Archive | March, 2014

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Don’t be Fooled by Cameron’s Childcare Con

Parents would be forgiven for thinking they’re in for a £2000 subsidy on their childcare costs under plans announced by Ministers last week. Whilst any new money to help families facing soaring childcare costs is welcome, this Coalition con should not fool mums and dads in Chesterfield.

Childcare costs have risen by 30% since 2010 – five times faster than wages. Despite the struggle this is causing families, David Cameron has no plan to tackle the rising cost of childcare before the next election. Alongside higher prices, parents suffering a cost-of-living crisis are seeing fewer childcare places available and reduced support from this Tory-led Government. By 2015, David Cameron will have reduced support for children and families by up to £15 billion.

single-parent-98682428Labour has a very clear offer for all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds and for all primary school age children. We’d extend free nursery provision from 15 to 25 hours a week for working parents with three and four year olds. We’d also introduce a Primary Childcare Guarantee to help parents manage the logistical nightmare of arranging before and after school care. These plans are ON TOP of the government’s scheme and would benefit all parents in work.

In contrast, just one in five families will receive help through tax free childcare and they would have to spend £10,000 per year per child to get the maximum £2000 figure.

Even then, this help won’t come in until after the election. That’s no help on childcare for five years from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Instead Ministers have presided over soaring costs and cut tax credits for thousands of families, meaning even when this help comes in most families will still be worse off than they were in 2010. This offer just doesn’t make up for how much more families are paying for childcare under David Cameron.

Labour is on the side of local families and would put an end to childcare holding back mums and dads.

By Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield

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Toby: This budget proves you are worse off under the Tories

Toby Perkins MP has slammed George Osborne for his budget that does nothing for families in Chesterfield.

The Chancellor boasted about how well things are going, but it was totally out of touch with hardworking people in Chesterfield who are facing a cost-of-living crisis.

After nearly four years of the Tories, hard-working families are on average £1,600 a year worse off and not feeling any economic recovery at all.

David Cameron and George Osborne can’t deliver a recovery for the many because they stand up for a privileged few. They cut the top rate of tax for people earning over £150,000 while everyone else is worse off.

We need a recovery for the many, not just a few at the top. So Toby has called for action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis. Labour will:

  • Freeze energy bills until 2017 and reform the broken energy market.
  • Put young people back to work, with a job the young unemployed have to take – paid for by a tax on bank bonuses
  • Expand free childcare for working parents to 25 hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds
  • Cut taxes for 24 million working people on middle and low incomes with a lower 10p starting rate of income tax
  • Cut business rates for small firms and a plan to get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020
  • Balance the books in the next Parliament, in a fairer way including reversing the £3 billion tax cut for people earning over £150,000.

Budget boardPerkins said: “The Budget proved you’re worse off under the Tories. There was no action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis facing hardworking families who are on average £1,600 a year worse off under David Cameron.

“The Chancellor claimed talked about how well things are going. But millions of working people on middle and lower incomes in our town are not feeling any recovery at all while those earning over £150,000 a year have been given a tax cut.

“The Tories can’t deliver a recovery for the many because they stand up for a privileged few, not hard-working families.

“Britain needs a Labour’s government which to freeze energy bills until 2017, cut taxes for 24 million working people on middle and low incomes, expand free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds and get more young people back to work.”

You can read Toby’s budget speech made in Parliament here.

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Budget 2014

Toby’s speech on the budget

Toby’s speech on the budget, delivered in the House of Commons on Wednesday 19 March 2014 18.09:

“At a time when people are facing a choice between heating and eating, the sight of those ignorant, braying public school boys on the Tory Benches during the response by the Leader of the Opposition showed the contempt that they have for the serious issues that people in myconstituency are facing. The speech by my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband spoke far more to the real issues faced by my constituents than did the hour-long lecture that we heard from the Chancellor today.

This is the Chancellor’s fourth Budget and people in Chesterfield know what to expect: a recovery for the few, not the many; a denial that the cost of living crisis is engulfing British families under his watch; and a steadfast refusal to take action on the key issues facing our economy. He said today his core purpose was the economic security of people in Britain; well, he has a funny way of showing it. He should know that despite the increase in the tax threshold, the combination of the VAT increase, the failure to take action on uncompetitive markets, the low wage, low security economy he is creating, and the slowest recovery in history mean that people are poorer under the Tories.

Budget 2014For those feeling the pinch, as families are £1,600 worse off under this Government, there was precious little here. For families struggling with the cost of child care, there was a promise that after five years of rising prices things will get better if only people are fool enough to vote for the Tories a second time. For those who cannot afford a deposit as house prices spiral, there is nothing about tackling the lack of supply but further measures that could increase the prices. For the small business owner desperate to grow and branch out but who has been refused loans by all the major high street banks, there is nothing about the access to finance crisis.

These stories are all too familiar to people in Chesterfield, but their plight is not a by-product of the Chancellor’s plan; it is the Chancellor’s plan. He thinks that Britain’s economy can grow only by winning a race to the bottom, but an economy built on insecure work, zero-hours contracts, and fewer rights in the workplace is a castle built on sand, trapping people between an insecure workplace that seems to say that working people should just be grateful for any work they can get and a benefits system that shatters their dignity and crushes their spirit.

The Chancellor said that each job makes a family more secure. Well, not under this Government it doesn’t, because many of the 5,000 people who rely on food banks to feed them are in work. The increase in the number of people in work and in poverty is a national disgrace. Under this Government work is not the route out of poverty it once was.

The Chancellor promised us the pain he inflicted on our families would be worth it because two parties had come together to eradicate the deficit, but today we learn that his central purpose—the reason we put up with this Government—which is deficit eradication is still £90 billion away. We should remember what the Office for Budget Responsibility told us back in 2010. It told us that by the end of this Parliament we would have seen growth of 14.6%. Well, from quarter four of 2010 until now growth has been just 3.5%. The deficit will still be £75 billion by 2015-16. The Chancellor’s failure means he has increased the national debt more in three years than Labour did in 13 and he has failed in respect of the cost of living for working families and he has failed to take action on the energy companies.

We know from a ComRes survey released just this Sunday that a pitiful 9% of the public say their ability to pay their monthly bills has improved since the Chancellor entered No. 11 Downing street, and what about yesterday’s Survation poll showing that, when the poll was restricted to people in work, Labour held a 17% lead? Let there be no doubt which is the party for workers. The Chancellor’s priorities could not be clearer: take food from the mouths of families living in poverty to fund a £100,000 cut for his friends in the City earning over £1 million a year.

As shadow pubs Minister it would be churlish of me not to welcome the Chancellor’s temperance when it came to alcohol duty this year, although we should remember both that he is the Chancellor who raised most from the beer duty escalator that he kept for three Budgets, and that his increase in VAT added more to the cost of a pint than the increase in beer duty has done.

On business rates, what we have seen is a Conservative con trick: a £1,000 discount while the underlying rate of business rates is going up—a bomb waiting to go off under the high street recovery. In two years’ time those levels of business rates will have continued to go up and the discount will just disappear if anyone is foolish enough to vote for this Government again. Businesses’ key concerns in respect of the Budget were crystal clear: all the major business groups’ Budget submissions said there must be action on access to finance, yet we have seen absolutely nothing.

This Government are in denial. They cannot understand why people are not thanking them for the recovery they are delivering, but the truth is people know that evidence of the recovery is not appearing in their pockets. We desperately need a jobs guarantee, and Labour’s jobs guarantee will not only take young people off the scrapheap, but it will end the cycle of hopelessness that sees young people trapped in life on the dole. They will not be further impoverished by benefits sanctions, but will have a positive role that says to the young, “You should be at work. We’ll fund the job, you’ve got to take it.”

This was the Chancellor’s last chance, but, again, when the moment arrived he flunked it. Trapped in an analysis of Britain’s problems that is fundamentally wrong, it is hardly surprising he came up with the wrong answers. People struggling with the cost of living yesterday will still be struggling tomorrow. Parents kept out of the jobs market by the cost of child care have been told to hang on until 2015. For big business struggling with access to finance, absolutely nothing. This Government have run out of ideas; let’s have an election.”

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TP interview in his office

Toby says: “We have to end the rise of exploitive zero-hours contracts”

“Families in Chesterfield are facing the biggest cost-of-living crisis in a generation. Prices are increasing, wages are falling and many hard-working people are seeing rising insecurity at work.

TP interview in his office

One of the worst examples is the exploitive use of zero-hours contracts. I’ve spoken to many people in our town who are employed on these contracts and they’ve told me of the struggle they and their families face on a daily basis.

Zero-hours contracts have gone from being a marginal, niche concept to becoming the norm in some areas and sectors under the Tory-led government. This week it emerged that the number of people employed on zero-hours contracts has trebled to 583,000 since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

That is a shocking legacy of his time in office.

The government has overseen a rising tide of insecurity at work and ministers have been using inaccurate figures which hugely underestimate how widespread they have become.

In August Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna wrote to the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority Chair to highlight concerns on zero-hours contracts. In response he admitted that the estimate of 250,000 employees on zero-hours contracts was “subject to the risk of an undercount” and asked the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to produce a new estimate, yet in October BIS Minister Jo Swinson cited the discredited 250,000 figure as the government’s estimate – less than half the ONS’ official new figure.

How can the government deal with the problem of zero-hours contracts when ministers can’t even grasp its scale? This is an appalling record from an out-of-touch and failing government.

Something has to be done to reduce the insecurity and stress caused by zero-hours contracts. That’s why Labour has announced plans to ban these contracts where they exploit people. Where the government has turned a blind eye, we will act.

The next Labour government will ban employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work, stop zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business and end the misuse of these contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours.

Both employers and employees need flexibility but this shouldn’t mean people in Chesterfield lacking job security and having to be flexible about being able to afford the weekly shop.

Labour will always stand up for hard-working people. The next Labour government will tackle rising insecurity at work by ensuring that our town is properly equipped to earn its way out of the cost-of-living crisis.”

By Toby Perkins
Labour MP for Chesterfield

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Friends of the forces

OUR ARMED FORCES SHOULD BE TREATED WITH DIGNITY AND PROTECTED FROM DISCRIMINATION

The men and women who serve in Britain’s armed forces make enormous sacrifices to protect our country. Their sustained bravery and professionalism in challenging environments is a source of enormous pride for us all.

Friends of the forcesThose in the armed forces and their families play a unique role in our public life and they rightly deserve unique recognition through the military covenant. This ensures that those who make sacrifices and serve our country shall face no disadvantage as a result of their service.

Following a campaign led by the Royal British Legion and supported by Labour, the principles of the Military Covenant were enshrined in the Armed Forces Act. But whilst the military covenant was an important step, there is still work to be done. That’s why Labour has announced plans to outlaw discrimination against armed forces personnel.

A recent survey found that one in five armed service personnel has suffered public abuse – including shouting obscenities or denigrating their service record.

It’s shocking that those who serve so diligently should be abused because of the job they do and the uniform they wear.

So in the first year of the next Labour government, we would introduce the Armed Forces (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill to make abuse and discrimination against armed forces personnel and veterans a crime. Under these plans, army personnel would receive the same protection from discrimination as disabled people, religious communities and ethnic minorities.

I’m proud that so many of my constituents in Chesterfield choose to serve their community and their country so bravely. It’s sad to think they might need protecting from discrimination as they go about their daily lives. Under Labour they will know that we are behind them and that we will not tolerate any abuse of their service.

The men and women in the Army, Navy and RAF serve us with dignity and respect.

It is our duty to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect in return.

By Toby Perkins MP
Labour MP for Chesterfield 

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Toby presents Tony Benn with a commemorative poster in 2013, to mark 30 years since he became Chesterfield's MP

Toby’s tribute to Tony Benn

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has joined thousands from across the world of politics in paying tribute to Tony Benn, the former Chesterfield MP who died today.

Toby said: “Tony was a political giant, one of the great orators of this or any era, and a man of tremendous principle, who could inspire feelings of support or opposition in so many people, as is the mark of the great politicians through the ages.”

Toby presents Tony Benn with a commemorative poster in 2013, to mark 30 years since he became Chesterfield's MP

Toby presents Tony Benn with a commemorative poster in 2013, to mark 30 years since he became Chesterfield’s MP

“Chesterfield was proud to have him as our MP, and he was fond and proud of Chesterfield in equal measure. No history book of politics in the second half of the 20th Century could ignore the contribution he made, or the passions he arose.

“The timing of him losing his seat in Bristol following the 1983 election and arriving in Chesterfield just as the Miners Strike was starting couldn’t have been scripted by a Hollywood producer, but he was in Chesterfield at that seminal moment in the Town’s history and his steadfastness in support of the Miners and the industry, alongside Dennis Skinner at that time will never be forgotten by anyone who was involved in politics in Chesterfield then.”

His contribution to democracy and as a great parliamentarian will also be remembered. From his brave fight to renounce his peerage, which saw him barred from the Commons for three years to the immense contributions that he made in parliament on occasions like the first Iraq war and the deposing of Margaret Thatcher were amongst the great parliamentary speeches of all time.”

Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband – who as a young man worked for Benn – released the following statement:

“The death of Tony Benn represents the loss of an iconic figure of our age. He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician.

“Tony Benn spoke his mind and spoke up for his values. Whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him, everyone knew where he stood and what he stood for. For someone of such strong views, often at odds with his Party, he won respect from across the political spectrum.

“This was because of his unshakeable beliefs and his abiding determination that power and the powerful should be held to account.

“He believed in movements and mobilised people behind him for the causes he cared about, often unfashionable ones. In a world of politics that is often too small, he thought big about our country and our world.

“Above all, as I had cause to know, he was an incredibly kind man. I did work experience with him at the age of 16. I may have been just a teenager but he treated me as an equal. It was the nature of the man and the principle of his politics.

“I saw him for the last time a couple of weeks ago in hospital. He may have been ailing in body but was as sharp as ever in mind. As I left he said to me “Well, old son. Let’s have a proper talk when you have more time.” As he said of his wife Caroline at her funeral, he showed us how to live and how to die.”

“All of my condolences go to his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua and his wider family. In their own ways, they are all a tribute to him as a father, a socialist, and a most decent human being.”

His son Hilary Benn responded to the message of condolence and solidarity from Chesterfield saying: “Thanks so much, please give everyone in Chesterfield our love and thanks. Chesterfield meant so much to Dad.”

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Blog: Let’s tax bank bonuses to fund jobs for young people in Chesterfield

Bank bonuses are on the rise and the wealthiest in our country have been given a tax cut by David Cameron.  But young people, who have been hit hardest by the recession, are being left behind.

Too many young people in Chesterfield are struggling to find work and not seeing any economic recovery at all. The number of young people aged 18-24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over a year has doubled under David Cameron – from 28,300 in May 2010 to 56,100 today.

The government has failed to get a grip on this problem. Their much-trumpeted Work Programme was supposed to be the answer yet fewer than one in five young people referred to it have found a job.

3We cannot afford to waste the talents of thousands of young people and leave them stuck on the dole for years on end. It scars their lives, weakens our economy and adds billions to the social security bill.

Labour is determined for this to be an economic recovery for the many, not just a few at the top. So the next Labour government will get young people and the long-term unemployed in Chesterfield off benefits and into work through a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee. The Jobs Guarantee will give every young person out of work in Chesterfield for more than 12 months a paid starter job which they will have to take up or lose their benefits.

If the Tory-led government introduced Labour’s Jobs Guarantee today it would make a real difference. 150young people would benefit in our town alone.

Unfortunately the Tories and their Lib Dem allies voted down Labour’s proposal to introduce the Jobs Guarantee when we brought it to the House of Commons in November last year.  I voted for it because I know it would have a real impact on the lives of local young people.

The Jobs Guarantee will be funded by taxing bank bonuses. After the global banking crisis and with bank bonuses soaring again this year, it’s only fair to pay for our jobs plan by repeating Labour’s tax on bank bonuses.

The Compulsory Jobs Guarantee shows the difference a Labour government would make to the lives of tens of thousands of young people across the country. This out-of-touch Tory-led government doesn’t understand the struggles people in Chesterfield are facing at the moment.

Only Labour will ensure there is a recovery for the many, not just a few at the top. This way we can all earn our way out of the cost of living crisis.

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Toby backs Labour's jobs guarentee with Rachel Reeves and Ed Balls

Let’s tax bank bonuses to fund jobs for young people in Chesterfield

Toby Perkins MP has called for a tax on bank bonuses to fund jobs for young people in Chesterfield.

Under Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, every young person out of work in our town for more than 12 months will be given a paid starter job which they will have to take up or lose their benefits.

If Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee were introduced today 150young people would benefit in Chesterfield.

Under David Cameron’s government, 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. Since 2010 in Chesterfield the number of long-term unemployed has gone from 85to 150in 2014 a 76% rise.

Toby backs Labour's jobs guarentee with Rachel Reeves and Ed Balls

Toby backs Labour’s jobs guarentee with Rachel Reeves and Ed Balls

Toby said: “Under David Cameron’s government too many young people in Chesterfield are struggling to find work and not seeing any economic recovery at all.

“150 young people in Chesterfield would benefit from Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee if the policy were introduced today. Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will get young people in our town off benefits and into work.”

Labour’s shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls said: “If Labour wins the next election we will get young people and the long-term unemployed in Chesterfield and Derbyshire off benefits and into work.

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

 

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Editor’s notes:

1. 

2. Compulsory Jobs Guarantee

Building on the success of the Future Jobs Fund, government will work with the private and voluntary sectors to ensure there is a paid job for 18-24 year olds claiming jobseekers allowance for 12 months or more and adults aged 25 or over on claiming jobseekers allowance for over 24 months.

The government will pay for the wage and employee’s national insurance contributions for 25 hours over six months at the national minimum wage. The government will also provide an extra £500 per employee to pay towards training and admin costs.
Participants will be required to undergo training provided by the employer as well as intensive job-search activity for a permanent opportunity at the end of the six months. Those jobseekers who refuse to take up the offer of a job would risk losing their benefits, in line with the existing sanctions regime.

Businesses bidding for funds would need to demonstrate that the jobs are additional and would not lead to someone else losing their job or having their hours reduced, in line with the process used for the Future Jobs Fund.

Based on current claimant count levels the House of Commons Library estimates the cost of the policy will be £1.9bn in the first year and £900m a year in the following years.

These costings do not include the savings to the benefits bill which we believe can be made as a result or the savings from existing government schemes which will be superseded by the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.

3. Bank bonus tax

Labour’s tax on bank bonuses in 2010 raised £3.4bn, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. On a cautious estimate, repeating the tax will raise £1.5bn-£2bn.

Bonuses at a number of the big banks are significantly higher this year than last year: up 10 per cent at Barclays to £2.4bn, up 8 per cent at Lloyds to £395m and up 6 per cent at HSBC to £2.3bn. RBS also announced a bonus pool of £588m this year.

Details of how the original tax on bank bonuses worked can be found here: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120207221855/http:/www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2009/bank-pay-tech-note.pdf The repeated tax will also include allowances paid by banks which attempt to get round the EU bonus cap.

Combined with revenues from our proposed changes to pension tax relief even the lower estimate of what the tax on bank bonuses would raise more than covers the cost of the policy in the first year.

4. Pensions tax relief

For people earning over £150,000 we will reduce the rate of pension tax relief to 20 per cent – the same rate as basic rate taxpayers. The House of Commons Library estimates this will raise £900m-£1.3bn.

Even on the lower estimate of revenues the changes to pensions tax relief will cover the costs of the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee after the first year.

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries in Chesterfield and Staveley so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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