repeal Hunting Act

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has today confirmed that she will vote against any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act 2004.

Yvonne has added her signature to the following parliamentary motion:

EDM 116 – Hunting Act 2004

‘That this House reaffirms its support for the Hunting Act 2004 and notes that there have been almost 140 convictions under the Act; recognises that the vast majority of the public support the Act across all regional, political, social and religious divides; and therefore believes that any attempt to repeal the Act would be a retrograde step and out of keeping with a civilised society.’

However, despite the consigning of their 'sport' to the history books, the hunting lobby are now stepping up their efforts to have the Hunting Act repealed. Moreover, some politicians want to repeal the hunting ban despite 75% (League against Cruel Sports Polling) of the public being in favour of keeping it.

In her first few weeks in parliament Yvonne has received emails from outraged constituents concerned that the Hunting Act 2004 may face repeal.

Yvonne said, “It was a historic achievement when the Hunting Act became law in 2005 but just five years later we face the threat of repeal backed by a powerful pro-hunting lobby."

“Like the vast majority of the public, I believe that cruelty to animals in the name of sport has no place in our society and I will vote against any attempts to repeal the Hunting Act.”

Thursday 3 June 2010

A rainforest free lunch and support for planet friendly farming

Yvonne Fovargue MP joined Friends of the Earth to show her support for rainforest-free meat and dairy. She is one of more than 160 MPs to back calls for farm animals to be born, bred and fed British, instead of being reared on imported animal feed grown on deforested land.

The green campaigning charity’s Fix the Food Chain campaign is striving to reduce the impact of the UK’s factory farms which are wiping out rainforests and wildlife to grow animal feed.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said, “Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a rainforest-free lunch if you’re eating meat and dairy, but it is possible to farm animals without trashing the planet."

“I back Friends of the Earth’s call for policies that will help farmers to rear animals that are born, bred and fed British.”

Friends of the Earth’s Senior Food Campaigner Vicki Hird said, “It’s great that MPs like Yvonne Fovargue are waking up to the impact of factory farming and supporting the switch to planet-friendly meat and dairy farming."

“Friends of the Earth is campaigning for a new law that will cut the meat and dairy industry’s impact and will support farmers and consumers to make greener choices.”

Friends of the Earth’s Fix the Food Chain campaign highlights some shocking facts:

• On current trends animal feed production and cattle ranching alone will destroy 40% of the Amazon rainforest by 2050.

• The meat and dairy industry is responsible for a fifth of global climate-changing gases.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

‘Rape case anonymity for defendants would be insult to victims,’ says Yvonne Fovargue MP

Plans to ban identification of defendants accused of rape suggests victims of sexual violence do not matter.

People accused of rape in England and Wales are to be granted anonymity under proposals announced by the coalition government.

The proposal was not in the Liberal Democrat or Conservative manifesto but the plan angered anti-rape campaigners who said it would do nothing to improve the conviction rate.

At present, there are no restrictions on naming defendants who are over 18 years old. The government's proposal for anonymity would only affect England and Wales.

Yvonne Fovargue has signed a parliamentary motion (EDM 105) calling on the Government to withdraw its proposal. She said the changes would "send a damaging message" and may discourage victims from coming forward.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said, “People accused of breaking the law would rather remain anonymous, but that is not how justice in this country works."

“Rape victims need encouragement to report the crimes, and a system which assumes the victim is lying is not the way to achieve that. Of course it is atrocious that anyone could be accused of a crime they didn’t commit, but the law already allows people to be prosecuted for a false accusation.”

Campaigners assert that false allegations of rape are extremely rare but receive disproportionate media coverage. Rape law campaigner Jill Saward said she is "horrified" by the news and accused politicians of turning their backs on victims of sexual violence.

Ms Saward, who has spoken out on tackling rape since being attacked at her Ealing vicarage home in 1986, said she completely opposes anonymity for defendants. She said the changes may discourage genuine victims from coming forward.

The full text of the Early Day Motion follows:


'That this House believes that the Government's proposal to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases sends a message to juries and rape victims that the victim is not to be believed; fears that this could inhibit the effective prosecution of serial rapists; is further concerned that this will reverse the progress made on the prosecution of rape cases noted in the independent Stern Review; is further concerned that the Government has put forward the proposal without any research, evidence or examination of these issues; and calls on the Government to withdraw its proposal.'

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Yvonne Fovargue MP attacks Tory broken promise to poorest children

Yvonne Fovargue MP attacked the Government’s plans to scrap the Child Trust Fund, which helps families save for their children’s future – even for the poorest families who the Tories promised to protect.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said, “I'm proud that Labour introduced the Child Trust Fund to help families save for their children. It’s outrageous that it has been stopped – even for the poorest families who need the most help. We need to see more saving in the years ahead, so families need more support and encouragement to save for their children's future, not less.”

“It is shocking that one of the very first promises the Tories choose to break is their promise to protect Child Trust Funds for the lowest-income families and disabled children in Makerfield. If this is the Tories starting as they mean to go on it is a grim sign."

“Families in Makerfield are starting to find out what it means to have a Government that’s not on their side.”

The plans are part of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition’s cuts of £6.2 billion this year. During the election campaign, the Conservatives promised to keep the Child Trust Fund for the poorest one third of families and for families with disabled children – but they have broken this promise and chosen to scrap it entirely.

In the North West, 73,000 Child Trust Fund accounts were opened during the tax year 2007/08. Families can also make their own payments into the account, which the child will be able to access when they are 18. From next year, the coalition Con-Dem Government has announced that the Child Trust Fund will be scrapped, so no more children in the North West will benefit from it – and children under the age of seven will get no more government top-up.