Concious Youth Evening

Brilliant evening at the Media Centre last night with Conscious Youth, a community organisation that empowers and supports young people in Huddersfield to achieve their aspirations.

It was inspirational to meet such engaged young people, and the night was really enjoyable.

Conscious Youth have a youth group which meets every Wednesday 5-7pm and new members are welcome to turn-up, you can find out more on their Facebook page here:

Speech in the House on Universal Credit

When the Government ignores overwhelming evidence showing the roll-out of Universal Credit is leading to vulnerable people to be evicted, one has to wonder what they are thinking. Even John Major has called the scheme “unfair and unforgiving”.

My speech today in the House highlighted the impact this is having on single-parent families and disabled people in Colne Valley and around the country.

Labour are not opposed to Universal Credit, but the Government needs to pause the roll-out and address the problems it is causing before more people are left homeless.

Flawed plans for Universal Credit

Flawed and rushed plans to roll-out Universal Credit would push millions of people into poverty, debt, and eviction.

Today Labour are calling for the Government to pause the roll-out and listen to the professionals who are have explained clearly the many issues with the plans. Already this morning, the Tories have announced that the helpline will be made free, which is a positive step, but they must act today to avoid ruining many lives.

The vast majority of people who receive these benefits are employed and simply trying to support their families, and no-one deserves to be punished by these changes.

Education Select Committee – Impact of austerity on children in care

I spoke out in today’s Education Committee about the impact of austerity on children. We’re short of social workers, short of foster carers and the reality is that year on year cuts are having an awful effect on local government’s ability to look after the most vulnerable in our society.

We cannot ignore the root cause of these problems, and I know from speaking to professionals in Colne Valley, that any focus on improving the situation we must prioritise and end to funding cuts.

BBC Sunday Politics – Labour’s plans for PFI

PFI’s have generally been an absolute disaster. The situation in Calderdale and Huddersfield Trust is unacceptable, but Labour have a plan to take private profits out of the NHS.

BBC Sunday Politics this weekend interviewed myself, and hard-working campaigner Nicola Jackson about the situation, and explained how bringing PFI debt back into government control would save our NHS huge sums of money, which could be spent on staffing and maintaining patient safety.

The next Labour Government will halt all closures, scrap PFI, and safeguard NHS assets for the future generations. No more creeping privatisation, and no more top-down mismanagement.

Question in the House on ethnic inequalities

Theresa May has announced her “race disparity audit” to tackle what she called “burning injustices” that people face in society. Finally released this week, the data contained is not new, nor does it come with any solutions.

That said, the evidence is clear that inequality needs addressing in Britain. People from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are being held back in the workplace, suffer shocking racial bias in our criminal justice system, and still face widespread discrimination in our society. White British pupils on free school meals are less likely to reach the expected standard at Key Stage 2 than any other ethnic group.

We do need action, and I asked the Minister in the House yesterday to explain what this new initiative will actually do to improve the lives of people in Colne Valley.

Her answer unfortunately, seems to be to a totally unrelated question. Avoidance or incompetence, you tell me!

Problems with free childcare policy

Free childcare for working parents – what’s not to like? The Tory announcement to provide 30 hours free childcare to 3-4 year old children seems like a positive step.

Unfortunately there are many issues with the way the Government are implementing this policy, which is leading to confusion and frustration among parents and childcare providers within Colne Valley.

Today in a debate in Westminster Hall I raised these and other issues facing early years education in our area.

Compared to many other countries, our early years education is underfunded, it pays staff significantly less, and is focussed on getting people back-to-work rather than providing the best quality education for our children. To be effective, it requires proper investment and thoughtful implementation.

Interview with BBC Sunday Politics

I gave an interview to BBC Sunday Politics today about the terrible impact PFI has had on our local hospital and Labour’s idea to bring PFI deals back “in house”.

All political parties have made errors in the past regarding PFI, no-one is denying that. However we all now need to accept the reality of the current situation and act to change things in a positive way.

Labour’s approach would not increase debt levels. The money is already owed by the tax-payer, but bringing it back under Government control would reduce interest payments, while allowing more flexibility in situations like we find ourselves in with HRI and CRH (Calderdale Royal Hospital).

The interview will be broadcast this Sunday on BBC 1.

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day: a day to show your support for better mental health, to look around and see if someone you know needs support, and to ensure you’re looking after your own well-being.

We all know mental health is a large and growing problem in the UK and around the world. The evidence has been clear for many years now, yet it is very important to spread the message that it’s good to talk and that support is out there.

However, our NHS is suffering from an ideological funding crisis, which means that the services we need are frequently not available when we need them. Together with other MPs, I have written to Theresa May to urge her to follow through on her warm words and ring-fence mental health spending. This is an issue that regardless of party politics needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

If you or anyone you know is in need of help then please do speak out, and the Mind website is a great resource