For all the Government’s reports that the economy is finally growing again, for millions of families there is still no recovery at all. After three damaging years of flatlining, prices are still rising much faster than wages. Prices have risen faster than wages 40 out of the 41 months.
Working people are now on average over £1,600 a year worse off since David Cameron came to office. But David Cameron and George Osborne are so out of touch they have chosen to give people earning over £150,000 a huge tax cut.
The Chancellor’s forecasts this week were all much worse than the ones he made when the Tory-led Government first came to power: our economy is smaller, the deficit is bigger and our debts are higher.
Over this Parliament, borrowing is forecast to be £198 billion more than planned at the time of George Osborne’s first spending review. His plans to ‘balance the books’ by 2015 have gone out the window and we will still be borrowing £79 billion by the time of the next election.
The truth is that the Government is now struggling to catch-up with Labour’s strong policies to help people with the cost of living. The piecemeal measures announced this week show they just don’t get it.
On soaring energy bills, ministers have only been able to propose a panicky half-measure in response to the leadership shown by Ed Miliband. The energy companies have been let off scot-free, leaving households having to pay £70 more for energy this year than last, even after the announced changes to green and social levies.
It shows why nothing less than Labour’s price freeze and action to reset the market will do.
We should be helping everyone not just some. We are not going to properly tackle the cost-of-living crisis with measures like the married-man’s tax allowance – a policy that won’t benefit two-thirds of married couples and that will leave five out of six families with children no better off.
Britain and Wavertree both deserve much better than this. What we needed this week was Labour’s long-term plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and higher living standards for all.
People across the world will be remembering Nelson Mandela today; the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
He was a shining light and an inspiration to me as I grew up and entered politics, as he was to millions of people around the world.
Ed Miliband has said: ‘From campaigner to prisoner to President to global hero, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for his dignity, integrity and his values of equality and justice … He moved the world and the world will miss him deeply.’
I am very proud to be a member of a Labour Party that stood in solidarity with the people of South Africa during the struggle against apartheid.
Today, we stand with the people of South Africa in mourning; tomorrow we will walk beside them to build on the foundations of the free South Africa laid by Nelson Mandela.
Please join me tomorrow for Small Business Saturday when I will be out and about across the constituency making sure that the great work that local, small businesses do is centre stage.
These are tough economic times. That’s why Labour’s shadow business team pushed so hard to get Britain’s first Small Business Saturday up and running. It is a grass-roots campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support small and independent businesses.
It has attracted widespread support, with dozens of councils – including our own in Liverpool – getting behind the initiative.
I have emailed around 3,000 local contacts with information, told my 24,000 Twitter followers about the day and promoted the event on this website and my facebook page. Tomorrow, I will be visiting shops and businesses across Wavertree enjoying the great service and fantastic offers available from local traders.
So much shopping is done on the internet now, that I wanted to use online and social media to promote local traders and businesses and the fantastic offers they make.
I have teamed up with the Liverpool Council and the Federation of Small Businesses to promote the event. The council has swung behind the initiative with parking charges being lifted in the city centre, while the Federation has promoted the day as part of its long-term campaign to revitalise our High Streets.
When I am speaking to people across the constituency, they tell me that they value the choice and unique flavour of our local shops and businesses. We should do all we can to celebrate and support them.
I am going to play my part in shining a spotlight on the huge contribution small businesses make and encourage people to buy local on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
I also wanted to let you know about three discount cards aimed at easing the financial strains on shoppers.
The Blue Light Card is available to all members of the Emergency Services, NHS and Armed Forces, HM Coast Guards, RNLI, HM Prison Services and St John Ambulance.
The Defence Discount Service works online, on the high street and in local companies to offer the Armed Forces Community a discount.
And in Liverpool, we have the Independent Liverpool card that for £10 offers everyone special deals at over 50 independent stores (mainly in the city centre).
If you have been inspired by Small Business Saturday to think about setting up your own enterprise, Liverpool Vision offers some excellent free support for start ups here
Please let me know about what you do to support Small Business Saturday. Email me at: email@example.com
I recently joined students from Broadgreen International School, Holly Lodge Girls’ College, and the Academy of St Francis of Assisi for an inspiring Youth Forum at the University of Liverpool to mark UK Parliament Week.
The Youth Forum saw debates with School Inclusion Staff Paul Windle, Vicky Kennedy and Angie Martin, School Police Officers PC Cruise and PC Edmund, John Halligan from the Trades Union Congress and myself.
The purpose was to look at how the skills of listening, discussion and negotiation can be used to resolve personal, local and international conflicts.
The feedback from the school students taking part has been great.
Lewis from Broadgreen International School said that he ‘learnt about how to deal with conflict without fighting and enjoyed listening to other people’s points of view.’
Aimee from the Academy of St Francis of Assisi said that the day ‘reminded me to be very careful of getting myself into situations that might end up turning violent.’
Plans are now underway to organise a city-wide forum in 2014 so that more students in Liverpool can work with local representatives in order to gain conflict resolution skills.
If you want to find out more about the Liverpool Youth Forum, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today is World AIDS Day and I am supporting the Halve It coalition launched in 2010 which aims to halve the proportion of people undiagnosed and diagnosed late with HIV by 2015.
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year to help us unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have sadly died from the virus.
The Halve It campaign poses a real public health challenge and it is not one we can duck.
An estimated 98,400 people were living with HIV in the UK in 2012.
There are over 22,000 people in the UK who are HIV positive but do not know it and of those who are diagnosed, more than half are diagnosed late.
Those diagnosed with HIV late have a ten-fold increased risk of death in the first year of diagnosis compared to those diagnosed early.
Halving undiagnosed HIV by 2015 would mean fewer new HIV infections, fewer early deaths and would save the NHS resources.
Many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, but despite this, many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for too many people living with HIV.
You can find out much more here.
31,000 people across England and Wales died unnecessarily last winter, in what are called ‘excess winter deaths’.
That is a 29 per cent increase on the previous year, with the North West experiencing the worst impact of the increase.
Figures I uncovered from the government, also showed that that 28,354 episodes of hypothermia were treated in 2012/13 – an increase of 25 per cent on the year before and 40 per cent up on the year before that.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already put our NHS into crisis and the government’s £1.8 billion cuts to elderly care mean vital support is being withdrawn.
A third of excess winter deaths are caused by people living in homes that are too cold, according to the World Health Organisation.
But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt didn’t want to know when I pressed him for action in Parliament. I asked him what the government was going to do about the fact that for every person who tragically dies over the winter months, eight more are admitted to hospital, putting huge strains on our crisis-ridden A&E services.
He couldn’t offer a single positive suggestion to stave off the crisis.
You can watch the exchange here.
Too many people are being forced to choose between heating and eating this winter because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies.
With high quality insulation, millions of homes could be made much warmer, but government is failing to take the action needed.
Ministers need to act and back Labour’s plans to freeze energy bills and reset the market so that it works for the millions of households who rely on it.
Age UK, has launched a Spread the Warmth campaign offering free advice and top tips to keep warm. If you are worried about yourself, a relative, friend or neighbour, Age UK Merseyside can be contacted here or by telephoning 0151 707 7020.
The festive season is a great time to get behind local businesses. Local shops and traders in Allerton Road L18 are tomorrow (November 30) launching their bid to attract customers – The Allerton Road Christmas Market.
I know that I will be doing some shopping there myself.
The festivities kick-off at 9am and you will be able to enjoy bell-ringers, choirs, festive nibbles and much more until 2pm, when many of the shops will continue with family activities in-store.
I hope to see you there.
On Saturday December 7, I will be supporting Small Business Saturday which been brought together by a coalition of businesses organisations and Labour’s Shadow Business team.
The nation-wide initiative is being backed by Liverpool City Council and I will be out and about across the constituency making sure that the great work that our small businesses do is centre stage.
If you would like me to visit your business on the day, please email me on: email@example.com or telephone: 0151 228 1628.
Today’s White Ribbon Campaign is part of a global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women.
Most men are not violent towards women, but many ignore the problem, or see it as something which doesn’t have anything to do with them.
The White Ribbon campaign encourages men to join women and women’s organisations in taking action to end the problem.
Men can sign a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women by clicking here.
The campaign started here in 2004, after over 100,000 men in Canada donned a white ribbon in response to a call to show a commitment to ending violence against women.
You can find out more about the global reach of the campaign here.
Liverpool’s second Food Poverty Conference proved a stimulating and challenging event, with some fantastic solutions presented by participants.
I heard that too many school-age children are missing out on free school meals because of their age or because their families are earning just above the threshold – another sign of the cost-of-living crisis we are facing.
We need to take a close look at how best to support children’s nutrition in schools, and make sure that the children who need free school meals get them.
I told the conference that I’m a keen supporter of Magic Breakfast – a charity delivering free healthy breakfasts to primary school breakfast clubs across the UK, including in Liverpool ensuring that no child lacks the right food as fuel for learning.
The conference also looked at the plight of many adults who are going hungry.
The Trussell Trust charity supports 400 foodbanks across the country, including a few in Liverpool.
Its latest report shows that between April and September this year, three times as many people – 350,000 – received an emergency three-day food package as during the same period last year.
One in three people needed help because of delays in receiving their benefit payments – a problem easily helped by ensuring people get their support on time.
The food bank epidemic is a national scandal. We shouldn’t have to have food banks in 2013 Britain.
This is why I‘m backing the Trussell Trust’s call for a national inquiry so that we can shine a light on the reasons for their existence and fight the solutions that work.
The conference was packed full of good ideas. You can read all about them, and see videos of some of the contributors by clicking here.
Primary school pupils and local residents have come together to create a wonderful work of art expressing their spirit of optimism – and I had the great pleasure of being asked along to unveil it.
The art work was created in response to the disturbances along Lawrence Road, Smithdown Road and Lodge Lane during the summer of 2011.
Pupils from Lawrence Road, St Anne’s, St Hughes and Smithdown Primary schools and residents from Stephenson Court retirement and sheltered housing scheme were involved in the project.
A railway theme was chosen for the art because its location is close to Edge Hill railway station.
The model of the retro trolley used for moving suitcases around railway stations holds suitcases in which time capsules produced by pupils and local residents are encased.
Pop along and see this wonderful expression of community spirit for yourself at the corner of Smithdown Road and Earle Road, Liverpool L7.