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If you would like to get in touch about a campaign, please contact the constituency office on 01226 743 483 or e-mail Michael on Michael.dugher.mp@parlimanet.uk.   

Defend our NHS The Daily Politics

 

 

Blog post: “Not an ideal start” to the Tory conference - but for the country, the news is even worse

29 September 2014

Michael has written a blog post today on the Labour Party website, asking how David Cameron can effectively lead the country when he can’t even get a grip on his imploding party. 

Click here to read the blog. 

 

Mark Reckless’ defection to UKIP is a “hammer blow to David Cameron”

28 September 2014

On the eve of the Conservative Party conference, Mark Reckless became the second Tory MP in two months to defect to UKIP. 

As reported in the Independent, the Guardian, the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal, Michael said:

“This is a hammer blow to David Cameron's already weakened authority.

“On the eve of his conference we again see that Conservatives' confidence in Cameron is plummeting. David Cameron has always pandered to his right, and even they are now deserting him.

“This also underlines that UKIP are a party of Tory people, Tory policies and Tory money.

“It is clearer than ever that only Labour has a plan to make every day working people across the country better off.”

 

LabourList blog: ‘Exposing UKIP for what they are’

27 September 2014

Labour has used UKIP’s conference to take on their claim to stand up for working people and show the truth that UKIP are in fact more Tory than the Tories. 

Michael has written a blog for LabourList about exposing UKIP for what they are.  You can read the full blog post here

 

The Independent: “Tory Donors are likely to pay millions under labour’s mansion tax”

27 September 2014

As reported in the Independent and the Mirror, the Conservative Party has reportedly solicited donations from wealthy donors based on a promise to oppose a mansion tax.

Michael has written to the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Grant Shapps, urging him to end the Tories’ opposition to the tax and highlighting that there is a suspicion the Conservative Party’s policy on the mansion tax is influenced by those they are courting to fund their election campaign.

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Grant,

The Conservative Party opposes the introduction of the mansion tax on homes worth more than over £2million - a fair and progressive policy which, under Labour's proposals, would help to fund 20,000 new nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new home care workers and 3,000 new midwives. In contrast, your Government has given the top one per cent of earners a £3 billion tax break, worth an average of £100,000 for those earning over £1 million.

We know that David Cameron stands up solely for a privileged few and that, increasingly, your party relies on a small group of mega-rich donors to fund your campaigns. It has been reported that David Cameron previously said he rejected proposals for a mansion tax because "our donors will never put up with it".

The Tory Party has, moreover, reportedly solicited donations from wealthy donors based on a promise to oppose a mansion tax .

This will unavoidably give rise to suspicion that your party's policy on the mansion tax is influenced by those you are courting to fund your election campaign. I am writing to ask that you prove this suspicion wrong and reverse your position on the mansion tax, and agree with Labour's proposal for a tax on properties valued over £2million, which would rise in line with house prices, in order to invest in our cherished NHS which has been so damaged by your government.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Vice Chair of the Labour Party

 

Michael votes to support UK armed forces action against ISIL in Iraq

26 September 2014

Michael has today voted to support UK air strikes by UK armed forces against ISIL in Iraq. Please see below for the full text of the motion laid before the House and supported by MPs:

That this House
Condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognizes the clear threat ISIL pose to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognizes the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq, including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens, and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

Earlier, Ed Miliband set out Labour’s position on the motion in response to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons. You can read this in full by clicking here.

 

Michael visits Fareshare Foodbank hub and Kendray Foodbank

26 September 2014

As reported by today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael visited the Fareshare distribution warehouse in Stairfoot on Friday (19 September). Michael was shown how donated food is collected, packaged into parcels and distributed by the Project Co-ordinator for the Barnsley Foodbank Partnership, Alan Rouane.

He met with Gareth Batty, Chief Executive of FairShare and Reverend Mick Neale chairman of The Barnsley Food Bank Partnership during the visit to discuss the concerning increase in the use of foodbanks in the area.

Michael also visited Kendary Foodbank at the Elim Pentecostal Church, where he met volunteers and heard about the lifeline support they provide to the local community. In its first nine months of operation, Fareshare in Barnsley has fed 2,192 people and has given out a total of 18 tonnes of food - all of which has been collected via voluntary donations.

The visit follows figures released earlier this year by the Trussell Trust that show the number of people using foodbanks has increased by 1,386 per cent since 2010/11. The figures show that low income is the primary referral cause for 20.29 per cent, or one in five, of those referred.

Commenting on the visit, Michael said, “I have huge admiration for the amazing hard work and community spirit of the volunteers, but it’s a disgrace that we have to set up foodbanks in Barnsley to feed those in need when we live in the seventh richest economy on the planet

“Low income and the rising cost-of-living means that more and more people in Barnsley are having to rely on foodbanks. Instead of hiding behind the Tory myth, that says the increase in foodbanks is driving demand, it is time Ministers got a grip and took this issue seriously. We need a new 10p starting tax rate to help the lowest earners, funded by scrapping George Osborne's Marriage Tax Alowance.

 

Michael backs plans to give a pay rise to Barnsley’s lowest paid workers

26 September 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to be raised to £8.00 an hour by 2020, giving a pay rise to 8 per cent of Barnsley’s lowest paid workers.

There are currently 5,400 people in Barnsley employed in a job paying the NMW, the equivalent of eight per cent of the total jobs in the area. This is higher than the wider Yorkshire region and the rest of England, where six and five per cent of jobs are paid the NMW.

The planned increase would take the NMW from £6.50 in October this year to £8 by 2020 – a rise of £1.50 an hour for Britain’s lowest paid workers worth £60 a week or £3,000 a year.

Commenting, Michael said, “Too many people in Barnsley and across the country struggle to get by on low pay and cope with the spiralling cost-of-living. Raising the NMW to £8 an hour would put an extra £3,000 a year in the pockets of 5,400 of Barnsley’s lowest paid workers.

“I’m proud that Labour introduced the National Minimum Wage in 1999. It put an end to the exploitation of millions of Britain’s workers and is one of the last Labour Government’s greatest achievements.

 “David Cameron and George Osborne boast that the economy is fixed, yet wages for hardworking people have fallen by £1,600 a year. Labour would put an end to David Cameron’s race to the bottom and build an economy that works for the many not just a few at the top."

 

More Tory Than The Tories: UKIP’s Tax Policies

25 September 2014

As UKIP prepare for their conference the Labour Party has written a blog about how UKIP are more Tory than the Tories. Michael has also commented on this in the Guardian, Daily Express, Dailoy Mirror and LabourList.

You can read the blog in full by clicking here and see further coverage and Michael's comments in the Guardian here, the Daily Express here, Daily Mirror here and LabourList here.

 

Michael visits charities and organisations at Labour Party Conference

25 September 2014

Michael visited a number of stalls at the Labour Party Conference this week to hear about the work they do and their latest campaigns. Michael's tour of the stands included: British Heart Foundation, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Anthony Nolan Trust, Campaign for Real Ale, Cancer Research UK, Charity Retail Association, Falkland Islands Government, Senet Group, Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, Labour Friends of the Forces, The Coalfield Regeneration Trust, PCS and Prostate Cancer UK.

 

Buzzfeed: Ten Endangered Species That Are More Common Than Tories

25 September 2014

As Michael highlighted in his speech to conference, Tory Party membership has halved under David Cameron - from 253,000 when he was elected to around 134,000 now.

Click here to see a Buzzfeed post Michael has written, about ten endangered species that are more common than the Tories.

 

Michael gives speech to Labour Party Conference

25 September 2014

As has been reported by the BBC, Sky News and the Manchester Evening News, Michael gave a speech to the Labour Party Conference this week. Michael’s speech set out the choice people have at the next election highlighting this Tory Government’s failures, as well as accusing Cameron of bottling it over the TV debates.

You can watch Michael’s speech in full by clicking here and scrolling to 1:01:30. Alternatively, you can read a transcript of the speech by clicking here. You can read further coverage here and here.

 

Dugher's column: 'Barnsley Commuters are the ones paying the price'

25 September 2014

Earlier this month the Government forced Northern Rail to introduce evening peak ticket restrictions on local rail services, pushing some fares up in Barnsley by as much as 26 per cent. Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent about these stealth fare increases and how it is Barnsley commuters who are paying the price.

You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Michael visits Fareshare Foodbank hub and Kendray Foodbank

19 September 2014

Michael visited the Fareshare distribution warehouse in Stairfoot today, where he was shown by the Project Co-ordinator for the Barnsley Foodbank Partnership, Alan Rouane, how donated food is collected, packaged into parcels and distributed.

Michael then visited Kendary Foodbank at the Elim Pentecostal Church, where he met volunteers and heard about the lifeline support they provide to the local community.

In its first nine months of operation, Fareshare in Barnsley has fed 2192 people and has given out a total of 18 tonnes of food - all of which has been collected via voluntary donations.

Commenting on his visit, Michael said:

“I have huge admiration for the amazing hard work and community spirit of the volunteers, but it’s a disgrace that we have to set up foodbanks in Barnsley to feed those in need when we live in the seventh richest economy on the entire planet”.

 

Michael visits the Barnsley Youth Service

19 September 2014

Michael, accompanied by Councillor Karen Dyson, visited the Barnsley Youth Service outreach bus yesterday on the Aldham estate in Stairfoot.

The bus is designed to be a flexible drop-in centre for youngsters in the area, providing a useful hub for support workers to engage with young people.

Commenting, Michael said:

"It was great to see the valuable work performed by the Barnsley Youth Service and I enjoyed talking to local youngsters about many different topics, ranging from music to votes for 16 year olds".

 

South Yorkshire Times: 'Cancer care must be top priority for all'

19 September 2014

This month Michael has proudly supported Macmillan’s ‘lives depend on it’ campaign in order to guarantee that cancer care is a top priority for government. He has written a piece for the South Yorkshire Times about the importance of good cancer care for those whose lives have been touched by cancer. You can read Michael's column in full by clicking here.

 

Michael backs campaign to help kick the habit

19 September 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport and We Are Barnsley, Michael has backed a campaign to help encourage people to quit smoking, as recent statistics show that Barnsley has one of the highest levels of adult smoking in the country.

Nearly a quarter of all adults in Barnsley local authority smoke (23.6 per cent), this is the 46th highest average of all 324 local authorities. This is also higher than the average for the Yorkshire and the Humber region (22.7 per cent), which has the highest prevalence of smoking for any region in the country.

Michael is backing the Stoptober campaign run by Public Health England. The campaign challenges people to quit smoking for 28 days in October.

Commenting, Michael said, “Stoptober is a great campaign with fantastic resources available to help those who want to kick the habit.

"Smoking remains the largest cause of preventable illness and premature death, so it is concerning that there is a significantly high proportion of smokers in Barnsley.  By stopping smoking for just 28 days you are five times more likely to stop all together. Anybody hoping to quit can sign up for Stoptober here - https://stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk/registration-c”.

 

Michael: ‘we are living through the biggest wages crisis since Victorian times’

19 September 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, figures released today show that pay excluding bonuses today is the lowest on record, despite a fall in unemployment. Wages after inflation have already fallen by £1,600 a year since 2010 and by next year working people will have seen the biggest fall in wages in any Parliament since 1874.

Unemployment in Barnsley local authority and Barnsley East has fallen, but youth unemployment in Barnsley remains high and unmoved at 1,090. In Barnsley East long-term unemployment remains 31 per cent higher than in 2011.

Commenting, Michael said, “Today’s fall in unemployment is welcome, but we are living through the biggest wages crisis since the Victorian times. Worryingly Britain has seen one of the largest falls in real wages among the European Union countries, beaten only by Cyprus, Portugal and Greece. Ministers need to get a grip on falling wages which continue to lag far behind the cost of living.

“Youth unemployment across Barnsley is still high and static, plus long-term unemployment in Barnsley East is still a third higher than in 2011. Added to this too many of the jobs that are coming are low paid, part-time or on zero hours in David Cameron's race to the bottom.

“A Labour Government would help make work pay and tackle the cost of living crisis by extending free childcare provision, freezing gas and electricity bills, raising the minimum wage, building more homes and introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax.”

 

Michael visits Happy Kids

18 September 2014

Michael visited Happy Kids children’s nursery in Cudworth today, where he met Steve Scott Managing Director, staff and children.

The nursery looks after up to 23 children aged 2 to 4, providing essential pre-school education.  They have also been named as finalists for two national awards by the trade magazine, Nursery World, one for their work with disadvantaged children and another for their business model, working within areas of high deprivation.

Commenting after the visit, Michael said, “Nurseries like Happy Kids provide an excellent service to families in Barnsley and it was great to see first-hand the excellent work they do in our community”

“Childcare costs have spiralled by 30 percent since 2010 leaving families in Barnsley struggling with increased costs. Labour are determined to tackle the cost of living crisis and would expand free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week for working parents – an increase in childcare support worth over £1,500 per child.”

 

Blog: “No more excuses on development pledge”

12 September 2014

Michael voted today to enshrine the UK commitment to spend 0.7% of its national income on international aid into law. 

The Bill will now go through to the next stage . 

Michael has written a blog post about the issue, saying that there can be no more excuses on the development pledge.

You can read the full blog post here.

 

 

Michael hits out at inflation busting stealth train fare increases

12 September 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport and the Barnsley Chronicle, rail users in Barnsley are set to be hit with inflation busting stealth train fare increases of up to 26 per cent. Northern Rail is being forced by the Government to introduce evening peak ticket restrictions on local rail services as part of their franchise extension.

Since Monday 8 September, off-peak tickets are no longer be valid on some train services which depart between 4.01pm and 6.29pm on weekdays.

Some passengers who previously used off-peak tickets face sharp increases in their fares. For example a person travelling from Elsecar to Sheffield under the new peak restrictions will now have to pay £6.00, an increase of £1.20 or 25 per cent. To travel from Wombwell to Meadowhall under the new peak restrictions will cost now cost £5.90, the equivalent of a 26 per cent increase.

Concern over the huge stealth fare hikes passengers now face have been raised by Michael.  

Commenting on the hike in fares, Michael said, “David Cameron has allowed rail companies to hit passengers in Barnsley with inflation busting fare hikes. These stealth fare rises means Northern Rail passengers are now being hit with increases of up to 26 per cent in some cases.

“Part time workers, students and people on low pay who use off-peak tickets now face eye watering fare increases. People shouldn’t have to choose between paying more or waiting until after dark to travel. Ministers ease the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis by enforcing a strict cap on fare rises and reforming our railways for passengers, not profit.

 

Michael reveals his nominations for the Proud of Barnsley awards

12 September 2014

Michael has this week revealed the four nominations that he has put forward for recognition at this year’s Proud of Barnsley Awards.

The local people and organisations that Michael has chosen and the categories in which they have been put forward are:

  • Community Group - Steve Clifford, Dave Pearsall and John Backhouse for ‘Live In Barnsley’
  • Charity Fundraiser of the Year - Allan and Carolyn Cooper from BIADS
  • Triumph over Adversity - Angie and Tony Russell for Reflections Art in Health
  • Volunteer of the Year - Mike Bretton

The annual awards, sponsored by the Barnsley Chronicle, are an opportunity to champion those in the community who often deserve it the most. The nominations will now be judged by a panel of reputable, independent and impartial adjudicators and the winners announced at The Proud of Barnsley awards dinner, which takes place at the Holiday Inn at Dodworth on Friday 14th November.

Commenting, Michael said, “These awards, created in 2011 by the Barnsley Chronicle, are a well-established highlight of the year. They are a wonderful opportunity for local people to nominate those in our community who go the extra mile and display high levels of dedication and courage. 

“These awards shine a light on those who really make a difference to our community and are an inspiration to others. My nominations reflect the hard work performed by local volunteers in our community and they really do make me ‘Proud of Barnsley’”.

You can read Michael’s nominations in full by clicking here.

 

Dugher's column: 'We're all in this together? I don't think so'

11 September 2014

Following the release of official figures that show less well off parts of the country like Barnsley have been hit harder than wealthier areas in the south, Michael has written a piece for the Barnsley Independent. You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Cabinet Office Questions – 10 September 2014 

10 September 2014

Michael asked a question from the dispatch box today during Cabinet Office Questions. Michael asked:


Last week, the Minister for Civil Society made his first, stunning intervention as the new Minister responsible for charities by saying:

“The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting”.

When so many charities and people who work for them do such a magnificent job in every part of the country, was that not the most condescending, patronising, inept, out-of-touch and just plain wrong thing for the Minister to say? Will he finally now apologise?

Click here to watch the exchange on Parliament TV (scroll to 11:55:24).

 

Michael votes against the hated Bedroom Tax

09 September 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Sheffield Star, We Are Barnsely and Barnsley News and Sport, the abolition of the hated Bedroom Tax moved a step closer last week, as the Government suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons. Local MP, Michael Dugher joined other Labour MPs to inflict the defeat by voting against the hated Bedroom Tax during a debate in parliament.

The Bedroom Tax has caused hardship for hundreds of thousands of people across the country, costing low-income families an average of £700 a year. Two thirds of those hit by the Bedroom Tax have disabilities and 60,000 are carers. In Barnsley alone, 3,224 people have been affected and in the wider region, over 47,535 people have been hit in Yorkshire and The Humber – forcing many into debt and having to rely on food banks.

Ministers claimed the Bedroom Tax would lead to large numbers of people moving to smaller properties but in July a government report found just 6 per cent hit by the Bedroom Tax were moving and the policy had led to 60 per cent of people falling behind with their rent.

Thanks to the support of Labour MPs the vote was won by 306 votes to 231. Although the Bill falls short of the full abolition that Labour wants to see, Labour will now seek to amend and strengthen the Bill in order to abolish the Bedroom Tax altogether.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said, “David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax has hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our community. Today was the first step towards abolishing it all together.

“Despite the clear evidence that the Bedroom Tax is causing misery, hardship and forcing thousands to rely on food banks, the Lib Dems and Tories have voted again and again in favour of it.

“The Labour Party will continue to do whatever it can to fight this unjust and unworkable policy, and will now seek to amend the Bill in order to scrap it altogether. But the only way to be sure of repealing it will be to elect a Labour government next year.”

 

Labour backs Civil Service reform  

08 Spetmeber 2014

Michael made a speech today announcing that Labour will back continued Civil Service reform.   

In a speech to the Institute for Government, Michael said that the British Civil Service is amongst the best in the world, but that it’s now time to take it to the next level. 

He acknowledged some improvements that have been made under this Government and committed to building on these in 2015. 

Click here to read the full speech and click here to read the press release. 

 

BBC Radio 4 ‘Any Questions?’

06 September 2014

Michael was a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions?’ yesterday along with Anna Soubry MP, Roger Helmer MEP and Caroline Lucas MP.

Click here to listen to the show on iplayer.

 

 

Michael calls for new schools funding to be prioritised as figures show a dramatic increase in the number of infants in large classes

05 September 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, Young children in Barnsley face ever increasing class sizes, as local figures show that the number of infant school children being taught in classes of over 30 pupils, has increased by 553 per cent since 2010.

The figures have been highlighted by Michael, who has called for an end to David Cameron’s Free School programme and funding for new schools to be prioritised in areas of greatest need.

In 2012 the rules relating to infant class sizes were relaxed, despite David Cameron pledging in their 2010 manifesto to create "small schools with smaller class sizes". Now, the number of infants taught in large classes of over-30 nationally has spiralled by 200 per cent since 2010 – to over 93,000 children.

Based on the Government’s current forecasting there will be 1,970,897 infants in state funded schools by 2020. This means that if the increase in large classes continues at the current rate, around one-in-four infants could be in large classes of over 30 by 2020.

Commenting, Michael said:

“David Cameron’s Free School programme has diverted funding away from areas of need. It’s time ministers faced up to the crisis of their making. By choosing to prioritise spending outside of areas of need, there has been a 553 per cent increase in the number of infants in classes of more than 30 in Barnsley.

“Another five years of this Government will see even more pressure on primary schools and their classes, with the Tories continuing to make the wrong choices on planning for school places and spending millions opening Free Schools where there is no shortage of school places.

“Labour will end David Cameron’s Free School programme. Funding for new schools will be prioritised in areas of greatest need.”

 

Michael warns on mental health postcode

04 September 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, patients in Barnsley face an alarming postcode lottery in mental health services as local data shows that Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spent 11.35 per cent of its budget on mental health services last year, despite 15.3 per cent of the local population having a mental health condition.

Out of all 211 CCGs, Barnsley is ranked 107th in the country in terms of mental health need and 15.3 per cent of the population is estimated to have a common mental health disorder.

It is the first time the local Clinical Commissioning Group, formed last year, has disclosed levels of spending on mental health services and the figures demonstrate how the Government is failing to achieve parity between mental and physical healthcare.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Mental health should be treated no differently to physical health yet vulnerable people face this alarming postcode lottery. People with mental illness shouldn't have to expect different standards of care simply because of where they live.

“Mental health services are deteriorating under this Government and Nick Clegg and David Cameron have broken their promise to put mental and physical health on the same footing."

 

Michael meets with constituent and Unison National Probation Committee Chair at Parliamentary rally

03 September 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Michael met with constituent and Unison National Probation Committee Chair, Neil Richardson at Napo’s probation Parliamentary rally today. The rally was being held to highlight opposition to the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling’s, rushed and reckless reforms of the probation service.

On 1st June 2014, Chris Grayling abolished all probation trusts in England and Wales. The Government replaced them with a National Probation Service (NPS), that is public sector and will manage only high risk offenders, and 21 ‘Community Rehabilitation Companies’ (CRCs), that manage low and medium risk offenders that will be sold off to private bidders in October this year.

Since the introduction of these changes, there is evidence of mounting chaos in the probation service. There are wide spread reports of, amongst other things, understaffing, files being lost and failing new IT systems.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The Justice Secretary’s reform of probation was rushed, completely untested and a risk to public safety. Chris Grayling cancelled the pilots of this scheme, and rolled it out across the country in one go without any trials or testing to check it worked.

“I am opposed to this reckless privatisation of the probation service and the process should be stopped.”

To find out more about the Napo and the changes made to the probation service, click here.

 

LabourList blog: David Cameron only has himself to blame for his problems with UKIP

29 August 2014

Following Douglas Carswell’s defection to UKIP from the Tory party, Michael has written a blog for LabourList. You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Michael invites constituents to help secure £50,000 for a charity

29 August 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, the South Yorkshire Times and the Star, Michael is calling for constituents to get involved with comparethemarket.com’s latest Great British Switch campaign.

This provides the chance to nominate a local charity to be awarded a £50,000 donation. The funds will be offered in recognition of a cause which brings local people and communities together.

Any regional registered charity from England, Scotland and Wales, can be nominated for the award. Members of the public, and charities, are invited to submit their nomination by tweeting the name of their favoured charity, and why they should win the award, using the #greatbritishswitch hashtag. Nominations can also be made by visiting www.metro.co.uk/greatbritishswitch.

Nominations close at midday on Tuesday 2 September, at which point a panel of judges will select six charities to be revealed on 9 September. The public will then be able to show support for any one of the six charities during the Great British Switch, whilst getting a quote to see how much could be saved on home insurance.  

Commenting, Michael said:

“I’m calling on all constituents to take part in the #greatbritishswitch, a campaign which brings local charities across Barnsley East into the limelight. The good work that local charities do in making our neighbourhoods stronger deserves to be recognised and I very much welcome this initiative which could help bring more funding.

“The Great British Switch is open to all UK residents and is a cost-free opportunity to see if participants can make savings by changing their home insurance provider as a part of the Great British Switch. However, there is no obligation to change providers in order to support a particular charity.  

“The charity with the most support at the end of the weekend will be awarded the £50,000 donation.”

 

Michael backs child cancer awareness month

29 August 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael is backing the child cancer awareness month to help break down some of the barriers faced by thousands of children each year diagnosed with cancer.

The campaign, which is being co-ordinated by the charity CLIC Sargent, will try to help the 10 children every day in the UK who are diagnosed with cancer.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“I have the upmost sympathy for any family that are hit with the devastating news that their child has cancer. Throughout September, which is this year’s child cancer awareness month, people have the opportunity for all of us to show our support to these families by raising awareness of some of the key issues they face.

“Whilst doctors, nurses and specialists do their fantastic work, we can all do our bit to address these barriers which often stop children with cancer from continuing their education, get in the way of vital financial support and prevent them from receiving care close to home.”

 

Michael calls Douglas Carswell’s defection a hammer blow to David Cameron

28 August 2014

Douglas Carswell, a Tory MP, has defected to Ukip and triggered a by-election.  Commenting on behalf of the Labour Party, and quoted in the Mirror, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters UK, Michael said: 

"Confidence in David Cameron is collapsing inside a Conservative party which is divided and running scared of UKIP. 

"David Cameron's weak leadership has seen him abandon the centre ground, repeatedly trying to pander to his own right-wing backbenchers rather than concentrate on the needs of the country. Now even his own side are abandoning him. 

"This is a Prime Minister who is running out of MPs as well as ideas on how to make the big changes this country needs to see. This turmoil inside the Conservative Party shows that they are too busy obsessing with themselves rather than standing up for the public.

“We already know that UKIP are against the interests of working people, wanting higher taxes for working families, huge giveaways for the rich, scrapping rights at work and charges to see your GP. The fact that a Tory MP has now joined UKIP shows that the message to working people is clear: vote UKIP and you not only get policies that are more extreme than the Tories, you also get the Tories.”

 

Michael warns millions could lose their vote

21 August 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, the Sheffield Star, the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has warned that millions of people up and down the country are at risk of falling off the electoral register after recent changes to the registration process. Under the new rules, heads of each household are no longer entitled to register everyone at that address to vote. Instead, individuals will be automatically registered after cross references are made to government databases, but those whose information is not stored are at risk of falling off the register altogether.

Individuals should receive instructions from the local authority in the coming weeks telling residents whether they need to register or not. The process takes around 3 minutes to complete.

Michael is raising awareness in support of the #NoVoteNoVoice campaign, which aims to encourage more people, especially young people, to engage in politics. The campaign, which is being run by the Daily Mirror, Mass1, the Unite union, Bite the Ballot, and Hope not Hate aims to persuade an extra 1 million people to register to vote by next year’s General Election in May.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

"With dramatic decreases in the number of people voting, it is more important than ever that people make sure they are registered. In 2010, just 56 per cent of Barnsley’s population turned out to vote, compared with a national average of 65.1 per cent. What is even more alarming is that only 44 per cent of young people voted in 2010. This is a big worry for people up and down the country.

"Every vote is important and could mean the difference between a hung parliament and a majority. Registering to vote and making your voice heard at the ballot box, no matter what age or background you come from, is one of the beast ways to have your say.

"I would urge everyone across Barnsley to look out for their letter from BMBC over the coming weeks and make sure they’re registered to vote".

You can register to vote online by clicking here and following the steps online. If you would like any further information, details of how you can get in touch with your local Electoral Registration Office can be found here.

 

Thousands in Barnsley face a struggle to see GP

21 August 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsely, the South Yorkshire Times and the Barnsley News and Sport, shock new figures from an official NHS survey have revealed that more than 30,000 people in Barnsley have had to wait more than a week to see a GP in the past year.

Across the area covered by Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, around one in seven people said they were forced to wait at least seven days when they phoned for an appointment in the last year according to a NHS England CCG Report.

The annual NHS England survey, also revealed that local patients struggle to see the family doctor of their own choosing. Across the local region 41 per cent or 46,169 people - who have a preferred GP had to see another doctor when they last went to their surgery.

The statistics have been highlighted by Michael, who said:

“These figures are a real concern and further proof that Nick Clegg and David Cameron can’t be trusted be trusted with our NHS. Within days of the last election, they scrapped Labour's appointments guarantee and now thousands of people have been left waiting for over a week to be seen. Ministers need to take full responsibility and explain to the people of Barnsley why they have to wait longer to get an appointment with their Doctor.

“The choice will be clear at the next election between a Government that seems hell bent on privatising and destroying the NHS and the Labour Party that built the NHS and is fighting to protect it. That’s why I’m backing plans which would see patients guaranteed an appointment within 48 hours or an appointment on the same day for those who need it. This commitment would make a massive difference to the lives of people in Barnsley.”

"To tackle the problem, the Labour Party unveiled the ‘GP Guarantee’ to show how the next Labour Government plans to improve services for patients, ease the pressure on hospitals and restore the right values to the heart of the NHS."

 

Yorkshire Post: ‘Labour seeks help for key seats’

20 August 2014

As reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Labour has launched its battle to win key General Election seats in the area through the recruitment of an army of new volunteers and members.

As is always the case, the Tories, backed by a few multi-millionaires, will have large funds readily available. Labour, however, will look to take the battle to the Tories on the ground by signing up new volunteers in local communities to take the fight to the Tories on the ground.

You can read about this further and see Michael’s comments by clicking here.

If you would like to sign-up as a supporter you can do so by clicking on the infographic below.

 

 

 

 

The Observer: Lynton Crosby hopes to avoid TV debates

17 August 2014

The Observer has this weekend reported that Tory strategist and big tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby, is hoping to keep David Cameron out of any TC debates in the lead up to the general election.

Reports suggest that Lynton Crosby hopes to complicate negotiations between parties and the broadcasters in an attempt to avoid the debates altogether.

Michael, who is leading pre-debate negotiations for the Labour Party, has made it clear that Labour are happy to sit down before party conferences to discuss a way forward.

You can read about this further by clicking here.

 

The Telegraph: ‘Conservative party members quit Cabinet ministers' seats in protest over Government policies’

17 August 2014

As reported by the Telegraph this weekend, many Conservative party members are quitting in Cabinet ministers’ own constituencies in protest against Government policies.

You can read about this further and Michael’s comments by clicking here.

 

Michael backs the Anthony Nolan Trust and calls on people to help save a life

15 August 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, the Sheffield Star and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called upon 16-30 year olds in Barnsley to help save a life and join Anthony Nolan Trust's donor register. As a supporter of the Trust, Michael has also written to the Secretary of State for Health to raise their ‘Roadmap for Recovery’ campaign.

Anthony Nolan Trust’s ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ campaign aims to better support those who have had bone marrow transplants (BMT). According to a report by the Trust, access to post-treatment care for patients that have had bone marrow transplants is shockingly hard to receive.

The report also highlights the importance of public support and willingness to donate bone marrow. Healthy adults aged 16-30 are the ideal donors; however there is a shortage of registered donors within this age group, especially in Barnsley East. Without donors, patients will be unable to receive the life-saving treatment they need. 

Figures from the Anthony Nolan Trust show that there are currently 289 donors aged 16-30 registered in Barnsley East - meaning Barnsley East has the 18th fewest donors of all 650 constituencies.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The work the Anthony Nolan Trust carry out is vital in the fight against blood cancer and it is important that people support it. That is why I am calling on brave 16-30 year olds in Barnsley East to do something special and join the bone marrow transplant register and help us climb the donor leaderboard.

“The ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ campaign aims to help improve the quality of life of those who have had bone marrow transplants. I am happy to support the Anthony Nolan Trust and have taken this opportunity to raise their campaign with the Secretary of State.

Michael’s letter asks the Secretary of State:

“what plans, if any, the Government have in place in order to tackle these issues and if the Government is considering the recommendations made by the Anthony Nolan Trust.” Adding: “With so many suffering, it is crucial that we engage with these issues.”

You can read Michael's letter to the Secretary of State in full by clicking here.

 

Michael Supports leading cancer charity

15 August 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has pledged his support to a campaign by the leading cancer charity MacMillan Cancer Support. The charity launched the ‘Lives Depend On It’ campaign to call on all political parties to prioritise cancer care and improve cancer outcomes.

According to the charity, around 6,500 people across Barnsley are receiving cancer support, but a recent study by the charity found that UK survival rates are amongst the worst in Europe.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“Cancer is a terrible disease that continues to blight the lives of so many in Barnsley and across the UK. The fact that 6,500 people in Barnsley alone are receiving cancer care brings home just how many lives are affected by it each year”.

“All politicians, no matter what political party, should commit themselves fully to helping to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families by supporting the vital hard work of charities such as MacMillan. The levels of care in the UK currently lag behind the high standards set in Europe. With the help of charities like MacMillan we can aim to take the lead and set the standard. That is why I am backing this campaign.”

 

Dugher's column: 'Have your say - More and better jobs'

13 August 2014

Following the launch of Michael's 'More and better jobs' summer survey, he has written a column for the Barnsley Independent about the importance of providing more and better jobs, listening to what people have to say, as well as facing up to tough issues like immigration.

You can read Michael's column in full by clicking here.

 

 

Have your say: More and better jobs

12 August 2014

2As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael's has launched his online summer survey inviting constituents of Barnsley East to have their say on a number of serious issues facing the UK job market.

Growth is finally returning to our economy, but it is not feeding through to working people’s living standards. Wages after inflation are down over £1,600 a year since 2010 and some of the biggest concerns people have are about jobs, immigration, youth unemployment, job security and low pay. 80% of the jobs created since 2010 have been in London and we have seen record numbers of people working part-time because they can’t get the hours, the proliferation of exploitative zero-hours contracts and a minimum wage that has been run down. This is David Cameron’s race to the bottom.

Michael is particularly keen to hear people’s views regarding the local impact of immigration.  It is not prejudiced to worry about immigration and Michael understands the legitimate concerns people have. The last Labour Government made some mistakes on immigration.  Ed Miliband has changed Labour’s policy when it comes to immigration, but we have to keep on listening to concerns that people have.

As we enter the final summer before the General Election, Michael wants to hear your views on what you think needs to be done to help create an economy that works for working people – not just a few at the top.

You can find out if you live in Michael's constituency by clicking here and entering your postcode.

To take the survey please click the graphic below.

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Michael pays tribute to Rifleman Dale Harris

11 August 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has paid tribute to Barnsley Soldier, Rifleman Dale Harris, who sadly lost his life in a car crash at the weekend. Michael said:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of Rifleman Dale Harris from 2nd Battalion The Rifles. All of Barnsley is immensely proud of this brave young man who died whilst serving his country. We have lost one of our finest and he will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time".

 

 

Daily Mirror: Baroness Warsi - 'Posh Tories dismiss me as a brown working class northern woman'

11 August 2014

As reported by the Daily Mirror, following her resignation from the Foreign Office, Baroness Warsi has launched a scathing attack on David Cameron and his government.

The former Senior Minister of State claims that Tories dismissed her as a “brown, working-class women from the North”.

You can read the full report of this and Michael’s comments in full here.

 

LIVE in Barnsley 2014: the documentary

11 August 2014

As reported by the Sheffield Star, following the massively successful Live in Barnsley 2014, local filmmaker, Giannis Kipreos of GKS Videography, has produced a fantastic documentary about this year’s festival.

The documentary features interviews with the organisers, music legend and Live in Barnsley Patron Feargal Sharkey, Michael and many more. It is a offers a fantastic behind-the-scenes at how the festival is organised and run.

You can watch it in full below.

 

The Mirror: ‘Government department tasked with ending Whitehall waste spends £54m on consultants and agency staff’

09 August 2014

As reported in The Mirror, Michael has uncovered that the government department charged with ending Whitehall waste has spent £54million on consultants and agency staff.

Official figures show that Cabinet Office spending on consultants increased by 363 per cent between 2013 and 2014 from £5million to nearly £24million.

And overall, the total spend on consultancy and agency staff at the Cabinet Office has increased from under £14 million in 2009/10 to over £54 million last year.

Click here to read the full story in The Mirror.

 

Michael backs South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue's sprinkler campaign

08 August 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has backed the South Yorkshire Fire Authority campaign to get businsesses to fit sprinklers. Following the fire at ASOS in June Michael met with South Yorkshire Fire Authority and the Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA), along with other Barnsley MPs, to discuss ways in which businesses can prevent fires and the damage they cause to their commercial activities.

It is thought that estimates that an average of 1,000 jobs are lost each year due to commercial fires, with a loss to businesses of £230 million, an estimated £190m losses on GDP and a £32m loss to the treasury in tax revenues. At ASOS, around 3,000 jobs could have been threatened had the sprinkler system not been in place. The effects of the fire at the ASOS factory in Michael's constituency in June were massively reduced as a direct result of the sprinkler system in place.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The recent fire at ASOS showed just how much damage can be caused to businesses by warehouse fires. Luckily, ASOS were well prepared with sprinkler systems installed, so the effects were mitigated.

"I am working closely with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to encourage our important local employers to invest more in fire prevention".

For more information, visit the BSA's website by clicking here.

 

Michael takes constituents’ complaints over Personal Independence Payment delays to the Secretary of State

07 August 2014

After receiving concerning complaints regarding delays to the processing of constituents’ Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims, Michael has written to the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith to raise the issue with him directly. This has been reported by the Barnsley News and Sport.

One constituent, who contacted Michael’s office for assistance in May this year, had been waiting since July 2013 for their case to be decided. Another, who had already been waiting months was told that no timescale could be given for when they would receive a decision.

PIP was introduced by Iain Duncan Smith to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). However, new claims for PIP are reportedly taking upwards of six months, three times as long as it did through the old DLA process.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The delays being experienced by disabled people in Barnsley and across the country are causing great anxiety and stress. They cannot be allowed to continue and I have written to the Secretary of State to ask what action he is taking to resolve the situation.

“It is becoming clear that the Department of Work and Pensions is in a state of chaos. One constituent who contacted my office for help had been waiting almost a year without a decision. The Minster needs to get a grip.”

You can read Michael's letter to the Secretary of State in full by clicking here.

 

Dugher's column: 'We will remember them'

1 August 2014

As we mark the centenary of of the outbreak of the First World War, Michael talks about the importance of remembrance in his latest column for the Barnsley Independent. You can read the column in full by clicking here.

You can also read a piece Michael wrote for the Yorkshire Post back in 2011 about the Barnsley Pals and the First World War by clicking here.

 

Guardian: 'PM's tennis match with wife of former Putin minister will go ahead'

31 July 2014

As reported by the Guardian, Tory MP Chris Grayling has defended his partyauctioning off a tennis match with David Cameron and Boris Johnson to the wife of a former member of Vladimir Putin's government for £160,000.

You can read more about the story and Michael's response by clicking here.

 

Michael visits young citizens at Oakwell

30 July 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and the Football League, Michael today visited teenagers, aged 16 and 17, to learn about projects they have been involved in as part of an initiative run by the National Citizen Service (NCS).

Teenagers from across the borough taking part in the programme have been on a week’s residential to Wales, where they took part in team-work and relationship building exercises, as well as working with groups of people outside their usual social circle.

They then visited Sheffield Hallam University for a week, living in halls of residence, learning how to cook and clean for themselves independently. This week, the final phase of the programme was held at Oakwell Stadium. This has seen participants identifying local social issues such as homelessness and the loneliness of the elderly and coming up with a social action plan to address these issues.

One group, under the tuition of the world-class Barnsley Youth Choir, will be singing in residential care homes across the Borough next week. They will also be chatting to elderly residents in an attempt to bridge the gap between the elderly and the young.

Commenting on the project, Michael, who was treated to a performance by the newly established choir, said:

“I think this is a great opportunity for young people across the Borough, from a broad spectrum of socialbackgrounds,to come together to tackle some of the key social challenges we face as a society. It also equips teenagers with new skills for work and life, whilst meeting new people and facing new challenges.

“The National Citizen Service does a fantastic job across the country. It is also great to see Barnsley Football Club and the Football League Trust supporting the work of the NCS and helping to deliver these worthwhile projects for young people”.

 

 

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: public question time

28 July 2014

1Michael was interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield, Tees, Oxford, Coventry & Warwickshire, Berkshire and Leicester this morning regarding Ed Miliband's public question time idea & opening up politics to the public.

You can listen to Michael's interview in full by clicking here and scrolling to 2:30:10.

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New Statesman: ‘Labour will show that people really do have a choice in 2015’

27 July 2014

As we enter the last summer before the general election, Michael has written a blog for the New Statesman about how our country is at a crossroads and the importance of making sure people know the Choice they have to make in 2015.

You can read the article in full by clicking here.


Out and about in the constituency

27 July 2014

Michael has been out and about in the constituency this weekend. On Saturday he visited Tankersley Fire Station to see the brilliant work that South Yorkshire Fire and rescue do. Earlier he went along to the Darfield Community Gala and met a number of local organisations with Darfield councillor, Caroline Saunders. And on Friday, Michael did a 'walkabout' listening to residents on the Aldham House Estate, alongside local Stairfoot Councillor, Karen Dyson.

On Friday, Michael also had meetings with Berneslai Homes,Barnsley NHS Foundation Trust and attended the regular MPs meeting with the Leader and CEO of barnsley Council.

On Friday night Michael was pleased to support this year's Mayor's Charity Ball for Cllr Tim Shepherd in Doworth, raising money for the White Knights Emergency Service and Creative Recovery.

 

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Buzzfeed: 5 times David Cameron said a thing that wasn't true

26 July 2014

As the Tory lie machine gets ready to go into full throttle, Michael has written a post for Buzzfeed about 5 times David Cameron has said something that wasn't true.

You can read the post in full by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael visits Wombwell War Graves

25 July 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael visited Wombwell Cemetery on Friday to pay tribute to servicemen killed during the First World War as part of an initiative organised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Wombwell Cemetery has one of the highest number of war graves across Barnsley with a total of 32 soldier’s, sailor’s and airmen’s graves from conflicts including the First and Second World Wars. Michael met Steven Stapleton, regional supervisor at the CWGC, for a tour of some of the graves and to pay tribute to some of the men who fell in conflicts from the last century in the service of the United Kingdom. Many of the men buried there were brought back to the UK after being injured and subsequently died as a result.

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

"This year is not only important because it marks the centenary of the First World War, but it is also the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. I would urge any resident to go visit their local cemetery to see the graves of servicemen and women killed in action – you don’t have to go to France to pay your respects when we have it right on our doorstep.

"It is vitally important that we remember the sacrifices made by men and women from our town, not only throughout the course of history, but today in places such as Afghanistan.

"I must also extend my congratulations to the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery, who do a brilliant job making this cemetery a wonderful place for people to come and pay their respects."

 

The Independent: 'Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron'

25 July 2014

Following comments from leading Tory moderniser, Lord Finkelstein, that make it clear that David Cameron’s Tory modernisation project is now lying flat on its back, Michael has written an op-ed for The Independent.

In a speech to the Bright Blue think tank Lord Finkelstein warned that continuing to chase UKIP could end the Tories hopes of winning future elections. He went on to say that the Tory’s problems are that they don’t have enough young people, ethnic minorities or people from prosperous rising cities.

As reported in The Independent, Michael said:

“Tory modernisation failed under David Cameron because he doesn’t believe in it. This lurch to the right is the culmination of Cameron’s long-term capitulation to that wing of his party.”

You can read Michael’s article in full by clicking here and further comments here.

 

Michael calls for new rights for victims of crime

25 July 2014

As reported by the Sheffield Star and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has backed calls for a new law to improve our justice system so it works better for witnesses and victims of crime.

This new law would transform the way our criminal justice system treats victims and witnesses, guaranteeing victims of crime the ability to hold those responsible to account, and ensuring greater compassion and support in the system.

A Victims’ Taskforce has been established and will lead work to establish a Victims’ Law, and advise on further improvements in the way victims and witnesses are treated by the criminal justice system.

Commenting, Michael said:

“For too long victims of crime have lacked confidence in our criminal justice system. I think it is about time that this was addressed.

“Many feel that the criminal justice system simply doesn’t work for them. The creation of this taskforce and its work in establishing the country’s first ever Victims’ Law is crucial for helping restore the publics’ faith in the criminal justice system.”

 

Labour will boost the number of women and ethnic minority employees in the Senior Civil Service and will bring a new “culture of respect” to the relationship with the Civil Service

22 July 2014

In a speech to the National Trade Union Committee, Michael announced that Labour would set new targets for the percentage of women and black and minority ethnic (BME) employees in the Senior Civil Service.  You can read more about the announcement here and in reports from the Independent, the Daily Mail and LabourList.

Michael set out the approach that Labour would take to bring a “new culture of respect” between ministers and the permanent Civil Service.  You can read more about this in the Financial Times.

 

Michael visits Wombwell Cemetery

18 July 2014

Michael visited Wombwell Cemetery this morning as part of a tour by the War Graves Commission.

Wombwell Cemetery, which is looked after by an award winning team of volunteers, has the most war graves in Barnsley East, with 32 graves of fallen soldiers.

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

“It is vitally important that we remember the sacrifices made by men and women from our town, not only throughout the course of history, but even today in places such as Afghanistan.

“I must also extend my congratulations to the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery, who do a brilliant job making this cemetery a wonderful place for people to come and pay their respects”.

 

Worrying jump in inflation as Barnsley opens two new food banks

18 July 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, official figures have week revealed a sharp rise in inflation in June, with the largest increases coming in clothing, food and non-alcoholic drinks.

The Office for National Statistics announced on Tuesday that the Consumer Prices Index grew by 1.9 per cent in the year to June 2014, up from 1.5 per cent in May.

The worrying rise in inflation comes in the same week that two new foodbanks are set to open in Barnsley, which will aim to help the rising number of people in the town being pushed into food poverty by the cost-of-living crisis.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Whilst David Cameron continues to deny that there is a cost-of-living crisis, people across Barnsley are continue to struggle to make ends meet.

“More and more people are being pushed into food poverty and it is the voluntary sector that is being left to pick up the pieces. This week’s sharp rise in inflation shows that everyday essentials such as clothes, food and drink are becoming more and more expensive. With the average family £1,600 a year worse off, the figures speak for themselves.

“We need policies like the introduction of a new 10p tax rate and an energy bill price freeze to help those who continue to struggle with the cost of living crisis.”

 

Michael welcomes Stairfoot jobs boost

18 July 2014

Barnsley Council have approved plans to convert the Stairfoot B&Q into a Sainsbury’s, creating 400 jobs in the process.  As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today and We Are Barnsley, Michael said:

“The 400 jobs this Sainsbury’s is set to create are much needed in the area and very welcome. This has been the slowest recovery for over 100 years and real wages are down by an average of £1,600 for working people.

“In the Yorkshire coalfield areas, like Barnsley, there are 12 per cent fewer jobs per 100 people than the average across the country. It is clear the government needs to wake up to the need for more jobs and opportunities across Barnsley and South Yorkshire.”

 

Cameron hit by a storm as he buys off sacked ministers with knighthoods

17 July 2014

As reported by the Daily Mail, David Cameron has been hit with a storm following reports that he has bought off two of his ousted ministers from this week's reshuffle with knighthoods.

It is reported that Alan Duncan, who left his post as international development minister, and Hugh Robertson, a Foreign Office minister and former Olympics minister, are in line for knighthoods.

Commenting, Michael said:

“If these reports are true, it would show David Cameron undermining not just the honours system but women who have served in his Government. Dishing out hush-hush honours and gongs as golden goodbyes, just to keep his sacked ministers happy, also shows how weak Cameron is.

“In yesterday's 'reshuffle for women' David Cameron missed his own target to make a third of his ministers female and promoted almost three times more men than women.

"Soon he will have sacked and knighted more men than he's appointed women to the Cabinet.

"Is it any wonder his Government's policies are letting women down? This patronage for the old boys' club shows just how out of touch Cameron has become.”

You can read about this story further by clicking here.

 

Tory MP Laura Sandys slams Cameron's so-called recovery and shows Tories are running scared of UKIP

17 July 2014

As reported by the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror, Laura Sandys has slammed David Cameron’s so called recovery and makes it clear the Tories are running scared of UKIP.

The Thanet South MP, who is standing down at the next election said that it is a ‘different world’ for those living outside of London and that the Tories are failing to address this.

Commenting, Michael said:

“David Cameron and his party are running scared of UKIP. This damaging parting shot shows that even Cameron's own MPs have lost confidence in his leadership.

"On the issues that matter to working people, the Tories have let the country down. They are haemorrhaging members and David Cameron is increasingly pandering to his right wing.

"Laura Sandys has laid bare what hardworking families know already: in the real world there is a cost-of-living crisis and the government is failing to improve living standards for all."

You can read about this story further by clicking here.

 

Local dementia charity travel to Westminster to collect award

16 July 2014

Staff and volunteers of the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's and Dementia Support (BIADS), travelled to Parliament on Tuesday to be presented with their award as finalists of the Bevan Prize for Health and Wellbeing.

The charity, who were nominated for the prize by Michael, who is their Patron, were one of five finalists presented with an award and narrowly missed out as winners.

The Bevan Prize recognises and celebrates individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of health and wellbeing in the UK and embody the founding principles of the NHS.

Representatives of BIADS were also shown around the Palace of Westminster before attending the awards ceremony to receive their prize.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I want to congratulate all of the staff and volunteers who work so hard at BIADS for being named as finalists. Having seen first-hand the excellent work they do and the services they provide I know how crucial they are to people in our community. To say this recognition is deserved is an understatement.

Linda Pattison, Chief Officer of BIADS added:

“Of course we’re disappointed we didn’t win. But to be a finalist in a national award after being a charity for just four years proves that if you want to do something enough, you can.

 

Michael meets with Motor Neurone Disease campaigner

16 July 2014

Michael has met with Gordan Aikman, a sufferer Motor Neurone Disease who is courageously campaigning to raise awareness and help find a cure.

Motor Neurone Disease is a rare, progressive and debilitating disease that attacks the brain and spinal column for which there is currently no cure. Gordon

Aikman who was recently diagnosed with the disease at the young age of 29, has set out to raise awareness and help find a cure.

Commenting after they met, Michael said:

“It was great to meet Gordon Aikman in parliament, to hear about his brave fight against motor neurone disease and to listen to his determination to raise awareness and ultimately find a cure.”

You can read more about Gordon's campaign here - http://gordonsfightback.com

 

 

Michael responds to the Minister on industrial action

11 July 2014

As reported by the Guardian, Michael responded to an urgent question in the House of Commons on the issue of industrial action yesterday.

Michael made it clear that what is needed is a negotiated settlement. Instead we have had nothing but a Government that is sabre rattling, union bashing and playing politics.

You can watch the statement in full by clicking here. Or you can read by clicking here.

 

MP welcomes Inquiry into young women NEETs

11 July 2014

As reported in Today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has welcomed an Inquiry into stubbornly high numbers of young women not in employment, further education or training (NEET) in Barnsley.

The Inquiry, set-up by the Young Women’s Trust, follows figures released by the organisation that show nationally there are around 408,000 young women that are NEET.

Based on estimations from the Young Women’s Trust, in Barnsley East alone there are around 16 per cent of the population who are NEET, with 56 per cent of these being young women. The investigation will gather evidence over the next month or so and the final findings will be reported in early 2015, with interim findings published in September.

It also aims to examine ways in which responses to unacceptably high numbers of young women who are NEET.

Commenting on the investigation, Michael said, “I very much welcome the Inquiry recently launched by the Young Women’s Trust. What is worrying is the unacceptably high number of young people, especially women, who have very limited access to opportunities across Barnsley”.

He added, “The recent loss of jobs in Barnsley should serve as a reminder that opportunities are getting even more difficult to come by. I look forward to the findings of the report being published.”

 

Local MP urges schools to help pupils to ‘make their mark’

11 July 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael is urging secondary schools in the area to register their interest in a national ballot of pupils, Make your Mark.

The Make your Mark nationwide ballot runs from 12th August - 10th October 2014 and determines what issues are debated by the Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) in the House of Commons on the 14 November. From the issues debated, the MYPs then choose their national campaigns for the coming year.

Last year over 470,000 young people took part in the Make Your Mark national ballot and 8,399 young people in Barnsley Local Authority took part, the fifth highest turnout of all local authorities. This year, Michael Dugher is urging more schools to get involved.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I would urge secondary schools in our area to register their interest in this year’s ballot and help our pupils to make their mark.

“It is great to see that Barnsley had the fifth highest turnout in the ballot last year. This is a great way for young people to engage further with politics and it’d be fantastic to see even more young people turnout this year.”

Schools can register their interest in taking part in Make Your Mark here - http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/schools-pupils-make-mark/

 

Michael calls for greater access to funding for brass bands

As reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael, who is Patron of Worsbrough Brass, met with the CEO of Arts Council England (ACE), Alan Davey, and representatives of Brass Bands England today to call for greater access to funding for brass bands.

Access to funding is a key issue for brass bands in Barnsley and across the country. Today's meeting allowed Michael to push ACE to work closer with brass bands and help unlock funding.

The meeting also allowed Michael to raise concerns over the unfairness in arts funding where genres like opera and jazz receive funding that dwarfs that of brass bands. Greater support for schools brass was also raised.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Brass bands make a huge contribution to our communities. Today’s meeting with Arts Council England was extremely useful. It is encouraging they want to work with us to secure greater access to funding for brass bands. Also, there is a real determination to promote brass music for young people and schools.

“There is still unfairness in arts funding with opera in London getting millions, whilst many brass bands continue to struggle to get by. Addressing that should be an urgent priority. It is important that Brass Bands England and ACE work closely together to get greater access to funding for brass bands.”

To find out further information about Brass Bands England and what they do you click here.

 

Dugher's column: 'We need jobs that restore pride'

04 July 2014

Michael joined leaders from the National Union of Mineworkers on a march through Barnsley Town Centre to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike last week. Following this, he has written a column for the Barnsley Independent about the need to create jobs to be proud of.

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Women in Barnsley miss out as shock new figures reveal how the gender pay gap has grown

04 July 2014

New analysis of ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures has revealed that women in Yorkshire still earn on average just 80 pence for every pound earned by men.

Since 2010 the pay gap has closed by just 0.1% and shockingly, last year, for the first time since 2008 the pay gap didn’t just stagnate, it rose.

A third of working women are now in low-wage jobs, and nationally a record six million women are working part-time where hourly pay is on average a third less than they could expect in a full-time job. Additionally some three-quarters of a million women are now on zero-hour contracts.

In Government Labour made steady progress to close the pay gap – reducing it by 7.7 per cent and closing it almost entirely for women in their twenties and thirties working full time. The Labour Party has pledged to make achieving equal pay a priority and has urged greater pay transparency so women can see if they are being paid less than their male colleagues.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It seems extraordinary in an age when girls are outperforming boys at school, going to university in greater numbers and running FTSE 100 companies that pay inequality still exists, but it does. What is really depressing is that things are going backwards on David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s watch. Women in Barnsley deserve much better than this.

“When it comes to supporting women to get ahead this Government has one massive blind spot. Hardly surprising some may say from a Cabinet with just three women out of twenty two full members.”

 

Brass band funding more than doubled

04 July 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has welcomed the news that funding for Brass Bands England has been increased by 126 per cent to £142,000.

Michael is currently Vice-Chair of the Brass Bands APPG and has been campaining for better funding for brass bands for some time. The group met with the Minister to discuss this issue last year and are set to meet with Alan Davey CEO of Arts Council England, next week to discuss further how best to maximise funding and support for brass bands.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is a belated acknowledgment that brass bands in Barnsley and across the country have been struggling due to unfairness in arts funding, where opera in London is somehow seen as a superior or more worthy form of arts.

“I welcome this announcement. This is a result of years of campaigning by many Labour MPs in Parliament. We now need to make sure that access to this funding is fair in order to ensure support for brass bands, which are not just an important part of our heritage, but also make an enormous contribution to our community.”

 

Elsecar set for Lottery cash boost

July 4 2014

Elsecar has been hailed a “wonderful place” by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which recently announced a £500,000 investment to turn the village into a major tourist attraction. The plans include restoring the historic Newcomen Beam Engine, which is due to open to the public in October.

Additionally, money is being set aside for training and volunteering opportunities so local people can get involved in sharing the history of the village. It is estimated that the plans will bring an extra 14,350 visitors to the area, bringing an extra £309,099 to the local economy.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The Newcomen Beam Engine project will be an excellent opportunity to showcase our area’s proud past. But with the funding also being used to develop and update the visitor attraction, this is also about helping our local economy in the future, too.”

 

 

 

Michael visits Birdwell School as part of global education campaign

04 July 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael visited Birdwell Primary School last Friday as part of the Send my Friend to School campaign. The campaign is run by the Global Education Campaign and aims to raise awareness of the 57 million children worldwide who do not have access to a proper education. 

Year 5 children from the school shared some of the work with Michael before asking him questions about his role as an MP and his views on global education. 

They presented Michael with a paper chain of children, representing the solidarity of children across the world, and asked him to support their campaign in his parliamentary role. 

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

There are 57 million children worldwide who do not have access to a proper education. It is great that children here in Barnsley care about this issue and have raised it with me.

The Send my Friend to School campaign does a fantastic job and I will do all I can to support this worthwhile campaign in my role as Member of Parliament”.

 

Michael joins in Armed Forces Day celebrations

29 June 2014

Michael joined Dan Jarvis MP at Barnsley Pals Centinary Square on Saturday in a service to celebrate the work and dedication of our servicemen and women. 

The service, which was led by the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Tim Shepherd, was attended by veterans and cadets from all services.

Michael then met with cadets and young leaders from across South Yorkshire at a display in Barnsley Town Centre. 

(The photo above shows Michael with Petty Officer Adam Vamplew).

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Michael has also written a blog about the importance of Armed Forces Day. You can read the full blog here.

 

Michael takes part in miners’ strike 30th anniversary rally

28 June 2014

Michael joined former miners and members of the National Union of Mineworkers on a march through Barnsley Town Centre to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike.

The procession then went to the miners’ hall at the NUM HQ, where speeches were heard from NUM president Nicky Wilson, as well as those who lived through the strike, including a representative from the Women Against Pit Closures campaign. 

 

Michael supports global education campaign

28 June 2014

Michael visited Birdwell Primary School on Friday as part of the “Send my Friend to School” campaign. Children at the school shared some of their work with Michael on the need for every child globally to have access to an education. 

They presented Michael with a paper chain of children to represent the solidarity of children all across the world and Michael pledged to support their campaign in Parliament. 

More information about the Send my Friend to School campaign can be found here.

 

Michael warns new taxi and minicab laws could put passengers in Barnsley at risk

27 June 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Barnsley News and Sport and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has voted against the Government’s proposed changes to taxi and private hire law, warning that they could put passengers in Barnsleyat risk.

The reforms were included in the Government’s Deregulation Bill, which was debated in Parliament this week. 

The Government’s proposed reforms will enable people without a minicab license to drive one when it is “off duty”, which could increase the number of unlicensed drivers pretending to be legitimate.  The changes will also end annual checks on drivers’ licences and allow minicab operators to subcontract bookings to firms in other areas.

There has been widespread criticism of the Government’s last minute decision to insert these reforms into the Deregulation Bill. Campaigners, industry bodies and unions have all warned that the changes could have severe safety implications.

Commenting, Michael said:

“At present, minicabs in Barnsley are driven by people who have undergone criminal, medical and background checks with the local council, but the Government’s reforms threaten to remove these safeguards and let anyone drive an off duty minicab.

“Many people in Barnsley rely on taxis and minicabs to get home safely and I’m worried that Ministers’ plans will increase the number of rogue drivers on Barnsley’s roads.

“I’m calling on the Government to abandon these proposals and put passenger safety first.”

 

New report on coalfield areas should act as a wake-up call for ministers

27 June 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has said that a new report by Sheffield Hallam University - ‘The State of the Coalfields’  - should be a wake-up call for Ministers. 

The report, which was commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, was launched this week by Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.  It provides in depth analysis of the concerning state of our coalfield communities.

The report highlights that despite progress under the previous government, key indicators in coalfield areas on health, deprivation, unemployment and job density continue to fall well behind other areas, particularly the South.

In coalfield areas in Yorkshire, like Barnsley, there are 12 per cent fewer jobs per 100 people than the average across the country.

Welcoming the report, Michael said:

“This report is a very important piece of work which shows the big challenges still facing coalfield communities.   It should act as a wake-up call for Minsters.  

“It is very concerning to see the coalfields in Yorkshire falling well behind the rest of the UK in a number of key areas, especially job density.  

“I’d like to thank the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Sheffield Hallam University for their hard work in putting the report together.”

 

Michael writes to the Home Secretary over chaos at Passport office

27 June 2014

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and has called on her to offer compensation to those who have had to pay more for their passport through no fault of their own.

After the delays and problems at the Passport Office over the last few weeks, Michael has called on Theresa May to refund people who applied in good time but were forced to pay extra to get their new passport in time for their holiday.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Over the last few weeks, more and more people in Barnsley have got in touch to tell me about the problem they’ve been facing trying to get their passports renewed. 

“It’s about time Ministers apologised for this mess and refund the upgrade fees anyone has had to pay just to get their passports on time.”

 

PoliticsHome blog: David Cameron was warned about Coulson but repeatedly chose to look the other way

25 June 2014

Michael has written a blog for PoliticsHome today about how David Cameron refused to act despite being warned about Andy Coulson time and time again.   

You can read the blog post here: “Unanswered questions on Coulson”

 

Cabinet Office Questions – 25 June 2014

25 June 2014

Michael asked a question from the dispatch box today during Cabinet Office Questions. Michael asked:

An excellent report published last week by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam university on the state of the coalfields confirmed that the most deprived areas of the country have the lowest concentration of voluntary sector organisations.

On top of that, we know that local authorities in those same areas are suffering disproportionate cuts—a double whammy for the poorest parts of the country.

Why are the Government not doing enough specifically to help the voluntary sector in the poorest parts of the country?

Click here to watch the exchange on BBC Parliament (scroll to 22:39).

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: ASOS fire

24 June 2014

Michael was on BBC Radio Sheffield with Howard Pressman yesterday, appealing for information to aid the police investigation into the suspected arson attack on the ASOS warehouse last Friday. He was also on Hallam FM, Radio Yorkshire and Dearne FM.

You can listen to his interview with the BBC by clicking here and scrolling to 48:56, you can listen to his Radio Yorkshire interview by clicking here.

 

ASOS arsonists must be caught and dealt with severely

23 June 2014

As reported by We Are Barnsley and the Barnsley News and Sport, commenting on the news of the fire at ASOS’ distribution warehouse in his constituency in Barnsley over the weekend, Michael said:

"The police are currently treating the fire at ASOS as arson. It is difficult to say too much whilst there is an ongoing police investigation, but if this is the case, those responsible must be dealt with severely. They must be caught and face the full consequences of their actions. I appeal to the public to help South Yorkshire Police catch the perpetrators.

"This was a dreadful incident. Those responsible endangered the lives hundreds of local ASOS workers, caused a loss of business and an estimated £22 million of damage to an important local business and major employer, and also saw South and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services have to commit major resources to tackling the blaze.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to the brave firefighters at both South and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services. They did a fantastic job as always tackling the fire and ensuring that thankfully nobody was injured.

“ASOS is a great British brand known all over the world for the excellence of its products and service. It is also an important business for our local economy in Barnsley, employing over 3,000 people who will need to be able to get back to work as soon as it is safe to do so.

“If anybody has any information they should come forward and contact the police immediately on 101, quoting incident number 1210 of Friday June 20."

 

Michael votes to introduce tougher sentences for knife crime offences

20 June 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has voted today for the introduction of tough new sentences for knife crime offences. The proposed changes, introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, will impose a mandatory minimum custodial sentence on those convicted of a second knife possession offence. For those aged 18 and over, the sentence will be 6 months, for those aged 16-18 it is a 4 month detention training order. However, the new laws will allow for judicial discretion.

The tough new sentences were opposed by the Liberal Democrats and David Cameron and Conservative Ministers also refused to support it. The vote was only passed because of the support of Labour MPs.

The vote follows shortly after a recent knife attack in Worsbrough, Barnsley, where a 27-year-old man was taken to hospital to be treated for serious stab wounds.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

“There is no doubt that more needs to be done to stop the devastation caused by knife crime. The recent knife attack in Worsbrough is a sad reminder of that.

“We need to make it very clear that carrying a knife is totally unacceptable, even more so for those who repeatedly commit knife crime. Tough sentencing sends out a strong signal and that's why I supported these changes to the law.

“However, sentencing alone won’t solve the problem and much more needs to be done to make people aware of the consequences of carrying a knife. The evidence shows that those who carry a knife are also far more likely to be a victim of knife crime themselves. Our focus has to be on preventing people carrying knives in the first place and on tackling gang culture.”

 

BIADS shortlisted for national award

20 June 2014
20 June 2014

1As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle by We Are Barnsley and the South Yorkshire Times local dementia charity, BIADS, has been shortlisted for the 2014 Bevan Prize for Health and Wellbeing after being nominated by Michael, who is Patron of the charity.

The Bevan Prize recognises and celebrates individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution 2to the advancement of health and wellbeing in the UK and embody the founding principles of the NHS. BIADS charity is one of four organisations to be shortlisted out of over 40 nominations from across the country.

 

Representatives of BIADS will travel to London on Tuesday 15 July to attend the awards ceremony where the winner will be announced. They will be accompanied by Michael, who will also be taking the group for a tour of the House of Commons.

Commenting, Michael said:

“One of the proudest moments during my time as a Member of Parliament was when I became Patron of BIADS, so it was a pleasure to nominate them for the 2014 Bevan Prize. Their commitment to their members is second to none, it is fantastic news that they have been shortlisted.

“With an ageing population, dementia is now one of the greatest challenges facing our health and social care systems. With approximately 3,000 dementia sufferers in Barnsley, the work BIADS do is vital for so many. This recognition is thoroughly deserved and they would be worthy winners.”

 
Commenting on their nomination, Linda Pattison, Chief Officer of BIADS, said:

“Everyone connected with BIADS was extremely proud when we were nominated, now we have been shortlisted we’re over the moon.

“A great deal of hard work has been done by a lot of people to enable BIADS to offer so much support to people in Barnsley affected by dementia and this nomination is a fantastic way of recognising and celebrating their contributions.”

 

Dugher's column: 'Put town on music map'

19 June

With Live in Barnsley set to take the town by storm this Saturday, Micahel has written a column for the Barnsley Independent about the success of the festival.

You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

 

Michael welcomes new report from Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional economic and Social Research

19 June 2014

Today saw the launch of ‘The State of the Coalfields’, a new report from Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. You can read a copy of the report in full by clicking here.

The report was commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and provides an in depth analysis of the current concerning state of Great Britain’s coalfield communities.

With progress having been made under the previous Labour Government, key indicators on health, deprivation, unemployment and job density, show that the majority of the coalfields continue to fall well behind other areas, especially the South.

Welcoming the report, Michael said:

“This report is a very important piece of work, it should act as a wake-up call for minsters as to the big challenges facing the coalfields.

“I’d like to thank the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Sheffield Hallam University for their hard work in putting the report together.

 

BBC Sheffield: Justice for the Coalfields

18 June 2014

Michael was on BBC Sheffield Drivetime on Monday and the Breakfast show today, discussing the Justice for the Coalfields campaign and the need for an investigation into what really happened at the Battle of Orgreave.

You can listen to the Drivetime interview by clicking here and scrolling to 1:41:40 and the Breakfast show by clicking here and scrolling to 1:20:55.

 

Latest unemployment figures show 'no room for complacency'

13 June 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has said there is ‘no room for complacency' as figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority and long-term unemployment in Barnsley East remain higher than they were at the election in 2010.

Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority remains 19 per cent higher than at the 2010 election and long-term unemployment in Barnsley East is 34 per cent higher in the same time period.

Commenting, Michael said:

“While the fall in overall unemployment is welcome, long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley and long-term unemployment remain higher than they were at the election. There can be no room for complacency from Ministers.

“Hardworking people are over £1,600 a year worse off than when David Cameron came to office and pay has fallen behind inflation. The government has failed to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and make work pay. This has led to a staggering 42 per cent increase in working people claiming housing benefit in Barnsley, compared with 2010.

“It is clear that people in Barnsley are still not feeling the recovery. The government should restore the value of the national minimum wage, get more employers to pay a living wage, extend free childcare provision, freeze gas and electricity bills and get the next generation into work with apprenticeships and a compulsory jobs guarantee.”

 

BBC Radio Sheffield and Dearne FM: Passport delays

11 June 2014

Michael was on BBC Radio Sheffield and Dearne FM yesterday discussing the concerning increase in the number of people experiencing passport delays. More and more people are contacting Michael's office by the day and these delays are causing people great distress, many of whom are very concerned that they could miss their family holiday.

You can listen to Michael on BBC Radio Sheffield by clicking here and scrolling to 1:24:15

 

Michael calls on Jeremy Heywood to publish review of May and Gove row

10 June 2014

Following the Home Secretary's inadequate and evasive performance in the House of Commons yesterday, Michael has called for the publication of Sir Jeremy Heywood's review into the row between the Education Secretary and Home Secretary.

You can read about this further by clicking here.

 

We need to act now to tackle child poverty

09 June 2014

Michael has written a blog about how we need to act to tackle child poverty, following the release of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission's report that said the absolute child poverty goal was “simply unattainable”. And Save the Children's report, , ‘A Fair Start for Every Child’, which worryingly concluded that by 2020 there could be as many as five million children living in poverty in the UK.

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

Michael meets with pupils of Ladywood Primary in Parliament

09 June 2014

Michael met with children from Ladywood Primary School in Parliament today. The children visited the Palace of Westminster as part of a school trip to learn more about the work of Parliament and MPs.

After a tour, the children met with Michael and were able to ask him questions about what it's like being an MP and working in Parliament.

 

Michael supports carers in Barnsley during Carers Week

09 June 2014

Michael has pledged his support to carers across Barnsley as part of the national awareness campaign Carers Week, which begins today.

One in eight adults are carers, but the very nature of caring - of being there for a loved one facing ill health or disability - means too often people don’t identify themselves as carers and, therefore, miss out on support.

Without the right help and support, caring can have a serious impact on their physical and emotional health, work and finances.

Carers Week Quest 2014 is calling on individuals and organisations across the UK - including community groups, GPs, health and social care professionals, employers - to connect with families in their local communities who are providing care.

To show his support for local carers, Michael met with the Carers Week supporter charities in Parliament – including Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society and Parkinson’s UK.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Carers make a hugely valuable contribution to society and they need support to carry on the work they do - without carers the UK would face a £119 billion care bill.

“Making sure carers get the support they need can mean the difference between coping and crisis. That is why I am supporting this campaign to reach out to carers across Barnsley and help ensure they don’t miss out on support.”

 

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trustmust take all action necessary’

06 June 2014

As reported by We Are Barnsley and the Barnsley News and Sport, following the news that Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been told to take urgent action and seek external help to recover its finances and keep them stable, Michael has issued the following statement:

"Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust must take all action necessary to rectify the position they are in. The Trust’s commitment to a two-year Turnaround Plan, their willingness to work closely with Monitor and to act upon their advice is welcome.  The welfare of patients is paramount. It is also of the utmost importance that the Trust and its leaders learn the tough lessons needed so something like this is never allowed to happen again". 

 

Michael calls for investigation into possible abuse of government communications

06 June 2014

As reported by the New Statesman, BBC and the Telegraph, Michael has written to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, demanding an investigation in to whether government communications are inappropriately using Conservative Party messages.

The Labour Party has compiled evidence of how 'long-term plan' and 'long-term economic plan' have become interchangeable as official government and Conservative Party messages.

The Government's communications plan for 2014-15 announced that the Government's budget for external communications activities has increased to just under £290 million.

It is essential to ensure that public funds are not being spent on party political campaigns a year out from an election when the Government is increasing spending on communications.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

"The Conservative Party's key campaign slogan was line one of the Queen's Speech.

"The year before the election the Government are increasing spending on communications and seem to be using the levers of power to push Conservative Party propaganda.

"I have called for an investigation in to the party political use of government communications to ensure we uphold the integrity and impartiality of the civil service and prevent public funds from being misused.

"With families feeling the squeeze in their living standards the public must have confidence that the machinery of government is not being manipulated for partisan gain."

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You can read Michael’s letter to Jeremy Heywood below or by clicking here.

Letter from Michael Dugher to Jeremy Heywood:

I am writing to express concerns that taxpayers' money is being routinely used to promote the Conservative Party’s messages.

The Civil Service have made promotion of the Government’s “long term economic plan” a priority, devoting taxpayers’ money and considerable civil service resource to the cause. This is confirmed by the recently published (13 May 2014) ‘Government Communications Plan 2014/15’.

The ‘Government Communications Plan 2014/15’ states that, The cross-government economy campaign will focus on the government’s long-term economic plan”. The Government Communication Service describes the Communications Plan as “a cross-government view of our priorities.”[ii] Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communication, confirmed that civil servants will be using this report to shape their priorities in the year to come.

The Government's Communications Plan for 2014-15 also announces that the Government's budget for external communications activities has increased by 22% to just under £290 million.

The scope of Government communications using the term “long term economic plan” is now extensive. For example:

  • This week's Queen's Speech set out the Government's legislative programme for the year ahead.  The term 'long-term economic plan' is used three times in accompanying official briefing papers and Her Majesty's address even used the term "long-term plan".
  • In April this year, the Prime Minister wrote to small businesses informing them of the impact of changes to National Insurance at a cost of £430,000 in public funds.  This official Government letter used the phrase, "We came in to Government with a long term economic plan".
  • On 7 January this year, the Government produced an official policy paper policy setting out “the government’s long term economic plan”. Details of this are promoted prominently on government websit.

These are only three examples. Similar wording is habitually used in official communications, with the Civil Service, Ministers and No10 regularly using this language in publicly-funded outlets. I would be happy to provide further examples.

It is, of course, the role of the Civil Service to communicate official government information to the public. However, it is vital that this work is clearly confined to non-party political activity. It would be completely inappropriate for the work of the Civil Service to be manipulated to support party political messaging.  The Civil Service Code itself states that civil servants must not "use official resources for party political purposes". I believe there are serious questions to be asked as to whether the Code is currently being upheld.

The phrase “long term economic plan” is now being mirrored exactly, and regularly, by the Conservative Party. They are using this phrase in a clearly partly political manner in speeches, press releases, in ‘social media’, on campaign literature and in Conservative Party Political Broadcasts.

One example of how the Conservative Party is campaigning using “long-term economic plan”, can be found on their website, here: http://www.conservatives.com/Plan.aspx. You will note that this is repeated directly as government policy on the Gov.uk site: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-governments-long-term-economic-plan/the-governments-long-term-economic-plan

Again, I would be happy to provide further examples.

I believe the Conservative Party’s actions may be in direct contravention of rules surrounding the need for distinction between government and party political messaging. I therefore ask that you investigate urgently whether official government resources are being used to promote Conservative Party communications.

In particular, I hope you will be able to answer the following questions:

  • Do you consider the slogan 'long-term economic plan' or 'long-term plan' to be government brands?  If so, do you think it is appropriate for it to be used in the Conservative Party's political and campaign communications materials?
  • What measures have been taken to ensure that none of the £290 million earmarked for external communications this year will be used to promote a political party's message? 
  • What processes have you put in place to ensure that public resources are used only for impartial and official government business?
  • What processes have you put in place to ensure the Conservative Party will not seek to use official government messaging for party political ends? What communication has been had with the Conservative Party to ensure that this is the case?

In considering these questions, I would draw your attention to the fact that in 2009 the then Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude wrote to the then Cabinet Secretary seeking assurances that the work of civil servants was not being used inappropriately.  He argued that "addressing this issue is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the work of the civil service".  This statement is as true now as it was then.

It is essential that the public has clarity and confidence over the proper use of public funds and impartiality of the civil service and as such I look forward to your response.

In light of the obvious public interest in this matter I am releasing a copy of this letter to the media.


Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

 

Michael backs Barnsley Council's call for votes at 16

06 June 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, the Barnsley News and Sport and the Sheffield Star, Michael has given his full support to Barnsley Council after they voted in favour of young people aged 16 and 17 being entitled to vote.

Barnsley Council granted chair of Barnsley Youth Council, Thomas Yems, permission to address the meeting as councillors supported the motion:

‘This Council believes that: 16 and 17 year olds are knowledgeable and passionate about the world in which they live and are as capable of engaging in the democratic system as any other citizen; Lowering the voting age to 16, combined with strong citizenship education, would empower young people to better engage in society and influence decisions that will define their future.’

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

“It’s great to see Barnsley Council supporting votes at 16. Lowering the voting age is a bold and radical proposal that has the potential to energise and engage a whole new generation.

“This is an important way to ensure our youngsters have a better sense of their civic duties, but also to ensure politicians in Westminster listen to young people and their concerns.

“Votes at 16 would undoubtedly and importantly strengthen our parliamentary democracy.”

 

Michael supports Big Lottery Fund's Heroes Return 2 programme on the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings

06 June 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, on the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings the Big Lottery Fund has set up the Heroes Return 2 programme to help people mark this historic occasion.

Michael has given the programme his full support and has urged Barnsley's war veterans and their widows, who wish to commemorate this anniversary, to apply for a grant.

The programme offers World War II veterans from the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland grants from between £165 to £8,140 towards travel and accommodation expenses to enable them their spouse and carers to make trips back to places across the world where they served, or make a commemorative visit in the UK.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The Heroes Return 2 programme is a great way to help our war veterans commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

"I recently joined a delegation alongside Dan Jarvis MP and leading Labour councillors to remember the sacrifice of the Barnsley Pals and to commemorate the First World War. This truly moving experience brought home the importance of remembering our fallen heroes.

"Veterans and their widows who hope to revisit the places where they served and remember the sacrifice of their fallen friends and family for this historic anniversary should apply for a funding grant."

 

 

Delegation pay their respects to the Barnsley Pals

06 June 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael joined a delegation alongside Dan Jarvis MP and a number of Barnsley Council's leaders.

During the visit the delegation delegation were able to apy their respects to the Barnsley Pals and laid a wreath at the official memorial to the Barnsley Pals at Serre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dugher's column: Welfare tough talk - 'mind the gap'

05 June 2014

With less than half the number of new homes we need being built and a staggering 42 per cent increase in the number of working people claiming of housing benefit in Barnsley, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent about the need to mind the gap when it comes to what David Cameron says is happening and the reality.

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Today’s Queen’s Speech was the last act of a zombie government

04 June 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, the Queen’s Speech was the last chance for David Cameron and Nick Clegg to provide the answers to the problems of hardworking people across the country.  But they have failed yet again.

We needed a change of direction for Britain with a legislative programme equal to the scale of the challenge our country faces.  But instead, the Government just offered more of the same.  Many of the measures had already been announced or were simply watered down versions of things Labour has already called for.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The local and European elections showed the depths of discontent with the direction of our country, which people increasingly feel does not work for them.  

“The test for this Queen’s speech was whether it offered a new direction for Britain to make this country work for all and not just a few at the top.  It clearly failed this test.  On zero-hour contracts, the Government has refused to ensure that those working regular hours month after month get a regular contract.  On housing, the Government has set out plans for just a one off new town with 15,000 homes when we need at least 200,000 homes built every year.   And on immigration, the Government has not set out any proposals to tackle the undercutting of wages.   

“Labour would have a Queen’s Speech that would help secure a strong and balanced recovery that is built to last.  We would have Bills to make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills, build more homes, stop workers being undercut through enforcement of the minimum wage and ban recruitment agencies that only use overseas labour.

“Today’s Queen’s Speech did not rise to the scale of discontent or set Britain in a new direction.  Today’s Queen’s Speech was the last act of a zombie government with no real agenda.” 

 

PoliticsHome blog: David Cameron has failed to deliver on previous promises

03 June 2014

In advance of the Queen's speech, Michael has written a blog for PoliticsHome about how there is a huge gap between what the Government promises and what it accomplishes.

You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

 

Michael criticises HM Passport Office after delays cause constituents distress

03 June 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Sheffield Star and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has condemned HM Passport Office following a number of cases in which constituents’ passport applications have failed to be processed within the three weeks it should take.

Michael has been contacted eight times in the past three weeks by constituents who have yet to receive their new passports within three weeks, the length of time that HM Passport Office’s own website states it should take to process a passport application once received.

In order to uncover the true extent of the problems at HM Passport Office, he has submitted an FOI request to find out how many passport applications have failed to be processed within three weeks in the last three months; and how many passport applications they are currently processing that were received over three weeks ago.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is simply not good enough. People in Barnsley should be able to rely on HM Passport Office to process their applications in the time frame they set out on their website.

“These delays have caused people great distress, many of whom have been very concerned that they could miss their family holiday.

“Hopefully my FOI request will uncover the true extent of the problems at HM Passport Office. In the meantime, I would advise anyone who needs to renew their passport to do so well in advance of any holidays.

“If any other constituents are experiencing problems with HM Passport Office please do get in touch with my office.”

 

South Yorkshire Times: 'We need urgent action to save the NHS before it’s too late'

03 June 2014

David Cameron said he could be trusted with the NHS but all we got was broken promises. Following the announcement that Labour will make sure people can get an appointment with their doctor within 48 hours, Michael has written a column for the South Yorkshire Times.

You can read Michael's column in full by clicking here.

 

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