Mar 08

We need an International Women’s Day Budget for all

The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day today is the Changing World of Work. It seems doubly inappropriate then that the Tory government’s Budget today is likely to include more cuts to the services women, in particular, rely on to get and keep well-paid, stable jobs.Budget logo

The underfunding of health and social care hurts everyone, but the impact falls disproportionately on women, both as users of these services and as family carers.

The cost of living is rising and wages are stagnant, hurting women in particular who still take home less than men for doing equivalent work.

And because women work in and use public services more than men, cuts to these vital services have had a huge impact on women.

For all the government’s claims of ‘resetting’ its economic policy last summer, it is clear that Chancellor Philip Hammond is delivering more of the same, with an extraordinary 86 per cent of tax and benefit savings to the Treasury coming from women, people with disabilities and the poor.

Of course, the cuts and Tory policies ultimately hurt all of us, women and men alike, because our communities suffer and the social fabric begins to fray.

Here, Liverpool City Council is faced with making £90 million more cuts over the next three years, bringing the total amount of central government spending cuts since 2010 to £420 million.

And in Liverpool Wavertree one in three children in our constituency – 6,119 – are living in poverty, almost half of them in families where at least one parent is in work.

In Picton ward, over half the children – 52 per cent are living in poverty. In Kensington and Fairfield it is 43 per cent, and in Old Swan it is 34 per cent. For comparison, in the Prime Minister’s constituency the figure is 13, and in the Chancellor’s constituency the figure is 16 per cent.

Across the country, real hourly wages are 10 per cent lower now than before the crash, leaving too many people unable to make ends meet.

That is the reality of having the Tories in government for seven long years – an economy built on causualised, low-paid, temporary and precarious work, poverty for children, and underfunded schools, hospitals and social care.

That is why Labour is today calling for a Budget that reverses the trends of recent years and invests in our health and care services, encourages businesses to invest in jobs and generates the economic growth we need to properly fund our schools and other public services.

We need an International Women’s Day Budget for all.

Mar 06

We are moving, but staying close

Luciana-Logo New Year (2)The Liverpool Wavertree constituency office is moving today. The move follows the merger of construction union UCATT, in whose building the constituency office was based, with Unite. UCATT will be joining Unite at its offices in Jack Jones House in the city centre, which is outside the Liverpool Wavertree constituency.

Obviously, it is vital that as a local MP I provide local access to all my constituents and so the office and my team are moving to the new central Wavertree office.

My telephone number and email details remain the same, as does my website and social media contacts. These contacts are:

Telephone 0151 228 1628

Email: luciana4wavertree@hotmail.co.uk

You can also visit my website at: www.lucianaberger.com

Follow me on twitter: @lucianaberger and facebook: facebook.com/luciana4wavertree

There is a strict Parliamentary protocol that Members of Parliament can only take up matters on behalf of their own constituents, so please include your home address and postcode in any contacts.

Mar 03

Let’s make every daffodil count

Despite the torrential rain and winds of the last few days, March is, as always, seeing a profusion of daffodils poking through in our gardens to remind us that spring is just around the corner.Marie Curie Jason Issacs Westminster

It is a great time to be reminded of Marie Curie’s annual daffodil appeal.

This year, the cancer support charity’s Make Every Daffodil Count is designed to raise awareness of the care and support available to people living with a terminal illness.

I met long-term Marie Curie supporter and actor Jason Isaacs, who plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, with Marie Curie Nurses, Sally Monger-Godfrey and Lib Wolley (left) to celebrate the launch of the Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign.

The appeal is encouraging people across the country to support the charity by wearing a Marie Curie daffodil pin, available from volunteers across the country, or Superdrug, Spar and Poundworld stores, and Wyevale Garden Centres, during March.

One in four people miss out on the care and support they need at the end of life, and that is not good enough. Taking part in the Make Every Daffodil Count initiative will help more people be cared for in their own home, and be there for them through the night at the end of their lives.

 

Feb 27

We need to properly fund and integrate health and social care

The future funding of health and social is a vital issue. The failure of the Tory government to properly fund our NHS and the decision to deprive councils of the resources needed to properly fund social care has created a crisis.Liverpool NHS banner

I stood at the 2015 General Election on a manifesto that pledged to properly integrate physical health, mental health and social care so that every individual could be treated as a whole person, and not fall through gaps in provision.

Under the Tories, our NHS is in crisis. Patients are waiting for hours in overcrowded A&Es, waiting lists are rising and hospitals are facing huge financial problems.

For instance, since 2010, the number of people waiting longer than four hours in A&E has soared. Spending on mental health fell by £600 million in the last parliament and there are over 6,600 fewer mental health nurses today than in 2010.

Last year, 1.8 million people waited four hours or longer in A&E compared to just over 350,000 in 2009/10. Waiting lists are soaring with an estimated 3.8 million people in England waiting for treatment. In social care, the Tories cut £4.6 billion from budgets in the last parliament and they’ve completely failed to set out a proper plan to fund it, now and into the future.

Behind every statistic is a real person being denied the treatment and care they need and increasing concern and worry for their family and friends.

Today’s debate in Parliament covers a number of aspects of Health and Social care, with reference to six Select Committee Reports which were published in 2016/17 Session:

  • Impact of the Spending Review on health and social care
  • Personal budgets in social care
  • NHS specialised services
  • Discharging older people from acute hospitals
  • Improving access to mental health services
  • UnitingCare partnership contract

The crowdfunded research paper produced through 38 Degrees is a valuable contribution in the continuing debate about many of the issues raised in these reports and how integration between mental health, physical health and social care can be achieved. I believe that what we need now is concrete action from government and firm proposals about how it intends to solve the long-term funding of health and social care in our country.

As a member of the Health Select Committee, I know that many of the ideas contained in the paper will be discussed and used to hold the government to account.

Feb 27

Police face a new round of cuts

police logoMerseyside police face another year of Tory cuts after the government forced through a Police Grant Settlement confirming that our police are going to be denied the resources they need to do the best possible job.

New threats are emerging from cybercrime and an increase in hate crime following the Brexit vote, while the reductions in the most serious and violent offences seen under the last Labour government are on the rise again.

This is the worst possible time to cut resources from our police, but that is what this Tory government is doing.

The Tories claim to be the party of law and order, but under Theresa May as both Home Secretary and now Prime Minister, their record is one of failure, letting down victims and the police, with no answers to the long-term challenges we face.

Merseyside Police have been working hard with Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy and local communities to prepare for the cuts. Together, they have agreed to offset the impact of the £3.3 million government funding shortfall by increasing the amount paid towards policing by people locally through their Council Tax bill by 1.95 per cent.

That’s an increase of £2 a year for a Band A property – the lowest category of Council Tax and the amount paid by the majority of tax payers on Merseyside.

However, even with this careful planning, the police will still have to find £6.8 million of cuts in the next financial year.

The Police and Crime Commissioner says that the service is underfunded by at least £21 million and by March next year, the service will be reduced to 3,580 police officers – 420 fewer than the 4,000 it needs.

I will work with the Police and Crime Commissioner, the police, other Merseyside MPs and our local communities to press the government to provide the necessary funding to prioritise neighbourhood policing and to tackle crime and its causes.

Feb 25

Save Our Jobcentres – please sign today

Today, I am joining staff and users of the last two jobcentres in Liverpool Wavertree to highlight the vital role they play in supporting people to get back to work.Waverrtree jobcentre leaflet handout

The government plans to close the jobcentre in Wavertree and in Edge Hill – and that is after closing the jobcentre in Old Swan in 2012.

Please sign my Save Our Jobcentres petition today by clicking here and join me in signing the PCS union petition protesting at threatened closures across the city by clicking here.

I will be presenting the petitions in Parliament on Tuesday to show the government that these jobcentres really matter to local people looking for work, local employers offering jobs and to the wider community who must not be deprived of such an important resource.

Today, I am joining PCS members and jobcentre users at a public meeting to raise our concerns and highlight our campaign to protect employment support available for people locally.

If these two jobcentres close, over 3,000 people will have to travel miles, incur extra costs and risk missing appointments that could lead to benefit sanctions.

This is totally unacceptable.

Please show your support for employment support in Liverpool Wavertree by signing my Save Our Jobcentres petition by clicking here today and sign the PCS union petition protesting at threatened closures across the city by clicking here.

Together, we can make a difference.

Feb 24

We need to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK

Unison refugee Luciana Berger Lab (1)This week, I showed my support for a mass lobby of Parliament organised by the3million.org.uk, UNISON and New Europeans in support of EU citizens’ right to stay in the country after Brexit.

I signed a pledge to call on Prime Minister Theresa May to guarantee unilaterally the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. I was delighted to welcome constituents Yves and Peter (left) to Parliament to support this campaign.Unison refugee

The Tory Home Secretary Amber Rudd wrote to Conservative MPs during the recent Article 50 Bill debates to say: ‘I’d also like to reassure colleagues that Parliament will have a clear opportunity to debate and vote on this issue in the future. The Great Repeal Bill will not change our immigration system. This will be done through a separate Immigration Bill and subsequent secondary legislation so nothing will change for any EU citizen, whether already resident in the UK or moving from the EU, without Parliament’s approval.’

After the letter was sent, a number of Conservative MPs who had indicated that they would support an amendment to the Article 50 Bill to protect the rights of EU nationals, decided not to do so.

That meant that an amendment, which I supported, and which would have protected the rights of EU nationals in the UK was lost by 332 votes to 290 (a government majority of 42).

I supported the amendment because I believe that Parliament should protect the residency rights of EU nationals now and remove the doubts and fears expressed by many at the continuing uncertainty caused by the government’s inaction on this issue.

The fact that MPs from six different parties signed the the3million.org.uk, pledge this week shows the widespread concern of parliamentarians of this issue.

Workers from across Europe play a vital role in our public services, especially in the NHS and social care.

There are currently around 55,000 EU nationals working in the NHS and 84,000 working in social care in England alone. These services would not be able to survive without these EU nationals and the contribution they make. Some are long existing residents of the UK, they and their families deserve better than years of uncertainty and being reduced to bargaining chips in the upcoming negotiations.

The government must reconsider their stance on this important issue and unilaterally grants the Right to Remain for EU citizens before the process of Brexit negotiations begins.

I very much hope that the Home Secretary’s words are an indication that the government intends to act to protect EU citizen’s residency rights, but I will not be fully assured until Parliament has passed the relevant legislation.

Feb 20

Save our jobcentres

Job centres videoGovernment plans to close Edge Hill and Wavertree jobcentres will leave this area with no local help for people seeking work.

Please sign my petition today by clicking here.

I have joined with the PCS union to back a Liverpool-wide petition. You can add your name to our joint Liverpool-wide PCS petition by clicking here.

I will be presenting the petition to Parliament at the end of the month.

Over 3,000 people across Liverpool Wavertree are going be denied the local help they need every to find work.

People are being expected to attend more face to face interviews in Job Centres and failing to attend on time can lead to benefits being stopped.

It is totally unacceptable in these circumstances to make it more difficult for people to get to a Job Centre.

In 2010, there were three Job Centres in the Liverpool Wavertree constituency. Old Swan was closed by the Tories in 2012 and now the government wants to close the last two in Edge Hill and Wavertree.

If these two offices close, people will have to travel to Huyton or Toxteth to get the back-to-work support they need.

Liverpool Wavertree has the 41st highest unemployment level in our country, but the government wants to make it harder for the 2,950 people who have to attend the job centre every two weeks. They will have to travel further and will have to find additional bus fares of £8.60 a month to get that help.

As soon as the potential closures were announced I raised the issue in Parliament and asked how our constituents were supposed to get the support they need locally. You can watch my exchange with the minister by clicking here.

The minister’s response was not good enough. Jobseekers and local employers need a jobcentre they can contact locally and not have to travel outside the constituency to get information and support.

The plans are out for public consultation until the end of this month, and I will be presenting the petition to Parliament, making sure the government knows how its plans are going to hurt people in pour constituency.

The PCS public meeting takes place on Saturday February 25 at 3pm at the Frontline Centre, Lawrence Road, Liverpool L15. Please come and join us.

Please sign my petition today by clicking here.

Please sign the PCS Liverpool-wide petition by clicking here.

Feb 18

Start a conversation today

I’m joining the conversation about loneliness, and encouraging you to do so too.Jo Cox campaign 2

Throughout 2017, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness will focus on the positive action we can all take to recognise it, build connections and help ourselves and others.

My colleague Jo Cox had taken the first steps towards setting up the Commission before she was murdered in her constituency of Batley and Spen last June. Jo was a doer and determined to combat loneliness after she saw how many people experienced loneliness in her constituency.

Three years ago, I met with campaigners in Liverpool to listen to their experiences of loneliness in our city and what we could do together to tackle it. Many older people experience loneliness, but so do many younger people struggling with problems in communicating needs and feelings and isolation.

In fact, loneliness can affect anyone at any stage of their life, people of all ages and from all backgrounds and can become a major problem when people are overwhelmed by it and can’t, for many reasons, find a way to tackle it.

By joining with partners – Action for Children, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, The British Red Cross, The Campaign to End Loneliness, Carers UK, The Co-op, Eden Project Communities, Independent Age, Refugee Action, Royal Voluntary Service, Sense and The Silver Line – the commission will shine a light on those most likely to experience chronic loneliness and how we can all help.

The Commission is urging supporters to ‘Start a Conversation’, to get people talking; chatting to a neighbour, visiting an old friend, or just making time for the people they meet.

You can pledge to start your conversation by clicking here.

Feb 17

Tackling fuel poverty improves health and well-being

Warm Homes Campaign logoA baby born today and living in cold housing is more than twice as likely to experience breathing problems including asthma and bronchitis, and three times as likely to experience wheezing and respiratory illness. The baby’s chances of experiencing mental health problems are also higher.

Today, around four million UK households live in a cold, damp home and are unable to access equal life chances.

For the last three months, the Warm Homes Campaign organised by the charity National Energy Action has been raising awareness of the importance of being able to live in a warm, comfortable home.

One of the biggest barriers to achieving that aim is the cost of heating homes, which is why I am backing today’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.

National Energy Action has worked with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency to highlight some of the best practice being carried out by local councils.

Liverpool City Council’s Healthy Homes programme brings together help and advice with practical support on keeping homes warmer. It is one of just a few councils around the country that properly funds a team of environmental health officers who can use enforcement powers to make unwilling landlords improve properties if there are health and safety risks to their tenants.

Healthy Homes has supported around 46,000 initial assessments resulting in 22,000 referrals for additional support over the past seven years.

The programme estimates that it has saved the NHS around £55 million over a 10-year period, while the enforcement work has made private landlords invest an additional £5.5 million.

It is proof that a relatively small investment in long-term, preventative support carried out by local councils in partnership with local agencies can make a huge difference and actually save money in the long-term, as well as improve the health and wellbeing of people.

As a local MP, I have referred a number of constituents to this service, who have gone on to see improvements to their homes. Please get in touch by clicking here, or you can find out more about the Healthy Homes initiative by clicking here.

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