Monday 4th March 2013
I have added my signature to Early Day Motion 1104, set down by Labour leader Ed Miliband in Parliament, to stop Government plans to privatise the NHS.
New regulations introduced last month by Government Ministers could force doctors to open up the NHS to the private sector, leading to fears that services could become fragmented.
This is despite promises given to clinicians and MPs during the Health and Social Care Bill’s passage through the House of Commons that there would be no push towards competition.
It is disgraceful that despite all their assurances the Government is hell-bent on privatising the NHS. They have lied to the doctors whose job it is to commission services by forcing them to put services out to tender.
By trying to sneak in these regulations by using a Statutory Instrument instead of the legislation debated in Parliament it shows just how far they are willing to go to wreck the NHS.
To the dozens of people who have written to me on this issue, let me be clear: I will fight, together with my colleagues in the Labour Party, to have these regulations removed immediately and to save our NHS.
Monday 4th March 2013
Thanks to everyone who came out with me in Farnworth on Saturday afternoon. It was great to spend time talking to local residents about David Cameron’s millionaires tax cut. A lot of people told me how badly the bedroom tax is going to affect them when it comes into force. I’ll continue to campaign on behalf of all my constituents on these and other issues. I’ll be out and about across Bolton South East in the coming weeks and months – you can find all the details of events here on on Twitter.
Friday 1st March 2013
David Cameron has plans to impose a £180 ‘Mummy Tax’ on working women at the same time as slashing £100,000 from the tax bill of millionaires.
1,679 new mums in Bolton South East this year will want a Government that is on their side. But while David Cameron promised he would lead the most family-friendly Government ever, reality shows he is leaving new mums stranded.
Families shouldn’t have to pay the price of the coalition’s failed economic policies – and especially not working mums, who already face tough financial pressures when they have a new baby. Real terms cuts to maternity pay for many will be the final straw.
New mums are already amongst the hardest hit by the coalition’s tax and benefit changes.
On top of the real terms cuts to child benefit and tax credit changes faced by all parents – including child benefit freezes, reductions in support for childcare and frozen tax credits – new mums have already faced the scrapping of the Health in Pregnancy Grant; the restriction of the Sure Start Maternity Grant; and the scrapping of the baby addition to the Child Tax Credit.
Figures compiled by the House of Commons Library have now confirmed that low paid new mums will lose £1,300 during pregnancy and the baby’s first year from cuts to pregnancy support, tax credits and real terms cuts to maternity pay. They are also losing a further £422 from cuts to child benefit over the same period.
Please sign my petition to David Cameron, calling on him to ‘help mums not millionaires’. To find out more visit
Friday 1st March 2013
The government has announced it will cut housing benefit for people with a spare room in their social or council let home, despite the DWP impact assessment acknowledging that there is a shortage of smaller properties for tenants to move to.
The measure will cost an estimated 660,000 people an average of £728 per year. Disabled people, parents of serving members of the armed forces and 140,000 working households are likely to be most affected.
On Wednesday an Opposition debate was tabled in a last-ditch bid to derail the government’s plans to force council tenants with unoccupied bedrooms to move house or face a cut to their housing benefit.
Speaking during the debate I said that the government’s proposal “does not reflect the reality on the ground”
“Most of the spare bedrooms are needed by the people who live in those homes”
“Some of the constituents who have spoken to me are single parents whose children may not live with them for seven days a week, but stay with them for two or three days, depending on the arrangements made by the court. People in these circumstances will be severely affected by these provisions”
“Others who have contacted me are elderly or are very unwell and therefore have homes which are specifically adapted at a cost of thousands of pounds. They are often quite small properties, but may have one room that is counted as a spare bedroom specifically adapted for their support needs”
Over two thirds of those affected are likely to be people with disabilities, with the National Housing Federation estimating that 100,000 tenants who live in homes specially adapted to their needs are set to be affected.
“Encouraging these tenants to move will not be cost-effective when new properties would need to be adapted while aids and adaptations would are stripped out of vacated homes”
The bedroom tax will come into effect on April 1 if Chancellor George Osbourne includes the measure in his March 20 budget.
You can read my full speech here
Friday 1st March 2013
The 2010 general election campaign was one of the most divisive in British history but there was one area of broad agreement between the three main parties: international aid.
All three main parties committed themselves in their manifestos to Labour’s target of spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) on Overseas Development Assistance and promised this commitment would be enshrined in law.
The Coalition Agreement between the Tories and Lib Dems reiterated this pledge yet David Cameron has so far failed to honour his commitment to introduce the necessary legislation. With the Tories and their Lib Dem allies making massive government spending cuts that have already flatlined our economy, and with a string of broken promises behind him, we cannot afford to take Cameron at his word that he will maintain Britain’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on international aid.
We need to have this commitment enshrined in law so that the world knows we will fulfil our obligations; failure to do so risks letting Cameron backtrack on his pledge which could be disastrous for the world’s poor and for our own national security.
I understand why some people feel that committing 0.7 per cent of GNI to international aid shouldn’t be a national priority at the moment, particularly when so many families in my own constituency of Bolton are struggling to make ends meet. But the world’s poor shouldn’t pay the price for the Tories’ economic failure.
Our aid makes a huge difference to the lives of the poorest people of the world through building schools, protecting children from disease and helping alleviate the suffering caused by natural disasters. We should be proud that Britain is committed to eradicating poverty and promoting social justice.
It is also in Britain’s national interest to support fragile developing states. If we get it right, today’s developing countries are tomorrow’s trading partners, helping to grow our own economy as well as theirs. But get it wrong and they could become failed states offering the breeding ground for those who would do us harm. International aid is a matter of national security as well as economic development and a failure to honour our international obligations on spending levels could leave us vulnerable in the future.
If you believe that David Cameron should keep his promise, then please sign up at www.labour.org.uk/0-7-per-cent and show Cameron that even in difficult times people in Bolton believe it is right we continue to help the world’s poorest people and keep our promises.
Friday 15th February 2013
I’m supporting Ed Miliband’s plan to re-introduce a 10p rate of income tax, paid for by a mansion tax.
This week, he said:
“We would cancel David Cameron’s millionaires’ tax cut, and a Labour Government would make the tax system fairer by taxing mansions and reintroducing the 10p tax rate to help working families.
“David Cameron’s economic vision is of a race to the bottom in wages and skills, rewarding those at the very top but leaving everyone else squeezed as never before.
“The last two years show that David Cameron’s approach doesn’t work. The economy isn’t growing – it has now flatlined for over two years, and the deficit is going up.
“I believe that we can only build prosperity, when everyone plays their part in building our economy.
“A fair tax system is a central part of building a successful economy. That’s why we would use the money raised from taxing houses worth over £2m million to cut taxes for working people, reintroducing the 10p tax rate.
“A Labour Government would cut tax for millions – not give a tax cut to millionaires.”
Friday 15th February 2013
The Tory-led Government has imposed the biggest funding reductions in the public sector on local councils. Funding for local government is projected to fall by 3.9% in 2013/14 and a further 8.5% in 2014/15, which means a 33% fall in real terms over the CSR period. They are responsible for the consequential cuts to local authorities and communities.
Cameron and Pickles are distributing these massive cuts unfairly – hitting those that can afford it least the hardest. The most deprived areas are shouldering the greatest reductions in central government funding.
The Prime Minister says “we’re all in this together”, but his local authority of West Oxfordshire – one of the least deprived areas is the country (ranked 316 out of 325 in the multiple indices of deprivation) – is actually getting an increase in spending power of 3.1% in the local government finance settlement for 2013/14.
Eric Pickles has lectured councillors that they have a moral duty not to increase council tax bills this year, but The Tory-led Government are planning a council tax bombshell of their own by increasing the bills paid by people on low incomes. They are balancing the books for their millionaire’s tax cut on the backs of the poorest through council tax rises in April 2013. It tells you all you need to know about whose side the Tory-led Government is really on.
Despite David Cameron’s describing local government as “officially the most efficient part of the public sector”, his Government has made bigger and earlier cuts to councils than any other part of the public sector. This frontloading of cuts has made it harder for councils to cope and has hit frontline services hard.
Many local authorities are being pushed to the brink; already Tory-led West Somerset Council has been declared by the LGA as “not viable” over the longer term.
The former Tory LGA chair, Baroness Eaton, has said that Eric Pickles’ understanding of the impact of the cuts on local government is “detached from the reality that councils are dealing with.”
Former local government minister and Tory MP Bob Neill said: “Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt.”
Research by Newcastle City Council reveals that the 50 councils worst affected by Government cuts between 2010-11 and 2012-13 will receive reduction of £160 per head on average, despite having on average a third of children living in poverty. By contrast the 50 councils least affected by the cuts received a cut of £16 per head on average, despite having child poverty rates of 10%.
The poorest areas are shouldering the greatest reductions between 2010-11 and 2012-13. The ten most deprived local authorities are having their spending power reduced per head of population by eight times as much as the ten least deprived local authorities in England.
Friday 15th February 2013
A letter from fire minister Brandon Lewis to the chair of the House of Commons Regulatory Reform Committee has revealed that the government is set to put forward proposals “that would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider.”
This would mean that over 1600 firefighters based at 40 fire stations in Greater Manchester could be employed and run by a private company.
The minister is seeking to push the changes through the little-known Regulatory Reform Committee, avoiding full Parliamentary scrutiny.
I resolutely oppose the government’s plans to allow fire services to be sold off. Local people need to have confidence that fire-fighting in our area is being run for public protection, not company profit.
Fire and rescue is an essential service which we all depend on for our safety and sometimes our lives. This letter shows the huge risks that ministers are preparing to take with this vital public service.
Our experience with the Olympics was a forceful lesson that private firms often cost more and deliver less than promised when they bid to take over public services. I will be making my voice heard to campaign for a fire service that puts the public first.
Monday 11th February 2013
Cuts to public spending on infrastructure are having an impact. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s own assessment of the previous Labour Government’s plans, we would have been spending more on capital than the Government have this year, last year, and the year before. In total, the Tory-led Government has spent £12.8 billion less in capital investment in the last three years when compared to the plans inherited from Labour.
The UK economy has flat-lined over the last year with zero growth. Since the third quarter of 2011 and the publication of the National Infrastructure Plan which followed the economy has shrunk by 0.3 per cent. In the two years since the Spending Review our economy has grown by 0.4 per cent, compared to the 5.2 per cent George Osborne said his plan would deliver and growth of 4.2 per cent in the US and 3.6 per cent in Germany.
The question for the coming months is whether and how we can catch up all the ground we have lost over the last two and half years and not keep falling behind as other countries move ahead.
On top of this the Government’s incompetence and failure are resulting in a lack of business confidence which is damaging the economy.
The 2011 National Infrastructure Plan identified 40 priority infrastructure investments which the Government said were of “national significance and critical for growth”. But the Government has failed to deliver quickly on many of these.
Britain needs a plan to secure and sustain a strong economic recovery. This includes building thousands of affordable homes, a temporary VAT cut and a compulsory jobs guarantee to help get the long-term unemployed back to work. And we need long-term changes to make our economy stronger, including a long-term plan to rebuild our infrastructure and radical reform of the banks as well as a British Investment Bank.
Together with an active industrial strategy – supporting growth in key sectors and industries of the economy – these measures would help give investors the confidence and long-term certainty they need to get our economy growing.
1. A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people – which they would be required to take-up – and build 25,000 more affordable homes.
2. Bringing forward long-term investment projects – schools, roads and transport – to get people back to work and strengthen our economy for the future.
3. Reversing last year’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children – immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.
4. A one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance – to help homeowners and small businesses.
5. A one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers – helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.
Wednesday 6th February 2013
I’m supporting Ed Miliband’s call for the government to do more to create much-needed quality apprenticeships for young people in Bolton.
In the week the government finally announced details of the planned HS2 high speed rail route – a project initiated by the last Labour Government – Labour has called for 33,000 apprenticeships to be created as part of this £33 billion infrastructure project. That’s one for every £1million of public money spent.
We want this to apply to other government projects too, like school and hospital building, to ensure young people across the country get one foot on the work ladder and a chance to help rebuild Britain.
This new policy on apprenticeships is part of Labour’s wider jobs plan. With Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee everyone would be offered a job, and have to take it, after two years out of work, while our Real Jobs Guarantee for young people, funded by a tax on bankers bonuses, would see every 18-24 year old unemployed for a year or more guaranteed work.
We have almost a million young people out of work at the moment- a waste of a generation of talent and a worrying cost to the country’s finances as the benefits bill grows.
But David Cameron is standing aside and failing to take action to tackle youth unemployment, with no plan for the forgotten 50 per cent who don’t go to university.
Labour’s Youth Task Force is taking this challenge head on- examining the best ways of tackling the problem of youth unemployment by drawing on best practice across the country.