Nov 21

I’m backing the Bill to restore our NHS

Luciana Berger with Clive Efford MP

Luciana Berger with Clive Efford MP

I am backing my colleague Clive Efford’s Private Member’s Bill today aimed at restoring our National Health Service.

The Bill would overturn Tory rules that force compulsory tendering of all NHS contracts and restore the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the NHS.

Under the Tories’ damaging Health and Social Care Act, enforced competition and creeping privatisation within the NHS have left patient care as an afterthought and not the priority that it should be.

If passed, the Bill would restore real democratic accountability for the NHS, scrap the new competition framework and make sure NHS patients are always put first.

The Bill would mean that the government will no longer be able to evade responsibility for the NHS by insisting decisions lie with unelected quangos and local health commissioners.

It will also give Parliament sovereignty over the NHS and will protect it from the provisions of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which threatens to allow private companies to use the courts to force the wholesale privatisation of the NHS.

The NHS has never been more vulnerable. The Tories wasted £3 billion on a top-down NHS reorganisation that no-one wanted and they said wouldn’t happen.

New rules allow hospitals to earn up to 49 per cent of their income from private patients, leaving NHS patients to wait.

The government’s own figures for 2013-14 show that more than £10 billion was spent on the purchase of healthcare from non-NHS bodies.

If that trend continues it will seriously undermine NHS services, leaving us at the mercy of the private sector.

In government, Labour will ensure that the NHS puts patients before profits.

We will invest the millions of pounds saved from scrapping competition red tape in ensuring people can get a GP appointment within 48 hours, or on the same day if they need it.

The Tories have destabilised our health service. Labour will rescue the NHS with our £2.5 billion Time to Care package which will fund new staff including 20,000 more nurses – investment the Tories will not match.

I’m delighted to back Clive Efford’s Bill today as the first step in restoring our National Health Service.

Nov 18

Government needs to act on Meningitis B

I was pleased to be able to host the Meningitis Now charity in the House of Commons recently and back their demand for the government to end delays and introduce a vaccine to protect babies against Meningitis B as soon as possible.

Luciana Berger with Meningitis B Young Ambassador Mollie Gobe

Luciana Berger with Young Ambassador Mollie Gobe

The UK has one of the world’s highest Meningitis B rates and it kills more of the country’s under-fives than any other infectious disease.

The charity says that there have been 1,000 cases of meningococcal group B disease since the new vaccine Bexsero received its licence in January 2013 – yet the vaccine still hasn’t been given to babies.

Of these cases, around 400 people will have died or developed disabilities.

The government said in March that the vaccine would be given free to babies up to age one on the NHS, subject to price negotiations with pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Negotiations have gone on long enough.

The government needs to get the deal done and let the NHS provide protection for babies.

Time lost is lives lost.

Ministers must introduce this vaccine as soon as possible to save lives and prevent disability.

Nov 16

Join the Parliament Week Thunderclap for democracy

Parliament WeekI had a great reception from local students when I told them on Friday about Parliament Week taking place all this week and how every voter in the land is a powerful voice for democracy.

Tomorrow at noon, people on social media can use Thunderclap to start a conversation with Parliament that resonates across the country. Click here to set up your message and watch it take off across your social networks at Noon today.

Parliament Week (November 14-20) is designed to get more people involved in the democratic process. The programme of events and activities connects people with parliamentary democracy across the UK. Parliament Week is co-ordinated by the House of Commons with support from the House of Lords.

It is a great time to remind ourselves that the ballot box is open for every person registered to vote – no matter who they are. On election day, we are all equal. It doesn’t matter who you know or what your background is. If you are registered to vote, your ballot paper gives you a voice that is as loud as anyone’s in the land.

Voting is the cornerstone of democracy. It makes sure that it is the people who have the ultimate power in society. That is why I want to make sure that as many people as possible are registered to vote now and then turn out to vote at the Local and General Elections next year.

I believe that young people from the age of 16 should be able to vote. I’m delighted that Labour is committed to bringing that about, if we win the General Election next year.

The people of Scotland showed earlier this year that there is a demand for politics and that people have a voice that wants to be heard. I’m determined to make sure that I have a conversation with as many people as possible across the Liverpool Wavertree constituency so I can listen to what people have to say and what they want from their MP.

You can contact me in lots of ways:

  • Telephone my constituency office on 0151 228 1628;
  • Email me at: luciana4wavertree@hotmail.co.uk;
  • Write to me at: Luciana Berger, UCATT Building, 56 Derwent Road East, Liverpool L13 6QR;
  • Book an appointment at one of my weekly surgeries. Simply ring or email, and we will make an appointment at a venue that suits you.
  • You can also follow me on twitter: @lucianaberger and on facebook: com/luciana4wavertree

Nov 14

General Election is just six months away

Luciana Berger with Wirral West Prospective Parliamentary candidate Margaret Greenwood and supporters

Luciana Berger with Wirral West Prospective Parliamentary candidate Margaret Greenwood and supporters

Every door we knock on and every conversation we have brings Labour closer to winning the election in May 2015.

My Down Your Street visits, school gate meetings, regular surgeries and campaigning across the constituency give me one consistent message – people are hurting and want change.

People want the chance to improve their lives, work for decent pay and have the prospect of a decent education for their children and the protection of a quality National Health Service if they fall ill.

The General Election date – Thursday May 7 2015 – is just six months away.

We can make a real difference in those six months to ensure Labour victories across the country.

That’s why, as well as meeting constituents in Liverpool Wavertree tomorrow, I will be joining Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wirral West Margaret Greenwood who is campaigning to unseat the Tory welfare minister Esther McVey.

Margaret Greenwood is a great candidate and Wirral West deserves an MP who is committed to her local area, protecting its environment and encouraging sustainable growth and jobs.

Every vote gained and every seat won will count toward a Labour victory in 2015.

Please join us tomorrow from 10a. Just email for details.

Nov 13

Backing Keep Your Cool campaign

Luciana Berger (r) joins Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett and Stephen Twigg MP (r) to back the campaign.

Luciana Berger(r) joins Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett and Stephen Twigg MP(l) to back the campaign.

The law is failing to protect shopworkers from abuse and assault. That is why I am backing the Keep Your Cool at Christmas campaign launched this week by shopworkers’ union Usdaw.

The campaign points to rising tension levels in stores during the Christmas shopping period and reinforces the message that abuse is not part of the job.

Incidents of violence at work have actually increased by 1 per cent in the last year, at a time when overall levels of violent crime are decreasing.

Luciana Berger with staff at Tesco in Old Swan, Liverpool

Luciana Berger with staff at Tesco in Old Swan, Liverpool

Usdaw says that more than 300 shopworkers are abused or assaulted simply for doing their job, every day in the UK. That is unacceptable.

All workers have a right to be safe at work, to be free from fear, violence and verbal abuse, and treated with the respect they deserve. Yet, the British Retail Consortium estimates that there were as many as 35,000 assaults on public-facing workers last year.

I have backed Labour moves in the last 12 months to introduce tougher sentences for those assaulting public-facing workers because they would have provided a clear signal that assaulting shopworkers and other public- workers is unacceptable. Unfortunately, the government has consistently rejected them.

The government needs to do much to offer greater protection for shopworkers including additional CCTV, more police officers and tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers.

We can all do our bit in the busy shopping period up to Christmas to protect the shopworkers serving us by keeping our cool and encouraging those around us to do the same.

Nov 10

Deadline looms for competition entries

Rock the house band picLocal musicians and film-makers have just a few weeks left to get their entries in for Rock the House and Film the House.

Rock the House and Film the House link up with local MPs to search out talent and offer winners national exposure and backing to take the first steps to success.

The competitions are looking for the best up and coming talent to put in front of judges drawn from the leading lights of industry to win prizes ranging from festival slots, studio time, equipment and a chance to have work premiered in London’s West End.

Liverpool is full of creative talent, so I am looking forward to seeing and hearing some fantastic entries before deadline day on December 31 this year.

Rock the House categories are: Under 19 solo artist, Under 19 band, Solo artist, Band, Music venue and People’s choice award. To enter, upload your music from Soundcloud or your video from YouTube to the competition website at: www.rockthehousehoc.com

Film the House categories are: Drama/Thriller/Action (18 years+), Comedy (18 years+), Music Video (18 years+), Documentary (18 years+), Under 18s (any genre of film accepted). To enter, upload your video from YouTube to the competition website at: www.filmthehouse.com

The deadline for entry is December 31 2014 with finalists announced in February, so please get your entries in soon.

Nov 09

Remembrance Sunday, a poignant reminder of sacrifice

poppyI will be laying a wreath today at the city’s annual Service of Remembrance and I will be joining the service of the Liverpool Scottish Regiment.

This year’s commemorations are particularly poignant because they mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, in 1914.

As we reflect on the loss of the generation who went to war in 1914, we are also keenly aware of those who currently serve, most notably those who are returning home from Afghanistan.

Millions will gather together today to thank the Armed Forces. It is sad that serving and off-duty servicemen and women can still be discriminated against, for instance when shops and pubs refuse to serve Armed Forces personnel or when employers overlook reservists.

That’s why Labour is supporting a change to the law so that discrimination against the Armed Forces would be illegal and for the first time ever it would be a specific criminal offence to attack servicemen and women.

Labour is also committed to enshrining the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant in the NHS Constitution, to ensure that those with physical or psychological injuries receive proper care and support.

We will introduce a Veterans Register, so that those leaving the Armed Forces can access health, housing and employment services to help them transition to civilian life.

Labour is proud of our Armed Forces and veterans and their families. We will honour the Armed Forces Covenant, and ensure that our servicemen and women are treated with dignity and respect. Their bravery and dedication deserves no less.

Nov 07

Getting buses back on the right road

Bus passengersPeople need better public transport. The next Labour government will make sure that local authorities have the powers they need to integrate services and make bus services run in the interests of passengers and the local economy.

Councils like Liverpool will be able to set the right bus routes and have fairer fares to help working people and businesses.

How can it be right that a child pays more to get a bus to school in Liverpool than London?

In London, child fares are 70p for a single journey, in Liverpool they are £1.10 on Stagecoach and £1.40 on Arriva buses.

Adults wanting to get to work in Liverpool pay a flat fare of £2 on Stagecoach and £2.20 on Arriva. In London, the flat fare is just £1.45.

Parents have told me that their children have missed school because they can’t find the bus fares.

Likewise, college students are having to choose their education according to cheaper bus routes rather than doing what they want.

Why shouldn’t we in Liverpool benefit from value-for-money public transport that delivers for the people who use it and the local economy?Bus ticekts

It took lots of effort from Merseytravel to introduce the all-day £2 MyTicket for the under 16s in the face of obstinacy from the bus companies. It is now a great success, and is paying for itself as more people use the bus.

But even more could be achieved if local authorities have the right powers to deliver for local people. London transport works because local people have control and the powers needed to make it work.

Meseytravel is rolling out the Walrus smartcard next year, but it can only be used for certain tickets, because the transport authority does not have the power to cap fares.

If Merseytravel did have the right powers, fares could come down and the smartcard could be used for all journeys.

Labour will give local people the powers they need. Labour plans will:

  • make introducing simple travel cards to be used across all forms of public transport easier, making journeys smoother and quicker for passengers;
  • help better support the local economy by having a co-ordinated and integrated network;
  • encourage more passengers on to buses, leading to more money in the fare box;
  • allow small and new bus operators to be able to compete with the multinational companies for contracts.

Getting public transport right can make a real difference to people’s everyday life and help local businesses attract staff and customers.

Buses are the forgotten backbones of our communities. The Tory-led government has allowed bus fares to rise by an inflation-busting 25 per cent since 2010.

I want to see bus fares and routes back in the hands of local people, so that we can have value-for-money public transport that delivers for the people who use it and our local economy. I’m glad that Labour’s manifesto will include plans to do that.

Nov 04

Pay gap widens for women workers

equal pay logo-300x208 (2)This year women are working three days extra for free because of the Tory-led government’s failure on Equal Pay.

After years of falling under Labour, the pay gap is back on the rise under the Tories and Lib Dems.

Equal Pay Day is marked each year as the day women start working for free because of the gender pay gap.

In 2013 Equal Pay Day fell on November 7, however this year it’s three days earlier on November 4, because the gender pay gap rose last year.

Women today still earn just 80p for every male-earned pound, 44 years after Labour’ passed the Equal Pay Act.

The next Labour government will act to reverse the trend.

We will require big companies to publish their pay gap so that for the first time, women will be able to see if they’re being paid less for doing equivalent work, and expose where too few women are in the top jobs.

Later this year, we will force a vote in Parliament on pay transparency calling on the government to act, even before the General Election.

Equal pay is long overdue. Under this government, the pay gap is back on the rise after years of progress. A Labour government will take action to bring equal pay closer.

Nov 01

Stay warm and healthy this winter

winter-warmth-750x390The city council’s Healthy Homes initiative is working with organisations like Age UK and housing associations to provide free information, advice and practical help about how to keep warm and safe during the winter months ahead.

It is also giving away winter warmth items at a series of public events in the run up to Christmas, including at a city-wide event at St George’s Hall on Wednesday November 12.

The Winter Survival Campaign has seen a dramatic fall in the number of excess winter deaths in the city over the last three years, but the latest figures show that there are still more than 200 deaths during the coldest months that could be prevented.

Older people, pregnant women and those with long-standing respiratory problems should speak to their GP about a free flu jab, while we all need to make sure that we have had an annual gas safety check to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

I want to let people who have pre-payment energy meters know that companies will be writing to them over the next few weeks about how to claim a £12 rebate. The rebate is coming to everyone else through their electricity bills.

People with pre-payment meters need to take the barcode voucher included with the letter they receive from their electricity company to the place where they usually top up along with ID to have the rebate added to their meter key.

You can out more about the rebate by clicking here.

I would also urge everyone to look out for their neighbours during any cold weather.

 

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