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

The Daily Politics

 

 

Michael attends The Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal launch in Hoyland

25 October 2014

On Saturday 25 October Michael welcomed Vernon Coaker MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence to Barnsley to help launch the annual Poppy Appeal with The Hoyland and District Branch of the Royal British Legion at the new Tesco superstore in Hoyland.  Joining him was Labour's PCC candidate Canon Dr Alan Billings. At the launch Vernon had an opportunity to meet with Branch President and Arctic Convoy veteran Ken Burkinshaw and Chairman Robert Hill.

Following the launch Vernon took part in a roundtable discussion with local veterans to discuss servicemen's and veteran's issues.

Commenting Michael said "As we mark the Centenary of the First World War, it’s as important as ever to wear a poppy and remember the sacrifices and commitment made by our Armed forces both then and now" 

 

 

Labour to push for historic vote in the House of Commons as part of the “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign

25 October 2014

As reported in the Sheffield Star, the Northern Echo, the Sheffield Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post, Labour will hold an Opposition Day Debate and call for a vote in the House of Commons on 28 October as part of the “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign.

The motion to be debated will call on Members of Parliament to:

  • acknowledge that the recent release of the 1984 Cabinet papers showed that the government at the time misled the public about the extent of its pit closure plans and sought to influence police tactics;
  • recognise the economic legacy of the pit closure programme in coalfield communities across the UK;
  • and back continued regeneration and much needed support for coalfield communities as part of a wider programme to boost growth in Britain’s regions.

Labour has also called for an apology from Conservative ministers for the lies by the Thatcher government at the time about the secret pit closure plan and for looking to deploy the Army (as revealed in the recently released Cabinet papers).

Labour has also previously called on Ministers to: set out all the details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time of the strike; to release all information about government-police communications around Orgreave; and to consider initiating a swift, independent review into what happened at Orgreave if the Independent Police Complaints Commission can’t or won’t undertake a proper investigation.

Commenting, Michael, who is the leading the ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign, said:

“This will be an historic debate and vote in the House of Commons.

“Recently released Cabinet papers from the Thatcher years confirmed that the government at the time not only misled the public about the extent of the pit closure programme, but that it also sought to influence police tactics during the strike.

“It is now only right that Parliament recognises just how badly ministers at the time treated the coalfield communities and acknowledges the full scale of the economic legacy of the pit closure programme.

“The debate comes too late for so many of the miners and families in Yorkshire who saw their lives and their communities decimated after the Strike, but that sense of injustice endures today across those coalfield communities who are still dealing with the devastating consequences of what happened.

“The challenges that remain in the coalfield areas in Yorkshire are huge. That is way the vote in the House of Commons will also be asking MPs to back continued regeneration and much needed support for coalfield communities as part of a wider programme to boost growth in Britain’s regions.

“As well as this, we still need a proper investigation into Orgreave and full transparency of all government communications with the police at the time of the Strike. What happened at Orgreave 30 years ago was a black day in South Yorkshire. The Independent Police Complaints Commission needs to get its act together. If they can’t or won’t undertake a proper investigation, then Labour has said the Government should consider initiating a swift, independent review along the lines of the Ellison Review.

"It’s now time now to get to the truth and for there to be justice for the coalfields.”

 

 

Michael becomes patron of the Labour Friends of Real Ale group

24 October 2014

On Thursday 23 October Michael was pleased to be invited to become patron of the Labour Friends of Real Ale group during his attendance at their first social event at The Burton Bridge Inn in Burton-upon-Trent, organised by its founding chairman Jon Wheale.

Jon is Labour’s candidate for Burton and his work within the Labour Friends of Real Ale group will be instrumental in championing real ale causes within the Labour Party, trade union and co-operative movement, and supporting the brewing and pub industries – a vital and important industry that must be protected.

 

 

Michael attends National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards

24 October 2014

On Thursday 23 October Michael attended the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards at Sheffield United FC Bramall Lane.  

Organised by Angie and Tony Russell, who also set up the Barnsley based charity, Reflections Art in Health, these prestigious national awards recognises excellence in mental health services and shines a spotlight on those services and outstanding individuals who are making a real difference - a celebration of all that is positive in mental health. Michael congratulated all those attending and took to the stage himself to entertain the audience by singing with his guitar.

Commenting Michael said “Mental health is a huge issue and it still doesn’t get the attention or funding it deserves. Awards like these are a fantastic way of changing this and raising the profile of mental health. The extremely high calibre of all those on the shortlist made judging for these awards incredibly difficult. All those nominated demonstrated very clearly their dedication to improving mental health services and how their hard work really can make a difference”.

“It was a pleasure to attend the awards ceremony this evening and to meet those talented people who are making a difference to the lives of so many in our community”

 

 

Michael joins the fight against breast cancer and 'wears it pink'

24 October 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has joined the fight against breast cancer by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s flagship fundraiser, 'wear it pink' day.

On Friday 24 October people across the country will come together to find fun and stylish ways to wear pink in the office, at home or at school. Donations raised by this year’s fashion inspired event will go to Breast Cancer Campaign to fund lifesaving breast cancer research. 

The proportion of women aged 53-70 attending breast cancer screening is 81.6 per cent in Barnsley, which is higher than the English average of 77 per cent.

Commenting, Michael said,

"Every year in the UK over 50,000 women and around 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, 12,000 women and 80 men die from this disease each year. That’s why I’m proud to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s fundraising efforts to support world-class breast cancer research that saves and improves lives, giving people quicker diagnoses and more effective treatments.

“I am pleased to see that the proportion of women attending breast cancer screening in Barnsley is above the English average. Screening continues to be one of the most effective ways to spot breast cancer as early as possible. However, there is still so much to do and I hope you’ll all join me by wearing it pink and showing your support for breast cancer research.”

 

Michael welcomes plans to put fans at the heart of football

24 October 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has backed plans to give football fans a voice in their boardroom and buy a significant slice of the shares when the ownership of their club changes.

The proposals would see the biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the advent of the game.  The plans, drawn up in consultation with 95 football supporters’ organisations, would require supporters to come together to form a single accredited trust, like the Barnsley FC Supporters Trust, in return for the right to:

  • appoint and remove up to a quarter and not less than two of a football club’s board of directors;
  • purchase up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership, if they so wish.

This would ensure those running clubs share information, power and responsibility with supporters. The proposals mean fans could hold the owners of their club to account on all issues on and off the field including ticket prices, shirt sponsorship, ground naming rights, and changing the colour of the strip or the name.

Commenting, Michael said, “This is a welcome move to put fans at the heart of their football clubs. These plans would give trusts like the Barnsley FC Supporters Trust, who work hard to improve and strengthen the link between fans and the club, a voice and stake in their clubs.

“Football clubs are part of people’s identity and sense of belonging. Barnsley FC is great club and I have seen for myself the excellent work they do in the community through their Community Sports and Education Trust. These proposals will strengthen the relationship between our football clubs and their supporters, ensuring, once again, that fans have a voice at the heart of their club.”

 

Dugher's column: ‘Don’t suffer alone in Breast Cancer Awareness Month’

23 October 2014

Not many people talk about secondary breast cancer, not even in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In order to raise much needed awareness for this terrible disease, Michael has written a column for the Barnsley Independent.

You can read the column in full by clicking here.

 

UKIP form alliance with far-Right Polish MEP

22 October 2014

Nigel Farage’s UKIP has allowed a far-Right Polish MEP whose Party Leader has been accused of making racist remarks and denying the Holocaust, to join the grouping of MEPS in the European Parliament set-up by UKIP.

You can read about this further and see Michael’s comments on the issue on the BBC here, the Daily Mail here and Evening Standard here.

 

Putting fans at the heart of football’s future

20 October 2014

footballsurveyLabour has unveiled plans to give football fans a voice in every boardroom and buy a significant slice of the shares when the ownership of their club changes.

The proposals would be the biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the advent of the game.

The plan, which has been drawn up in consultation with 95 football supporters’ organisations, would require supporters to come together to form a single accredited trust in return for the right to:

  • appoint and remove up to a quarter and not less than two of a football club’s board of directors;
  • purchase up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership, if they so wish.

Supporters have said that this is the only way to ensure those running clubs share information, power and responsibility with them.

The new proposals mean fans could hold the owners of their club to account on all issues on and off the field, including: ticket prices; shirt sponsorship; ground naming rights; and changing the colour of the strip or the name.

Labour will now consult further on the detail of these proposals with supporters. To take part in a survey about the proposed plan, click here.

 

Sunday Mirror: Top Tory minister PRAISE 80,000 job losses as ''good'' and ''popular''

19 October 2014

The Sunday Mirror has reported today that one of David Cameron’s top ministers has praised 80,000 job losses in the Civil Service as “good” and “popular”.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, made his comments as he revealed plans for further cuts of £20 billion if the Tories win the general election.

Commenting, Michael said:

"The mask is slipping from David Cameron’s Conservatives. Behind closed doors they are celebrating tens of thousands of lost jobs.

"After a week in which they have defended Lord Freud’s offensive comments about disabled people, we now know the nasty party is back. The many families across the country hit by job losses will be horrified that Francis Maude thinks their suffering is ‘good’ and ‘popular’.

"Francis Maude is again confusing reform with redundancies. We now know that five more years of David Cameron means tens of thousands more jobs lost. Only the Tories still measure success by the number of P45s they can dish out."

 

Michael open Worsbrough Library's new First World War exhibition and launches 'Worsbrough Fallen Heroes'

19 October 2014

Last Friday Michael was asked by the Worsbrough Local History Society to launch their latest book ‘Worsbrough Fallen Heroes’ and open the new First World War exhibition at Worsbrough Library. 

The new exhibition and book is the culmination of much hard work by local historians and members of the community to commemorate people from Worsbrough who were killed during the First World War.  It gives a profile of each man, his family and when and where he was killed. During their extensive research they have even managed to uncover names that aren’t on the war memorial in Worsbrough. 

At the opening of the exhibition Michael gave a short speech in which he touched upon his recent visit to the Barnsley Pals Memorial in France.

 

Michael supports 'Get Online Week'

17 October 2014

As part of the 8th National Get Online Week, taking place during 13-19th October, Michael met with representatives of Berneslai Homes, Barclays Digital Eagles and Barnsley Council at Wombwell Library to take part in a ‘Digital MOT’ session.

The sessions will allow Berneslai Homes to offer guidance or signpost people on to additional free support sessions in Barnsley.

The annual digital inclusion campaign run by the Tinder Foundation, aims to engage 50,000 people, inspiring them to get online and do more with digital skills. Hundreds of events will take place across the country this week challenging people to see what they could do online.

Labour is currently undertaking a Digital Government review, which looks at areas like digital inclusion and providing better public services through the use of digital technology.   Labour have criticised the Government for ignoring digital inclusion, which has meant that some of the most vulnerable people in the country are losing out because they cannot engage with services online. 

Part of the review looks at how places like libraries and Jobcentres currently use IT facilities to help people find work and learn essential skills. An estimated 7 million people in the UK aren’t online and 11 million don’t have the skills or confidence to make the most of the opportunities the Internet has to offer. It's initiatives like this than can encourage and support people to do more online.

 

Michael joins the fight against cancer

17 October 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has met with representatives of Cancer Research UK and backed their ‘We will beat cancer sooner’ campaign.

In the Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area the one-year cancer survival rate, referral to specialist wait and referral for treatment wait are similar or exceed the UK average. However, the wait for a diagnostic test does not meet the waiting time target, which states that 99% of patients should receive a diagnostic test within 6 weeks - Barnsley CCG currently falls short of this.

Thanks to research, survival rates in the UK have doubled in the last 40 years. But despite this success, there is still much more to do to ensure UK survival rates are equal to the best in Europe. The earlier patients can be diagnosed and access the innovative treatments they need, the more lives will be saved.

Commenting, Michael said: “More cancer patients are surviving than ever before, but with an increasing number of people being diagnosed the importance of research cannot be overstated. We must work to ensure cancer is detected earlier and that brilliant research can be translated into treatments for patients faster.

“It’s great that Barnsley CCG’s one-year cancer survival rate, referral to specialist wait and referral for treatment wait meet the national average, but it is so important that work is done to ensure the wait for a diagnostic test target is met. That’s why I’m backing Cancer Research UK’s ‘We will beat cancer sooner’ campaign.”

 

Yorkshire Post: 'Ukip ‘broadly the same’ as us says Tory MP'

16 October 2014

As reported by the Yorkshire Post, a Tory MP has told Tory Party conference that he believes that the Tories and UKIP ‘broadly the same’, urging the Conservatives to stop attacking each other and look at how they can work to help each other.

You can read Michael’s comments in reaction to this in the Yorkshire Post by clicking here.

 

LabourList: “David Cameron’s government: some disabled people are “not worth the full wage”

16 October 2014

Following the comments from David Cameron’s welfare minister that some disabled people are “not worth the full wage”, Michael has written a blog for LabourList about how Lord Freud’s comments have exposed the true face of David Camron’s Conservatives.

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

 

 

LabourList: 'There’s only one home for working people'

12 October 2014

Following the loss of the Clacton by-election, it is clear that under David Cameron the Tories cannot hold even their safest seats. Michael has written a blog for LabourList about how Labour has shown it is the only party that can win a majority at the next election and that we will continue to lead the argument for big changes in our economy to build a better future for working people.

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

The Independent and Sunday Mirror: ‘David Cameron accused of 'dragging his feet over a call to begin TV election debates’

11 October 2014

As David Cameron continues to duck and dive over the TV debates, it is becoming increasingly apparent that he is trying to avoid and sabotage them. The Prime Minister comes under increasing pressure to commit to the debates, you can see Michael’s comments reported by the Independent here and in the Sunday Mirror here.

 

The New Statesman: ‘The by-elections show Labour can be confident of election victory’

11 October 2014

Following the by-elections in Heywood and Middleton and Clacton, Michael has written a blog for the New Statesman about how Labour’s hard fought victory in Heywood and Middleton stands in stark contrast to the Tories’ collapse in Clacton.

You can read the blog in full by clicking here.

 

This Week: Middleton and Heywood and Clacton by-election special

09 October 2014

On the evening of by-elections in Middleton and Heywood and Clacton, Michael appeared as a special guest with presenter Andrew Neil, on an extended episode of this week.

You can watch Michael on This Week by clicking here and scrolling to 57:30.

 

Michael backs Barnsley Hospital’s Tiny Hearts campaign

10 October 2014

Local Barnsley East MP, Michael Dugher has backed the Tiny Hearts campaign on a visit to Barnsley Hospital on Friday 3 October. The campaign, run by Barnsley Hospital Charity, aims to raise £1 million in order to fund a new special care baby unit.

On hand to greet him and provide a tour of the facilities were Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chairman, Stephen Wragg, and Chief Executive, Diane Wake. Michael also met: Ben Dockerill (Lead Nurse), Katie Cartwright (Tiny Hearts Campaign) and Mike Smith and the In-patient pharmacy team.

Michael was shown around the new birthing suite within the maternity department, the Special Care Baby Unit, the robot controlled inpatient pharmacy and the Acute Medical Unit.  He was impressed by the passion and commitment shown by the local Barnsley NHS staff in challenging times.

Commenting after the visit, Michael said, “What a fantastic campaign Tiny Hearts is. I am proud to support it and wish Barnsley Hospital Charity all the best in their attempts to raise a massive £1 million for a new special care baby unit.”

“I’d like to thank Barnsley NHS Trust for this fantastic opportunity. I was able to see first-hand the excellent facilities within Barnsley Hospital and meet the dedicated staff who work so hard. I am sure I am not alone when I say we are very grateful to all the staff for their dedication and hard work”

 

Michael visists Birkwood School, Cudworth

10 October 2014

1As reprted by today's Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael was delighted to be asked to visit Birkwood Primary School to attend their School Council meeting and assembly.

The invitation followed a visit by the school to Parliament on Thursday 2 October 2014.  He took part in a Question and Answer session with members of the School Council.  Topics covered durinmg the meeting included ‘Why is it called Big Ben?’and ‘What colour are the seats in The House Of Commons?’

He also attended a school assembly where he presented effort, attainment and attendance certificates to pupils, including Superstar Certificates to Sophie Dowding, Lily-Anne Kershaw, Callum Greenwood, Ashton Wombwell, Ebanie Hanby, Jade Travers, Lewis Riley, Jaydn Hopkinson, Rhianna Preece, Jodie-Rose Sanderson, Charlie West and Hannah Ferguson

Speaking following his visit, Michael said, “It was a great pleasure to visit Birkwood School today and I was impressed by the hard work performed by its brilliant Headteacher Julie Allen, her staff and pupils. I thoroughly enjoyed the Question & Answer session with the School Council and I’m sure some may find themselves in Parliament one day.  School Councils give children a real insight into how the democratic process works so hopefully their involvement in theirs will create a voting habit for life.” 

2

 

Michael launches annual Christmas Card design competition

10 October 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, all primary, Junior, Infant and special schools in Barnsley East have been invited to take part in Michael’s annual Christmas Card design competition. Michael has written to all the schools in the area to encourage them to join in and take part in the competition.

As in previous years, the best design will be used as Mr Dugher’s official 2014 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 Mr Dugher, the Mayor of Barnsley and the sponsors of the card. 

Now into its fifth year, the competition is set to prove popular yet again, with the standard of designs and drawings always proving to be incredibly high.

Commenting on the launch, Michael said:

“Last year’s competition was fantastic. There was a lot of interest from schools and students in the area and it would be great to have even more involved this time.

“We have such creative and talented children in Barnsley and each year I’m always impressed by the excellent designs. I can’t wait to see what the children of Barnsley have in store this year.

 

 

Dughers column: 'People who do a fair day's work should be entitled to a fair day’s pay'

08 October 2014

Following the announcement by Ed Miliband that a future Labour government will increase the National Minimum Wage to £8 per hour by 2020 Michael have written a piece for the Barnsley Independent to show how important this will be for the lowest paid workers in Barnsley.

To read the column in full you can click here.

 

 

Local MP joins the fight against heart disease in Barnsley

06 October 2014

As reported by the Sheffield Star, Michael, a supporter of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), has highlighted the help available for people who want to look after their hearts, as new figures reveal 13,700 people in Barnsley East suffer from Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) and many more are at risk of developing it.

Cardiovascular disease causes 161,000 deaths in the UK every year and includes heart attacks, angina, heart failure, congenital heart disease and stroke. Michael backing the BHF’s is Heart Matters, a free service offered by the BHF to help people reduce their risk of heart disease and live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

The figures in Barnsley East reveal:

  • 13,700 –people are living with cardiovascular disease
  • 5,003 – people have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease
  • 15,963 – people have high blood pressure
  • 5,862 – the number of people with diabetes


Commenting, Michael said, “Heart attacks devastate lives and these figures show what an impact heart conditions have in Barnsley East. It is important that people living with these conditions know the support that is available to them.

“The British Heart Foundation has a free service called Heart Matters, a fantastic resource that provides vital information to support those with cardiovascular disease and help people reduce their risk and lead a healthier life.”

 

Michael backs Tiny Hearts on visit to Barnsley Hospital

03 October 2014

Michael has backed the Tiny Hearts campaign on a visit to Barnsley Hospital, . The campaign, run by Barnsley Hospital Charity, aims to raise £1 million in order to fund a new special care baby unit.

On hand to greet him and provide a tour of the facilities were Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chairman, Stephen Wragg, and Chief Executive, Diane Wake. Michael also met: Ben Dockerill (Lead Nurse), Katie Cartwright (Tiny Hearts Campaign) and Mike Smith and the In-patient pharmacy team.

Michael was shown around the new birthing suite within the maternity department, the Special Care Baby Unit, the robot controlled inpatient pharmacy and the Acute Medical Unit. He was impressed by the passion and commitment shown by the local Barnsley NHS staff in challenging times.

Commenting after the visit, Michael said, “What a fantastic campaign Tiny Hearts is. I am proud to support it and wish Barnsley Hospital Charity all the best in their attempts to raise a massive £1 million for a new special care baby unit.

“I’d like to thank Barnsley NHS Trust for this fantastic opportunity. I was able to see first-hand the excellent facilities within Barnsley Hospital and meet the dedicated staff who work so hard. I am sure I am not alone when I say we are very grateful to all the staff for their dedication and hard work”.

 

Figures show Barnsley residents struggle for hours

03 October 2014

As reported by today's Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, recent Labour market statistics have shown that the number of full-time workers in Barnsley East has decreased by 3,400 since 2010, a fall equivalent to 11.4 per cent. At the same time the number of part-time workers has increased by only 1,100, or a 14.1 per cent increase.

The figures have been highlighted by Barnsley East MP, Michael Dugher, who is concerned about the availability of working hours in the area and argues that the figures indicate that too many new jobs in the area are part-time.

The increase in the number of part-time workers in place of full-time workers in Barnsley East, is far greater than in Yorkshire and Humber and the UK, which have seen an increase of 3.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said, “These figures are very concerning. More than 3,400 full-time opportunities in the area have been lost under this Tory Government. There has been an increase in the number of part-time workers, but this is less than a third of the number of lost full-time opportunities.

“David Cameron and George Osborne talk about how they have fixed the economy and that unemployment is falling, but these figures show too many of the new jobs are part-time, low paid, zero-hours and insecure. Labour would act to make work pay by raising the minimum wage to £8, ending the exploitative use of zero hour contracts and encouraging businesses to be living wage employers.”

 

 

Daily Politics: Greatest living Yorkshire man

02 October 2014

Following David Cameron's speech in which he claimed William Hague was the greatest living Yorkshire man, Michael and Dickie Bird joined Jo Coburn on the Daily Politics to discuss who the greatest living Yorkshire man or women really is.

You can see Micahel's appearance in full below.

 

LabourList: 20 things Cameron forgot in his conference speech

02 October 2014

Following David Cameron's speech to Tory conference, Michael has written a post for LabourList about the 20 things he forgot to mention in his speech. Shockingly, we're still waiting to hear how David Cameron will fund his pledges.

You can read the blog post in full by clicking here.

 

Michael backs Barnsley’s Mental Health Week

02 October 2014

As reported in this week's Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has given his backing to Barnsley’s Mental Health Week (6-11 October), which will see a number of events being held throughout the week to promote mental wellbeing. The awareness week is being held in the run up to World Mental Health Day on Friday 10 October, the focus of which is schizophrenia this year.

Michael is keen to support and promote mental health and wellbeing and recently nominated Angie and Tony Russell, founders of Reflections Art in Health, for a Proud of Barnsley award.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said, “Barnsley Mental Health Week is a fantastic event that helps to promote and raise awareness of mental wellbeing across Barnsley. There are a wide range of events for people to attend and I would urge anyone interested to get involved.

“Mental health is a problem that effects so many people. This is why it is at the heart of Labour’s vision for an integrated health and social care system, to ensure that it gets the focus and attention it so desperately needs.”

 

Daily Mirror: David Cameron's last ditch attempt to save his party

02 October 2014

Following David Cameron's Tory conference speech and the defection of Boris Johnson's former Deputy Mayor to UKIP, the Daily Mirror are reporting Michael's comments on the defection.

You can read more about Cameron's last ditch attempt to save his party and Michael's comments on the latest Tory defection by clicking here.

 

Michael congratulates local brewery on their ‘Italian Job’

02 October 2014

Michael has congratulated Wombwell based Acorn Brewery on securing its first international export order, shipping  3,500 pints of Acorn’s most popular brews including Barnsley Bitter, Barnsley Gold, Yorkshire Pride, Old Moor Porter and Gorlovka to Italy.

Michael, keen to support and promote local businesses, was also pleased to hear that Acorn have also secured a new contract to supply 75 Morrisons stores across the north with its Old Moor Porter.  This deal means the brewery now counts all five established UK supermarkets – Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - amongst its customers.

Commenting, Michael said, “It’s fantastic to see this brewery go from strength to strength and I congratulate Dave Hughes and his team in Wombwell on their success."

 

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

29 September 2014

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

Click here to read the blog. 

 

 

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

28 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LabourList blog: ‘Exposing UKIP for what they are’

27 September 2014

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

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

 

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

27 September 2014

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

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

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Grant,

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

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

 

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

26 September 2014

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

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

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

 

Michael visits Fareshare Foodbank hub and Kendray Foodbank

26 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

26 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More Tory Than The Tories: UKIP’s Tax Policies

25 September 2014

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

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

 

Michael visits charities and organisations at Labour Party Conference

25 September 2014

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

 

Buzzfeed: Ten Endangered Species That Are More Common Than Tories

25 September 2014

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

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

 

Michael gives speech to Labour Party Conference

25 September 2014

As has been reported by the BBC, Sky News and the Manchester Evening News, Michael gave a speech to the Labour Party Conference this week.

Michael’s speech set out the choice people have at the next election highlighting this Tory Government’s failures, as well as accusing Cameron of bottling it over the TV debates.

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

You can read further coverage here and here.

 

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

25 September 2014

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

You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Michael visits Fareshare Foodbank hub and Kendray Foodbank

19 September 2014

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

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

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

Commenting on his visit, Michael said:

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

 

Michael visits the Barnsley Youth Service

19 September 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

 

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

19 September 2014

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

 

Michael backs campaign to help kick the habit

19 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

19 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michael visits Happy Kids

18 September 2014

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

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

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

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

 

Blog: “No more excuses on development pledge”

12 September 2014

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

The Bill will now go through to the next stage . 

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

You can read the full blog post here.

 

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

11 September 2014

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

 

Michael hits out at inflation busting stealth train fare increases

10 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Labour backs Civil Service reform  

08 Spetmeber 2014

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

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

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

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

 

Michael votes against the hated Bedroom Tax

09 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Labour backs Civil Service reform  

08 Spetmeber 2014

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

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

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

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

 

Michael reveals his nominations for the Proud of Barnsley awards

08 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BBC Radio 4 ‘Any Questions?’

06 September 2014

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

Click here to listen to the show on iplayer.

 

 

 

 

Michael votes against the hated Bedroom Tax

05 September 2014

Michael voted today to support Andrew George’s anti-Bedroom Tax Bill in Parliament. The Government were successfully defeated by 306 votes to 231 and the Bill will now proceed to its second reading. This is despite the best efforts of the Government, who tried to delay the Bill by sending it to committee.  

Although the Bill falls short of the full abolition that Labour wants to see, Labour will now seek to amend and strengthen the Bill in order to abolish the Bedroom Tax altogether.

Since its introduction low-income households have been forced to find on average an extra £720 a year. It is of great concern that 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.

In Yorkshire and Humberside there is an estimated 47,535 people paying the Bedroom Tax. 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.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I am in no doubt that the Bedroom Tax is cruel, unfair and it isn’t working, today was the first step towards abolishing it all together.

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

 

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

04 September 2014

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

Michael warns on mental health postcode

04 September 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

 

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

03 September 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

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

29 August 2014

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

 

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

29 August 2014

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

Michael backs child cancer awareness month

29 August 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

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

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

 

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

28 August 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michael warns millions could lose their vote

21 August 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

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

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

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

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

 

Thousands in Barnsley face a struggle to see GP

21 August 2014

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

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

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

The statistics have been highlighted by Michael, who said:

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

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

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

 

Yorkshire Post: ‘Labour seeks help for key seats’

20 August 2014

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

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

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

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

 

The Observer: Lynton Crosby hopes to avoid TV debates

17 August 2014

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

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

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

You can read about this further by clicking here.

 

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

17 August 2014

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

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

 

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

15 August 2014

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

Michael’s letter asks the Secretary of State:

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

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

 

Michael Supports leading cancer charity

15 August 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael Dugher MP said:

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

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

 

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

13 August 2014

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

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

 

Have your say: More and better jobs

12 August 2014

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

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

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

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

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

To take the survey please click the graphic below.

1

 

Michael pays tribute to Rifleman Dale Harris

11 August 2014

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

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

 

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

11 August 2014

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

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

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

 

LIVE in Barnsley 2014: the documentary

11 August 2014

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

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

You can watch it in full below.

 

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

09 August 2014

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

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

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

Click here to read the full story in The Mirror.

 

Michael backs South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue's sprinkler campaign

08 August 2014

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

 

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

07 August 2014

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

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

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

Commenting, Michael said:

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

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

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

 

Dugher's column: 'We will remember them'

1 August 2014

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

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

 

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

31 July 2014

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

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

 

Michael visits young citizens at Oakwell

30 July 2014

As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and the Football League, 3Michael today visited teenagers, aged 16 and 17, to learn about projects they have been involved in as part of an initiative run by the National Citizen Service (NCS).

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

They then visited Sheffield Hallam University for a week, living in halls of residence, learning how to cook and 2clean for themselves independently. This week, the final phase of the programme was held at Oakwell Stadium. This has seen participants identifying local social issues such as homelessness and the loneliness of the elderly and coming up with a social action plan to address these issues.

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

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

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

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

 

 

BBC Radio Sheffield: public question time

28 July 2014

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 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 Trust ‘must 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

204 May 2014

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

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.

1Councillors 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 plans to fast-track working-class and ethnic minority applicants to the top of the civil service.

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

1Commenting, 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 Tories. People across the country aren’t feeling the benefits of a recovery at all.

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

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

2Michael 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.”

 

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