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Protect Frontline Police in Barnsley

Michael has launched a petition in Barnsley calling for the Government to re-think the scale of its police cuts in the forthcoming police funding review. 

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

Defend our NHS Defend our NHS

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: public question time

28 July 2014

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

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

 

 

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

27 July 2014

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

You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Out and about in the constituency

27 July 2014

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

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

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

 

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

26 July 2014

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

You can read the post in full by clicking here.

 

Michael meets with the Business Sprinkler Alliance to discuss fire prevention

25 July 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

Michael visits Wombwell War Graves

25 July 2014

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

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

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

25 July 2014

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

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

As reported in The Independent, Michael said:

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

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

 

Michael calls for new rights for victims of crime

25 July 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

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

22 July 2014

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

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

 

Michael visits Wombwell Cemetery

18 July 2014

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

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

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

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

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

 

Worrying jump in inflation as Barnsley opens two new food banks

18 July 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

Michael welcomes Stairfoot jobs boost

18 July 2014

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

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

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

 

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

17 July 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

You can read about this story further by clicking here.

 

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

17 July 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

You can read about this story further by clicking here.

 

Local dementia charity travel to Westminster to collect award

16 July 2014

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

Linda Pattison, Chief Officer of BIADS added:

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

 

Michael meets with Motor Neurone Disease campaigner

16 July 2014

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

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

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

Commenting after they met, Michael said:

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

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

 

 

 

Michael responds to the Minister on industrial action

11 July 2014

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

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

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

 

MP welcomes Inquiry into young women NEETs

11 July 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

11 July 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

04 July 2014

This article first appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent:

Last weekend I had the enormous privilege to help mark the 30th anniversary of the Miners' Strike by marching proudly through Barnsley Town Centre with the NUM and hundreds of people from every corner of the country.

Although it hammered it down with rain, hundreds of well-wishers from the Town also turned out to line the streets and support us. The march was accompanied by the fantastic (but soaked) Barnsley Brass Band.  Out too came the banners, beautifully displaying the famous names of so many pits, now sadly mostly long gone.

But it was still a great occasion. It reminded me of how in 1985, as a ten year old lad, I marched with the miners who were returning to work after the year-long Strike in Edlington. This is about ten miles from the Barnsley East constituency I now represent in Parliament and, although my home in South Yorkshire is now in Birdwell, Edlington was where I grew up as a boy and it was where my family had helped to sink the Yorkshire Main Colliery more than a century ago.

Without growing up during the Strike and seeing at first-hand what happened during that time - and witnessing the devastation caused by the Thatcher government's subsequent pit closure programme - I doubt I would have ever gone on to be a Member of Parliament.

That's why last weekend's commemoration of the Strike was so important. It is about remembering not just what happened to our area, it's also about saying to the current Government that we are still living with the impact of losing that industry. Despite the undoubted progress that has been made in the area with new jobs, it's estimated that we need around 40,000 jobs in the Borough of Barnsley just to reach the national average for employment density.

A recent report by Sheffield Hallam University showed that despite the improvements made over the years in the former coalfields, lately things have started to get worse again. And it's worth remembering that the pits didn't just provide jobs, they also gave us pride.

We desperately need to attract more jobs to Barnsley. But we also want to see better jobs too - not the low paid, part-time, 'zero hours' jobs we've seen under in the last year or two under David Cameron. We want jobs that give people a decent standard of living and restore some pride.

So last week's march with the NUM was not just a celebration of our past. It was also about saying that we want better opportunities for the future. Like many Barnsley families, I'm very proud of my family history in the South Yorkshire coalfield. But as well as honouring the tremendous contribution our area made in years gone by - and trying to right some of the injustices that were inflicted on our communities - my job today as an MP is to fight for a better tomorrow for our area.

 

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

04 July 2014

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

Brass band funding more than doubled

04 July 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

Michael visits Birdwell School as part of global education campaign

04 July 2014

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

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

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

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

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

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

 

Michael joins in Armed Forces Day celebrations

29 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michael takes part in miners’ strike 30th anniversary rally

28 June 2014

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

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

 

Michael supports global education campaign

28 June 2014

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

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

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

 

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

27 June 2014

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

27 June 2014

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

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

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

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

Welcoming the report, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

Michael writes to the Home Secretary over chaos at Passport office

27 June 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

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

25 June 2014

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

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

 

Cabinet Office Questions – 25 June 2014

25 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: ASOS fire

24 June 2014

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

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

 

ASOS arsonists must be caught and dealt with severely

23 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michael votes to introduce tougher sentences for knife crime offences

20 June 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

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

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

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

 

BIADS shortlisted for national award

20 June 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

19 June

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

You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

 

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

19 June 2014

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

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

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

Welcoming the report, Michael said:

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

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

 

 

BBC Sheffield: Justice for the Coalfields

18 June 2014

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

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

 

Latest unemployment figures show 'no room for complacency'

13 June 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

BBC Radio Sheffield and Dearne FM: Passport delays

11 June 2014

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

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

 

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

10 June 2014

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

You can read about this further by clicking here.

 

We need to act now to tackle child poverty

09 June 2014

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

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

Michael meets with pupils of Ladywood Primary in Parliament

09 June 2014

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

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

 

Michael supports carers in Barnsley during Carers Week

09 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trustmust take all action necessary’

06 June 2014

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

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

 

Michael calls for investigation into possible abuse of government communications

06 June 2014

Michael has written to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, demanding an investigation in to whether government communications are inappropriately using Conservative Party messages.

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

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

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

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

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

----

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

Letter from Michael Dugher to Jeremy Heywood:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, I would be happy to provide further examples.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

 

Michael backs Barnsley Council's call for votes at 16

06 June 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

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

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

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

 

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

06 June 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

 

Delegation pay their respects to the Barnsley Pals

06 June 2014

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

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

 

 

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

05 June 2014

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

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

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

04 June 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

 

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

03 June 2014

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

You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

 

Michael criticises HM Passport Office after delays cause constituents distress

03 June 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

 

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

03 June 2014

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

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

 

Figures show a worrying increase in working people claiming housing benefit

30 May 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

 

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

30 May 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

30 May 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

26 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Today Programme and BBC 5 Live

24 May 2014

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

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

 

Michael supports a stronger minimum wage

21 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

 

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

20 May 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

19 May 2014

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

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

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

 

Michael, Dan and Feargal Sharkey shown around Barnsley College

16 May 2014

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Michael backs childcare guarantee

16 May 2014

2As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and the Barnsley News and Sport, children and families in Barnsley could benefit from new measures Michael has called for to help ease the cost of living crisis.

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

 

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

16 May 2014

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

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

 

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

16 May 2014

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

Commenting on the news, Michael said the conservatives were:

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

You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Michael calls for a fairer deal for renters

14 May 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

New Statesman: 'The lessons for Labour from America'

13 May 2014

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

You can read the blog in full here.

 

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

10 May 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

09 May 2014

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

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

Michael unveils memorial to miners and servicemen

9 May 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle. On Sunday 4 May Michael unveiled a memorial plaque and clock at Houghton Main club house dedicated to the memory of the men of Houghton Main Colliery who worked during 1914 – 1918 and those served with the 13th/14th Battalions’ of York & Lancaster Regiment - "The Barnsley Pals".

Michael said "This memorial to those miners who worked and also served in the Barnsley Pals and elsewhere in the forces during the First World War was especially poignant and moving. “

 

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

9 May 2014

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


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


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

 

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

09 May 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

09 May 2014

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

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Memorial plaque at Houghton Main unveiled by Michael

04 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

 

Cake sale declared open

03 May 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

02 May 2014

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

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

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

02 May 2014

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

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

Michael nominates local dementia charity for national award

02 May 2014

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

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

In his nomination Michael writes:

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

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

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

 

Michael and Labour Shadow Education Minister visit Hoyland Common Primary School

01 May 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

Labour launches local and European election campaign

01 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Michael discusses TV election debates

29 April 2014

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

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

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

 

 

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

29 May 2014

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

  • To demand a fixed hours contract when they have worked regular hours over six months with the same employer
  • To receive a fixed hours contract automatically when they have worked regular hours over a year - unless they decide to opt out
  • To be protected from employers forcing them to be available at all hours, insisting they cannot work for anyone else, or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

25 April 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

 

Michael calls for urgent action to tackle unemployment

25 April 2014

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

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

Michael, responding to the Labour Market Statistics, said:

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

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

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

 

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

24 April 2014

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

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

 

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

23 April 2014

1As reported in the Independent and Daily Mirror today, Michael has held detailed discussions with David Axelrod, the senior Obama strategist who Labour hired last week, and other key Obama strategists to discuss Labour’s online battle plan for the next General Election.

2Labour will set up an “attack unit” to quickly put down and rebut Conservative attacks on Labour and Ed Miliband. The unit will be used to portray the Tories for what they are – out of touch and standing up for the wrong people.

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

 

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

23 April 2014

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

You can read the column in full here.

 

Michael meets with developers of proposed renewable energy plant

18 April 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

You can see Peel Environmental Ltd's plans here.

 

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

18 April 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michael attends the Barnsley Development Agency’s roundtable

11 April 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

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

 

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

11 April 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

11 April 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

08 April 2014

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

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

 

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

08 April 2014

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

You can read the blog in full here.

 

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

07 April 2014

2As reported by the BBC, Evening Standard, Sunday Mirror, Independent on Sunday, Express and Star and Belfast Telegraph, Michael has outlined Labour's 1plans 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 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 the 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, 1Michael has criticised the Budget today, calling it a Budget that fails to help people with the cost-of-living crisis, from a Chancellor who stands up for the privileged few.

The Chancellor spoke of a recovery and how things are getting better, but figures show that working people in Barnsley are an average of £1,600 a year worse off under the 2Tories. 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.

 

Michael votes to stop costly badger cull

18 March 2014

As reported by the 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."

 

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

16 March 2014

Sunday MirrorThe Sunday Mirror and 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:

Inependent on Sunday* 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:

Labour North conference“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 backs starter jobs for all young people out of work for a year

14 March 2014

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, 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 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

At the start of National Apprenticeship Week, 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, 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

coffersAs 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.

donationsCommenting 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, 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

2As 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.

1We 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

1As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has markedHolocaust 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.

2Michael 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 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 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

HarrowOn 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.

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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.

WatfordCommenting 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 and South Yorkshire Times, 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.”

 

Yorkshire Post: 'Clegg accused of ‘pretending to be Santa’'

27 December 2013

As reported in the Yorkshire Post, Michael has criticised a festive message from Nick Clegg in which he heralded a number of Government policies he claimed had boosted Yorkshire’s economy during 2013.

Responding, Michael said:

"Nick Clegg thinks he’s Santa Claus –pretending to hand out goodies to people in Yorkshire. But the truth is he gives a little with one hand, and takes away much more with the other hand."

You can read the article and Michael's comments in full here.

 

 

The Guardian: 'Labour attacks Tory party over fall in average pay since Cameron became PM'

24 December 2013

As reported in the Guardian, Michael has criticised the Government after figures have shown that workers have lost the annual equivalent of sixteen days pay since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

You can read the article and Michael's comments in full here.

 

 

BIADS open dedicated dementia centre in Barnsley

24 December 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and Doncaster Free Press, Michael has welcomed the opening of Barnsley’s first dedicated support centre by BIADS, a charity he is patron of. He has also called on the Government to use £700m from this year’s NHS underspend to help tackle the immediate crisis. 

Previously, BIADS split its services between two sites, but have hoped to move to one dedicated site for some time. Money raised through BIADS’ ‘Buy a Brick for BIADS’ campaign and two funding grants from the Barnsley Health and Social Care Innovations Fund have helped fund the charity’s move to Joseph Exley House. The new dedicated centre will help them provide more services to local people and their carers.

Over £1.8 billion has been cut from local council budgets for older people’s social care since the Coalition came to power. Charges for vital services for people with dementia, like home help, are increasing and vary hugely across the country. Michael has called on the Government to use £700m from this year’s NHS underspend to help tackle the immediate crisis.

In the long run, Labour's plans for ‘whole person care’ would see the full integration of the NHS and social care, helping to raise care standards and deliver better value for money too.

Commenting, Michael said:

“BIADS’ move to their new dedicated dementia support centre is very welcome. This move will allow their great team to provide more fantastic services for local people and their carers. It is an honour to be their patron.

“David Cameron needs to do much more to help people with dementia who are suffering now. Many people have seen home care taken away or are paying much higher charges for the care they receive. This Government’s cuts have pushed the care system to breaking point. David Cameron should use £700 million from this year’s NHS underspend to help tackle the immediate crisis.

“With some 3,000 people in Barnsley currently suffering from dementia, BIADS’ dedicated centre is much needed. The fantastic work BIADS do in helping their ever growing number of members cannot be overstated. Their staff and volunteers are truly inspiring.

 

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

24 December 2013

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 hits out at ‘appalling’ excess winter deaths increase

20 December 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has has hit out at the Government after figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of excess winter deaths recorded in the region compared to the previous year.

The latest ONS stats for Yorkshire and The Humber show that 3,000 people died unnecessarily last winter, up from 2011/12 by 25 per cent when the number of excess winter deaths stood at 2,400.

Nationally the official figures show that the number of people who died needlessly in freezing weather soared to more than 31,000 last winter and the vast majority of deaths – up almost a third from the previous year – were among those aged 75 and over.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is appalling that so many people are dying unnecessarily in Barnsley and in Britain today.

“We are set for another cold winter, energy bills continue to go up and up and A&Es are struggling to cope. The severe cuts to elderly care mean support is being withdrawn from homes and hundreds of thousands more people are turning to hospital - they deserve much better.

“Many of these unnecessary deaths are caused by people living in homes that are far too cold because they can’t afford to put the heating on and despite this, the Government still refuses to stand up to the big energy companies. Ministers need to take urgent action and back Labour’s plans to freeze energy bills.”

 

Barnsley Independent: 'What is happening to our NHS is a worry'

18 December 2013

With the prosepect of a tough winter for our A&E and the proposed changes to the CCG funding formula, Michael has written an article for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the article in full here.

 

The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Mirror: Tories abandon 'blue sky thinking'

15 December 2013

It is being reported in both the Sunday Telegraph and the Sunday Mirror, that David Cameron has told Tories to ditch images of blue sky and promises of change, in an effort to counteract the growing threat of UKIP. It seems all eforts to shake off the image of the 'nasty party' have been abandoned.

You can read Michael's comments in the Sunday Telegraph here and the Sunday Mirror here.

 

WAB Radio show with Feargal Sharkey and LIVE in Barnsley

14 December 2013

Following the announcement that Feargal Sharkey is the new patron of LIVE in Barnsley, Michael guest presented a special WAB Radio show. He was joined on the show by the LIVE in Barnsley organisers and Feargal Sharkey himself.

You can listen to the show in full here.

 

Michael visits four more schools to present certificates and prizes to the school winners

13 December 2013

Michael has visited four more schools in Barnsley today to present certificates and prizes to the school winners of his Christmas Card Competion.

Michael with the winner at All Saints Academy, Ellie Smith, and runners up Isobel Houston and Elise Cook.

Michael with the winner at High View Primary Learning Centre, Chloe Manley, and runners up Brooke Gillis, Joshua Manley, Keely Brant, Georgia Moore and Leigh-Ella Robshaw.

Michael with the winner at West Meadows Primary School, Harry Vaines, and runners up Hayley-Jo Martin and Sophie Crowther.

Michael with local Clouncillor and Barnsley's Deputy Leader, Jim Andrews, Hoyland Common Primary School Headteacher, Mr Banham, the winner at Hoyland Common Primary School, Macy Lunn and runners up Max Lunn and Harrison Siddall.

 

Michael visits Hoyland Tesco site to 'cut the ground'

13 December 2013

Michael has visited the new Hoyland Tesco site today to 'cut the ground'. He was shown around the site to see how the development will take shape.

Michael was then invited to cut the ground 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.”

 

Labour List and Daily Mail: 'David Cameron's cost-of-Christmas crisis2

13 December 2013

Michael has written a blog for Labour List today as it was reported in the Daily Mail that the prices of everything you need for a festive feast this Christmas have increased by up to 28%.

1As prices rise, wages fall and families go without as they come together over the holidays. It is clear that the cost-of-living-crisis is fast becoming David Cameron’s cost-of-Christmas crisis.

You can read the blog in full here.

 

Michael visits Carlton Brick

13 December 2013

Michael visited and attended a business round table at Carlton Brick, Grimethorpe, today. Carlton Brick is a clay brick factory, based on a site in Grimethorpe where bricks have been made for the past 125 years. The company employ up to 70 people and contribute to the local economy.

Michael was able to meet and discuss important issues effecting Barnsley and its economy. Michael and Oliver Stephenson, the Chairman of Carlton Brick, were joined by: Pat Furr, Managing Director of Carlton Brick, Cameron MacLellan, Operations Director at Polypipe; Colonel George A. Kilburn MBE, Clerk to the Company of Master Cutlers; and Tony Pedder OBE, CEO Sheffield Forgemasters and Master Cutler.

 

Michael announces the winner of his Christmas Card Competition

13 December 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael visited five schools in Barnsley last Friday and is visiting four more today, to hand out prizes and certificates to the school winners of his constituency-wide Christmas Card Competition.

The winner of the overall competition, Sophie Lee, age 9, was also announced at a special assembly at Churchfield Primary in Cudworth.

Michael attended assemblies at: Churchfield Primary, Shafton Primary Academy, Birdwell Primary School, Wombwell Park Street Primary School and Kings Oak Primary, where he presented each of the school winners with certificates and prizes.

Sophie Lee’s winning design was chosen out of hundreds of entries and will now be used as Michael's official 2013 Christmas card. Michael presented Sophie with a framed copy of her card and Tesco vouchers, all other school winners and runners up were presented with book vouchers.

Michael is visiting four more schools today.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is the fourth year I’ve run the competition and I’m really pleased with the amount of interest and the number of schools that have taken part. 

“Sophie Lee’s design is excellent and I’m really happy that I can use it as my official Christmas card this year.

“All the entries were of such a high standard, it just goes to show what creative and talented children we have in Barnsley”.

 

Barnsley MPs write to BBC in support of Toby Foster

13 December 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Sheffield Star, Michael and the three other Barnsley MPs have written Helen Thomas, Head of Region Yorkshire, in support of BBC Sheffield presenter Toby Foster.

It is thought that the BBC could be considering parting company with Toby Foster. In their letter, Michael and the Barnsley MPs highlight that for many in the area BBC Sheffield is one of the most important things that the BBC provide. And for many, Toby Foster is synonymous with BBC Sheffield.

 

 

 

 

Michael warns people to take care over charity collections this Christmas

13 Decemeber 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has warned people in Barnsley who give unwanted goods on their doorstep to charitable causes this Christmas, to take care in ensuring that the goods reach genuine charity beneficiaries.     

The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) estimates that bogus charity bag collections hitting residents’ doorsteps are costing UK charities an estimated £15 million a year.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

“It is fantastic that people are so generous and donate to charities, especially at Christmas. But the number of bogus operators colleting goods and giving false impressions that they are being sold for charitable causes is concerning. Not only is it a crime, but charities are losing out on millions of lost income.
“Charity collections of household goods are an important way of generating vital funding for good causes, but we need to make sure that people in Barnsley can give with confidence. When donating, I encourage people to be cautious and look for the FRSB ‘give with confidence’ tick and to check the FRSB advice on their website - www.givewithconfidence.org.uk.”

 

The Sun: 'We're all dreaming of a tight Christmas'

08 December 2013

The Sun has reported that two out of three people are going to great lengths to enjoy themselves on the cheap this year.

An exclusive Populus poll reveals that people are cutting back by buying low-cost food, spending less on decorations and trimming their entertainment, such as trips to the panto. The poll also reveals people are even turning off the Christmas tree lights to keep energy bills down.

Commenting, Michael said:

“With costs soaring higher, Christmas is going to be bleak for mums and dads who want to treat the family.”

 

Michael backs Small Business Saturday

07 December 2013

Michael is backing Small Business Saturday today.

Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the huge contribution small businesses make and help encourage people to buy from small local firms and independent shops in Barnsley and across the country on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, giving a much-needed boost.

Across the UK different activities are taking place from Christmas festivals to networking events for local business to start-up sessions for entrepreneurs - all to promote Britain’s small businesses.

You can fiind out more here and read Michael's article from this week's Barnsley Independent backing it here.

 

Michael visits schools to announce winners of his Christmas Card Competition 2013

06 December 2013

Michael visited five schools in Barnsley today to announce and hand out prizes to the school winners of his constituency-wide competition to find a Christmas card design.

The winner of the overall competition was also announced at a special assembley at Cudworth Churchfield Primary School.

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The overall winner of Michael’s 2013 Christmas Card Competition was Sophie Lee, aged 9 (pictured above with Michael and the runners up. Her winning design can be seen below. The runners up of the Hoyland Common Primary School were, Olivia Horsfield, age 10 and Brooke Hancock, age 6.

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Sophie Lee's winning design

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The winner at Wombwell Park Street Primary School was Matthew Roebuck, age 10 and the runners up were Ashley Williams, age 10, and Adrian Walkowiak, age 10.

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The winner at Kings Oak Primary Learning Centre was Grace Oakley, age 8, and the runners up were Zivan Garnner, age 9, Courtney Bailey.  

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The winner at Birdwell Primary School was Georgia Bishop, age 8, and the runners up were Emilie Bissell, age 6, Rachel Garratt, age 10.

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The winner at Shafton Primary Academy was Macy Elliott, age 10, and the runners up Emily Greene, age 9, Eleanor deBarr, age 9.

 

Barnsley MPs lobby Health Secretary over funding formula

06 December 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael, John Healey MP, Dan Jarvis MP and Angela Smith MP, have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to call for a review of the NHS Allocations Policy which has led to proposed changes in the formula that determines the allocation of resources to local Clinical Commissioning Groups.

This letter follows reports that Barnsley CCG is set to be deprived of £40.8 million under this new formula, a reduction of 13.5 per cent on its current allocation - the seventh highest percentage loss of funding based on current allocations.

This loss is a result of a shift in formula weighting away from health inequalities and towards age as a key determinant. In the letter, the MPs argue that this shift “works against areas of high deprivation and lower life expectancy.”

The letter goes on to state:

“We believe it is important to highlight that this does not take into consideration the fact that life expectancies are generally already higher in wealthier and better off areas, while poorer areas tend to have lower life expectancies. If the new NHS funding formula is implemented, the gap between the wealthy and poor will only expand further and we are concerned that in areas like Barnsley it would lead to an increase in health inequalities.

“This possible reduction in funding is causing a great deal of concern in the borough of Barnsley. It is also of great concern that these decisions are being made in a very opaque manner with no clear rationale being made by NHS England.”

You can read the full letter here.

 

Michael responds to open letter on concessionary fuel

06 December 2013

The following open letter appeared in the Friday 06 December edition of the Barnsley Chronicle:

Following last week's letter in the Chronicle regarding concessionary fuel for former miners and their widows, I wish to clear up any confusion relating to the actions I have taken to support my constituents on this issue.

I have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the trades unions on this issue, including meeting with both the NUM and NACODS, to demand that the Government step in and take responsibility for the Concessionary Fuel Agreements put in place by the British Coal Corporation mining unions in the 1980’s.

I raised this repeatedly with my Parliamentary colleagues and, as reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, I also lobbied the Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, directly last summer. I wrote to Fallon to highlight the anger that I shared with my constituents and to suggest ways in which the Government could act in order to help those who had found themselves at a disadvantage as a result of UK Coal entering administration. Initially, I had a disappointing response from the Minister and I made my disapproval known loud and clear.

It was thanks to the lobbying and campaigning of the unions, together with MPs, that eventually forced the Government to do a u-turn and announce that the government would guarantee free delivery of coal every year worth up to £1,300 or up to £600 in cash instead.

Chancellor George Osborne tried to take the credit for the decision by having his photograph taken at Thoresby pit in Mansfield. I for one will not forget nor forgive what Osborne and his cronies did to our coalfields in the eighties and nineties.  The truth is the Government was dragged kicking and screaming to this decision. The credit for that goes to the unions and all those who campaigned so hard during the past few months.

 

Music legend Feargal Sharkey named as LIVE in Barnsley patron

06 December 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, music legend Feargal Sharkey has been announced as LIVE in Barnsley's new patron.

Feargal Sharkey will visit Barnsley next year before officially launching the festival on Saturday 21 June. Michael, who is friends with Feargal, was able to help persuade the music legend to get involved and lend his support to the festival.

Following the announcement, Michael guest presented a special We Are Barnsley Radio show, where he was joined by the organisers of LIVE in Barnsley, to interview Feargal Sharkey.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The fact that we have managed to land the support of music royalty is a huge tribute to the brilliant LIVE in Barnsley organisers".

 

The real story of David Cameron's economy

06 December 2013

Watch below to see the real story of David Cameron's economy.

 

It doesn’t feel like a recovery in Barnsley, George

05 December 2013

George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement today and, as expected, continued to talk of a recovery. What he doesn’t understand is that for most people in Barnsley it doesn’t feel like a recovery at all.

The Government has no answer to deal with the cost-of-living crisis faced by people in Barnsley. For generations, when the economy grew, most people got better off with it. That isn’t true anymore. Today, people in Barnsley are facing a massive cost-of-living crisis. They are working harder, for longer, for less, year after year. On average working people are over £1,600 a year worse off, but David Cameron and George Osborne are so out of touch they have chosen to give people earning over £150,000 a huge tax cut.

George Osborne said that the economy would grow by more than 8.4 per cent by the end of this year, but even after today's welcome upward revisions, growth is set to be less than half of that. This is the slowest recovery in 100 years and for most people there is still no recovery at all. After three damaging years of flatlining the cost-of-living crisis is set to continue with prices forecast to rise faster than wages until 2015. 

What we needed today was Ed Miliband’s long-term plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and earn our way to higher living standards for all, including:

  • action to get more homes built, expand apprenticeships and back small firms by cutting not increasing business rates - so we have a strong recovery that's built to last.
  • action to make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed.
  • implementation of Labour's plan to freeze gas and electricity bills while we make long-term changes to the energy market – not a policy which will still see bills rising this winter and lets the energy companies off the hook.

It is clear from today that George Osborne is totally in denial. The central fact that was confirmed in today’s statement is that working people in Barnsley are worse off under David Cameron's Government.

Find out everything you need to know about today’s Autumn Statement here.

 

Michael welcomes Elsecar Heritage Railway funding

04 December 2013

1As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has welcomed the £50,000 funding secured by the Elsecar Heritage Railway through the People’s Millions Big Lottery Fund.

Michael visited the railway recently and met with the Chairman, William Tilling and other members of the heritage railway, including Harry Stenton and David Pannett where they discussed the railways plans to extend to Cortonwood and build a new station on the site of the former Cortonwood colliery. Alongside the station they hope to build a Coal Mining Memorial Park, with a picnic area which will be funded by the lottery grant. Michael was also appointed as patron.

Michael is also currently trying to arrange for the railway’s Monster Mash Beer to appear on the Houses of Parliament’s guest ale list.

Commenting, Michael said:

2“I am proud to be appointed as patron. As someone whose family is steeped in both the railways and coal mining in South Yorkshire, it is fantastic. This is an absolutely vital part of us recognising our proud industrial heritage. This vital funding will help further develop Elsecar Heritage Railway and turn it into one of the best tourist destinations around.

“Securing this funding is fantastic news for Elsecar Heritage Railway and the area. With plans for a picnic area, extending the railway to the Cortonwood Retail Park gives families, tourists and shoppers access to a great new service.

“The hard work of all the volunteers who dedicate their time and effort to running Elsecar Heritage Railway should be commended, without them it would no longer be operational.”

 

New figures show local cuts being borne disproportionately by councils with the most need

04 December 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has highlighted figures that show councils who are suffering the biggest cuts, like Barnsley, are often those facing the highest costs.

Figures uncovered by the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) show that as a result of new funding structures and welfare reform changes, areas that are suffering the biggest cuts are those facing the highest costs. In the Yorkshire and Humber region, councils are set to lose £571 per person by 2017/18. In the same time frame, South East councils are set to lose only £305 per person.

Michael has previously signed a petition supported by local council leaders and other MPs who represent deprived areas across the country, which calls for the Government to ‘stop the growing divide’ between areas that are the most and least affected by government cuts. You can find out more and sign the petition here.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is clear that local cuts are being borne disproportionately by areas where councils have the most need. The Government simply don’t understand the impact that their decisions on funding are having on services and the local people in Barnsley.

“People in Barnsley are struggling with a cost of living crisis which is hitting so many in the poorest areas. Yet, the councils with the greatest need, like Barnsley, are being hit much harder than wealthier areas of the UK like the South East.

“We need a recovery that is for the many, not the few.

 

Michael continues the campaign to freeze that bill

30 November 2013

Michael was joined by local Labour councillors and Labour Party activists this weekend to continue the campaign to freeze energy bills.

E2Michael attended the Wombwell Christmas fair and also campaigned in Hoyland. Michael was talking to people and encouraging them to sign the petition calling on David Cameron to freeze electricity and gas prices for 20 months whilst legislation is introduced to reform the market. Labour also want to establish a tough new regulator with the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when wholesale costs fall, as well as putting all over-75 year olds on the cheapest tariff.

E1You can find out more about the petition and sign it here.

 

 

Michael turns on the Hoyland Centre Christmas lights

29 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael and Councillor Tim Shepherd were joined by local schoolchildren, including Shola and Jay Andrews (pictured below), at the Hoyland Centre today to officially turn on the Hoyland Centre Christmas lights.

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One in five would benefit from Living Wage in Barnsley East

28 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, new House of Commons Library figures, revealed by Michael, estimate that 19 per cent 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 all employers in the constituency.

The Labour Party introduced the minimum wage and is leading the fight for the introduction of the Living Wage. In the face of deep cuts, it is difficult for Local Authorities to introduce the Living Wage but it is welcome that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) has found their own way to face the particular challenges they face.

 

Commenting, Michael said:

“The cost of living crisis means life is getting tougher for working people in Barnsley. The Living Wage is way in which we can support workers, to help them pay the bills. A Living Wage can be a lifeline for families struggling with the cost of living crisis.

“It is great to hear BMBC will become a Living Wage employer, despite the deep cuts being imposed on it. However, there is still work to be done as these new figures show that as many as one in five people in Barnsley East would benefit if the Living Wage was paid by all employers in the constituency.

“The Living Wage Campaign shows that even in Opposition at Westminster, we can help some of the poorest people in society.

 

Victory for campaigners over cap on payday loans

28 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has hailed the victory for payday loan campaigners, as George Osborne bows to pressure and announces plans to limit the cost of payday loans.

An amendment introduced to the Banking Reform bill will put a duty on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to impose a cap on the cost of credit.

Michael has previously called for this measure to be introduced and recently signed the Charter to Stop the Payday Loan Rip-off, you

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“This is a great victory for all those who campaigned on this issue. Labour has put forward plans to cap the cost of credit a number of times and each time they were rejected by the Government in the Commons. The Government admitting they were wrong today just shows that it is Labour who have the answers to address the cost of living crisis in Barnsley and across the country.

“For too long David Cameron has ignored our pleas to act and it is cash strapped consumers caught in the spiral of debt these companies generate who have paid a heavy price as a result.

“I am committed to caps on the total cost of credit and there's still more to do. There should be a levy on these companies to expand the funds available to credit unions so they can serve more people, powers for councils to limit the growth of these companies on our high streets and a ban on advertising to children of these products.”

 

Progress: ‘The 35 per cent strategy is a myth’

27 November 2013

Michael was interviewed by Progress Magazine recently about how the '35 per cent strategy' is a myth and Labour's real general election strategy is 'Target 106'.

Read the interview in full here

 

Michael supports Elsecar Heritage Railway in the final of The People's Millions

25 November 2013

Elsecar Hertiage Railway has made it to the finals of The People’s Millions, a grant programme run by the Big Lottery Fund. They are hoping to secure £50,000 lottery funding to build a Coal Mining Memorial Park. People can vote for them to win until midnight tonight. The number to call is 0871 62 68 12, calls cost 11p from a BT phone.They will also be on ITV Calendar tonight from 6pm.

Michael visited the railway recently and met with the Chairman, William Tilling and other members of the heritage railway, including Harry Stenton and David Pannett where they discussed the railways plans to extend to Cortonwood and build a new station on the site of the former Cortonwood colliery. Alongside the station they hope to build a Coal Mining Memorial Park which would be funded by the lottery funding, should they win.

You can support Elsecar Heritage Railway by calling 0871 62 68 123 to vote for them. Lines are open till midnight and calls cost 11p from a BT phone.

 

LabourList: 'More borrowing and fewer nurses – let’s judge Cameron on his record'

24 November 2014

Cameron and Osborne went to the country in 2010 with a promise to balance the books by 2015 and yet they have now borrowed more in the three years since May 2010 than Labour did over 13 years.

Read my blog for LabourList in full here.

 

Huffington Post: 'Step Up to Serve'

24 November 2013

Michael attended the launch of 'Step Up to Serve' this week and has written a blog for the Huffington Post. 'Step Up to Serve' is a new cross-party and cross-sector national initiative to increase the number of young people taking part in social action across the UK.

You can read the full blog here.

 

'This next election will be the most personal ever'

24 November 2013

Michael was interviewed by Andrew Grice from The Independent on Labour's 2015 election strategy recently. You can read the full interview on the Independent website here.

 

Michael on the Daily Politics

21 November 2013

Michael was on the Daily Politics yesterday.

Click here to watch the full show.

 

Michael backs the Charter to Stop the Payday Loan Rip-Off

20 November 2013

As reported in Barnsley News and Sport and Lifetime-fm.com, Michael has backed the Charter to Stop the Payday Loan Rip-off. The Charter calls for tougher regulation of payday lenders and is supported by some of Britain’s biggest debt, consumer and anti-poverty organisations – including Which?, Citizens Advice, StepChange Debt Charity, Church Action on Poverty, and the Centre for Responsible Credit.

Michael is urging the Financial Conduct Authority to back the Charter and introduce tougher regulation of payday lenders to stop millions of people being ripped-off. Over 70 MPs and Peers have backed the Charter and members of the public can add their support at change.org/paydayloancharter.

Michael has also called for the introduction of a cap on the cost of credit to tackle the overall cost and duration of these high-cost loans where they cause consumer detriment. Other measures also include a change to planning laws and further support of credit unions.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I’ve signed the Charter because payday lenders are ripping off people in Barnsley, tipping people into a spiral of debt.

“The Financial Conduct Authority’s proposals for regulation are a step in the right direction, but they don’t go far enough. This is a great opportunity to get the proper regulation and enforcement of payday lenders that we badly need. If the opportunity is missed then payday lenders will be able to carry on exploiting people.”

“The Government are failing to tackle this problem. They should introduce a cap on the cost of credit, change planning laws to give local councils new powers and encourage support for credit unions.”

 

Campaign victory for ex-miners as the Government bows to pressure on concessionary fuel entitlement

15 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has hailed the victory for ex-miners, as the Government has bowed to pressure from Michael, the National Union of Mineworkers and various other campaigners over concessionary fuel.

George Osborne has announced that the Government will guarantee the concessionary fuel entitlement of those ex-miners who were set to lose it, including the 400 miners who lost their jobs in the restructuring of UK Coal.

Following the announcement that UK Coal had entered administration, Michael wrote to the Energy Minister, Michael Fallon MP, to raise concerns and seek clarifications over the implications this could have for some of his constituents.

Amongst other concerns, Michael asked the Minister to look into seeing if it was possible for the Government to take over the provision of concessionary fuel from UK Coal. The Minister’s response was clear that those with historic entitlements were unlikely to be met.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Seeing George Osborne bow to the pressure of our campaign over concessionary fuel is fantastic. This entitlement is relied upon by many in Barnsley and across the country and its loss was of great financial concern. This is a great victory for our campaign.

“This is an even more important announcement considering the cost of living crisis people are facing at the same time. Prices have risen for 40 out of the 41 months that David Cameron has been Prime Minister and fuel bills have increased by an average of £300 per year.

“It is now time for the Government to stand up to the big energy companies and address the cost of living crisis. The Government should introduce Labour’s energy price freeze whilst they reform the market to make prices fairer for everyone.”

 

An open letter to the Barnsley branches of the Royal British Legion

15 November 2013

The following open letter appeared in the Friday 15 November edition of the Barnsley Chronicle:

 

I would like to say publicly a big thank you to all the members and supporters of all the different Barnsley branches of the Royal British Legion (RBL) - not just for the tremendous work they put in over this Remembrance weekend, but for all that they do throughout the year.

Over the weekend I was privileged to attend three events at which the RBL were present and which were all the better for their involvement. On Thursday evening I spoke at the Festival of Remembrance at Horizon Community College, organised brilliantly by the Barnsley Branch of the RBL.

On Saturday I was at Blacker Hill to mark the unveiling of a new plaque to honour the fallen of the village during World War One.

I like to mark Remembrance Sunday at a different place within the constituency each year. Last year I was at Wombwell, but last Sunday I attended the parade and service at the Hoyland cenotaph, organised by the Hoyland RBL. It was great to see such a wonderful turn out from local people, with many representatives from local schools, Brownies, Rainbows, Cubs and Cadets and a particular thank you to the Corp of Drums of the RBL for leading the parade so wonderfully.

I believe that the Legion does a magnificent job caring for our veterans and their families, as well as in keeping the memories of the fallen alive. We can be really proud of all our local branches of the RBL in Barnsley. Our task is to make remembrance not just something we do for one weekend a year, but that we continue to support the RBL all year round.

 

Barnsley Independent: 'Heat or eat dilemma just not right'

15 November 2013

This article appears in the Wednesday 13 November edition of the Barnsley Independent:

Another day, another energy firm ripping people off.  Well that's certainly what it feels like.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen nPower announce it is hiking its prices by an inflation-busting 10.4 per cent, British Gas by 9.2 per cent, Scottish Power by 8.6 per cent and SSE by 8.2 per cent.  The average energy bill has increased by almost £300 a year since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

It’s not right for people to have to choose between putting food on the table and turning on the heating, yet David Cameron refuses to stand up to the big energy firms that have made billions in profits and pay out millions in bonuses to fat cats at the top of these companies.  When wholesale energy prices increase, energy companies pass this increase on to consumers. Yet when wholesale energy prices fall, the consumer doesn’t see their bills come down. 

The energy industry is in urgent need of reform, which is exactly what Labour will do if we win the next election.  We will reset the market and help ensure fair prices for everyone by forcing energy companies to separate the parts of their businesses that generate energy from those that supply it to the public.  We will force them to sell their energy in an open pool, and introduce a simple new tariff structure.

But as well as fixing the broken market, people need help with their bills now.  That's why Ed Miliband has announced Labour will freeze energy prices until 2017 if we win the next election. This will save a typical household in Barnsley £120 and an average business £1,800.

And of course your energy bill is not the only thing going up. You can see how much more expensive things are every time you do your weekly shop. Prices have risen faster than wages for 39 out of the 40 months since David Cameron became Prime Minister. On top of this, average earnings in Yorkshire are £1,721 a year lower than they were at the time of the last General Election.

So hard-pressed families, pensioners and small businesses in Barnsley would all benefit from Labour's energy price freeze. But what advice does David Cameron give? Put on a jumper. Cameron is so out of touch, even former Tory PM John Major has had a go at him. And quite right too.

 

Michael attends Aldham House clean up day

14 November 2013

Michael joined Councillor Karen Dyson as well as staff from the police, Berneslai Homes, BMBC and the Aldham House Area TARA, at a community clean up initiative today. Michael accompanied Sergeant Sarah Hoyle and other staff as they assisted residents to remove unwanted items and also offered advice on security and other issues.

This was an opportunity for local residents on the Aldham House estate to help tidy up their environment. The initiative provided skips for residents to dispose of unwanted items. They were also offered advice and information on how to safely dispose of other house hold items and information on re-cycling.

Commenting, Michael said:

"This was a great initiative and I was pleased to get the opportunity to see firsthand the work done by the police, Berneslai Homes and the local TARA in helping local residents to take pride in where they live.

"I would like to pay a particular thank you to Councillor Karen Dyson for her hard work in helping to get this project off the ground. Also Sergeant Hoyle and her team of officers for the fantastic work they do, not just on this estate but across the area.”

 

New jobless figures shows the Government is letting Barnsley down

14 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley local authority and long-term unemployment remain high.

Since October 2011 long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority has almost doubled. In the same time period long-term unemployment in Barnsley East has increased by 75 per cent.

Prices have also now risen much faster than wages for 40 of the 41 months since David Cameron became Prime Minister. On average working people are now over £1,600 a year worse off.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Here in Barnsley long-term youth unemployment has almost doubled in two years, long-term unemployment in Barnsley East is also up 75%. It is getting clearer by the day that this government are letting people in Barnsley down. These levels are unacceptable and unaffordable.

“As if this wasn’t enough people are also suffering from a cost of living crisis - prices have risen much faster than wages for 40 of the 41 months that David Cameron has been Prime Minister.

“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."

 

Michael hosts event in Parliament to celebrate Grimethorpe’s Revival

13 November 2013

Brassed OffAs reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times, Doncaster Free Press and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael hosted an event in Parliament on Tuesday to mark the twentieth anniversary since the closure of Grimethorpe’s pit and Grimethorpe’s revival.

The event, organised by Mel Dyke, ASOS and Michael, offered an opportunity to pay tribute to Grimethorpe’s proud industrial history and the incredible resilience of the community.

There were also impressive readings from Mel Dyke, Jane Godber, Simon Hirst, Nathan King, Jack Land-Noble and Benny Watson. Emily Walker also sang.

The event was attended by MPs, Lords, as well as the Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire and the Mayor and Mayoress of Barnsley Ken and Nadia Richardson. A variety of other guests attended including a couple of the original Calendar Girls and members of the cast of Brassed Off, including Stephen Tompkinson, Jim Carter and Philip Jackson.

Commenting, Michael said:

Grimethorpe“Our industrial heritage in South Yorkshire is incredibly important. This was a great event and a fantastic opportunity to pay tribute to the incredible resilience of a community. All of those who spoke were brilliant and the variety of people who were at the event from Calendar Girls to the cast of Brassed Off is a testament to Grimethorpe.

“Mel Dyke is an incredibly passionate champion for the area. Her books ‘Barnsley and Beyond’ and ‘Grimethorpe Revival’ are so important in remembering the past and in helping future generations. She has done an amazing job in keeping the past and those memories alive, to be cherished for future generations.

“ASOS are an example of the kind of business that this area now attracts. Their CEO Nick Robertson moved its distribution centre here in 2010 and the business has gone from strength to strength. ASOS only recently announced a planned expansion of the site by 25 per cent - which will only add to the 3000 jobs they already bring to the area.”

 

Michael votes to repeal the Bedroom Tax and meets constituent at parliamentary lobby against it

cuttingMD and Mrs Fletcher12 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has voted to abolish the unjust and unworkable bedroom tax being imposed by this Tory-led government. He also met constituent, Mrs Karen Fletcher earlier in the day at the lobby against the tax.

Unfortunately the motion was defeated by the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, was not in the commons to defend his own policy. Instead he was in Paris for a youth employment conference.

The Bedroom Tax is leaving families in Barnsley with nowhere to go and on the edge of spiralling debt. Mrs Fletcher today was in Parliament to lobby against this tax and is a real reminder of the true damage that this cruel tax of David Cameron’s is having.

It hits over 400,000 disabled people nationwide, and around 50,400 people in Yorkshire and Humberside. For the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere smaller to move to, hitting vulnerable people with an average bill of £720 a year through no fault of their own. Instead of reducing the housing benefit bill, there is now a real risk the Bedroom Tax will cost more than it saves. People affected by this tax simply can’t wait until 2015 for this to be repealed.

The next Labour Government will repeal the Bedroom Tax without extra borrowing.  To cover the £470m cost of repealing the Bedroom Tax, funds have been earmarked from:

  • reversing George Osborne’s recent tax cut for hedge funds announced in Budget 2013;

  • reversing George Osborne’s shares for rights scheme which has been rejected by businesses, has opened up a tax loophole and will lead to £1bn being lost to the Exchequer according to the Office for Budget Responsibility; and

  • tackling disguised employment in the construction industry.

You can sign the petition to scrap the tax here.

 

Sunday Mirror: ‘Prime Minister David Cameron told to reveal secret guest list’

11 November 2013

As reported in the Sunday Mirror, Michael has called on David Cameron to reveal the identity of guests he has entertained at Chequers, his palatial country home.

Despite the promise to be the most “transparent government ever”, the Government has been blocking the release of the annual list of guests who have been entertained at Chequers since 2011.   

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Michael said:

“While you continue to block the publication of the list, the perception will remain that you have something to hide and that you are spending your weekends ‘chillaxing’ with the tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby, top Tory donors and other individuals.

You can read the text of the full letter below:

Dear Prime Minister,

Last week at Cabinet Office Oral questions, while you were present in the Chamber, I asked a question about the Government’s failure to publish the so-called annual Chequers guest list.  However, yet again, no proper answer was given.      

Despite the promise to be the most “transparent government ever”, it appears that you have been blocking the release of the full annual list of guests who have been entertained at your official country house retreat since 2011.   

This also follows repeated failures to adequately answer Parliamentary Questions and Freedom of Information requests about visits to Downing Street by the tobacco lobbyist and your chief adviser, Lynton Crosby—despite the Government answering exactly the same questions about other individuals in other departments.

While you continue to block the publication of the annual Chequers guest list, the perception will remain that you have something to hide and that you are spending your weekends “chillaxing” at Chequers with the tobacco lobbyist, Lynton Crosby, top Tory donors and other individuals.   You must surely agree that there can be no excuse for not publishing the list immediately. 

I hope that you will now publish this list, in the interests of transparency, and disclose how many times Lynton Crosby has attended any official Government residence or Department. 

Given the ongoing controversy surrounding the role and activities of Lynton Crosby and the Government’s failure to be open and transparent, I’m realising this letter to the press. 

Yours sincerely,

 

Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

 

Michael raises concerns over Government plans to privatise probation services

01 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has raised concerns about public safety as hundreds of convicted criminals in the South Yorkshire Probation Trust area, many of them guilty of serious crimes including robbery, sex attacks and burglaries, could soon be supervised by G4S and Serco, as the Tory Government privatises the Probation Service.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed the number of offenders currently being supervised by highly trained professional probation officers that will be off-loaded to private companies. In the South Yorkshire Probation Trust area, that means that 7565 offenders in the hands of the likes of G4S and Serco. Nationally the figure is 209,008.

Up to now the Government has refused to reveal how many serious and violent offenders would be put in the hands of private companies, but Labour’s Freedom of Information request has revealed the true scale of their plans in our local area.

Commenting, Michael said:

“You can’t take risks with public safety, yet this is precisely what the Government is doing with their reckless plans to privatise the Probation Service. Handing over supervision for serious and violent offenders in Barnsley to the same companies that time and again let down the taxpayer is a recipe for disaster.

“People in Barnsley need to be confident that those under supervision in our communities aren’t part of some giant experiment. But the Government is running scared – they’ve not brought their plans before Parliament, instead choosing to rush ahead at breakneck speed and impose their untried and untested privatisation in Barnsley and across the country.”

 

Michael attends Remembrance Day Parade

10 November 2013

Michael has attended the Remembrance Day parade in Hoyland, Barnsley today. The parade, which was led by the RBL Corp of drums, left from St Peter’s Church and made its way to the cenotaph.

The parade is believed to have been bigger than ever, with the Birdwell ACF detachment taking part for the first time. After arriving at the cenotaph the rest of the RBL band formed and a service took place.

Along with others, Michael laid a wreath and paid his respects to those who were killed, injured and affected by both World Wars as well as those who have been involved in subsequent conflicts. It was a fitting tribute and moving service.

 

Michael attends Blacker Hill War Memorial

09 November 2013

Michael attended and said a few words at the Blacker Hill War Memorial today.

Michael and everyone in attendance paid tribute to those who were killed, injured and affected during World War I.

A ceremony was led by Reverend Lamb, after which Albert Bishop unveiled a plaque and wreaths were laid by Chris Davis and Michael.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael campaigns in Barnsley and Dewsbury on Labour's day of action

09 November 2013

Michael took to the streets of Dewsbury and Barnsley today, alongside Dan Jarvis MP, energy campaigners and Labour Party activists for a day of action.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg made it clear that they are unwilling to take action to address the cost of living crisis when they voted against Labour’s motion calling for an energy price freeze in the House of Commons the other week. Today's day of action was a great way to launch the petition calling on David Cameron to freeze energy bills

 

Michael vows to continue the campaign with a day of action

08 November 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has vowed to continue the campaign for an energy price freeze for ripped of customers with a day of action in Barnsley town centre.

On Wednesday (6th November) the Conservative and Liberal Democrats voted against a motion that called on the Government to freeze electricity and gas prices for 20 months whilst legislation is introduced to reform the market. The motion also called for the establishment of a tough new regulator with the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when wholesale costs fall, as well as putting all over-75 year olds on the cheapest tariff.

On Saturday (9th November) Mr Dugher will join energy campaigners and Labour Party activists to launch a constituency wide petition calling on the Prime Minister to freeze energy prices. The Labour Party has declared this a national day of action with events planned up and down the country. Mr Dugher will join campaigners at a street stall in the town centre between 11am-1pm.

In Barnsley the average gas and electricity bill has gone up by £300 a year since the election. At the end of September, Ed Miliband announced Labour would freeze all energy bills until the start of 2017 in a bid to help hundreds of thousands of hard working families who are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. This pledge would save the typical household £120 and an average business £1,800.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“Many people in Barnsley are struggling with the rising cost of living. Energy bills have gone up by £300 a year since the election and in the same time period prices have risen faster than wages in 39 out 40 months.

“People in Barnsley want to see action, when the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on but when it drops they don’t see their bills fall. That is why we are holding the day of action this weekend. Our petition is calling on David Cameron to stand up to the big energy companies before the winter really begins to bite.”

 

Michael announces the school winners of his annual Christmas card competition

08 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has announced the school winners of his annual Christmas card competition. These school winners will now form a shortlist from which an overall winner will be selected and the designer of the overall winning card will receive a special prize.

The best design will be used as Michael's official 2013 Christmas card, which will be sent to hundreds of politicians, local businesses, civic leaders and voluntary groups. It is the fourth year in succession that Micahel has run the competition.

Michael r is hoping to visit all the schools at special assemblies to present prizes and certificates to the shortlisted school winners and school runners-up over the next few weeks. Every school winner will be presented with a special certificate from the Palace of Westminster, as will school runners-up, plus the winner will receive book vouchers for themselves and for their school. 

The competition will be judged by Michael, the Mayor of Barnsley - Councillor Ken Richardson and the local businesses and organisations sponsoring the card, including: ASOS; Lo’s Pharmacy Limited; Carlton Brick; West Bank House Community Association; Forge Community Partnership; The Symphony Group PLC; Wm Morrison PLC; TESCO and Safestyle Manufacturing & Logistics. The overall winner will be announced next month.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The competition shows what talented young people we have in Barnsley and everyone who took part from our local schools can feel really proud.

“I’d like to thank all of the children for their entries this year, they were all brilliant. Having to choose just one winner from each school was really tough.

“Congratulations to: Grace Oakley, age eight, from Kings Oak Primary Learning Centre; Ellie Smith, age nine, from All Saints Academy; Matthew Roebuck, age 10, from Wombwell Park Street Primary School; and Chloe Manley, age 10, from High View Primary Learning Centre; Georgia Bishop, age eight, from Birdwell Primary School; Macy Lunn, age nine, from Hoyland Common Primary School; Suvetha Suthakaran, age 10, from Hoyland Springwood Primary School; and Harry Vaines, age 10, from West Meadows Primary School; Macy Elliott, age 10, from Shafton Primary Academy and Sophie Lee, age nine, from Cudworth Churchfield Primary School, who have all had their designs selected to go through to the grand final. They really are spectacular designs and I wish them all the best in the next round.”

 

Michael condemns Tories as soft on anti-social behaviour

08 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has condemned the Tory-led Government for watering down Labour’s measures to combat anti-social behaviour.

Tories and Liberal Democrats voted to weaken Labour’s Anti-Social Behaviour Orders recently in Parliament – at a time when the evidence is that anti-social behaviour is a growing problem.

The Tories’ Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill means that a breach of their new ‘Crime Prevention Injunction’ won’t be a criminal offence, and won’t result in a criminal record – and the police or Barnsley council will have to pay for civil proceedings.

What’s more, Freedom of Information requests submitted by Labour have found that the Government’s proposed ‘Community Trigger’, where public reporting of anti-social behaviour is supposed to trigger police action, has only resulted in 13 responses in the pilot areas – out of a reported 44,011 incidents.

Meanwhile, the Government is creating red tape, making it harder for the police and local councils to get CCTV – potentially costing up to £14 million.

Commenting, Michael said:

“When in government, Labour put in place tough measures to tackle anti-social behaviour. The Tories and Lib Dems have now set about dismantling them.

“Anti-social behaviour is exactly the sort of thing that will make many local residents’ lives a misery in Barnlsey. Their ‘Community Trigger’ doesn’t work, they think being involved in anti-social behaviour isn’t a crime and they want ordinary people – via the police and local authority – to shoulder the cost of putting a stop to it.

“The Tory-led Government are making it harder to fight anti-social behaviour and, unbelievably, are wasting money in the process. It’s no wonder that people are saying that David Cameron is totally out of touch.”

 

Michael visits the After School Club at Worsbrough library

07 November 2013

Michael met with Allison Andrews & Allison Taylor who run the After School Club at Worsbrough library today. He was joined by Councillor John Clarke.

The club is well attended by local children and offers great help for them with a wide range of subjects such as English, Maths, Computer Skills and reading.

Local Councillors in Worsbrough set up the new after school club in June 2013, using local area funds. It is hoped that the local area forum will finance the club on a permanent basis for many years to come.

 

 

Michael vows to continue the campaign with a day of action after the Government votes down energy price freeze for ripped-off customers

06 November 2013

Tonight I voted for a motion that called on the Government to freeze electricity and gas prices for 20 months whilst legislation is introduced to reform the market.

The motion called for reforms that would force the big six energy companies to ring fence the generation side of their business from the supply side of their businesses and require all electricity generators and suppliers to trade their power via an open exchange. It also called for the establishment of a tough new regulator with the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when wholesale costs fall, as well as putting all over-75 year olds on the cheapest tariff.

Unfortunately this motion was defeated thanks to the Tories and Lib Dems who voted against it.

However, our campaign goes on, and the Labour party are holding a National Day of Action on energy prices this Saturday. I will join energy campaigners and Labour Party activists at a stall in the town centre, from 11am-1pm, to launch a petition calling on David Cameron to freeze energy bills.

 

The Pritchard investigation shows once again why we need action on MPs’ second jobs

06 November 2013

Following the revelations that senior Conservative MP Mark Pritchard allegedly offered to use his political contacts to set up business deals, Michael has written a blog for Labour List about the need for new rules and new limits on MPs' second jobs.

You can read Michael's blog in full here.

 

Michael welcomes Police Commissioner Grant Scheme funding for the Aldham Estate area

01 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Micheal has welcomed the award of funds from Shaun Wright’s Police Commissioner Grant Scheme to deliver a Life Skills course at Highview School.

The successful application was made by Councillor Karen Dyson, Martin Kenworthy and Rob Jenkins and has secured funding of £2000. The grant will be used to help provide a Life Skills course to children who attend Highview School from Aldham House and the surrounding area.

Commenting, Micahel said:

“This grant is very welcome. The Police Commissioner Grant Scheme is a great way of reinvesting money back into the community and it is great to see people in the Aldham Estate and the surrounding area benefit.

“Councillor Karen Dyson works incredibly hard for the residents of Aldham House and I am pleased to see this work rewarded through the award of this grant.”

 

The number of those turning to foodbanks increases

01 November 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has criticised the Government for their failure to tackle the cost of living crisis, as recent figures show a record increase in those receiving help from foodbanks.

Figures published by the Trussel Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network, show that between April and September 2013 over 350,000 people have received emergency food help. This is triple the number of those helped in the same period last year, and is already more than was helped in the entirety of last year.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Since the Coalition came to power the number of those using foodbanks has exploded. They simply do not get it and are either oblivious to the damage that their policies are causing across the country, or they don’t care.

“People in Barnsley are suffering from a cost of living crisis and this Government is failing to deal with it. Prices have now risen faster than wages for 39 out of the 40 months since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

“Things are getting harder and more people than ever are having to turn to foodbanks. In the world’s 7th richest economy this is shameful. The Government should introduce measures like Labour’s energy price freeze to help people in Barnsley deal with the cost of living crisis.”

 

Spendmatters.co.uk: "Small businesses should have the biggest voice in government – and we can start by paying them promptly"

31 October 2013

Michael has written an article for Spendmatters.co.uk in support of small businesses. The future of the British economy depends on small business. That is why Labour is determined to take action to support SMEs. You can read the full article here.

 

Letter to Francis Maude urging action on late payment to support SMEs

31 October 2013

Following the news that Ministers are breaching their own rules on when they should pay government suppliers, Michael has written to the Minster for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude MP, urging action to enforce targets for payment of business invoices across the public and private sectors.

You can read the letter in full here.

 

Whitehall mandarins fail to pay suppliers on time

31 October 2013

As reported by the Financial Times and The Sun, Ministers are breaching their own rules on when they should pay government suppliers. Government figure show that two departments have made significant amounts of late payments.

Commenting, Michael said:

"Businesses are suffering from a cost of living crisis and yet ministers are compounding rather than confronting their difficulties.

“It is unacceptable that the government is failing to pay suppliers on time. The government is being fined for missing its own targets, wasting taxpayers’ money at a time of cuts to the services and support on which hard-working families rely.

 

The omnishambles is back

26 October 2013

David Cameron's government is once again struggling with multiple policy issues at once. The omnishambles is back. 

You can read my latest blog post on Labour Uncut here.

 

Michael supports Wear It Pink Day

25 October 2013

Michael Dugher is joining forces with Breast Cancer Campaign to raise awareness of its fundraising event, Wear It Pink day.


The Breast Cancer Campaign charity helps to fund innovative world-class breast cancer research in order to help improve survival rates for the one in nine women who experience breast cancer during their lifetime.


Michael said: “ I would like to encourage everyone in Barnsley, and throughout the country, to support Wear It Pink day to raise valuable funds for breast cancer research.”


To take part and to find out more, visit the Wear It Pink day website here: www.wearitpink.co.uk

 

 

 

Michael Dugher MP calls for an end to exploitive zero-hours contracts

25 October 2013

As reported in theSouth Yorkshire Times and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for an end to the exploitation of hard-working people employed on zero-hours contracts.

Zero-hours contracts can lead to insecurity and stress for many families, which is why Mr Dugher has backed Labour’s plans to outlaw their exploitive use.

A recent survey of employers by YouGov found that there could be as many as one million people on zero-hours contracts. It also found that almost one in five employers say that they employ at least one person on zero-hours contracts.

Labour would take action to stop the abuse of workers who are employed on zero-hours contracts – banning those which require workers to work exclusively for one business, or which place them on call all day without any guarantee of work.

Commenting, Mr Dugher:

“Zero-hours contracts are more wide spread than first thought and this means insecurity and stress for too many families in Barnsley. I recognise that employers and employees need some flexibility but I’m not in favour of people in Barnsley lacking job security and having to be flexible about whether or not they can afford the weekly shop.

“A Labour Government would ban employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work, stop zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business and end the misuse of zero-hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

“David Cameron boasts that he’s fixed Britain’s economy but what he fails to realise is that his economic recovery is only benefitting a few at the top and not the vast majority of hard-working people who are suffering a cost of living crisis. We need a recovery for the many, not the few.”

 

 

Tribune Magazine: We rightly honour those killed on the battlefield.  It’s time to honour those killed on the coalfield too - writes Michael Dugher

21 October 2013

Michael has written an article for this week’s edition of Tribune Magazine.  Click here to read the article:  ‘We rightly honour those killed on the battlefield. It’s time to honour those killed on the coalfield too’.

 

Michael traces his ancestors with the help of the Local History Group

18 October 2013

Michael met with Sam Lockwood-Dukes of the Local History Group today. He was joined by librarian, Kate Harper, and Cllr John Clarke.

The Local History Group are hosting a coffee morning at 8am on Friday 8 November, for local people to find out about relatives who may have fought in the great war.

The group are hoping to trace the relatives of all the soldiers on Worsbrough War Memorial.

Michael was able to trace his ancestors back 212 years.

 

Michael visits Worsbrough Bowls Club

18 October 2013

Following their meeting at the Community First Volunteers Day, Michael was pleased to be able to visit the Worsbrough Bowls Club today and tried his hand at the sport.


Michael met with: Brenda Harrison, Treasurer; John Ingram, Club Secretary; Hazel Eccles; Eric Gillott; Stewart Harrison; and Susan Pearson. He also met Maureen McArthy and Karen Pearson, who are also part of Remedi, a voluntary sector organisation that provides a range of restorative justice initiatives to victims and offenders in South Yorkshire.  This has allowed the club to work with the South Yorkshire Probation Trust and young offenders, who have on occasions helped to maintain the grounds surrounding the bowling green.

 

Blog: "Zero-hours contracts - a race to the bottom"

18 October 2013

Following the Opposition Day Debate held by Labour this week on zero-hours contracts, Michael has written a blog. You can read it in full by clicking here.

 

Report highlights the contribution of music tourism to our economy

18 October 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has highlighted a report into music tourism, by UK Music and VisitBritain, whcih reveals the combined power of tourism and music to stimulate the Yorkshire and Humber economy.

The study showed that 380,000 music tourist visits were made to the Yorkshire & Humber region in 2012 to attend a concert or music festival.  They generated £143 million in spending in total for the Yorkshire and Humber economy and sustained 1,663 jobs.

The Wish You Were Here report demonstrates the incredible pulling power of live music and its potential to fuel tourism throughout the country. VisitBritain’s ambition is to attract a total of 40 million overseas visitors by 2020, which music tourism will look to contribute more to over the coming years.

Yorkshire & Humber has a higher than average music tourist population of 43% compared to the national average of 41% of the population.

The study revealed that 12,000 music tourists came to the region from overseas. The rest were domestic tourists from other parts of the UK.

Overseas music tourists are incredibly valuable to the Yorkshire and Humber economy. While they account for just 3% of the music tourist population, they spent £8 million which amounts to 10% of music tourism spending.

Music Festivals, like Live in Barnsley, are also vital to the local economy. 37% of all local music tourists attended festivals but those festival goers accounted for 71% of music tourism spending in the region (£58 million).  Festival loving music tourists spent more money.  Their love of music is stimulating the Yorkshire economy.

Commenting, Michael said:

“These figures show what a great contribution to our local economy the music industry has. Festivals like Live in Barnsley, which was attended by around 3000 people and saw venues reporting record takings, are such an asset to our local areas.”  
 
UK Music CEO Jo Dipple said:

“It’s clear our music industry is doing a great job for the Yorkshire and Humber economy. The Wish You Were Here study showed that 380,000 music tourist visits were made to the Yorkshire & Humber region in 2012 generating £143 million in and sustaining 1,663 jobs. The love of music is a powerful driver for growth. I’m looking forward to developing policies with local MPs, like music loving Michael Dugher, to nurture that growth”

 

Michael Dugher MP calls for an end to exploitive zero-hours contracts

18 October 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for an end to the exploitation of hard-working people employed on zero-hours contracts.

Zero-hours contracts can lead to insecurity and stress for many families, which is why Mr Dugher has backed Labour’s plans to outlaw their exploitive use.

A recent survey of employers by YouGov found that there could be as many as one million people on zero-hours contracts. It also found that almost one in five employers say that they employ at least one person on zero-hours contracts.

Labour would take action to stop the abuse of workers who are employed on zero-hours contracts – banning those which require workers to work exclusively for one business, or which place them on call all day without any guarantee of work.

Commenting, Mr Dugher:

“Zero-hours contracts are more wide spread than first thought and this means insecurity and stress for too many families in Barnsley. I recognise that employers and employees need some flexibility but I’m not in favour of people in Barnsley lacking job security and having to be flexible about whether or not they can afford the weekly shop.

“A Labour Government would ban employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work, stop zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business and end the misuse of zero-hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

“David Cameron boasts that he’s fixed Britain’s economy but what he fails to realise is that his economic recovery is only benefitting a few at the top and not the vast majority of hard-working people who are suffering a cost of living crisis. We need a recovery for the many, not the few.”

 

Michael calls for an end to Government complacency on long term joblessness

Michael has called  for the introduction of Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee and an end to Government complacency on long-term joblessness as figures show long term unemployment and long term youth unemployment in Barnsley are too high and static.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that long-term youth unemployment has remained static at 475 and has increased by a massive 132 per cent since September 2011.

Figures also show that long-term unemployment in Barnsley East is still too high. A worrying 950 people in Barnsley East have been unemployed for 12 months or more and since September 2011 long-term unemployment in Barnsley East has increased by 88 per cent.

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.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Whilst it is welcome that unemployment, according to the JSA claimant count, has fallen, the fact is long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley local authority is static and long-term unemployment in my constituency is far too high.

“Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley has risen by a shocking 132 per cent in two years and long-term unemployment in my constituency has increased by a worrying 88 per cent over the same period. The Government’s complacency on this risks creating a lost generation and they should introduce Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee now to address this problem.

“People in Barnsley, in and out of work, are suffering from a cost of living crisis. Prices have now risen faster than wages for 39 out of the 40 months since David Cameron became Prime Minister.”

 

Michael on WAB Radio

15 October 2013

Michael hosted his second show for We Are Barnsley Radio on Friday. He was joined by local singer/songwriter, Danny Smart and the CEO of UK Music, Jo Dipple.

You can listen to the full show by clicking here.

 

The Labour Party Shadow Cabinet

15 October 2013

Michael and the rest of the Shadow Cabinet met today following the recent reshuffle.

Michael was promoted to Minister for the Cabinet Office alongside a numebr of other MPs from the 2010 election who were also promoted to new roles. The proportion of women in the Shadow Cabinet also increased to 44 per cent following the reshuffle.

 

 

 

Sunday Mirror: ‘Government officials spend £50k on flat-screen TVs in just two years’

13 October 2013

As reported in the Sunday Mirror and on the ITV News website, Parliamentary written questions from Michael have revealed that Government departments have spent more than £50,000 on 92 flat-screen TVs in the last two years.

Commenting, Michael said:

"Rather than getting to grips with the cost of living crisis facing hard-pressed people thanks to David Cameron's policies, it seems Ministers are sat with their feet up, channel-hopping on their brand new flat-screen TVs.

“And what's wrong with picking up a value-for-money telly from the supermarket like everybody else?  It just shows how out of touch Cameron's ministers are.”

 

Michael attends Miners' Memorial Day

12 October 2013

Michael attended the Miners' Memorial Day service at St Mary’s Church in Barnsley today. The memorial was held to commemorate those who lost their lives working in the mining industry or as a result of working in the mining industry.

There is currently no official recognition for those who lost their life in the mining industry and as a result the Yorkshire area of the National Union of Mineworkers organise a memorial like todays on an annual basis. This offers friends relatives and others the opportunity to pay their respects.

Michael attended the event along with others from the Yorkshire region including, the Mayor of Barnsley, Dan Jarvis MP, Angela Smith MP, Ian Lavery MP and Barnsley Council Leader Sir Steve Houghton.

Commenting, Michael said:

“A very special thanks to the NUM's Chris Kitchen, Chris Skidmore & Keith Hartshorne, Yew Tree Theatre Group, Maltby Miners Welfare Band and Rev Duckworth for such a moving Miners' Memorial Day Service at St Mary's Church in Barnsley.”

 

Climate change department spent more than £300,000 on UK flights

11 October 2013

As reported in the Independent, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, figures revealed by Michael through parliamentary written questions have shown that the Department for Climate Change spent more than £300,000 on domestic flights for ministers and staff in 2012-13.

Quoted in the articles, Michael said:

"Over the last year, as people across the country have been facing a cost of living crisis, ministers and staff at Government departments have spent an astonishing £1.7 million jet-setting around the UK. With modern communications, how can all these flights be necessary?

"It's also ironic that the Department for Climate Change is one of the worst offenders, with ministers and staff taking more than 1,500 domestic flights at a cost of over £300,000 in the last year alone. So much for setting a good example on keeping the Government's carbon footprint down."

 

Michael receives promotion to new role in the Shadow Cabinet

11 October 2013

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has been promoted to the role of Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office in Ed Miliband’s reshuffle of his frontbench team.    

Michael will now be a full member of the Shadow Cabinet, with responsibilities for policy areas including: public sector efficiency and reform; Civil Service issues; government transparency; civil contingencies; civil society; cyber security and UK statistics.

Michael also retains responsibility for political and campaign communications.

Commenting on his promotion, Michael said:

“I am honoured to have been appointed to this new position. I look forward to working with the rest of the Shadow Cabinet to highlight the Government’s unfair policies and to expose how David Cameron is failing to deal with the cost of living crisis in Barnsley and across the country. 

“It is also a privilege to play my part in working to see a Labour government in 2015 and helping Ed Miliband into Number 10.”

 

Michael signs petition to ‘stop the growing divide’

11 October 2013

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has signed a petition which calls for the Government to ‘stop the growing divide’ between areas that are the most and least affected by government cuts.

Figures show that Barnsley Council’s spending power is being reduced by 1.1 per cent in 2013-14 compared to 2012-13. Conversely, some of the richest areas of the country, like David Cameron’s local authority, will see an increase in their spending power of 3.1 per cent over the same time period.

The petition has the support of local council leaders and other MPs who represent deprived areas across the country and calls on the government to stop the growing divide between the more prosperous and weak economies.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“It is clear that local cuts are being borne disproportionately by areas where councils have the most need. The Government simply don’t understand the impact that their decisions on funding are having on services and the local people in Barnsley.

“David Cameron is failing to deal with the cost of living crisis which is hitting so many in the poorest areas. Meanwhile his local authority of West Oxfordshire – one of the richest parts of the country – will gain 3.1% in spending power in 2013/14 while Barnsley will face a cut of 1.1%.

“We need a recovery that is for the many, not the few.”

 

Michael backs local businessman in ‘UK Worker of the Year’ competition

11 October 2013

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has backed a local roofer shortlisted as one of eight finalists for a ‘UK Worker of the Year’ award.

Dean Gertsel is the owner of DMG Roofing and Property Repairs based in Hoyland, Barnsley. He started his business in January 2012 but found it difficult to find adequate funding and as a result Dean has to use the family car, a Vauxhall Zafira, as his business car, making life tough.

The UK Worker of the Year award searches for workers who exemplify what doing a good job is all about, it is run by Dickies and saw over 8,000 entries. The prize for winning is a brand new Suzuki Swift and if victorious this would allow Dean to sell the current family car and buy a much more appropriate business van.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It’s great to see a local businessman working hard and doing well despite struggling to find adequate funding. This award would be appropriate recognition for all of Dean’s efforts and I’m backing him to win.

 “We need to be helping people set-up small businesses and ensuring that finance is available for them to do so. But under this Government bank lending to small business has fallen.  This is why we need British Investment Bank, supported by a network of regional banks to get finance flowing again.”

 

Michael backs LIVE in Barnsley for Best Metropolitan Festival award

09 October 2013

Michael has backed LIVE in Barnsley’s bid for the prestigious UK Festival Awards’ Best Metropolitan Festival.

The UK Festival Awards have been handing out awards to the best festivals in the UK since 2004, based on a combination of the opinions of music industry experts and online fan votes. Last year, over half a million fan votes were cast in the competition, adding even more prestige to the much-coveted awards.

LIVE in Barnsley was an undoubted success this year, it was completely free to the public, and saw around 3000 people attend. Michael has backed Live in Barnsley’s bid for Best Metropolitan Festival and is urging others to do so too by voting here.

 

Michael backs plan to freeze energy bills until the start of 2017

07 October 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Barnsley News and Sport and Doncaster Free Press, Michael has backed plans to freeze energy prices from 2015 to 2017.

There is no doubt that the Energy market isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses in Barnsley.  The “Big six” energy companies supply energy to 98 per cent of homes and run 70 per cent of Britain’s power stations.  And this lack of competition means people can’t shop around to get a fair deal and so get overcharged.

Ed Miliband has said Labour would reset the energy market if he becomes Prime Minister in 2015. And until these reforms kick-in, his Government would put an immediate stop to unfair price rises by freezing energy bills up to January 2017 for people coping with the cost of living crisis.

You can sign the Labour Party petition calling on David Cameron to freeze gas and electricity prices by clicking here.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Families in Barnsley are facing a cost of living crisis.  Prices are rising faster than wages and energy bills have gone up by almost £300 for the average household.  Something needs to be done to tackle rip-off energy bills, but the Government is failing to act.    

“When the price of energy increases, energy companies pass this on to customers.  But when the price of energy drops, consumers don’t see their bills fall.  How can this be right?

“The energy market needs to be reset with the big energy companies broken up so that families in Barnsley can get a fair deal.  And in the meantime, it is right that energy prices should be frozen to help people with the cost of living crisis.  This would save a typical household £120 and an average business £1,800.”

 

Michael on the BBC Sunday Politics

07 October 2013

Michael was on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire edition of the Sunday Politics at the weekend.

Click here to watch the full programme on iPlayer and scroll to 34 minutes to see the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire section.

 

Michael welcomes positive response from council over Live in Barnsley

07 October 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has welcomed the positive response from BMBC to his letter encouraging the council to offer the event its full and practical support.

The response from council leader Councillor Sir Steve Houghton CBE, confirmed that the council will be able to promote next year’s festival the Visit Barnsley website, council publications and other council media. It also outlines the council’s willingness to explore the possible use of council buildings as venues.

The Live in Barnsley website is now open for applications from bands and acts looking to play at next year’s event on June 21 2014.

 

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is a very welcome and positive response to my letter from BMBC. There is no doubt that Live in Barnsley was a great success, it brought an estimated 3000 visitors to the town, venues saw record profits and it was a great advert for local talent too.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for BMBC to help support the festival and develop a productive partnership that will allow the event to go from strength to strength, with each year better than the last.

“I had a great experience playing at last year’s event and would encourage any local bands thinking about applying to play next year’s event to do so now.”

 

Michael launches his annual Christmas card competition

07 October 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Micheal has launched his annual Christmas Card design competition.  Michael has written to all Primary, Junior, Infant and special schools in Barnsley East this week inviting their students to enter.  The best design will be used as Michael's official 2013 Christmas card, which will be sent to hundreds of politicians, local businesses, civic leaders and voluntary groups. 

The best judged card from each school will win a prize and be named “school winner”.  These school winners will then form a shortlist from which an overall winner will be selected and the designer of the overall winning card will receive a special prize.

The competition will be judged by Michael, the Mayor of Barnsley and the sponsors of the card. 

This is the fourth year Michael has run the competition and each year has been more popular, last year the standard of designs and drawings was incredibly high.

Commenting on the launch, Michael said:

“I was really pleased with the amount of interest the competition garnered last year and I hope that even more schools and students get involved this time.

“The competition is a great opportunity to showcase the creative talent of children in Barnsley and I’m really looking forward to seeing all the new designs this year.”

 

Michael visits Elsecar Heritage Railway

04 October 2013

RailMichael today visited Elsecar Heritage Railway and met with the Chairman, William Tilling and other members of the heritage railway, including Harry Stenton and David Pannett.  Michael also met John Tanner and Richard King from BMBC to discuss possible ways to further promote the railway as an important tourist site in the area.

Based at the Elsecar Heritage Centre, Elsecar Heritage Railway is run by a group of volunteers who are dedicated to preserving, restoring and developing Elsecar Heritage Railway - the only preserved standard gauge steam railway in South Yorkshire.

Commenting, Michael said:

Elsecar rail"It was great to visit the railway today. As someone whose family is steeped in both the railways and coal mining in South Yorkshire, it was fantastic to visit Elsecar Heritage.  

"This is an absolutely vital part of us recognising our proud industrial heritage. We have the potential to further develop Elsecar Heritage Railway and turn it into one of the best tourist destinations in the country.  

"The volunteers I met have both my admiration and my full support." 

If you would like to find out further details or if you wish to volunteer you can do so by contacting the group on enquiries@elsecarrailway.co.uk or 746746.

 

A letter from a happy constituent

04 October 201

The Barnsley Chronicle have printed a nice letter from a local resident who was helped by Michael recently. You can read the letter below:

 

Michael backs Labour pledge to scrap David Cameron’s cruel Bedroom Tax

04 October 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley, the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has backed Labour’s pledge to scrap the hated bedroom tax.

Figures obtained recently by False Economy through Freedom of Information requests have shown that 43 per cent of tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax in Barnsley have already been pushed into arrears.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Many of us in Barnsley have been campaigning against the Bedroom Tax. With 43 per cent of the people in Barnsley affected by this unfair tax pushed into arrears, it is clear that repealing it is absolutely the right thing to do.

“This cruel policy tells you all you need to know about how out of touch David Cameron is. He hits the most vulnerable in our community whilst handing out tax cuts to the nation’s millionaires.

“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.”

 

Michael writes to David Cameron on Lynton Crosby's tax arrangements

03 October 2013

Michael has written to David Cameron following reports in today’s Daily Mirror that his election strategist Lynton Crosby is a co-owner of a Malta-based firm, Rutland Limited.  

He has asked David Cameron to clarify what steps he has taken to establish that Lynton Crosby's use of a Maltese company does not reduce his tax liability in the UK.

See the full text of the letter below:

Dear Prime Minister,

This morning the Daily Mirror reported that your election strategist, the tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby, is a co-owner of a Malta-based firm, Rutland Limited, which provides “consultancy and technical services”. The company is reportedly run from the offices of a trust firm specialising in “wealth preservation”.

Last year you said that some aggressive tax avoidance schemes “are quite frankly morally wrong” (PA, 20 June 2012), and that “there are some aggressive tax avoidance schemes that should be roundly condemned” (Hansard, 25 June 2012, column 47).

In January this year you said that “Any businesses who think that they can carry on dodging that fair share or that they can keep on selling to the UK and setting up ever-more complex tax arrangements abroad to squeeze their tax bill right down. Well, they need to wake up and smell the coffee because the public who buy from them have had enough” (Speech to Davos World Economic Forum, 24 January 2013).

In June this year you said that “people rightly get angry when they work hard, they pay their taxes and then see others not paying their fair share” and that “anyone who comes to the UK should pay their taxes” (10 Downing Street press briefing, 13 June 2013).

In July this year you said that “taxpayers, governments and businesses all suffer when some companies manipulate the tax system to avoid paying their fair share of taxes” (10 Downing Street press release, 19 July 2013)

Given your previous words on this matter, I am sure that you will be doing everything you can to ensure that Mr Crosby is not using his Malta-based company to avoid paying taxes – as this would be inconsistent with his role as your adviser. I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions:

· What steps have you taken to establish that Lynton Crosby's use of a Maltese company does not reduce his tax liability in the UK?
· Are you comfortable that your senior adviser owns a Malta-based company whose activities are unknown while being paid for services by the Conservative Party?
· Do you believe that Lynton Crosby’s tax arrangements are morally wrong?
· Does your belief that “anyone who comes to the UK should pay their taxes” apply to Lynton Crosby?
· Do you believe that Lynton Crosby’s company is an example of someone “selling to the UK and setting up ever-more complex tax arrangements abroad to squeeze their tax bill right down”?

For months now you have refused to answer a series of Parliamentary Questions and have consistently blocked Freedom of Information requests about the role and activities the cigarette lobbyist and your chief strategist, Lynton Crosby, has played in Downing Street. The more you refuse to answer basic questions regarding Lynton Crosby, including in relation to these important revelations about his business affairs, the more you will leave an impression that you are engaged in a systematic cover up about Lynton Crosby.

Yours sincerely,

 

Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Minister without Portfolio and Vice Chair of the Labour Party 

 

Huffington Post: “Out of touch Cameron has nothing to say about the cost of living crisis he’s created”

02 October 2013

Michael has written a blog for the Huffington Post today in response to David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative party conference.  In the blog, Michael argues that for most people it must seem like Cameron is “not so much trying to 'finish the job', but finish them off”.

Click here to read the full blog post: “Out of touch Cameron has nothing to say about the cost of living crisis he’s created”

 

"David Cameron just doesn't get it”

02 October 2013

As the Vice Chair of the Labour party, Michael responded to David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative party conference today.

As quoted on the Reuters website, the Channel 4 news website, the ITV News website and the Daily Mirror, Michael said:

"David Cameron just doesn't get it.  There’s a cost of living crisis facing Britain’s hard working families, and he’s got nothing to say about it. 

"David Cameron’s pledge to ‘finish the job’ shows how out of touch he really is.  Under Cameron, prices have risen faster than wages in 38 out of 39 months and average pay is down by almost £1,500 a year since the General Election. Rather than standing up for hardworking people he has shown he always puts a privileged few first, prioritising a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 a year while everyone else pays more. He promised change but we have seen things getting harder, not easier, for millions.

"Last week Ed Miliband set out Labour’s plan to deal with the cost of living crisis by freezing energy bills, transforming childcare and backing small businesses with cuts to business rates. This week David Cameron showed he doesn’t even know where to start.

“David Cameron only offers a land of opportunity for just a privileged few, not for the many.”

 

David Cameron admits he has no idea how much a loaf of bread costs as he bakes his own with artisan flour

01 October 2013

In a radio interview today, David Cameron admitted he did not know the price of a supermarket loaf of bread.  The Prime Minister said that he didn’t know the price of a “value loaf” as he’s got a bread maker at home. 

Michael, quoted in the Daily Mirror, The Guardian, the Daily Mail and The Evening Standard, said:  

“David Cameron is so out of touch he’s almost a parody of himself. Ordinary families are worse off thanks to the cost of living crisis under his government with prices rising faster than wages in 38 of the 39 months he has been in Downing Street.

“It comes as no surprise that he doesn’t buy a value loaf of bread. The only surprise is when he said ‘I have a bread maker’, most people will have assumed he had his own personal baker rather than a machine.”

 

Labour Uncut: "For hard working people? Come off it Cameron. Here’s the “Top 40″of Tory failures

30 September 2013

As the Tories meet this week for their annual conference in Manchester, Michael has written a blog for LabourUncut giving his latest assessment of what Cameron’s Government has really achieved since 2010. 

Click here to read the article: For hard working people? Come off it Cameron. Here’s the “Top 40″ of Tory failures

 

Sunday Mirror: "David Cameron: £4.5m handout for Russian businessman who donated £90,000 for Prime Minister sculpture"

29 September 2013

The Sunday Mirror has reported that a Russian businessman donated £90,000 for a ­sculpture of David Cameron just months after his energy firm received £4.5million from taxpayers.

Alexander Temerko, who is wanted on fraud charges in Russia, bought the auction prize at the Tories’ summer fundraiser in June. 

Michael, quoted in the article, said: “We know David Cameron only stands up for a privileged few while ordinary people are on average nearly £1,500 a year worse off under his Government.  For the PM to invite the mega-rich to splash out on a bust of himself shows just how vain and out of touch he is.”

To read more, click here to read the full Sunday Mirror article. 

 

Country's need for foodbanks is "shameful"

27 September 2013

Last Friday I went to see the new foodbank opened at Cudworth Library.  It was a day of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I had huge admiration for the volunteers behind the foodbank - people like Reverend David Nicholson. These are the heroes of our community - the glue that holds us together. But I also felt a deep sense of shame that in the seventh richest economy on the planet, it was necessary to organise food parcels just to help people feed their families. 

Since 2010, there has been an exponential increase in the number of people visiting foodbanks.  Last year the Trussell Trust, the UK's largest foodbank network, saw almost 350,000 people across Britain turn up for help.  This is a shocking 747 per cent increase since the last full year of the previous Labour Government.

The out of touch minister Michael Gove recently, and disgracefully, claimed that the reason people find themselves having to rely on foodbanks is “as a result of some decisions that have been taken by those families”.  These ministers simply don’t get it.  They are either oblivious to the damage their policies are causing, or they just don’t care. 

Under this Government, families in Yorkshire are on average more than £1,700 a year worse off.  And whilst people earning over £150,000 have been given a tax cut, things like energy bills for ordinary folk have increased by £300 a year.  

Life is getting harder for most people and Ed Miliband was absolutely right to talk about the cost of living crisis this week and to outline the practical measures to help people - from freezing energy prices to abolishing the hated bedroom tax. 

The last Labour government didn't get everything right. That’s why Ed Miliband has been changing Labour's policies on things like immigration and welfare. But Labour's legacy in Barnsley included things like new schools, hospitals and sure start centres.  David Cameron’s legacy in Barnsley is the sight of people having to queue up in Cudworth with their small children for tins of beans and powdered milk.  I am angry about that - and you should be too. 

The above article appeared on page 12 of the Barnsley Chronicle (Cudworth edition) on September 27 2013

 

Michael visits Friends of Wombwell Cemetery in support of lottery funding bidChron

27 September 2013

As reporteed in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has visited the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery to see the great work the group do and to pass on his support for their Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) Initiative bid.

The Friends of Wombwell Cemetery are well-known in the community for their efforts to "create a cleaner, greener, safer cemetery", which contains the graves of 129 servicemen who lost their lives in the First World War and a memorial to the Barnsley Pals.

If the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery funding bid is successful they intend to commission and fit a stained glass window in the cemetery chapel, which they are in the process of restoring, to commemorate the First World War indefinitely.

PalsCommenting, Mr Dugher said:

“The Friends of Wombwell Cemetery are doing such a fantastic job in making the cemetery a safe and fitting place to go. Their work in restoring the chapel is second to none and they are a credit to the community.

“The chapel is open to the public and the proposed window will not only add a focal point, but would also commemorate the First World War indefinitely. This is a fantastic idea and a great tribute. Their bid for funding has my full support.”

 

Labour to repeal hated bedroom tax as figures reveal the shocking number of those affected in Barnsley

27 September 2013

As reported in The South Yorkshire Times, Barnsley News and Sport and The Doncaster Free Press, Michael has backed Labour’s pledge to scrap the hated bedroom tax if elected as recent figures show the shocking number of those affected in Barnsley. Michael has supported the pledge that will give hope to the many disabled and vulnerable people in Barnsley who have been unfairly hit by David Cameron’s cruel tax.

Figures obtained by False Economy through FOIs have shown that Barnsley is the 17th worst local authority affected by David Cameron’s cruel tax since its introduction in April 2013. Out of 2,600 tenants affected 1,120 have been pushed into arrears – 43% of all those affected.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“Many of us in Barnsley have been campaigning against the bedroom tax, so this is great news. With 43% of the people in Barnsley affected by this unfair tax pushed into arrears, it is clear that repealing it is absolutely the right thing to do.

“This cruel policy tells you all you need to know about how out of touch David Cameron is, he hits the most vulnerable in our community whilst handing out tax cuts to the nation’s millionaires.

“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.”

 

Michael brands the Prime Minister "a disgrace" as he visits the first foodbank in Barnsley East

20 September 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, BBC, We Are Barnsley and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has branded the need for the first foodbank in Barnsley East as‘shameful’.

The foodbank opened today in Cudworth Library for the first time between 3pm and 5pm, which Michael was able to attend. It will be the first foodbank to open in Michael’s constituency and follows the Gateway Church foodbank that is in such demand in Barnsley town centre.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I have huge admiration for the amazing volunteers who have worked so hard to set up the foodbank in Cudworth, especially for Reverend David Nicholson and local councillors – their compassion and community-spirit is truly inspirational.

“But it is absolutely shameful that in the seventh richest country in the world we have to open foodbanks in Barnsley East to help people feed their families.

“Previous governments left new schools, hospitals, sure start centres, a minimum wage and new jobs.  Yet after three years in office, David Cameron’s legacy in Barnsley is the sight of people in my constituency having to queue up with their small children for tins of beans and powdered milk. The man is a total disgrace.”

Michael was interviewed on the issue earlier in the week for BBC Sheffield. You can listen to the interview by clicking here and scrolling to 23:40.

 

Yorkshire Post Article: "Miliband’s Labour will stand for the many – not just the few"

20 September 2013

Michael has written a piece for the Yorkshire Post today about the need to support Ed Miliband's One Nation Labour Party reforms.

You can read the full article here.

 

Yorkshire Post Article: "Miliband’s Labour will stand for the many – not just the few"

20 September 2013

Michael has written a piece for the Yorkshire Post today about the need to support Ed Miliband's One Nation Labour Party reforms.

You can read the full article here.

 

Barnsley households in fuel poverty as energy companies enjoy profit uplift of £3.3 billion

20 September 2013

As reported by the South Yorkshire Times, Doncaster Free Press, Barnsley News and Sport and uSwitch.com, Michael has urged the Government to introduce stricter regulations and completely overhaul the energy market in an attempt to control rocketing energy prices affecting thousands of families in Barnsley.

Recent figures have shown that the average family’s energy bill has increased by more than £300 a year since the election, whilst 4,048 households in Barnsley East are in fuel poverty. During this time Britain’s big six energy companies have enjoyed a £3.3 billion uplift in profits.

Commenting, Michael said:

“People in Barnsley have been left with a £3.3 billion price tag for David Cameron’s failure to act on rip-off energy bills.  While energy companies enjoy massive increases in profits, 4,048 households in Barnsley East live in fuel poverty and are struggling with soaring energy bills.

“It’s time the Government stood up to the big energy companies, stopped them ripping off thousands of families and pensioners whose living standards are already being squeezed in Barnsley and started implementing policies that would help hard-working people struggling to pay their bills. More needs to be done.”

 

BBC Sheffield interview: Michael speaks out on foodbanks

19 September 2013

Michael was interviewed this morning by BBC Sheffield's Toby Foster, in which Michael speaks out about the alarming rise of foodbanks.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here and scrolling to 23:40.

 

Labour Uncut article: "16 government policies the Lib Dems didn’t stop"

19 September 2013

Michael has written a piece for Labour Uncut today following Nick Clegg's list of 'heartless' Tory policies he claims to have stopped.

Click here to read the blog.

 

Daily Telegraph: Conservative party membership has halved since David Cameron and 'clique' came to power

18 September 2013

The Daily Mirror, Sky News, Politics.co.uk and The Daily Telegraph have reported Michael's comments on the news that Tory membership under David Cameron has halved.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The halving of Conservative party membership under David Cameron is a damning indictment of Cameron’s out-of-touch and weak leadership.

"Cameron promised change but it's the same old Tory party - standing up for just a privileged few, not for those working people on low and middle incomes. Working people are an average of almost £1,500 a year worse off thanks to the cost of living crisis.

“Labour has increased our membership under Ed Miliband’s leadership. And now Ed Miliband is absolutely determined to keep changing Labour, to open up politics more to the public, and to ensure that Labour is a genuinely One Nation Party that is rooted in every community.

“The Tories are deserting Cameron in their droves. Under Cameron, the Tories are becoming an endangered species. They are getting fewer and fewer in number by the day - no wonder they stand up for the few and not the many.”

 

Daily Mirrror: Vince Cable spends £7.5 million on loos and other refurbishments at Whitehall department

18 September 2013

The Daily Mirror have reported on figures obtained by Michael that show Vince Cable's department has spent £7.5 million on loos and other refurbishments.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is astonishing that whilst businesses and families are struggling to get by, Vince Cable has decided to splash out over £7.5million on lavish upgrades. This is a slap in the face to millions of working people.”

 

Michael hits out at behaviour which "demeans the Prime Minsister's Office"

17 September 2013

Michael has spoken to Labour List today discussing the news that the senior Tory who referred to Ed Miliband as a f**king c**t and a copper-bottomed s**t was William Hague's PPS Keith Simpson.

You can see the full article and Michael's reaction here.

 

Daily Mail: Taxpayer pays for £100,000 showers for sweaty ministers and staff to freshen up after cycling to work

13 September 2013

The Daily Mail have reported on figures obtained by Michael that show that one department have blown nearly a third of a million pounds on tarting up their facilities.

Commenting, Michael siad:

"On average people are £1,500 worse off since David Cameron came to power and yet ministers in one department have blown nearly a third of a million pounds on tarting up their facilities. Over £100,000 on new showers for ministers seems shockingly steep, what were they, gold-plated taps? Perhaps I can recommend a plumber from Barnsley who could do the job cheaper than that next time. Spending almost £70,000 on kitchens seems equally extravagant. How many kettles do ministers need?"

 

Blog Post: Only this Government could come up with a Lobbying Bill which lets Cameron's favourite fags man Lynton Crosby off the hook, but at the same time gags cancer charities

13 September 2013

Michael has written a blog post today about the Government's Lobbying Bill, one of the worst bits of legislation to come to the House of Commons in some time - and that’s saying something.

Click here to read the blog.

 

Unemployment figures still worryingly high

13 September 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has welcomed a fall in unemployment in Barnsley, but remains concerned by figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Figures released by the ONS show that overall, unemployment in Barnsley has fallen. But concern remains over long-term unemployment, which is at the same level as it was at the start of this year.

In January 955 people in Barnsley East had been unemployed for 12 months or more, since then this figure has fluctuated and is now back to where it was at the start of this year. Since August 2011 long term unemployment in Barnsley East has almost doubled. At a local authority level the statistics show that long-term youth unemployment since August 2011 has risen 188 per cent.

This comes as, after inflation, average earnings in Yorkshire are £1,721 a year lower than they were at the time of the last General Election - a real terms fall of 8.1 per cent. The average decrease across the UK is £1,350, meaning that, in real terms, workers in the UK are on average earning today the same as they made in 2001. But people in Yorkshire are even worse off, earning £371 less than the average loss.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said,

“Living standards in Barnsley are being hit hard. In real terms, after inflation, people are earning on average £1,721 a year less than at the time of the election. Long-term unemployment in Barnsley East has almost doubled in two years and in the same time long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley has increased by 188 per cent. These figures are both still worryingly high and cause for concern.

“I’m also concerned that there is simply not enough work to go round and the proof is a record high in the number of part-time workers looking for full-time jobs. Under-employment and falling living standards are of real concern for many across Barnsley and the country.

“We need a recovery that benefits everyone, not just a few at the top. That is why Labour wants to help to make work pay by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, paid for by a mansion tax, and to repeat the tax on bank bonuses to pay for a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people.”

 

Michael raises concerns over planned fire service cuts

13 September 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and Doncaster Free Press, Michael has raised concern over the potential impact of planned fire service cuts in South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are facing cuts in cash terms of £10.4 million by 2015/16 with further cuts up to £12.2 million by 2016/17. This is the equivalent of 20 per cent of their total budget.

Michael has raised concerns about the level of service that will continue to be provided to people in Barnsley and South Yorkshire.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“The South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are facing a 20 per cent cut in their total budget by 2017, any organisation facing budget cuts of this scale would struggle to provide the same level of service they previously did.

“It’s very concerning; cuts of this size are going to affect the frontline service provided. This is a time central service and these cuts are likely to have an impact on the speed of appliances.

“It is important that everything possible is done minimise the impact on the public.”

 

Michael signs petition calling for minister to stop the privatisation of Royal Mail

13 September 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has signed a petition asking the Minister, Michael Fallon MP, to stop the sell-off of Royal Mail and save the daily delivery.

Having passed the Postal Services Act 2011 to facilitate the full privatisation of the Royal Mail, the Government has announced that it intends to privatise the Royal Mail by way of a share sale (IPO) this financial year, with just 10% of shares going to Royal Mail employees. 

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“For many in Barnsley the local post office acts as a focal point for communities and there are thousands of pensioners in Barnsley who are reassured by seeing their regular postie every morning.

“We all rely on the Royal Mail – from receiving that parcel we’ve ordered online to knowing that birthday card we’ve sent is going to arrive in time. David Cameron’s plans for privatising Royal Mail reveal once again how he stands up for the wrong people. His Government wants to sell off Royal Mail on the cheap.

“Last year the Royal Mail made a profit of £400m; there is no need to sell off the Royal Mail and risk losing the daily delivery, which is so important to so many in Barnsley."

To find out more about the petition and to sign it, click here

 

Minister's response confirms likely hammer blow to ex-miners

06 September 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has received a response from the Minister of State for Energy, Michael Fallon MP, confirming that as a result of UK Coal entering administration, former UK Coal employees with historic concessionary fuel entitlements ‘are unlikely to have these met’.

Michael Dugher MP wrote to Michael Fallon MP to seek clarification after being contacted by a number of constituents concerned over the implications UK Coal entering administration could have for them.

With relation to concessionary fuel, the Minister’s response is clear that those with historic entitlements are unlikely to be met. Although not confirmed, the Minister states that he ‘understands’ that the company contracted to supply concessionary, CLP, has made an offer to supply fuel at preferential rates.

The Minister also believes it likely that as part of the liquidation process, those losing their entitlement will have a claim in the liquidation process – something that administrators and union representatives have discussed.

The Government also see no compelling justification to take steps to ensure that the Pension Protection Fund, who has taken over responsibility for honouring the pension promises made by UK Coal, will not support people forced into early retirement due to ill health from work.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is a hammer blow to ex-miners and ex-miners’ widows. Concessionary fuel is relied upon by so many and will be of great financial concern for those set to lose out.

“A number of my constituents have been in contact with me to express their concern over how UK Coal entering administration will affect them. This response will at least help to clear up any confusion surrounding these matters.

“I think that for the majority of those set to lose their entitlements, the offer of a ‘preferential’ rate will be of little consolation.”

 

Michael backs Elsecar Park in the People's Choice Award

06 September 2013

Michael has backed Elsecar Park in the People’s Choice Award, managed by Keep Britain Tidy.

The People’s Choice Award offers people the opportunity to vote for which of the 1,448 Green Flag sites should be named the people’s park of the year. Michael has cast his vote for Elsecar Park and has encouraged others in Barnsley to do so too.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said,

“Elsecar Park is such a great place to go for a walk or to take the kids. It has top facilities, great events and access to the wildlife hotbed, Elsecar Reservoir.

“So many people work hard to keep the park maintained and in such great shape for everyone to enjoy and this award would be a great way to recognise these efforts. This is why I have voted for Elsecar Park in the People’s Choice Award and encourage others who can, to do so too.”

You can vote for the park by clicking, here.

 

Michael Presents Award to Elachi Restaurant in Hoyland

06 September 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has presented the Elachi restaurant in Hoyland with a certificate of high commendation and an embroidered chef’s jacket for their participation in this year’s Tiffin Cup.

The Tiffin Cup is a national competition run by a cross-party group of MPs called the Tiffin Club to promote the finest South Asian food.  The Elachi, nominated by Michael to represent Barnsley East, has been highly commended.

All proceeds from the competition will be donated to World vision which raises money to transform the lives of the poorest people in the developing world.  

Commenting, Michael said:

“I am delighted that the Elachi has been highly commended in the Tiffin Cup and I’m pleased to be able to present the staff with this certificate and chef’s jacket to mark all their hard work.

“It is a shame the restaurant did not manage to reach the final but the fact that it was highly commended goes to show just how great the food is here.”

 

Blog Post: It's time Cameron acted to stop energy firms from ripping everybody off

06 September 2013

Michael has written a blog post today arguing that it is time for Cameron to stand up to the big energy companies and stop them from ripping off families and pensioners.

Click here to read the blog.

 

Cabinet Office Questions – 04 September 2013

04 September 2013

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

In a recent speech at an event called “Transforming Technology Procurement through SMEs”, the Minister for the Cabinet Office said with typical understatement that the Government were “entering a new world for government technology procurement” and launching “radical reforms to increase opportunities for SME suppliers”.

Why, then, according to freedom of information requests submitted by ComputerWeekly, has only 0.52 per cent of all the IT procurement spend for the Government’s beleaguered universal credit programme gone to SMEs?

Click here to watch the exchange on Parliament TV (scroll to 11:45:56).

 

The Jewish Chronicle: Israel’s unexpected friends in Parliament

04 September 2013

Michael was interviewed recently by the Jewish Chronicle about MPs in Parliament and their support for Israel.

Click here to read the article in this week’s Jewish Chronicle.

 

Michael votes against the Government’s Lobbying Bill

03 September 2013

Michael voted against the Government’s Lobbying Bill in Parliament this evening after voting for Labour’s reasoned amendment.

Commenting after the vote, Michael said:

“I voted against the Government’s Lobbying Bill this evening as it is a bad Bill which would make lobbying less transparent and would only capture a tiny minority of the lobbying industry.

“The Bill outlines a ‘lobbyist’s charter’ which would do nothing to prevent the very scandals the Prime Minister has warned against.

“Another major concern I have with the Bill is that it would gag charities and campaigners in the run-up to an election while failing to address the issue of ‘big money’ in politics.  The Bill would have a chilling effect on the quality of our national debate and appears to be a cynical attempt by the Government to insulate their record and their policies from legitimate, democratic criticism.

“There has been no consultation on the Bill and it has come under sustained criticism from political and constitutional experts and the voluntary sector.  The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee has been forced to hold emergency evidence sessions and the Chair, Graham Allen, has even called the Bill a ‘dog’s breakfast’.

“Only David Cameron could present a lobbying Bill that wouldn’t stop lobbyist Lynton Crosby from advising the Prime Minister on tobacco policy, but could stop a charity like Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's and Dementia Support [link] in my consistency from campaigning on health issues. 

“David Cameron promised to fix our broken politics, but this Bill makes things worse, not better.  Rather than designing a Bill to make cheap partisan attacks on civil society and on trade unions, the Government should go back to the drawing board and come forward with proposals for genuine reform.”

 

Blog: Cameron lost the vote last Thursday because of a failure of his leadership

02 September 2013

I have written a blog for the Huffington Post about how David Cameron's gung-ho, cavalier and reckless leadership last week over Syria is not the kind this country needs. You can read the full blog by clicking, here.

 

Michael Presents Award to Elachi Restaurant in Hoyland

30 August 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has presented the Elachi restaurant in Hoyland with a certificate of high commendation and an embroidered chef’s jacket for their participation in this year’s Tiffin Cup.

The Tiffin Cup is a national competition run by a cross-party group of MPs called the Tiffin Club to promote the finest South Asian food.  The Elachi, nominated by Michael to represent Barnsley East, has been highly commended.

All proceeds from the competition will be donated to World vision which raises money to transform the lives of the poorest people in the developing world.  

Commenting, Michael said:

“I am delighted that the Elachi has been highly commended in the Tiffin Cup and I’m pleased to be able to present the staff with this certificate and chef’s jacket to mark all their hard work.

“ It is a shame the restaurant did not manage to reach the final but the fact that it was highly commended goes to show just how great the food is here.”

 

 

Michael writes to Sir Jeremy Heywood over 'infantile and irresponsible' remarks

30 August 2013

As reported in the Guardian, New Statesman, ITV and The Mirror, Michael has written to Sir Jeremy Heywood asking for Craig Oliver to apologise and withdraw his accusation of Ed Miliband as giving "succour to Assad".

You can read the letter in full, here.

 

Michael supports Labour and cross-party ammendment in vote on Syria

29 August 2013

Following the recall of Parliament today, Michael has voted in the House on the Syrian crisis.

Commenting , Micheal said:

"Any decision to take military action is the gravest one any Member of Parliament can make. That's why Ed Miliband was right to say we need the time and space for the United Nations to properly consider the evidence prior to any decision. And that any decision should not be based on a rushed political timetable, driven by people elsewhere.

"The fact is Downing Street were telling journalists this morning that the Government motion before the House of Commons tonight represented an in principle commitment now to military action. That is why I could not support it and why I voted against the Government motion.

"We must take a calm, considered and cool-headed approach. That's why I voted for a Labour and cross-party amendment instead (see below)"

Labour and cross-party ammendment:

That this House: expresses its revulsion at the killing of hundreds of civilians in Ghutah, Syria on 21 August 2013; believes that this was a moral outrage; recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons; makes clear that the use of chemical weapons is a grave breach of international law; agrees with the UN Secretary General that the UN weapons inspectors must be able to report to the UN Security Council and that the Security Council must live up to its responsibilities to protect civilians; supports steps to provide humanitarian protection to the people of Syria but will only support military action involving UK forces if and when the following conditions have been met that:

  1. the UN weapons inspectors, upon the conclusion of their mission in the Eastern Ghutah, are given the necessary opportunity to make a report to the Security Council on the evidence and their findings, and confirmation by them that chemical weapons have been used in Syria;
  2. compelling evidence is produced that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of these weapons;
  3. the UN Security Council has considered and voted on this matter in the light of the reports of the weapons inspectors and the evidence submitted;   
  4. there is a clear legal basis in international law for taking collective military action to protect the Syrian people on humanitarian grounds;
  5. that such action must have regard to the potential consequences in the region, and must therefore be legal, proportionate, time-limited and have precise and achievable objectives designed to deter the future use of prohibited chemical weapons in Syria; and
  6. that the Prime Minister reports further to the House on the achievement of these conditions so that the House can vote on UK participation in such action;
  7. and considers that any such vote should relate solely to efforts to deter the use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any wider action in Syria.

 

 

Blog post: As David Cameron wears out another pair of flip flops, Labour has been 100 per cent focused on the big issues

23 August 2013

When he’s under pressure at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron famously often goes red.  We know he has a short fuse and we know that Dave doesn’t do detail – that’s why we often see what is known in the House of Commons as “the crimson tide”.  But after four summer holidays already this year, it’s to be hoped the Prime Minister has been caking on the Ambre Solaire Factor 50, otherwise at the fist PMQs in September, he’s going to be redder than a beetroot.

Whilst the PM has been writing his postcards and wearing out another pair of flip flops, far from being silent, Labour has been 100 per cent focused on the big issues facing Britain.  For the avoidance of all doubt, here are Labour’s top 20 interventions since the start of the parliamentary recess:

1.        Caroline Flint revealed  on David Cameron’s watch gas and electricity companies have made profits of £3.3 billion, while your bill has gone up by over £300 a year.

2.        Chris Leslie exposed the full scale of the cost of living crisis: By the time of the next election, working people will have lost a total of £6,660 under this Tory-led Government. That’s enough to buy a small car.

3.       Chris Leslie also reacted as it was revealed that bonuses soared in April as firms delayed their pay-outs to take advantage of David Cameron’s tax cut for millionaires. While Yvette Cooper spoke out over the fact that the gender pay gap is widened as men receive bonuses double the size than women.

4.        Liam Byrne gave a major speech on Labour’s plans to reform social security, bringing back the fiscal discipline and moral credibility lost in Iain Duncan Smith’s chaotic welfare shambles that will end up costing the taxpayer £1.4bn by 2015.

5.        Jack Dromey published evidence of the great rental rip-off, where tenants find themselves paying £902 in fees to lettings agents before they even think about stumping up for a deposit.

6.        Maria Eagle campaigned with commuters as they found out their season tickets going up by up to 9 per cent next year – a rise that could have been inflation only if the Government hadn’t handed a £78 million discount to train companies because of botched contracts.

7.        Chuka Umunna held an important summit with employers and employees to discuss the spread of zero hour contracts and what steps can be taken to tackle their abuse.

8.       Ed Balls launched a commission on inclusive prosperity in the US with the former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to investigate what reforms our countries need to generate more high-wage jobs for the future.

9.        Ed Balls also reacted as growth figures showed George Osborne and David Cameron had condemned Britain to the slowest recovery for over 100 years, while family living standards are squeezed.

10.    Stephen Twigg revealed a £100 million black hole at the heart of the Department for Education as Michael Gove lavished taxpayers’ money on consultants and spin doctors while the country suffers a crisis in primary school places.

11.   Stephen Twigg has also exposed that there has been a big increase in the number of young people taking two or more exams in the same subject. This is bad for standards, school budgets and learning.

12.    Chris Bryant rejected the Government’s cheap and nasty gimmicks on immigration, designed to hide their failures, and put forward serious proposals to tackle illegal entry, end exploitation and encourage integration.

13.    Douglas Alexander spoke out over the appalling scenes in Egypt and Syria, and kept up the pressure on Gibraltar.

14.    Yvette Cooper and Stella Creasy led Labour’s response as online bullying and abuse on the internet hit the headlines.

15.    Stephen Timms showed that the hated bedroom tax had failed, as ministers were forced to admit that there weren’t enough smaller properties for people to move into.

16.   Stephen Timms exposed the fact that 330,000 more people are underemployed in the UK than in 2010. Meaning more than 1 in 10 workers want to work more hours but can’t, highlighting just how out of touch David Cameron’s Government is with the living standards crisis facing Britain’s hard working families.

17.   Jon Trickett and Angela Eagle have exposed the Government’s failure to act on lobbying and have further demonstrated Cameron’s links with the tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby.

18.   Mary Creagh has been campaigning to ensure shoppers can compare the cost of food to get the best deal.

19.   Luciana Berger, David Hanson, Gloria De Piero and Diana Johnson have been raising important areas where the Government is failing to act on crime and anti-social behaviour, from dangerous dogs to gun licensing.

20.   Andy Burnham, Andrew Gwynne and Labour’s health team continued to expose David Cameron’s crisis in the NHS as waiting lists for operations rose to their longest in five years. They also spoke outover figures showing that David Cameron is taking the NHS backwards with over 5,000 nurses having gone since he became PM.

The Tories, by contrast, have spent the past few weeks talking about…well…to large extent the Labour Party. Apart from Eric Pickles’ big and bold non-announcement on double yellow lines – the most significant road-centred policy intervention since John Major’s landmark “cones hotline” - the Conservatives have had little to say about the big issues facing the country and they have no new ideas of their own.

So when people try to tell you Labour has been silent this summer, don’t believe a word of it. And although the media have largely given the Tories a free pass this month, the Conservative party still have some fundamental problems as my colleague Jon Ashworth brilliantly highlighted on Labour List. Tory MPs went away this summer feeling good about themselves – they have the EU referendum that obsesses them, if not the public, and David Cameron threw them a BBQ at No 10. But one cabinet minister put this best when they told one newspaper, off-the-record, recently that the mood of the Tory MPs was one of “irrational exuberance”.

David Cameron’s bad back may have stopped him going deer-stalking this summer, but the truth is it is Ed Miliband who has been doing the heavy-lifting, building a platform from which to defeat the Conservatives in the living standards election of 2015.

We have made good progress for a party that suffered its second worse defeat only three years ago, yet we know there is much more to do to keep changing Labour and to keep taking the fight to the Tories and the Lib Dems in government.  But Ed has a clear plan: a relentless focus on the big issues facing Britain and the changes we need to see – and we’re sticking to that plan.

 

 

Michael concerned by Government loophole allowing violent partners to apply for guns

23 August 2013

As reported in the Barsnley Chronicle today, the South Yorkshire Times and The Star, Michael has criticised a Government loophole allowing violent partners to apply for guns.

A recent government vote will mean people with a history of domestic violence can keep applying for firearms licences, and Michael will now back tough new action in September when Parliament returns.

The Government rejected a Labour amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which would have allowed police to refuse gun licences for people with a history of domestic violence.  The amendment would also mean people with a history of violent conduct, drug and alcohol abuse were also unable to receive a gun licence.  However, the issue will return to Parliament in September and Michael Dugher intends to vote for this proposal to help stop violence against women.

In England and Wales 1 in 3 women killed by their partner is shot with a legally-owned weapon - 64% of these murders involve shotguns.  In the last 12 months 75% of the female gun deaths occurred in domestic incidents.  In 2009 the figure was 100%.

Commenting, Michael said:

"When two women a week are killed by a husband, partner or ex and in some areas, one in five 999 calls to the police each week are for domestic violence, it is simply shocking that the Government has so far refused to support the idea that in general people with a history of domestic violence should be refused a firearms licence.

“Gun licences should only be awarded to people that the police have the very highest confidence in, and a history of domestic violence should be a clear marker that someone is unsuitable for gun ownership.  Members of the public will be shocked that the government is refusing to do more to stop violence against women, and is happy to let violent and abusive individuals have access to dangerous weapons.  The Home Secretary urgently needs to address this with her colleagues.

“Campaigners and families of victims that have been killed by guns have been clear that a change in the law is needed and Labour tried to work with the government to tighten the law to stop senseless attacks and violence in the future.  It is extremely disappointing that the government voted against these measures, but we will be doing more to push for a much needed change."

 

 

Rising long-term unemployment highlights ministers' failure to act

23 August 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and on the Barnsley News and Sport, Micheal has criticised ministers’ failure to take action and get people back to work, as new unemployment figures show that long-term unemployment in Barnsley East and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority has risen.

The figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that since the start of the year long-term unemployment has increased. In January 955 people in Barnsley East had been unemployed for 12 months or more, it is now 980. What is more concerning is that since July 2011 long term unemployment in Barnsley East has increased by a shocking 113 per cent.

On a local authority level the figures also show that long-term youth unemployment has risen again, reversing the promising figures last month that showed it had fallen. Since July 2011 long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority has increased by a massive 237 per cent.

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.

Labour would address long-term youth unemployment with a real jobs guarantee for those under 25 that have been unemployed for more than 12 months. The reintroduction of a tax on bank bonuses would be used to pay the wages of young unemployed people taken on by businesses who would be expected to meet the costs of their training.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This government continues to fail the people of Barnsley. Long term unemployment in Barnsley East and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley have both risen this month. Failure to address this problem risks creating another lost generation.

“Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley has risen by a shocking 237% in the past two years and the number of people unemployed for over 12 months in Barnsley East has increased by 113 per cent. Minister’s failure to act is inexcusable.

“This is simply not good enough and I cannot understand why ministers are failing to take action. We desperately need to address this and Labour’s compulsory jobs guarantee and real jobs guarantee are exactly what is needed.”

 

Michael congratulates students across Barnsley

16 August 2013

Michael has congratulated students across Barnsley who have collected their A-Level results this week.

Initial reports suggest that both pass rates and grades are up on last year. Barnsley Academy saw their pass rate increase from 92 per cent to 100, with 27 per cent achieving A grades.

Commenting on the results, Michael said:

“Congratulations to all those in Barnsley who have collected their A-level results this week. Students have worked incredibly hard and initial reports suggest that pass rates and results are up on last year.

“These are fantastic results and credit must go to the students as well as parents and the teaching and support staff who help them achieve such great results too.”

 

Rail fares set to add to cost of living crisis in Barnsley

16 August 2013

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and We Are Barnsley, Michael has criticised the Government for adding to the cost of living crisis in Barnsley following the news that rail fares are set to rise by an average of 4.1 per cent and some by more than 9 per cent

David Cameron pledged to cap fare rises at one per cent above inflation at Conservative Party conference 2012, which should have meant a maximum increase of 4.1 per cent in January 2014 (as a result of today’s RPI figures on which the increase will be based).

However, the Government has given back to the train companies the right, taken away by Labour before the last election, to ‘flexibly apply’ the fare cap and add up to a further five per cent to some fares. As a result, passengers will face fare rises of as much as 9.2 per cent in January 2014.

Commenting, Michael said:

“David Cameron’s cost of living crisis is leaving families struggling in Barnsley. Real wages are down 8.1% across Yorkshire and yet another year of inflation-busting fare rises will just add to the pressure on household budgets.

“It just goes to show how out of touch ministers are allowing fares to go up by as much as 9.1 per cent again, yet private train companies walk away with £305 million in profit from passengers each year.

“Labour would ban train companies from hiking fares beyond a strict one per cent above inflation limit, introduce a legal right to the cheapest ticket and crack down on rising car parking charges at stations.”

 

Yorkshire hit hardest by fall in real wages

09 August 2013

As reported in the Yorkshire Post, South Yorkshire Times, Doncaster Free Press and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has raised serious concerns after it was revealed that since the election wages have fallen in real terms in every region and nation of the UK. What is more, Yorkshire is the region that has seen the biggest percentage fall of them all.

According to House of Commons Library figures, after inflation, average earnings in Yorkshire are £1,721 a year lower than they were at the time of the last General Election - a real terms fall of 8.1 per cent. The average decrease across the UK is £1,350, meaning that, in real terms, workers in the UK are on average earning today the same as they made in 2001. But people in Yorkshire are even worse off, earning £371 less than the average loss.

Analysis of historical figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that David Cameron has been in Downing Street for 36 months of falling real wages – more than any Prime Minister on record. And no Prime Minister has seen so many consecutive months of falling real wages.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“David Cameron is failing the people of Barnsley and Yorkshire badly - throughout the whole of the UK wages have fallen the most in real terms in Yorkshire. Working families in my constituency of Barnsley East and across the Yorkshire region are massively out of pocket.

“Only the other week George Osborne and other Government ministers were celebrating GDP figures showing growth of 0.6 per cent for the first time since the first quarter of 2010, before the election. But what they don’t understand is that it doesn’t feel like a recovery in Barnsley or Yorkshire, where real term wages are falling and long-term unemployment has increased by 88 per cent since the election.

“Far from never having it so good, many working people have never had it so bad, especially in Yorkshire. Prices have risen faster than wages in 36 out of the 37 months since David Cameron has been in Downing Street. This is the worst performance of any Prime Minister on record.

“Labour would help middle and low income families right now, including a lower 10p starting rate of tax, action to tackle soaring energy bills and protecting tax credits for working families by reversing the tax cut for millionaires.”

 

 

 

Michael writes to minister over UK Coal administration concerns

09 August 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, The Star and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has written to Energy minister Michael Fallon MP to seek clarifications over the implications of UK Coal entering administration for those affected in Barnsley.

UK coal was forced into administration last month following a large underground fire at its Dew Mill pit compounded the financial pressure it was under. Pricewaterhouse Coopers were brought in as administrators and UK Coal was restructured to form a new company called UK Coal Production Limited.

Michael has since been contacted by a number of constituents concerned about the affect this will have on, amongst other things, their pension and concessionary fuel entitlement, and has written to the minister on their behalf.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“There is still a lot of confusion over the affect this will have on peoples’ pensions and concessionary fuel entitlement. The later being something that many people rely on to heat their homes, including miners’ widows, and its loss would hit them hard.

“It has also been reported that members of the pension scheme are facing a 10 per cent cut in their pension entitlement. I have asked the minister to explore all possible options in order to minimise the effect of this financial loss.

“Understandably this confusion is causing real worry and I have urged the minister and the Government to do all they can to address this and to minimise any financial impact.”

 

HS2 LTD must work harder to prevent confusion over HS2 route

02 August 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called on HS2 Ltd to worker harder to prevent the supply of inaccurate information and confusion regarding the proposed HS2 route.

Initial plans suggested that HS2 would pass through Hoyland in twin underground tunnels that run up to 64 metres deep. However, a recent letter to a Hoyland resident called these initial plans into question, suggesting that HS2 would pass above ground through Hoyland instead.

This was obviously of great concern and interest to many, not just those who reside in Hoyland. If, as believed, the plans for Hoyland had changed, people rightfully will have questioned if plans were set to change in their area too.

After consulting the HS2 route plan it is clear that HS2 Ltd made a mistake. The route plans clearly show HS2 is set to pass through Hoyland in twin tunnels that run as deep as 64 metres. This has since been confirmed in a follow up letter to the resident in question, with HS2 apologising for the supply of inaccurate information and the concern this may have caused.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I think it is important to clarify that HS2 plans currently remain unchanged in Barnsley. HS2 will pass through twin tunnels at Hoyland, it will not be above ground as the information provided by HS2 Ltd the other week seemed to suggest.

“This is clearly not good enough from HS2 Ltd. People have to be kept up-to-date and have to be able to trust the information they are provided.

“Many in Barnsley have concerns over HS2 and these will only have been reinforced following the supply of this inaccurate information. HS2 must work closely to engage with those in Barnsley and all across the country.”

 

 

Micheal calls on council to support Live in Barnsley festival

02 August 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has written to BMBC council leader, Sir Steve Houghton, to encourage the council to become an to fully support Live in Barnsley in the future.

The festival’s inaugural event earlier this year has been lauded as a great success. The organisers estimate that throughout the course of the day just over 3,000 people attended at some point during the event.

Host venues have been incredibly supportive of the event and are eager for the festival to become an annual event. Many reported record takings on the day and some were so busy they reached maximum capacity and had to stop access.

Michael, who performed at this year’s event, is a strong supporter of the festival.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I think that the lack of involvement of BMBC at this year’s event was a missed opportunity. It is my belief that both BMBC and Live in Barnsley would benefit from working together.

“I was fortunate enough to perform at the festival this year and saw firsthand the buzz it brought to the town. It was a great showcase of local talent and it showed everyone what we can do in Barnsley.

“I believe there is plenty of scope for how BMBC could support the festival and that this is something the organisers would welcome. I hope that the council consider this idea carefully.”

 

 

Michael pays tribute to Cllr Denise Wilde

26 July 2013

Following the sad news of the passing of Cllr Denise Wilde at the weekend, Michael has paid tribute to the Wombwell councillor thorughout the local media, including the Barnsley Chronicle, The Star, Rotherham Advertiser and South Yorkshire TImes.

Michael said:

"It was with real sadness that I learned of Denise's passing over the weekend. 

"I visited her in Barnsley Hospice only a few weeks ago and, although we had a good conversation, it was heartbreaking to see how ill she had become. 

"Denise was a lovely woman. She was a real fighter for people in Wombwell and for Barnsley. She was also a marvellous Yorkshire woman who had real grit and determination - she never suffered fools - and she possessed a wonderful sense of humour.  Her deep and proud commitment to public service and to social justice was a defining characteristic of her long years in the Labour Party and on Barnsley. 

"We have lost one of our own and my heartfelt condolences go out to Raymond and all her family and friends, and in particular to her grandchildren".

 

New blog post: “It doesn’t feel like much of a recovery in Barnsley, George”

27 July 2013

Michael has written a new blog post today arguing that instead of more complacency and self-congratulations from the Government, we need action to catch up all the lost ground from the last few years and secure a strong recovery.

Cick here to read the full post.

 

HS2 consultation launched

26 July 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, the consultation over the route and station location for HS2 Phase Two was launched last week and Michael has encouraged the people of Barnsley to make their voice heard.

The consultation focuses on the Government’s preferred route and station location and is seeking views on the proposed route and on its sustainability impact.  It also invites people to provide views on how the potential released capacity generated by HS2 could be used, and on the opportunities to introduce other utilities along the line of the route.

The consultation opened on 17 July and will close at 5pm on 31 January 2014. It was also announced that there will be a public consultation event at Barnsley Town Hall on Saturday 2 November, 10am-5am.

Commenting on the consultation launch, Michael said:

“This consultation is an opportunity for all the people of Barnsley to have their say over the route and station location of HS2 Phase Two.

“The meeting on Saturday 2 November offers people a rare chance to discuss any concerns they have face-to-face with HS2 Ltd and the Government.

“Wide consultation with the public over HS2 is important, allowing the people of Barnsley to make their voice heard.”

 

Laws needed to stop dog attacks

26 July 2013

As reported in The Star, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for tough new action on dangerous dogs by voting to give new powers to local authorities.

The Government recently voted against similar measures during the Commons committee stage of the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, Michael Dugher is backing a new proposal to help keep the people of Barnsley safe and stop dangerous dog attacks.

The proposals are backed by a number of groups and come in the wake of the deaths of seven adults and nine children since 2005 due to out of control dogs. In the Yorkshire and Humber region from May 2011 to April 2012, there were 18 dog bite admissions per 100,000 of the population, over twice as many as in London where there are 7.3 admissions.

The new law would introduce Dog Control Notices in England and Wales and would give local authorities the ability to take action against people in charge of out of control dogs and to take early action to stop problems before they happen.

Sixteen people have been killed nationwide in dog attacks since 2005, but despite this the government have so far rejected calls for introducing Dog Control Notices and giving kids and communities the protection they need from dangerous dogs.

Dog Control Notices have been used in Scotland since 2010 and were backed by the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report "Dog Control and Welfare'' which called the Government's current proposals "simplistic" and "woefully inadequate" and recommended Dog Control Notices.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The government have failed to take necessary action to keep people in Barnsley safe from dangerous dog attacks, real action must be taken in September.

“Dangerous dogs are a serious and increasing threat to people across the country. It is about time that the people of Barnsley got the same protections from dangerous dogs as people in Scotland get.

“These changes would mean that the tough laws that have been so successful in Scotland in helping stop these terrible attacks would be extended across the UK.  This important power would mean the police and local authorities could take action at the first sign of problems rather than having to wait until a tragedy has already occurred.

“People in Barnsley will rightly wonder why the government won't give local authorities the powers they need to stop dangerous dog attacks, and why they won't get a grip on this issue and keep people safe."

 

Yorkshire Post article: Tories still don’t understand the needs of the North

22 July 2013

Michael has written an article for the Yorkshire Post today about how the Tories still don’t understand the needs of the North.

Click here to the read the article.    

 

Labour Uncut article: “Transparency Mr Cameron? Not when it comes to Lynton Crosby”

20 July 2013

Michael has written a piece for Labour Uncut today about David Cameron dodging questions over Lynton Crosby.

Click here to read the blog: “Transparency Mr Cameron? Not when it comes to Lynton Crosby”

 

Alarm over rising long-term unemployment

19 July 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has called on ministers to take action to get people back to work, as new unemployment figures show that long-term unemployment in Barnsley East remains stubbornly high.

The figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that since the start of the year long-term unemployment has increased. In January 955 people in Barnsley East had been unemployed for 12 months or more, it is now 965. What is more concerning is that since June 2011 long term unemployment in Barnsley East has increased by a shocking 117 per cent.

This follows figures released recently by the DWP that show the government’s Work Programme is still failing the people of Barnsley and South Yorkshire. For the JSA 18-24 and JSA 25+ payment groups, performance in South Yorkshire did not exceed the DWP’s ‘non-intervention rates’. This means that in South Yorkshire the Work Programme is actually worse than doing nothing.

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.

 

Commenting, Michael said:

“These figures show that the Government’s policies are failing the people of Barnsley. The economy is flatlining, their flagship Work Programme is failing and long term unemployment is a real worry for people in Barnsley East.

“Since the start of the year, long-term unemployment has remained static and has actually increased slightly. What is truly shocking is that in the past two years the number of people unemployed for over 12 months has increased by 117 per cent. Minister’s failure to act is inexcusable.

“No wonder the benefits bill is £20 billion higher than planned and no wonder the Chancellor himself was forced to attack 'under-performing' back to work programmes in the recent Spending Review.

“This is simply not good enough and ministers need to take action. We desperately need a change of course starting with a compulsory jobs guarantee to get anyone out of work for more than two years back into a job; a job people must take or lose their benefits.”

 

Michael celebrates Barnsley veteran Ken Burkinshaw’s 90th birthday

19 July 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael attended an event on Wednesday to celebrate Barnsley veteran Ken Burkinshaw’s 90th birthday. 

Ken, who lives in Hoyland, is President of the Hoyland and District branch of the Royal British Legion and served aboard HMS Sheffield when he was only 16.  He completed nine trips to Russia in minus 35-40 degree conditions to deliver supplies. 

Michael, who is also a member of the Royal British Legion Hoyland and District Branch, helped campaign for veterans who braved the perilous conditions in the Arctic during the Second World War to be properly recognised.

The Government finally awarded the Arctic Star in recognition of veterans like Ken this year, which Michael presented to Ken in May.

Congratulating Ken, Michael said:

“Ken spent many years in the service of our country in the Royal Navy and this is a great opportunity to congratulate him on his 90th birthday and to thank him for his many years of dedicated service.

“I was pleased to see veterans like Ken, who braved the perilous conditions in the Arctic during the Second World War, were finally properly recognised for their service with the award of the Arctic Star. 

“Ken’s continued work as a member of the Royal British Legion and President of the Hoyland and District Branch, has done a lot to help the whole Armed Forces community and I am honoured to celebrate his 90th birthday with him.”

 

Michael attends Freedom Parade in Barnsley in honour of the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment

18 July 2013

Michael attended the Freedom Parade in Barnsley today in honour of the Yorkshire Regiment (3rd Battalion The Duke of Wellington’s)

The parade of 120 troops, accompanied by a military band of 30 musicians and a nine-strong colour party, formed up outside the town hall for inspection, before parading through the town centre.

Commenting after the parade, Michael said:

“It was great to attend the Freedom Parade today in Barnsley in honour of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.

“We owe a huge debt to these brilliant and brave young men.  They are the bravest and the best.”

parade2

 

parade

 

Michael with the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Ken Richardson; the Leader of Barnsley Council, Councillor Stephen Houghton; and the MP for Barnsley Central, Dan Jarvis MP.

 

Michael speaks from the Despatch Box during Second Jobs debate

18 July 2013

Michael spoke from the despatch box yesterday during a debate on introducing new rules and new limits on Members of Parliament having second jobs.

To watch Michael’s speech, click here and scroll to 16:22

 

5Live: Michael discusses Ed Miliband's reforms to the union link

15th July 2013

Michael was on BBC 5Live Breakfast show this Sunday discussing the Ed Miliband's reforms to the union link.

To listen to the full interview click here and scroll to 1:38:05.

 

Michael raises concerns over lottery underfunding

18 July 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the The Star, Michael has raised concerns that Barnsley East does not receive a fair share of lottery funding.

Between 1995 -2011 the lottery awarded £24.2 billion in grants to good causes. A report released by the Industrial Communities Alliance has shown that, over the same time period many of Britain’s industrial communities, including Barnsley, have received well below the national average of lottery funding. The report found that the constituency average funding, per head, is £405. Barnsley East receives £86, this is only 21% of the national average.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is seriously concerning that Barnsley East only receives 21% of the national average of lottery funding per head. In the age of austerity and spending cuts, when local authority budgets are being stretched to their limits, it is increasingly important that other sources of funding, like lottery grants, are available and distributed fairly.

“This needs to be looked into further - we need to know why areas like Barnsley don’t receive their fair share. Access to lottery funding must be open to all communities, not just the big cities.”

 

The Work Programme continues to fail the people of Barnsley

18 July 2013

As reported on We Are Barnsley, Barnsley News and Sport, South Yorkshire Times and the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has called on ministers to take action to get people back to work, as recent figures show that the Government’s Work Programme is still failing the people of Barnsley and South Yorkshire.

Figures released by the DWP show that, for the JSA 18-24 and JSA 25+ payment groups, performance in South Yorkshire did not exceed the DWP’s ‘non-intervention rates’. This means that in South Yorkshire the Work Programme is actually worse than doing nothing.

Labour 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.

Commenting, Micahel said:

“The Work Programme is still failing the people of Barnsley and South Yorkshire badly.

“Three years into the parliament and the Work Programme has failed 74% of the JSA 18-24 payment group and 84.5% of the JSA 25+ payment group in South Yorkshire. This is worse than if there were no policy in place at all - in other words it is literally worse than doing nothing. No wonder the benefits bill is £20 billion higher than planned and no wonder the Chancellor himself was forced to attack 'under-performing' back to work programmes.

“This is simply not good enough and ministers need to take action. We desperately need a change of course starting with a compulsory jobs guarantee to get anyone out of work for more than two years back into a job; a job people must take or lose their benefits.”

 

World at One, 5Live and Daily Politics: Michael discusses Ed Miliband's One Nation Labour Party reforms

09 July 2013

Michael was on the World at One with Martha Kearney, 5Live with Victoria Derbyshire and BBC Daily Politics with Andrew Neil today, discussing Ed Miliband's bold Labour Party reforms.

You can watch the Daily Politics by clicking here and scrolling to 18:00, listen to the World at One by clicking here and scrolling to 16:40 and listen to the 5Live interview by clicking here and scrolling to 1:39:20.

 

5Live: Michael discusses the Falkirk selection, Ed Miliband and Unite the Union

08 July 2013

Michael was on Pienaar politics this Sunday discussing the Flakirk selection, Ed Miliband and Unite the Union.

To listen to the full interview click here and scroll to 15:00.

 

 

Michael says it is more important than ever that we safeguard the NHS for the future  

05 July 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, We Are Barnsley and the Barnsley News and Sport, on the 65th anniversary of the creation of the National Health Service, Michael has said it is more important than ever that we safeguard the future of our NHS.    

The NHS was founded sixty-five years ago this week by a Labour Government that recognised the need for a health service in Britain available to everyone.  And it remains an incredible institution, which is rightfully one of Britain’s proudest achievements. 

But there are growing signs that our NHS is in deep distress.  People are waiting on ­trolleys for 12 hours at A&E, the number of nurses is decreasing, ambulance queues have become twice as long and the postcode lottery in ­services is getting worse.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The NHS’s 65th birthday is an opportunity to celebrate, but if we’re going to commemorate future milestones then I believe we need to make sure our NHS is strengthened and protected.

“Rather than focussing on the frontline, David Cameron is spending £3 billion of taxpayers' money on an unnecessary, unwanted top-down reorganisation of the NHS that he promised wouldn't happen.

“We’ve also lost 4,000 nurses, seen ambulance queues double and now A&E waiting times are at a nine-year high.  Yorkshire has lost 1,110 nurses since May 2010 and data published by the new NHS England body shows that the target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours has been missed by the A&E unit at Barnsley Hospital in 29 of the last 36 weeks, with a total of 4,401 people having to wait more than four hours before being seen.

“This is not good enough and Labour has put forward bold proposals for a genuinely integrated NHS and social care system, bringing together physical health, mental health and social care into a single service to meet all of our care needs.   

“We must safeguard our NHS so that future generations are able to benefit from our incredible health service.”

 

Telegraph interview: “David Cameron should stop trying to block the TV debates”

01 July 2013

Michael was interviewed recently by Benedict Brogan, the Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph, for his blog.

Click here to read the interview. 

 

Michael attends event at Barnsley Town Hall to mark Armed Forces Day

29 June 2013

Michael attended an event at Barnsley Town Hall today to mark Armed Forces Day.

The event was hosted by the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Ken Richardson, and was also attended by South Yorkshire Lord Lieutenant, David Moody, the Leader of Barnsley council, Councillor Stephen Houghton, and the MP for Barnsley Central, Dan Jarvis MP.

Commenting, Michael said:

"It was a real privilege to mark Armed Forces Day in Barnsley and to see so many members of our armed forces, together with many veterans and cadets.

"The event was also very well attended by the Barnsley public who, like me, are immensely proud of our brave servicemen and women - past, present and future."

---------------

Michael has written a blog about the importance of Armed Forces Day - click here to read the post.

 

Michael calls for train companies to extend concessionary rail travel to armed forces veterans

29th June 2013

As reported on Barnsley News and Sport and South Yorkshire Times, Michael has called for train companies to extend concessionary rail travel to Armed Forces veterans.

Currently the HM Forces Railcard saves service personnel a third on many rail fares across Great Britain. Michael has called for this to be extended to the 332,826 veterans who are on the Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

This would have no cost to the public purse as the HM Forces Railcard is a concession granted by the Association of Train Operating Companies.

In 2011-12 train operating company income was £305m more than their expenditure. Labour believes it is right that a small proportion of these profits are used to support those who serve in the name of national security.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The struggles of our Armed Forces don’t end when they stop serving in the battlefield and extending the HM Forces Railcard to the veterans of Barnsley and across the country would help acknowledge this.

“We need to support those who have given so much to our country. Our Armed Forces, veterans and their families deserve respect. As a member of the Barnsley Royal British Legion I will continue to stand up for them.”

 

New Statesman article: “Time to stand up for our national interest, and not be a slave to EU procurement nonsense”

28 June 2013

Michael has written an article for the New Statesman today about the need to look at why we are not showing the same ingenuity and flexibility regarding EU procurement rules as other EU states.

To read the article, click here: “Time to stand up for our national interest, and not be a slave to EU procurement nonsense”

 

The real reason for the Spending Review today is the Government’s comprehensive failure on living standards, growth and the deficit

26 June 2013

In the spending review today, David Cameron and George Osborne were forced to announce more cuts because their economic plan has failed on living standards, growth and the deficit. 

  • Failure on growth: Since George Osborne’s first spending review in 2010, the UK economy has grown by just 1.1 per cent compared to the 6 per cent forecast at the time.  
  • Failure on living standards: With the economy flatlining and inflation high, real wages have fallen since this Government came to office meaning people are worse off.  
  • Failure on the deficit and debt: Lack of growth has meant more borrowing to pay for the costs of economic failure.  Borrowing is now forecast to be £245bn more than planned at the time of the spending review (excluding the one off transfers of the Royal Mail Pension Fund and Asset Purchase Facility).  

And it’s Britain’s families and our public services paying the price for this economic failure.

Commenting on the spending review today, Michael said:

“Instead of planning cuts two years ahead, George Osborne should be taking action now to boost economic growth.  This would bring in more tax revenues and reduce the scale of the cuts needed in 2015.

“David Cameron and George Osborne are keen to talk about infrastructure investment in getting growth in our economy and creating jobs.  But the evidence shows they are failing to deliver. 

“The reality is that over the last three years, the Government has spent £5.6 billion less in capital investment compared to the plans inherited from Labour.  And today’s figures reveal that the Government has cut capital investment again in 2015-16 by 1.7 per cent, or nearly £1bn.

“What we need is action to boost growth, but all we get is more of the same from a failing Chancellor”.

--------------------------

Click here to read Michael’s blog today on LabourList about the Government’s failure to deliver on infrastructure investment.

 

LabourList Blog: “When it comes to infrastructure spending, the signs are the Government have learnt nothing”

26 June 2013

Michael has written a blog post today for LabourList on how the Government has comprehensively failed to deliver on infrastructure investment.

Click here to read the post: “When it comes to infrastructure spending, the signs are the Government have learnt nothing

 

"At a time when soldiers are being sacked, it is scandalous that David Cameron thinks it is more important to have a vanity photographer"

23rd June 2013

MailThe Mail on Sunday and the Guardian have reported that David Cameron has recruited a personal "vanity photographer' from the Ministry of Defence, despite cutting thousands of troops.

guardianResponding Michael said: "At a time when soldiers are being sacked, it is scandalous that David Cameron thinks it is more important to have a vanity photographer."

"He should spend more time mending the economy and less on his ego."

 

Michael hails success of Live in Barnsley

23rd June 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has hailed the success of Live in Barnsley which took place across the town recently and was a great success. The festival was free and saw lots of bands, many of them local, play across numerous Barnsley venues.

Michael has been a keen supporter of the festival and even performed a set at the Blah Bar.

You can find out more about Live in Barnsley and the bands who performed by clicking, here.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Live in Barnsley was a brilliant music festival and there was a real buzz about the town. I'd like to congratulate and thank the organisers who put their heart and soul into the project. It was a great day, a real showcase of local talent and it showed everyone what we can do in Barnsley. I really hope we can do it again next year and that Live in Barnsley will go from strength to strength".

 

Michael opens refurbished water treatment site

21st June 2013

As reported in the Barnsely Chronicle and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has visited and opened the new £5.3m refurbishment of Cudworth waste water treatment works. The Yorkshire Water project was completed six months earlier than expected and £2.6m under budget.

The new pioneering treatment system installed means the water in the River Dearne will be better quality from now on. The process hasn’t previously been used in Yorkshire and will help ensure the water is treated to a higher standard than before.

Michael was honoured to officially open the site and was very impressed by the improved processes in place. The new site is great news for the area and particularly for wildlife in the River Dearne.

 

Michael visits Lifewise interactive safety centre

21st June 2013

Michael has visited the Lifewise interactive learning facility, to see the fantastic work they do for communities in South Yorkshire.

Lifewise is an interactive safety centre developed by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP), to provide the communities in the area, like Barnsley, with a fully interactive safety learning experience. They offer safety training from specialist on a broad range of topics, from road safety to drug and alcohol awareness.

It is a great place for schools to visit and learn about safety and citizenship within a safe purpose-built set. Their facilities are fantastic and the work of SYFR, SYP their charitable partners like In2Chagne, Red Balloon and Buster’s Coffee Co, is commendable.

You can find out more about Lifewise on their website, here.

 

Michael calls for introduction of lower 10p starting tax rate

21st June 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times, Barnsley News and Sport and Doncaster Free Press, Michael has called for the introduction of a new lower 10p starting tax rate to tackle the deepening cost of living crisis.

Figures released by the ONS show that the rate of consumer price index (CPI) inflation has risen this month, from 2.4% in April to 2.7% in May. The Bank of England expects inflation to be above 3% this year.

Michael has called for the introduction of a lower 10p starting tax rate to ease the impact of the increasing cost of living facing the people of Barnsley.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The rising cost of living is a real worry for the people of Barnsley. Prices are rising much faster than wages and people’s budgets are being stretched. We keep hearing that the economy is healing, but in reality life is getting much tougher for ordinary people in Barnsley.

“After inflation wages are on average £1300 a year lower than when this Government came to power in 2010. Whilst David Cameron has cut taxes for millionaires, many in Barnsley on low to middle incomes are worse off.

“The Government should act now and introduce a lower 10p starting rate to help relieve some of the pressure placed on families facing soaring energy bills and rising prices.

 

Michael pays tribute to Barnsley councillors honoured by Queen

15 June 2013

As reported on The Star website, South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has paid tribute to two Barnsley councillors who have been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Stephen Houghton CBE, who was first elected to Barnsley Council in 1988, has been appointed Knights Bachelor for parliamentary and political services.

And former Barnsley mayor, Councillor Charlie Wraith, has been appointed MBE for "public service and services to the community in Barnsley".

Commenting on the news, Michael said:

"Steve Houghton has been a phenomenal leader for Barnsley for so many years, including in the toughest of times. He is rightly respected throughout the whole country as one of the brightest, most formidable champions for working class people and for the unemployed. He has been a brilliant public servant. It is a long way from the picket line to the Palace, but his knighthood is thoroughly deserved."

"Charlie Wraith was serving the people of Barnsley as a councillor before I was even born. He has served the public in a number of important positions, including as a former Mayor of Barnsley. Charlie has been a tireless campaigner for the Cudworth community and his MBE is a tribute to his hard work for local people.”

------------------

Queen's Birthday Honours List 2013:

Councillor Stephen Houghton, appointed Knights Bachelor

Stephen Houghton began his career in the local Coal Board Workshops and has served the local community for his entire adult life. He has been a member of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council since 1988 and Leader of the Council since 1996. He is widely respected for the innovative work he has done in local government and economic development, with pioneering work in tackling joblessness which helped inform the Review into Tackling Long-term Unemployment which bears his name.

Charles Christopher Wraith, recipient of the Order of the British Empire, Civil: Member

For public service and services to the community in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. (Barnsley, South Yorkshire)

 

Michael calls for action over long term unemployment

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has called for urgent action from ministers as long term unemployment rises in Barnsley East.

Official figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that long-term unemployment in Barnsley East rose in May and has risen by 15% in the last year. Added to this, the number of people claiming job seekers allowance and youth unemployment remains static.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The Government’s economic policies have failed, the economy is flatlining and long term unemployment is a real worry for people in Barnsley East. It has now risen by 15% over the last year. The number of people claiming JSA and youth unemployment also remains stubbornly high.

“In 2012 youth unemployment alone cost Britain £5 billion. Ministers are useless, they have to take action to get people back to work and get the welfare bill down. They are failing those out of work and the country too.”

 

Michael answers your questions for We Are Barnsley

14th June 2013

Michael took time to answer questions put to him by the people of Barnsley during his first radio show for We Are Barnsley. You can listen to the whole show again, here,

In the days leading up to the show people were able to submit questions for Michael to answer through Facebook, Twitter and email. A range of subjects were covered from food banks to HS2. You can read the full Q&A, here.

 

Michael votes to stop badger cull

14th June 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has voted in Parliament, to show his opposition to the Government’s badger cull.

Labour believes the badger cull should not go ahead and has used an Opposition Day debate to raise this in the Commons.

Defra Ministers are pressing ahead with a badger cull despite scientists warning against this untested and risky approach. Labour has warned the Government for two years that the badger cull was bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.

We understand the frustration of the farming community affected by the devastating impacts of bovine TB. However, a cull will not help resolve the issue.

In government Labour commissioned a 10-year scientific study (Randomised Badger Cull Trials) into managing bovine TB, to establish the most effective way to protect cattle and reduce the transmission of the disease. 

We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements better and a vaccine to tackle TB in cattle. This position is supported by scientists in the area, including Lord Krebs who is the leading expert. The badger cull is not supported by the science, and may increase the problem by spreading bovine TB.

This is why Michael voted against the badger cull going ahead.

 

Michael welcomes decision to suspend Safe and Sustainable

12th June 2013

Michael has today welcomed the decision to suspend the Safe and Sustainable Review into children’s congenital heart services and to drop the legal challenge against the High Court ruling that quashed the Review earlier this year. A report to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, upheld campaigners' claims that the conclusions of Safe and Sustainable were based on a “flawed analysis”. However, there are concerns over any subsequent review that is set to be put in place.

The principle of specialisation and what the initial review set out to achieve is the right one - there is a need for the concentration of specialist centres. But it is clear that the process was flawed from the start. It simply does not make sense to leave the East of England without a specialist centre between Newcastle and London.

Michael has been campaigning since 2011 for the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit to remain open and throughout this process he and families in Barnsley have made it clear just how important the Children’s Heart Unit at Leeds is to them. It provides access to nearly 14 million people within 2 hours travel time, including 5.5 million people in Yorkshire & the Humber.  Its closure would have been a great worry for more than 650 families who are helped by specialists in Leeds each year. The decision to look again at which units across the country should remain open is a sensible decision that vindicates the issues and concerns raised by campaigners.

Moving forward, lessons must be learnt and any subsequent review cannot be allowed to make the same mistakes again. Michael will write to NHS England to seek assurances that the new process will be fair and that a clear timetable is set out.

 

Michael promotes Live in Barnsley festival in his first radio show

12th June 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times, here and on We Are Barnsley, here, Michael promoted local festival Live in Barnsley, at which he will perform, by presenting his own radio show for We Are Barnsley radio on Friday (07/06/2103) at 11am.

Michael used his first radio show as an opportunity to promote the festival and its many performers. He welcomed one of Live in Barnsley’s organisers Dave Pearsall and performer Adam Guest, to talk about the one day Barnsley festival.

In between interviews Michael played a mix of some of his favourite tracks from performers at Live in Barnsley.

Prior to this Michael joined We Are Barnsley’s Josh, to answer questions put to him by the people of Barnsley through Facebook and Twitter.

You can listen to the whole show online again, here.

Commenting at the time, Michael said:

 “This is a great opportunity to promote Live in Barnsley. Music is a passion of mine and it is great to see such a great event being organised in Barnsley.

“I’m really looking forward to performing alongside so many other great local artists. I hope everyone can come along and support their local music scene.”

 

Michael helps celebrate 150th anniversary of Yorkshire County Cricket Club

11th June 2013

Michael has attended an event to mark the 150th anniversary of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Commenting, Michael said:

"It was an honour to mark the clubs 150th anniversary.

"To see so many of my colleagues, including Ed Miliband and Yorkshire legend Geoffrey Boycott, there to support Yorkshire County Cricket was fantastic."

You can find out more about Yorkshire County Cricket Club, here.

 

Michael attends opening of new Community Support Centre

7th June 2013

Michael has today attended the opening of the new Community Centre in Barnsley to see the important service that the centre offers.

The centre is a joint venture between Unite the Union and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The community centre offers help and support for individuals and for the community as a whole. The centre will allow people to:

  • Learn new skills
  • Gain support with welfare problems
  • Campaign on welfare changes
  • Gain community activist training
  • Get involved with your local community
  • Receive help and support in looking for work

You can find out more about the NUM, here, and Unite the Union, here.

 

Michael and Dan respond to open letter on HS2

7th June 2013

As published in the Barnsley Chonicle today, Michael and Dan have written a response to an open letter on HS2 in last weeks Chronicle.

Mr P Wroe of Stead Lane, Hoyland, wrote an open letter to the Chronicle asking what our position was in relation to HS2.

Anyone who has read the Chronicle in the past few weeks will know our position on this issue very well. In principle, we are both supportive of HS2, due to the potential economic benefits it could bring to South Yorkshire and the wider region. Figures show that the scheme could generate as many as 60,000 jobs in the Midlands and the North, providing a much-needed boost to our local economy.

However, we share the very real worries about the effect the current proposed HS2 route could have on our local environment and the value of their properties.

This is why we have made strong representations to Government, including meeting with the Secretary of State of Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, to raise the concerns of residents like Mr Wroe and others, to ensure the voice of Barnsley residents is heard loud and clear.

In particular, the Government must do all it can to maximise compensation to those whose houses are blighted. There must also be the fullest consultation with the public and if there is overwhelming public opinion the route should be altered, then HS2 should listen and look at proposals to do so.

We will continue to fight hard for Barnsley residents over these shared concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP and Dan Jarvis MP

 

 

Michael to promote Live in Barnsley festival in his first radio show

5th June 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, South Yorkshire Times, here and on We Are Barnsley, here, Michael is set to promote local festival Live in Barnsley, at which he will perform, by presenting his own radio show for We Are Barnsley radio on Friday (07/06/2103) at 11am.

Michael will use his first radio show as an opportunity to promote the festival and its many performers. He will welcome one of Live in Barnsley’s organisers Dave Pearsall and performer Adam Guest, to talk about the one day Barnsley festival.

In between interviews Michael will play a mix of some of his favourite tracks from performers at Live in Barnsley.

Prior to this Michael will join We Are Barnsley’s Josh, to answer questions put to him by the people of Barnsley through Facebook and Twitter.

You can listen to the show online, here.

Commenting, Michael said:

 “This is a great opportunity to promote Live in Barnsley. Music is a passion of mine and it is great to see such a great event being organised in Barnsley.

“I’m really looking forward to performing alongside so many other great local artists. I hope everyone can come along and support their local music scene.”

 

Michael votes to stop badger cull

5th June 2013

Michael has voted in Parliament today, to show his opposition to the Government’s badger cull.
Labour believes the badger cull should not go ahead and has used an Opposition Day debate to raise this in the Commons.

Defra Ministers are pressing ahead with a badger cull despite scientists warning against this untested and risky approach. Labour has warned the Government for two years that the badger cull was bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.

We understand the frustration of the farming community affected by the devastating impacts of bovine TB. However, a cull will not help resolve the issue.

In government Labour commissioned a 10-year scientific study (Randomised Badger Cull Trials) into managing bovine TB, to establish the most effective way to protect cattle and reduce the transmission of the disease. 

We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements better and a vaccine to tackle TB in cattle. This position is supported by scientists in the area, including Lord Krebs who is the leading expert. The badger cull is not supported by the science, and may increase the problem by spreading bovine TB.

This is why Michael voted today, against the badger cull going ahead.

 

 

Ladywood Primary School visit Parliament

3rd June 2013

Children from Ladywood Primary School visited the Palace of Westminster today to learn more about the work and role of Parliament. After a tour of the Palace, the class had time to meet Michael to discuss what it’s like working in Parliament.

 

Michael unveiled as patron of Worsbrough Brass

31st May 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, here, and on Barnsley News and Sport, here,Michael has this week been unveiled as patron of Worsbrough Brass.

Worsbrough Brass formed in 1993 with only £14 in their bank account. They have gone from strength to strength and celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. The band and training band come from a broad age group, with musicians ranging from 8 – 80 years old, who all meet to practice at their band room at Worsbrough Mill.

Michael was able to attend a concert by Worsbrough Brass and Musikverein Stadtkapelle Band at the Emmanuel Methodist Church in Barnsley, where he was unveiled as patron.

During the evening there was also a surprise presentation to John Hopkinson, to mark 50 years in the brass band competitive movement.

Commenting after, Michael said:

“I am proud to become the patron of Worsbrough Brass. I am a keen supporter and champion of brass bands. They are a vital part of the region and UK’s heritage.

“I have been a keen campaigner for brass bands since becoming a Member of Parliament. I am Vice Chair of the APPG for Brass Bands in Parliament and, more recently, I met with the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, to discuss brass band funding and help to ensure that brass bands are accessing the various Arts Council funding streams available.

“The concert on Thursday was fantastic and I would urge anyone looking to join, or learn to play a brass instrument, to get along to rehearsals.”

Rehearsal details:

Worsbrough brass training band rehearse at the Band Room on Thursdays between 18:00 – 18:45, with a subscription cost of £2 (this includes instrument hire and more).

The Band Room is situated at Worsbrough Mill and Country Park, the entrance to which is off the A61 Barnsley – Sheffield Road, approximately 2 miles south from Barnsley and 2 miles north from Junction 36 of the M1 via Birdwell. The entrance to the Park is opposite the Button Mill Pub.

 

Michael visits top 5 steelwork contractor based in Wombwell

31st May 2013

Michael visited the award winning Billington Structures today. The company is a nationally recognised steelwork contractor who has two state of the art factories at Wombwell, Barnsely and one in the South, near Bristol.

Michael was shown around the site and met some of the skilled workforce employed there, who utilise modern machines fed with data directly from their drawing offices. The company operate a just-in-time manufacturing process whereby steel is supplied in planned 'Lots'. Then fittings and main shafts are assembled and painted in up to 20 tonne erectable batches that are monitored through the production process in Billington’s strumis production data management system.

Billington Structures are a really impressive, top 5 steel work contractor. They help to bring much needed jobs and growth to Barnsley.

 

Michael calls for measures to help tackle rip-off energy bills

31st May 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, on Barnsley News and Sport, here, and The Star, here, Michael has called for measures to tackle rip-off energy bills and releive the pressure on households facing a cost of living crisis in Barnsley.

Thousands of hard-working families in Barnsley are under enormous pressure from rising prices, a flatlining economy and sky-high utility bills with many of them struggling to make ends meet.

Families in Barnsley are facing record fuel bills while energy companies are enjoying huge profits. Since the Government came to power in 2010 energy bills have soared by over £300.

Michael has called for the following measures to be introduced to tackle rip-off energy bills:

  • Ofgem should be abolished and the creation of a tough new energy watchdog with the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when the cost of wholesale energy falls.
  • Energy companies should be required to pool the power they generate and to make it available to any retailer, to open the market and to put downward pressure on prices.
  • Energy companies should be forced to put all over-75s on their cheapest tariff helping those benefiting to save up to £200 per year.

 Commenting, Michael said:

“People in Barnsley need to see measures and policies introduced that will make a real difference to the lives of those who are struggling to make ends meet at the moment.

“The economy has flatlined for two and a half years, on average real wages are down £1,700 since 2010 and energy bills have risen by over £300.

“This has been one of the coldest springs on record and rising energy bills are putting real pressure on the budgets of many in Barnsley. Action needs to be taken to tackle this, these measures would help tackle rip-off energy bills and relieve the pressure on many families in Barnsley.”

 

Michael welcomes double funding grant for BIADS

30th May 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and on Barnsley News and Sport, here, Michael has welcomed the award of two funding grants to the Barnsley based dementia charity he is patron of, BIADS.

BIADS currently splits its services between two sites and are trying to centralise their operation to one permanent dedicated centre, to help them provide more services to local people and their carers. The first grant of £20k, alongside the generous donations to BIADS’ recent ‘Buy a Brick for BIADS’ campaign, means that BIADS have now started the search for their new home.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I am honoured to be the Patron of BIADS and the award of these grants is fantastic news for BIADS and Barnsley.

“This money means BIADS can move forward with their plans to centralise their operation to one permanent centre and look forward to a bright future. This will allow them to provide more of their fantastic services to local people and their carers.

“Some 3,000 people in Barnsley suffer from dementia and I have seen firsthand, the fantastic work BIADS do in helping their ever growing number of members. The staff and volunteers who work there are truly inspiring.”

BIADS Development Manager, Pam Evans, added:

“I don’t think there will be anything like our centre anywhere, it will be a building that rings with positivity. Somewhere people can go to get advice, information, talk to professionals with personal experience of their situation, meet others on the same journey and get practical help and signposting to the services people need.

“We are proud that through our services members have seen tremendous peer support groups spring up and grow, helping support people on their journey with this devastating illness.”

The second grant of £10k will be used to help fund a part-time activity worker, who will help BIADS provide even more services, develop them and reach out into the community.

To maintain the services BIADS offer they need to raise £30k per year. For information on how to donate you can visit their website here - http://www.biads.org.uk/

 

5Live: Michael discusses the good progress made by Ed Miliband and the Labour Party so far on Pienaar politics

28th May 2013

Michael was on Pienaar politics this Sunday discussing the good work of Ed Miliband and the Party so far and the Party's future prospects. Michael was alongside, Richard Harrington (Conservative MP for Watford), Peter Kellner (YouGov) and Ben Brogan (Telegraph), to listen to the full interview click, here, and scroll to 33:40.

 

Michael met with the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss HS2 and raise the concerns of the people of Barnsley

24th May 2013

HS2As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle and on We Are Barnsley's website, here, Michael has met with the Secretary of State for Transport.

Michael was able to raise specific concerns for the residents of Barnsley East in places like, Swaithe Hamlet, Wombwell Woods, Ardsley and Hoyland.

Michael stressed:

  • The Government should do all they can to maximise compensation to  residents affected, including those whose homes are blighted and unsellable now.
  • There must be the fullest consultation with the public and that the Government should look at proposals to amend the route.
  • While Michael agrees in principle with HS2, this meeting allowed him to emphasise that the Government needs to demonstrate the economic benefits HS2 will bring to Barnsley.

Commenting after, Michael said:

“This was an important opportunity to sit down with the Transport Secretary and discuss HS2 and the concerns people have in Barnsley.

“Whilst I am supportive in principle of HS2, there are many in Barnsley who are concerned about the effect the current HS2 route may have on the local environment and those who rightly are worried that their houses will be blighted and unsellable. At this meeting I was able to impress on the Secretary of State the importance of engagement with the public and the need for them to be flexible on the route. The Government  must also do all it can to maximise compensation to residents hit by the plans.

“I will continue to battle hard for Barnsley residents.”

 

Michael hails ‘historic day’ as he and other MPs vote to pass Equal Marriage

21st May 2013

Today in Parliament, Michael and other MPs, voted to pass the third Reading of the Equal Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Once the legislation clears the Lords for the final time, couples who want to make a loving long term commitment will be able to get married, whatever their gender or sexuality.

Commenting after, Michael said:

“Marriage is a fundamental part of our society, I was proud to support this historic piece of legislation. Same sex couples should be able to get the same recognition as everyone else.

“It was important to ensure that this Bill provided strong protection for freedom of religion, including safeguards so that no church, faith group or individual minister can be required to conduct a same sex marriage.”

Michael welcomed the fact that the protection of religious freedom is rightly set out on the face of the Bill and these safeguards have been properly scrutinised in committee. However, freedom of religion means we must also support those churches and faiths who want to hold same sex marriage ceremonies. As a result the Bill does allow for those churches that want to hold same sex marriage (including the Quakers, Unitarians and Reform Judaism) to do so.

Labour introduced civil partnerships legislation in 2004 in face of considerable opposition. Now they have widespread support. It is the right time to allow same sex couples equal recognition by the state through marriage.

 

Michael encourages people to support Barnsley's local markets, as 'Love Your Local Market' fortnight begins

16 May 2013

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael is encouraging people to get out and support their local markets and high streets during ‘Love Your Local Market’ fortnight.

As a regular visitor to Hoyland and Wombwell markets I understand how important they are to support and what a shame it would be to see them disappearing from our streets.

Part of making sure that we keep a vibrant local market and high street is to have the support of the local community, but there is also a lot that the Government could do to help struggling retailers. 

Consumer confidence has been badly hit by the government’s VAT hike and the squeeze on family incomes.  It is no surprise that retail sales have remained sluggish. The Government should enact a temporary VAT cut and give local people a real say over the future of their high street.

You can support your local market at Hoyland every Tuesday and Saturday, 8:30am – 3:00pm and Wombwell on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, also 8:30am – 3:00pm. Click here to find out more about ‘Love Your Local Market’ fortnight.

 

Michael calls for a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to tackle long-term unemployment in Barnsley

17 May 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has called on the Government to take action and introduce Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to tackle long-term unemployment in Barnsley.

Although figures released this week show a slight decrease in the overall figures of those claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Barnsley East, nationally we know unemployment is rising. In Barnsley East long-term unemployment has increased 17% in the last year and long term youth unemployment in Barnsley Local Authority has increased by 28%.

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael Dugher MP said:

“It is incredibly concerning that long term unemployment is up 17% on the year, and long-term youth unemployment is up 28%.  It is clear that this Government’s policies are not working for the people of Barnsley.

“The Coalition Government needs to take urgent action to tackle this. A Jobs Bill should be introduced to bring in Labour's Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get anyone out of work for more than two years back into a job; a job people must take or lose their benefits. Failure to address this will risk condemning a whole generation to joblessness.

“While the people of Barnsley are out of work for longer, all Tory MPs can do is bicker amongst themselves about Europe. They are letting the people of Barnsley down.”

 

Michael helps bring Yorkshire Pride to the Palace of Westminster

16 May 2013

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael welcomed Dave Hughes and David Broadhead from the Barnsley based Acorn Brewery to Westminster, after arranging to have the Barnsley based brewery’s very own Yorkshire Pride served in Westminster’s Strangers’ Bar for the next couple of weeks.

Michael was able to jump behind the bar and serve up some Yorkshire Pride to the two brewers and other MPs, including Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, who was able to meet up with them and show his support.

Acorn Brewery celebrate their tenth anniversary of brewing this month, this a great way to celebrate this achievement and a great opportunity to showcase some of the great produce made in Barnsley.

 

LabourList: ‘What school Cameron went to doesn’t matter to me – but what school you went to clearly does matter to David Cameron’

13 May 2013

Michael has written a blog post for LabourList about the reports that David Cameron’s only black working-class adviser has been pushed out of 10 Downing Street following the promotion of Old Etonians.

To read the blog, click here: ‘What school Cameron went to doesn’t matter to me – but what school you went to clearly does matter to David Cameron

 

Top adviser to the Prime Minister caught boasting about the advantages of a recession

12 May 2013

As reported in The Observer today, the prime minister's adviser on enterprise has told the cabinet that the economic downturn is an excellent time for new businesses to boost profits and grow because Labour is cheap.

Responding, Michael said:

"This is yet more evidence of just how desperately out of touch David Cameron's Government has become.

"On a weekend when it was revealed that private school fees are apparently the only thing keeping David Cameron's clique up at night, now one of the Prime Minister's top advisers is caught boasting about the advantages of a recession.

"Whilst millions of hard-pressed families are feeling the squeeze and the Government gives out tax cuts for millionaires, Cameron's adviser seems to celebrate low wages for many in a recession.

"Once again the true face of Cameron's Government has been exposed".

UPDATE: politicis.co.uk has followed up on the story: “The upsides of recession: Young in trouble for focusing on silver lining”

 

Sunday Mirror: Nick Clegg could be forced out as Lib Dem leader before 2015 election as party forecast to win just 24 seats

13 May 2013

The Sunday Mirror is reporting today that senior Lib Dems are concerned after the party's drubbing in the local elections earlier this month.

In one local council, Cambridge, there was a 13.5 per cent swing from the Lib Dems to Labour.

That followed last November's 16.8 per cent swing from the Lib Dems to Labour in the Manchester Central by-election.

Michael, quoted in the article, said:

“Looking at recent results, Lib Dem MPs will be toppling like dominoes at the next election.

"And with Clegg's broken promises and his determination to prop up Cameron and his millionaire tax cuts, it's no wonder Lib Dems in Sheffield are worried."

 

Blog post: “As the number of food banks continue to rise, it’s time the Government faced up to the impact its policies are having in places like Barnsley”   

11 May 2013

Last week, Michael visited the Gateway Church Food Bank in Barnsley.  Following the visit, Michael has written a blog about the growing problem of food poverty. 

To read the blog, click here

 

Michael visits Gateway Church Food Bank in Barnsley

10 May 2013

aAs reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael visited the Gateway Church Food Bank in Barnsley last week to see all the great work that volunteers are doing.

With the economy flatlining and living standards being squeezed, more and more people are using food banks just to get by.  Last year, almost 350,000 turned up to food banks for help, almost triple the number who received food aid in the previous year and 100,000 more than anticipated.

Gateway Church Food Bank has been open for 11 weeks and has had 145 vouchers presented, feeding 365 people in crisis for three days, 39 of these vouchers were 2nd and 3rd visits.

(During the visit, Michael met (photo - left to right) Pastor Mark Reasbeck and two food bank co-ordinators, Janet and Steph.)

To find out more about the Gateway Church Food Bank, how to donate and the great work they do, you can visit their website here - http://gatewaybarnsley.org/foodbank/.

Commenting after the visit, Michael said:

a“The UK is the seventh richest country in the world, but under this Tory-led Government many are seeing the rising cost of living, changes to benefits, unemployment and underemployment squeeze their household budgets so much that they are unable to afford to meet their basic needs.

“The number of people that Gateway Church Food Bank has helped in such a short time is concerning.  Without the excellent work of the volunteers at Gateway Church Food Bank and the kindness of the Barnsley community who donate to the food bank, these people would have had nowhere else to turn.

“The number of those turning to food banks has increased by a shocking 747% since the last full year of the previous Labour Government.  David Cameron and George Osborne have to take notice of the damage their policies are having and change course to provide jobs and growth for Barnsley.”

 

Michael presents Arctic Star service medal to veteran Ken Burkinshaw

10 May 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael met with veteran Ken Burkinshaw last week to present him with the Arctic Star service medal in recognition for his dedicated service between 1940-1957 where he reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Ken, who lives in Hoyland in Barnsley and is President of the Hoyland and District branch of the Royal British Legion, served aboard HMS Sheffield when he was only 16 and completed nine trips to Russia in minus 35-40 degree conditions to deliver supplies.

Michael, also a member of the RBL, has been campaigning for veterans who braved the perilous conditions in the Arctic during the Second World War to be properly recognised and the Government finally announced last year that they would be award the Arctic Star.

Commenting after the meeting, Michael said:

"I am delighted to have presented the Arctic Star to one of Barnsley's veterans.

"It is throughly well deserved and this recognition is scandalously overdue. 

"Everyone in Barnsley is so proud and pleased that Ken's service and sacrifice has finally been honoured."

 

Michael criticises the Government for cutting nurses and putting patients’ lives at risk as new figures reveal the A&E unit at Barnsley Hospital is struggling

10 May 2013

aAs reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, the South Yorkshire Times and the Sheffield Star, Michael has criticised the Government for cutting nurses and putting patients’ lives at risk as new figures show that the Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust A&E unit is struggling and has consistently missed its waiting time targets over the last six months.

aStaffing shortages across the NHS have left A&E departments over-stretched and under severe pressure.

Yorkshire has lost 1,224 nurses since May 2010 and data published by the new NHS England body shows that the target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours has been missed by the A&E unit at Barnsley Hospital in 24 of the last 26 weeks, with a total of 3,535 people having to wait more than four hours before being seen.

In October 2012, 96 per cent of people were being seen within four hours at the A&E unit at Barnsley Hospital.  This has now dropped to just 89 per cent.    

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“What's happening at the A&E unit at Barnsley Hospital is a real worry.     

"David Cameron promised the NHS would be safe on his watch, but instead his Government has haemorrhaged thousands of nurses and did nothing whilst A&Es struggled through the winter.

“Yorkshire has lost 1,224 nurses over the last three years and it’s patients who are suffering as the missed targets at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust demonstrate. 

"Patients should not be subjected to poor care because of the Government’s failings.  

“Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust must raise its game and Ministers need to come up with an urgent plan to bring all A&Es up to the required standard and ensure there are enough staff on the ground across the NHS to provide the safe care we need.”

 

 

Michael attends Grimethorpe Revival book launch

07 May 2013

Michael attended the book launch on Friday of Grimethorpe Revival, by Mel Dyke.

The book is about Grimethrope and a “creative counter movement in a coalfield community during the bleak days of the 1990s pit closures”. 

Michael contributed to the book, writing an article about the trauma that the miners’ strike and the subsequent pit closure programme had on areas like Edlington in the mid-eighties, where Michael grew up, and Grimethorpe later in the early 1990s.

To find out more about the book, or to order a copy, you can click here.

 

 

Michael visits Dearnevale Care Home in Grimethorpe

04 May 2013

Michael visited the Dearnevale Care Home in Grimethorpe on Friday to see the superb level of care offered to its residents.

The home provides care and support for people with complex physical disabilities resulting from trauma. It is made up of four units, each with ten beds.  The home is completely full and they expect their waiting list to increase.   

Manager, Jill Westwood, explained that 141 employees, mainly from the local area, provide specialist care to people from as far afield as Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.  They pride themselves on creating a homely atmosphere.

Commenting after his visit, Michael said:

"I would like to thank Mick Tillotson for helping to facilitate the visit.  It was great to see the amazing work that all the staff do at the home.  Their dedication and quality of care was really inspiring."

 

Michael calls on the Health Secretary to order an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the temporary suspension of surgery at Leeds

03 May 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has written to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, calling on him to order an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the temporary suspension of surgery at the children’s heart unit in Leeds.

Michael has said that there appears to be serious questions, which have yet to be unanswered, regarding the decision to suspend surgery.  And there are also issues surrounding the timing of the move - coming just one day after a High Court decision to quash the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts’ decision to close the Leeds unit permanently.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh decided to suspend surgery at the hospital's child cardiac unit after he was given incomplete and unverified mortality data by Professor Sir roger Boyle.  However,
the unit has been reopened and it has been confirmed that the Leeds unit was safe all along and is safe still.  Professor Sir Roger Boyle has since been removed from playing any further part in the 'Safe and Sustainable' review of heart services due to the perception of bias against Leeds General Infirmary.

In his letter to the Health Secretary, Michael said:

“There remains a major concern about the use of mortality data that had not been verified. The use of the data was immediately criticised by various organisations, including, most significantly, representatives of the Central Cardiac Audit Database.  This was the actual source of the data and they have said publically that the Leeds unit’s mortality rates are within accepted ranges.  In addition, analysis from NICOR (the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research) has revealed no statistically significant issues in terms of mortality at any of the units in England and Wales, including Leeds General Infirmary.

“It took a High Court judge to expose the fact that the 'Safe and Sustainable' process was unfair and unlawful.  This latest episode highlights the importance of bringing this whole situation to a swift conclusion. 

“Many children in Barnsley and across the region are reliant on the Leeds unit for urgent and on-going care so what is needed now is clarity for the worried parents of very sick children that the future of the Leeds unit is safe.”

 

Michael on the BBC Daily Politics show

29 April 2013

Michael was on the Daily Politics show today to talk about the upcoming local elections in England and Wales.

Click here to watch the full programme on iPlayer.

 

 

Sunday Mirror: “UKIP leader Nigel Farage facing calls to kick out racists”

29 April 2013

The Sunday Mirror has reported on the details that have emerged of some of the controversial candidates the UKIP party is fielding in Thursday’s council elections.

This follows revelations that a number of UKIP candidates have appeared on a membership list of the far-right British National Party.

Michael, quoted in the article, has called on Mr Farage to ensure any racists in his party were kicked out of the party.  He said:

“There is absolutely no place for racism in our politics. UKIP should be taking action and kicking out racist candidates.”

“UKIP look increasingly like a rabble and their policies to cut the NHS and other local services, while giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest, should worry people too.”

 

Michael speaks out against Bedroom Tax at rally in Barnsley

27 April 2013

Michael addressed a rally in Barnsley today, which was organised to protest against the Government’s Bedroom Tax.

Michael has been a leading critic of the Bedroom Tax, which came into effect on 1 April 2013. The Government’s new policy means that tenants in social housing will have their Housing Benefit reduced by 14 per cent if they have one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.

It is set to hit over three thousand households across Barnsley for under-occupying their homes even though the majority will not be offered any suitable smaller properties.

 

 

Michael attends Workers’ Memorial Day event in Barnsley

27 April 2013

Michael attended a Workers’ Memorial Day event in Barnsley today.

The event, which was held at The Cenotaph outside Barnsley Town Hall, was part of the international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled or injured by their work.

The Mayor of Barnsley, Cllr Dorothy Higginbottom, Shaun Wright, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire and Dan Jarvis MP also attended the event.

Click here to find out more about Workers’ Memorial Day.

 

Ahead of the Bedroom Tax rally this Saturday, Michael demands assurances from Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes that they will do everything possible to avoid evictions

26 April 2013

Michael has demanded assurances from Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) and Berneslai Homes that they will do everything possible to avoid eviction following the introduction of the Government’s Bedroom Tax.   

Michael raised the issue this week during crunch talks with the Chief Executive of Berneslai Homes, Helen Jagger, and the Leader of Barnsley council, Stephen Houghton. 

Michael has been a leading critic of the Bedroom Tax and has been campaigning against it for months.  As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Sheffield Star, Michael will be speaking at the rally organised in Barnsley on Saturday 27 April against the Government’s Bedroom Tax.    

Last week, Michael revealed that there are only 125 unoccupied one and two-bedroom council properties available in Barnsley at the moment, which means the vast majority of households affected by the Bedroom Tax will not be able to downsize to a smaller property.     

Berneslai Homes has confirmed to Michael that it will pursue the amounts outstanding as rent arrears for tenants who do not  pay the bedroom tax, but that comprehensive advice and assistance will be given to people and each case will be dealt with on its merits. 

The Bedroom Tax, which came into effect on 1 April 2013, means that tenants in social housing will have their Housing Benefit reduced by 14 per cent if they have one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I have spoken to Berneslai Homes and Barnsley council - they must do all they can to avoid evictions following the introduction of the Bedroom Tax.   

“The Government’s Bedroom Tax is clearly unfair as it penalises over three thousand households across Barnsley for under-occupying their homes even though the majority will not be offered any suitable smaller properties.

“Berneslai Homes has confirmed that they will pursue the amounts outstanding as rent arrears for tenants who do not pay the Bedroom Tax, but they have also assured me that they will give comprehensive advice and assistance to people and treat each case on its merits. 

“I will be speaking out against the Bedroom Tax at the rally in Barnsley on Saturday and I will also be keeping up the campaign in Westminster.  The Government needs to admit that it has got this horribly wrong and think again.”

 

Michael calls on the Government not to scrap the ASBO as new figures reveal the extent of the anti-social behaviour problem in Barnsley

26 April 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has urged the Government not to scrap the ASBO and called for faster action to help tackle anti-social behaviour in Barnsley. 

A detailed breakdown obtained by Freedom of Information Requests and research by statisticians from the House of Commons Library has revealed new figures, which show in the Barnsley local authority area, there were 12,719 anti-social behaviour incidents recorded by the police in 2012.

This means on average there were 55 anti-social behaviour incidents per 1,000 people in Barnsley in 2012.

The figures also paint a revealing picture of the scale of the anti-social behaviour problem at a police force wide area, with the South Yorkshire Police force recording 88,252 incidents of anti-social behaviour in 2012, which means on average there were 65.7 incidents of anti-social behaviour per 1,000 people.  This is the second highest rate in the country, only after incidents per thousand recorded by the Greater Manchester Police.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“Anti-social behaviour is a serious problem. Last year, 12,719 anti-social behaviour incidents in Barnsley were recorded by the police.  But the Government is turning the clock back with their plans to scrap the ASBO and replace it with a weaker power which carries no criminal sanction for a breach.  The Government’s community trigger, which demands a response if a person has complained three times just isn’t good enough.

“The Government’s official crime survey has revealed that more than eight out of ten people believe anti social behaviour has risen in England and Wales in the last 12 months and nearly a third said that they had personally been a victim of yobbish behaviour or had witnessed an event in the last 12 months.

“People in Barnsley have the right to expect action right away and help to tackle an issue which is a huge worry.”

 

Michael votes for motion calling on the Government to drop its plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board

24 April 2013

Michael has voted today on a motion calling on the Government to drop its plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).

The AWB was set up in 1948 to provide a fair wage and skills structure for agricultural workers.  It protects pay and conditions for 152,000 farm workers in England and Wales and it used as a benchmark for others employed in the food industry.   Over 42,000 casual workers could see a drop in wages as soon as they finish their next job once the AWB is gone.  And the remaining 110,000 could see their wages eroded over time.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, 70 agricultural workers will be affected by the changes. 

The text of the motion Michael voted on today was:

ABOLITION OF THE AGRICULTURAL WAGES BOARD
That this House notes that the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) was set up in 1948 to provide a fair wage and skills structure for agricultural workers; recognises that it is used as a benchmark for other employment in the food industry and that it was the only wages council not to be scrapped in the 1980s; further notes that around a quarter of agricultural workers live in tied accommodation and that casual seasonal workers may move around the country; regrets that the Welsh Government’s wish to retain the AWB has been ignored by the Government; condemns the Government for its abolition of the AWB, which took place after just four weeks consultation and will take £260 million out of the rural economy over the next 10 years, lead to a race to the bottom on wages in rural areas, reduce living standards and impoverish rural workers, exacerbating social deprivation and harming social inclusion; further regrets that hon. Members could not debate that issue as part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill; and calls on the Government to drop its plans to abolish the AWB.

Overall, the abolition of the AWB will take £260 million out of the rural economy over 10 years in lost sick pay and holiday entitlement according to Defra’s impact assessment.  This will take money out of village shops and high streets, hurting small businesses. 

The Government’s plans will also make it harder for small farms that will now have to negotiate pay and conditions themselves, creating more red tape.

During the last Tory Government, Mrs Thatcher tried to get rid of the AWB at the time when she abolished the Wages Councils, but she was forced to change her mind. This is a cut that even Mrs Thatcher did not dare go ahead with.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“The Government should be helping rural families deal with rising living costs, not engaging in a race to the bottom in pay and conditions.

“The abolition of the AWB will save virtually nothing and it just demonstrates the Government’s failure to protect people who work in agriculture. 

“With the Government’s plans to abolish the AWB, there will be no minimum wage for children under 16 who drive tractors at weekends and in school holidays.  Seasonal workers will also lose the cap on the amount their employers can charge them for tied accommodation. 

“If incomes fall, rural workers may become entitled to tax credits, housing benefit and council tax benefit.  This will just add to the welfare bill and increase the deficit.  Scrapping the AWB will be bad both for rural growth and for national deficit reduction.  The Government needs to think again.”

 

Michael visits Northern College in Barnsley to talk to students

22 April 2013

Michael visited the Northern College for Residential Adult Education on Friday to talk to a number of students currently studying Politics.

The Northern College is a residential college dedicated to the education and training of people without formal qualifications and who are seeking to return to learning.  It also offers training for those who are active in community and voluntary groups.

The college has a national reputation for excellence and has been judged Outstanding by OfSTED.  Students come from many different backgrounds, with people of all ages - from 19 to 90 - often with families and dependants. 

To find out more about the college, you can visit their website at: www.northern.ac.uk.

Commenting after his visit, Michael said:

“It was great to visit Northern College, talk to students and to see the outstanding learning environment that the college provides. 

 “The college offers a high level of support and provides excellent opportunities for people who have been unemployed for long periods, or who have been struggling to get by with low paid jobs, to better their lives by securing the qualifications and skills they need to succeed.   

“With long-term unemployment still rising, I think the type of education and support that Northern College provides is needed now more than ever.”   

 

Michael meets with the Wombwell Tenants and Residents Association to listen to their concerns

22 April 2013

Michael met with the Wombwell Tenants and Residents Association on Friday to listen to their concerns regarding a number of local issues, such as mobility scooter regulation, welfare reform and the bedroom tax.

The community group is made up of local people acting in a voluntary capacity to promote and defend the interests of tenants and  residents in Wombwell. 

To find out more about the group, you can visit: http://www.berneslaihomes.co.uk/get-involved/tenants-and-residents-associations-taras/wombwell-tara/

 

Barnsley MPs meet with Culture Minister to discuss funding for Brass Bands

19 April 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Sheffield Telegraph today, Michael Dugher MP, Dan Jarvis MP and John Healey MP met with the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, on Monday 15 April to discuss funding for brass bands in the UK.  

Michael Dugher, Dan Jarvis and John Healey initially asked for the meeting following reports that the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band could be forced to stop playing due to a lack of funding.  This highlighted the wider financial pressures facing many brass bands across the UK.

At the meeting, the Barnsley MPs called on the Minister to help ensure that brass bands are accessing the various Arts Council funding streams available.  Mr Vaizey acknowledged that more needs to be done and said he will write to the MPs to outline clearly which funding programmes are suitable for brass bands to apply.  He also agreed to facilitate arranging a meeting with the Arts Council. 

For many years there has been an unfair distribution of funding between different musical art forms and this has particularly affected brass bands.  In 2011/12, the Arts Council allocated funding totalling £26million to the Royal Opera House in London and the English National Ballet received £6.4million.  Jazz Services Ltd, an organisation that represents Jazz bands, also received £433,723.  In comparison, the organisation responsible for supporting 458 brass band groups nationwide, the British Federation of Brass Bands (now Brass Bands England), only received £23,000.   

In a statement following the meeting, Michael Dugher MP, Dan Jarvis MP and John Healey MP said:

“The meeting with Mr Vaizey was very useful.  The situation facing Grimethrope Colliery Brass Band is mirrored across the country and we welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement that more needs to be done to make sure brass bands are accessing the available Arts Council funding programmes.

“A key part of this is to increase awareness of the funding that is potentially available for brass brands throughout the UK and to provide guidance during the application process.  Mr Vaizey said he would write to us to outline clearly which funding programmes are suitable for brass bands and he also agreed to facilitate arranging a meeting with the Arts Council as soon as possible.

“Brass bands are not only a vital part of the UK’s heritage, they are also still enjoyed by thousands of people around the country week in, week out.   Brass bands have been missing out on grants for far too long due to the unfair distribution of funding and it’s time this came to an end. 

“Our first meeting with the Minister was productive, but there is still a long way to go and we will be keeping up the pressure in the weeks ahead.”

 

Michael calls for defibrillators to be installed in all schools and public buildings across Barnsley

18 April 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has called for defibrillators to be installed in all schools and other public buildings across Barnsley.  He has said that many lives could be saved every year if Britain follows the lead of other countries and requires the installation of defibrillators in schools and busy public places.

On average, twelve young people die every week in the UK from sudden cardiac arrest.  Research shows that use of a defibrillator within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chance of survival, with chances decreasing by 14 per cent every minute that passes without defibrillation.

Experts believe that many more lives can be saved with better education in emergency first aid and wider availability of defibrillators.  It is in the first few seconds after collapse that lives can be saved - before paramedics are able to get to the scene.

Michael is campaigning for the Government to set a minimum mandatory requirement on the location of defibrillators in public places such as train stations, shopping centres and schools and has called for an open public register of defibrillators so people can quickly locate the nearest one using modern technology.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Too many lives are being lost that could be saved if only communities were better equipped to provide an emergency response.  I am calling on the Government to install defibrillators in all schools and other public buildings across Barnsley.

“I believe that a new law on defibrillators should be backed by better education on how to use them.  Just as we require fire extinguishers to be on hand, it's time for Parliament to act and set a minimum requirement on the location of defibrillators. 

“The campaign is growing and an e-petition initiated by the Oliver King Foundation has attracted over 100,000 signatures.  Oliver King passed away two years ago after suffering a cardiac arrest during a school swimming lesson.  He was just 12 years old.

“It is clear that wider access to defibrillators and staff training would help save lives.  Fabrice Muamba's remarkable story shows us all what can be achieved if the right support is immediately on hand.”

 

Michael calls on the Health Secretary to order an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the temporary suspension of surgery at Leeds

18 April 2013

Michael has written to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, calling on him to order an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the temporary suspension of surgery at the children’s heart unit in Leeds.

Michael has said that there appears to be serious questions, which have yet to be unanswered, regarding the decision to suspend surgery.  And there are also issues surrounding the timing of the move - coming just one day after a High Court decision to quash the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts’ decision to close the Leeds unit permanently.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh decided to suspend surgery at the hospital's child cardiac unit after he was given incomplete and unverified mortality data by Professor Sir roger Boyle.  However,
the unit has been reopened and it has been confirmed that the Leeds unit was safe all along and is safe still.  Professor Sir Roger Boyle has since been removed from playing any further part in the 'Safe and Sustainable' review of heart services due to the perception of bias against Leeds General Infirmary.

In his letter to the Health Secretary, Michael said:

“There remains a major concern about the use of mortality data that had not been verified. The use of the data was immediately criticised by various organisations, including, most significantly, representatives of the Central Cardiac Audit Database.  This was the actual source of the data and they have said publically that the Leeds unit’s mortality rates are within accepted ranges.  In addition, analysis from NICOR (the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research) has revealed no statistically significant issues in terms of mortality at any of the units in England and Wales, including Leeds General Infirmary.

“It took a High Court judge to expose the fact that the 'Safe and Sustainable' process was unfair and unlawful.  This latest episode highlights the importance of bringing this whole situation to a swift conclusion. 

“Many children in Barnsley and across the region are reliant on the Leeds unit for urgent and on-going care so what is needed now is clarity for the worried parents of very sick children that the future of the Leeds unit is safe.”

 

Michael calls for urgent action to tackle long-term youth unemployment as figures show yet another increase in Barnsley

17 April 2013

Michael has called for the urgent introduction of a “Real Jobs Guarantee” to tackle the growing problem of long-term unemployment in Barnsley. 

The latest unemployment figures, released today, show that the number of 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen yet again.  It now stands at 530, up from just 155 two years ago.

Michael has welcomed the slight fall in the total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley, which now stands at 7,860.  However, overall the figure has increased by 12.8 per cent over the last two years. 

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 960, up from 485 a year ago.

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“It is welcome news that the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance has fallen slightly across Barnsley, but alarm bells should be ringing for Ministers.  Overall, unemployment is much higher than two years ago and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley has risen yet again, demonstrating how the Government’s beleaguered Work Programme is failing to make a difference. 

“In Barnsley, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has increased by a massive 241 per cent in the last two years.  The Government urgently needs to introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months. 

“The scheme, which would require young people to take up the offered position or face possible benefit sanctions, would help 530 18-24 year olds in Barnsley alone. Ministers need to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“Nationally, seventy thousand more people are now on the dole than last month and youth unemployment rose by 20,000.  Things are getting worse, not better, and in addition to failing to get people back to work, the Government is also hitting those in work who are struggling to make ends meet.  Families are £891 worse off because of tax and benefit changes and pay packets are now £1,700 smaller than at the last election.  It’s time for a fresh approach and for the Government to take decisive action to get Britain working again.”

 

Michael attends Holocaust Memorial Day Trust event in Parliament

16 April 2013

Michael attended a Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) event today in Parliament. 

HMDT is a charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day and encourages people across the UK to play their part in learning the lessons from the past. 

At the event, Michael met with the Sharon Artley, the Trust’s Champion for Yorkshire. 

Click here to find out more about the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

 

 

‘Conservatives in photo fakery row’

15 April 2013

The Daily Mirror has discovered that a Conservative website has been using pictures of young models to promote its recruitment campaign for the next general election instead of real Tory activists.

Michael, quoted in the article, said: 

“Once again the Conservatives are taking people for fools.

"After the infamous airbrushed posters of David Cameron, this is just the latest example that proves that their desperate attempt to look young, diverse and in touch with modern Britain is a complete deception and a sham.”

The story has also been picked up by the Daily Mail: “Grant Shapps under fire over website 'sham'”

 

LabourList: ‘Thatcher’s legacy in the coalfields was devastation – and the bitterness is still felt today’

14 April 2013

Michael and Dan Jarvis have written a joint blog post for LabourList about Thatcher’s legacy in places like Barnsley.

Click here to read the blog: ‘Thatcher’s legacy in the coalfields was devastation – and the bitterness is still felt today’

 

Michael reveals that Barnsley Council will not be able to offer smaller housing to 97 per cent of households affected by the Bedroom Tax in Barnsley

12 April 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has revealed that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) will only be able to help just over three per cent of the 3,664 households affected by the Bedroom Tax across the whole of the borough.

New figures, recently released by Barnsley Council, show that there are currently only 125 unoccupied one and two-bedroom council properties available in Barnsley. 

The Bedroom Tax, which came into effect on 1 April 2013, means that tenants in social housing will have their Housing Benefit reduced by 14 per cent if they have one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.

Commenting, Michael said:

“These new figures show very clearly that the Government’s Bedroom Tax will penalise over three thousand households across Barnsley for under-occupying their homes even though they will not be offered any suitable smaller properties. 

“This means that many families already struggling to get by could be pushed further into debt and, in some cases, made to move to smaller, but more expensive private rented housing.  This will lead to an increase in their housing benefit payments and perversely a further strain on the housing benefit budget.  

“The reality is the Bedroom Tax is not only unfair, it is also the wrong policy to solve the problem.  And how can it be right that the Government has decided to cut the top rate of income tax for the richest people in the country, with 13,000 millionaires set to receive an average tax cut worth £100,000, at the same time as introducing these unfair changes?

“The Government should admit that it has got this horribly wrong and think again.”

 

Statement from Michael Dugher MP responding to the death of Margaret Thatcher and the subsequent decision to recall Parliament

10 April 2013

Responding to the death of Margaret Thatcher this week and the subsequent decision to recall Parliament for a special session today, Michael Dugher MP said:

“My opposition to many of Margaret Thatcher’s policies is well known - indeed Margaret Thatcher is the reason I went into Labour politics.

"I grew up in a pit village in South Yorkshire in the 1980s, only a few miles from the constituency that I am now privileged to represent in Parliament.  Margaret Thatcher's legacy throughout the coalfield areas was one of complete devastation.  This is something that I and many other people in Barnsley will never be able to forget.  Nor will we ever be able to forgive her for what her government did to our communities.   And recovering from this legacy still remains our greatest challenge today.

“But I have always believed in 'respect for Office', even if those holding that Office are your political opponents. Parliament has been recalled by the Speaker so I will attend the House of Commons today."

 

The Daily Mirror: ‘Nick Clegg on holiday in 20-bed luxury mansion as bedroom tax kicks in for poor families’

06 April 2013

The Daily Mirror is reporting that the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has gone on holiday to stay in his parent’s luxurious 20-room chalet in an exclusive ski resort while poor families are clobbered by the introduction of the bedroom tax and new benefit cuts. 

Michael, quoted in the Mirror article as well as the Huffington Post and ITV News, said:

“While hundreds of thousands are hit by the bedroom tax, Nick Clegg will be putting his feet up in his 20-room mansion.

"Sounds like Clegg has a lot of ‘spare rooms to subsidise’.”

 

Blog post: 'The Government should never be forgiven for this week: Ordinary working families and the disabled left worse off as millionaires receive a tax cut'

03 April 2013

Michael has written a new blog post about the tax and benefit changes being introduced this week.

To read the full blog, click here: ‘The Government should never be forgiven for this week: Ordinary working families and the disabled left worse off as millionaires receive a tax cut’

 

Michael warns that changes giving local authorities responsibility for public health care will be a massive challenge for Barnsley

2 April 2013 

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has submitted a response to Barnsley council’s consultation on its new Health and Wellbeing Strategy. 

From April 2013, local authorities in England will have a new duty to improve the health of the people in their areas.  This means that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council will inherit responsibility, and funding, for a range of public health services previously provided by the NHS.

In anticipation of these changes, the Health and Wellbeing Board in Barnsley has been set up to improve the health and wellbeing of Barnsley residents and communities, and to reduce health inequalities within the borough.  In February, the board launched a consultation on a draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Barnsley.

Commenting, Michael said:

“There is no doubt that taking on these new responsibilities for public health will be a massive challenge for Barnsley.  But the draft strategy document demonstrates that BMBC is taking the new responsibilities extremely seriously and that it has every intention of working hard to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents. 

“I agree with the priorities that the council has outlined, but I think more details are now required on how these will be delivered.  I also believe that there are some additional areas that the council should emphasise in its strategy document, such as teenage pregnancy and the sexual health of young people, tackling the growing problem of obesity and encouraging exercise.”

 

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Click here to read Michael’s submission to the consultation.

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Michael writes a letter to constituent Phyllis Wheately to mark her 100th Birthday

2 April 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle last week, Michael has written a letter to his constituent Phyllis Wheately, who recently turned 100. 

Phyllis lives at the Autumn House care home in Worsbrough Dale and according to staff she likes to play bowling games on the Nintendo Wii, bingo and other activities. 

When the Barnsley Chronicle asked her about the secret to a long and happy life, she joked:

“I’m not telling you!”  

 

 

The number of people claiming JSA in Barnsley has risen above 8,000 – the first time since 1996

29 March 2013 

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, the latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley jumped to 8,040 in February – a 14 per cent increase over the last two years and the first time it has risen above 8,000 since 1996.  

Figures for youth unemployment are up again and long-term youth unemployment also remain high.  The number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA in Barnsley is now 2,560 - up from 2,485 in January 2013.  And the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA for more than 12 months in Barnsley is now 520 – a massive increase of 205 per cent increase over the last two years.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 960, up from 695 a year ago.

Across South Yorkshire, the number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 13,405, a rise of 36 per cent in the last year. (Feb 2011: 7,055; Feb 2012: 9,890; Feb 2013: 13,405).

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“The total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has jumped to 8,040 – an increase of 14 per cent over the last two years and the first time it has risen above 8,000 since 1996.  

“Figures for youth unemployment are up yet again and long-term youth unemployment also remains too high.  Long-term youth unemployment is a major problem. When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job.  You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health. 

“Half way through the Parliament, Britain is still being scarred by rising unemployment and it is our next generation that is paying the brutal price.  The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help. For example, they should introduce a “Compulsory Jobs Guarantee” for anyone out of work for more than two years. This would help hundreds of people in Barnsley and nearly 14,000 across Yorkshire. Those who can work would be required to take up jobs, given training and time to job search - or they would lose their benefits. We simply cannot afford to let people languish on the dole for years on end.”

 

New hope for Leeds heart unit campaigners

28 March 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the South Yorkshire Times, campaigners, including Dearne parents who are trying to keep the Leeds children’s heart surgery unit open, have won another reprieve in their hard-fought battle.

Commenting, Michael said: “I know from talking to families in Barnsley how important the Children’s Heart Unit at Leeds is. It is time now for the Government to end the uncertainty".

 

High Court quashes the findings of Safe and Sustainable Review into the future of children’s heart services in Leeds

27 March 2013

Today Mrs Justice Davies, at a hearing at the High Court, has quashed the findings of Safe and Sustainable Review into the future of children’s heart services that determined that the heart unit in Leeds – the only children’s heart unit in Yorkshire – should be closed. It is not yet clear if this will mean that the entire Review will need to be re-run or just some element of it.

Previously, on 7 March, the Court ruled in favour of the Leeds Save our Surgery campaign that the Joint Committee of PCT’s consultation in its review of children’s heart services process was “unfair and unlawful”.

This legal case is separate to the full investigation by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel of the process of the Safe and Sustainable review into children’s congenital heart services ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last November.

The final decision over the future of the Review will rest with Jeremy Hunt. But, the IPR and the Health Secretary will have to take into consideration the ruling of the Judge in this matter. Indeed, the IPR was due to report to Hunt at the end of March, this has been extended to no later than 30 April to allow the panel to consider the implications of this ruling.

Michael has been one of the leading campaigners to keep children’s heart services in Yorkshire. 

Commenting on the Judge’s decision, Michael said:

“I am delighted with the judge’s decision. The Leeds Children’s Heart Unit is accessible to nearly 14 million people within 2 hours travel time, including 5.5 million people in Yorkshire & the Humber.  If the Unit closes, more than 650 families who are helped by specialists in Leeds each year would have to travel to other centres between 60 -100 miles away incurring an unnecessary extra financial burden at an already difficult time in their family life.

“I know from talking to families in Barnsley how important the Children’s Heart Unit at Leeds is.  It is time now for the Government to end the uncertainty.  This is now on desk of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.  He must the right thing and commit to safeguarding the future of the children’s heart services in Yorkshire”.

To read Michael's full review, click here.

 

The Sunday Mirror: ‘George Osborne in Budget giveaway to Tory donors in the City’

25 March 2013

The Sunday Mirror reported yesterday that the Government’s decision to scrap the ‘stamp duty reserve tax’ levied on asset management funds will mean that hedge fund ‘bigwigs’ will save £145million a year.

Quoted in the article, Michael, the Vice-Chair of the Labour Party, said:

“We know the Tories are funded by bankers and speculators.  Now, it seems their priority is to give a tax give away to their friends.

“And all of this at a time when the Government is giving millionaires a tax cut, whilst squeezing millions of ordinary families on low and middle incomes”.

Hedge fund bosses have given the Tory party at least £15 million - either individually or through their companies.  And many of the donors have also attended lavish dinners at Number 10 with David Cameron, the Chancellor and other top Cabinet Ministers.

To read the full Sunday Mirror article, click here: ‘George Osborne in Budget giveaway to Tory donors in the City’

 

Michael meets constituent at SET for Britain science exhibition in Parliament

25 March 2013

Last week, Michael met constituent Grace Stevenson from Wombwell in Parliament at a SET for Britain science event. 

SET for Britain aims to promote the work of early career research scientists.  Grace, who is based at Sheffield University, is carrying out specialist research and development in the orthopaedics sector, including work on prosthetic hips. 

You can find out more information about Grace and her work here: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/materials/staff/research/research-associates/ktp/stevensong

 

Michael reveals that nearly 2000 households are set to be hit by the Bedroom Tax in Barnsley East

22 March 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has revealed National Housing Federation figures which show that 1836 households in Barnsley East are set to lose on average £728 per year due to the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’. 

The Government’s new rules state that housing benefit and universal credit claimants deemed to have one unused bedroom in their council or housing association home will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit. 

Those with two or more  unused bedrooms will lose 25 per cent.

The Bedroom Tax will affect some 660,000 households nationally, two thirds of which are home to someone with a disability.

This change, due to come into effect on the 6 April 2013, comes at the same time as the Government is planning on giving a tax cut worth £100,000 to 13,000 millionnaires.

 

Commenting on the new figures, Michael said:

“This isn’t about tough choices, it’s about the wrong choices.

“The Government’s planned Bedroom Tax will hammer thousands of families in Barnsley already struggling to make ends meet, and could actually risk costing local tax-payers a fortune in higher private rents and covering the cost of driving people out of their homes.

“Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone with a disability, and the families of soldiers and foster parents will also be hit.

"Yet at the same time the Government is planning on giving millionaires a massive tax cut.  How can that be right?

“Britain needs real welfare reform that is fair and that works, not this chaos. 

"The Government should admit that it has got this horribly wrong and think again – before it is too late for so many families in Barnsley.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael nominates the Elachi Restaurant for the Tiffin Cup 2013

20 March 2013

Michael has nominated the Elachi curry restaurant in Hoyland, Barnsley, for the Tiffin Cup 2013.

The Tiffin Cup is an annual British competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in the UK.

Nominees are put forward by their local MP and one restaurant from every region is then shortlisted and invited to participate in the Grand Final cook-off event held in the House of Commons.

The final cook-off is judged by MPs and guest celebrities with the proceeds going to the charity, World Vision.

 

A Budget with just more of the same failing policies

20 March 2013

Michael has criticised the Budget today, calling it just more of the same from a downgraded Chancellor.

Since George Osborne’s Spending Review in 2010, the UK economy has grown by just 0.7 per cent compared to the 5.3 per cent forecast at the time.  Only three other G20 countries have grown more slowly than the UK in that period.  

Growth will also be lower than previously forecast this year and next year and borrowing is set to be £245 billion more than planned.  

Yet despite this failure, there was no change on anything important today and the Chancellor has decided to go ahead with a tax cut for millionaires in just two weeks time.

Commenting on the Budget today, Michael said:

“What we needed today was a change of direction and bold action to kickstart our flatlining economy and to help families on middle and low incomes.  Instead, all we got was more of the same failing policies.  

“Since 2010, we have seen total failure on the economy.  Growth is down, borrowing is up and the Government’s promise to balance the books by 2015 will not be met.  On top of this, the national debt will now not start falling until 2017/18.

“David Cameron and George Osborne's economic plan has completely failed and it is families, businesses and pensioners who are paying the price.   Real wages are set to fall by 2.4 per cent over the Parliament with people set to be worse off in 2015 than when this government came to office.

“Unemployment is also rising.  Figures just out today show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance in Barnsley jumped to 8,040 in February – a 14 per cent increase over the last two years and the first time it has risen above 8,000 since 1996.  

“The Budget was just more of the same from a downgraded Chancellor.  As Ed Miliband said today, Britain deserves better”.    

 

The number of people claiming JSA in Barnsley has risen above 8,000 – the first time since 1996

20 March 2013 

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley jumped to 8,040 in February – a 14 per cent increase over the last two years and the first time it has risen above 8,000 since 1996.  

Figures for youth unemployment are up again and long-term youth unemployment also remain high.  The number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA in Barnsley is now 2,560 - up from 2,485 in January 2013.  And the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA for more than 12 months in Barnsley is now 520 – a massive increase of 205 per cent increase over the last two years.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 960, up from 695 a year ago.

Across South Yorkshire, the number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 13,405, a rise of 36 per cent in the last year. (Feb 2011: 7,055; Feb 2012: 9,890; Feb 2013: 13,405).

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“The total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has jumped to 8,040 – an increase of 14 per cent over the last two years and the first time it has risen above 8,000 since 1996.  

“Figures for youth unemployment are up yet again and long-term youth unemployment also remains too high.  Long-term youth unemployment is a major problem. When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job.  You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health. 

“Half way through the Parliament, Britain is still being scarred by rising unemployment and it is our next generation that is paying the brutal price.  The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help. For example, they should introduce a “Compulsory Jobs Guarantee” for anyone out of work for more than two years. This would help hundreds of people in Barnsley and nearly 14,000 across Yorkshire. Those who can work would be required to take up jobs, given training and time to job search - or they would lose their benefits. We simply cannot afford to let people languish on the dole for years on end.”

 

Huffington Post: Book Review of 'Commons People: MPs Are Human Too'

19 March 2013 

Michael has posted a book review blog today of the new book 'Commons People: MPs Are Human Too', written by Tony Russell. 

Click here to read the review. 

 

Michael warns that changes giving local authorities responsibility for public health care will be a massive challenge for Barnsley

19 March 2013 

Michael has submitted a response to Barnsley council’s consultation on its new Health and Wellbeing Strategy. 

From April 2013, local authorities in England will have a new duty to improve the health of the people in their areas.  This means that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council will inherit responsibility, and funding, for a range of public health services previously provided by the NHS.

In anticipation of these changes, the Health and Wellbeing Board in Barnsley has been set up to improve the health and wellbeing of Barnsley residents and communities, and to reduce health inequalities within the borough.  In February, the board launched a consultation on a draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Barnsley.

Commenting, Michael said:

“There is no doubt that taking on these new responsibilities for public health will be a massive challenge for Barnsley.  But the draft strategy document demonstrates that BMBC is taking the new responsibilities extremely seriously and that it has every intention of working hard to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents. 

“I agree with the priorities that the council has outlined, but I think more details are now required on how these will be delivered.  I also believe that there are some additional areas that the council should emphasise in its strategy document, such as teenage pregnancy and the sexual health of young people, tackling the growing problem of obesity and encouraging exercise.”

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Click here to read Michael’s submission to the consultation.

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: The Rony Robinson show

19 March 2013

Michael was interviewed on the Rony Robinson’s BBC Radio Sheffield radio show yesterday ahead of the launch of the new book ‘Commons People: MPs Are Human Too’, by Tony Russell. 

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 19:30.

 

Huffington Post: “It's Not Just the Economy, It's the Inequality, Stupid”

18 March 2013 

Michael has written an article for the Huffington Post about his recent visit to India with Save the Children.

To read the article, click here:

"It's Not Just the Economy, It's the Inequality, Stupid”

 

Barnsley Chronicle: Victory in fight to keep heart unit for children

15 March 2013

The Barnsley Chronicle has reported today on the news that the campaign to keep the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds from closing has won a significant legal challenge. 

Last week, the High Court in London ruled that the consultation over changes to children’s heart surgery was “unfair and unlawful”.

Michael, quoted in the Barnsley Chronicle article, said:

“The decision in the High Court is an important victory for all of us who have been campaigning so hard and for so long to keep children’s heart services in Yorkshire. 

“This is now on the disk of the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.  It’s time the government finally did the right thing and listened to all those families, including many in Barnsley, who desperately rely on the heart unit at Leeds. 

“I will be keeping the pressure up.”

 

Michael performs at Macmillan’s Palace of Varieties charity event  

15 March 2013

Michael performed an acoustic set as part of Macmillan Cancer Support's Palace of Varieties gig on Wednesday.

The annual event, which has members from both Houses perform, helps raise money for the fantastic work Macmillan do to support people with cancer.

 

“Things are so bad for Cameron that he is reduced to gagging his own backbench MPs on Twitter”

14 March 2013

The Daily Mail, BBC News and The Express have reported that David Cameron has told Tory MPs that there are too many tweets about his leadership.  In a meeting this week, backbench Tory MPs were apparently ordered by the party’s hierarchy to stop attacking the Prime Minister on Twitter.

Responding, Michael said: "Things are so bad for Cameron that he is reduced to gagging his own backbench MPs on Twitter because he is fearful they will tell it how it is.

"This is a weak and increasingly out of touch prime minister desperately trying to stop his divided party imploding."

 

Barnsley’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy survey – what’s your view?

11 March 2013

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is currently consulting on a strategy to improve the health of Barnsley residents.  Local authorities have been compelled to take on the role of public health promotion as a result of the Health and Social Care Act, which was passed last year.  From April, Barnsley Council will be responsible for measures to tackle such things as obesity, smoking, health screening and vaccinations.

This represents a huge challenge.  To take this forward, the Council have been working on a Health and Wellbeing Strategy and are currently seeking opinions as to whether they have got the priorities right and if they are focusing in on the public health issues that really matter to local residents.

Michael will be responding to the consultation and would welcome opinions and comments from constituents to include as evidence.  What do you think prevents you or members of your family from being healthier or leading healthier lifestyles?  What do you think is the most pressing health need of your local community?   Is it access to sports facilities, lack of information about food and nutrition or perhaps concerns about health inequalities within the borough. 

To send Michael your comments, please e-mail him at michael.dugher.mp@parliament.uk.

You can view the council’s strategy here – https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/news-and-events/news/2013/february/health-and-wellbeing-strategy-survey.

 

Michael backs BIADS campaign to open permanent centre in Barnsley

11 March 2013

Michael has backed a campaign by the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society (BIADS) to raise £45,000 in order to open its own permanent centre in Barnsley.  The new centre would provide services and activities for some 3000 people in Barnsley who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

The campaign is calling for people to ‘Buy a Brick’ of the new centre by donating £15 to the charity. The charity currently operates across two sites and says that centralising its operations would help it to provide more services to local people and their carers.  The new centre would also mean patients and carers could drop in any time if they wanted help, advice or someone to talk to.

BIADS, which was founded in 2010, now has over 500 members and 100 volunteers.

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Michael said:

“I am so pleased that BIADS plans to open a dedicated centre to offer more services to local people.  Alzheimer’s and Dementia can have a terrible impact on families, which is why the help and support that BIADS offer is so important.  I wish BIADS every success in securing the new centre, which will help them to continue their fantastic work in the community.”

To 'Buy a Brick', or to find out more about the campaign, you can email biads@btconnect.com or visit the BIADS website at www.biads.org.uk.

 

Labour Uncut: Clegg says the Lib Dems are a party of government, so let’s judge them on their record

10 March 2013 

http://www.michaeldugher.co.uk/images/labouruncut.jpg Michael has written a piece for Labour Uncut today about judging the Lib Dems on what they do, not what they say.

Click here to read the article: Clegg says the Lib Dems are a party of government, so let’s judge them on their record

 

Michael presents awards at Safestyle UK manufacturing plant in Wombwell

08 March 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael visited the Safestyle UK manufacturing plant in Wombwell recently to present staff with NVQs and other manufacturing training certificates.

Safestyle UK employs over 600 specialist production staff at its site in Wombwell, which is set over 18 acres. The company is at the cutting edge of research and development in the energy efficiency sector, and sells products that are officially recognised by the Energy Saving Trust.

Commenting on the visit, Michael Said:

“It was great to meet some of the staff at Safestyle UK to celebrate some great local success and talent.

“I am very pleased that Safestyle is investing in the skills and talents of the workforce and the local community.”

To find out more about Safestyle UK, you can visit their website at http://safestyle-manufacturing.co.uk/

 

Barnsley Chronicle: “MP blames Government cuts as figures show a quarter of children in Barnsley are living in poverty” 

08 March 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has highlighted very concerning figures published by the campaign ‘End Child Poverty’ which show that last the number of children in poverty in 2012 in Barnsley was 10,996 (22 per cent).

End Child Poverty, a campaign made up by over 150 organisations, including children’s charities who work together towards a vision of a UK free of child poverty, has published new local child poverty figures for the whole of the UK.

A child is considered to be living in poverty if their household income is less than 60 per cent of averages wages.  Last year that figure equated to £251 per week.

The percentage of children in poverty in 2012 in Michael’s constituency, Barnsley East, was 24 per cent.  A full breakdown of this figure by ward is as follows:

  • Cudworth - 25%
  • Darfield - 24%
  • Hoyland Milton - 22%
  • North East - 23%
  • Rockingham - 18%
  • Stairfoot - 29%
  • Wombwell - 23%
  • Worsbrough - 30%

The highest estimated child poverty rate is in Manchester Central constituency where a shocking 47 per cent of children are estimated to live in poverty. The lowest rate was estimated to be Nick Clegg’s constituency, Sheffield Hallam, where less than 5 per cent of children are estimated to live in poverty.

Commenting, Michael said:

"These figures are of great concern. It is not acceptable that in Barnsley it is estimated that almost a quarter of children are living in poverty.

“These figures raise a number of questions about how the current Government is tackling child poverty and the effect their deep cuts to local authority budgets, like Barnsley, are having on low income families.

“Cuts imposed by the Government has put huge pressures on vital support services provided to those on low incomes and vulnerable children.

“Government measures set to be implemented in April, like the bedroom tax, will only increase the risk of growing up in poverty for the most vulnerable children, particularly where there is shared parenting.  This Government needs to reassess the sheer scale of their cuts and unfair policies like the bedroom tax to ensure that child poverty doesn’t continue to grow in Barnsley and across the country.”

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You can access the End Child Poverty Report and statistics here: http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/why-end-child-poverty/poverty-in-your-area

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: The Rony Robinson show

07 March 2013 

Michael was interviewed on the Rony Robinson’s BBC Radio Sheffield radio show this morning following the news that campaigners have won a High Court challenge over plans to close the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds.

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 17:30.

 

Michael on Dean Pepall’s BBC Radio Sheffield show

04 March 2013

Michael was interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield today about his participation in the LIVE in Barnsley music festival on 22 June 2013. 

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 1:25.05

 

Michael calls on David Cameron to think again on the Bedroom Tax

4 March 2013

Michael has called on the Government to think again on the Bedroom Tax.   Figures buried in the detail of the Government's Bedroom Tax Impact Assessment show that a quarter of the people affected by David Cameron’s policy are single mums and single dads.

It is now clear that of the £480 million the Bedroom Tax will raise, £100 million will come from the pockets of some of the poorest single mums and single dads in Britain, struggling to raise kids on their own.

It has been estimated that around 2,000 households in Barnsley will be affected.  And across Yorkshire and the Humber, 43 per cent of people living in council or housing association homes who receive housing benefit will be hit.  This means that 80,000 people in the region will be worse off by £676 a year when the Bedroom Tax comes into force. 

Nationally, the Bedroom Tax will hit 660,000 households, two thirds of them home to someone with a disability at exactly the same time as the Government gives a massive £100,000 tax cut to 13,000 millionaires.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This isn’t about tough choices, it’s about the wrong choices.

“Two thirds of the households hit by the Bedroom Tax are home to someone with a disability. The Government is also hitting foster families helping children in need of a home and families of soldiers serving our country who will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom.

“And at exactly the same time as the Bedroom Tax comes into effect, David Cameron is giving thousands of millionaires a tax cut of £100,000 a year.

“Ministers must now admit they have got this horribly wrong and think again – before it’s too late.”

 

Michael calls for a halt to new tax on new mums in Barnsley

04 March 2013

From April this year, the Government will restrict Statutory Maternity Pay to a 1 per cent annual increase.  As reported on the WeAreBarnsley website, Michael has highlighted that by 2015, this real terms cut in maternity pay will effectively be a £180 ‘Mummy Tax’ on an estimated 1200 working women in Barnsley East every year.

And this comes on top of a series of additional cuts faced by new mums, including:  cuts to child benefit; the scrapping of the £190 Health in Pregnancy Grant; the scrapping of the £250 Child Trust Fund voucher; the frozen child benefit payments for three years; the restriction of the Sure Start Maternity Grant; and the scrapping of the baby addition to the Child Tax Credit. 

Michael has verified - using figures compiled by the House of Commons Library - that low paid new mums in Barnsley will lose £1,300 during pregnancy and the baby's first year from cuts to pregnancy support, tax credits and real terms cuts to maternity pay.  

Commenting on these figures, Mr Dugher said:

“Figures I have obtained from the House of Commons library show that the Government’s real terms cut to Statutory Maternity Pay will mean that working women on maternity leave in Barnsley will lose up to £180.     

“It is not right that this Government is planning on imposing this ‘Mummy Tax’ on working women at the same time as slashing £100,000 from the tax bill of millionaires.

“Families in Barnsley shouldn’t have to pay the price of the Government’s failed economic policies - and especially not working mums in Barnsley, who already face tough financial pressures when they have a new baby.”

 

The Sunday Mirror: ‘Nick Clegg: Mocked as a puppet and facing party trap’

3 March 2013
Sunday Mirror

The Sunday Mirror has reported on Michael’s branding of Nick Clegg as the Prime Minister’s “puppet on a string”.

Quoted in the article, Michael said:

“It’s a complete deception for Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, and the Lib Dems to pretend they are anything other than puppets dancing on the strings pulled by David Cameron and George Osborne. 

“They won’t vote for Labour’s mansion tax and will vote for a tax cut for millionaires. Labour will expose their broken promises and unfair policies with renewed vigour.”

Click here to read the full article. 

 

Michael to perform at LIVE in Barnsley festival

1 March 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael is going to perform a set at the LIVE in Barnsley festival on 22 June 2013.

Over 40 bands have now been officially confirmed from hundreds of applications and many more bands are still to be announced.  

To find out more about the free music festival, you can visit their website at www.liveinbarnsley.co.uk.

 

The Government should be backing our police, not sacking our police

1 March 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and the Sheffield Star, Michael has condemned Government cuts to policing after new figures have revealed that South Yorkshire Police has lost 178 police officers since 2010.

This comes on the back of figures showing the proportion of crimes being solved by South Yorkshire Police is falling, with 3,718 fewer crimes solved in the last year.

As a result of the Government’s cuts, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has said that 436 Police Officers from communities in South Yorkshire are set to go by 2015.  And on top of this, 793 Police Staff and a further 18 PCSOs will lose their positions in South Yorkshire because the Government is cutting too far and too fast.  Across the country, 16,000 officers are being lost alongside 16,000 police staff and 1,800 Police Community Support Officers.

The new figures released by the Home Office show the Government’s cuts to policing have resulted in the lowest number of police officers in England and Wales for over a decade. 

Commenting on the new figures, Michael said:

“It is extremely worrying that we now have 173 fewer police officers in South Yorkshire due to the Government’s cuts to policing.   

“This Government’s reduction in frontline police puts our communities at risk with fewer frontline officers, fewer officers responding to 999 calls and less visible police.  This is making it harder for the police to catch criminals and deliver justice.  Over 3,700 fewer crimes in South Yorkshire were solved under this Government in the last year alone.

“Of course the police have to make their share of efficiencies.  But I support a more proportionate cuts plan of 12 per cent, rather than 20 per cent, which has been shown by Her Majesty's Inspectorate to be deliverable without impacting on frontline services.  There is no need for the Government to be cutting so far and so fast and I share the concerns of Police Officers in Barnsley that the scale of the cuts is affecting policing across South Yorkshire and undermining the progress that has been made tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in the region. 

“I know the Chief Constable and police teams across South Yorkshire are trying their hardest to deal with challenging crime issues, but this Government is making it more difficult.  These new figures should be a wakeup call for Ministers to urgently rethink next year’s police budget cuts.  The Government should be backing our police, not sacking our police.”

 

Blog post from India: ‘Some say that inequality isn't the issue, but in the slums of Kolkata, it certainly is'

1 March 2013

Michael is currently in India with the charity Save the Children. In the fourth of a series of blog posts reporting back from his visit, Michael writes about his visit to the slums of Kolkata.

Click here to read the blog post.

 

Blog post from India: ‘In Kolkata, Save the Children are not just keeping people alive - they are literally transforming people's lives'

28 February 2013

Michael is currently in India with the charity Save the Children. In the third of a series of blog posts reporting back from his visit, Michael writes about his visits to educational programmes in Kolkata .

Click here to read the blog post.

 

Blog post from India: ‘What would happen without Save the Children?’ In the second of a series of blog posts reporting back from India, Michael writes about his visit to the Okhla slums in South Delhi

27 February 2013

Michael is currently in India with the charity Save the Children. In the second of a series of blog posts reporting back from his visit, Michael writes about his visit to the Okhla slums in South Delhi.

Click here to read the blog post.

 

Blog post from India: ‘A chance to see both Indias’

26 February 2013

Michael is currently in India with the charity Save the Children.

In the first of a series of blog posts reporting back from his visit, Michael writes about getting the chance to “see both Indias”.

Click here to read the blog post.

 

Michael accuses Clegg of hypocrisy after the Deputy Prime Minister calls for ‘fairness’ from the Tories

25 February 2013

Michael has accused Nick Clegg of “indulging in his own fantasy world” after the Deputy Prime Minister publically lectured the Conservatives about adopting fairness.

As reported on the LabourList website, Michael said:

"Nick Clegg is fast becoming the Billy Liar of British politics - indulging in his own fantasy world. He talks about the Government as if he is not even a member of it, let alone its Deputy Prime Minister.

"Clegg is lecturing Conservatives about adopting fairness when the Lib Dems have been complicit in every aspect of this Government's unfairness - including cutting taxes for millionaires, whilst making millions of hard-pressed families on low and middle incomes pay more.

"Clegg argues for a Mansion Tax, but he refuses to commit Lib Dems to joining with Labour in actually voting for a Mansion Tax in the House of Commons.

"No one believes a single word Clegg and the Lib Dems say any more. Despite their desperate attempts to differentiate themselves from the Tories, everyone knows that Lib Dems break their promises and that they continue to sustain the Conservatives in government.

"Clegg's talk of the 'politics of fairness' is as shameless as it is weak."

 

Sunday Times: ‘Ashcroft pulls plug on Tory donations’

24 February 2013

The Sunday Times is reporting that Lord Ashcroft, the peer who has spent £10m of his personal fortune bankrolling the Conservative party, has decided to withhold funding for Tories’ next general election campaign.

Quoted in the article, Michael Dugher, Labour’s Vice-Chair, described it as “a damning vote of no confidence in the prime minister.  He said:

“As the top pollster for the Tories, Ashcroft knows only too well that large parts of the country have lost faith in David Cameron, who promised people change in 2010 but has since delivered a failed economic plan and an out-of-touch shambles of a government.”

 

Michael calls for the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee after new figures show big increases in total unemployment, youth unemployment and long-term unemployment in Barnsley

20 February 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has welcomed the national fall in the headline rate of unemployment, but has highlighted that the figures show a very different picture in Barnsley.

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has jumped to 7,880 – an increase of 6 per cent on the previous month and 13 per cent over the last two years. 

Figures for youth unemployment and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley are also up.  The number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA in Barnsley is now 2,485 - up from 2,370 in December 2012.  And the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA for more than 12 months in Barnsley is now 530 – an increase of 4 per cent on the previous month and a massive increase of 194 per cent over the last two years.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 955, up from 920 on the previous month and up from 645 a year ago.

Across South Yorkshire, the number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 13,275, a rise of 43 per cent in the last year. (Jan 2011: 7,275; Jan 2012: 9,305; Jan 2013: 13,275).

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“I welcome the national fall in the headline rate of unemployment, but the figures show a very different picture in Barnsley. 

“The total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has jumped to 7,880 – an increase of 6 per cent on the previous month and 13 per cent over the last two years.  And figures for youth unemployment and long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley are also up yet again.  Ministers seem happy to forget about places like Barnsley.

“The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help.  They should introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months. This would help 530 young people in Barnsley alone.

“And they should also introduce a introduce a “Compulsory Jobs Guarantee” for anyone out of work for more than two years. This would help hundreds of people in Barnsley and nearly 14,000 across Yorkshire.  Those who can work would be required to take up jobs, given training and time to job search - or they would lose their benefits.  We simply cannot afford to let people languish on the dole for years on end.

“In next month’s Budget, we need to see an industrial strength back to work programme to match the crisis we face.”

 

Michael officially opens new Coalfield Regeneration Trust headquarters in Barnsley

19 February 2013

Michael officially opened the new Coalfield Regeneration Trust (CRT) headquarters today at Waterside Park in Wombwell, Barnsley.

The CRT is an independent regeneration organisation that was established in 1999 to improve the quality of life in Britain’s coalfield communities.  The aim of the Trust is to make coalfield communities “sustainable, prosperous, viable and cohesive without support”.

The event today also marked the launch of the CRT’s Family Employment Initiative (FEI) in the Dearne Valley area.  The FEI is a partnership project - working with families and individuals - which provides ‘one to one’ support to help people find suitable training and employment.   It is a completely free, confidential, no obligation service.

The extension of the initiative to the Dearne Valley area is thanks to a new donation of £30,000 from Ladbrokes.  And the cheque was formally presented to the CRT at the event today by Ciaran O’Brien from Ladbrokes. 

Commenting after the event, Michael said:

“I was very proud to open the new headquarters of the Coalfield Regeneration Trust in Barnsley.  The CRT does brilliant work, promoting and achieving social and economic regeneration locally and in coalfield areas across the whole of the UK. 

“The Family Employment Initiative is yet another great initiative from the Trust and it is excellent news that it is being extended to the Dearne Valley area thanks to a new donation from Ladbrokes.”

To find about more about the Coalfield Regeneration Trust and their other initiatives, you can visit their website at www.coalfields-regen.org.uk.

 

"Nick Clegg is a poster boy for a politician who breaks his promises and fails to deliver”

19 February 2013

Responding to Nick Clegg’ speech in London yesterday, where he said that the British economy needs "major rebalancing" to shift focus away from London, Michael said “Clegg and the Lib Dems will be judged for what they do, not what they say”. 

Quoted on the BBC News website and Huffington Post, Michael said:

"Nick Clegg is a poster boy for a politician who breaks his promises and fails to deliver. Clegg and the Lib Dems will be judged for what they do, not what they say - and they are complicit in the Tory record of failure. The Lib Dems are cutting taxes for millionaires while millions of families are asked to pay more, seeing their living standards decline, wages failing to keep pace with inflation and cuts to their tax credits.

"Labour will vote in Parliament for a mansion tax. In government Labour wants to use this to pay for a reinstated 10p tax rate for low and middle earners. Nobody will take a word Nick Clegg says seriously as long as Lib Dems continue back this Tory-led Government with all its unfairness and failing economic policies."

 

Michael welcomes news that Barnsley Council will soon proceed with the demolition of the derelict properties in Welland Crescent

15 February 2013

Michael has welcomed the news that Barnsley Council will soon proceed with the demolition of the derelict properties (46, 48, 102 and 104) in Welland Crescent, Barnsley. 

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council has said that the gas and electricity were disconnected last week and the water will be disconnected by end of this week.  The council has indicated that demolitions are due before the financial year end, but that this will be dependent on the availability of a contractor.

The move to demolish the buildings follows that compulsory purchase of the properties after the owners refused to sell to the council.  Michael has been campaigning for the demolition of the properties since he visited the estate two years ago.  He has been in regular contact with BMBC and wrote to the Leader, Stephen Houghton, back in November 2011 when he thought that it was taking too long for the issue to be resolved.

Commenting on the latest development, Michael said:

“It is great news that the utility services to the derelict properties on Welland Crescent have finally been disconnected.  This means that an end to this long-running problem is finally in sight.

“I have been campaigning for months now with local residents, together with Hoyland Milton Councillors Robin Franklin, Mick Stowe and Tim Shepherd, to say enough is enough and I am happy that BMBC is now ready to take the final step of hiring a contractor to demolish the properties. 

“The situation has gone on for far too long and the sooner these dangerous eyesores can be pulled down the better it will be for the local residents.”

 

Michael hits out as new research shows that 600 women in Barnsley East will lose out due the Government’s pensions reforms

11 February 2013

As reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael has revealed that 600 women in his Barnsley East constituency are set to lose out due to the Government’s pension reforms. 

The new research, released by the House of Commons Library, shows that 600 women in Barnsley East born in 1952 and 1953 will not be eligible for the single tier pension since they are due to retire in 2017, before the state pension reforms come into effect.  Men born during the same period, however, will qualify.

For example, a woman born in October 1952 will retire at age 63 in 2015. This means that she will draw the basic weekly pension of £107.45 (in today’s prices) when she retires.  However, men born in the same period are due to retire in 2017, and so will be eligible for the new single-tier rate.

This could mean that women draw a state pension income of around £1,900 a year (£36.55 a week) less than a man of the same age.

House of Commons Library research shows that 430,000 women across the country born between April 1952 and July 1953 could lose out in this way.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“This Government’s pension changes have hit hardworking women in Barnsley time and again and these reforms are no different.  The new figures show that 600 women in my constituency alone will be nearly £2,000 worse off compared to men. 

“Once again Ministers have been caught with their hands in pensioners’ pockets – it’s about time this government had the decency to be honest about who will lose out under their plans.”

 

The Jewish Chronicle: “We still need to speak up on ‘mainstream’ anti-Semitism”

8 February 2013

Michael has written an article for the Jewish Chronicle about how anti-Zionism is being used as cover for anti-Semitism. 

To read the article, click here: “We still need to speak up on ‘mainstream’ anti-Semitism”

 

Michael welcomes news that two flood defence schemes in Darfield have been approved

6 February 2013

Michael has welcomed the announcement that construction is to start this year on two new flood defence schemes in Darfield, Barnsley.  The new schemes will be:

  • The Houghton Washland Flood Storage Scheme, Darfield, Barnsley; and
  • The Wombwell Ings Flood Storage Scheme, Darfield, Barnsley.

Michael is now urging Ministers to act on the problem of flood insurance.  This is becoming an issue of great concern as in June 2013, the ‘Statement of Principles’ - the Government and industry solution to provide insurance to homes at risk of flooding – will expire, with a replacement scheme yet to be agreed. 

Ministers have been delaying for months and the longer the Government waits to announce a replacement, the greater the risk that insurance premiums will increase for homeowners and businesses due to the uncertainty. 

The Association of British Insurers has warned that unless the Government agrees a new sustainable long-term solution for insurance, up to 200,000 high-risk households across the country will face problems in getting flood insurance in June 2013.  

Commenting, Michael said:

“I have been campaigning with residents and lobbying the Government for months now on the issues of flood defence and flood insurance. 

“It is excellent news that the Government has responded to the need for better flood defence schemes in Darfield, but now we need to see the long-overdue action from Ministers on flood insurance as well.

“The flooding that occurred last year highlighted once again the looming crisis of flood insurance.  People in flood-prone areas, like in parts of my Barnsley East constituency, are finding it harder to get insurance and their premiums and excesses are going up.  Ministers need to take the necessary action immediately.” 

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As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle in July last year, Michael wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, urging the Government to take the necessary action on flood insurance.  You can read the full letter here.  

 

Michael backs BHF campaign to ‘Rock up in Red’

6 February 2013

Michael has supported a British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaign to help raise awareness of heart disease.

The BHF visited Westminster to get MPs to back their ‘Rock up in Red month’ campaign, which encourages people to wear red to highlight the problem of heart disease in the UK and the great work that the BHF carries out to raise awareness.

You can find out more about a BHF campaign near you by visiting their website – www.bhf.org.uk

 

Michael signs Oliver King Foundation Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) e-petition

6 February 2013

Michael has signed an e-petition calling on the Government to introduce defibrillators to all public buildings by 2017, and provide staff with the appropriate training.

The OK foundation was set up in the name of Oliver King, a 12 year old boy who tragically passed away as a result of SADS.

The foundation aims to raise awareness about the medical condition and calls on the Government to take preventative steps to try and tackle the problem of SADS.

The e-petition has recently reached 100,000 signatures, which means that the Backbench Business Committee will consider it for debate in the House of Commons.

You can see the e-petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29399

 

Michael backs new Barnsley council initiative to save Barnsley residents hundreds of pounds on gas and electricity bills

6 February 2013

Michael is backing new Barnsley council initiative to save Barnsley residents hundreds of pounds on their gas and electricity bills by joining together in collective energy switching scheme.
The YORswitch Cheaper Energy Together scheme aims to gather the interest of lots of Barnsley residents who want to pay less for their energy by switching energy tariffs and suppliers, without the usual hassle.

When many people group together, they can get energy companies to bid for the lowest price to win their custom. Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes are working alongside other Yorkshire areas to pool together as many residents as possible who want to find lower energy prices.

Residents simply need to register their interest on the website.  The offer is open to anyone with a residential gas or electric supply, and the more people who register, the better chance of a great deal being secured for all.

 

Michael on Desert Island Flicks

5 February 2013

Michael was the guest on Tom Harris MP’s ‘Desert Island Flicks’ podcast this week, discussing his five all-time favourite films.

Click here to listen to the interview.  

 

Blog Post: I will be voting for equal marriage because of my Catholic upbringing, not in spite of it

5 February 2013

Ahead of the vote on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill in Parliament today, Michael has written a blog post outlining why he will be voting for equal marriage.

Click here to read the blog: I will be voting for equal marriage because of my Catholic upbringing, not in spite of it

 

Michael’s letter to constituents regarding the proposed HS2 route

01 February 2013

The Government released its ‘preferred route’ of phase two of HS2 on Monday. Phase two will go from Birmingham northward along two branches: to Manchester Airport and Manchester; and via Toton near Nottingham, to Sheffield and Leeds.  A consultation on this second phase will begin in early 2014, with a final route chosen by the end of that year.

A number of constituents have written to Michael regarding the proposed route.  You can see his response below:

----------------------------------

Thank you for contacting me regarding the proposed route of HS2.

I do support, in principle, the plans for the second high speed rail line (HS2) because of the potential economic benefits it could bring to South Yorkshire and the wider region.  New figures released last week showed that the scheme could generate as many as 100,000 construction jobs across the north of England, and HS2 will hopefully help drive regional regeneration and provide a much-needed boost to our local economy.

However, I can well understand your specific concerns in relation to the precise nature of the route.  That is why I made it very clear publicly that my first priority is to my Barnsley constituents.  I will always seek to ensure that I act on behalf of Barnsley residents to make sure the Government deals with any negative impact the proposed line could have on people's properties and local environment.

I must stress though that there is still a very long way to go with HS2.  The extensive consultation for phase 2 is not due to start until 2014 and there will also be a full environmental impact assessment starting the following year.  There are clearly still many, many aspects of the route that need examining.  Over the coming months, I will be scrutinising the Government's proposals carefully and seeking assurances from the Department for Transport on the precise nature of the route through Barnsley.

That is why I have written to the Transport Secretary specifically on your behalf to ask for more information about how the proposed route could impact you and your property.  I will be sure to forward on the response.

Thank you again for writing to me about this important issue.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch again about this or any other matter.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Member of Parliament for Barnsley East

 

Michael calls for the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to tackle stubbornly high long-term unemployment in Barnsley

01 February 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Sheffield Star, Michael has called for the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to tackle stubbornly high long-term unemployment in Barnsley.

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has risen by 7.4 per cent over the last 12 months. It now stands at 7,470.

The big worry is still youth unemployment and long-term unemployment, with the figures remaining stubbornly high. Youth unemployment in Barnsley now stands at 2,370 - this is down on the previous month, but still higher than a year ago. And over 500 (510) 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley have been unemployed for more than twelve months – an increase of 85 per cent over the last year.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 920, up from 595 a year ago.

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said: “Youth unemployment and long-term unemployment is still stubbornly high, demonstrating once again that the Government’s beleaguered Work Programme is failing to make a difference.

“In Barnsley, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has increased by 85 per cent in the last year.

“Across the country, there are now more people on the dole long term than at any time since October 1997. There are also more people signing on for over two years than at any time since the 90s - and more people in temporary jobs than at any time since July 2001. The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“The Government should introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee for anyone out of work for more than two years. This would help hundreds of people in Barnsley and nearly 14,000 across Yorkshire. Those who can work would be required to take up jobs, given training and time to job search - or they would lose their benefits. We simply cannot afford to let people languish on the dole for years on end.”

 

On HS2, Michael says his priority will be to look after local residents - including protecting Wombwell Wood

01 February 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has said that when it comes to HS2, his priority will be to look after local residents – and that includes protecting Wombwell Wood – in the extensive public consultation. 

Michael has said that he does support the plans for a second high speed rail line (HS2) because of the potential economic benefits it could bring to South Yorkshire and the wider region.  However, he has made clear that he will always seek to ensure that the Government deals with any negative impact the proposed line could have on people's properties and local environment.

 

Michael says he'll put Barnsley residents first and will engage fully with the DfT about the proposed route of HS2 through Barnsley

28 January 2013

Michael has backed the plans for a second high speed rail line (HS2) because of the potential economic benefits the project could bring to South Yorkshire and the wider region, but has said he will always put the concerns of Barnsley residents first in seeking reassurances from the Department for Transport regarding the proposed route through Barnsley. 

Michael has already had preliminary discussions with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, asking for a “joined up” approach so that Barnsley speaks with “one strong voice”.   

The Government released its ‘preferred route’ of phase two of HS2 today. Phase two will go from Birmingham northward along two branches: to Manchester Airport and Manchester; and via Toton near Nottingham, to Sheffield and Leeds.   A consultation on this second phase will begin in early 2014, with a final route chosen by the end of that year.

The maps released by the Government today show that the proposed line will pass through a substantial part of Michael’s constituency of Barnsley East – going through Hoyland Common, cutting across Sheffield Rd, passing around Wombwell Wood, coming down near the Tesco store at Stairfoot, going under Doncaster Road at Ardsley, through the upper part of Cudworth before heading out past Royston. 

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

"I support the HS2 project in principle because of the huge potential economic benefits it could bring to South Yorkshire and the wider region.   

"However, I will always put Barnsley residents first and there are still aspects of the route that need clarifying.  Over the next few weeks and in the coming months I will be scrutinising the Government’s proposals carefully and seeking assurances from the Department for Transport on the precise nature of the route through Barnsley.       

"I have already spoken to the Leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Councillor Stephen Houghton, as well as the Council’s cabinet member responsible for economic development, Councillor Roy Miller, saying that we need a joined up approach so that Barnsley speaks with one strong voice. We have agreed to work closely together on two key issues.

"Firstly, to make sure that Barnsley harnesses any economic benefits that HS2 could bring to the area.  And secondly, to work closely with local communities to make sure that we deal properly with any negative impact the proposed line could have on residents."    

 

LabourList: ‘Cameron and Osborne are a couple of reckless gamblers’

28 January 2013

Michael has written a blog post for LabourList, arguing that we need a Prime Minister that is focused on the economy rather than placating his Party with an EU referendum.    

To read the blog post, click here: ‘Cameron and Osborne are a couple of reckless gamblers’

 

Michael marks Holocaust Memorial Day by signing Book of Commitment

27 January 2013

As reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael has marked Holocaust Memorial Day by signing a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, honouring those who die during the Holocaust.

Today - Sunday 27 January - is the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history.

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

In signing the Book of Commitment in Parliament two weeks ago, Michael paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and honoured the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.

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

This year, people have been encouraged to honour those communities that have been destroyed by genocide and reflect on the importance of coming together to oppose prejudice and hatred.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

"Holocaust Memorial Day is such an important event. It's when we remember the utter horror of what happened, when we honour the memory of all those millions who perished, when we pay tribute to the courage of the survivors, and when we remain ever-steadfast in our condemnation of racism, anti-semitism, hatred and bigotry everywhere".

 

The Huffington Post: 'We know the economics of Cameron's Europe speech is a disaster, but the politics is all wrong too'

25 January 2013

Michael has written an article for the Huffington Post about David Cameron’s decision to call for an in/out referendum on Europe.

To read the article, click here: “We know the economics of Cameron's Europe speech is a disaster, but the politics is all wrong too”    


 

Michael calls for the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to tackle stubbornly high long-term unemployment in Barnsley

25 January 2013

StarAs reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael has called for the introduction of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to tackle stubbornly high long-term unemployment in Barnsley.

The latest unemployment figures released last week show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has risen by 7.4 per cent over the last 12 months. It now stands at 7,470.

The big worry is still youth unemployment and long-term unemployment, with the figures remaining stubbornly high. Youth unemployment in Barnsley now stands at 2,370 - this is down on the previous month, but still higher than a year ago. And over 500 (510) 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley have been unemployed for more than twelve months – an increase of 85 per cent over the last year.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 920, up from 595 a year ago.

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said: “Youth unemployment and long-term unemployment is still stubbornly high, demonstrating once again that the Government’s beleaguered Work Programme is failing to make a difference.

“In Barnsley, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has increased by 85 per cent in the last year.

“Across the country, there are now more people on the dole long term than at any time since October 1997. There are also more people signing on for over two years than at any time since the 90s - and more people in temporary jobs than at any time since July 2001. The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“The Government should introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee for anyone out of work for more than two years. This would help hundreds of people in Barnsley and nearly 14,000 across Yorkshire. Those who can work would be required to take up jobs, given training and time to job search - or they would lose their benefits. We simply cannot afford to let people languish on the dole for years on end.”

 

Michael supports campaign to appoint a Veterans Champion in every local authority

24 January 2013

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael is calling on Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council to appoint a Veterans Champion to act as a dedicated person in Barnsley to help Armed Forces veterans to resettle into civilian life.

Michael has said that Barnsley Council has a great track record of supporting veterans and that this would strengthen that support further. 

Depending on local circumstances, the responsibilities of the Veterans Champion would include:

  • Making veterans aware of the service charities active in the local area, providing appropriate contact details;
  • Offering information on health services available in the local area;
  • Offering advice on issues including employment, housing, financial management and benefit entitlements, putting veterans in touch with the correct agencies;
  • Monitoring the Council’s work in support of veterans and the wider service community;
  • Exploring the potential use of the Community Covenant fund;
  • Collecting information on the service community in the Local Authority area so services can be tailored to local needs;
  • Encouraging local communities to support the Armed Forces in their area, including by raising public awareness of veterans’ issues, commemorating sacrifices and holding events to help integration into local life;
  • Having a personal statement online about why the Veterans Champion has been appointed and why they personally support for the Forces.

Commenting on the campaign, Michael said:

“This is an important campaign which could make a difference to those who serve.

“Barnsley Council has a great track record of supporting our veterans and working with local branches of the Royal British Legion.  Most recently, for example, Barnsley signed up to implementing the Community Military Covenant. 

“I believe that appointing a Veterans Champion would strengthen this support.  Transition from military to civilian life can be difficult and distressing and I think a one-stop-shop for access to services and entitlements would make an enormous difference.

“A Veterans Champion would help those who have performed heroics overseas find a new home or job back home.”

 

Michael votes to reduce the voting age to 16

24 January 2013

Michael voted in Parliament today to reduce the voting age in the UK to 16.  The motion that was put to MPs in the House of Commons was:

“That this House believes that the age of eligibility for voting in all elections and referendums in the United Kingdom should be reduced to 16”.

To see why Michael is backing this move, you can read an article he wrote recently for the Yorkshire Post:  Young people can fight for their country... why can’t they vote for MPs?

 

Tom Watson MP visits Barnsley for CLP fundraiser

21 January 2013

Tom Watson, the Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East and Deputy Chair of the Labour Party, visited Barnsley last Thursday to speak at a local Labour fundraiser organised by Michael.    

During his speech and Q&A, Tom Watson spoke about writing his book ‘Dial M for Murdoch’, and how the phone hacking scandal unfolded and the leading role he played in seeking justice for the victims. 

Over 70 people attended the successful event, including neighbouring MP Dan Jarvis.  The evening included a pie and pea super, together with entertainment from Dan Smart, a great singer/songwriter from Barnsley. 

 

Barnsley MPs call for “fundamental shift” in approach and attitude towards funding brass bands

18 January 2013

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and the Barnsley Chronicle this week, Barnsley MPs - Michael Dugher MP, Dan Jarvis MP, John Healey MP and Angela Smith MP - have written a joint letter to the Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey MP, calling for an urgent meeting to discuss “funding and the very future of brass bands in the UK”. 

The letter follows the reports that Grimethorpe Colliery Band could be forced to stop playing due to a lack of funding.  In the letter, the MPs say that “the current plight of this world famous brass band emphasises the very real financial pressures facing many brass bands across the UK.  Other local bands with a more local but very proud tradition are struggling and also on the brink”.

The letter, which you can read here, also argues for a fundamental shift, not only for arts funding, but in attitude.

The Barnsley Chronicle has backed this call for more help for brass bands and for fairness in arts funding in a comment piece for the newspaper:

Barnsley Chronicle, 18 January 2013

 

Blog Post: ‘A fundamental shift in attitude is needed to secure the future of Brass Bands in the UK’

17 January 2013

Michael has written a new blog post about the lack of funding for brass bands in the UK.

To read the post, click here: A fundamental shift in attitude is needed to secure the future of Brass Bands in the UK.

 

Michael backs Head Smart brain tumour awareness campaign

14 January 2013

Michael has backed the Head Smart campaign and is working to increase awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours. 

Head Smart is a project dedicated to raising awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours in children and young people in order to help improve diagnosis of brain tumours in the UK.

The charity has produced a credit card sized information leaflet which aims to help people spot the symptoms of brain tumours in children up to the age of 18.

Michael has written to Barnsley NHS, urging them to stock this card in GP surgeries in Barnsley to help raise the local profile of this important issue.

You can view the awareness card by clicking here and find out more about the work that Head Smart does by visiting their website at www.headsmart.org.uk.

 

Financial Times: ‘Northern bands brassed off over funding’

13 January 2013

Andrew Bounds, a reporter for the Financial Times, has visited Grimethorpe in Barnsley and written an article about the financial struggles the famous Grimethrope Colliery Band is currently facing. 

To read the article, click here

 

Michael calls the Government’s mid-term audit a “cover up”

10 January 2013

Michael has said that the Government’s mid-term audit, which was finally published yesterday, is a cover up and has called it a whitewash .

Quoted in the in the Scottish Daily Record, the Telegraph, The Mirror, The Independent, BBC News, the Herald Scotland, the Daily Mail, Belfast Telegraph, ITV News and Huffington Post UK, Michael said:

"It turns out that the document David Cameron tried and failed to cover up is now itself a cover-up.

"There's no mention of his government's failure on growth, of the double-dip recession or of £212 billion extra borrowing. It tries to gloss over David Cameron's broken promises on the £3 billion NHS reorganisation and 7,000 fewer nurses, and doesn't even mention his tax cut worth £107,000 for 8,000 millionaires while millions of hard-working families on low and middle incomes are paying more.

"This is a government that lurches from failure to fiasco. They promised change but things are getting worse, not better, and they stand up for the wrong people."

 

Michael on BBC Radio 4 PM Programme

10 January 2013

Michael was on Radio 4’s PM Programme yesterday to discuss the Government’s mid-term audit, the 70 pledges that the Government has failed to deliver on and what was missing from the report. 

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 8.43.

 

Michael welcomes news that Ministers have finally accepted Labour proposals for a statutory code to support landlords, but urges the Government to go further to protect local pubs

09 January 2013

Michael, along with other Labour MPs and a broad coalition of organisations, has been calling for a proper statutory code to support landlords, protect local pubs and help turn around the rising tide of pub closures.

Exactly one year ago, the House of Commons voted unanimously for just such a code to be introduced, but despite this the Government failed to act until Labour called for an Opposition Day Debate on the issue.   

Although over a year late, Michael has welcomed the news that Ministers are finally accepting many of Labour’s proposals on pub companies.     

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is good news that Government Ministers have finally accepted many of Labour’s proposals on pub companies.  However, they have still not gone far enough to offer the solution that the broad coalition in the pub industry is calling for.

“It is still unclear whether the Government’s reforms will offer struggling landlords a ‘free of tie’ option so they can buy their beer on the open market.  

“In addition, the Government is also refusing to consider a guest beer provision which would allow tied pubs to at least serve one guest beer at the bar. Again this was something heavily pressed for by campaign groups in the pub sector, including CAMRA.

“And finally, the Government has not made clear how local pubs will be protected ahead of a new statutory code being prepared.  Large pub companies could potentially see a window of opportunity to cash in on their assets whilst the new code waits to become law.

“Labour has made it clear that if the Government takes the necessary steps to redress these concerns, we will work with them to get it on to the statute book as quickly as possible.”


 

Michael meets Barnsley dancer Tala Lee Turton in Parliament

09 January 2013

Tala Lee Turton and her mother, Sara, visited Parliament today and met Michael, who is their local constituency MP.

Tala is a ballet dancer from Barnsley and recently started training at the famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. 

Michael has supported Tala and her mother’s campaign to raise money so she could start at the prestigious classical ballet training school. 

Enough money has now been raised for Tala’s first year in Russia, but she still needs to raise more to cover the next three years.

Tala is due to appear on the BBC The One Show at 7pm this evening to talk about her experiences in Russia.

** If you would like more information about becoming a potential sponser, please e-mail michael.dugher.mp@parliament.uk and we will pass on the contact details.**

 

The Yorkshire Post: The Government is hitting strivers - we need real welfare reform that is tough, fair and works, writes Michael Dugher

08 January 2013

Michael has written an article for the Yorkshire Post today about how two thirds of households affected by the Government’s plans to introduce a real terms cut in tax credits are in fact people in work – hardworking strivers on lower incomes.

Click here to read the article.

 

PoliticsHome article: No amount of reviewing and re-launching can hide Cameron and Clegg's record

07 January 2013

Michael has written an article for the PoliticsHome website about Cameron and Clegg's Government re-launch. 

To read the article, click here.   

You can also read Michael’s comments about the Government’s re-launch in the Mirror, the Metro, the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Mail and Bloomberg

 

The Mirror: “Brassed off: World famous colliery band starved of funds due to 'Government snobbery'”

06 January 2013

The Mirror has reported on Michael’s comments about Whitehall ‘snobbery’ in the Arts following reports that the famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s future is under threat due to a lack of funding.

Click here and here to read articles that have been in the Mirror.    

 

Michael accuses the Government of ‘snobbery’ in the Arts as Grimethorpe Brass Band’s future is under threat

4 January 2013

YPAs reported in the Yorkshire Post, Sheffield Star and South Yorkshrie Times, Michael has accused the Government of ‘snobbery’ in the Arts following reports that the famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s future is under threat due to a lack of funding.

StarLast year, the Royal Opera House received over £26 million in Arts Council funding and the English National Ballet received nearly £6.4 million. This compares to just £23,000 for the British Federation of Brass Bands.

SYTMichael is the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brass Bands and is the constituency MP for Grimethorpe.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

"The current plight of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band highlights the very real financial pressures facing brass bands across the UK.

“Brass bands are an important part of our heritage, but when it comes to government funding and grants, they are clearly undervalued and underappreciated. Last year, the Royal Opera House received over £26 million in Arts Council funding and the English National Ballet received nearly £6.4 million. This compares to just £23,000 for the British Federation of Brass Bands. More resources are being committed but it is a drop in the ocean compared to other arts.

“Only snobbery at the heart of Whitehall can possibly explain why Brass Bands are not given the support they deserve compared to other branches of the arts. The Government must re-examine its priorities and look at how it can distribute funding more fairly.”

 

Michael votes for Barnsley Hospice to receive donation from the Benfield Charitable Trust

3 January 2013

The Benfield Charitable Trust donates 5 per cent of all its profits every year to community projects and charitable causes. This year, Barnsley Hospice has been nominated as one of five charities that could win £3,333.33.

Michael has voted for Barnsley Hospice and is encouraging others to do the same. Barnsley Hospice does fantastic work providing the highest standard of specialist palliative care for its patients completely free of charge.

The hospice does receive some funding from NHS Barnsley, but they rely very heavily on donations and support from the public.

To vote for Barnsley Hospice, click here. Voting closes on 31 January 2013. ·

To find out more about Barnsley Hospice, visit www.barnsleyhospice.org.

 

David Cameron’s New Year message is just ‘more of the same’

30 December 2012

As Labour’s Vice-Chair, Michael has responded to David Cameron’s New Year message, saying "it’s a case of more of the same”.

Quoted in the The Mirror, The Financial Times, the Evening Standard, the Belfast Telegraph, The Sheffield Star and Channel 4 News, Michael said:

"In his New Year message, Cameron talks of people who work hard in this country but he's the one hitting hard working families on lower and middle incomes whilst cutting taxes for millionaires.

"David Cameron stands for the old divide and rule Tory approach of the past - he can’t be the One Nation Prime Minister Britain needs.

“Cameron promised change but nothing is changing for the better. Britain's economy is failing under his policies over the last year, with nearly one million young people out of work. Prices are still going up faster than wages and borrowing is going up not down, over 7% higher this year than last year.

“This Prime Minister is out of touch, he stands up for the wrong people and he's failing to deliver for working people.”

 

Ed Miliband's New Year Message 2013

28 December 2012

Ed Miliband has used his 2013 New Year Message to talk about his ‘One Nation’ vision for Britian. You can watch the video message below:



 

Michael highlights worrying figures that show the Cancer Network for people in Barnsley has been cut by 38 percent since 2009

28 December 2012

cutting
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, a recent survey of all Cancer Networks in England has revealed deep budget cuts to the local cancer network for people in Barnsley.

Despite the Government promising that funding for these vital groups of experts would be protected, new figures show that the local cancer network for people in Barnsley has seen its budget cut by 38 percent since 2019.

Across England, Cancer Network budgets have been cut on average by over a quarter since 2009, and their staff by a fifth in the same period.

Commenting, Michael said:

“Over the last 10 years, we have seen fantastic improvements in the treatment of cancer patients, and the work of local Cancer Networks has been key to this achievement. Yet despite assurances from the Government, we can see that funding for Yorkshire Cancer Network has fallen by 38 percent since 2009.

“Doctors, nurses and other experts brought together by cancer and cardiac networks are crucial to improving patient care for Britain’s biggest killers. The Government should be working to support these local specialists. Instead, it is spending two and a half years and billions of pounds on a back-office NHS reorganisation. This is throwing the networks into chaos and putting the future improvements patients need at risk.”

 

Barnsley Chronicle: ‘Families forced to rely on handouts at Christmas

28 December 2012

chronAs reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has criticised the Government after hundreds of families in Barnsley were forced to rely on food handouts to get them through Christmas.

Commenting, Michael said: “Working families on low incomes are bearing the brunt of the Government’s failure. How can we live in a country where a government cuts taxes for millionaires and people are queuing up for food banks? It’s appalling.”

 

Michael highlights worrying figures that show the Cancer Network for people in Barnsley has been cut by 38 percent since 2009

21 December 2012  

SYTAs reported in the Sheffield Star and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has highlighted worrying figures that show the Cancer Network for people in Barnsley has been cut by 38 percent since 2009

A survey of all Cancer Networks in England, published last week, has revealed deep budget cuts to the local cancer network for people in Barnsley.

StarDespite the Government promising that funding for these vital groups of experts would be protected, new figures show that the local cancer network for people in Barnsley has seen its budget cut by 38 percent since 2019. 

Across England, Cancer Network budgets have been cut on average by over a quarter since 2009, and their staff by a fifth in the same period.

Commenting, Michael Duhger MP said:

“Over the last 10 years, we have seen fantastic improvements in the treatment of cancer patients, and the work of local Cancer Networks has been key to this achievement.  Yet despite assurances from the Government, we can see that funding for Yorkshire Cancer Network has fallen by 38 percent since 2009. 

“Doctors, nurses and other experts brought together by cancer and cardiac networks are crucial to improving patient care for Britain’s biggest killers. The Government should be working to support these local specialists.  Instead, it is spending two and a half years and billions of pounds on a back-office NHS reorganisation.  This is throwing the networks into chaos and putting the future improvements patients need at risk.”

 

Michael reveals figures that show the Government’s strivers’ tax will hammer 8,100 families in Barnsley East

21 December 2012  

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has revealed figures that show that 8,100 families in his constituency of Barnsley East will be hit by the Government’s ‘Strivers’ tax’.

In his recent autumn statement, the Chancellor, George Osborne, said that he would up-rate working age benefits and tax credits by only 1 percent over the next three years.  This is not in line with inflation and will result in a real terms cut.

According to the Resolution Foundation, more than 6 in 10 households affected by the 1 percent up-rating decision are in work.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“I think working families in Barnsley will be amazed that the Government has decided to ask them to pick up the tab for his failed economic policies at the same time it is giving a tax cut to millionaires.

“It is not right that strivers in Barnsley, hard working families, are the ones taking the hit for the lack of growth and increased debt.   

“Taking into account everything George Osborne announced in the autumn statement, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that one earner families with children in Barnsley will on average be £534 a year worse off by 2015.  Yet at the same time, 8,000 millionaires are set get an average tax cut of over £107,000 next April.   How can this be fair?”

 

Michael confirms his commitment to vote in favour of equal marriage

20 December 2012  

Michael has confirmed that he will vote in favour of same-sex marriage when it comes to a vote in the House of Commons. 

Commenting, Michael said:

"Along with the rest of the Shadow Cabinet and the vast majority of Labour MPs in Parliament, I will be voting in favour of equal marriage.

“For me, it is fundamentally an issue of equality.  Two people, who love each other and want to make a long-term commitment to one another, should be able to get married, whatever their gender and sexuality.

“I also believe that extending the franchise is an excellent way to reinforce and promote the institution of marriage and the principles of commitment and respect that it entails. 

“I appreciate that this is a sensitive issue and I am pleased that Members of Parliament have been granted a free vote in the House of Commons.  This rightly recognises that issues like this - involving strong religious views - should be treated as matters of conscience.

“I am also pleased that the Government’s proposals will provide adequate legal protection for churches and religious institutions so that no church will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.  I believe this is important in order to safeguard the freedom of religious worship.

“Although I fully respect people who hold a different view from my own, for me, allowing same-sex marriage, whilst protecting faith groups who do not wish to perform such ceremonies, is the right thing to do in a tolerant and fair society". 

 

Michael on BBC Radio 4 World at One

20 December 2012 

Michael was on The World At One’s MPs’ panel yesterday along with Steve Webb MP and Michael Fallon MP. 

The panel discussed troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, the investigations regarding Andrew Mitchell and the Pollard Review.    

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 28.15.

Daily Mirror article:

Michael’s comments during the interview regarding Andrew Mitchell have been picked up today by the Daily Mirror. To the read the article, click here: 'I'll whip pleb row MP back into Cabinet': David Cameron hints at early return for Andrew Mitchell

 

Cabinet Office Questions – 19 December 2012

19 December 2012  

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

"In July 2010, the Minister for the Cabinet Office said – and I quote – “It is essential we take radical steps to increase efficiency and reduce energy use.  This Government is determined to tackle waste wherever it exists, and that includes energy.   

"Yet, according to figures updated last week on data.gov.uk, energy use in the Minister's own department at 70 Whitehall has increased by 9 per cent this year compared to last. 

"Why is this Minister not practicing what he preaches?"    

Click here to watch the exchange on Parliament TV (scroll to 11:55:14).

 

Michael highlights new figures that show the new Work Programme has been a comprehensive failure for people in Barnsley

17 December 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has said that the Government’s Work Programme is comprehensively failing to get local people back to work in Barnsley, with only 3.6 percent of applicants going on to gain employment.

The Government said that the Work Programme would provide “tailored support for claimants who need more help to undertake active and effective jobseeking”.  But in Michael’s constituency of Barnsley East, out of the 1690 people referred to the Work Programme between June 2011 and May 2012, only 50 people have gone on to get a job. 

Overall, only 3.6 percent of applicants in the Barnsley local authority area have gone on to secure employment. 
    
Commenting, Michael Dugher MP, said:

“These figures reveal the Work Programme is just not working and has been a comprehensive failure for people in Barnsley. 

“The government’s flagship scheme is getting just 3.6 percent back to work in Barnsley, which means that the programme is doing even worse than if people had done nothing.

“Meanwhile there are 2,130 people in Barnsley who have been out of work for more than a year.  And there are 5.6 claimants chasing every single vacancy.  This new system is clearly letting people down and the time has come for decisive action. 

“The Government should be working with employers and saying government will pay the wages, if you they pay the training and mobilise business to get our young people working again.  That's the way we can really reform welfare, pulling together as One Nation and each taking and delivering on our responsibilities.”

 

Michael meets with Barnsley CAMRA members taking part in lobby of Parliament

13 December 2012

Yesterday, nearly 1000 people travelled to Westminster to join The Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) mass lobby of Parliament, calling on the Chancellor to abandon the beer duty escalator in the next Budget.

Michael met with four Barnsley members of CAMRA who were taking part in the lobby: Phil Gregg, Eric Gilbert, Linda Hutton and Nigel Croft.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It was great to meet Barnsley CAMRA members in Parliament. Labour has said it would support a review of the Beer Duty Escalator and its impact on the economy and jobs in the pub trade, but that this would clearly need to examine the impact of VAT as well as this amounts to half of the total tax paid on beer in pubs.

“The VAT rise increased the price of a pint in a pub by 5p - whilst increasing the price of a can of beer in a supermarket by less than 2p. This has hit pubs hard - and by hitting pubs harder than supermarkets risks hitting the pub trade harder than duty increases.

“As part of Labour’s 5 point plan for jobs and growth, we have called for a temporary and emergency cut in VAT back to 17.5 per cent until the economy is growing strongly again - easing the squeeze on families and getting the economy moving again. The Government clearly made a serious mistake in increasing VAT in January 2011 and a cut would cut the price of beer in a pub by over 5p - whilst cutting the price of supermarket beer by around the same amount as freezing duty. This would be a more effective way of getting the economy moving again.”

********************

Update:

One of the Barnsley members of CAMRA that Michael met has written a blog about her trip to London for the lobby of Parliament. To read the blog, click here.

 

Michael calls for action to tackle stubbornly high long-term and youth unemployment in Barnsley

12 December 2012

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has fallen slightly from 7,535 in October 2012 to 7,465 in November 2012. This is welcome news, but it is still a lot higher than a year ago, when the total figure was 6,820.

The big worry is still youth unemployment and long-term unemployment.  The figures for both of these remain stubbornly high.  Youth unemployment in Barnsley now stands at 2,410.  This is down on the previous month, but still higher than a year ago.  And over 500 (510) 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley have been unemployed for more than twelve months – an increase of 93 per cent over the last year.

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, the total number of people claiming JSA for more than 12 months is now 910, up from 585 a year ago.   And the number of 18-24 year olds that have been claiming JSA for more than a year now stands at 205 – an increase of 95 percent over the last year. 

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“It is welcome news that the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance has fallen across Barnsley, but there should be no complacency from Ministers.  Youth unemployment and long-term unemployment is still stubbornly high, demonstrating once again that the Government’s beleaguered Work Programme is failing to make a difference. 

“In Barnsley, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has increased by 93 per cent in the last year.  And in Barnsley East, the number of young people claiming Jobs Seeker's Allowance for more than a year has increased by 95 per cent in just 12 months.   

“The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help, such as introducing a tax on bankers' bonuses to fund 100,000 youth jobs and a tax break for small firms taking on extra workers to help get Britain back to work.  They should also introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months.  Young people would have to take up the offered position.  This scheme would help 510 18-24 year olds in Barnsley alone.”

 

Huffington Post article: "It's Time Cameron Stopped Running Scared and Accepted Ed Miliband's Challenge for TV Debates"

12 December 2012

Michael has written an article for the Huffington Post about David Cameron “running scared” of the general election TV debates.

You can read the article here: “It's Time Cameron Stopped Running Scared and Accepted Ed Miliband's Challenge for TV Debates”

 

David Cameron 'running scared' over TV debates

11 December 2012

Michael has said that David Cameron is "running scared" after the Prime Minister suggested holding the televised leaders' debates months before the expected date of the general election.

Michael, quoted in the Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, BBC News, Sky News and the Huffington Post, said:

"David Cameron is weak, out of touch and running scared of the public.

"At the next election, David Cameron should have to defend his decisions and his record - from a disastrous economic record to the fact that we now have fewer nurses in our NHS and fewer police officers fighting crime.

"The public will rightly want to see him and Ed Miliband questioned properly about what changes we need for the future of the country, including during the General Election campaign itself.

"Ed Miliband relishes the chance to debate with David Cameron. Cameron cannot be allowed to ditch the TV debates simply because he is too scared to defend his record."

********************

The Telegraph has also written a leader about the issue: “Leaders’ debates are good for democracy”

 

Michael visits 5 more schools to announce winners of his Christmas Card Competition 2012

07 December 2012

Michael visited five more schools in Barnsley today to announce and hand out prizes to the school winners of his constituency-wide competition to find a Christmas card design.

The winner at St Michael & All Angels Catholic Primary was Akhil Biju, 10, and the runners up were Freya Ruston Halewood, 6, and Ebony Mae Watson, 8.

The winner at King's Oak Primary Learning Centre was Talia Benson, 7, and the runners up were Lesley Harding, 10, Zivan Garner 8, Jessica Hyde, 9, Declyn Rasburn, 8, and Irin Tasnuva 7.

The winner at Wombwell Park Street Primary was Kiera Cutts, 10, and the runners up were Harrison Clarke, 10, and Thomas Spencer, 10.

The winner at Elsecar Holy Trinity Church of England Primary was Minipher Grierson, 8, and the runners up were Bobbie Renshaw, 4, and Ellie Netherwood, 8.

The winner at West Meadows Primary was Rose Nowell, 6, and the runners up were Bethany Banks, 8, and Leyah Weiss, 7.

 

Michael calls for plan to build 5,216 homes in Yorkshire

07 December 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has called on the Government to back a plan to build thousands of new affordable homes in Yorkshire to boost the economy and create thousands of new jobs.

Michael says the Government should use the £3 billion expected to be raised from the forthcoming auction of the 4G mobile phone spectrum to:

  • fund the building of 100,000 new affordable homes across the country including 5,126 in Yorkshire;
  • and back people aspiring to own their own homes by introducing a two-year stamp-duty holiday for first time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £250,000.

Commenting, Michael said:  

“With our economy flatling over the last year and unemployment in Barnsley too high, we need urgent action to kick-start the economy and create desperately needed new jobs.

“The Government should use the funds raised from the 4G auction to put something back into the economy, build thousands of much-needed affordable homes and help first-time buyers. It would also help create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships in the construction industry and the supply chain too.

“Around 5,200 new affordable homes – to buy and to rent – could be built in Yorkshire under the plan. The National Housing Federation says this could create up to 7,900 jobs in construction and 39,650 in the wider supply chain.

“It has been backed by the Confederation of British Industry and it’s time this government stopped being so complacent about the state of the economy and backed it too.”

 

Michael visits schools to announce winners of his Christmas Card Competition 2012

06 December 2012

Michael visited five schools in Barnsley today to announce and hand out prizes to the school winners of his constituency-wide competition to find a Christmas card design.

The winner of the overall competition was also announced at a special assembly at Hoyland Common Primary School.

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The overall winner of Michael’s 2012 Christmas Card Competition was Imogen Lunn, aged 10 (pictured in the centre). Her winning design can be seen below. The runners up of the Hoyland Common Primary School were Grace Bromfield, 10, and Ruby Cowell, 8.

 

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Imogen Lunn's winning design

 

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The winner at Birdwell Primary School was Anna Noyland, 7, and the runners up were Jack Cawthorn, 10, and Layla Armitage, 5.

 

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The winner at Oakhill Primary Academy was Marshall Chivers, 11, and the runners up were Zoe Drinkwater, 10, and Olivia Farrar, 10.

 

4

The winner at Cudworth Churchfield Primary was Madie Pearce, 9, and the runners up were Charly Devonport, 7, and Sophie Lee, 8.

 

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The winner at Birkwood Primary was Saskia Lowrie, 11, and the runners up were Sian Ellis, 9, and Paige Goodyear, 11.

 

Michael invited all Primary, Junior, Infant and special school children in Barnsley East to enter the competition and the winning design will be used as his official 2012 Christmas card.    Over thirty schools were invited to take part and the best judged card from each school will receive a prise and was entered into the shortlist for the overall winner.  The competition was judged by Mr Dugher, the Mayor of Barnsley and the sponsors of the card.

Michael is due to visit five more schools tommorrow (Friday 7 December 2012).

 

David Cameron and George Osborne admit they are failing on the test they set themselves – to balance the books and get the debt down by 2015

05 December 2012

In his Autumn Statement today, George Osborne had to admit that he will not be able to get the debt down by 2015.   

Borrowing and debt figures have been revised up and while millionaires get a £3 billion tax cut, it is people who are already struggling to make ends meet – middle and lower income families and pensioners – who are having to pay the price for the Government’s failure.

Instead of a change of course, all we got today was more of the same failing policies.

Blog Post:

Reacting to the Autumn Statement, Michael has written a new blog post. Click here to read the post.

 

More news coverage after Michael’s backing of votes at 16

29 November 2012 

Michael’s article about reducing the voting age to 16 was published in the Yorkshire Post yesterday. Since then, there has been further coverage in the Telegraph, The Independent and the ITV Calendar News website.

To read these article, you can click on the links below:  

 

Votes at 16 is an idea worth considering, writes Michael Dugher

28 November 2012 

Michael has written an article for the Yorkshire Post today about reducing the voting age to 16. Click here to read the article online.

Yorkshire Post Op-Ed: Votes at 16 is an idea worth considering, writes Michael Dugher

When David Cameron met with Alex Salmond last month to hammer out the terms of a Scottish independence referendum, part of the agreement was to give 16 and 17 year olds a say in the crucial vote. Downing Street later insisted that they were not setting a precedent for general or other elections, but I believe it is a welcome opportunity to reopen the debate as to whether young people should be allowed to vote at 16 in UK elections...

...Click here to read the full article.

 

Michael calls comments by former Conservative Peer Shreela Flather "totally unacceptable"

27 November 2012

The Huffington Post and The Sun reported yesterday that a former Conservative peer has said she agrees with the controversial new Tory campaign chief, Lynton Crosby, when he said the party should not court Muslim votes.

This week, the Mail on Sunday quoted Shreela Flather, a cross-bench peer who quit the Tories in 2008, as saying: "I don’t condone swearing, but Lynton is right to say it is pointless for the Conservatives to chase Muslim votes. They are all on benefits and all vote Labour."

Michael, quoted in the Huffington Post and The Sun, said: "These shocking comments are totally unacceptable, there can be no place in politics for this kind of language or for such grossly offensive and ignorant attitudes. Baroness Flather should immediately apologise."

 

The Sunday Mirror “Homeserve boss who gave David Cameron £50k donation is probed for insurance mis-selling

26 November 2012

Sunday MirrorThe Sunday Mirror has reported that Richard Harpin, a major donor to the Tory party, is under investigation by the Financial Services Authority over allegations of insurance mis-selling. 

The latest Electoral Commission donation figures show that Mr Harpin, the chief executive of Homeserve, has donated £50,000 despite a difficult year for the company, which sells emergency repair services to millions.   

Overall, donors gave the Tories £2.6million in the three months to the end of September, a third less than in the previous three months.

Michael, quoted in the Sunday Mirror article, said: “The Tories are seeing their donations decline because of two years of shambles and economic failure.  Mr ­Cameron’s backers no longer want to be associated with him.

“This is why they are getting so desperate they are prepared to accept £50,000 from a man whose company is being investigated for insurance mis-selling.”

 

The Sun: “DAVID Cameron’s exclusive dinner club for wealthy backers has brought in £840,000 for Tory funds, party figures reveal”

26 November 2012

The Sun on Sunday has reported that David Cameron’s top 20 backers gave £840,000 - a third of all donations to the party, between July and September, following invites to events with the Prime Minister.

The article reports that each benefactor is part of the elite “Leader’s Group”, which entitles them to attend dinner with the Prime Minister.  There is a £50,000 joining fee.

Michael, quoted in the article said: “It’s the same old cash for access.”

 

Michael turns on Christmas lights in Hoyland Town Centre

23 November 2012

Michael was joined by local school children at the Hoyland LIFT Centre today to officially turn on the Hoyland Town Centre Christmas lights.

 

Michael presents Tesco equipment to local schools in Barnsley

23 November 2012

Michael visited a Tesco store in Barnsley today to present some fantastic new sports, art and computer equipment to teachers and pupils from four local schools.

At the Tesco Extra store on Wombwell Lane, Michael met the store manager and staff and students from Oakhill Primary, Hunningley Primary School, The Edmunds Primary School and St Michaels R C Junior and Infant School 

This year, Tesco for School & Clubs is celebrating its 21st anniversary.  Since Computers for Schools was launched in 1992, Tesco has provided over 45,000 schools and clubs with more than £185m worth of essential equipment.  And last year, 49 schools and clubs in Barnsley East collected a total of 435,541 vouchers, with 38 of them ordering equipment worth £12,241. 

 

Michael attends the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Annual Awards 2012

23 November 2012

Michael attended the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) awards yesterday.  The SYFR awards ceremony takes place every year to recognise the fire service crews that have shown extraordinary bravery and skill over the last 12 months. 

Michael was amongst the guests that included: the Chief Fire Officer, Jamie Courtney; the Fire Authority Chair, Cllr Jim Andrews; South Yorkshire’s High Sheriff, Julie Kenny; the Lord-Lieutenant and Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, David Moody.

At the ceremony, Michael presented the award for Best Education Partner 2012.  The winner was The Get Real Team, for their  work to re-engage young people into education, and support of fire service programmes for young people.
The other nominees for the award were:

  • Canklow Woods Primary School – for playing a crucial role on arson reduction projects.
  • De Warenne Academy – for their support of arson reduction efforts through the ‘Embedded Firefighter’ programme.
  • The Health & Social Care Academy, Community Engagement Team – for their work with the fire service to develop education packages.

 Commenting, Michael said:

"It was a real privilege to be at the awards, honouring the outstanding work of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.  The commitment and bravery of the firefighters and the support staff, as well as the vital role the public play in supporting what they all do, is incredible.  

“It's the one time of the year when we can all come together from across South Yorkshire to say thank and you pay tribute to the service.” 

 

Michael attends Dushera event in Barnsley

23 November 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael attended a Dushera event in Barnsley last week organised by the Gujarat Association of Barnsley. 

The Hindu festival was staged at Worsbrough Sports Centre and was designed as a fundraiser and a way of sharing and explaining Indian customs and celebrations.

More than 150 people attended and enjoyed the entertainment, which included Dandia stick dancing and an international puppet show which raised funds for Cancer Research.

 

 

Michael calls on Cameron to investigate claims his new election guru launched a rant against Muslims

19 November 2012

Michael has written to David Cameron today asking him to investigate claims that his new election guru launched a foul-mouthed rant about Muslims.

The Prime Minister has recruited Lynton Crosby, but yesterday it emerged that he told Boris Johnson that he should concentrate on winning support from traditional Tories, not ‘f***ing Muslims’.

Click here to read the full letter.

  • MailOnline has reported on the calls for an investigation today.  Click here to read the article.    

 

Michael presents special award at Proud of Barnsley ceremony

19 November 2012

pobMichael attended the Proud of Barnsley awards dinner on 14 November and presented a special award to former Corrie star Katherine Kelly.

There were 14 winners overall, who were chosen by a panel of judges from more than 300 nominations. The winners were:

  • Young Superstar - Teenage ballet-dancing sensation Tala Lee-Turton who is studying at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Michael helped with the campaign to raise enough money for Tala to fufill her dream of going to the Bolshoi.
  • Exceptional Achievement - Dementia support worker Linda Pattison. Linda is part of the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's Dementia Support group, which Michael is a patron of.
  • Young Entrepreneur - schoolgirl Jade Bryan who has launched her own cupcake business.
  • Young Apprentice - champion bricklayer Jason Whitehead.
  • Triumph Over Adversity - brain tmour sufferer and charity fundraiser Peter Wilkinson.
  • Sporting Achievement - vetaran boxing coach Fred Gummerson.
  • School of the Year - Summer Lane Primary.
  • Good Neighbour - Dorothy Kirby who looks after residents at the Hillcrest Community Centre.
  • Emergency Services Worker - Police officer Chris Thompson who rescued a woman from a burning home.
  • Community Group - Barnsley Street Pastors who help town centre revellers.
  • Children's Champion - Barnsley Parents and Carers' Forum.
  • Carer of the Year - Diane McNulty.
  • Green Award - recycled fashion designers Hannah Jones and Kimberley Robertshaw.
  • Volunteer of the Year - charity fundraiser Louise Jones.

Michael with Linda Pattison, the winner of the Exceptional Achievement award for her work with Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's Dementia Support

 

Labour Uncut: Results this week show middle England is moving away from David Cameron

17 November 2012

Michael has written a piece for Labour Uncut today about the PCC and by-election results.

Click here to read the article: Results this week show middle England is moving away from David Cameron

 

Michael interviewed on World At One and Radio 5 Live about PCC elections and the by-election result in Corby

16 November 2012

Michael was on Radio 4’s World At One programme and Radio 5 Live today talking about the PPC elections and the by-election result in Corby.

To listen to the World At One interview, click here and scroll to 23:20.

To listen to the Radio 5 Live interview, click here and scroll to 1:11.

Michael’s comments on the World At One were also reported in The Telegraph – you can click here to read the article.

 

Michael speaks at launch of Barnsley big Challenge 2013

16 November 2012

Michael made a speech today at the launch of Barnsley Big challenge 2013. 

The ‘I Know I Can’ Barnsley Big Challenge is a business creation competition for young people aged 11 – 19 living or learning in Barnsley.

Teams of up to 8 young people have until the end of April to come up with a business idea, research it, develop it and begin to trade, all supported by a volunteer mentor from the local business community.

Business mentors visit the team at least once a month throughout the challenge and are there to enthuse, support and to help keep the teams focused through the length of the competition as well as sharing their own business knowledge and experience.

In his speech, Michael praised the initiative for bringing together local schools and businesses to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in Barnsley.   To read the full speech, click here.

 

Michael visits Acorn Brewery and launches a new campaign to encourage local supermarkets to stock local produce

16 November 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael recently visited the award winning Acorn Brewery in Wombwell.

The visit coincided with the launch of Michael’s new campaign to encourage local shops and supermarkets in Barnsley to support local businesses, such as Acorn Brewery, by stocking local produce.    

Commenting, Michael said:

“Acorn Brewery is a local success story and it was great to visit the brewery and meet the staff.  The visit also coincided with the launch of a new campaign I am undertaking to encourage shops and supermarkets in Barnsley to support local businesses, such as Acorn Brewery, by stocking local produce.             

“I believe this would help the local economy and instil a sense of pride in the local community, showing that a very local business employing local people can produce a product that merits shelf space in large national stores. 

“This is something I’ll be working on in the coming months as there is no doubt that a brand’s presence on the shelves of local shops helps to create a bond with the local community.”

 

Michael warns Minsters against complacency

14 November 2012

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has fallen slightly from 7,570 in September 2012 to 7,535 in October 2012.  This is welcome news, but it is still a lot higher than a year ago, when the total figure was 6,865. 

The big worry is still youth unemployment.  Youth unemployment in Barnsley now stands at 2,470.  This is down on the previous month, but still higher than a year ago.  And over 500 (510) 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley have been unemployed for more than twelve months – a massive increase of 117 per cent over the last year.   

In Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, youth unemployment has risen yet again.  The latest figures show that 910 18-24 year olds in Barnsley East are claiming JSA – up from 535 just twelve months ago.    

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“It is welcome news that the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance has fallen across Barnsley, but there should be no complacency from Ministers.  Youth unemployment and long-term unemployment still remain far too high. 

“In Barnsley, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has increased by 117 per cent in the last year.  And in Barnsley East, the number of young people claiming Jobs Seeker's Allowance just keeps on rising month on month.  There are also concerns that half of the jobs created since 2010 are part-time. 

“Long-term youth unemployment is a major problem.  When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job. You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health.  The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help, such as introducing a tax on bankers' bonuses to fund 100,000 youth jobs and a tax break for small firms taking on extra workers to help get Britain back to work. They should also introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months. This would help 510 young people in Barnsley alone.”

 

Michael welcomes back Light Dragoons to Barnsley

13 November 2012

Michael joined fellow Barnsley MPs, councillors, the Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant in Barnsley Town Centre today to welcome back soldiers from the Light Dragoon, who recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The Light Dragoons, who continue to recruit from the Barnsley area, have the freedom of the Borough and paraded through the town in front of thousands of local people. The event was especially poignant as Michael and others observed a minute's silence in memory of Sgt Lee Davidson and other members of the Armed Forces who have lost their life on this latest tour of Afghanistan.

Commenting, Michael said:

"It was a tremendous privilege to be in Barnsley today to welcome back our returning heroes and to join with others in the Borough to say thank you to so many brave men and women who do such an amazing job on our behalf.

“I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Barnsley Council for hosting the Homecoming Parade and for so many local people for turning out in such numbers to pay tribute to our troops. 

“It was a real honour to talk to many of the men and women who have served in Afghanistan.  They are quite simply the bravest and best. The whole of Barnsley can rightly be proud of each and every one of them.”

 

Michael says it is “fantastic news” that the Post Office has won £450m DVLA contract

13 November 2012

Michael has said it is “fantastic news” that the Post Office has won the £450m DVLA contract to continue providing driving licenses and tax discs for up to a decade.

Michael has been campaigning on this issue with the National Federation of SubPostmasters for months and raised it in the House of Commons on 5 September 2012.    

The postal unions had warned that losing the service would have damaged hundreds of Post Offices, some of which rely on up to 20 per cent of their revenues on the DVLA contract.

Over the course of the campaign, Michael was contacted by more than 200 hundred constituents with concerns about the future of the Post Office network.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is fantastic news that the Post Office has won this DVLA contract.  Post Offices are hugely important as they provide a vital service to local people and should be seen as community hubs.

“Expanding the range of services and commercial activities at Post Office branches is crucial to ensuring the long-term future of the Post Office network and their place in communities across the country.”

 

Michael votes to delay fuel duty rise

12 November 2012

Michael voted tonight in Parliament to delay January’s fuel duty rise. You can see Michael’s response to constituents who have written to him about this matter below:

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Thank you for writing to me recently regarding the scheduled 3p rise in Fuel Duty. I know high fuel prices are hitting people in Barnsley hard, just at the time when families, pensioners and local businesses are already being squeezed by higher food prices and rising gas and electricity bills.

Britain is finally out of the longest double-dip recession since the Second World War, but a strong economic recovery is far from secured. Families, pensioners and businesses are still feeling the squeeze and prices are rising faster than wages. People are also being hit hard by the Government’s VAT hike and cuts to tax credits and child benefit.

This is why I voted in Parliament today, along with other Labour MPs, for a motion calling on the Government to cancel the Fuel Duty increase set for January 2013 - at least until April. It can’t be right that hard working families and businesses receive another tax rise while 8,000 millionaires are given a tax cut.

It has been calculated that this fuel duty freeze could be paid for by clamping down on tax avoidance. For example, there is a growing problem with some employment agencies forcing workers to become employees of an umbrella company. They then falsely inflate the workers’ travel and food expense claims, reducing tax and national insurance, and pocket the avoided tax as profits. Customs have estimated that this would save the exchequer almost £650million a year and would easily cover the £350million it would cost to cancel the Fuel Duty rise.

Acting now would give some crucial relief to millions of motorists. Of course, difficult decisions have to be made to get the deficit down. But the previous government often delayed or cancelled planned duty rises based on the circumstances at the time – including at the height of the global financial crisis. It is clearly not the right time to hit the economy with another tax rise on small firms and people on low and middle incomes.

I believe that the Government needs to act now on fuel duty and clamp down on those that are not paying their fair share of tax. I can assure you that I will keep up the pressure on Ministers over the coming weeks to ensure that they do the right thing by the country.

Thank you again for getting in touch about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this or any other issue.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Member of Parliament for Barnsley East

 

Ed Miliband's living wage proposals this week build on his One Nation vision, writes Michael Dugher

9 November 2012

Michael has written a new blog post about Ed Miliband's One Nation vision. Click here to read the full post.   

In a speech on Monday, at the start of the first ever Living Wage Week, Ed Miliband unveiled his pledge to back a living wage of at least £7.45 per hour for millions of people.  Under the proposals, Whitehall contracts would only go to firms paying the living wage, while those who paid less could be "named and shamed".  He said that introducing the living wage would be an important part of rebuilding the country as One Nation, where the Government works with the best of British business to ensure that prosperity is shared more fairly.

These ideas build on the speech that Ed Miliband gave to the Labour party conference last month.  His speech in Manchester will be remembered partly for its delivery. It was delivered without notes for over an hour and even many of Labour’s critics acknowledge in private that it was his best yet.  In the short term, it forced David Cameron to rip up drafts of his own speech and deliver an entirely reactive response to Ed Miliband at the Conservative party conference.  But in the long term, it is Miliband's vision of ‘One Nation’ that will have the most significant and enduring impact.

Click here to read the full post...

 

Michael says he will stand shoulder to shoulder with Matlby Colliery workers to ensure the pit has a future

7 November 2012

It has been reported today that the owners of Maltby Colliery plan to mothball themine at the end of November. 

Commenting on the news, Michael said:   

“I am desperately worried about the threat to Maltby Colliery.  Maltby has a long and proud mining history and it would be a sad day if the pit has to close.  Many of my Barnsley constituents work at the pit and I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with the NUM in the fight to ensure that Maltby has a future. 

“I am hopeful that a way can be found to keep Maltby Colliery open.”

 

Cabinet Office Questions – 7 November 2012

7 November 2012

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

Michael asked:

“In June this year the Minister for the Cabinet Office launched the Government procurement Solutions Exchange website, saying that it was “an easy, informal way for smaller firms to find out about emerging opportunities”.

“It all sounded very promising. Is he aware that for the past two months SMEs, when logging on to the website, have been greeted by the words, “Nothing available at this time”? You could not make it up. Why is that? Does not the phrase “Nothing available at this time” neatly sum up the Government’s complete lack of support for SMEs?”

Click here to watch the exchange on Parliament TV (scroll to 11:52).

 

Michael highlights big fall in the number of ASBOs in South Yorkshire as authorities are left in limbo

6 November 2012

As reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael has revealed figures that show that the number of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) issued in South Yorkshire fell by 49 per cent last year.   

In 2010, South Yorkshire (Criminal Justice System area) issued 43 ASBOs in 2010, but this dropped to 22 in 2011.  And a detailed breakdown obtained through FOI requests has also revealed that in the first two quarters of 2012, only 5 ASBOs were issued by South Yorkshire Police.

Commenting, Michael said:

“The Home Secretary Theresa May has trashed the tools used to tackle anti-social behaviour so it’s no wonder ASBO use is falling.
 
“Theresa May took an irresponsible gamble with our community’s safety when she declared ‘It’s time to move beyond the ASBO’. That was over two years ago and we are still waiting for her to bring forward legislation for its replacement.
 
“She has left police and local councils in a state of confusion.  They have been left in limbo and so it is no wonder ASBO use is falling.  Communities have been left without the vital tools to crack down on loutish behaviour which blights the lives of so many people in Barnsley because the Home Secretary has thrown a tried and tested system into chaos.”

 

Labour launches campaign on Tories' failures in government

Tories' real record at the halfway point of this parliament

5 November 2012

Labour is turning the spotlight on David Cameron as his Government reaches its halfway point today (Monday 5th November).

The campaign includes a mock Tory manifesto document - as it could have been if David Cameron had promised what he was really going to deliver by this point in the parliament. This highlights how, despite David Cameron's promises of change things have got worse, not better. Alongside the document there is a new website focussing on David Cameron's broken promises and the 'Real Conservative Party Pledge Card'.

Click here to read ‘Not the Conservative Party Manifesto’ – a verdict on David Cameron’s broken promises and failure to deliver.

The website, 'Stuff David Cameron Forgot To Say' - highlighting David Cameron’s broken promises – has also gone live today.

And the Real Conservative Party Pledge Card can be downloaded by clicking here.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister without Portfolio, said:

“As his shambles of a Government reaches its halfway point, it's clear that David Cameron isn't delivering the change he promised. Instead, he's delivering things he never told the public about: higher unemployment than when he took office, a tax cut for millionaires while millions pay more, a massive top-down NHS reorganisation with 6,000 fewer nurses, and 6,800 frontline police officers cut so far.

“David Cameron may not want to mark this milestone, but Labour will use it to hold him to account and remind the public of his broken promises and failure to deliver.

“Cameron is leading an out of touch Government that has wasted two and a half years taking the country in the wrong direction, breaking his promises and standing up for the wrong people. He can't be the One Nation Prime Minister Britain needs.”

 

Michael highlights new figures that show that the Government has cut 1,318 frontline nurses in Yorkshire

5 November 2012

As reported in the Sheffield Star, Michael has highlighted new figures this week that show that the number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff employed by the Yorkshire and the Humber strategic health authority has fallen by 1,318 since May 2010.

In total, the new figures by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the Government has cut 6,191 frontline nurses since the general election.  The centre’s workforce statistics for England also show that between June and July this year, over 800 posts were lost.

Commenting, Michael said:

“David Cameron came into power promising to protect frontline NHS jobs, but the evidence against that claim is stacking up, not just in Yorkshire but across the country.

“He has cut the NHS budget two years running and turned it upside down with a wasteful and unnecessary £3 billion reorganisation.

“Over 6,000 nursing jobs have now been cut on his watch and the cuts are especially bad in Yorkshire with 1,318 fewer nurses working on the frontline than two years ago.

“It’s time for the Government to get his priorities straight and deliver on his election promise to protect the NHS and put patients’ needs first.”

 

Michael welcomes new review into the decision to close Leeds heart surgery unit

02 November 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it is to order a review into the decision to close the children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to carry out a review into the decision to close the unit, as well as those at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in Chelsea in west London.  The panel will report back in February.

The review comes after Michael, and other local MPs and councillors, contacted Mr Hunt with concerns about the initial review process that led to the decision to close the unit at Leeds.

Michael Dugher MP said:

“It is good news that the Government has announced this review.  It seems that Ministers are finally listening to the very serious concerns of people in Barnsley and across the region.

“The review that led to the decision to close the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds was clearly flawed and I hope this independent panel will look at all the evidence again and throw out the initial recommendations. 

“We all want better outcomes for children with congenital heart disease and the children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary is ideally placed to act as one of the hubs of excellence. In terms of quality of service, ease of access and the size of population, there is no question that the unit at Leeds should to be retained.”

Barnsley Chronicle, Firday 2 November 2012

 

Michael attends Barnsley College graduation ceremony

2 November 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael attended a Barnsley College graduation ceremony last week for business, engineering, accountancy, health and management students.

The students were led by a brass band from the Old Mill Lane site to the town hall where the students received their scrolls. 

The ceremony was presided over by Michael, the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of South Yorkshire and senior staff from the college.    

Barnsley Chronicle, Firday 02 November 2012

 

Michael campaigns in Barnsley with Labour’s candidate for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright

29 October 2012

On Sunday 28 October, Michael campaigned on the doorstep in Barnsley with Shaun Wright, Labour’s candidate for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Michael and Shaun went to Elsecar and Ardsleyand were joined byCouncillor Jim Andrews, Councillor Karen Dyson and Councillor Mick Stowe. 

On Thursday 15 November, people living in England and Wales can vote on who they want to be their local Police and Crime Commissioners.  Shaun Wright is a great candidate for the position in South Yorkshire.  He has served as councillor for the last twelve years and before that, as a workplace shop steward. He also hasexperience as the Vice Chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority, a magistrate, a school governor and a Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

To find out more about Shaun Wright’s campaign, you can visit his website at www.shaunwright.co.uk.

 

Wear our poppies with pride, writes Michael Dugher

27 October 2012

Michael has written a new blog post about the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.  Click here to read the full post.   

This week saw the launch of the 2012 Poppy Appeal, which will continue until Remembrance Sunday on 11 November.  Last year, I was very privileged to launch the appeal of my own branch of the Royal British Legion - the Hoyland and District Branch - in Hoyland town centre. This week I helped plant a 'virtual poppy' from Barnsley Central Library to promote the appeal throughout the Borough. This is the time of year when we all come together as a nation to express our unequivocal support for the amazing work of the Royal British Legion. 

Click here to read the full post...

 

Michael plants a virtual poppy at Serre in remembrance of the Barnsley Pals

26 October 2012

Michael planted a virtual poppy today from the Barnsley Central Library.  He placed his virtual poppy at Serre in remembrance of the Barnsley Pals and to honour all our Armed Forces, past and present.

Planting a virtual poppy is part of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.  People can leave a message on a virtual poppy anywhere in the world to remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.

You can click here to read messages left by others or select a location for your own message.  

 

Michael backs CSV’s ‘Make a Difference Day’ initiative

26 October 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael is backing CSV's 'Make a Difference Day' initiative.

Last week, Michael met the charity Community Service Volunteers’ ambassador Pete Waterman in Parliament, to help promote ‘Make a Difference Day 2012’.

The ‘Make a Difference Day’ campaign takes place this year on Saturday 27 October with the theme of sharing skills. It aims to highlight the wide variety of skills people can use to volunteer and help others.

CSV is eager to raise awareness of the importance of volunteering as 51 per cent of UK charities face critical skills gaps.

Michael welcomed the initiative, saying: “The work that CSV does is really important.  After a golden summer for volunteering at the Olympic and Paralympics Games, it would be great if we could build on this success and encourage more people to volunteer and share their skills.”

‘Make a Difference Day’ is the largest single day of volunteering in the UK, attracting 70,000 people a year.  To find out more, visit: http://www.csv.org.uk/?display=volunteering

The Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 26 October 2012

 

Michael votes against badger cull

25 October 2012

Michael voted against the badger cull today in Parliament.  See Michael’s response to constituents who have written to him about this matter below:

 --------------

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns over a Badger cull.

I thought you would like to know that today I voted in the House of Commons in favour of the motion below and against the badger cull.

That this House notes the e-petition on the planned badger cull, which has gathered more than 150,000 signatures; and calls on the Government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and bio-security.

On Tuesday, the Government said a trial cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset to assess the impact on cattle TB would be delayed until next year.  This follows the late realisation by ministers that there are twice as many badgers as previously thought, making it difficult if not impossible for farmers to kill enough badgers in time to affect cattle TB rates.

I fully understand that tuberculosis in cattle is a major animal health problem and appreciate the worry of farmers affected by this devastating disease.

A study commissioned by the last Labour Government concluded that: "The reductions in cattle TB incidence achieved by repeated badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended and did not offset the financial costs of culling. These results suggest that badger culling is unlikely to contribute effectively to the control of cattle TB in Britain."

Labour's approach in government was led by that science and we continue to be led by it.

Worryingly, there is no mechanism in place to measure whether the culling makes things worse or better. The "pilot scheme" in Gloucestershire is in no sense a scientific test of policy. The panel set up to oversee its effectiveness will have a narrow remit, only asking if free shooting is humane and farmers deliver it? They will not look at the reduction in the number of cattle affected by TB to see if culling saves public money.

Scientists who worked on previous badger culls are clear that culling makes little difference and risks increasing, rather than reducing, bovine TB.  Worse still, the Government’s approach of shooting free moving badgers has not been scientifically tested and their own analysis shows that it will cost farmers more than it saves them. Bovine TB will only be eradicated by better bio-security on farms and a large-scale vaccination programme for badgers.

Bovine TB is a terrible disease that needs to be controlled, but this cull is not the way to do it.

Thank you again for contacting me.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch again about this or any other issue.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dugher MP
Member of Parliament for Barnsley East

 

Michael meets constituents taking part in UK Feminista's lobby of Parliament

25 October 2012

Michael met with constituents Louise Crew and Ellen Uttley yesterday to discuss issues of gender inequality. Louise and Ellen were taking part in a lobby of Parliament organised by UK Feminista.

To find out more about UK Feminista, you can visit their website at: http://ukfeminista.org.uk/

 

Michael welcomes news that Wombwell Community Board has secured £10,000 to help revitalise the high street

24 October 2012

Michael has welcomed the news that Wombwell Community Board’s Town Team has successfully secured £10,000 and additional support for their efforts to revitalise the high street.

On Tuesday 23 October 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that the Wombwell Community Board’s Town Team Partner application had been successful.  The bid required the backing of Wombwell Town, the local authority and Michael Dugher, as the local Member of Parliament.

Successful bidders receive £10,000 to help towards putting some of their plans into action.  They will also have access to a support package from the Association of Town Centre Management, which includes shared learning and best practice with help from retail experts. 

In response to the announcement, Michael said:

“It is great news that Wombwell’s bid was successful.  The extra funding should go some way to supporting Wombwell Community Board's plans for revitalising the high street.

“I look forward to the town team project getting started and I will continue to support Wombwell Community Board in all the great work they are doing.”

 

Michael attends CSPA event in Parliament

23 October 2012

ichael attended a Civil Service Pensioner’s Alliance (CSPA) event in Parliament today.

At the event, Michael met Les Priestly, a constituent from Barnsley who was recently elected onto the National Executive of the CSPA.

The CSPA campaigns on behalf of half a million civil service pensioners and has approximately 60,000 members drawn from all grades and all departments of the Civil Service and related bodies.

 

Mitchell resignation shows Cameron is profoundly weak and out of touch

19 October 2012

Michael, responding to the news that the Chief Whip has resigned, said:

“After weeks in complete denial, Andrew Mitchell has finally bowed to public pressure. What people will want to know is why, when the entire country could see that what Andrew Mitchell did was wrong, the Prime Minister totally failed to act.

"David Cameron is left looking profoundly weak and totally out of touch, doing everything he could to hold on to Andrew Mitchell only for his Chief Whip to bow to the inevitable given the understandable public anger. There is a pattern of behaviour: an out of touch high handed government where the Chief Whip can insult the police as plebs and the Chancellor thinks he has a right to sit in first class without paying the fare.

"This Tory Government day by day show they think it’s one rule for them, another for everyone else.”

Michael’s comments were also reported in: BBC News, The Mirror, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Guardian, Channel 4 News website, Financial Times, Reuters and ITV News

 

Michael says that Osborne’s first class train ticket row is another demonstration of how out of touch the Government is

19 October 2012

Responding to the news that George Osborne was caught today sitting in First Class on a Virgin Train service on a Standard Class ticket, Michael said:

“Another day, another demonstration of how out of touch this Government is. Just like Andrew Mitchell, George Osborne obviously thinks it’s one rule for him and another for the plebs he’s so keen to sit apart from. So much for ‘we’re all in it together’.”

 

Michael Dugher visits local brick company in Grimethrope

19 October 2012

Michael visited the Carlton Brick company in Grimethorpe today to open their new clay brick production plant.

The company has been producing construction bricks since the late 40s and currently employs over 60 people from the surrounding area.   

During the visit, Michael met with the Director of the company, Oliver Stephenson, and many of the staff at the plant.

Commenting on the visit, Michael said:

“It was great to visit Carlton Brick again and meet some of the staff.

“Carlton Brick is a valued local employer and is very important to the community and the economy in Barnsley. 

 

Michael urges Barnsley Council to sign up to Community Military Covenant

19 October 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has urged Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council to sign up to the Community Covenant.

Neighbouring local authorities Rotherham, Doncaster and Wakefield have already signed up - along with many other local authorities across the country – but Barnsley is yet to do so.

Community Covenants are intended to complement, at local level, the Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. The main aim of the Community Covenant is to encourage local communities to support the service personnel in their area and promote understanding and awareness amongst the public of the issues affecting our Armed Forces. 

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“I know Barnsley Council has been in contact with the Royal British Legion and have been looking into proceeding with the Community Covenant, but I think it is now time to act. 

“Remembrance Weekend is when we come together in our communities to pay tribute to our Armed Forces, past and present.  Signing up to the Community Covenant would be a fitting way to recognise the sacrifices our brave men and women in the Armed Forces have made in the past and continue to make on a daily basis.    

“Many people have become involved in supporting the Service community in Barnsley in recent years.  I think that signing up to the Community Covenant would be a great opportunity to support existing community outreach programs and encourage more activities that help support our Armed Forces as they re-integrate back into local life.”

 

BBC News: David Cameron 'dodging' Commons questions, says Labour

19 October 2012

The BBC is reporting on Michael’s comments yesterday that it looks like David Cameron is trying to dodge as many weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) as possible.  Parliament’s sitting days were announced yesterday for next year and four of the seven recesses for 2013 begin on Tuesdays, which means that there will be no PMQs that week.   

Michael said: "After taking a battering from Ed Miliband over police cuts and Andrew Mitchell and then shambolically announcing the wrong energy policy all in the space of five minutes yesterday, it's no surprise David Cameron wants to dodge prime minister's questions.

"But timetabling the House of Commons to miss so many Wednesdays next year looks cynical and totally weak.

"If he's not prepared to defend his own policies, no wonder people think he's out of touch."

 

Labour Uncut: The government’s top 30 “real achievements”

18 October 2012

Michael has written a piece for Labour Uncut today assessing what the government has really achieved and outlining what its real “mid-term” report should look like.

Click here to read the article: The government’s top 30 “real achievements”'

 

Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley rises again

17 October 2012

Michael has said that Ministers seem happy to forget about places like Barnsley as figures out today show that long-term youth unemployment has risen again. 

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has fallen slightly from last month to 7570.  This is welcome news, but it is still a lot higher than a year ago, when the total figure was 7155, and the big worry is long-term youth unemployment.

The number of 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen yet again in the last month and by a massive 151 per cent in the last year.  And in Michael’s Barnsley East constituency, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high at over 1,000.  

Across South Yorkshire, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has now hit 3000, a rise of 163 per cent in the last year.

And three-quarters of Britain has higher unemployment than at the election and more than a third of people out of work have been jobless for more than a year.  This is the clearest sign yet that the Work programme is not doing the job.
 
Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley keeps on rising month on month yet the Government still refuses to take the necessary action.  Ministers seem happy to forget about places like Barnsley. 

“It is clear that those out of jobs are increasingly shut out.  And when you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it can have a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job.

“The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help, such as introducing a tax on bankers' bonuses to fund 100,000 youth jobs and a tax break for small firms taking on extra workers to help get Britain back to work.  They should also introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months.  This would help 515 young people in Barnsley alone.” 

--------

South Yorkshire Times: You can also see Michael's comments about the rising problem of long-term youth unemployment in the South Yorkshire Times: 'Rising crisis of youth unemployment'  

 

Huffington Post: For All Cameron's Talk of 'Aspiration', His Record and His Policies Just Don't Stand Up to Scrutiny

15 October 2012

Michael has written an article for the Huffington Post today responding to David Cameron’s conference speech last week.   

To the read the article, click here: "For All Cameron's Talk of 'Aspiration', His Record and His Policies Just Don't Stand Up to Scrutiny

 

The Mirror: “David Cameron tells conference he wants an 'aspirational' nation... but his only plan is to hit the poor”

11 October 2012

The Daily Mirror has reported today on David Cameron’s conference speech, highlighting how the Prime Minister “failed to spell out a single new policy to lift us out of economic doldrums”.

Michael, quoted in the article, said it was a “defensive speech, from an out-of-touch, clearly rattled leader, who cannot be the One Nation Prime Minister we need”.  He added:

“David Cameron never once mentioned the double-dip recession or the one million young people out of work. His speech failed to set out the real change our economy needs.”

Michael’s reaction to David Cameron’s speech has also been reported in: The Sun, ITV News,  The Yorkshire Post, The Scotsman, The Metro, The Telegraph and The Daily Star

 

The Independent: Government challenged to reduce voting age after it drops opposition to 16-year-olds taking part in Scottish independence referendum

11 October 2012

The Independent is reporting today that the Government is coming under pressure to lower the voting age across the United Kingdom after it dropped its opposition to 16 year olds taking part in the planned referendum on Scottish independence.

Michael, quoted in the article, said:

“It might just do our democracy some good by making politicians listen to our young people.

“I can see why Tories might be against – you’re unlikely to vote for Cameron if he’s taken away your educational maintenance allowance, hiked up your tuition fees or if you face joining the one million young people on the dole.”

Click here to read the full article.

 

“Rattled Cameron can't be the One Nation PM we need”

10 October 2012

Michael has responded to David Cameron’s conference speech today, calling it “a defensive speech, from an out of touch, clearly rattled leader, who cannot be the One Nation Prime Minister we need”.

To read Michael’s full reaction, you can visit the Labour Party’s website here

 

“Britain needs a One Nation Prime Minister to deliver real change”

08 October 2012

Michael was quoted in the Daily Mail, The Independent, The Mirror and The Guardian yesterday responding to David Cameron’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show.  He said:

“David Cameron can't be a One Nation Prime Minister. He says one thing, but time and again does another.

“He says those at the top will need to pay more, but he is the man whose top priority is to cut taxes for millionaires, giving 8,000 people earning over £1 million a tax break of £40,000 this April.

“On the deficit he says it's coming down, but the truth is that it's going up. So far this year the Government has borrowed 20 per cent more than last year.

“He promises to get immigration down. But all we get is reheated rhetoric while his Government gives us chaos at the borders, illegal immigration out of control and immigration remaining high.

“Britain needs a One Nation Prime Minister to deliver real change. Instead we've got one that asks millions to pay more and millionaires to pay less.”

 

Michael demands answers from the Government regarding Sir Anthony Bamford’s peerage nomination and Cameron’s visit to JCB plant in Brazil

07 October 2012

The Sunday Mirror and the Independent on Sunday are reporting that David Cameron is facing fresh ­questions over his links with billionaire Tory donor Sir Anthony Bamford.

Sunday MirrorThe Prime Minister has been embroiled in a row over party funding after he opened a new factory in Brazil for Sir Anthony, whose family have donated almost £5million to the Tory party. 

An attempt to install the 66-year-old in the House of Lords two years ago was reportedly blocked because of concerns over his tax affairs.

Independent on SundayNow Michael is demanding ­urgent answers over Mr ­Cameron’s relationship with one of the Tories’ biggest donors and plans on submitting a list of Parliamentary Questions and FOI requests. 

Michael, quoted in the Sunday Mirror, said: “David Cameron seems to have been bending over backwards for his big money crony.

“There should be maximum transparency about his ­relationship, which is why we are demanding answers to these ­important ­questions.”

Sunday Mirror: David Cameron faces questions over links with billionaire Tory donor Sir Anthony Bamford

Independent on Sunday: More questions raised over PM's links to boss of JCB

 

LabourList: Public urge Cameron to come clean about his taxes and drop his tax cut for millionaires

06 October 2012

Michael has written a blog post for LabourList today highlighting a new ICM poll that shows the public - including most Tory voters – think that Cameron should drop the tax cut for millionaires.

Michael also says that it is time for Cameron to tell us if he is personally benefiting from the tax cut.

Click here to read the post: Public urge Cameron to come clean about his taxes and drop his tax cut for millionaires

 

Michael writes to the Prime Minister asking how much he stands to benefit from cut in top rate of income tax

06 October 2012

Michael Dugher, Labour's Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, has written to the Prime Minister, asking him how much he stands to benefit from the cut in the top rate of income tax and how many of his Cabinet colleagues also stand to benefit. 
 


Michael writes as an ICM poll, published by Labour today, shows that 71 per cent of voters think the Government should abandon the tax cut in light of the continued challenges posed by the deficit and the recession.

Click here to read the letter.

 

New poll shows majority oppose David Cameron’s unfair tax cut

06 October 2012

A new poll shows strong opposition to the Conservatives going ahead with a tax cut next April which will give 8,000 people earning over £1 million a tax cut of at least £40,000.

The ICM poll, published by Labour today, shows that 71% of voters think the Government should abandon the tax cut in the light of the continued challenges posed by the deficit and recession. The poll also shows that:

* Nearly two thirds of those voters who supported the Conservatives also opposed the tax cut going ahead - by 65% to 26%.

* A majority of the public – by 64% to 20% – think David Cameron should make clear whether he benefits from his decision to cut the top rate of income tax.

* And that even those who voted Conservative at the last election thought the PM should set the record straight. By a majority of 46% to 40%.

Commenting, Michael said:

“In tough times David Cameron has chosen to give 8,000 people earning over £1 million a tax cut of at least £40,000. Meanwhile millions pay more and his failed economic plan has taken us into the longest double dip recession since the Second World War.

“This isn’t fair. We need a One Nation Prime Minister who will take decisions in the interests of the whole of Britain, not one who puts millionaires before the millions.

“The unfairness of his decisions is compounded by a refusal to come clean over how much he personally stands to benefit.

“He needs to listen to the people and come clean. He must reveal how much he stands to benefit from the cut in the top rate of tax and how many more of his Cabinet colleagues will reap the benefits.

“This isn’t about how rich people are, it’s about the decisions they take. It’s about the principle of giving tax cuts to millionaires while millions pay more.”

 

Labour launches Borrowing Counter and NHS poster to highlight scale of Cameron's economic failure

06 October 2012

Labour has launched a ‘borrowing counter’ and a NHS poster to highlight the scale of Cameron’s economic failure.

The Borrowing Counter shows in real time that borrowing is up £802 per second so far this year compared to last year.

And the NHS poster uses David Cameron's notorious pre-election poster to show the truth: He's cutting the NHS, not the deficit.

Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said:

"Under David Cameron’s failed economic plan borrowing is now going up not down.

"He promised to cut the deficit not the NHS, but the truth is he’s cutting the NHS not the deficit.

"Borrowing is up by 22 per cent so far this year compared to last. That's £802 higher every second or £277,124,183 higher in the four days of Conservative Party Conference.

"This rise in borrowing is not to invest in the jobs of the future but to pay for the mounting costs of this Government’s economic failure.

"David Cameron and George Osborne just don’t understand that if more people are on the dole, not paying taxes and claiming benefits, you can’t get the deficit down. If businesses are going bust, not hiring new workers, you can’t get the deficit down. If the economy’s not growing, you can’t get the deficit down.

"We’re not going to let them get away with it. With borrowing going up, a double dip recession and tax cuts for millionaires, David Cameron cannot be a One Nation Prime Minister."

 

Michael welcomes news that Barnsley Council will soon proceed with the compulsory purchase of the derelict properties in Welland Crescent

05 October 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today (see below), Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) has received approval from central Government to proceed with the compulsory purchase of the derelict properties (46, 48, 102 and 104) in Welland Crescent, Elsecar.

The Council is now in the process of serving the final notices and it is anticipated it will be in a position to take entry onto the sites towards the end of October 2012.  The first steps in the demolition process will then commence.  This will entail the removal of all utility services to the sites, which can take up to four months, however the Council hope that this will be completed sooner.  Once all services have been satisfactorily disconnected and removed, demolition work can begin.

The move to compulsory purchase follows the refusal of the owners of the properties to sell to the council. 

Michael has been campaigning for the demolition of the properties since he visited the estate over a year ago.  He has been in regular contact with BMBC and wrote to the Leader, Stephen Houghton, back in November 2011 when he thought that it was taking too long for the issue to be resolved.

Commenting on the latest development, Michael said:

“This is great news as it seems that an end to this long-running problem is finally in sight.  The derelict properties are in a dangerous state and have been a magnet for vandals and fly tippers.   

“I have been campaigning for months now with local residents, together with Hoyland Milton Councillors Robin Franklin, Tim Shepherd and Mick Stowe, to say enough is enough and I am happy that BMBC is now ready to take another significant step towards the demolition of these properties.

“The situation has gone on for far too long and the sooner these dangerous eyesores can be pulled down the better it will be for the local residents.”

Friday 5 October 2012

 

Michael backs Whizz-Kidz Paralympic inspiration initiative at Labour Party Conference

04 October 2012

Michael pledged his support at Labour Party Conference for an initiative launched by charity Whizz-Kidz, to gather young disabled peoples’ hopes for the legacy of the Paralympics.

The findings from the ‘Generation Inspired?’ consultation will help ensure that those charged with delivering the Paralympic legacy are fully informed about what young disabled people want – and expect – following the Games.

MP met 22 year old wheelchair-user and Whizz-Kidz Ambassador, Chris Tickle, at the Manchester Conference.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It was fantastic to meet Whizz-Kidz and hear about their valuable work providing mobility equipment and opportunities for fun and friendship for young disabled people.

“It is absolutely vital that the views of young disabled people are at the heart of plans for the Paralympic legacy. I am delighted to back the Generation Inspired initiative and encourage my constituents to take part in the consultation to make sure their views are heard.”

You can see a short clip of Michael backing the Generation Inspired! campaign by clicking here.   

The full link to Whizz-Kidz’s Generation Inspired survey can be found at http://bit.ly/WKGenInspired.

 

Michael writes to Cabinet Secretary to raise questions over Cameron's Brazil visit and JCB

04 October 2012

Michael has written to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to raise a number of questions over the propriety of David Cameron’s decision to provide public support to JCB and its Chairman, Sir Anthony Bamford. 

The Independent on Sunday revealed that Mr Cameron opened a new JCB plant in Sao Paolo belonging to Sir Anthony Bamford, one of the Conservatives' largest donors.

Michael has pressed Sir Jeremy to clarify Mr Cameron’s support for JCB, asking in his letter:
“Do you consider it appropriate for the Prime Minister to use his office to promote a company which has given the Conservative Party significant financial support? Why was a company which donates to the Conservative Party chosen as the destination of a valuable Prime Ministerial visit, rather than other British companies operating in Brazil?”

Click here to read the full letter. 

 

The Guardian online: “Cameron doesn't get the north, argues Shadow Minister”

28 September 2012

Ahead of the Labour party conference in Manchester, Michael has written an article for the Guardian's “The Northerner” blog arguing that there is a genuine ignorance about the north of England inside the Conservative party.

Click here to read the article: “Cameron doesn't get the north, argues Shadow Minister”

 

Michael attends formal re-opening of the Pavilion at Grimethorpe Sports Ground

28 September 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today (see below), Michael attended the formal opening of the nearly refurbished Pavilion last week at the Grimethorpe Sports Ground along with the Chair of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Peter McNestry, and the Chair of Access to Sports and Recreation Ltd, Alan Sherriff.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It was fantastic to re-open the pavilion at Grimethorpe sports ground today.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the individuals and organisations that have made the re-generation of this sporting facility possible.

“The renovation work was a real community-led project and would not have been possible without the support of local companies - Strata Homes, ASOS, Carlton Brick, Leggett and Platt and Sash Products – as well as the Grimethorpe Neighbourhood Watch and the Grimethorpe Parish Church Charity Fund.

“In particular, Barnsley Council and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust have provided vital funding to enable the project to succeed.”

Michael with the Chair of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Peter McNestry

The Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 28 September 2012

 

Michael backs UN's Education First campaign led by Gordon Brown

26 September 2012

Michael has backed a UN campaign, led by Gordon Brown, called Education First.

To find out more, and to see a short video about the issue, please visit www.educationenvoy.org

 

Michael calls for Barnsley Council to “think again” about the travellers’ site in Darfield

24 September 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle (see below), the South Yorkshire Times, the WeAreBarnsley website and The Sheffield Star, Michael has said that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council must “think again” about the travellers’ site in Darfield.

The feeling amongst local residents is extremely strong and Michael has been inundated with people getting in touch to say they are against the proposal.  In addition, over 300 people attended a public meeting on 15 September to voice their protest to the site.      

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP, said:

“It is clear that it’s not an appropriate location for a travellers’ site.  Not only is it some way off reaching the necessary criteria, it also doesn’t’ meet Government guidelines on permanent traveller sites.  The land is located away from local services and it could be unsafe. 

“The site would also encroach on to land that forms a natural green belt between Ardsley and Darfield. 

“The message from local residents and councillors is loud and clear and it is time for the council to go back and think again about its proposal for this travellers’ site in Darfield." 

The Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 21 September 2012

 

Michael visits Barnsley College

21 September 2012

Michael visited Barnsley College today and met with Principal Colin Booth before being shown around many of the fantastic new facilities. 

Michael with the Principal of Barnsley College, Colin Booth

 

Michael attends Barnsley Camra Summer Beer and Cider Festival at the Milton Hall in Elsecar

15 September 2012

On Fright Michael attended the Barnsley Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) Summer Beer and Cider Festival at the Milton Hall in Elsecar.

Michael, who is a member of Barnsley Camra, attended the event with Barnsley Metropolitian Borough Council deputy leader, Jim Andrews, and fellow Rockingham councillor, Chris Lamb.

Michael, showing his support for Wombwell's Acorn Brewery, is pictured here at the festival with a glass of Yorkshire Pride with David Broadhead and Dave Hughes from the brewery.

Also on Friday night, Michael attended the Harvest Festival at the Milton Arms in Elsecar.

The evening, organised by landlords Phil and Vikki Hickling, raised £2,300 for the Barnsley Hospice.

Michael supported the event with local councillors Tim Shepherd, Robin Franklin, Jim Andrews, Sharon Howard and Chris Lamb.

Commenting, Michael said: "A big thank you to Phil and Vikki who do so much in the community to support local good causes".  

 

Michael opens new care home in Hoyland

14 September 2012

Michael formally opened a new purpose-built care centre today. St James’ Court in Hoyland will cater for residential, nursing and dementia care and will create 60 jobs.

Each room is ensuite with showers while the building has been designed so that it can either be used as a home for all or divided into four separate units, each with its own lounge, dining area and nursing station.

After the opening ceremony, Michael said:

“At a time when there is so much pressure on the elderly care system, it’s great to see such high quality facilities opening here in Hoyland.

“The staff I have met at Crown Care are extremely professional and dedicated and I am sure that people staying at the new centre will receive the best possible care and attention.”

The Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 14 September 2012

 

Michael criticises Government’s Universal Credit scheme – which is already late and over budget

14 September 2012

On Tuesday, Michael voted on a Labour motion in Parliament calling on the Government to publish detailed implementation plans for the Universal Credit scheme and to set out steps to address the “deep flaws before it is too late.”

There are worrying signs that the Government’s £2billion Universal Credit scheme is way off track with it already late and over budget.

In June, the Department for Work and Pensions sneaked out news of an emergency nine-month delay in its monthly online newsletter.  And Ministers have also been forced to admit that the implementation of Universal Credit is already £100million over budget, with only £500m spent so far. 

The Government’s cuts to Tax Credits means that thousands of families would be better off on benefits than in their jobs, and delays to Universal Credit mean this situation is set to continue even longer.

Under changes announced by George Osborne, couples with children  earning less than around £17,700 will need to increase the number of  hours they work from a minimum of 16 to 24 hours per week or they will lose all their working tax credit of £3,870 per year.

New research, commissioned by Gingerbread, also found that Universal Credit will actually see the poorest workers lose out as more than one million working single parents will be hit as the lowest earning families and individuals stand to lose the equivalent of two-thirds of the intended increase to their untaxed earnings when Universal Credit and the personal tax allowance interact for the first time in 2013.

These finding show that for every £1,000 increase in the personal tax allowance, working people in receipt of Universal Credit will take home the equivalent of just £70, compared with £200 for those not reliant on government financial support.

In addition, business organisations have attacked Universal Credit as ‘totally impractical’ as Government plans look set to hold back small business with complex reporting requirements.  Universal Credit likely to increase the amount of red tape in the economy, rather than reduce it.

Commenting, Michael said:

“David Cameron’s flagship welfare project is now dangerously close to crashing into the rocks.

“We were promised that these reforms would transform lives, that Universal Credit would improve work incentives and that work would always pay. But Universal Credit is already late and over budget.  Millions are set see their work incentives slashed and the scheme is set to short change the working poor.

“Ministers must now show parliament a detailed plan for implementation and urgently address the deep flaws in their scheme before it is too late.” 

 

Michael’s speech to ‘Government Knowledge’ procurement conference

13 September 2012

Michael made a speech to the ‘Government Knowledge’ procurement conference yesterday. 
The speech focused on two main issues:

One - how procurement can play a crucial part in supporting business in the UK, boosting growth and shaping our future economy;

And two - how to get the best procurement processes in place across the whole of the public sector to deliver products and services efficiently and with value for money.

Click here to read the full speech. 

 

Labour List article: The reshuffle showed the Lib Dems true colours too

11 September 2012

Michael has written an article for LabourList arguing that as well as demonstrating a "lurch to the right", the reshuffle was just as telling in terms of the direction of Liberal Democrats in the Government.

Click here to read the article: The reshuffle showed the Lib Dems true colours too

 

Save the Children report: One-third of Yorkshire children now going hungry

10 September 2012 

A major new report from the charity Save the Children has revealed that 32 per cent of children in Yorkshire are being driven into poverty by the recession.   

This means that around 300,000 children in the region are now living in poverty, regularly missing hot meals or having parents forfeit their food to feed them.

The study, It Shouldn’t Happen Here, highlights children’s experiences living in recession-hit Britain and the extent to which poverty is blighting young lives.

Michael, who is a national "champion" for the Save the Children charity, was quoted in the Yorkshire Post saying:

“It’s shocking that so many children in Yorkshire and the Humber are living in poverty.

“Labour cut child poverty by 900,000, but the Tory-led Government’s own estimates predict that it is set to increase again.

“George Osborne’s last Budget cut taxes for millionaires, but found nothing new to fight child poverty.”

To read the full Yorkshire Post article, click here.

 

Michael gives his reaction to David Cameron's "no change" reshuffle

05 September 2012 

Michael has called David Cameron’s reshuffle “more of the same from an out of touch and failing Government”.  He said:

"This is the no-change reshuffle.

"No move for a failing Chancellor in charge of a failing economic plan that has delivered a double-dip recession, who gave a tax cut for millionaires and who refuses to tax bank bonuses.

"And there are no moves across almost all of the most senior cabinet jobs.

"On Sunday David Cameron promised to 'cut through the dither', but today he was too weak to move Iain Duncan Smith from the Department of Work and Pensions and was forced to back down.

"Jeremy Hunt, the man who broke the ministerial code and failed to stand up to News Corporation, is now in charge of the NHS, our most cherished national institution. This won't change David Cameron's policy of continuing with a massive top-down NHS reorganisation.

"This reshuffle isn't a fresh start - it's more of the same from an out of touch and failing Government that stands up for the wrong people."

As well as interviews for Sky News and ITV news, Michael was also quoted in the Metro, the Mirror, the Telegraph and the Evening Standard.  

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: Rony Robinson show

05 September 2012 

Following his question at Cabinet Office Questions today, Michael was interviewed on Rony Robinson’s BBC Radio Sheffield show.

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 2:40

 

Michael defends Post Offices on behalf of Barnsley constituents

05 September 2012 

Michael asked a question in Parliament today to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, regarding the future of the Post Office network.

Speaking from the dispatch box during Cabinet Office Questions, Michael said:

“In recent weeks the Minister will have received a number of letters regarding the future of the post office network and the importance of Government services and their expansion. Will he endorse the campaign by the National Federation of SubPostmasters and, as the campaign slogan says, help make it happen?”

(You can click here to watch the exchange on Parliament TV.)

Michael has had hundreds of constituents contact him in recent weeks with concerns about the future of the Post Office network. 

You can read his full response below:     

------------

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding government services at Post Offices.

Like you, I believe that Post Offices are hugely important as they provide a vital service to local people and should be seen as community hubs.  Indeed, the previous government supported the Post Office network and provided £1.7 billion from 2007-11 in order to support branches across the UK.  We also expanded the range of services that were available at Post Offices, like renewing drivers' licences and collecting tax credit payments.

There were also plans by the previous government to create a Post Office or 'People's Bank', which would have offered reliable, affordable banking services.  Given that the Post Office is a widely trusted brand and has more branches across the country than other banks and building societies combined, it is disappointing that this Government abandoned this plan when it came to office in 2010.

Expanding the range of services and commercial activities at Post Office branches is vital to ensuring the long-term future of the Post Office network.  Whilst this Government has repeatedly stated that the Post Office should be the "front office of government", unfortunately these words have yet to be matched by action as the loss of the green giro last year showed.

I agree with you that the Government should be working to ensure that the range of services and commercial activities at Post Office branches is expanded.  It is vital to ensuring the long-term future of the Post Office network and their place in communities across the country.

I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government on these issues in Parliament.

Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me regarding this important matter.

Yours sincerely,

 

Michael Dugher MP
Member of Parliament for Barnsley East

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: Toby Foster Breakfast Show

03 September 2012 

As Parliament returns today, Michael was on Toby Foster’s BBC Radio Sheffield breakfast show to talk about what the Government should be focusing on in the coming weeks.  

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 1:22:30.

 

Michael urges Education Secretary to undertake a cross-party inquiry in to GCSE English exam results

03 September 2012

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael has called for a cross-party inquiry into GCSE English exam results. 

In Barnsley, over 45 per cent of students achieved 5 A*-C’s.  However, performance across schools was unusually inconsistent in English, with some falling short of their expected performance by as much as 8.6 per cent. On initial investigation it appears that those schools entering students for GCSE English with AQA did less well than similar schools using other exam boards.

Andrew Webb, the Vice President of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, has expressed concerns that grade boundaries have shifted in this qualification in recent months making grades inconsistent over time and between schools. 

The allegation is that students sitting the exam in January will have achieved a higher grade than if they had taken the paper in July or with an alternative exam board.

In his letter, Michael said:

“There are young people in Barnsley who find themselves unsure whether their qualifications are correct and not knowing whether they are now able to continue their education as they had hoped.  I’m sure you will agree that parents, pupils and teachers need to understand what has happened... we must have reassurances that young people in Barnsley have not been unfairly disadvantaged as a result of any action your Department may have taken."

Click here to read the full letter.

 

Michael says that the land off Doncaster Road in Darfield is not an “appropriate location” for the proposed development of a Travellers’ site in Barnsley

31 August 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle (see below) and The Sheffield Star, Michael has come out against the development of a Travellers’ site in Darfield, saying it is not an “appropriate location”. 

The proposed site in Darfield is one of a number within the borough that is being considered by the council, but it does not fit the necessary criteria or meet Government guidelines.  

An official report published in 2007 “A Study and Assessment of the Accommodation Needs of Gypsies and Travellers in South Yorkshire”, which Barnsley council was involved with, stated that the preferred locations for permanent council sites were: Barnsley (area in the West of the Borough, reasonably accessible for town and centre areas) and  Rotherham (in the South of the Borough for Council/RSL site).   

In addition, the Government’s official guidelines on permanent sites states that there should be “easy access to local services” and that the site needs to “provide a safe environment for the residents and not be located near industrial processes or other hazardous places”.  It adds that “all prospective site locations should be considered carefully before any decision is taken to proceed, to ensure that the health and safety of prospective residents are not at risk”. 

It is the considered view of local councillors, such as Cllr Brian Key, that the proposed site does not meet these guidelines.  This is both because it is located away from local services and could be unsafe for a permanent site due to previous industrial activities in the area. 

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“It is clear that the proposed area in Darfield is not an appropriate location for a Travellers’ site.  It seems that it does not fit the necessary criteria or meet Government guidelines. The land is located away from local services and could be unsafe. 

“The site would also encroach on to land that forms a natural green belt between Ardsley and Darfield.  And it is important to note that all previous planning applications for that area have been rejected.

“I believe it is only right that local residents have a full say as to what happens in their community - that is why I am listening to local people and to local Councillors.

“Two meetings have been arranged by local Councillors to discuss the issue and I would encourage local residents to attend so that their voice is heard.  The first meeting will take place on 6 September from 6pm at Illsley Road Community Centre, Darfield, for the purpose of listing why the proposed site is not suitable.  Then on 15  September from 10.30am, a full public meeting will take place at the same venue to discuss ways to move forward with objections.”

The Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 31 August 2012

 

Michael Dugher: “We support the honours system recognising people from every walk of life and to do so on merit”

29 August 2012

The Commons Public Administration Select Committee has condemned the granting of knighthoods to businessmen and senior officials for simply “doing the day job”.
Michael, responding to the committee’s report, said:

"Labour welcomes the report by the Public Administration Select Committee into the honours system and will study the detail of the recommendations.

"It is vitally important that the independence of the honours system is maintained.

We welcome proposals for greater transparency, and for more recognition from within the system for people who do voluntary work in their communities. Despite significant improvements in recent years, more needs to be done to honour those great unsung heroes from our local communities, ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day to make life better in their community.

"We support the honours system recognising people from every walk of life and to do so on merit. And within the public sector, there should also be greater recognition for those often lower-paid workers who do so much up and down the country to maintain our vital public services, and not just for those working in top jobs in the civil service in Whitehall.

"We also need an honours system that puts no artificial quota on extraordinary achievements or performances that contribute to this country. Clearly numerous heroes from Team GB have met this criteria during London 2012 and the public would expect them to be rewarded appropriately.”

To read more about the reaction to the report, see BBC News, ITV News and The Evening Standand.

 

Government "failing Yorkshire's next generation" as NEET stats soar

22 August 2012

Michael Dugher has accused the Government of failing Yorkshire and the Humber's next generation as figures out today showed a 21,000 increase in young people not in education, employment or training since the general election.

Figures published by the Department of Education today show there are now 138,000 people aged between 16 and 24 in the Yorkshire and Humber region now classed as 'NEETs' - a rise of 17 per cent.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The Tory-led Government is failing the next generation. Since the eneral election there has been an increase of 21,000 16-24 year olds in the Yorkshire and Humber region that are classified as not in education, employment or training.

"By scrapping EMA and the Future Jobs Fund, trebling tuition fees, and getting rid of face-to-face careers guidance, the Government is taking away support for young people just when they most need it.

"This out of touch Government is presiding over a crisis of opportunities for our young people with its failed economic plan, a double-dip recession made in Downing Street and more borrowing. Now it is condemning thousands of our young people to the scrapheap in constituencies like mine in Barnsley and throughout Yorkshire."

 

Michael backs ‘Save School Sports’ campaign

22 August 2012

Michael is backing a new campaign to ‘Save School Sports’. The Government has decided to scrap the requirement for children to do at least two hours of PE a week and has also abolished the School Sports Partnerships, which allowed primary schools access to coaches, staff and facilities to do competitive sport. In addition, the Government is now planning to allow further reductions in the amount of outdoor space each school must provide, meaning less space for children to do PE and play outside.

These decisions could result in the once in a generation opportunity of the Olympics being wasted.

As part of the campaign, Michael will be joining the call for a vote in Parliament in September to demand that the Government change their plans and protect school playing fields.

Click here to find out more and to sign up to ‘Save School Sports’.



Barnsley East constituency has the 10th highest percentage of people struggling to pay their energy bills in Yorkshire

22 August 2012

As reported on the WeAreBarnsley website today, Barnsley East constituency has been identified as having the 10th highest percentage of people struggling to pay their energy bills in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

Using the Government's latest fuel poverty figures, it has been calculated that 20.6 per cent (7,779) of households in Barnsley East are “fuel poor”.

The cost of a typical dual fuel bill is now £1,310 – up by nearly 50 per cent in the last four years alone, meaning that energy bills are now one of the biggest costs families face.

Debt is a major worry for low-income parents, exacerbated by rising energy costs. According to research by Save the Children/You Gov, 71% of parents on the lowest incomes are worried that their energy bill will push them into debt.

Pensioners and many families are feeling the squeeze – on top of high fuel prices, food inflation is at 4.3 per cent and the VAT hike costs a typical pensioner couple £275 a year.

Michael is backing a plan that would provide real help now, as well as reform the way our energy market works for the long-term. The plan involves:

o Getting tough with the energy companies by requiring them to check all pensioners over 75 are on the cheapest possible tariff – saving up to 4 million pensioners as much as £200 a year;
o Providing real help now by making the energy companies ensure that all vulnerable pensioners and low-income families with children at risk of fuel poverty, and who receive the Cold Weather Payment, automatically receive the Warm Homes Discount;
o Reforming the energy market by breaking the dominance of the Big Six energy companies, by requiring them to sell power into a pool, allowing new businesses to enter the market, increasing competition and driving down energy bills for families and businesses;
o Protecting small businesses from the energy companies’ rip-off tactics.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“Energy bills are soaring, driving up inflation and contributing to the cost of living crisis afflicting families hit by the current recession. And it is clear from these latest figures that people in Barnsley East are being particularly affected.

“At a time when families are facing record fuel bills and energy companies are enjoying huge profits, government needs to step in and support families. But this Government’s only answer to rising energy bills is to tell consumers they’re to blame for not shopping around enough and to cut back on the support it is offering to help people heat their homes.

“Ministers should support proposals to put all over-75s on the cheapest tariff and overhaul the energy market to deliver fair prices for all.”



Kevin Maguire: "Barnsley ballerina will dance with Bolshoi after help from Mirror readers"

22 August 2012

Kevin Maguire reported in his column yesterday on the good news that Barnsley ballerina Tala Lee Turton will, after all, dance with the Bolshoi.

Kevin said: "A big curtsey to Mirror readers who helped the teen’s mam Sara raise an initial £15,000 to send her to Moscow. And a nod to the Yorkshire town’s MP Michael Dugher, a reminder good politicians can make a difference.

"The exceptional girl from an ordinary family has earned her chance to dance on a world stage."

 

Michael shows his support for Brain Tumour Research and Support

20 August  2012 

Michael showed his support for Brain Tumour Research and Support (BTRS) today by completing a leg in the Olympic Torch Relay of Barnsley Town Hall Clock Tower to help raise awareness and vital funding.

Around 5,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with a primary brain tumour each year (around 700 from Yorkshire).  Brain tumours kill more of our children than any other cancer.  BTRS raises funds to support specific and dedicated research projects into the treatment and cure of child and adult brain tumours.

Also supporting the charity today was Barnsley's deputy leader and Rockingham councillor, Jim Andrews, together with deputy mayor and Stairfoot councillor, Karen Dyson (pictured below).

Whilst at Barnsley Town Hall, Michael met with Suzanne Chesterton, who recently lost her husband to brain cancer.

Michael said:

"It was heartbreaking to hear Suzanne's story about how she lost her husband and her young family lost their father. It really brings it home to you how we desperately need to raise awareness and indeed funding for brain tumour research and support. Suzanne has done a brilliant job and she has all my admiration and support".

 

South Yorkshire Times: Tala makes it to Moscow - Wombwell ballerina to dance with the Bolshoi

16 August  2012 

The South Yorkshire Times is reporting today that dancer Tala Lee Turton, from Barnsley, is finally on her way to Moscow to train at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Michael has supported Tala and her mother’s campaign to raise enough money for her to go to the prestigious classical ballet training school.

Enough money has now been raised for Tala’s first year in Russia.  This includes money for travel, health insurance and tuition fees.  

To find our more and to read the article, click here.

 

Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley rises again

16 August  2012 

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has fallen slightly from May 2012 (7,770) to July 2012 (7,630).

This is welcome news, but it is still a lot higher than a year ago, when the total figure was 6,985.  And the big worry is still long-term youth unemployment.  The number of 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen yet again – by 4 per cent in the last month and a massive 226 per cent in the last year.

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael said:

“The slight fall in overall unemployment is welcome news, but it can’t mask the massive increase in long term youth unemployment.  This has increased by over 4 per cent in the last month and 220 per cent in the last 12 months.  

“When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job. You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health.

“The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to be shaken out of their compliancy as they are throwing young people in Barnsley on the scrap heap.”

 

Michael says safety is of paramount importance as Tesco developer in Hoyland bows to pressure for a crossing outside new store

10 August 2012

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Tesco has bowed to pressure for a crossing outside the new store in Hoyland. 

Michael, along with local councillors for Hoyland Milton and Rockingham, has been leading the campaign for a pedestrian crossing.  At the beginning of July, Michael wrote to the council to urge them to keep to the agreement with Tesco PLC for a crossing in the planning permission for the new store.   

Although not a pelican crossing, local councillors have been assured that safety concerns of residents will be protected with a zebra crossing. 

Commenting, Michael said:

"I have said all along that safety must be of paramount importance with regard to this new Tesco. I am pleased the developer has bowed to pressure.  I will continue to work with our local Labour councillors to scrutinise the Tesco development to ensure that this is the case". 

Barnsley Chronicle, 10 August 2012

 

“David Cameron should show some leadership and demand a full apology from Aidan Burley”

29 July 2012

Responding to comments made on Twitter during the Olympic Opening Ceremony by Conservative MP Aidan Burley, Michael said: "David Cameron should show some leadership and demand a full apology from Aidan Burley immediately.

Quoted in The Independent, The Express, and The Press Association, Michael said: "Burley has got form. His comments were stupid, ignorant and offensive. David Cameron has said that the Conservative party has changed but it is clear from the words of his own MP that not a lot has changed."

 

The Star: “Labour Blasts David Cameron Survey”

23 July 2012

The Star has reported on criticism of David Cameron’s “happiness index”, which has found that unemployed people in the UK were more unhappy than working people and the sick were less happy than the healthy.

Michael, quoted in the article, said: “You don’t need a wellbeing survey to know that people in poor health are unhappier than healthy people.

“This is a statement of the bleeding obvious, a waste of taxpayers’ money and it makes ministers look even more out of touch.”

Michael's comments were also reported in The Guardian, The Express and BBC News Online.   

 

Michael says it is typically disingenuous of Baroness Warsi and the Conservative Party to claim that she has been cleared of any misdoing

27 July 2012

Michael, responding to the claims by Baroness Warsi that she has been cleared of all the charges against her, said:

"It is typically disingenuous of Baroness Warsi and the Conservative Party to claim that she has been cleared of any wrongdoing. This is not true - there was a lack of transparency about her living arrangements for which she has been rightly criticised. She was found in breach of the Ministerial Code, and the Government has repeatedly failed to answer the Parliamentary Questions that I have submitted in relation to her.

"It's clear that David Cameron is desperate to hang onto her and keep her in post because he is not strong enough to carry out the reshuffle that everyone knows he wants to do and impose his will on his fracturing Government."

To read more, see The Telegraph and BBC News Online.

 

The NUM Barrow Colliery Banner returns to Worsbrough

22 July 2012

Michael attended an event at the Worsbrough Miners Welfare Club on Saturday to mark the return of the NUM Barrow Colliery Banner.

The NUM Barrow Colliery Banner

 

Blog post: "It is time to properly reform the banking sector once and for all "

23 July 2012

Michael has written a blog post today about why it is time to properly reform the banking sector once and for all.

Click here to read the post.

 

Michael attends end of year assembly at Birkwood Primary School, Cudworth

20 July 2012 

Michael attended the end of year assembly at Birkwood Primary School today and took part in the presentation of certificates, trophies and prizes to pupils. 

The assembly was conducted by the head teacher Mrs Allen and included a film showing various school activities from the past school year.

The assembly also marked the end of primary school life for the Year 6 students and to mark this, each Year 6 pupil was presented with a number of gifts.

Michael speaking at the end of year assembly, Birkwood Primary School, Cudworth

 

Huffington Post: “Tackling the 'Silent Salesman' Glitzy Cigarette Packets - Plain Packs are an Idea Worth Trying”

20 July 2012 

Michael has written an article for the Huffington Post today about introducting plain packs for tobacco products.

To the read the article, click here:   “Tackling the 'Silent Salesman' Glitzy Cigarette Packets - Plain Packs are an Idea Worth Trying”

 

Michael reveals figures that show affordable housing starts in South Yorkshire has fallen by 73 per cent

20 July 2012 

As reported in the Sheffield Star today, Michael has revealed figures that show affordable housing starts in South Yorkshire has fallen by 73 per cent.

Official Government figures have revealed that affordable house building has collapsed in South Yorkshire.  The figures from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency show that affordable housing starts fell by 73 per cent from 858 to just 231 in 2011/2012 compared with the previous year.

In Sheffield, the figure has dropped from 104 (1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011) to just 2 (1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012). 

These figures demonstrate the impact of the Government’s housing and economic policies and the need for urgent action to build much needed homes and get the economy going again.

Michael is urging the Government to repeat the bankers’ bonus tax to build 25,000 new affordable homes.  Together with the proposed 5 per cent cut to VAT on home improvements, that would mean more homes that are in a better condition, creating much needed jobs and apprenticeships. 

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“The Government is failing families in South Yorkshire who are in desperate need of a home.  

“The Government’s £4 billion cut to the affordable housing budget has not only led to a 68 per cent collapse nationally in affordable house building over the past year, it has also hit the construction and house building industries hard. 

“In South Yorkshire, we’ve seen a 73 per cent decrease in affordable home starts.  The Government should take action by repeating the bankers’ bonus tax to fund 25,000 new affordable homes.  It should also introduce a one year cut in VAT on home improvements, repairs and maintenance to help small businesses and create much needed jobs and apprenticeships.

“This Government needs to start thinking less about grabbing headlines and more about tackling the worsening housing crisis.”

 

Michael urges local companies to enlist in scheme to get Veterans back to work

20 July 2012 

As reported in the Sheffield Star today, Michael has urged local companies in South Yorkshire to join a new effort to get former members of the Armed Forces into work.   

The scheme, called the Veterans Interview Programme (V.I.P), works by getting companies to voluntarily guarantee an interview for job seeking ex-Forces personnel. 

In difficult economic circumstances there will be an increasing number of members of the Armed Forces looking for employment. Over 20 leading UK employers have already signed up to the scheme.  Most have agreed to offer UK veterans guaranteed interviews and all will work to improve the employment opportunities of Service-leavers. 

National companies including: O2, Greggs, Centrica and John Lewis have signed up and the scheme is open to local companies large and small to join in.

Former Service personnel have a wide range of experiences and skills arising from Service, including leadership, teamwork and organisation, and Michael believes more must be done to provide additional support to help them find employment.

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

“The talents of those leaving the Services are a big asset to business.  I believe we must raise awareness of their skills and increase access to employment.

“This is not about special treatment, but about overcoming barriers to provide a level playing field for service people.  It is all of our duty to help provide a smooth transition from military to civilian life.  Increasing veterans’ wellbeing and opportunities should be a priority and the Veterans Interview Programme will hopefully go some way to help. 

“I encourage local companies in South Yorkshire to join this new effort to get former members of the Armed Forces into work.  It is an important way of supporting those who have kept our country safe.”

 

"Cameron and Clegg's time would be better spent addressing the needs of the country, rather than patting each other on the back at press conferences”

19 July 2012 

Michael responded to David Cameron and Nick Clegg's press conference earlier this week.  As reported in The Telegraph, Sky News, The Mirror, the BBC, The Sheffield Star  and the Huffington Post, Michael said:

"The sight of David Cameron and Nick Clegg congratulating themselves on their ‘success’ at a time when they’ve delivered a double dip recession made in Downing Street shows how out of touch they are. What planet are they living on?

"David Cameron’s Government is lurching from crisis to shambolic u-turn and back again. In just two years they’ve given us a double dip recession; 4,000 nurses and 15,000 police cut; one million young people unemployed; and a tax cut for millionaires while millions pay more.

"Cameron and Clegg's time would be better spent addressing the needs of the country, rather than patting each other on the back at press conferences. It's the policies that need fixing - not their PR."

 

Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley rises again

18 July 2012 

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has fallen slightly from last month to 7,550.  This is welcome news, but it is still a lot higher than a year ago, when the total figure was 6,800, and the big worry is long-term youth unemployment.

The number of 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen yet again – by 7 per cent in the last month and a massive 235 per cent in the last year.

Across the North, unemployment is up by 100,000 over the last 12 months.  And the number of 18 to 24 year olds across South Yorkshire who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has also risen by a massive 240 per cent in the last year.
  
In Barnsley, the new figures show that the overall level of youth unemployment is currently at 2,575 - a 20 per cent increase in the last 12 months.  On top of that, the total number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has also risen sharply over the last year - it now stands at 7,550, a 11 per cent increase over the last 12 months. 

The new figures also show that the number of people chasing every job in Barnsley has gone from 5.3 in June 2011 to 8.3 in June 2012.   

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael Said:

“Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley keeps on rising month on month yet the Government still refuses to take the necessary action.  Ministers seem happy to forget about places like Barnsley. 

“The Government’s policies are having a severely damaging effect upon the North in particular.   Across the North, unemployment is up by 100,000 over the last 12 months and the number of 18 to 24 year olds across South Yorkshire who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen by a massive 240 per cent in the last year.

“When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job. You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health.

“The Government’s welfare to work programmes are clearly not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help, such as introducing a tax on bankers' bonuses to fund 100,000 youth jobs and a tax break for small firms taking on extra workers to help get Britain back to work.  They should also introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months.  This would help over 470 young people in Barnsley alone.”   

 

Barnsley Chronicle: “Councillors back MP over Tesco crossing”

16 July 2012 

Councillors in Hoyland have backed Michael in urging Barnsley Council and Tesco PLC to keep to their original agreement to have a pelican crossing installed on Wombwell Road.

The reason the pelican crossing formed a part of the original planning approval was because the original application had been deferred over road safety concerns.  Tesco only gained final planning approval because the planning committee deemed the pelican crossing to be vital for the safety of people using the store.

You can read the article in the Barnsley Chronicle below:

The Barnsley Chronicle, 13 July 2012

 

Michael urges the Government to take the necessary action on flood insurance and criticises the massive cuts to the flood defence budget

13 July 2012 

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, urging the Government to take the necessary action on flood insurance. 

In less than 12 months time, the ‘Statement of Principles’ - the Government and industry solution to provide insurance to homes at risk of flooding – will expire, with a replacement scheme yet to be agreed.  Michael has said that the longer the Government delays announcing a replacement, the greater the risk that insurance premiums will increase for homeowners and businesses due to the uncertainty. 

In his letter to Caroline Spelman MP, Michael said:

“The latest floods have highlighted once again the looming crisis of flood insurance.  People in flood-prone areas, like in parts of my Barnsley East constituency, are finding it harder to get insurance and their premiums and excesses are going up.  

“The previous government increased investment in flood defences and in return the insurance industry agreed to keep insurance available.  However, this Government has cut capital investment in flood defences by 27 per cent, creating uncertainty for homes and businesses at risk of flooding.

“The Association of British Insurers has warned that unless the Government agrees a new sustainable long-term solution for insurance, up to 200,000 high-risk households across the country will face problems in getting flood insurance in June 2013.  

“I am sure you understand my concern for my local residents that have been hit by flooding in recent years.  I would urge you and other Ministers to take the necessary action immediately.” 

Michael also praises the work of the emergency services and Barnsley Council for all the work they did trying to help local communities as much as possible in dealing with the problems caused by the flooding.  However, he also mentions the concerns that have been raised at the response by the Environment Agency and the cuts the Government is making to the flood defence budget.  He said:

“The Government is cutting £400m from the flood defence budget and it appears that this may have resulted in resources being too stretched across our region.   Whilst I accept that priorities will always have to be made, there is a sense that a lack of resources meant that Barnsley was simply not a priority at all, leaving residents in the Borough potentially exposed.”       

Click here to read the full letter. 

Update: Michael’s letter was reported on Barnsley Chronicle Online and WeAreBarnsley.

 

The Mirror: 'Barnsley ballet dancer Tala Lee-Turton's dream is no fairytale'

11 July 2012 

The Mirror reported yesterday on the campaign to raise enough money to allow the talented local 16-year-old girl from Barnsley, Tala Lee-Turton, to take up her place at the prestigious classical ballet training school, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Click here to read the article. 

 

Michael attends APPG on Heart Disease in Parliament

09 July 2012 

Michael attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease reception today. 

Michael is Vice-Chair of the group and is also currently working with the British Heart Foundation on their plain tobacco packaging campaign.

To find out more about the British Heart Foundation, click here.

(Picture: Michael with Julia Toft from the British Heart Foundation).

 

Michael urges council to keep to the agreement with Tesco PLC for a pelican crossing in the planning order for the new Tesco in Hoyland

06 July 2012 

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle today, Michael has written to Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) to urge them to keep to the agreement with Tesco PLC for a pelican crossing (pedestrian light controlled crossing) in the planning permission for the new Tesco in Hoyland.

It has been brought to Michael’s attention by local constituents that Litton Properties, acting on behalf of Tesco PLC, has applied to the Barnsley Council planning department to have the pelican crossing removed from the planning order.

The reason the pelican crossing formed a part of the original planning approval came about because the original application had been deferred over road safety concerns and only gained final planning approval because the planning committee deemed the pelican crossing to be vital for the safety of people using the store.

The developer was also quoted in the Barnsley Chronicle at the time as saying that they would work as closely as possible with BMBC to make the development as safe as possible.

In his letter the council, Mr Dugher said:

“I am in favour of the development of the site in Hoyland and am pleased that Tesco is bringing around 140 new jobs to an area.  However, I have been in contact with local councillors in Hoyland, and we believe that the safety of residents must be paramount. 

“As the original decision appeared to be granted only on the understanding that a pelican crossing would be installed on Wombwell Road, I and the residents of Hoyland believe it is important that both the developer and Barnsley Council keep to the original agreement.”

Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 06 July 2012

 

A sad day for The Yorkshire regiment

05 July 2012 

The Government has announced that The Yorkshire Regiment is to lose one of its three battalions in cuts to the Army announced by the government.

The 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, formerly the Green Howards, will be absorbed into the rest of the regiment in autumn 2013.

Commenting after the Defence Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons, Michael said:

“This is a sad day for the British Army and a sad day for the Yorkshire regiment, many of whom are from Barnsley and are serving with such great distinction in Afghanistan.

“These are just cuts masquerading as strategy.  Our Armed forces and their families deserve better.

“We need urgent assurances from Ministers that anyone made redundant is provided with every possible assistance for them and their family.”

 

Blog post: "The wrong decision has been made – the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit should remain open"

05 July 2012 

As reported in the South Yorkshire Times and the Sheffield Star, Michael has criticised the decision by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts to close the children’s heart unit in Leeds. 

Michael has written a blog post about why the wrong decision has been made.  Click here to read the post.

 

“Derisory help from a Government in denial” – Michael reacts to Clegg’s announcement on youth unemployment hotspots

02 July 2012 

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has characterised Nick Clegg’s announcement on how the Government will do more to tackle youth unemployment in 20 hotspots as “derisory help from a Government in denial about the scale of the problem".    

Nick Clegg is announcing today that for 20 youth unemployment “hotspots”, one of which is Barnsley, the Government will speed up the youth contract scheme so that the time a person between 18 and 24 years old has to be unemployed to qualify for help in getting a job will be cut from nine to six months.  

Responding to this announcement, Michael said:

"This is derisory help from a Government in denial about the scale of the problem. I have been highlighting the growing crisis of youth unemployment in Barnsley for months and months. 

“The latest figures, released by the Office for National Statistics only last week, show that the number of 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen yet again – by 8 per cent in the last month and a massive 214 per cent in the last year.

"The banks are still shelling out millions in bonuses, yet Cameron and Clegg refuse to repeat Labour's tax on bank bonuses that should be used to create jobs for young people and get the economy moving. Real help is desperately needed in Barnsley.”

Michael has been highlighting the problem of youth unemployment in Barnsley for many months and has called on the Government to introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people.  This would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months. 

The introduction of a tax on bankers' bonuses would fund 100,000 youth jobs.  This is one proposal in Labour’s five point plan for jobs and growth - to find out more, click here

The Barnsley Chronicle, 29 June 2012

 

Blog post: “New figures for Barnsley East show it's time to get tough with rip-off energy firms”

29 June 2012 

Michael has written a new blog post today about soaring energy prices and why the Government needs to get tough with the big energy firms.

Click here to read the post.

 

The Telegraph: “Baroness Warsi found guilty of breaching ministerial code - but David Cameron says she can keep her job”

28 June 2012 

As reported in the Telegraph today, Baroness Warsi has been found guilty of breaching ministerial rules by taking a business associate on an official trip overseas. However, despite this, David Cameron has said that she can keep her job.

Michael - also quoted on Reuters, BBC News and in the Financial Times and the Yorkshire Post - said:

“Sir Alex Allen's verdict that Baroness Warsi did break the Ministerial Code is no surprise. Nor is the fact that David Cameron has been quick to seize on his words in an attempt to clear her, even though the serious allegations over her House of Lords expenses are still under investigation.

“The real question posed by this affair is why David Cameron is still refusing to refer the much more serious breach of the Code by Jeremy Hunt - who misled Parliament on at least three occasions over the BSkyB bid - to the Independent Adviser."

Baroness Warsi is still facing a further probe from the Lords standards watchdog over reports that she claimed £165 per night for accommodation whilst staying with her political adviser in a friend's house apparently rent-free.

 

Michael and Rachel Reeves MP unveil plaque in honour of Betty Varley

19 June 2012 

On Saturday, Michael hosted his constituency summer social at West Bank House in Hoyland with special guest Rachel Reeves MP, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

At the event Rachel kindly agreed to unveil a plaque in honour of Betty Varley, the deputy chair of the West Bank House Community Association, which is the longest running community association in Barnsley.

Betty instigated the renovation of the former National Coal Board property after it had lain near derelict for many years.  It is thanks to Betty that the association is what it is today. 

Commenting, Michael said: “It is great to be able to give Betty this recognition for all the hard work she has put into this place over the years and it is very fitting to name the function room here at West Bank House as the Varley Room”.

 

BBC news: “Michael Dugher MP's shock over South Yorkshire metal thefts”

25 June 2012 

As reported on BBC News and in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael is urging action following news that the cost of metal theft from Churches in Barnsley has more than tripled since 2010.

Yesterday, Michael was interviewed about the issue on BBC Radio Sheffield.  He said:

"Churches are being targeted, I think that's absolutely disgraceful, but we're seeing public buildings being targeted and it's a huge issue on the railways.  It's having a huge impact across our community.”

To listen to the full interview, click here and scroll to 38:00

Michael is calling on the Government to change the law to make it easier to stop metal theft.   He has discussed the issue with local Police Officers in Barnsley and is now supporting a campaign to get the Government to introduce a four point plan to tackle the growing problem. 

The plan, which is supported by the British Transport Police, the Association of Chief Police Officers and Neighbourhood Watch, includes:

  • Licensing scrap metal dealers, rather than current registration with Local Authority.
  • Move to ban cash transactions especially for large scale/high value scrap metal transactions.
  • Tougher police powers to close rogue traders down.
  • Anyone selling scrap to provide proof of identity, recorded at point of sale.

The Barnsley Chronicle, 22 June 2012

 

Michael keeps up the pressure to maintain a Children’s Heart Service in Leeds

22 June 2012 

Michael has written to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, to voice his concerns over how decisions are being made with regards to which children’s heart surgery units in England should remain open.

Michael has urged the Health Secretary to make a commitment to refuse to accept any recommendations from the Review that do not meet the original clinical standards, including the number of surgical procedures.

Worryingly, Sir Neil McKay CBE, the Chair of the Joint Committee of PCTs (the body that will take the decision as to which children’s heart surgery units in England will remain open) has been unable to give assurances that the clinical standards deemed necessary for a safe and sustainable unit, notably the minimum of 400 surgical procedures per year, will be upheld when the Review makes its final recommendations.

Michael believes that this undermines the whole basis of the Review into children's heart surgery units, not least because achieving the 400 annual procedures threshold has been one of the original guiding principles of the Safe and Sustainable Review.

Sir Neil McKay has said: " I am unable at this point to give you any assurances about the future standards, including the number of surgical procedures, because the JCPCT will want to consider all available evidence before it makes a decision on the future configuration." (1st June 2012)

Michael, in his letter to the Secretary of State for Health, said:

“This change of heart seems to have come as a result of recent analysis by PriceWaterhouseCoopers which found that the Review's original patient flow assumptions were incorrect. PWC research revealed that a majority of people in West and South Yorkshire would not choose to travel to the centre assumed by the JCPCT in Options A-C: Newcastle. Without this flow of patients, Newcastle will not meet the 400 surgical procedures deemed necessary for a safe and sustainable centre, let alone the optimal number of 500.

“The Leeds Unit, in contrast, serves a much larger and growing population base and would have no trouble in reaching the minimum of 400 surgical procedures per year. Indeed, it could already meet this number with the recruitment of an extra surgeon.

“In the light of the seriousness of this and other aspects of the Review that have caused concern amongst clinicians, patients and families, I would be grateful for your commitment to refuse to accept any recommendations from the Review that do not meet the original clinical standards, including the number of surgical procedures”.

Click here to read the full letter. 

 

Barnsley MPs hand-deliver letter to the Defence Secretary urging him to end the damaging speculation that he will axe the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment

21 June 2012 

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, the South Yorkshire Times, the Sheffield Star and on BBC New, Barnsley MPs, Michael Dugher MP, Dan Jarvis MP and Angela Smith MP, hand-delivered a joint letter on 20 June to the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, at the Ministry of Defence.

The three MPs walked from Parliament to the main Ministry of Defence building on Whitehall to personally deliver the letter.

The 3rd Battalion, which is currently serving in Afghanistan, recruits heavily from Barnsley and surrounding parts of Yorkshire.   The speculation over its future also comes just days before Armed Forces Day (30 June 2012). 

The joint letter is signed by:

Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central                     
Michael Dugher MP, Member of Parliament for Barnsley East                          
Angela Smith MP, Member of Parliament for Penistone & Stocksbridge       
John Healey MP, Member of Parliament for Wentworth and Dearne

You can read the letter here and below.   

Secretary of State for Defence
Ministry of Defence
Main Building
Whitehall
London
SW1A 2HB

20 June 2012

Dear Secretary of State,

You will be aware that in recent days there has been intense speculation - that would appear to be well-sourced - that you are preparing to scrap one of the three regular battalions of The Yorkshire Regiment, as part of the Government's significant cuts in numbers to our Armed Forces.   

Yorkshire soldiers have served our country and the British Army with distinction for generations.  Their service and sacrifice is renowned and respected throughout the country.

We are therefore particularly concerned to hear suggestions that the Battalion ear-marked to be abolished is the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (3 YORKS), formerly known as the Duke of Wellington's, that recruits heavily from Barnsley and surrounding parts of South Yorkshire.

As you will know, 3 YORKS were deployed in April to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.  I am sure you will understand the profound concern felt locally by our constituents that our brave service personnel and their families should have to endure the news from back home that they may be about to lose their jobs, and see their historic unit axed at a time when they are risking their lives day-in-day-out in Afghanistan. 

After all the recent announcements regarding cuts to pension and compensation entitlements, and after the recent round of Armed Forces redundancies you made last week (despite promises of a larger army made before the election), this latest news has been a hammer blow to the communities we represent. 

We accept the need for savings.  Indeed, we have supported many changes the Government has made worth billions of pounds.  But this latest news that you are, in effect, planning to scrap 3 YORKS after they return from active duty in Afghanistan is, in our view, an unacceptable way to treat the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.

3 YORKS are rightly proud of their years of service to our nation.  Their service and sacrifice dates back 300 years and their battle honours include not only Waterloo, but the Somme, Normandy and Iraq.

We believe that it is unacceptable that Ministers could be planning to axe 3 YORKS at a time when they are today performing their duties magnificently in Afghanistan at very considerable danger.

We understand an announcement is due to be made before the House rises for the summer recess, though it may have been delayed until after Armed Forces Day next week.  Given the strength of feeling locally, we would urge you to end the damaging speculation and assure our constituents that their proud local regiment 3 YORKS will not be scrapped and its members will not face redundancy.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central                     
Michael Dugher MP, Member of Parliament for Barnsley East                          
Angela Smith MP, Member of Parliament for Penistone & Stocksbridge       
John Healey MP, Member of Parliament for Wentworth and Dearne

 

Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley rises yet again – Michael calls on Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure

20 June 2012 

Michael has accused Ministers of doing nothing to help the long-term unemployed in Barnsley as the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics today reveal that the number of 18 to 24 year olds in Barnsley who have been unemployed for more than twelve months has risen yet again – by 8 per cent in the last month and a massive 214 per cent in the last year.

The new figures also show that the overall level of youth unemployment in Barnsley is currently at 2,725 - a 16 per cent increase in the last 12 months.  On top of that, the total number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley has also risen sharply - it now stands at 7,783, a 12 per cent increase over the last 12 months. 

The new figures also show that the number of people chasing every job in Barnsley has tripled since May 2011, from 4.7 to 13.3. 

Commenting on the new unemployment statistics, Michael Said:

“Long-term youth unemployment in Barnsley keeps on rising month on month yet the Government still refuses to take the necessary action.  

“When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job. You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health

“The Government’s welfare to work programmes are not working and it is time for Ministers to get a grip before a generation is left scarred by their failure.

“There are many things that Ministers could do to help, such as introducing a tax on bankers' bonuses to fund 100,000 youth jobs and a tax break for small firms taking on extra workers to help get Britain back to work.  They should also introduce a “Real Jobs Guarantee” scheme for young people, which would tackle the problem of long-term youth unemployment by providing a six-month paid placement, preferably in the private sector, for all 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than twelve months.  This would help over 440 young people in Barnsley alone.”   

 

Michael meets students from Ladywood Primary School in Parliament

19 June 2012 

This week, staff and students (years 3,4,5 and 6) from Ladywood Primary School visited Parliament. 

Michael Dugher, the MP for Barnsley East, met them in Westminster Hall, the part of the Palace of Westminster that dates back to the 11th Century and was the scene of Charles 1 trial amongst other major historic events.

Michael with the staff and students from Ladywood Primary School on the historic steps in Westminster Hall

 

Michael on Dean Pepall’s BBC Radio Sheffield show

19 June 2012 

Michael was interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield today calling for a proper inquiry into the conduct of Baroness Warsi. 

Michael said that people in other jobs have to play by the rules and that Ministers should too - including Warsi.

To listen to the interview, click here and scroll to 1.36.

 

Michael asks the Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests to widen his investigation into Tory co-chairman Baroness Warsi

18 June 2012 

Michael has today written to the Prime Minister’s Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests, Sir Alex Allan, to ask him to consider claims made in The Sunday Telegraph that Lady Warsi may have paid for potential business clients to attend a Conservative Party lunch last month with the Prime Minister.

The full text of the letter can be seen below. (Alternatively, click here.)

Sir Alex Allan KCB
Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests
Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS
 
18 June 2012
 
Dear Sir Alex,  
 
I am writing with regards to your investigation into the conduct of Baroness Warsi and whether she has breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct.     
 
On 4 June 2012, the Prime Minister asked you to investigate whether the Conservative Party co-chairman, Baroness Warsi, breached the Ministerial Code when she failed to disclose her business relationship with Mr Abid Hussain before he accompanied her on an official visit to Pakistan.
 
Since then, however, it has also come to light that Baroness Warsi may have breached the Ministerial Code in other respects.  The Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that Baroness Warsi personally paid for potential business clients to attend a Conservative Party lunch last month with the Prime Minister.  This revelation - that she has apparently used a political function to promote her business interests - appears to breach clause 1 of the Ministerial Code, which states that: “Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.”
 
These allegations are very worrying as it appears that Baroness Warsi may have been using her position to give her private business associates, and potential business clients, access to Ministerial colleagues.  

Additionally, there are also concerns that Baroness Warsi may have used official overseas visits to conduct party political business, not least because her primary role is as co-chairman of the Conservative Party and because she has no listed ministerial responsibilities for foreign affairs.  Clause 10 of the Ministerial Code states that: “Official transport should not normally be used for travel arrangements arising from Party or private business, except where this is justified on security grounds.” 
 
I hope that you will now examine these significant new disclosures to ensure that your important investigation is carried out as fully as possible.  I would be grateful if you could confirm that this is the case.
 
I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Yours sincerely,


Michael Dugher MP      
Shadow Minister without Portfolio   

 

Michael meets delegation from Cherokee Nation in Parliament

19 June 2012 

Michael met a delegation from the Cherokee Nation in Parliament today to mark 250 years of the “Emissaries of Peace” journey to London in 1762 and the signing of the 1730 Treaty of Whitehall between King George II and the Cherokee Nation. 

The Cherokee Nation is the federally-recognised government of the Cherokee people and has inherent sovereign status recognised by treaty and law.

With more than 300,000 citizens, over 8,000 employees and a variety of tribal enterprises ranging from aerospace and defence contracts to entertainment venues, Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is more than $1.5 billion annually.   Cherokee Nation is one of the largest employers in north-eastern Oklahoma and is the largest tribal nation in the United States.

For more information about Cherokee, visit - http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/Default.aspx

 

Sunday Mirror: ‘Hero soldiers face dole queue on return from Afghanistan'

17 June 2012 

The Sunday Mirror has reported on the news that that those serving in Afghanistan with the Yorkshire Regiment (3rd Battalion) – including from Barnsley - could be seeing their regiment axed by the Government.

Michael, quoted in the article, said:

"While they are out there fighting a war on our behalf, they will be hearing back home that the Government plans to axe their jobs.  I think it’s disgraceful."

Click here to read the article: ‘Hero soldiers face dole queue on return from Afghanistan'

The story was also reported in the Barnsley Chronicle:  

Barnsley Chronicle, Friday 15 June 2012

 

Michael visits ASOS distribution centre in Barnsley

15 June 2012 

Michael visited the ASOS distribution centre in Park Springs today along with fellow Barnsley MP, Dan Jarvis, and local councillors Pauline Markham, Brain Key and Caroline Saunders. 

ASOS, the successful British online fashion retailer, is Barnsley’s largest private sector employer with 1,500 staff.  The distribution centre has 950,000 sq ft of storage spread over 4 mezzanine levels and the plan is to expand the site within in the next few years.

Commenting after the visit, Michael said:

“This is an incredible facility.  I would like to congratulate the company on their excellent results and pay tribute to the brilliant local workforce who have made ASOS such a success. I was extremely impressed by the company's major commitment to the area. Not only are ASOS a massive employer, it's good to see them supporting so many good causes and projects in the Barnsley area”

Councillor Pauline Markham, Dan Jarvis MP, Michael Dugher MP, Councillo