Mar 02

Deepening our co-operative links

keepitcoop-sharerAs a Labour and Co-operative Party MP I am backing the Let’s Keep it Co-op campaign to ensure that the Co-operative Group keeps campaigning for its values and stays owned by its members

The co-operative movement is about changing society for the better. In a democratic society that happens by organising for change through political action and the Co-operative Group is a vital part of the equation.

Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by their members – customers, employees and residents who have an equal say in what the business does and a fair share in the profits. Across the country, 6,000 cooperatives have nearly 13 million members.

The co-operative movement is also a big part of the economy, worth £33 billion.

The Co-operative Group is Britain’s largest co-operative and one of the largest co-operatives in the world. Anyone can join the Co-op and it has around eight million members who have a right to vote to elect members of the National Membership Council and the Board, as well as share in the ‘divi’.

The Co-operative Group aims to be the most socially responsible business in the UK. Each year the Co-operative Group, along with other co-operatives, pays a subscription to support the Co-operative Party’s work.

In the run up to the May’s Annual General Meeting, the Group will ask members whether to authorise the subscription and continue the nearly 100 year partnership with the Co-operative Party.

The Co-operative Party is the guardian of the co-operative movement’s powerful values and inspiring vision.

The partnership with the Co-operative Party is vital if the Group wants to be at the heart of a co-operative resurgence.

The Co-operative Party’s first MP Alfred Waterson was elected for Kettering in 1918. Four new Co-operative MPs were elected in 1922, all of whom took the Labour whip. In 1927 the Co-op Party agreed an electoral pact with the Labour Party which continues today.

I want the link between the Co-operative Party and Co-operative Group to deepen so that the Group and its Members benefit, as well as society and our communities.

Together, we can create a stronger, more sustainable future. To find out how you can help, click here.

Feb 28

Supporting the difference Fairtrade can make

fairtrade-logoI am backing Fairtrade Fortnight to offer my support to small-scale farmer organisations and plantations that do the right thing.

The Fairtrade label means that the products we buy come from organisations and companies that protect workers’ rights and the environment, pay the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business and community projects.

Today, more than 1.3 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Seventy per cent of the world’s food is produced by 500 million smallholder farmers yet many of them remain trapped in chronic poverty.

Tackling poverty isn’t just about giving aid and government assistance, it is about increasing trade opportunities and ensuring that producers are paid a fair price for their work.

The Co-operative Group is marking its commitment to Fairtrade with online, in-store and community events across the UK.

It is a testament to the British values of social justice that last year we spent over £1.5 billion on fair trade products, allowing producers in the developing world to invest in their businesses and local communities.

Labour believes in the values at the core of Fairtrade; that everyone across the globe should receive a fair price for their goods, and a fair wage for their work.

This is why in government Labour increased the UK’s investment in helping developingcountries trade to over £400 million a year.

Fairtrade Fortnight (February 23-March 8) reminds us all that by making a few small changes to our shopping habits, we can make a real difference.

Feb 27

The next generation can do better than the last

I was pleased to join Liverpool campaigners on the steps of 10 Downing Street today to hand in a petition demanding government action to lift the long-term threat to our Sure Start children’s centres.Sure Start Downing Street

As a local MP and Shadow Minister for Public Health, I know just how important these centres – introduced by the last Labour government – are in supporting parents and carers to give the best possible start in life to future generations.

It is great news that Liverpool Council has worked so hard to find a way to protect the city’s Sure Start centres for the next two years. This outcome is all the more significant as the Tory led government has cut £329 million from Liverpool City Council’s budget and removed the ring fence from Sure Start.

In government, Labour will work with councils like Liverpool’s to protect early years’ education, extend childcare for 2-4 year olds, cap class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds and make sure children are taught by qualified teachers.

We will ensure that spending on further education, sixth forms and apprenticeships for 16-19 year olds is protected.

We will tackle the student debt crisis by reducing student fees from £9,000 to £6,000 for undergraduates from September 2016 and providing additional grants for students from lower-income backgrounds.

We will reform a system that leaves the average student with £44,000 of debt and taxpayers facing the prospect of £281 billion being added to the national debt by 2030.

Labour’s better plan works for students, graduates and taxpayers as a whole.

This is the first time in almost a century when the next generation cannot expect to do better than the last. A country where the next generation is doing worse than their parents is the definition of a country in decline. We must not accept this.

A Labour government elected at the General Election on May 7, will equip our children with the skills and knowledge to succeed from their first steps to the day they stride into the adult world.

Together, we can build a country where the next generation can do better than the last: Tuition fees reduced to £6,000, an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the basic grades, and smaller class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year olds.

On Thursday May 7, we can change the course of our country and offer real hope to future generations.

Feb 27

Could you access funding to help improve your club?

Sport England Logo BlueI am hosting a Sport England workshop on Friday March 13 with Sport England experts to help local grassroots sports clubs find out more about accessing financial help.

The event will take place at WAM Friendship Centre, Wellington Avenue, Liverpool, L15 0EJ from Noon-2pm.

Sport England works with grassroots sport and its investment and expertise has already helped thousands of clubs get more people involved in sport more often.

Many clubs need just a little bit of extra help and support when they are applying for funding to help them make the best of their case.

That might involve finding the right funding stream for them or making sure that the forms are filled in correctly and have the right supporting material.

This workshop will explain the funding available, which fund would be most appropriate and how to apply.

It is a great opportunity to bring a little extra investment into Liverpool and help encourage more people to get physically and mentally active.

I hope I will see you and your club there.

If you would like to attend or if you would like more information about Sport England please email guy.bilgorri@sportengland.org or call 020 7273 1850.

Feb 23

People are waiting too long for cancer treatment

Labour NHS pledgeIn 2014, a record 20,000 people diagnosed with cancer waited too long for treatment to start. Operation waiting lists for all patients hit a seven-year high.

Taking social care support away from hundreds of thousands of vulnerable older people helped cause the A&E crisis, while the Tories’ reckless NHS reorganisation is disrupting cancer care.

The Tory led government cut the cancer budget by £800 million in real terms and, despite all the warnings, persisted with its NHS reorganisation.

The deterioration in cancer care is a direct consequence of government policies and proof the Tories can’t be trusted with our NHS.

Labour has repeatedly called on the government to produce a plan to turn things around but we are still waiting.

Labour is committed to cancer tests and results within one week to help end this scandal. Only Labour has a plan to save and transform the NHS.

Our NHS Time to Care Fund will provide an extra £2.5 billion a year to recruit 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new home-care workers and 3,000 more midwives.

We will raise the £2.5 billion by clamping down on tax avoidance schemes, raising tax on high-value properties worth more than £2 million and introducing a levy on tobacco companies.

Labour will be able to guarantee that patients will wait no longer than one week for vital cancer tests and results by 2020, a step towards reaching our ambition for the health service to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe, which could save up to 10,000 lives a year.

As well as helping to improve early diagnosis, rapid access to cancer tests will ensure people diagnosed with the disease can start treatment earlier, and help reduce the anxiety involved in waiting for a cancer test.

That is the real difference a Labour government will make.

Feb 20

All-party MPs called for concerted efforts to combat anti-semitism

All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti Semitism, at Lambeth Palace.The rise in anti-semitism in the UK needs to be tackled through urgent action from government, police and prosecution services.

The launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism

The launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism

That is the conclusion of a group of senior parliamentarians from all the main political parties who examined the rising toll of attacks against Jewish people and organisations.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-semitism in the UK, found that attacks have doubled in a single year and recorded 1,168 such incidents in 2014.

The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, chaired by Labour MP John Mann, noted that the British people ‎have a sound sense of what is anti-semitic, but called for greater public understanding of its impact and intensity.

They urged the Crown Prosecution Service to look at extending Prevention Orders, designed to deter future criminal activity, to cover hate crime offences and thereby prevent determined offenders from spreading hate online.

They also called for renewed efforts to continue successful dialogue between faiths through concerted national and local activity, particularly during periods of potential disharmony between communities, and for more research into the long-term trends around anti-semitism.

A full copy of the comprehensive report is available by clicking here.

Feb 19

Labour will tackle soaring childcare costs

New figures out this week show that the cost of childcare has soared by 33 per cent under David Cameron, with families spending £1,533 more this year than they did in 2010.Child pledge

The figures from the Family and Childcare Trust shows that in some parts of the country the cost of childcare has rocketed by as much as 53 per cent since 2010.

The Tory led government is badly letting down working families.

On top of soaring childcare costs, there are over 40,000 fewer childcare places and wages are down £1,600 a year on average.

Labour’s plan offers a better future for people struggling with the soaring cost and lack of availability of childcare.

Labour will extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three and four-year-olds paid for by an increase in the bank levy. This will benefit nearly half a million three and four-year-olds and their families and help parents overcome the barriers to getting back to work or working more hours.

We will introduce a primary childcare guarantee – a legal guarantee that parents of primary-aged children can access childcare from 8am to 6pm through their local school.

Labour will double paid paternity leave for fathers from two to four weeks so they can spend time with their children, helping more than 400,000 families a year, and raise paternity pay by more than £100 a week to at least £260 a week – the equivalent of the minimum wage.

Labour will back working parents by making more childcare available and tackling its costs.

I am looking forward to welcoming Shadow Minister for Children and Families Alison McGovern to Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party this evening to hear more.

Feb 18

Princes Trust offers support to get young people into training and work

Princes trust logoThe Prince’s Trust charity is offering small grants to young people aged 14-16 in education and at risk of achieving fewer than five A-C grade GCSEs, and young people aged 16-25 who are out of education and work to help them into education, training or employment.

The Development Award of £150-£180 would help a young person buy tools, equipment for a job, course fees, kit for college, travel costs, clothes for an interview or work clothing.

Over 10,000 young people around the UK have received a Development Award, with 82 per cent now in employment, education or training

The Princes Trust will meet up with young people who are eligible to complete an application form and discuss the support they are looking for.

People can find out more and apply by clicking here, ring The Princes Trust on: 0800 842 842 or text ‘Call me’ to 07983 385418.

Feb 16

Labour action to tackle the tax dodgers

Labour TaxMy mailbag has been filling up with concerned constituents asking what’s being done to tackle individuals and companies who don’t pay their fair share of taxes.

The first Finance Bill of the next Labour government will include measures to close loopholes used for tax avoidance, increase transparency and bring in tougher deterrents.

We will also draw up legislation for consultation on clamping down in some of the most complex areas.

We need to tackle tax abuses that involve shifting large sums of money between countries. That can best be done on an international stage, working in partnership with governments around the world to close the loopholes.

That is why we will back multilateral approaches first and foremost, but we reserve the right to implement unilateral solutions where international agreement cannot be achieved.

Our tax dodging measures will take steps in three main areas:

We will make it harder for big companies to dodge UK taxes and ensure they’re not getting unfair tax breaks;

We will make sure that UK tax rules don’t encourage big companies to avoid tax in developing countries;

We will make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging.

It makes sense for the next government to collect all the tax that is due so that we can invest in the public services that are so vital to people.

We also know that weak action on tax dodging in the UK encourages companies to avoid paying taxes in developing countries, starving them of the funds they need to work their way out of poverty.

We will cut taxes for 24 million people on middle and lower incomes by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax.

We will restore the 50p rate of tax for those earning over £150,000, for the next Parliament, to help get the deficit down in a fairer way.

We will introduce a Mansion Tax on high-value properties over £2 million, to help to pay for an NHS Time to Care Fund as part of our plan to save and transform the NHS, with an additional 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs by 2020, and a one-week cancer test guarantee.

Our approach to taxation will be fairer all around.

 

Feb 13

Labour plan to end homophobic school bullying

LGBT pledge-card-twitterThe next Labour government will take steps to end homophobic bullying in our schools.

We will make sure that teachers and schools are trained and supported to stamp out this discrimination.

Bullying leaves young people at risk of isolation and mental health problems that have a negative impact on education and future life chances.

Shockingly, a majority of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender young people self-harm and one in four attempts suicide.

The Tories have failed to update outdated sex and relationship education (SRE) guidance and refuse to commit to compulsory, age-appropriate SRE in all schools.

They are out of touch with the challenges young people face in modern Britain.

We will make age appropriate sex and relationship education compulsory in all schools and promote mental health services for young people living with the consequences of homophobic bullying

Teachers will be able to teach a 21st century curriculum that celebrates difference and helps to empower young people to take a lead themselves on their school’s anti-bullying policies.

You can read more about Labour’s plan to eradicate LGBT bullying by clicking here.

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