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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 meets with developers of proposed renewable energy plant

18 April 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, 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 Chanellor 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.”

 

Michael's column for the Chronicle 2: 'Fantastic support for sufferers of devastating dementia'

28 February 2014

Following a visit to BIADS' new dedicated dementia centre the other week, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Chronicle 2.

You can read the full article here.

 

Michael's interview with Labour List: “John Prescott had a battle bus, I’ve got a Vauxhall Astra”

28 February 2014

Michael has been interviewed by Labour List this week, following his tour of twenty key seats across the country this week.

Following up on Cost of Cameron day, Michael has this week been on a "Cost of Cameron" tour. He has visited twenty of Labour's key seats across the country, meeting with pensioners, young people and small businesspeople and taking to the doorstep campaigning.

You can read the interview with Michael in full here.

 

Michael raises concerns over saftey of Broadcarr Road

28 February 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has raised concerns over the safety of Broadcarr Road. Only the other day two teenagers were involved in a serious accident after their car hit a tree. This incident came only five days after women suffered critical injuries at the same spot.

Commenting, Michael said:

"I am extremely concerned about what happened at Broadcarr Road in Hoyland.

"I will be seeking urgent discussions with BMBC and local police to see that lessons are learned and that any necessary changes are introduced immediately."

 

Michael supports motion to prevent the closure of Bedroom Tax loophole

28 February 2014

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has signed a motion which seeks to prevent the government from closing the recently discovered Bedroom Tax loophole. Michael has also called for the Bedroom Tax to be repealed.

It was recently discovered that a loophole in the government’s legislation exempts people who have been claiming housing benefit at the same property continuously since 1996. The government has claimed that only 3,000-5,000 people fall into this category, but Freedom of Information (FOI) investigations suggest that the number could be far greater.

In Yorkshire and Humberside there is an estimated 80,000 people paying the Bedroom Tax, 50,400 of which are estimated to be disabled. Figures obtained through FOI requests suggest there are 2,218 claimants in Yorkshire and Humberside exempted by the loophole. Some housing experts believe that the figure nationwide could be well over 40,000.

Labour will repeal the Bedroom Tax if elected in 2015.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The Bedroom Tax is a cruel measure which hits an estimated 80,000 people in Yorkshire and Humberside, of which over 60 per cent are disabled. It tells you all you need to know about how out of touch David Cameron is, he hits the most vulnerable in our community whilst refusing to rule out further tax cuts for those earning over £150,000.

“I am happy to support EDM 1757, which seeks to prevent the government from closing a loophole that exempts over 2,000 people in Yorkshire and Humberside from the Bedroom Tax.

“Instead of scrambling to close loopholes in its own legislation and bringing more people within reach of the tax, the government should be reversing it.

 “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 Tory-led government doesn’t repeal the Bedroom Tax, the next Labour government will.”

 

Michael backs plans to reduce the deficit in a fairer way

26 February 2014

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has backed plans to reverse David Cameron’s tax cut for the richest one per cent of the population to help get the deficit down in a fairer way.

Latest figures from HMRC show that people earning over £150,000 paid almost £10 billion more in tax in the three years when the 50p top rate introduced by Labour was in place than was estimated when the government conducted its assessment of the tax rate in 2012.

As part of plans for a fairer tax system, Michael has also backed the introduction of a lower 10p starting rate of tax, funded by a mansion tax, to help make work pay and cut taxes for 24 million working people on middle and lower incomes.

Labour is committed to balancing the books, delivering a surplus on the current budget and getting the national debt falling in the next Parliament.

Commenting, Michael said:

“At a time when the deficit is high and taxes have gone up for ordinary families in Barnsley it cannot make sense to give the very richest people in the country a huge tax cut.

“Families in Barnsley are on average £1,600 a year worse off since David Cameron took office in 2010, instead of tackling the cost of living crisis David Cameron has refused to rule out cutting taxes for people on over £150,000 further.

“Labour will get the deficit down in a fairer way and asking those with the broadest shoulders to bear a greater share of the burden is a very important part of that.”

 

Michael backs regeneration of Hoyland town centre to support local shops and the market and to boost jobs

21 February 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today and We Are Barnsley, Michael has backed plans to regenerate Hoyland town centre. 

Michael met with representatives of Resilienti this week, the potential developers.  At the meeting, Resilienti outlined their plans for the project, which includes the creation of new retail space, an increase in available parking and the development of a new public open space and market.

It is hoped that the redevelopment of the town centre will help bring new jobs to the area and rejuvenate the town centre. 

The proposal now has to be agreed by the local authority planning department and will also be subject to a public consultation. 


Commenting, Michael said:

“It was really helpful to meet with the potential developers of Hoyland. The town centre is already much improved, not least thanks to the Hoyland Centre and other local businesses. But I want to see further regeneration.

“If we are to safeguard our local shops - which we must - then we need to keep making further improvements to the town centre including better parking and in particular a more attractive market for our market stall-holders. I am also not against new stores coming to the town centre if they create jobs and give local residents more reasons to shop local.

“I know that improving Hoyland town centre is a big priority for our excellent local councillors and I will continue to work with them on this exciting project to further improve Hoyland for local people.”

 

Daily Mirror: David Cameron used Whitehall loophole to recruit former Tory party aide as department head

21 February 2014

The Daily Mirror has reported on the revelation that David Cameron used a Whitehall loophole to recruit a former Tory party aide to head his Appointments Unit without advertising the civil service post.

In a letter to Michael Dugher, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, acknowledged that Laura Wyld was appointed to the role in Downing Street “using one of the approved exemptions in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles”.

This admission comes after Michael wrote to the Cabinet Secretary about the integrity of the Civil Service appointments process following the appointment of Laura Wyld and the controversial sacking of Baroness Morgan as Chair of Ofsted.

You can read the full text of the original letter below:

Dear Sir Jeremy,

I am writing regarding the controversial sacking of Sally Morgan as Chair of Ofsted.

There are pressing questions which will go to the heart of public trust - not simply concerning the impartiality of schools inspections but also the very integrity of the civil service appointments process.

There seems to be no logical reason for Baroness Morgan’s sacking. A No10 has said “this government appoints people on merit”. The Education Secretary himself has acknowledged Baroness Morgan’s “great knowledge and insight, leading the board strongly through a period of significant change”. Therefore this appears to be nothing short of a political decision taken by the Secretary of State.

Baroness Morgan has accused No10 of “an absolutely determined effort…that Conservative supporters will be appointed to public bodies”. It has been reported that a major donor to the Conservative Party, Theodore Agnew, who has given a total of £144,000, is being considered as her replacement at Ofsted. This reinforces the widely held view that appointments are being politicised.

This follows the appointments of Conservative Party donor Andrew Sells as Chair of Natural England, former Chief Executive of the Conservative Party David Prior as Chair of the Care Quality Commission and former local government minister and Conservative Party Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Lady Hanham as Chair of Monitor.

Many rightly see this as an emerging pattern of behaviour in Whitehall with non-Conservative supporters being replaced by prominent Conservatives, including major donors, to powerful public-sector roles to support the Government’s political agenda.

It comes after the widely-criticised the appointment in May 2013 of former Conservative Party staff member Laura Wyld as Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit. Last year, on 1st November, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jonathan Ashworth wrote directly to the Prime Minister raising serious concerns and questions to the Prime Minister, only to be ignored.

Given the huge concern over these appointments, I would be grateful for an urgent reply to the following questions:

When were you made aware of the decision to sack Baroness Morgan?

What process was followed within the Department for Education to decide on the sacking of

Baroness Morgan, was the Permanent Secretary involved, and how was Baroness Morgan first informed of the decision?

Who was involved in the decision-making process regarding Baroness Morgan and recent personnel decisions at Natural England, the Care Quality Commission and Monitor?

What role did the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit play in the sacking of Baroness Morgan?

Was the post of Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit publicly advertised with an open recruitment process?

Would you please provide a full list of all appointments in which the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit has played a role since May 2013?

How many other former Conservative Party employees are now employed in Civil Service posts, and how many of these were appointed following an open recruitment process?

This issue is not going to go away.

Given that this is a matter of public interest I am releasing this letter to the media.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

 

Latest unemployment figures expose the Government’s dangerous complacency as both total unemployment and youth unemployment increases in Barnsley

19 February 2014

As reported on the Barnsley News and Sport website, Michael has said that the latest unemployment figures expose the Government’s dangerous complacency as both unemployment and the number of young people out of work increases in Barnsley.

The latest unemployment figures released today show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley is climbing and rose by seven per cent compared to the previous month.  It now stands at 6,080.

The big worry is still youth unemployment and long-term unemployment.   Youth unemployment in Barnsley is also raising and now stands at 1,670 – an eight per cent increase in a month.   And 370 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley have been unemployed for more than twelve months – an increase from 180 three years ago.   

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 875, up from 530 three years ago. 

Commenting, Michael said:

“The decreases in overall national unemployment are welcome, but the latest figures for Barnsley expose the Government’s dangerous complacency.  

“The total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance in Barnsley is climbing and rose by seven per cent compared to the previous month.   And youth unemployment across Barnsley has also risen by eight per cent in just four weeks.

“On top of this, today‘s figures also show working people in Barnsley facing a cost-of-living crisis are over £1,600 a year worse off since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

“Instead of being complacent, Ministers need to take action to tackle the high levels of youth and long-term unemployment.  We need a compulsory jobs guarantee, funded by repeating the tax on bank bonuses and limiting pension tax relief for the very highest earners.  This would guarantee real paid work for young people unemployed for a year and also for all adults unemployed for two years – work they would have to take or lose their benefits.  This is the best way to get people back in work.”

 

Michael visits new BIADS centre in Barnsley

17 February 2014

On Monday, Michael paid a visit to the new BIADS centre at Joseph Exley House in Barnsley to see firsthand the wonderful new facilities and to meet staff, volunteers and users of the centre.

Commenting after the visit, Michael said: “I am proud to be patron of BIADS and it is fantastic to see the wonderful work the team of dedicated and talented staff do to support both sufferers of dementia and their carers."

Michael is pictured with chief officer, Linda Pattison, and users of the centre at a weekly sing-along.

 

 

BBC Radio Sheffield – Toby Foster’s Breakfast Show

17 February 2014

Michael was interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield this morning about UKIP and exposing what the party actually stands for.

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 2:08.30

 

Huffington Post blog: Labour Is Setting the Pace - Online as Well as on the Streets

16 February 2014

Michael has written a blog post for Huffington Post today about digital communications and how Labour is setting the pace.

To read the full blog, click here: Labour Is Setting the Pace - Online as Well as on the Streets

 

Cameron’s donations show he stands up for just a privileged few

16 February 2014

As reported in the Sunday Mirror and the Independent on Sunday today, rich hedge-fund chiefs have donated £1.3million to the Tories in just three months.

Among the big donors in the last three months of 2013 was financier Michael Farmer, who has enjoyed dinner at 10 Downing Street as the Prime Minister’s guest.

Commenting on the revelations, Michael said:

“David Cameron is wining and dining the mega-rich to line his party’s pockets.

“Is it any wonder he is so out-of-touch with ordinary families suffering a cost-of-living crisis?

“Cameron is taking money from the very people who are benefiting from his policies, such as a millionaire’s tax cut and his refusal to repeat the bankers’ bonus tax."

 

Michael raises concerns of Barnsley residents through HS2 consultation

14 February 2014

3As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Barnsley News and Sport and We Are Barnsley, Michael has made a submission to the public consultation on the proposed route of Phase 2 of HS2 to raise constituents’ concerns.

Michael used his submission to raise concerns over a number of issues, including: value for money; responding to residents; tunnelling; Wombwell Wood; issues relating to the mining history of the area; and Swathe hamlet.

In order to ensure that constituents’ concerns were fully taken into account, Michael attached all correspondence he has received relating to HS2 to the submission for consideration by HS2 Ltd too.

21The public consultation on the proposed route for Phase 2 of HS2 closed at the end of January. All the submissions will now be analysed by an independent company, which will then report its findings to HS2 Ltd. These findings will then be used by HS2 Ltd to look at possible changes to the proposed route before making recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport.

A decision about the final route of Phase 2 of HS2 is expected to be made by the Secretary of State of Transport towards the end of 2014.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The current proposed route for Phase 2 of HS2 passes directly through my Barnsley East constituency. Understandably, the proposed route is a matter of great concern to me and to many of my constituents.

“I am determined that the voice of local residents is heard loud and clear and that the concerns that people have raised with me are taken in to account. That is why I made sure to attach all correspondence from my constituents regarding this matter.

“Whilst I am supportive in principle of HS2, there are many in Barnsley who are concerned about the effects of the current HS2 route. If this consultation shows there is overwhelming public opinion that the route should be altered, then HS2 should listen and look at proposals to do so.

“It is also absolutely vital that there is maximum compensation to local residents who are impacted by HS2 and whose properties are blighted.”

You can read Michael's submission in full here.

 

 

Michael shows his support for ‘Ramp up the Red’ campaign

14 February 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael, who is Vice-Chair of the All-Party Group on Heart Disease, is supporting the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) ‘Ramp up the Red’ campaign today. Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer and the most recent Health Profile for Barnsley shows it is a big problem in the area, the number of early deaths caused by heart disease and strokes is significantly worse than the English average.

Earlier in the week, Michael visited a pop-up BHF shop in Parliament to meet some of the BHF’s shop staff and volunteers and learn more about the good work the BHF do in Barnsley and across the country.

In the last year BHF shops raised over £31 million. This money is used to fund research projects and community projects. Money raised through BHF shops has helped fund the following in Barnsley East:

  • Three BHF Heartstart schemes, which train people how to save a life.
  • One Heart Support Group, bringing hope and a healthier lifestyle to patients and carers.
  • Eight Health at Work schemes, which promote heart health in the workplace

As Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease Michael is urging people to fully support the BHF and their shops, which help to fund vital research into heart disease.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Heart Disease is a big problem in Barnsley and the work of the BHF in our area and across the country is invaluable. The research they have funded has helped transform the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions."

You can find out more about the BHF, the work they do and how to get involved here - http://www.rampupthered.org.uk/about.

 

Michael announced as Patron for People's Sport in Barnsley

14 February 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Sheffield Star, Michael has been announced as the new Patron for People’s Sport in Barnsley, an exciting project which aims to tell the story of ordinary and extra-ordinary people who have participated in sport in Barnsley. The project will particularly focus on Shaw Lane, which has been a centre for amateur sport since its completion in 1864.

The project aims to establish a collection of sporting memories and artefacts to preserve the sporting history of the site, involve young people and families in telling the story of “our own sporting heroes” and preserve the towns sporting heritage for generations to come.

Funding for the project has been secured through the Heritage Lottery Fund and People’s Sport in Barnsley will work closely with Experience Barnsley.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I am proud to become the patron of People’s Sport in Barnsley. This is an exciting project which will help to preserve the sporting history of Barnsley. By involving young people and families I hope the project can help to encourage a keen and active interest in sport.”

 

David Cameron's Facebook Movie

13 February 2014

If David Cameron made a Facebook movie, it might look something like this:

 

 

Dugher's column: 'Helping kids now will help eradicate anti-social problems in the future'

11 February 2014

Following a visit to Milefield Children's Centre last month, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the full article here.

 

The Guardian: 'It's not just dinners for donors that David Cameron must come clean about'

07 February 2014

This week has been one of marked contrast for the Labour Party and the Tories. Whereas Labour have pushed ahead with the biggest changes to our party in a generation, the Tories have sunk inwards and gone backwards.

The Guardian has reported Michael's questioning of the David Cameron’s use of Chequers here. Michael has also written an article for Guardian Comment is Free - you can read it in full here.

 

Michael sets out 'clear alternative'

07 February 2014

The following open letter appeared in the Friday 7 February edition of the Barnsley Chronicle:

We were grateful for your reader Mr Rhodes saying that "the people of Barnsley should feel proud and privileged" to have us representing them in the next election. But Mr Rhodes went on to express concerns about a perceived lack of strong policy alternatives being offered by Labour. We would like therefore to reassure Mr Rhodes and other readers. 

In the last few months alone Labour has announced a number of policies including:

Scrapping the cruel Bedroom Tax and tackling the abuse of zero-hours contracts; reversing David Cameron’s tax cut for millionaires, as well as funding the introduction of a new 10p tax band for the lowest earners funded by a mansion tax on properties over £2 million; introducing a compulsory jobs guarantee for long term and young unemployed (paid for by bank bonus tax); strengthening and enforcing the minimum wage and promoting the living wage; reforming our banks so that they start lending to families and small businesses, introducing more competition and regulating them properly; plans to be building at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020 to help people access affordable housing and get on the property ladder; freezing energy bills to help hard-pressed families and small businesses whilst we sort out the broken energy market.

The list goes on. 

The truth is that this Tory-led government is having a devastating impact on the country and Barnsley is being hit particularly hard. Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, families in Yorkshire are on average £1,800 worse off a year in real terms.

We know from regularly talking to our constituents in Barnsley that they feel let down by the Tories and their Lib Dem counterparts. The Labour Party offers a clear alternative to the current government and we will take this fight to the 2015 general election.

 

Michael urges people to take part in National Voter Registration Day

07 February 2014

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael is urging people to take part in National Voter Registration Day and register to vote.

National Voter Registration Day is organised by Bite the Ballot and aims to increase the number of young people in Britain registered to vote. It is held each year on the 5 February, the anniversary of the introduction of the 1832 Great Reform Act which introduced voter registration for the first time.

In the 2010 General Election only 44 per cent of 18-24 year olds voted and more than half of 18 – 24 year olds weren’t even registered to vote. In contrast, 76 per cent of those aged 65 and over cast their vote.

Michael has previously voted to reduce the voting age to 16, is a strong supporter of wider youth engagement in politics.

You can register to vote by visiting - http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Registering to vote is a vital part of taking part in our democratic process, without doing so it isn’t possible for people to have their voice heard.

“Social responsibility, and ensuring everyone has a stake in the country, is central to the One Nation vision that Ed Miliband has set out. To do this we must work to ensure that young people register to vote.”

 

Yorkshire Post: 'Without the truth, there is no justice for miners'

05 February 2014

Justice for the Coalfields is an attempt to gain transparency and reconciliation. Following up on the campaign launch, Michael has written an article in the Yorkshire Post.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Guardian: 'Downing Street dragged into row over Michael Gove's sacking of Ofsted chief'

03 February 2014

As reported by the Guardian and the Mirror, Michael has written to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, following the sacking of Ofsted Chief, Sally Morgan.

Michael has asked Jeremy Heywood to explain the recent removal of a number of non-Tory supporters from high profile public bodies.

Commenting on the removal of Sally Morgan, Michael said:

"There are questions to answer about what seems to be a pattern of behaviour in Whitehall where non-Conservatives are replaced by Conservatives."

You can read the letter to Sir Jeremy Heywood in full here.

 

House Magazine: Grimethorpe Revival – Famous Faces Support a Coalfield Community

03 February 2014

Following the publication of Mel Dyke's latest book 'Grimethorpe Revival – Famous Faces Support a Coalfield Community', Michael has written a review for the House Magazine.

You can read the review in full here.

 

 

 

 

Michael visits Milefield Children’s Centre

31 January 2014

Michael has today visited the Milefield Children’s Centre to meet with Amy Tierney, Centre Manager, and Nigel Cole, Advice Worker, to see the amazing work they do to improve the outcomes of young children and families, particularly those with the greatest need.

The centre, which is funded by the local authority, is based in the Milefield Primary School building. It serves families in the Grimethorpe, Brierly and Shafton area, and reaches 708 under 5’s of which 586 are registered, this is a fantastic engagement rate of 82.7 per cent.

The centre offers universal and targeted early childhood services, at the centre and also through outreach services in family’s homes. The core purpose of the centre is to improve outcomes for young people and families, provide child development and school readiness, parenting skills.  There is also a one-to-one family support worker who operates out of the centre and in family’s homes.

As part of the Healthy Child Programme, the children’s centre makes contact with both ante and pre natal families and offers help with things like, breast feeding, smoking cessation and physical and mental health care and wellbeing.

A CAB drop-in centre is also run from the site on Fridays from 9:30am-12:30pm. This is available to parents with children under 5, vulnerable single parents under 20 and parents referred by partner agencies.

Following the visit, Michael said:

"It was fantastic to visit the Milefield Children's Centre. The Centre provides such an impressive range of support services to people in the surrounding area. The Citizen's Advice Bureau also do a brilliant job in helping local people. It was great to meet and thank the inspiring people who work at the Centre. Barnsley Council also deserves tremendous credit too".

 

Justice for the Coalfields

30 January 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times, Sheffield Star, BBC, Daily Mail, Independent and The Times, Labour today launched the ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign to urge Conservative Ministers to begin to put right the wrongs with coalfield communities.

The 1984 cabinet papers released earlier this month revealed the true scale of the divide and rule politics at the heart of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.

It was confirmed that, despite denials, at the time there was a secret plan to close 75 pits at the cost of some 65,000 jobs, that the Conservative government sought to influence police tactics to escalate the dispute and Mrs Thatcher even actively considered declaring a state of emergency and deploying the Army to defeat the miners, their families and the unions.

We now know the miners’ strike was not simply an industrial dispute but the consequence of government policy driven by an economic ideology which sought the destruction of a way of life.

Michael will use Cabinet Office Oral questions today to call on Francis Maude to take action in the following areas:

  • Make a formal apology for the actions of the previous Conservative Government during the time of the strike
  • Set out all details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time of the strike
  • Release all information about government-police communications specifically around Orgreave, with a proper investigation which might go a little way to rebuild public confidence, as Yvette Cooper has called for previously

The 30th Orgreave anniversary is an opportunity to begin to put right some of the wrongs that were inflicted on the coalfield communities during the strike. Between now and June 18th we will campaign for Conservative ministers to apologise and increase transparency to begin to foster reconciliation with coalfields communities.

Commenting, Michael said:

“For those of us who lived through the strike and who saw the events and impact they had firsthand, what was revealed in the cabinet papers may not come as a surprise.  But it is no less shocking to consider that, far from being neutral as was claimed at the time, it is clear that the Government took a deliberately calculated political approach guided by a complete hostility to the coalfield communities.

“That is why I am calling for justice for the coalfields.

“Ministers may want to sweep these events under the carpet, but the scars of the dispute and the subsequent closure programme remain on the memories, communities and landscapes of all coalfield communities. They must now apologise and deliver transparency to begin to foster reconciliation with the coalfield communities.”

 

Michael on the Daily Politics and BBC Sheffield

30 January 2014

Michael was on the Daily Politics discussing the 'Justice for the Coalfields' campaign today. He was also on BBC Radio Sheffield yesterday.

Click here and scroll to 33:10 to watch the Daily Politics on the iPlayer, click here and scroll 1:19:40 to listen to BBC Radio Sheffield.

 

Labour List: 'Why we need Justice for the Coalfields'

30 January 2014

Following the launch of the Justice for the Coalfields campaign, Michael has written a blog for Labour List outlining the campaigns importance.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Barnsley Independent: 'PPS: support and knowledge vital'

29 January 2014

Michael was contacted recently by, Malcolm Wallace of Wombwell, who suffers from Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). Mr Wallace has found throughout his life that many people, including health professionals, have very little understanding of the condition and rightly wants to see awareness raised. In support Michael has written an article about PPS for the Barsley Independent.

You can read the full article here.

 

Michael marks Holocaust Memorial Day by signing Book of Commitment

27 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has marked Holocaust Memorial Day by signing a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, honouring those who died during the Holocaust as well as honouring the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured.

Michael also made a speech yesterday at a Holocaust memorial event in Barnsley at Sheffield Road Baptist Church.  Click here to the read the address.   

Monday 27th January marks the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events have been arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims ofthe Holocaust andsubsequent genocides.

Michael has visited both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem - the world centre for Holocaust research, documentation, education and commemoration.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an incredibly important event. It marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. It is when we remember the horror of what happened and remain ever-steadfast in our condemnation of racism, anti-semitism, hatred and bigotry everywhere."

 

Michael calls for action to tackle long-term unemployment

24 January 2014

As reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael has called for action to tackle unacceptable levels of long-term unemployment and long-term youth unemployment.

Since May 2010 long-term unemployment in Barnsley East has increased by 37 per cent. In the same time period long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority has increased 35 per cent. Across the country more than 900,000 young people are un-employed and over 250,000 young people are long-term unemployed.

Michael has called for the introduction of a compulsory jobs guarantee for anyone out of work for more than two years. Those who can work would be required to take up jobs, given training and time to job search - or they would lose their benefits. This would help hundreds of people in Barnsley and nearly 14,000 across Yorkshire.

A Labour Government will also introduce a Basic Skills Test for all new claimants of Jobseekers Allowance so we intervene earlier to prevent long-term unemployment and “low-pay-no-pay” cycles. Those found to lack the basic English, maths and IT skills needed to get a job would be offered training that they would be expected to take up or lose their benefits.

Michael said “The decreases in the headline figures are welcome but more needs to be done to tackle long-term unemployment and long-term youth unemployment, which are both far too high in Barnsley and across the country.

“People are facing a cost-of-living crisis and wages in Yorkshire are estimated to have fallen by £1,800 in real terms. Labour has called for action to address these problems. We need 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. We would also freeze energy bills and introduce a mansion tax to pay for a new 10p tax rate, both of which would help alleviate the cost of living crisis for people in Barnsley.

“Labour's basic skills test will give the long-term unemployed a better chance of finding a job and will help us to earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis.”

 

Michael Re opens Doncaster Road Post Office, in Stairfoot.

24 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, 24 January, Michael is pictured with post master Amjad Siddiqi officially re-opened the newly refusrbished Doncaster Road Post Office, in Stairfoot.

The Post Office had been closed for renovations to modernise the branch. The revamped Post Office now offers customers a more upto date and modern retail environment together with longer opening hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael calls for strengthening of the National Minimum Wage

22 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and South Yorkshire Times, Michael recently voted in the House of Commons to strengthen the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The motion in the House called for the NMW be strengthened, properly enforced, and have its value restored.

The NMW was first introduced by Labour nearly 15 years ago to ensure people received fair compensation for work, boost living standards and tackle in-work poverty. But the problem of low pay has got worse in recent years and since 2010 the value of the NMW has declined by almost 5% in real terms.

The motion also called for the Government to encourage employers to pay a living wage. House of Commons Library figures recently estimated that 19% of jobs for people living in Barnsley East in 2012 were paid below the living wage, meaning one in five people in Barnsley East would benefit if the Living Wage was paid by employers in the constituency.

The motion was tabled by Labour on Wednesday 15 January, but was unfortunately defeated by 64 votes, 299 to 235.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I was more than happy to support the recent motion seeking to strengthen and restore the value of the National Minimum Wage. The establishment of the National Minimum Wage is one of the great policy successes of the Labour Party.

“The living wage is way in which we can support workers, to help them pay the bills. In the UK as many as five million people are paid less than the living wage of £7.45 and close to 20 per cent in Barnsley East earn less than the living wage.

“Under David Cameron, families are nearly £1600 a year worse off than the previous Government. At a time when families are facing a cost-of-living crisis, the Government must take action to restore the value of the National Minimum Wage to ensure that it rises alongside the increasing cost of living.”

 

Tory MEPs failing to stand up to big business and vested interests

21 January 2014

As reported in the Guardian, Tory MEPs repeatedly fail to stand up to big business and vested interests in Europe. Michael is visiting Brussels to highlight how Tory MEPs have opposed reform of bankers' bonuses (capital requirements directive), sided with big tobacco (tobacco products directive) and defied Cameron on climate change (European emissions trading scheme). Michael is also set to brief MEPs on our election plans.

You can read the story in full here.

 

Central Lobby: 'David Cameron must end the Chequers cover-up'

20 January 2014

Following David Cameron's refusal to release the full list of guests to his taxpayer-funded country home, Chequers, Michael has written a blog for Central Lobby.

It's time for Cameron to come clean on using Chequers for secret play-dates with donors and cigarette lobbyists. You can read the article in full here.

 

Michael's Barnsley Independent article

20 January 2014

Following the release of the previously secret cabinet papers on the mining strike, Michael has written an article for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the article in full here.

 

Cameron accused of cover-up over guests entertained at Chequers

19 January 2014

As reported in the Sunday Mirror, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and the Independent on Sunday, Michael has called for David Cameron to publish the full list of guests to his taxpayer-funded country home, Chequers.

The latest list, which was published late on Friday, only included guests who attended the grace-and-favour mansion at a cost to the taxpayer, and not the dozens whose visits were funded privately.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Michael said:

“The fact that the Conservative party may have nominally paid to host various people at Chequers cannot be used as a device to block transparency in relation to lobbyists and others gaining access to the Prime Minister and senior Government ministers. It appears that there is an attempt to buy out of transparency, which leaves the perception of a Chequers cover-up and reinforces the view that you are out of touch and consistently stand up for the wrong people.”

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing regarding the latest ‘annual’ Chequers guest list, which was finally published over a year late on Friday evening.

As you will be aware, there are some glaring omissions from the list as the release from Number 10 confirms that it does not include any guests who attended Chequers and were paid for personally by yourself as Prime Minister or by the Conservative Party.

Chequers is a public building and being able to access it is a privilege. The fact that the Conservative Party may have nominally paid to host various people at Chequers cannot be used as a device to block transparency in relation to lobbyists and others gaining access to the Prime Minister and senior Government ministers.

It appears that there is an attempt to buy out of transparency, which leaves the perception of a Chequers cover-up and reinforces the view that you are out of touch and consistently stand up for the wrong people.

This also follows repeated refusals to give any details of meetings with Lynton Crosby, someone who we know is a paid lobbyist working for, amongst others, the cigarette industry.

Regrettably - given you once said "sunlight is the best disinfectant" - your previous commitments to openness have not been met. I would hope that you agree with me that it is important for integrity in public life both that politicians keep their promises and that government works openly and transparently.

It is now vital that a full and complete list of all visitors to Chequers and Downing Street, whether paid for by the Prime Minister or by the Conservative Party, is published immediately. Only by providing this information can people be assured that government is being conducted to the highest standards I know we all wish to see.

In light of 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

 

Michael officially re-opens newly refurbished Post Office

17 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael officially re-opened the newly refusrbished Doncaster Road Post Office, in Stairfoot. Michael joined Sub Postmaster, Amjad Siddique, to cut the ribbon marking the Post Office's official re-opening.

The Post Office has been closed for renovations to modernise the branch. The revamped Post Office now offers customers a modern retail environment and longer opening hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael urges Arts Council England to support primary school digital arts project

17 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has written a letter of support to Arts Council England (ACE) to help secure funding for the ‘Even Coal Shimmers at Night’ digital arts project planned by Birkwood Primary School in Cudworth and Hoyland Common Primary School in Hoyland.

The project aims to encourage the children to engage with their cultural and industrial heritage and digital art, whilst also gaining accreditation through the Arts Award. The two schools have approached the artist, Jason Wilsher-Mills, to work with the pupils on the project.

Children from the two schools will interview ex-miners and older members of the community, which they will use as the inspiration for their artwork. Instead of using traditional art methods, the children will use iPads to create their work. These images will then be developed further to create a final piece of community art.

Michael has written to John Cairns, who is the Relationship Manager for Digital and Creative Economy at ACE, in full support of the project and its efforts to secure funding.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Our industrial heritage is vitally important. This project would provide the children of these two schools with a wonderful opportunity to learn about this heritage and engage with it through digital art.

“The involvement of Jason Wilsher-Mills, the son of a former miner, offers these children the unique chance to work with a professional artist at the same time as achieving a nationally recognised qualification through the Arts Award.

“Hopefully funding for this project can be secured and we can all look forward to seeing the finished community artwork soon.”

 

Michael supports campaign to raise awareness for those suffering from Polio and Post-Polio syndrome

17 January 2014

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has offered his support to the British Polio Fellowship's campaign to raise awareness for those suffering from Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome.

The British Polio Fellowship, established over 75 years ago, continues to work hard to ensure that those living with the effects of Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome have all the resources they need to live a full, active and integrated lives in a world where Polio is completely eradicated.

Michael paid tribute to constituent, Malcolm Wallace, for his work in raising awareness for this campaign.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The British Polio Fellowship’s work since they were established 75 years ago has been fantastic. Their work in helping sufferers of Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome is truly commendable. But it is clear that more needs to be done to raise awareness about Post-Polio Syndrome, which an estimated 120,000 people in the UK still suffer from. Malcolm Wallace‘s work to raise awareness for this campaign, which I’m happy to support, is admirable.”

 

#CostofCameron Day

11 January 2014

On the day that figures show wages in Yorkshire have fallen by £1,800 in real terms, as reported in the Yorkshire Post, Michael and other Labour frontbenchers along with Labour activists are campaigning today to highlight the #CostofCameron.

Families in the UK are on average £1,600 worse off than when David Cameron’s government came to power – the equivalent of 16 days’ full-time work. Energy bills are up almost £300 and yet the Prime Minister refuses to back Labour’s freeze while the market is reformed in consumers’ interest. Home care charges for the elderly and disabled are up £740 while social care funding is cut. Almost 700,000 people are hit by the bedroom tax which Labour would scrap but Ministers defend. Tuition fees have trebled, rents are up £960 a year and rail fares are up 20% since David Cameron became Prime Minister. This is the #CostofCameron.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labour is campaigning in each of the seats it is targeting to gain in 2015 to highlight the damage caused by David Cameron’s Government. Whether in refusing to take action over energy bills, overseeing a 20 per cent rise in rail fares or refusing to scrap the bedroom tax, David Cameron's out-of-touch Government is letting people down.

Commenting on the importance #CostofCameron day, Michael said:

“Today is about sending a message to the Government and to the country, but it is principally about people: the struggling small businessman, the unemployed and worried young people, the parents up late each night discussing how to make ends meet. These are the people who deserve better than a government intent on serving only a privileged few.”

You can read more about #CostofCameron day in the Yorkshire Post here.

 

Michael calls for ministers to apologise to ex-miners after newly released cabinet papers exposes the dishonesty of the previous Conservative government

10 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and We Are Barnsley, Michael has called for today's Conservative ministers to apologise to ex-miners after cabinet papers from 1984 have revealed that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government did have a hit list of pits for closure.

The newly released documents reveal that Margaret Thatcher’s government had a plan to shut 75 mines over three years despite denials from the then government and National Coal Board.

The papers also reveal that the previous Conservative government did influence police tactics and put pressure on them. Government ministers at the time pressured the Home Secretary, Leon Britton, to ensure chief constables adopt a “more vigorous interpretation of their duties”. This ensured an immediate crackdown on pickets reaching the coalfields in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

The cabinet papers also show that Margaret Thatcher was willing to go as far as declaring a state of emergency and bring in the army in order to gain victory over the miners and the unions.

The papers also reveal that far from the government of the day being neutral in what was an industrial dispute, the previous Conservative government took a political approach and was determined to close the pits as a way of weakening the coalfield communities that it regarded infamously as "the enemy within". The coalfield areas are still suffering today because of the legacy of the pit closure programme.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This comes as little surprise to those of us who witnessed at firsthand what was going on in places like South Yorkshire during the strike.

“These newly released cabinet papers reveal the true scale of the previous Conservative government's dishonesty in maintaining that this was simply an industrial dispute based on economics. We know now what we knew at the time: this was all about the worst kind of politics - about divide and rule, and an attempt to break the coalfield communities.

“It is clear that people like Margaret Thatcher and John Redwood did regard the miners as the 'enemy within' and were prepared to use the police and potentially the army to escalate the conflict.

"The objective of Thatcher's Conservative government the destruction of an entire industry and the proud mining communities that sustained it. This resulted in mass unemployment and huge social problems that blighted those parts of the country for years to come. And we are still living with that legacy today - including the perverse situation where we are forced to import coal into the UK.

“Rather than shedding tears for Margaret Thatcher, Conservative ministers today should apologise to former miners and their families for the dishonesty of the previous Conservative government and for what they did to our coalfield communities, in what was one of the most shameful moments in our nation's history.”

 

Michael welcomes expansion of local brewery

09 January 2014

As reported by We Are Barnsley and the Sheffield Star, Michael has welcomed news of Acorn Brewery’s planned expansion.

Acorn Brewery, based in Wombwell, has announced that they intend to double the production of their bottled beer and expand their product range with a new keg beer. They are also looking at expanding into new markets abroad.

Michael has previously arranged for Acorn Brewery’s beer to be served in the bar at the House of Commons.

Welcoming the news, Michael said:

“It is fantastic to see this local brewery from Barnsley go from strength to strength. After celebrating their tenth anniversary last year, this planned expansion and their continued growth is more than welcome.

“Acorn is a fantastic local business who continues to invest in our area. Their beer is a fantastic example of Barnsley’s finest local brews and a small example of the great produce made in Barnsley.

 

Labour List and Labour Uncut: 'It’s time today’s Tory ministers apologised for the sins of their fathers'

04 January 2014

Following the release of cabinet papers from 1984 which have shown that Margaret Thatcher's government did have a hit list of pits they wanted to close, Michael has written a blog which has appeared on both Labour List and Labour Uncut.

You can read the blog in full here.

 

Michael condemns Tory failure to tackle housing crisis

03 January 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has condemned the Tory-led Government’s record on housing and homelessness. Figures show that homelessness has risen for three consecutive years across England and that 80,000 children were without a home this Christmas.

The Government’s failure to tackle this crisis has seen the housing shortage worsen, housing has become ever more unaffordable and the Government’s Bedroom Tax is pushing more families into rent arrears putting them at risk of homelessness.

Labour will tackle the housing crisis by increasing the number of new homes built to at least 200,000 a year by 2020 and we’ll scrap the cruel bedroom tax which is driving so many families into rent arrears and putting them at risk of homelessness.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The UK is the seventh richest country in the world, yet under David Cameron’s leadership people in Barnsley are facing a cost of living crisis and homelessness has risen across the country every year, with some families increasingly unable to put a roof over their head.

“David Cameron has broken his promises to tackle homelessness and get Britain Building. Homelessness has risen every year under this Government, the number of families with children living in bed and breakfasts is at a 10 year high and house building is at its lowest in peacetime since the 1920s.

“Labour will tackle the housing crisis by increasing the number of new homes built to at least 200,000 a year by 2020 and we’ll scrap the cruel bedroom tax which is driving so many families into rent arrears and puts them at risk of homelessness.”

 

Michael calls on ministers to act to tackle long-term youth unemployment

03 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chornicle, South Yorkhsire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called on ministers to take action to tackle long-term unemployment in Barnsley East and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority – both of which remain at unacceptably high levels.

Since the election in May 2010, long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority has increased by a worrying 67 per cent. In Barnsley East long-term unemployment has also increased by 63 per cent since May 2010.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The decreases in the headline figures are welcome, but people are facing a cost-of-living crisis and on average working people are £1,600 worse off under this out-of-touch Government. On top of this figures show prices have now risen much faster than wages for 41 of the 42 months since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

“Since the election long-term unemployment in Barnsley East has increased by 63 percent and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley LA is up 67 per cent in the same time period. These figures are still far too high and unacceptable.

“Ministers need to take action to tackle the high levels of youth unemployment. We need a compulsory jobs guarantee, funded by repeating the tax on bank bonuses, and limiting pension tax relief for the very highest earners. This would guarantee real paid work for young people unemployed for a year and also for all adults unemployed for two years – work they would have to take or lose their benefits.”

 

Michael visits Hoyland Tesco site to 'cut the sod'

03 January 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael visited the new Hoyland Tesco site recently to 'cut the sod'. He was shown around the site to see how the development will take shape.

Michael was invited to cut the sod to mark the start of the new sites development. The event was attended by: Tim Hartley, Strategic Asset Manager, Barnsley Council; Simon Fearn, Store Development Manager, Tesco; Mark Thomas, Corporate Affairs Manager, Tesco; Mark Twelves, Managing Director, Litton Property (development partner); Gary Smith, Managing Director, J F Finnegan (contractors); Richard Squire, Development Director, Litton properties; Sarah Woodward, Construction Manager, Litton Properties; Noel Callaghan, Contracts Manager, J F Finnegan; and Ian Tyson, Project Manager, J F Finnegan.

Commenting, Michael said:

"It was great to visit the site today and cut the ground. The jobs the store will create are much needed in the area and I’m looking forward to seeing it opening in late 2014.”

 

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