Tuesday 25 March 2014

Support For Mums & Families

Mother’s day is the day we say thank you to our mums for everything they do. I know that now more than ever mums need a break. When the cost of everything from energy bills to childcare keeps going up and up while wages stay the same, suddenly mums are facing difficult decisions to make ends meet.

One of the biggest problems that face parents is the cost of childcare. Support for parents has also been cut with some parents getting £1500 less help with childcare support through working tax credits. This is having a real impact on the ability of mums to go out to work and for work to pay.”

Yet mums calling out for help with childcare now will have got little comfort from the budget. Whilst new support through tax free childcare is a good start, families struggling now won’t see any benefit until after the election.”

Labour’s plan to extend free childcare for working families with three and four year olds by an extra ten hours, to 25 hours a week, 38 weeks a year is a real step forward. This will mean that for the first time a second earner will be able to work part time without having to worry about paying for childcare. This increase in childcare support is worth £1500 per child and will help mums to get back to work or work the hours they want.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Northern MPs call for Osborne to ‘bring councils back from the brink’

On the eve of the Chancellor’s budget speech, MPs representing some of the UK’s most impoverished councils gathered in Parliament to call on George Osborne to use his Budget speech to spread any benefits from an upturn in the economy beyond those areas in the South East, whose local economies are already improving.

The group of SIGOMA MPs, all representing local authorities outside the prosperous South East, have joined together to demand an immediate stop to further cuts in their councils’ budgets, which have seen some services in many boroughs stripped to their bare essentials and the most vulnerable and poorest put under increased pressure to make ends meet.

During the Chancellor’s almost four years in office many SIGOMA councils have seen significant and annual cuts to their budgets, with some councils losing over 25% of funding. The burden of the cuts has been specifically targeted to those with the highest levels of spend without recognising that that spend relates directly to the areas with the greatest levels of need and poverty.

The divide between councils representing prosperous areas and those with less well-off economies has also widened further as the Government has allowed councils to keep more of their business rates. Meaning those prosperous authorities receive yet more funding as business rates increase on the back of the economic upturn, but those with more struggling economies are left further behind.

SIGOMA councils are calling for a full evaluation of the total impact of the funding cuts since 2010 and seek to re-establish the link between the costs of services and the funding Central Government provides to run them. They argue that revenue cuts since 2010, and a greater level of top slicing of the Revenue Support Grant has left many SIGOMA councils desolate in comparison to many South East authorities which have borne little of the brunt of the funding cuts.

If we are ‘all in it together’ then those struggling to get out of poverty and facing increasing financial hardship should be getting  an increase in funding based on the economic upturn. Now is the opportunity for the Chancellor to bring some of these hard hit councils, including Wigan back from the brink.

Friday 14 March 2014

Let’s tax bank bonuses to fund jobs for young people in Wigan

This week, I called for a tax on bank bonuses to fund jobs for young people in Wigan.

Under Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, every young person out of work in Wigan for more than 12 months will be given a paid starter job which they will have to take up or lose their benefits.

If Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee were introduced today over 350 young people would benefit in Wigan and 6,700 would benefit in the North West.

Too many young people in Wigan are struggling to find work and not seeing any economic recovery at all.

We risk losing the energy and talents of a generation and repeating the failed Tory mistakes of the 1980s. That’s why I support Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get young people in Wigan back to work learning new skills and helping to cut the cost of unemployment through the social security system.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Labour calls for Defence Cyber Security Charter

Yesterday, in a parliamentary debate I called on the Ministry of  Defence to introduce a cyber security charter for companies it works with.

Labour is calling on the government to ensure that every company working with the Ministry of Defence, regardless of its size or the scale of its work, signs up to a cyber security charter. This will ensure hackers can’t use small suppliers to get into the systems of the major defence companies or the MoD itself. The risks to Britain from cyber attacks are huge and growing. We need to do everything we can to protect against them.

The UK faces up to 1,000 cyber attacks every hour, which are estimated to cost £27 billion annually. Cyber attacks are now a constant reality, with government, the private sector and citizens all under sustained cyber attack from both hostile states and criminals. Maintaining effective cyber security and combating the growing threats must be a key objective for the government to ensure Britain’s defence and security.