Aug 28

Mounting evidence of the personal costs of Tory cuts

The Tories have made it a distressing week for people with long-term health problems and disabilities.Luciana-Logo New Year (2)

The Tories have been forced to release figures showing that 2,380 employment support allowance claimants died after being found fit for work between December 2011 and February 2014.

Ministers have been trying to suppress these statistics for more than three years. The delay and the lack of transparency is a disgrace and has caused huge distress to the families and friends of those affected.

They need to focus on sorting out the assessment process so that everyone can have confidence in it, and provide proper support for disabled people.

Despite growing evidence of the human cost, the government is pressing on with plans to cut support for people who are too ill to work.

The disastrous work capability assessment has been plagued with problems with contractors, poor assessments, costly appeals and widespread human misery.

Ministers need to focus on providing tailored support for disabled people who can work to help them achieve their aspirations.

Cutting the benefits of those who aren’t able to work, such as those with Parkinson’s or cancer or severe mental health problems, is punishing sick and disabled people for the government’s own failures.

People with disabilities need a humane assessment system that provides support in to work where possible and ensures that the social security system treats disabled people with dignity.

Aug 27

Stand for Liverpool Labour in 2016

councillorsLiverpool Labour Party is looking for new candidates to stand for the council elections in May 2016.

This is an exciting time to be a Liverpool City Councillor. Liverpool needs good people to stand for the council so that they can support the Mayor in standing up for Liverpool against savage cuts from the Tory government.

The council is achieving an enormous amount in spite of the devastating cuts, but there is lots to do.

Liverpool Labour is transforming the way local government works, so that it is more outward-looking and works more closely in partnership with communities. Councillors are at the forefront of these changes.

Liverpool Labour wants candidates and councillors who are representative of our communities and is particularly keen to hear from women, young people and members of ethnic minorities.

If you are interested, you can find out more at a great taster event that takes place on September 1 at 7pm at The Devonshire House Hotel, Edge Lane, L7 9LD, followed by a campaign training session.

If you are interested please contact Matt Garlick on mjgarlick@hotmail.com.

Aug 24

Celebrate World Mental Health Day with creative writing

YouTube Preview ImageWriting on the Wall is back with a new competition to celebrate World Mental Health Day on October 10.

The Liverpool-based community organisation has worked with the Stroke Association, young carers and many more to celebrate writing that helps people express themselves.

Writing on the Wall is working with the Liverpool Mental Health Consortium to encourage people to speak out about mental health using stories, poetry essays and tweets.

The ‘Mental Health & Me’ writing competition is in its second year. Last year it  attracted a wide selection of creative work across six categories – poetry, short stories, diary pieces or blog posts, letters, a piece of journalism, and a tweet. This year, there is a brand new category – Spoken Word.

Entries are encouraged from anyone of any age with an interest in mental health and wellbeing who lives in Merseyside. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Monday September 14 2015.

You can find out more by clicking here or telephone: 0151 703 0020.

Aug 22

Local people denied final say on fracking

Luciana full faceThe Tories have consistently ignored genuine and legitimate concerns about shale gas extraction. Now they are going a step further by denying local communities a say in decisions about whether it should go ahead.

In June, the government issued planning guidance giving local residents ‘the final say’ over wind farm applications. Yet, when it comes to shale gas, they are saying the Secretary of State should have ‘the final say. The Tories are clearly guilty of double-standards.

Despite all their talk of localism, they have taken the extraordinary step of saying the Secretary of State knows best.

The government urgently needs to put in place the rigorous safeguards Labour has been calling for. It needs to go further and delay any fracking licences until the scientific and environmental issues are properly resolved.

We need a government that promotes the use of renewable energy supplies to help Britain meet its carbon commitments on tackling climate change.

Aug 21

A sorry record for 100 days of government

Osborne laughingThe Tory government’s first 100 days of government have marked a miserable period for our country.

There has been nothing done to close our productivity deficit, help deliver world class public services, support people struggling to make ends meet or to protect our environment.

Rather than focusing on making work pay, David Cameron has announced a cut to tax credits which will mean 3 million working families losing out; he’s failed to deliver on a promise to provide help with childcare, and has watered down child poverty targets while standards of social care have fallen further.Ian Duncan Smith cheering

Hospital A&E departments have missed the four-hour target for each month since July 2013. Over the last 12 months 1,478,507 patients have waited longer than four hours to be seen. The NHS waiting list has risen to 3,197,933 – the highest it has been in seven and a half years.

In its first 100 days, the Tory government has ended funding for the flagship Green Deal, leaving the government’s strategy to increase energy efficiency in tatters, and it has deprived local communities of the final say on fracking applications.

It is a sorry record for a government that has dared to claim to be on the side of working people and the environment.

It gives us all even more reasons to win support for the return of a Labour government in 2020.

Aug 21

Rail fares leap 25 per cent under the Tories

Rail fares will have leapt an average 25 per cent since 2010 for constituents in Liverpool Wavertree when the latest hikes announced by the government come into force in January 2016.Don't Puill the Plug

This means that someone buying an annual season ticket from Liverpool to Manchester in 2016 will be paying out £2,990 – £594 more than 2010, when Labour left government.

The government claimed that high fares were needed to pay for rail modernisation, including upgrades for key lines around the North West. Rail Minister, Claire Perry, actually claimed that the cost of rail fares was a price worth paying for ‘comfortable commuting.’

Yet, modernisation has been put on hold or cancelled and passenger satisfaction has declined. I get many emails from unsatisfied constituents about the state of the trains they are travelling on.

Government ministers are failing to keep promises made at the General Election. Commuters and the travelling public have been left to pay the price for Tory failings.

At the last election, Labour called for fares and ticketing system to be simplified,  for a legal right to the cheapest fare, a strict cap on fare rises on every route, and for passengers to be given a say over how the railways are run.

It is now clear that we need to go further. UK rail costs 40 per cent more to run than other systems across Europe and private investment has halved since 2010.

We need to end fragmentation and ensure that people are put before profits so that we can invest in a rail system that delivers for people in Liverpool and the country as a whole.

I’m backing Labour’s Don’t Pull the Plug campaign which demands the government honours its promises and reinstates plans to electrify the TransPennine route and Midland Main Line. Please join me by signing the petition today by clicking here.

Aug 20

Help shape a healthy Liverpool

Liverpool ccgOur local NHS and Liverpool City Council have come together to look at how best to deliver the health and social care we all rely on in the years ahead.

There are big challenges to be faced but a real determination to involve people across the city in finding the right solutions to meet the changing needs of our population.

The aim is to produce a health care system that works around each individual’s needs, supports people to stay well and provides the very best in care, now and in the future.

NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and Liverpool City Council want to hear from you about what you want and how you want it delivered. You can take part in an online survey by clicking here, email Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group for a survey booklet to be posted to you by clicking here or telephone 0151 295 8604.

The consultation is part of a summer of engagement that will see roadshows and events across the city.

Please get your views in by Monday august 31 so that they can help shape the future of healthy living in our city.

Aug 11

Tory spending rules threaten patient care

Luciana backing Andy BurnhamThe financial crisis in the NHS under this Tory government is spiralling out of control, with patient care under threat.

NHS regulator Monitor has told hospitals to consider not filling staff vacancies, to slow down on implementing new rules on safe staffing levels and to let waiting lists grow to save money.

The government must come clean over whether it is going to allow hospitals to water-down safe staffing guidance to save money – something that should alarm everyone who relies on the NHS.

The government claimed at the General Election that it would protect the NHS from spending cuts, but now the real cost of five years of Tory government is becoming clear.

The Tory government is demanding that the NHS operates fully seven days a week, yet won’t even support it to meet safe staffing levels and hit waiting list times now.

As shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has rightly said: ‘Morale in the NHS is already at an all-time low and doctors have lost confidence in the Health Secretary.’

This latest news raises further questions about how the government can possibly fulfil commitments on a seven-day NHS without the money to back it up.

Aug 10

An inspiring day with young people

Trade Unions and Parliamentary Democracy workshopsIf we believed everything we read in the media we would think that young people are totally turned off politics and have no interest in shaping the future of their world.

In fact, I often meet children and young people who want to get involved, learn about the world and help change it for the better.

That was the case again last week when I met with a group of Year 9 and 10 students attending equality and diversity workshops during their summer holidays to help design content for fellow students to use in the coming school year.

I was joined by Cllr Nathalie Nicholas from Picton Ward in Wavertree and Cllr Pam Thomas from West Derby for the sessions organised by the project based at Broadgreen International School.

The students had already produced articles about their visit to the Legacies of Transatlantic Slavery workshop and had visited Liverpool Pride. Natalie and I worked with the students around understanding how trade unions and parliamentary democracy contribute to promoting equality and diversity throughout society.

I spoke a about my role as a local MP and shadow minister and how my experiences of equality and diversity inform my work, as well as the role of political parties in bringing about laws. Natalie and Pam spoke about their work as councillors and how the council can shape equality and diversity policies.

It was inspiring to be with a group of young people who were determined to get engaged with the issues and help promote them amongst their peers in the coming year.

A big thank you to Pupil Inclusion Centre Manager Paul Windle for pulling the day together and to all the students who took part.

Aug 07

Tory sports review comes far too late

Luciana tacklesThe government’s decision to this week announce a consultation on its sporting and physical activity failings comes five years too late. It can’t hide the fact that, with a year to the next Olympics in Rio, our 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy is crumbling.

As I said back in June, sports participation has fallen in the North West since the 2012 Olympic Games. Only athletics, cycling and gymnastics of the 26 Olympic sports saw significant increases in the number of people taking part, with 15 other sports recording falls.

The Tory sport strategy has been an abject failure – a once in a generation opportunity to inspire people to get active and play sport has been thrown away.

Labour has long been calling for a long-term cross-departmental sports strategy. Ministers must finally respond to Labour’s call and make the radical decisions we need to help future generations get active and enjoy sport and other physical activities.

That will mean putting the promotion of physical activity at the centre of public health policy with new, easily understandable recommended levels of physical activity and a new national ambition to get people more physically active.

The build up to next year’s Olympic Games in Rio will rekindle excitement. The Tories mustn’t squander the opportunity to get people active again.

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