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Tell David Cameron to freeze gas and electricity prices now

Under this government you’ve paid too much. A Labour Government will freeze your bills and put a stop to this. 

To find out more and to sign the petition, click the button below. 

Help save the Yorkshire children’s heart surgery unit

The Children’s Heart Surgery Unit based in the Yorkshire Heart Centre at Leeds General Infirmary is currently under threat.

Michael has urged the Government not to close the unit and has made a detailed submission to the consultation process.

If you would like to get in touch about the 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

 

 

Michael visits young citizens at Oakwell

30 July 2014

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 social backgrounds, 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 meets with the Business Sprinkler Alliance to discuss fire prevention

25 July 2014

Michael met with representatives from the South Yorkshire Fire Authority and the Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA) today, along with other Barnsley MPs, following the fire at ASOS in June to discuss ways in which businesses can prevent fires and the damage they cause to their commercial activities.

BSA 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 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.

 

Figures show a worrying increase in working people claiming housing benefit

30 May 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley and the Barnsley News and Sport, new research from the House of Commons Library has revealed the impact of the cost-of-living crisis with figures showing a staggering 42 per cent increase in working people claiming of housing benefit in Barnsley, compared with 2010.

In England a shocking 400,000 (60 per cent) more working people are claiming housing benefit costing the taxpayer an estimated extra £4.8bn over the course of this Parliament.

Michael has put the huge increase in people who are in work who need to claim housing benefit down to a failure to make work pay, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and build the new homes we need.

Commenting, Michael said:

“These shocking figures show that this government have failed to get control of the welfare bill and shows the impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having on people in Barnsley.

“This government has presided over the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s. Labour is committed to getting at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020, to make sure the new homes we need are built.

“We need policies that will help make work pay and tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Policies like, restoring the value of the national minimum wage and freezing gas and electricity bills.

 

Michael backs plans to guarantee patients a GP appointment within 48 hours

30 May 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has backed a new guarantee for patients to get an appointment with a GP within 48 hours or on the same day if they need to be seen quickly, as part of plans to improve services for patients and ease pressure on local hospitals.

The plans hope to ease the pressure across the NHS by reducing the number of patients going to A&E departments and could save millions of pounds.

GP surgeries across the country will be given an extra £100 million a year to achieve this massive improvement in standards - enough to pay for an additional three million GP appointments every year.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Patients in Barnsley are fed up of waiting for days before being seen by a local GP.

“Currently a quarter of people cannot get an appointment with a GP in the same week, adding to the pressure on the NHS. This can’t continue.

“That’s why I’m backing plans to raise standards, put patients first and guarantee them an appointment with a local GP within 48 hours or on the same day if they need to be seen quickly.

“People in Barnsley are fed up of David Cameron’s broken promises to protect the NHS. It just goes to show that the Tories can’t be trusted with our National Health Service.”

 

Michael raises concerns over number of people who struggle to make it to payday

30 May 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has raised concerns over the number of people struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. Recent research has shown that almost half (46 per cent) of those in the Yorkshire and Humberside region ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ struggle to make it to payday.

The research was carried out by R3, the association of business recovery professionals, and found that the most commonly cited cause of struggles to payday are the rising cost of food, the rising cost of household energy bills, the rising cost of transport, making credit card payments and rent payments.

Commenting, Michael said:

“After three years of a flatlining and falling living standards it is welcome that growth has returned to the economy, but it is clear that people in Barnsley and Yorkshire aren’t feeling it.

“Under this government, wages after inflation are down by over £1,600 a year. On top of this, tax and benefit changes will leave families almost £1,000 a year worse off by the time of the next election. It’s no wonder people are struggling.

“We need policies like an energy price freeze that will boost living standards for all, not just a few at the top, and secure a strong and balanced recovery that is built to last.”

 

Barnsley leaders pay respects to Barnsley Pals on World War One centenary

26 May 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael and Dan Jarvis MP are part of delegation that has travelled to France to pay their respects to the Barnsley Pals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Barnsley delegation, who have paidfor the visit at their own expense with no cost to tax taxpayers, has set out on a two day tour of the former battlefields sites on the Western Front. They visited Serre, the village where the Barnsley Pals fought on 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, tragically suffering 545 casualties.

The delegation laid a wreath at the official memorial to the Barnsley Pals at Serre.

Other members of the delegation include: Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Barnsley Council Leader; Cllr Jim Andrews, BMBC Deputy Leader; Cllr Joe Haywood, BMBC’s Armed Forces Champion; Cllr David Leech; Cllr Robin Franklin, BMBC Cabinet support member; Cllr Sharon Howard, BMBC Cabinet Spokesperson without Portfolio; and Cllr Tim Shepherd, Mayor Elect of Barnsley.

You can read more about the Barnsley Pals in an article Michael has previuously written for the Yorkshire Post by clicking here.

 

Commenting, Michael said:

"I'm looking forward to paying my respects to the Barnsley Pals.

“People in Barnsley are rightly immensely proud of our Armed Forces. It is a huge privilege to have the opportunity to commemorate the bravery, service and sacrifice of so many men from Barnsley."

 

Dan Jarvis, who is also leading on the First World War commemorations for the Labour Party, said:
 
"The First World War changed Britain forever and I know there's huge interest across Barnsley in the impact the conflict had on our town.

"In this important year of remembrance, it will be a special experience to walk the battlefields where so many soldiers from Barnsley fought and died 100 years ago.

"It's right that we pay tribute to those soldiers who didn't return home, and I'm working to ensure we see fitting commemorations taking place across the country later this year."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today Programme and BBC 5 Live

24 May 2014

Following the local elections on Thursday, Michael appeared on BBC Vote 2014, the Today Programme and BBC 5 Live Drive and Breakfast to discuss the results and how Labour has made progress in key seats across the country on Saturday.

You can watch Michael on BBC Vote 2014 by clicking here and scrolling to 15:50, listen to BBC 5 Live Breakfast by clicking here and scrolling to 1:41:40 and on BBC 5 Live Drive here at 16:30. You can listen to Michael on the Today Programme by clicking here and scrolling to 1:10:00.

 

Michael supports a stronger minimum wage

21 May 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for plans to strengthen the national minimum wage to make sure that people in Barnsley who do a hard day’s work are rewarded for doing so.

This follows recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that show wages in Barnsley East have fallen since 2010. The value of the national minimum wage has also declined by 5% over the same period.‎

In September last year Alan Buckle, former‎ Deputy Chairman at KPMG, was asked to investigate how to strengthen the minimum wage.

The report, published on 19 May, argues for a new framework to ensure that the minimum wage rises faster over the next five years than it has in the recent past, as part of a national mission to tackle low pay and build a new economy with more high skill, high paid jobs.

The report recommends that the next Labour Government should set the Low Pay Commission a five-year target to increase the minimum wage to a more stretching proportion of median earnings.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I’m proud that the last Labour government introduced the National Minimum Wage.  This boosted pay for millions at the bottom without leading to a loss of jobs and now I can’t imagine a Britain without it.

“But wages in Barnsley East have fallen since 2010. That’s why we need to strengthen the National Minimum Wage so that people on low pay in Barnsley are properly rewarded for the work they do.

“Bringing the increase in the minimum wage closer to median earnings over a five-year period will help us build an economy that works for everyone and not just a few at the top.”

 

Concerns that young people and the long-term unemployed are being left behind

20 May 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that there are nearly twice as many people in Barnsley East who have been unemployed for twelve months or more than in 2010. In Barnsley Local Authority the number of young people who have been out of work for the same time period has increased by a quarter.

Michael welcomed the fall in overall unemployment but raised serious concerns that long-term unemployment and long-term youth unemployment remains a problem. And that too many jobs are low paid, part-time and zero hours.

Commenting, Michael said:

“While the fall in overall unemployment is welcome, today's figures show that young people and the long-term unemployed are being left behind.

“Many people in work are struggling to make ends meet because of the government's failure to make work pay and tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

“The government should introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get the long-term unemployed and young people off benefits and into work.”

 

Feargal Sharkey and Michael Dugher attend the Live in Barnsley media launch

19 May 2014

Michael and Feargal Sharkey attended the Live in Barnsley media launch on Friday 16 May at the Digital Media Centre. The festival will be held on Saturday 21 June across a dozen venues in town.

Live in Barnsley announced the line-up for this year's festival which can be seen in fulle here. And details of this year's official festival t-shirt, click here for further information.

The event offered bands playing at the festival the unique opportunity to gain question Feargal Sharkey and gain invaluable advice. The local media were then able to interview Feargal and ask him about his role as patron with the festival. You can watch a short interview with Feargal below.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael, Dan and Feargal Sharkey shown around Barnsley College

16 May 2014

Michael and Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis were joined by Feargal Sharkey today on a tour of Barnsley College.

They were met by Dianne Murray, the Assistant Principle of the College who showed them around their excellent music department and studio.

Whilst there they met with a group of students who took this fantastic opportunity to ask questions and learn from a highly successful artist who is able to offer invaluable advice.

 

 

 

 

Michael backs childcare guarantee

16 May 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and the Barnsley News and Sport, children and families in Barnsley could benefit from new measures Michael has called for to help ease the cost of living crisis.

Childcare is one of the most expensive costs for working parents in Barnsley, with families in Yorkshire paying up to 13 per cent more for childcare since 2010.

For some families paying for childcare can be as much as having a second mortgage and childcare costs can be a major barrier to getting into work and making ends meet.  At the same time, childcare places have fallen by 5,619 across the Yorkshire and Humberside and ministers have cut support to help make childcare affordable through tax credits for 6,700 families in the region.

The plans that local MP Michael Dugher has called for would introduce a guaranteed wrap around childcare place before and after school for primary school children benefitting 1,800 kids and their families in Barnsley and up to 43,400 in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Additionally, ten extra hours free childcare provision for working parents of three and four year olds will also be introduced, paid for by an increase in the Bank levy.

Commenting, Michael said:

“People in Barnsley are facing a cost of living crisis. This primary childcare guarantee will make arranging quality before and after school care easier, and extending the free childcare offer from 15 to 25 hours will be worth over £1500 for parents of three and four year olds to help them pay their childcare bills.

“For many parents in Barnsley, arranging good quality, available childcare can be a nightmare. The primary school childcare guarantee would put parents minds at rest, help them manage before and after school care to fit into the working day and give their children extra opportunities.”

 

Daily Express: 'Nigel Farage is a phoney bull**** artist'

16 May 2014

In the run up to the local and European elections next week, Michael has met with the Daily Express to discuss how Ed Miliband has changed Labour on immigration, UKIP and how Nigel Farage is a phoney.

You can read the interview in full here. It was also reported by the Independent here.

 

Guardian: 'Labour alleges 'cash-for-access'

16 May 2014

As reported by the Guardian, the Tories received £3 million over in donations over the three months from city financers who have bought private dinners with David Cameron.

Commenting on the news, Michael said the conservatives were:

"increasingly bankrolled by a small number of millionaire bankers and dinner donors … half of the many millions rolling in to Tory coffers during the last quarter came from a wealthy elite who have exclusive access to the top table. These are the same millionaires who have been given a tax cut by the same Tory government which is failing to address the cost-of-living crisis facing families."

You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Michael calls for a fairer deal for renters

14 May 2014

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Sheffield Star and Barnsley News and Sport, one of the biggest causes of the cost of living crisis in our country is the price of renting or buying a home. That’s why Michael has backed plans for a better deal for those renting their homes privately and to build 200,000 more homes a year by the end of the next Parliament so that more families can fulfil their dream of home ownership.

For the 12,856 people are living in privately rented homes in Barnsley rents are now on average £384 more each year than in 2010. With tenants facing rip-off fees from lettings agents and insecure tenancies, Michael has called for big changes in the system to make it fairer for renters.

Michael has called for a ban on rip-off letting agents’ fees for tenants, saving renters on average £350 in costs, and for the introduction of legislation to make three year tenancies the standard in the British private rented sector to give people who rent the certainty they need.

Commenting, Michael said:

“There are many people in Barnsley worried about the prospect that their rent could jump up by a big amount from one year to the next. Since 2010, rents in Yorkshire and Humberside are now on average £384 more per year.

“I want to see families given the security of a longer tenancy and predictable rents to stop excessive rises so that they can manage tight family finances and plan ahead.

“Estate agents charge people who rent an average of £350 in fees. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people and that’s why I want to see legislation introduced to ban these rip-off charges by letting agents.”

 

New Statesman: 'The lessons for Labour from America'

13 May 2014

Following Michael’s recent visit to America, he has written a blog for the New Statesman about the lessons Labour can learn from the US on campaign communications.

You can read the blog in full here.

 

Michael vows to hold the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg to account

10 May 2014

Michael and Labour are holding a day of action today to highlight the Liberal Democrats’ record of broken promises. The day of action will hold Nick Clegg to account for propping up the Tory-led government.

Labour has also launched a Party Election Broadcast, the ‘Un-credible Shrinking Man’, exposing Nick Clegg’s claims to have stood up to David Cameron in government and highlighting his capitulation on key promises made in the Lib Dem 2010 manifesto. You can watch it in full below.

Michael has also written a blog for PoliticsHome about the LibDems, you can read it in full here.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Former Lib Dem voters feel let down by Nick Clegg’s record. The Lib Dems’ record in Government has made one thing clear, Cameron and Clegg are ‘two peas in a pod’. Scratch the surface and Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have a record of broken promises and propping up the Tory-led Government.

“The Lib Dems’ promised to scrap tuition fees and then trebled them; they promised not to increase VAT but then voted through a VAT rise on hardworking families; they promised a fair tax system with the wealthiest paying more but have cut taxes for millionaires, paid for by millions of hardworking families.

“People across Britain are all being let down by Clegg selling out to Cameron.”

 

PoliticsHome: 'Nick Clegg campaigned as an insurgent but has governed as an accomplice'

09 May 2014

Following the launch of the Liberal Democrats' local and European election campaign, Michael has written a blog for PoliticsHome about how Nick Clegg should be held to account for his broken promises over the past four years.

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

Michael unveils memorial to miners and servicemen

9 May 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael unveiled a memorial plaque and clock at Houghton Main club house last Sunday.

The plaque and clock are dedicated to the memory of the men of Houghton Main Colliery who worked during 1914 – 1918 and those served with the 13th/14th Battalions’ of York & Lancaster Regiment - "The Barnsley Pals".

"The memorial to those miners who served in the Barnsley Pals and elsewhere in the forces during the First World War was especially poignant and moving."

 

Michael opens 'Colossal' cake sale in aid of Help for Hero's

9 May 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael opened the “colossal” cake sale at Worsbrough Mill on Saturday 3 May in aid of the forces charity “Help for Hero’s”.


The event, organised by the Friends of Worsbrough Mill included a performance by Worsbrough Brass Band, of which Michael is also patron.


Commenting Michael said “The Friends of Worsbrough Mill do a fantastic job by giving up their free time to ensure that Worsbrough Mill remains a great place to visit for all of us in Barnsley”.

 

 

Michael backs plan to tackle childcare cost-of-living crisis for working families

09 May 2014

 
Michael has called for the introduction of a primary childcare guarantee to help tackle Cameron’s Childcare Crisis.

Childcare is one of the most expensive costs for working parents, with families in Yorkshire paying up to 13 per cent more for childcare since 2010. For some families paying for childcare can be as much as having a second mortgage and childcare costs can be a major barrier to getting into work and making ends meet.  

Michael has called for the introduction of a guaranteed wrap around childcare place before and after school for primary school children, benefitting up to 43,400 three and four year olds and their families in Yorkshire. Additionally, ten extra hours free childcare provision for working parents of three and four year old will also be introduced, paid for by an increase in the Bank levy.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Childcare is a key cause of the cost of living crisis for working parents. The primary childcare guarantee will make arranging quality before and after school care easier, and extending the free childcare offer from 15 to 25 hours will be worth over £1500 for parents of three and four year olds to help them
pay their childcare bills.”

“Extending free nursery hours for three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours for working families means that parents can work part time for the first time without having to worry about the cost of childcare.

“For many parents in Barnsley, arranging good quality, available childcare can be a nightmare. The primary school childcare guarantee would put parents minds at rest, help them manage before and after school care to fit into the working day and give their children extra opportunities.”

 

Dugher's column: 'Working conditions that are a throwback to Victorian times'

09 May 2014

Following the release of a survey that has shown zero hour contracts are much more widespread than first though, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Memorial plaque at Houghton Main unveiled by Michael

04 May 2014

2As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Sheffield Star, Michael has unveiled the memorial plaque and clock at Houghton Main club house.

The plaque and clock 1are dedicated to the memory of the men of Houghton Main Colliery who worked during 1914 – 1918 and those served with the 13th/14th Battalions’ of York & Lancaster Regiment - "The Barnsley Pals".

Michael met the family of George Goddard at the celebration. George was a brave Houghton miner and Barnsley Pal who survived World War One. He is one of the courageous people that this plaque and clock commemorate.

Councillors Dorothy 3Higginbottom, Caroline Saunders and Brian Key also attended the celebration and the Dearne Big band performed.

Michael also received a certificate of commendation from the Houghton Main Miners' Welfare for his "support, commitment and enthusiasm towards local sport organisations and partnerships".

Commenting, Michael said:

"This was a fantastic celebration of over 300 years of the pit that became known as Houghton Main. We also paused to remember those who were injured or killed working in the pits, as well as paying tribute to those who went on strike 30 years ago to defend their industry and way of life.

"The memorial to those miners who served in the Barnsley Pals and elsewhere in the forces during the First World War was especially poignant and moving.

"I'd like to thank the Committee Members of Houghton Main Miners Welfare, the Darfield Ward Alliance, local councillors, Barnsley Museum Service, the Mines Rescue Service, the NUM, Acorn Brewery, ASOS and everyone in the community for supporting the celebration and remembrance.

"A big thanks also to Kevin Osborne who worked so hard to make the celebration such a brilliant success".

 

Cake sale declared open

03 May 2014

As reported in this week’s Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has opened the Friends of Worsbrough Mill colossal cake sale today.

As has been the case in previous years, the cake sale is held to help raise funds for Help 4 Heroes. Last year the event raised £430 for the charity, it is hoped that this can surpassed today.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The Friends of Worsbrough Mill do such a fantastic job, giving up their free time to ensure that Worsbrough Mill remains a great place to visit for all of us in Barnsley.

“This cake sale was a great event and raised money for another worthy charity, Help for Heroes. The charity work tirelessly to help with the rehabilitation of our injured service men and women and their families.

“Special thanks go to all of the volunteers who have helped out at this event. Especially Ros Goulding, Katie Lakin and Trevor Pyne, who have worked hard to make this event a great success.”

 

Labour List: 'David Cameron lives in fear of UKIP and in denial of the cost of living'

02 May 2014

Following the launch of the Tories' election campaign today, Michael has written a blog about how the Conservatives’ economic victory lap only goes to show just how out of touch they are with hard-working people’s lives.

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

South Yorkshire Times column - 'Dearne deserves real say come devolution'

02 May 2014

Following Michael's speech to the IPPR, in which he announced Labour's policy to introduce regional ministers, Michael has written a column for the South Yorkshire Times.

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Michael nominates local dementia charity for national award

02 May 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has nominated the Barnsley based dementia charity BIADS, for whom he is Patron, for the 2014 Bevan Prize for Health and Wellbeing.

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 which embody the founding principles of the NHS.

In his nomination Michael writes:

“There are approximately 3,000 dementia sufferers in Barnsley and dementia doesn’t just impact on the individual with the condition but affects everyone around them. BIADS recognises this and their range of services reflects their aim to address all aspects of this dreadful disease.

“When BIADS started in June 2010, they supported only 20 families. Now they support about 170 families and the only thing stopping them supporting more is their ability to fund more support workers. Initially they only had 2 part time staff and 3 admin volunteers. Now they have 9 staff and over 100 volunteers.

“Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, yet we spend much less on dementia than on these other conditions. Charities like BIADS complement and enhance what the NHS alone cannot achieve and provides a simply incredible service to the people of Barnsley. I believe that their hard work and dedication deserves recognition and they would be worthy winners of the Bevan Prize.”

 

Michael and Labour Shadow Education Minister visit Hoyland Common Primary School

01 May 2014

Michael and Labour’s Shadow Education Minister, Kevin Brennan MP, visited Hoyland Common Primary School today. They were shown around the school by Tom Banham, the headmaster.

The school has a brilliant record and was deemed ‘excellent’ by Ofsted in their most recent inspection. It has also recently been granted ‘teaching status’. This status is awarded to outstanding schools who then work with others to provide high-quality training and development to new and experienced school staff.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It was fantastic to be able to bring Kevin to visit Hoyland Common Primary. The work that Tom and his staff are doing there is fantastic.

“The teachers are encouraged to be creative and innovative in the way that they teach the curriculum, this really helps them meet the needs of their pupils and promotes a commitment to learning.”

 

Labour launches local and European election campaign

01 May 2014

Labour has launched its local and European election campaign today with Ed Miliband outlining ten steps he will take immediately as Prime Minister to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Hardworking families in Britain are worse off under David Cameron. The Tories and Lib Dems claim they’ve fixed the economy – but the truth is wages are down £1,600 a year since the election.

Each of the ten commitments that Ed Miliband has outlined today will make a real difference to the lives of people in Barnsley and across the country, now and for the future.

To see the commitments and to show your support for the Cost of Living Contract, click here

You can also watch the video below to find out how Labour will be a government that stands up for the many, not just a privileged few. 

 

 

Michael discusses TV election debates

29 April 2014

Michael appeared on both BBC Radio 4's Today Programme and Sky News to discuss David Cameron's moves to avoid next year's TV election debates.

Ed Miliband, writing for the Radio Times, has called on David Cameron to commit to the debates next year as he continues to shy away from agreeing to them.

You can listen to Michael on the Today Programme by clicking here and scrolling to 2:34:20. You can also watch him on Sky News here.

 

Michael calls for action to tackle the exploitative abuse of zero hours contracts

29 May 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport and We Are Barnsley, Michael has called for the introduction of new legal rights for employees on zero hours contracts, including the right:

  • To demand a fixed hours contract when they have worked regular hours over six months with the same employer

  • To receive a fixed hours contract automatically when they have worked regular hours over a year - unless they decide to opt out

  • To be protected from employers forcing them to be available at all hours, insisting they cannot work for anyone else, or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.

Analysis from the Office of National Statistics shows that there has been a three-fold increase in the number of workers on zero-hours contracts since 2010, from 168,000 to 583,000. Other reports estimate that up to one million people could be on zero hours contracts.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Since 2010 the number of people on zero hours contracts has increased massively. ONS figures estimate they have increased three-fold since 2010 and some reports suggest there are up to one million people on these contracts. More and more people in Barnsley are being left not knowing how they will make ends meet from one week to the next, and unable to plan for the future.

“In some instances zero hours contracts can offer short term flexibility for employers and employees alike. Unfortunately, a minority of employers are misusing zero hours contracts to cut costs.

“I want to see action taken to put that right by ensuring employees who have worked regular hours get a regular contract. And by banning the worst abuses of the system like people being required to be on call all hours of the day for one employer without any guarantee of work.”

 

Michael calls for 10p starting tax rate as figures show a dramatic increase in demand for foodbanks

25 April 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has called for the introduction of a new 10p starting tax rate, funded by a mansion tax, following new figures showing a shocking increase in demand for foodbanks.

New figures released by the Trussell Trust, the UK's largest foodbank network, show 913,138 people across Britain needed three days’ emergency food in 2013/14. This is a 163 per cent increase since 2012/13, when 346,992 people required three days’ emergency food. Shockingly, this is a 1,386 per cent increase in the number of people visiting their foodbanks since 2010/11, when 61,486 people received three days’ emergency food.

The figures also show that low income is the primary referral cause for 20.29 per cent, or one in five, of those referred.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The vast increase in the number of households and families turning to foodbanks reveals the full extent of the cost-of-living crisis people are facing in Barnsley and across the country.

“In 2010, there were no foodbanks in Barnsley East, but by the end of 2013 there were two and plans for more. People in Barnsley are facing a cost-of-living crisis, working people are over £1600 a year worse off, energy bills have increased and many have been hit by the bedroom tax.

“One in five people are referred to foodbanks due to low income. We need a new 10p starting tax rate to help the lowest earners, funded by a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2m.”

 

Michael calls for urgent action to tackle unemployment

25 April 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee as figures show long-term unemployment and long-term youth unemployment remains unacceptably high.

In Barnsley East 825 people have been unemployed for over 12 months, and 130 young people have been out of work for a year or more. It is also very concerning that the number of people 25 and over claiming for over two years has increased from 350 to 405 in the last year, an increase of 16 per cent.

Michael, responding to the Labour Market Statistics, said:

“After two months of rising unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority the decreases in the headline figures are welcome. However, it is clear more needs to be done to tackle long-term unemployment and long-term youth unemployment, which are both far too high. In the last year there has been a 16 per cent increase in the number of people 25 and over claiming for over two years.

“We urgently need action to get people in Barnsley into work. This is why I want to see the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, which will get any adult out of work for more than two years, or young person out of work for a year, into a job – one they would be required to take or lose their benefits.

“People in Barnsley can’t wait any longer for action. Ministers must get off their hands and start helping now before they condemn a whole generation to joblessness."

 

Michael speaks at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics

24 April 2014

During his visit to America, Michael has spoken to students of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics.

During the session Michael discussed political campaigning and strategy in the UK.

 

Michael meets with key Obama strategists to discuss Labour's planned election "attack unit"

23 April 2014

As reported in the Independent and Daily Mirror today, Michael has held detailed discussions with David Axelrod, the senior Obama strategist who Labour hired last week, and other key Obama strategists to discuss Labour’s online battle plan for the next General Election.

Labour will set up an “attack unit” to quickly put down and rebut Conservative attacks on Labour and Ed Miliband. The unit will be used to portray the Tories for what they are – out of touch and standing up for the wrong people.

Commenting, Michael said:

“We won’t put up with what Kinnock did in 1992. When people tell lies about Labour, we’re going to nail that lie, and quickly. This will be the most technologically advanced campaign ever. It will be faster, more direct and discursive and will be the first to be fought online as much as it will on the doorstep and over the airwaves.

“We know the Tories and some of their friends in the media are intent on making this a nasty, negative and personal campaign against Labour and prominent Labour people. We are absolutely determined to call out our opponents when they distort the truth or smear Labour people - and there's much we can learn from the masters of media and online rebuttal in the US.

“The Obama campaign inspired America because of its message of change in 2008 and because of its relentless focus in 2012 on raising living standards for hardworking people. But it also inspired because of its innovative, inclusive, cutting-edge campaigning which combined community organising with massive digital engagement. Labour’s communications strategy will encompass the best lessons from both campaigns.

“Labour is undergoing a communications revolution similar to that of the 1980s and 1990s. We now have a standalone digital team boosting online engagement, a comms operation targeting media in the 106 battleground seats, and we're setting up a unit which will prioritise rapid rebuttal and expose this Government's failure to make hardworking Britain better off. Add to that, we now have local organisers in every target seat.”

 

Dugher's column: 'Let's give the Council credit where credit is due'

23 April 2014

Following the publication of the Council's plans to promote economic growth in the Borough over the next 20 years, I have written a column for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the column in full here.

 

Michael meets with developers of proposed renewable energy plant

18 April 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael met recently with the Peel Environmental Ltd, the developers of a proposed Houghton Main Renewable Energy Park.

The developers have set out plans to invest £80 million in the construction of an anaerobic digestive plant at the former Houghton Main Colliery Site. The plant would provide 200 jobs for the area during its construction and would provide 30 further permanent jobs during its operation.

Anaerobic digestive plants are a form of renewable energy that uses micro-organisms to break down food waste that can then be converted into energy. The proposed plant would generate enough renewable energy to power up to 55,000 homes, whilst making use of resources that would otherwise have been sent away to landfills.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I was pleased to be able to meet with the developers and discuss their plans to invest in the construction of an anaerobic digestive plant at the former Houghton Main Colliery Site. Their proposal would create nearly 200 construction jobs and an estimated 30 full-time jobs to operate the plant.

“David Cameron’s promise to be the “greenest Government ever” is in tatters. Under his watch investment in clean energy has collapsed. Investment in green energy is necessary to securing Britain’s future. We need a diverse array of clean energy solutions, and anaerobic digestive plants are one of those options.

“We need to invest in clean energy initiatives and decarbonise the power sector.”

You can see Peel Environmental Ltd's plans here.

 

Michael Dugher and Dan Jarvis donate Barnsley FC scarf to commemorate 25th anniversary of Hillsborough disaster

18 April 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Barnsley MPs Michael Dugher and Dan Jarvis donated a Barnsley FC scarf which was displayed on the pitch at Anfield on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

On Tuesday 15 April, the 96 Liverpool supporters who lost their lives at Hillsborough were remembered with Anfield laying hundreds of scarves on the pitch in the shape of the number ’96′.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said: “My Dad was at the match at Hillsborough 25 years ago. Fortunately he was in the Forest end, but we didn’t know that at the time, and I remember how worried we were for his safety watching the scenes on television that dreadful day.

“On behalf of Barnsley residents and fans, I wanted to send a Barnsley FC scarf as an act of remembrance to all those who lost their lives and to once again demand justice for them and their families”.

Dan Jarvis added: “As a lifelong football fan I join with my parliamentary neighbour Michael Dugher in paying our respects to those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster.

“I know that all Barnsley FC fans will similarly want to pay their respects to all those who tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough.

“The 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy provides an important opportunity to remember those who died and pay tribute to the work their families and others have done in securing justice for them.”

 

Michael attends the Barnsley Development Agency’s roundtable

11 April 2014

Michael attended the Barnsley Development Agency’s (BDA) annual lunch and roundtable discussion today to discuss important issues effecting Barnsley and its economy.

The BDA works with local businesses to encourage more growth and investment in the area.  They offer advice and guidance in a number of areas such as how to secure finance, expanding marketing ideas and techniques, and leadership and management training. Their work is vitally important to many local businesses and the people they employ.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It was great to meet with the BDA along with leaders of local businesses to discuss how we can better promote business growth and increased investment in Barnsley.

“We discussed a number of issues facing business in Barnsley including rising energy prices, access to financing, and lack of opportunities for small businesses. I have repeatedly called for the introduction of an energy price freeze in energy prices until 2017, which would save money for 2.4 million businesses in Britain. We also need measures to devolve power from the Central Government by appointing regional ministers who can better work with Local Authorities to stimulate regional economic growth.

“This Government continues to stand up for big business whilst doing nothing to support small businesses and regional economic growth. George Osborne pledged to get the banks lending, but lending to businesses is now £100 billion lower than it was in 2010.

“The roundtable was a fantastic opportunity to hear firsthand what issues are facing small businesses in Barnsley and to discuss how we can encourage economic growth in the area.”

 

Michael meets with Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to expresses concern over the recently launched investigation

11 April 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has expressed serious concerns following the announcement from Monitor that they have launched an investigation into Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Michael and Dan Jarvis met with representatives of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust today to discuss their situation. Michael and Dan were able to raise their concerns and seek assurances over patient safety at this troubling time.

Monitor has announced an investigation into following concerns about the trust’s finances and because patients are currently waiting too long in A&E. The hospital has reported a deficit of £2.3m in February 2014.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I am extremely concerned that Barnsley NHS Foundation Trust has allowed itself to get into this appalling state. That both internal and external investigations are being conducted into financial irregularities at the Trust is extremely worrying for all of us who rely on our local hospital to look after us and our loved ones when we are ill. I am seeking reassurances that during this time patient care and patient safety must not be compromised.

"It is important that the Trust takes all actions necessary to resolve these serious problems as soon as possible. There must be proper accountability for what has gone wrong and lessons must be learnt so that the Trust never finds itself in this situation again.

"We all rely on our NHS. We need to see an urgent recovery plan to deliver the changes and improvements at the Trust so that people in Barnsley can be assured they will get the service they rightly expect and deserve.”

 

Latest DWP figures show 3,224 people are hit by the Bedroom Tax in Barnsley

11 April 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Barnsley News and Sport and We Are Barnsley, on the one year anniversary of the Bedroom Tax, Michael, has pledged a Labour government will scrap the Bedroom Tax which has hit 3,224 of people in Barnsley, nearly 50,000 across Yorkshire and the Humber and almost 500,000 across the country.

Since the introduction of the Bedroom Tax low-income households have been forced to find on average an extra £720 a year. According to the National Housing Federation two thirds of households hit by the Bedroom Tax cannot find the money to pay their rents and one in seven are at risk of eviction.

Michael recently signed a motion against the closure of a loophole that exempted people who have been claiming housing benefit at the same property continuously since 1996. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful and the loophole was closed.

Commenting, Michael said:

“People in Barnsley can’t afford another year of the Bedroom Tax. Over 3,000 people in Barnsley have been hit by this cruel and costly tax, many of whom have been forced into debt.

“David Cameron promised the Bedroom Tax would save money, but figures in the Budget show the housing benefit bill is rising, not falling, with a huge £1 billion increase over the next five years.

“The next Labour Government will need to make tough choices on spending and in these tough times we won’t borrow more to pay for social security. But we can and will do things differently. If this David Cameron doesn’t repeal the Bedroom Tax, the next Labour government will.”

 

IPPR: 'Why Britain needs jobs and growth in every region'

08 April 2014

As reported in the Independent, Michael delivered a speech to the IPPR today, outlining the need for jobs and growth in every region. Through the speech Michael announced reforms to the Civil Service Fast Stream and new plans for Regional Ministers.

You can watch the speech below or read the speech in full here.

 

Huffington Post: 'Labour's One Nation Plan to Bust Open Whitehall'

08 April 2014

Following the news that if elected Labour plan to fast-track working-class and ethnic minority applicants to the top of the civil service, Michael and Shadow Women and Equalites Minister, Gloria De Piero, have written a blog for the Huffington Post.

You can read the blog in full here.

 

Michael outlines Labour's plans to open up the civil sevice

07 April 2014

As reported by the BBC, Evening Standard, Sunday Mirror, Independent on Sunday, Express and Star and Belfast Telegraph, Michael has outlined Labour's plans to fast-track working-class and ethnic minority applicants to the top of the civil service.

Figures show that Whitehall has become more unrepresentative. A One Nation Labour Government would set targets for the number of successful BME and working class candidates entering the Fast Stream programme, reflective of the proportion of national graduates from those backgrounds.

Commenting, Michael said:

"Labour would make sure kids from working class backgrounds can help run the country by busting open Whitehall. We want ordinary kids with extraordinary talents to be able to go from the classroom to the corridors of power.

“Politics can often feel distant and remote from working people – Labour’s answer is to put them at the heart of our system.  We want a One Nation civil service which looks more like those it is intended to serve.

“The civil service is like a closed shop, with fewer women, fewer ethnic minorities and fewer kids with working class parents.  Labour will create a new generation of civil service leaders which will change the culture of government.

“A Labour government would be One Nation in outlook as well as make-up.  One of the greatest ambitions must be to help run your country and this should never be confined to one region, class or gender.”

 

People worse off despite tax break changes

06 April 2014

As reported by ITV News, Michael has responded to David Cameron's speech at the Tory Party Spring Forum.

Commenting, Michael said:

"David Cameron lives on another planet. His claims that people are better off show how out of touch he really is.

“Britain isn’t coming back - but Britain's living standards have gone backwards. Under the Tories this is the slowest recovery for 100 years.

“He talks about tax changes but fails to mention that figures from the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies show that by next year households will be on average almost £1,000 a year worse off because of changes since 2010. This comes on top of the fall in real wages that means working people are £1,600 a year worse off than they were when David Cameron entered Number 10.

“The Tories have no answers to the cost-of-living crisis because they only stand up for a privileged few. David Cameron’s priority is for tax cuts for millionaires while everyone else pays more.

“Labour will deal with the cost-of-living crisis and make the big changes to our economy so that Britain earns our way to higher living standards. We will freeze energy bills, get the next generation back into work paying taxes and not claiming benefits, get 200,000 homes built a year and expand free childcare for hard-pressed families. We also want to cut taxes for 24 million people on lower and middle incomes with a new 10p starting rate of tax.

“David Cameron not only hasn't got the answers to dealing with the cost-of-living crisis, he doesn't even think there's a problem. He just doesn't get it.”

 

Proud to support the Finlay Cooper Fund

04 April 2014

Michael hosted an event for the Finlay Cooper Fund in Parliament this week, a fantastic organisation that raises awareness and money for children’s charities across the country.

You can read about why and find out more about the charity here.

 

Michael criticises botched Royal Mail sell off

03 April 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, following the release of the National Audit Office’s (NAO) report into the Royal Mail sell-off Michael has criticised its botched privatisation.

The report from the NAO stated the government’s desire to sell Royal Mail in this Parliament, despite warnings and opposition from Labour had, "resulted in the shares being priced at a level substantially below that at which they started trading".

It is thought taxpayers have missed out on at least an additional £750 million as a result of government’s undervaluing of Royal Mail.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The report from the NAO makes it clear that the Tory-led government’s botched Royal Mail fire sale has left taxpayers in Barnsley and across the country short changed by hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Meanwhile, stamp prices have increased by 30 per cent and vital services have been put at risk at a time when families are already being hit by a cost-of-living crisis.

“When Royal Mail was privatised, Vince Cable described the huge rise in its share price as ‘froth’, but since then it has continued to rise. He and David Cameron have serious questions to answer on the hundreds of millions of pounds they have lost British taxpayers.”

 

Newly released figures show disability-free life expectancy in Barnsley amongst the worst in the country

03 April 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has raised concerns over new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that show disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) in the NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area is amongst the worst in the country.

The newly released figures from the ONS rank all 211 CCGs by their DFLE for both males and females. NHS Barnsley’s male DFLE is only 58.6 years, the 8th worst ranking of all CCGs. The female DFLE for NHS Barnsley is 60.5 years, the 17th worst in the country.

Males at birth living in Barnsley can expect to live 75.3 per cent of their future life disability free, while for females it is 74.3 per cent. Both of these figures are significantly lower than the English average of 80.9 per cent for males and 78.4 per cent for females.

 Commenting, Michael said:

“These figures are very concerning and show that NHS England was right to listen to the concerns we raised over proposed changes to the CCG funding formula. If the changes had gone ahead as planned health funding in areas with low life expectancy, like Barnsley, would have been disproportionately affected.

“David Cameron promised he would protect the NHS. But on his watch A&Es are in crisis, thousands of nurses’ jobs have been lost, more people wait longer for vital care and billions have been spent on an unwanted top down reorganisation that nobody voted for.

 “We must use existing NHS funding more efficiently. We need to introduce a system of whole-person care to respond to the changing health needs of our society: for young and old, and for the poor and those not in poverty.”

 

David Cameron 'stuck up' over Waitrose

03 April 2014

As reported by The Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Independent and Sheffield Star, Michael has criticised David Cameron today, following his comments suggesting that people who shop in Waitrose are better than those who shop elsewhere.

Responding, Michael said:

"Families are on average £1,600 a year worse off since David Cameron became Prime Minister. Most families understandably have to shop around and watch every penny because of the cost-of-living crisis, plus very many people increasingly have to rely on foodbanks.  This is a world away from that of David Cameron. 

"There's nothing wrong enjoying shopping at Waitrose. But Cameron seems to be saying that at Waitrose you get a better class of shopper. 

"This is a bizarre and empty-headed intervention from a prime minister who increasingly gives the impression of being stuck-up and out of touch.”

 

Fabian Society foreword

03 April 2014

Michael has written the foreword for the Fabian society's newly launched pamphlet, Organise!. The pamphlet examines the idea that when Labour embraces campaign change it can win in even the toughest of seats.

You can read the foreword in full here.

 

South Yorkshire Times column - 'Shock stats show life has got much tougher'

03 April 2014

Following the release of the now notorious Tory Budget bingo and beer advert, Michael has written a column for the South Yorkshire Times about how out of touch David Cameron and the Tories are.

You can read the column in full here.

 

Michael meets constituent at Parliament lobby

02 April 2014

Michael met with Doug Pope from Wombwell at the UCU lobby of Parliament today. Doug travelled to Parliament to raise the issue of funding for further and higher education directly with Michael.

The Tory-led Government is set to cut the adult skills budget in England by 19% between now and 2016. Further Education (FE) funding for 18 year olds has already been cut by 17.5% without consulting colleges and universities to see how it would affect them.

Commenting, Michael said:

"This Government should have undertaken a consultation before announcing such a significant reduction in funding. There is no doubt that this decision will inevitably have a detrimental effect on FE colleges and their provision of services and courses. The Government’s own impact assessment shows that these cuts will have a disproportionate impact on young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"With nearly 1 million young people unemployed, we need to focus on building a reformed and re-energised FE sector, which will be a priority for the next Labour government."

 

Michael launches new Labour Party PPB

03 April 2014

Michael has launched the Labour Party's latest Party Political Broadcast today. The broadcast highlights how a Labour government would take action to help hardworking people.

Talking about the PPB Micahel said:

"David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis is hitting families across the country. After the global financial crash the Conservatives made decisions which slowed and weakened the recovery, kicked away ladders of support for the worse-off and squeezed those in the middle. Backed all the way by Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, the party of broken promises, David Cameron’s government has been heartless and incompetent, failing to deliver its pledges on welfare and immigration while hurting hard-working families.

"Out-of-touch Ministers tell families they are better off, but behind front doors up and down the country there is a cost-of-living crisis. Everyday essentials are more expensive, childcare is harder to find, bills are up £300 and for many people work is insecure and the housing ladder out of reach.

"Labour would freeze energy bills until 2017, extend free childcare and tax bankers’ bonuses to put every young person unemployed for a year in to work. We want the pound in people’s pockets to be stronger and will reform the economy so it works for working people.

"We need as many people to hear our plans as possible -- it only takes a couple of clicks to share this video with your friends and followers."

 

Michael backs starter jobs for all young people out of work for a year

31 March 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We are Barnsley, Sheffield Star and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has backed plans that will guarantee a starter job for all young people out of work for a year, after it was confirmed that the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will be in Labour’s election manifesto and funded for the whole of the next Parliament – not just one year.

In the Barnsley Local Authority area, long-term youth unemployment is up 106 per cent since January 2011 and in Barnsley East the number of people under 24 claiming for over 12 months has increased by 45 per cent since January 2011. Nationally the number of young people aged 18-24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over a year has doubled - from 28,300 in May 2010 to 56,100 today.

Every young person out of work for more than 12 months will be given a paid starter job which they will have to take up or lose benefits if Labour wins the next election. The Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will also apply to adults aged 25 or over claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for two years or more.

The Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will be funded for the whole of the next Parliament by:

  • a repeat of Labour’s successful tax on bank bonuses at the start of the next Parliament; 
  • and restricting pensions tax relief for people earning over £150,000 to the same rate as basic rate taxpayers. 

The bank bonus tax will help to fund the first year of the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee when there will be a large number of long-term unemployed people to help and the changes to pensions tax relief will ensure an annual revenue stream to fund the policy throughout the next Parliament.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It’s shocking that in Barnsley long-term youth unemployment has increased by 106 per cent since January 2011 and it is very concerning that nationally the number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over a year has doubled.

“This is unacceptable. So if Labour wins the next election we will get young people and the long-term unemployed in Barnsley off benefits and into work. Those who can work will be required to take up the jobs on offer or lose their benefits. A life on benefits will simply not be an option.

“The government will work with employers to help fund paid work with training for six months. It will mean paid starter jobs for over 50,000 young people who have been left on the dole for over a year by this government.

“After the global banking crisis and with bank bonuses soaring again this year, it’s fair to pay for our jobs plan with a repeat of Labour’s tax on bank bonuses. We need a recovery for the many, not just a few at the top."

 

Michael calls for halt to badger culls

28 March 2014

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Sheffield Star and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has voted to halt the badger culls and discontinue the granting of further licenses, in order to examine more effective alternative strategies which focus on badger vaccination and cattle movement restrictions. The vote was won by 219 votes to 1, but still the Government are refusing to put the issue to a substantive vote in the House of Commons.

The Government has hastily pushed forward with a programme which is not backed by science and has failed to deliver the results that were promised. The culls have been a failure in every possible way. It has been estimated that the cost of the cull per badger killed is over £4,000. Further, the badger culls have done nothing to prevent Bovine TB and may have lead to the spread of Bovine TB.

Despite overwhelming concerns, the Government insists that their plans are working and are moving ahead with a fully implemented badger cull, which is inexcusable. The evidence does not support the Government’s policy and it is clear that Ministers have repeatedly chosen to ignore the scientific advice they have received.

Commenting, Michael said:

"I have always supported a science-led approach to stopping the spread of Bovine TB, and the fact is that the cull is not supported by science. We must focus on the vaccination of badgers and cattle herd movement restrictions. Whilst these may not be complete solutions, they are at least a step in the right direction, unlike this Government’s disastrous policies.

"Examples of these proposals working can be found in both Wales and Northern Ireland. Wales recently implemented a badger vaccination programme and found “significant and substantial” reductions in Bovine TB occurrences. Likewise, Northern Ireland implemented similar policies and improved occurrences of Bovine TB. Not only is a vaccination programme more humane and effective than a cull, but it has been proven to save money whilst being more successful.

"Labour will continue to work with leading scientists, farmers, and wildlife groups to take forward an alternative strategy to eradicate Bovine TB. The Government must do the same and follow through on their word to have cross-party talks in order to reach a consensus on this important issue. We cannot afford to sit by whilst the Government continues to use a programme that has failed on all levels.

"David Cameron’s cull has been a catastrophic failure for farmers, taxpayers and wildlife: it is a humiliation for the government, who have turned their backs on evidence-based policy. This is why I voted against the cull today, and is why I have opposed the culls from the start."

 

People in Barnsley East see fall in wages

27 March 2014

As reported in Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has raised concerns over shocking figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that show wages have fallen in the past three years in Barnsley East.

For male employees, the ONS figures show that the median weekly earnings in 2010 were £423.50, while for female employees they were £288.60. Instead of keeping up with inflation and the increased cost of living, both male and female earnings have fallen. The average weekly earnings for men in Barnsley East are now £404.60 and £270 for women.

This means that actual median gross weekly earnings for male employees in Barnsley East have fallen by £18.90, or 4.5 per cent, since 2010. In the same time period female employee earnings have decreased by £18.60, or 6.4 per cent.

Commenting, Michael said:

“These are shocking figures and show that life has got tougher and tougher for people in Barnsley since this Government came to power. David Cameron and George Osborne talk about a recovery, but it is clear this is not the case in Barnsley.

“Wages have fallen and food and energy bills continue to rise. People in Barnsley are suffering from a cost of living crisis and the Government need to take action to tackle it. We need a freeze in energy bills and the introduction of the ten pence starting rate of tax, funded by a mansion tax.

“It’s just not right that hard working people in Barnsley are paying the price. The Government should reverse the £3 billion tax cut for the top one per cent of earners to get the deficit down in a fairer way.”

 

Michael calls for musicians and film makers to enter Rock the House and Film the House

27 March 2014

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for musicians and film makers to enter two of Parliament’s largest competitions, Rock the House and Film the House.

Founded by Intellectual Property Advisor to the Prime Minister, Mike Weatherley MP, the competitions are sponsored by industry and supported by celebrity Patrons. Both competitions offer the opportunity for people from Barnsley to have their work judged by the leading lights of industry and win prizes ranging from festival slots, studio time, equipment, and the opportunity to have your work premiered in London’s West End.

The competitions aim to celebrate unsigned talent and the venues that support them. They also help to raise awareness of Intellectual Property rights and the importance of live music.

Commenting, Michael said:

“As a keen musician I would urge any local musicians and film-makers to enter Rock the House and Film the House. The prizes are impressive and as all nominations will be judged by industry experts it’s a fantastic opportunity for exposure.

“This is a great project which celebrates the fantastic diversity of the British music scene and gives musicians a vehicle through which to hold their legislators accountable about protecting the music industry’s intellectual property.”

 

Buzzfeed: '11 Times Tories Said The Thing An Energy Firm Just Did Couldn’t Be Done'

26 March 2014

Energy company SSE has announced that it will freeze its gas and electricity prices until 2016. This follows Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy bills if elected for two years, something that the Tories said couldn’t be done.

Michael has written a Buzzfeed post about this, you can see it in full here.

 

Dugher's column: 'You can't trust the Tory Party with the NHS'

26 March 2014

Following the vote on Clause 119 of the Care Bill, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Patronising bingo and beer poster signed off at highest levels of government

24 March 2014

As reported in The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Mirror, MSN UK and the Herald Scotland, Michael has written to the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, to clarify who was at the meeting that approved the Tories’ beer and bingo Budget poster.   This follows reports that the poster was signed off at the highest levels of government.  

Commenting, Michael said:  

"The bingo-beer Budget poster once again showed the true face of David Cameron's Conservatives - a party run by an out of touch privileged few. We now learn that this patronising piece of Tory propaganda – which described working people as "they" - was made in the Treasury and approved by George Osborne himself." 

You can read the full text of Michael’s letter to Sir Nicholas Macpherson below:

Dear Sir Nicholas,

You will have noted that following last week's Budget, the Conservative Party produced a political poster aimed at publicising changes to bingo taxation. This poster has since become a matter of some controversy.

Reports in the press today, Sunday 23 March, suggest that this poster was "designed in the Treasury and signed off by the Chancellor". The Telegraph newspaper reports that staffers from Tory headquarters were allowed into the Treasury to work with the Chancellor's aides on devising political messages. The paper also states that the poster was signed off by the Chancellor, Stephen Gilbert, the Prime Minister's political secretary, and by Lynton Crosby, the cigarette lobbyist and David Cameron's chief strategist.

Given these reports I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions. Did a meeting between aides of the Chancellor and Conservative Party staff take place within the Treasury? Who was present at this meeting?

Given the 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 and Labour Party Vice-Chair  

 

Blog for Labour List: 'Out of touch and out of sight'

23 March 2014

Following the news that the Tory beer and bingo Budget poster seems to have been signed off by many of the senior figures of the Tory Party, Michael has written a blog for Labour List.

You can read the blog in full here.

 

Michael votes against clause 119 of Care Bill

21 March 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, this week Michael voted to remove clause 119 from the Governments Care Bill, which will give the Health Secretary powers to close NHS hospitals without proper consultation.


Clause 119 gives the Secretary of State sweeping powers to make changes at successful hospitals, by extending the powers of the Trust Special Administrator to make recommendations affecting Trusts outside of the failing Trust to which it has been appointed. Coalition MPs voted to pass the clause by 297 to 239, a majority of 58.


There was also a vote on amendment NC16, which Michael also supported. Clause NC16 was tabled by Liberal Democrat, Paul Burstow MP, who didn’t even call his own amendment for a vote. Labour MPs stepped in to ensure a vote was held.


NC16 would have removed some of the worst parts of clause 119 by ensuring local commissioners in the non-failing areas have a veto over any decisions affecting their trust. Although clause NC16 received greater support, it was defeated by 47 votes.

Commenting Michael said:


“This is an issue of great concern. Prior to the vote I was contacted by a large number of constituents, all of whom are very worried about the effects of clause 119.


“Given the financial pressures on many NHS organisations, I am concerned that the special administration process will be used on an increasing basis in the future, raising the prospect of the Secretary of State forcing hospital closures over the heads of local communities.


“While there is sometimes a need to make changes to local services, the Trust Special Administrator route is the wrong way to do this. Hospital closures should be determined by clinical reasons, not financial ones. It is a spectacularly wrong solution to a very real problem.”

 

Michael congratulates Fr David on his new appointment.

Michael congratulated Fr David Nicholson from St John’s Church Cudworth on his recent appointment as chaplain to the Queen.


Commenting Michael said:


Fr David cares deeply for the people in our community in Cudworth and in Barnsley. He serves them with such great distinction.

This appointment is thoroughly well deserved.

 

A Budget that fails to tacke the cost-of-living crisis

19 March 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has criticised the Budget today, calling it a Budget that fails to help people with the cost-of-living crisis, from a Chancellor who stands up for the privileged few.

The Chancellor spoke of a recovery and how things are getting better, but figures show that working people in Barnsley are an average of £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories. People across the country aren’t feeling the benefits of a recovery at all.

Unemployment figures released this morning show that both unemployment and youth unemployment in Barnsley are up on last month. Worryingly, long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley has increased 103 per cent since February 2011 and in Barnsley East long-term unemployment has increased by 67 per cent since 2011.

Since David Cameron came to power there have been 24 Tory tax rises, including a VAT increase to 20 per cent that has cost families with children an average of £1,350 over the last three years. At the same time millionaires have been given a tax cut.

Michael has called for the introduction of Labour policies to help people in Barnsley facing a cost-of-living crisis, policies including:

  • Freezing energy bills until 2017 and reforming the energy market to stop customers being ripped off.

  • Cutting taxes for 24 million working people on middle and low incomes with a lower 10p starting rate of income tax, funded by a mansion tax.

  • Making work pay by expanding free childcare to 25 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

  • Putting young people back to work, with a job the young unemployed have to take – paid for by a tax on bank bonuses.

  • Building 200,000 homes a year by 2020 and cutting business rates for small firms.

  • Balancing the books in a fairer way by reversing the £3 billion tax cut for people earning over £150,000.

Commenting, Michael said:

"David Cameron and George Osborne have made it clear they only stand up for a privileged few - not hardworking families like those in Barnsley. We need a Budget that tackles the cost-of-living crisis which has left working people in Barnsley £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories.

"George Osborne talks of a recovery, but in Barnsley both unemployment and youth unemployment are up on last month. We’d get young people off benefits and into work with a compulsory jobs guarantee, paid for by a tax on bank bonuses.

"A Labour Budget this week would cut taxes for 24 million people on middle and lower incomes by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax. We’d tackle the cost-of-living crisis by freezing energy bills, expanding free childcare, building more homes and cutting business rates for small firms. We’d also reverse the £3 billion tax cut for the top one per cent of earners to get the deficit down in a fairer way.”

 

Independent: 'David Cameron is letting down the North, where the reality gap is greatest'

18 March 2014

Following up on my speech to the Labour Party North conference, I have written an article for the Independent. It is clear that David Cameron is a divide and rule Prime Minister who is ignoring the North. The picture that David Cameron and George Osborne paint of an economy that is recovering and a society that is prospering, masks the truth of the economic failure that continues to engulf much of the country. In 2015, it will be down to Labour to lead the change for every part of our country, because we know that the cost-of-living crisis is national and not confined to any one region.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Cameron is a 'divide and rule' Prime Minister who ignores the North

16 March 2014

The Sunday Mirror and the Independent on Sunday have reported on Michael’s speech to the Labour North conference yesterday, where he accused David Cameron of being a “divide and rule Prime Minister” who is ignoring the North.

You can read the full stories here:

* Sunday Mirror - 'David Cameron is a 'divide and rule' Prime Minister who ignores the North in favour of the South'

* Independent on Sunday - David Cameron has abandoned the North, says Labour vice chairman'

In his speech to the Labour North conference, Michael said:

“David Cameron is a divide and rule Prime Minister.

“Ministers like to say they have won the argument and want to tell families they are better off.

"But the so-called national recovery is weak and imbalanced.

“When there is good news, it has rarely returned to the regions, and often it is those in the North being left behind.

“We are all champions of London’s growth, but we want it to be joined by prosperous regions and nations of the UK.”

 

 

Michael votes against clause 119 - 'A spectacularly wrong solution to a very real problem'

14 March 2014

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has voted to remove clause 119 from the Care Bill, which is set to give the Health Secretary powers to close NHS hospitals without proper consultation.

Clause 119 gives the Secretary of State sweeping powers to make changes at successful hospitals, by extending the powers of the Trust Special Administrator to make recommendations affecting Trusts outside of the failing Trust to which it has been appointed. Coalition MPs voted to pass the clause by 297 to 239, a majority of 58.

There was also a vote on amendment NC16, which Michael also supported. Clause NC16 was tabled by Liberal Democrat, Paul Burstow MP, who didn’t even call his own amendment for a vote. Labour MPs stepped in to ensure a vote was held.

NC16 would have ameliorated the worst parts of clause 119 by ensuring local commissioners in the non-failing areas have a veto over any decisions affecting their trust. Although clause NC16 received greater support, it was defeated by 47 votes.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is an issue of great concern. Prior to the vote I was contacted by a large number of constituents, all of whom are very worried about the effects of clause 119.

“Given the financial pressures on many NHS organisations, I am concerned that the special administration process will be used on an increasing basis in the future, raising the prospect of the Secretary of State forcing hospital closures over the heads of local communities.

“While there is sometimes a need to make changes to local services, the Trust Special Administrator route is the wrong way to do this. Hospital closures should be determined by clinical reasons, not financial ones. It is a spectacularly wrong solution to a very real problem.”

 

Michael asks Francis Maude to come clean on how much it would cost to end the check-off system

12 March 2014 

Michael asked a question during Cabinet Office Questions today about the financial implications of ending the check-off system. 

The check-off system enables trade union members to have their subs deducted direct from their salaries, with the employer passing on this payment to the unions.

Speaking from the despatch box, Michael asked:

The Minister says that this is a matter for individual Departments, but the private secretary in his Department has written round to every Department in Whitehall asking them to review check-off. We know that the Government, for political reasons, want to scrap check-off, and I have seen a copy of an official letter from the Department for Work and Pensions, which was subsequently withheld by Ministers, that states:

“The department has concluded that the figure for the financial implications of ending check-off should be disclosed…The information held states: ‘We estimate that implementation costs could exceed one million pounds’.”

In the light of that revelation, will he agree, in the interests of transparency, to publish the full financial implications of this misguided policy?

Click here to watch the exchange on Parliament TV (scroll to 11:36).

* Michael’s question has also been reported on the PCS Union website and Union News.   

 

Politics Home: 'David Cameron is a clear and present danger to British jobs and growth'

12 March 2014

Following Ed Miliband's pledge to hold a referendum on Europe if there is a 'transfer of powers' to Brussels, Michael has written a blog for Politics Home.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Dugher's column: 'We need policies to deal with cost of living'

11 March 2014

With the Chancellor set to deliver his fifth budget next Wednesday, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Michael on BBC Radio Sheffield

11 March 2014

Michael was interviewed by Howie Pressman on BBC Radio Sheffield discussing Labour's Compulsory Jobs Guarantee yesterday.

You can listen to the interview in full by clicking here and scrolling to 1:06:14

 

New Statesman blog: 'The Tories' opposition to Labour's youth jobs plan shows they are still standing up for the wrong people'

10 March 2014

Labour has today announced that a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will be in the election manifesto and funded for the whole of the next Parliament - not just one year. Michael has written a blog for the New Statesman, about how the Tories' opposition to this policy shows that they only stand up for the top one per cent and will die in a ditch to defend the bankers.

You can read the blog in full here.

 

Cost of Cameron tour

07 March 2014

Following up on Cost of Cameron day, Michael recently headed out on a week-long "Cost of Cameron" tour. Michael visited twenty of Labour's key seats across the country, meeting with pensioners, young people and small business owners and taking to the doorstep campaigning.

Michael also recorded the following Youtube video after his day campaigning in Northampton with Labour’s PPC, Sally Keeble.

You can see more coverage of Michael's Cost of Cameron tour in the following places:

Michael’s interview with the Yorkshire Post.

An interview for BBC Humberside, discussing child poverty and the cost of living crisis here.

Michael’s visit to a food bank in Burton was reported in the Burton Mail and his meeting with fire crews in Milton Keynes is also reported here and here.

You can read about Michael's visit to the Erewash Credit Union here.

 

Barnsley MPs urge Government to put fairness at the heart of local government funding following cuts to elderly and disabled concessionary travel

07 March 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley, Dearne FM and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael and the other Barnsley MPs have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government demanding a fairer local government funding system. Michael would like to see areas receive funding based on need so poorer areas are able to protect the vital services and schemes which make such a difference to people's lives. Their letter follows the news that concessionary travel for the elderly and disabled in South Yorkshire is to be cut, an issue which constituents have raised with Michael.

The most recent Local Government Financial Settlement means that between 2010/11 and 2015/16 Barnsley Council will face a reduction of 17.7 per cent spending power per household, the equivalent of £168.07 per head, while councils in some of the wealthiest areas in the country will actually see an increase in their spending power per household over this period. Out of all of the 326 local authorities, Barnsley Council is the 47th worst hit by cuts per head of population.

Michael and the other Barnsley MPs have been contacted by concerned constituents following the announcement of changes to concessionary travel for the elderly and disabled in South Yorkshire. The changes made by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) include the removal of concessions from all train services and scaling back weekday free travel times. SYPTE are also cutting 45 jobs from their workforce.

The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has made it clear that the changes to elderly and disabled concessionary travel are a direct result of Central Government cuts imposed on the local councils.

Commenting, they said:

“It is clear that David Cameron and Eric Pickles stand up for the wrong people. These massive cuts are being distributed unfairly and elderly and disabled people in Barnsley are suffering as a result. Meanwhile, some of the wealthiest areas in the country are set to receive an increase in their spending power.

“This Tory-led Government say that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden, but they are doing the exact opposite and hitting Barnsley and those that can afford it least the hardest at a time when hard-working people are already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.  

“The changes to concessionary travel for the disabled and elderly are only the latest services to be lost in our area, despite the hard work of Barnsley Council. Labour wants a fairer system which would see areas receive funding based on need so poorer areas are able to protect the vital services and schemes which make such a difference to people's lives.”

You can read the letter to Eric Pickles in full here.

 

Michael welcomes Wombwell Library extension

07 March 2014

As reproted by the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has welcomed the extension of Wombwell Library, with work set to begin at the site this month.

The extension will see an additional room that can be split into two smaller rooms, drop-in office space and separate toilets and kitchen, added to the existing site and services already on offer. The new extension will provide more space for community groups and volunteers to use.

Work is planned to begin on Monday 10 March and is expected to be complete before the end of November. The library will remain open during the building works.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The development of Wombwell Library is indicative of Barnsley Council’s continued commitment to library services in our area, despite massive cuts to central government funding.

“This extension will be a welcome addition to Wombwell Libraray. It will increase the number of services available to people under one roof and provide further opportunities for community groups and volunteers in the area."

 

Blog for Labour Uncut: 'Clegg’s committee for broken promises'

04 March 2014

Following the announcement today that Nick Clegg has set up a "negotiating committee" to prepare the Lib Dems for five more years of government, despite the Lib Dems polling just 8 per cent, Michael has written a blog for Labour Uncut.

You can read the blog in full here.

Michael's comments have also been reported by the Daily Mail.

 

Interview with the Yorkshire Post: 'Public’s mood turning against coalitions says Labour chief'

04 March 2014

During the 'Cost of Cameron' tour last week, Michael was joined in the Labour key seat of Goole and interviewed by the Yorkshire Post.

Michael discussed how Labour is fighting to win a majority at the next election by targeting 106 marginal seats, the perception of coalitions on the doorstep and the cost of living crisis.

You can read the interview in full here.

 

Michael backs National Apprenticeship Week 2014 and slams the Government over failure on apprenticeships

02 March 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has slammed the Tory-led Government for their failure on apprenticeships and called on them to do more to increase high quality apprenticeship opportunities for young people in Barnsley.

A report by Labour’s independent Skills Taskforce, published last year, found that the quality of apprenticeships has been downgraded under the current government. 57 per cent of the increase in apprentices since 2010 has been in low quality courses that would not be recognised as apprenticeships in other countries.

The latest unemployment statistics show that in Barnsley East there are 665 young people aged between 18-24 year olds who are now out of work and more than 1,670 in Barnsley Local Authority have been unemployed for more than a year. Sadly 900,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 are out of work nationwide.

Since last year the number of apprenticeships has fallen. There are 25,000 fewer apprentices starting than there were last year and we now have 5,000 fewer young people (under 19s) starting an apprenticeship than in 2009-10.

National Apprenticeship Week was set up by the previous Labour Government in 2008 as part of its commitment to apprenticeships. During Labour’s time in office the number of apprenticeship starts rose dramatically from 65,000 in 1996/97 to just under 280,000 in 2009/10.

You can find out more about National Apprenticeship Week here - http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/awards/apprenticeship-week-2014.aspx

Commenting, Michael said:

“This Tory-led Government are failing apprentices in Barnsley and across the UK. It is clear that the quality of apprenticeships has been downgraded under David Cameron.The Tory-led government has not done enough to set minimum standards or support employers to create genuine new high quality apprenticeships, putting the trusted apprenticeship brand at risk.

“With 1,670 young people out of work for more than 12 months in Barnsley, the Government needs to do more to help firms create the high quality apprenticeship opportunities young people desperately need. 

“A One Nation Labour Government will put this right.  Building on the work of our independent Skills Taskforce we will create a new universal standard for apprenticeships so that they are qualifications that employers and young people can trust.  And we’ve also called on the Government to use the money which it already spends on public procurement to create thousands of new apprenticeship opportunities.”

 

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