Dec 02

I am backing Small Business Saturday

2-12 Small Business Saturday logoI will be out across the Liverpool Wavertree constituency today showing my support for local business who are providing great services to customers on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is the biggest annual celebration of small businesses in the UK – and Labour helped make it happen by working with small businesses to set the annual event up in 2013.

I’ve seen it grow each year and know that local firms really appreciate the attention paid to them at this time of year. I will be visiting cafes, delis, antiques shops and more besides, reflecting on just a few of the wonderful businesses that make Liverpool Wavertree a great place to live.

Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to Britain’s High Streets and to use small shops. It is about banging the drum for entrepreneurs and small businesses in all sectors.

I hope to see you out at our local shops today.

Dec 01

Let’s end HIV stigma

Today is World AIDS Day when we remember the 35 million who have died from the disease over the last 30 years and renew our determination to stop HIV. It’s time to end stigma for good.NAT_Stigma2

Being diagnosed with HIV today is very different from receiving a diagnosis decades ago. The treatment available today means people with HIV can have a full and active life. However, people’s negative attitudes can still put people off getting regular HIV tests and can still make living with HIV difficult.

Across the world, over 34 million people have the HIV virus, with around 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV. Around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in the UK each year.

World AIDS Day is an annual reminder to us all that HIV has not gone away. Raising awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education are still vital today.

Here in Liverpool, Sahir House, which offers free and confidential advice to people living with or affected by HIV on Merseyside, is supporting a free event from 5pm-7pm today at St Brides Church, Percy Street, Liverpool L8 7LT. The event will have information stalls from partner agencies, guest speakers, a choir and the remembrance list read out by candlelight.

At the Royal Hospital, specialist nurses are hosting events including a stall with posters; information leaflets a quiz with prizes and red ribbons.

On Sunday, St Bride’s 10am service will remember those who’ve died and celebrate the lives of people living with HIV. Everyone is welcome of all faiths and none.

You can find out much more through the Sahir House HIV Info Line on 0151 237 3990.

Nov 25

Labour offers alternative to Tory failure

Today, Labour will be campaigning in communities across the country for an alternative to the Tory budget, which independent analysis has shown, will condemn those on average earnings to be around £1,400 a year worse off by 2021.Budget logo 2017

The Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis also points out that ‘the forecasts for productivity, earnings and economic growth make pretty grim reading.’

Even the Chancellor’s attempt to grab the Budget Day headlines with a cut to Stamp Duty for first-time buyers turns out to be a policy that will increase house prices and ultimately help sellers and prove a major disappointment to many hoping to get onto the housing ladder.

Cutting stamp duty, without the significant increase in house-building that Labour promised, will only drive up prices, rather than help the millions of young people who want to buy a home of their own.

There is no extra government investment in new affordable homes, no action to help private renters with soaring costs, and just three small-scale pilots to help the homeless.

Seven years of Tory failure on housing has seen homelessness shamefully double, home-ownership fall to a 30-year low and the lowest number of new social rented homes since records began. The country needed much better than this Budget offered.

The Chancellor failed to ring-fence mental health spending and refused to provide the money the NHS says it needs to start hitting the targets for all kinds of conditions that it is now consistently missing.

On Universal Credit, where Parliament voted for radical reform of a system that is leaving tens of thousands of vulnerable people without help over Christmas, the Chancellor put back just £1 for every £10 cut from the system.

However it is measured, the Tory Budget is awful. That is why Labour’s latest National Campaign Day is making the case for a Labour alternative for the many, not the few.

As part of the National Campaign Day, Labour in Liverpool Wavertree is hosting a street stall at the Childwall triangle, L16 0JN starting at 12 Noon. If you’ve never campaigned before don’t worry. Experienced members will be on hand to offer support. For more information please call Merfyn on 07912 644661.

To find the nearest event to you, just click here.


Nov 24

Budget fails mental health

This week’s Budget failed to deliver for mental health. The Chancellor’s promise of more cash for the NHS was under half what the NHS says it needs and will be eaten up by increased demand this winter. In fact NHS leaders are meeting next week to discuss what is going to be cut, not what is going to be expanded.

Despite thousands backing my call for mental health spending to be ring-fenced the Chancellor failed to respond. The consequences for mental health are clear – the crisis will worsen.

At the recent Health Select Committee I asked Tory mental health minister Jackie Doyle-Price to explain why the government rhetoric of increased mental health spending was crumbling in the face of local cuts at the front-line. You can see the exchange on the video above or by clicking here.

The government had previously announced additional funding for mental health – £1.4 billion over five years to deliver the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and £1.25 billion for the Future In Mind programme for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

My petition campaign highlighted once again that people trying to access mental health services – and in particular young people – are being turned away, not helped.

That is because not all the money is reaching the front-line where it is so desperately needed.

This issue will not go away. We will not have real parity between mental and physical health services until the government acts.

Thank you again to everyone who signed the ring-fence mental health spending budget petition. I can assure you that I will continue to campaign for mental health to be properly funded.

Nov 20

Thank you, and please sign the petition today

Thank you to the thousands of people who have already signed my national petition to urge the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spending on Wednesday.ring-fence rag out

Now, please, help me get even more people to sign in the next few hours so we can make sure the government is in no doubt how important this issue is.

The government has announced additional funding for mental health – £1.4 billion over five years to deliver the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and £1.25 billion for the Future In Mind programme for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

This is only a fraction of what mental health services need to tackle existing treatment delays and meet growing demands – yet there is too much evidence from around the country that not all the money is reaching the front-line where it is so desperately needed.

That is why I have written to the Chancellor urging him to ring-fence mental health spending in his Autumn Budget this week.

And it is why I launched my online petition –so that as many people as possible can join me in the call to get the money mental health so desperately needs to the frontline.

The money needed to transform mental health services and save lives is just not getting to where it is needed. Waiting times are too long, people are not receiving the best care in the community and too many people are having to travel too far for in-patient services.

On Wednesday, in his Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond must take action to make sure that money pledged for mental health actually reaches local mental health services.

If you have signed the petition already, thank you – and now please urge family, friends and colleagues to join the call.

If you haven’t signed yet, please do so by clicking here today.

Thank you for your support.


Nov 18

Small Business Saturday is back

2-12 Small Business Saturday logoSmall Business Saturday is back and celebrating its fifth year on December 2.

Scenes from Small Business Saturday

Scenes from Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is a not-for-profit campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages everyone to support small and local businesses.

Small Business Saturday 2016 had a huge impact across the country with customers spending £717 million with small businesses on the day, an increase of 15 per cent on 2015 spending.

Over 140,000 tweets were sent promoting the day, reaching 130 million people.

Liverpool was one of the over 80 per cent of local authorities across the UK that actively supported the campaign in a variety of ways.

I have backed the initiative from the start and had some wonderful feedback from local businesses who have used the day to encourage people to shop with them.

Once again this year, I will be spending Small Business Saturday locally, visiting shops and talking to traders across Liverpool Wavertree.

If you think there is a business that I should be visiting on the day, please do let me know by emailing:

Nov 17

Time to act on eating disorders

BeatI was pleased to be asked this week to host the parliamentary launch of Beat’s new report Delaying for years, denied for months.

Beat started in 1989 as the first national charity for people with eating disorders. Its new report shows that there are long delays in people getting the help they need.

The charity’s findings build on evidence from a survey of people with personal experience of seeking treatment, a survey of carers and their experiences, Freedom of Information requests to NHS mental health Trusts across the country, and interviews with 20 people who have either had or cared for someone who has had an eating disorder.

Its comprehensive research found that the long delays in getting treatment was ‘devastating and widespread, affecting every aspect of people’s lives.’

Around 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. As Beat points out, these are serious mental health problems, not ‘diets gone wrong.’ That is why it is so important that people get the help when they need it, without long delays.

Beat says that people spend, on average, 21 months between their eating disorder symptoms emerging and realising that they might have an eating disorder. They then wait another year before seeking help from the NHS.

In the future, the charity is going to spend more of its precious resources on working with partners to promote awareness of symptoms and encourage people to recognise them earlier.

However, even when people do seek help, there are further delays. Another six months pass between their first GP visit and treatment starting. Adults wait twice as long as children and adolescents before seeking and starting treatment.

That is why the charity is pressing the government to reduce waiting times and to increase the provision of specialist and intensive community treatment options.

Three years ago, in December 2014, the government pledged £150 million for eating disorder services. The Beat report shows that there is still much to do to make sure that money is reaching the frontline and transforming services.

That is why I am calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use next week’s Budget to ring-fence mental health spending. You can join me in my call by clicking here today.

Nov 16

Time to ring-fence mental health spend

Labour Campaign for mental HealthThe government claims that mental health spending is increasing. So why do so many Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that allocate NHS money locally – tell me that they are reducing the proportion of their budgets that go to the mental health frontline?

If money is increasing why are so many people sharing with me their experiences of long delays in even getting an assessment, let alone receiving the help they need?

The government has announced additional funding for mental health – £1.4 billion over five years to deliver the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and £1.25 billion for the Future In Mind programme for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

This money is an important step forward but I am deeply concerned that it is not reaching the frontline, where it is needed.

That is why I have launched an online petition calling on the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spend in his Autumn Budget next week.

The money needed to transform mental health services and save lives is just not reaching the front line. Waiting times are too long, people are not receiving the best care in the community and too many people are having to travel too far for in-patient services.

On November 22, in his Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond can make a difference and ring-fence mental health budgets to make sure that the promised money actually reaches local mental health services.

Please sign this petition by clicking here today to urge the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spending on November 22 and ask your friends and family to sign too.

Nov 12

A time to remember

poppyMillions of people will come together across the country today to remember all those who have sacrificed so much that we might live our lives in freedom.

It is a time to remember and also to thank our Armed Forces who continue to serve with such bravery and distinction.

Labour is proud of our Armed Forces and veterans and their families. We will always honour them through the Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant is our nation’s pledge to our servicemen and women that they will be treated with dignity and respect.

I am particularly concerned that our veterans and reservists can access the very best mental health support they need and deserve.

The dedication they have displayed in past conflicts and continue to show today deserves nothing less.

Nov 03

Today, I’m backing Votes at 16

Votes at 16At 16, people can join the army, get married and have a job – but people can’t vote.

I think that is wrong. Right now, 1.5 million young people are being denied a say in their future. It’s time we changed things.

People should be able to vote for 16. That is why I am supporting the vote in Parliament today to make the government act.

Giving young people a real stake in their future through voting is an important way to ensure young people are engaged and informed about the political process.

Lowering of the voting age for Scottish parliamentary and local elections and the plans to do so for elections in Wales is a welcome development. However, the Tory government continues to oppose votes at 16 for parliamentary elections and other elections in England.

While the European Union Referendum Bill was being considered during the last Parliament, the government consistently opposed amendments which would have allowed 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum.

It is time that young people have their say.

That is why I am supporting my colleague Jim McMahon’s Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement and Education) Bill in Parliament today.

You can sign the Labour Party petition for Votes at 16 by clicking here.

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