Ladywood Primary School visit to Parliament
25 May 2016
Today, pupils from Ladywood Primary school visited the Houses of Parliament for a tour and to learn about politics in Westminster.
The pupils were shown around the Palace of Westminster and took part in a workshop on the importance of the suffragette movement and equal rights in Parliament’s new Education Centre.
Michael joined the pupils for a question and answer session about his role as their local MP.
Michael hands in petition to No 10 and leads Commons debate against Government cuts to community pharmacies
25 May 2016
As reported by the Daily Mirror, Chemist + Druggist and the Yorkshire Post, Michael joined with a cross party delegation of MPs, patients and pharmacists on Tuesday 24 May to deliver a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people to 10 Downing Street against Government plans to cut £170 million from the community pharmacy budget.
Later, Michael led an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, in which he spoke about how damaging the Government’s cut will be to public healthcare.
The Government’s cut, which is set to take effect in October, could see up to 3,000 community pharmacies forced to close their doors to the public. This is equal to a quarter of all community pharmacies in the country.
However, in a response to Michael’s written Parliamentary Question earlier this month, the Government admitted that it did not know which community pharmacies would close or how many would be shut down, meaning that thousands more could potentially be at risk.
In response to Michael’s question about the effect the cut will have on the number of community pharmacies, the Government said:
“We are not able to assess which pharmacies may close or what the effect on high street vacancy rates might be because we do not know the financial viability of individual businesses or the extent to which they derive income from services commissioned locally by the NHS or local authorities or have non-NHS related income.” You can see the full response here.
Michael also wrote a blog for Politics Home on Tuesday 24 May about the campaign against the Government’s planned cut and the need to stand up for community pharmacies.
You can see Michael’s speech to the House of Commons in full below.
Michael welcomes DWP decision reversal for constituent Kenny bailey, but warns of a wider problem
24 May 2016
As reported by the Mirror and the Huffington Post, Michael's constituent Kenny Bailey, who is waiting to have a metal plate inserted to reshape his skull and protect his brain, had his benefits slashed by the Department for Work and Pensions earlier this month.
The DWP cut his employment support allowance (ESA) after it declared Mr Bailey ‘fit for work’, despite the fact that he has been left paralysed down one side and is suffering from severe memory problems following a stroke in 2014.
Michael wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb, calling on the Government to reverse this shocking decision to declare Kenny bailey ‘fit for work’. It is welcome that they have now finally reversed it.
But as Michael told the Mirror, it should never have happened in the first place. And it's a sign of a wider problem in that the most vulnerable people can be treated in such an appalling way.
Michael says Ministers are “clueless” over cuts to community pharmacies, as Government admits it cannot say how many chemists or where vital local chemists will close
23 May 2016
As reported by Pharmacy Business, Michael has warned Government plans to cut £170 million from the community pharmacy budget are unravelling, as his parliamentary question reveals they are clueless as to how many local chemists will be forced to close.
In response to a written Parliamentary Question tabled by Michael, which you can see in full here, the Government was forced to admit they “are not able to assess which pharmacies may close or what the effect on high street vacancy rates might be because we do not know the financial viability of individual businesses or the extent to which they derive income from services commissioned locally by the NHS or local authorities or have non-NHS related income.”
The Government claim that their £170 million cut is designed to reduce ‘clustering’ of community pharmacies, where local chemists trade within walking distance of each other, but the Government’s answer shows they have no idea which community pharmacies – or how many – will be forced to close, which means the £170 million cut is effectively arbitrary.
The Government has previously said that the 6 per cent budget cut, which will take effect in October, will mean up to 3,000 community pharmacies – or a quarter of all those in the country – will be shut down, but the Government’s admission that it does not know how many will close could mean thousands more are at risk of closure.
Michael is leading a House of Commons adjournment debate on the issue and handing in a petition against the Government’s cut – signed by more than a million people - to 10 Downing Street (both on Tuesday 24 May).
Commenting, Michael said:
“Community pharmacies are a vital part of public health in this country, but Ministers are pressing ahead with an arbitrary £170 million budget cut that by their own admission they have no idea what the impact will be. They are simply making things up as they go along and the answer to my Parliamentary Question reveals that they are clueless as to how many community pharmacies will be forced to close or where the closures will take place - this completely destroys their argument about so-called ‘clustering’”
“Closing chemists is bad news for local communities and bad news for our NHS as community pharmacies increasingly save the NHS money by not just dispensing medicine but by giving patients free advice. All the evidence shows that shutting community pharmacies will pile even more pressure onto our already overstretched GPs and hospitals.
“The Government listen to the more than one million people who have signed the petition and should go back to the drawing board".
Michael continues campaign against Government’s community pharmacy cut
22 May 2016
As reported by today’s Sunday Express, Michael has spoken out against the Government’s plan to cut £170 million from the community pharmacy budget.
The planned cut, which is set to take effect in October, could force up to 3,000 community pharmacies – a quarter of all those in the country – to close.
On Tuesday, Michael will be joining a cross-party delegation of MPs, patients and pharmacists to hand in a petition against the cut – signed by more than a million people – to No 10 Downing Street.
Later on Tuesday, Michael will be leading an adjournment debate in the House of Commons against the plan to cut the budget.
You can read more in the Sunday Express here.
Labour IN for Britain campaign visit to Barnsley
20 May 2016
On Friday, Michael welcomed colleagues from the Labour In for Britain team to Barnsley to make the positive case for our European Union membership together.
The occasion was a chance for party members and supporters to meet with their local MPs and to discuss our EU membership with regional MEPs Linda McAvan and Richard Corbett, as well as Dan Jarvis MP, Mary Creagh MP and Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP.
Three million British jobs are linked to our EU membership and leaving the EU could end free trade between Britain and Europe.
British workers also benefit from EU agreements on workers’ rights, including the right to holiday pay, paid maternity and paternity leave, anti-discrimination laws, equal pay and protection for agency workers. You can find out more on the Labour In For Britain website here.
Michael will continue to campaign for a vote to remain in the EU across Barnsley over the next weeks.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Voting to Remain is in Britain's national interests. We cannot afford in Barnsley to be out when so many jobs of the future depend on being in Europe.
“I also remember the huge investment that went into the former coalfields including here in South Yorkshire and that the EU offers that protection of workers' rights - acting as a buffer for us in the face of a hostile Tory government”.
Michael calls on Government to drop outrageous “fit for work” ruling of Barnsley man with severe skull damage
20 May 2016
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and by Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for the head of the Department for Work and Pensions to reverse a decision declaring a Barnsley stroke victim “fit for work” and removing his benefits – despite him having severe skull damage and suffering from partial paralysis.
Mr Kenny Bailey, a constituent of Michael’s, was left with serious neurological and physical health problems after suffering a major stroke in 2014. He has very serious mobility difficulties, including partial paralysis on his left side and a severe limp. He is also currently waiting for an operation to have a metal plate fitted to reshape his skull.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions ruled that Mr Bailey is “fit to work” and that he should lose his Employment and Support Allowance – which will mean Mr Bailey is £156 per fortnight worse off and only has his Personal Independent Payment to cover food and bills.
Mr Bailey is appealing the shocking decision and Michael is taking the matter up on his behalf.
In a letter to the head of the Department, Michael called for the Secretary of State, Stephen Crabb, to “intervene personally on [Mr Bailey’s] behalf during this process to overturn the decision and restore Mr Bailey’s ESA.”
Commenting, Michael said:
“I was quite frankly appalled to learn that the Department for Work and Pensions is cutting support for my constituent Mr Bailey, who is doing the best he can to cope with the terrible life-changing injuries he sustained in 2014.
“Mr Bailey clearly suffers from severe mobility and other health issues as a result of his stroke and it is outrageous that the Government have declared him ‘fit for work’ and removed his Employment and Support Allowance.
“The Department for Work and pensions need to urgently reverse this decision and restore Mr Bailey’s Employment and Support Allowance.
“I have taken this matter up directly with the Secretary of State at the Department and I will fight this unfair and unjust decision through Mr Bailey’s appeal process.”
You can see Michael’s letter in full here.
Michael blasts Government for making “wrong choices” for Barnsley
20 May 2016
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and by Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has accused the Government of letting down Barnsley residents and making the wrong choices for the borough in the Queen’s Speech, which was delivered yesterday (Wednesday 18 May).
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has claimed that the Government is delivering a “One Nation” agenda, but Michael has highlighted the Tories’ record in Barnsley as one of failure which has let down his constituents.
Under this Government, gross weekly pay for full time workers in Michael’s Barnsley East constituency has fallen from £456 in 2010 to £432 in 2015 – a cut in gross income of 5 per cent.
Whilst unemployment has decreased in recent years, the number of unemployed people in Barnsley East has remained stubbornly high, with the latest figures showing 3,000 people are classed as unemployed in Barnsley East – which is 6.8 per cent of the local population, higher than the rate for Yorkshire and the Humber of 6 per cent and the national rate of 5.2 per cent.
Those in employment are more facing job insecurity, with 68,000 people across Yorkshire and the Humber on zero hours contract for their main job.
The number of people depending on food banks to eat has also massively increased since this Government took office, with 61,468 people relying on three day emergency food packages across the country in 2010/11. According to the Trussell Trust, Figures for 2014/15 show that this figure has increased to 1,084,604 people and in Yorkshire and the Humber alone, there are now 60,186 people relying on food banks.
And on top of this, the Government is letting down key public services like our NHS, particularly as the Winter crisis has deepened in the Spring. In Barnsley, the latest figures show that Barnsley Hospital’s A&E unit is failing to meet the Government’s own target to see 95 per cent of patients within four hours – managing to see just 86.7 per cent within that time in March.
Other parts of NHS emergency care are struggling to meet demand, with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service is failing to attend the most serious “Red 1” and “Red 2” life threatening emergencies within the targeted times. Ambulance Trusts are supposed to attend these emergencies within eight minutes, 75 per cent of the time, but Yorkshire paramedics were only able to reach 66.5 per cent of “Red 1” emergencies and just 58 per cent of “Red 2” calls within this time.
There is also a GP access crisis in Barnsley. There are 1,521 patients per GP in the Barnsley area, more than the regional average of 1,429 and the English average of 1,365 – which is putting extra strain on the NHS and making it harder for patients to get an appointment with their GP.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Areas of higher need are being hit hardest by this Government’s policies and the Government showed in the Queen’s Speech that they are making the wrong choices for Barnsley.
“Their record is one of failure to improve pay and provide skilled jobs for my constituents whilst at the same time the number of people depending on food banks has rocketed on this Government’s watch.
“And on top of this, our public services are being let down by this Government, with no plan in the Queen’s Speech to get to grips with the crisis in A&E waiting times or to deal with the shortage of GPs that we face in Barnsley.”