Tories fail childcare test

Childcare posterMany schools are returning after the Easter break, leaving parents worrying even more about money. In Parliament, the Tory-led government has turned its back on Labour calls to reform childcare now to support struggling families.

The Tory-led government has cut support for children and families by £15 billion since it came to office. The latest Budget confirmed that no help will arrive until after the election. This is too little, too late.

Childcare costs have spiralled by 30 per cent since 2010. For instance, the average bill for a part time nursery place of 25 hours a week has gone up to £107, which means that parents working part time on average wages would  have to work from Monday until Thursday before they paid off their weekly childcare costs.

Families are paying more on average for part-time childcare than they spend on their mortgage, according to new research from the Family and Childcare Trust

The revised childcare announcement from the government in the Budget shows that the scheme is now set to help fewer people than was previously announced.

Labour will expand free childcare for three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week for working parents.

This will help families struggling with the cost of living crisis.

It will also mean that parents who want to work part time will be able to do so without having to worry about the cost of childcare.

The extra 10 hours of free childcare would be available to households with 3 and 4 year-old children where all adults are in work – either single-parent households where the single parent is in work, or couple households with both adults in work.

The 15-hour early years entitlement will remain universal.

The cost of the policy will be met through an increase in the bank levy, underlining Labour’s sense of priorities.

In addition, Labour will introduce a Primary Childcare Guarantee for families with school-age children. This will give all parents of primary school children the guarantee of access to childcare through their school from 8am-6pm.

Celebrating 150 years of support

Deaf logoMerseyside Society for Deaf People is celebrating 150 years’ supporting the deaf community with a thanksgiving service tomorrow (Wednesday April 23) at Liverpool Cathedral.

The free event starts at 7pm and features the brilliant Liverpool Signing Choir, who performed earlier this year in Parliament to the delight of everyone who came to watch.

Merseyside Society for Deaf People was established in 1864, to address the many barriers and inequalities experienced by people who are deaf. The society seeks to ensure that deaf people achieve a full, active and influencing role in mainstream society.

Tomorrow evening’s event includes refreshments and promises to be a joyous celebration of the lives and successes of people who are deaf across Merseyside.

For more information, please email: Hannah.lewis@liverpool.anglican.org

Talking about mental health

Time to Change thanksIt’s great to have been part of the million-strong Time to Change conversation campaign that is helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

Figures just in from the campaign show that an incredible 1,066,506 conversations took place on Time to Talk Day, February 6.Wavertree YL

The simple, but incredibly effective idea is that the more people talk about mental health, the easier it becomes for people to understand that mental health problems can happen to anyone and there should be no shame or embarrassment about seeking help or support.

I was tweeting, emailing, blogging and talking face-to-face to people throughout the day, including to enthusiastic members of Wavertree Young Labour (right). The response was great, sparking others to start their own conversations.

A big thank you from me to everyone who joined me in conversation and congratulations to the organisers for making such a success of the day.

Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination are still major barriers to people getting help as early as possible and making a meaningful recovery. It is going to take time to overcome such deep-rooted stigma, but a meaningful effort has been made.

The truth about foodbanks

As foodbank use soars toward a million desperate people, what a disgrace that an anonymous government spokesman tells the Daily Mail that the Trussell Trust, which organises a national network of support centres is guilty of ‘misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity seeking’.foodbank April 14

The truth about foodbanks is very different.

I have been a regular visitor to the Central Liverpool Foodbank since it opened and have seen the number of people using it double every year. This month it marked its third year with the grim statistic that over 10,000 people had used it in the last 12 months.

Figures released in the Liverpool Echo this week show that Merseyside is the worst hit region in the country, with 56,111 people a year, or 154 people each day, accessing emergency food aid. Of these, more than 20,000 were children. That equates to one person accessing a foodbank every nine minutes.

Nationally, the Trussell Trust says that 913,138 adults and children have received three days’ emergency food and support from Trussell Trust foodbanks in the last 12 months, a shocking 163 percent rise on numbers helped in the previous financial year.

The Tory-led government claims that more people are using foodbanks simply because foodbanks themselves are raising the issue of food poverty and becoming better known.

In fact, too many of the people using foodbanks are doing so because they are facing unjustified benefits sanctions or unacceptable delays in claims being assessed.

When I speak to people using the Central Liverpool Foodbank, very many have been forced there by failures in our welfare system. The government tries to deny it, but JobCentres now routinely refer people to foodbanks who they know would otherwise be destitute.

I have seen plenty of people smiling at the warm welcome they receive from the volunteers and staff at the centre and in thanks for the food they receive, but I haven’t seen anyone smiling at the prospect of having to turn to a foodbank for help in the first place.

Big music career opportunities

There are some great opportunities being offered by the Big Music Project for people wanting to carve out a career in the music industry.Big Music project

Backed by young people’s charity UK Youth, the initiative offers people aged 14-24 the chance to get involved in the industry, promotes work experience opportunities, internships, jobs and offers some great chances to find out about the many different routes in to the industry.

The Big Music Project is supported by major names in entertainment such as radio station Capital FM and the BPI, the people behind the BRIT Awards, as well as Plan B, Ellie Goulding, Example, Chase & Status and MNEK.

UK Youth is offering organisations working with young people in each region of England, the chance to become Big Music Project Hubs and be part of a UK-wide music network.

Each Hub will be given free accredited training and resources to enable 10 young people to become Music Champions and run their own music projects and deliver peer education, which will ensure a wider group of young people have improved access to opportunities. To find out more about the hubs, email Lucy.

The Big Music Project aims to reach 4,500,000 young people.

It will host four national live events that will attract over 1,000 young people each, promote a nationwide music competition, offer over 250 placements, ranging from the short term to year-long paid internships across the music industry and organise a grassroots training and development programme.

I am committed to doing all I can to provide young people with the information they need to learn about job opportunities in our flourishing music scene. Two months ago, I held the first Skills and Schools Day with UK Music. You can learn more about the day here.

Hillsborough 25th anniversary

HillsboroughToday, I am joining families, friends and fans across Liverpool and the country to remember the 96 people who died at the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago.

Our thoughts are with the families of everyone who died on that tragic day and their continuing fight for justice.

Without the bravery and determination of the survivors, family members and campaigners, the disaster might now be viewed as one more awful, sad chapter in history. Their determination has exposed many wrongs and created a national understanding of the need to expose the whole truth of what happened on that day.

Today, I pledge my support to this continuing fight.

Making an appointment to meet up

Labour MP PhotocallI hold surgeries every week across the constituency to meet people face-to-face who think I may be able to help. You just need to get in touch to book an appointment.

The first Thursday of the month:
Fiveways Medical Centre, 215 Childwall Road, L15 6UT

The second Thursday of the month:
UCATT, 56 Derwent Road East, L13 6QR

The third Thursday of the month:
The Fairfield Centre, Sheil Road, L6 3AA

The fourth Thursday of the month:
WAM, Wellington avenue, L15 0EJ

Surgery times are subject to change depending on parliamentary business.

Sometimes people want to raise a general issue with me, and sometimes people want to talk through a specific problem they are having, for instance with housing, health, work or benefits.

It is really useful when making an appointment to provide some brief information about what it is that you want to raise with me. It may turn out that we can sort out what you need over the phone or by email.

If we can’t, or you want to meet face-to-face, then it is helpful to bring with you any recent, relevant letters or information with you so that we can look through them together. If we need to keep copies of any correspondence, we will return originals to you.

We will then sit down and talk through what it is you want to raise, what I can do to help and agree our next steps.

Each person’s concerns will be different, and some issues can take longer to sort out than others, but we will agree when we meet when I will come back to you to let you know about progress.

To make an appointment, please:

Telephone: 0151 228 1628

Email: luciana4wavertree@hotmail.co.uk

How I can help

People get in touch with me to let me know what they feel about issues in the news or about issues that are on their minds as well as government policies and what they want Labour to do about them.Luciana with Cost of Cameron petition 11-1-14  wirral west

People also get in touch with me because they are having problems with housing, jobs, consumer services, benefits, gas, water and energy suppliers. immigration, anti-social behaviour, street cleanliness, schools and much more besides.

Sometimes, all it takes is for an MP to make contact and service providers can quickly work with you to solve a problem.

Sometimes, I am able to use the experience of others to provide you with the information or advice you need to solve the problem yourself.

And sometimes, I can put you in touch with councillors, or other organisations that are better placed to support you.

You will always receive a friendly welcome and a quick reply from myself and the staff I work with.

We aim to process casework enquiries within five working days.

We can’t guarantee to solve every problem, but we can promise to do our very best to work with you to find a solution.

There will be some things I can’t help with. Members of Parliament work with people who live within their constituency. We will ask you for your postcode when you get in touch. If you live in another MP’s constituency, we will give you the contact details for your MP.

I can’t interfere with the working of the courts, but I can, through the Law Society, help you make contact with a solicitor who may be able to help represent you.

And, of course, it is better to get in touch and ask me if you think I can help. If I can’t I will always let you know why and do my best to put you in contact with the person who can help.

To get in touch, please:

Four pillars of economic growth and prosperity

Over the coming weeks and months, you will be hearing a lot about Agenda 2030, Labour’s ambitious plans to put in place the policies and support needed to create economic revival.

Liverpool Port. #itsliverpool

Liverpool Port. #itsliverpool

We need to earn and grow our way to higher living standards through a high-productivity, high-skilled, innovation-led economy succeeding in the world, creating good jobs and opportunities, offering people a ladder up and the chance to make the most of their potential.

Our fast-changing world is creating global opportunities for us to grow and develop, but the Tories have shown themselves quite incapable of grasping the kind of scientific, technical and skills reforms required to take advantage of them.

Instead, they want to shrink the size of the state, rather than transform it in to a friend of innovation and change.

In Liverpool, we understand the need to adapt to the new opportunities, which is why the city council has been doing so much to build trade and upgrade our sea links to the world as well as prepare for the International Festival for Business in the summer.

The UK currently exports more to the Czech Republic – a country a tenth of the size and with less than a fifteenth of the population – than we do to fast growing Nigeria.

The Chinese students attending the University of Liverpool know that they can learn a lot in our city, but the UK needs to understand that there is much to be learnt from China. For instance, we like to think of ourselves as better innovators than China. But China is growing science spending by 36 per cent a year.

We need to transform our economy and back our businesses to make the most of the new opportunities there are and grow our way to higher standards of living for all.

Because we are not seeing the balanced and sustainable growth we were promised, prices are still rising faster than wages and the continuing cost-of-living crisis for many means that individuals are, on average, £1,600 a year worse off.

So business as usual is not an option.

To set a foundation for future success, the next Labour government will take a different approach founded on four pillars of success.

First, we will liberate the talents of all. Everyone – in every part of Britain – will have a platform from which to succeed.  Instead of prioritising a millionaires’ tax cut for the top 1 per cent, Labour will prioritise giving everyone a ladder up.

Second, Labour will prioritise investing in our science base so that we can compete in a race to the top through innovation, creating and developing goods and services which the world wants to buy.

Third, Labour will work strategically with business to encourage longer-term decision making in government and industry. That includes setting up a British Investment Bank and a network of regional banks to ensure businesses have the finance and growth capital they need.

Fourth, Labour will remain open to the world and seek to shape the forces of change in partnership with other countries – in Europe and beyond. We cannot claim to be pro-exports and be anti-EU. The European Union is our nearest and biggest market gives us access to other markets we couldn’t get into, or not so quickly.

This is a huge agenda of transformation and I look forward to hearing your views and sharing more details with you in the run up to the General Election.

United Nations World Autism Day

NAS Onesie-community-main-page

National Autistic Society supporters don their onesies

Today is United Nations World Autism Day and all this month Liverpool City Council, community groups and local people are making an extra effort to raise awareness of autism.

Mayor Joe Anderson is to be congratulated for wanting to make Liverpool an autism friendly city.

I will be linking up with the Liverpool Autistic Children’s Alliance on Friday to discuss how I can support the fantastic work people with autism, families and campaigners are already doing.

Today, there is a National Autistic Society ‘Onesie Wednesday’ event with autistic children at St George’s Hall in Liverpool.

On Saturday, Everton In the Community is promoting autism awareness at the Arsenal game.

The National Autistic Society says that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, the condition affects people in different ways. Some people are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.

People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. People with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

Together, we can break down the stigma that surrounds the condition and all help make sure that our city and country are friendlier places for people with autism.