Archive | June, 2014

Toby is joined by North East Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel at the event in Westminster

Toby Perkins pledges to tackle prostate cancer inequalities in Derbyshire

Toby Perkins MP has pledged to support Prostate Cancer UK in its drive to eradicate the injustices faced by men with and at risk of prostate cancer in Chesterfield.

98 per 100,000 men in Derbyshire are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and 25 of these die from the disease. However, despite being the most common cancer in men, those affected by or at risk of the disease continue to face a number of injustices, particularly when it comes to awareness of risk and access to treatments, information and support.

Prostate Cancer UK has launched a report outlining five key injustices faced by men with or at risk of prostate cancer. The charity is calling on the government to take prostate cancer seriously by tackling the inequalities around awareness, age and ethnicity, and ensuring that all men gain access to the best possible treatments and information, regardless of where they live.

Toby met men living with and beyond prostate cancer at a campaigning event held at Westminster last week to discuss the issues in more depth and to show his support for the charity’s calls. He commented:

Toby is joined by North East Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel at the event in Westminster

Toby is joined by North East Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel at the event in Westminster

“Prostate cancer kills one man every hour but men and their families continue to face an uphill struggle on a number of fronts, from awareness of risk, through to gaining access to vital support, information, or world class treatments.  Together with Prostate Cancer UK I want to ensure that all men in Chesterfield and Derbyshire are armed with the knowledge of their risk of prostate cancer, and that those living with it have everything they need to tackle the disease head on and have quality time with loved ones.”

The report – ‘Men United v Prostate Cancer, Five inequalities, five solutions’ – comes as part of the second wave of the charity’s Men United campaign which has built an urgency around prostate cancer and has seen nearly 200,000 people sign  up to join the fight against the disease since January 2014.

Dr Sarah Cant, Director of Policy and Strategy at Prostate Cancer UK, said; “For too long men with or at risk of prostate cancer have been dealt a series of unjust deals. Four in five men at higher risk of the disease don’t know it – meaning that they could miss out on being diagnosed at an early stage when the disease is most treatable.  And for those men living with prostate cancer, the quality of care that they receive is still all too often dictated by their post code. Throw into the mix further inequalities surrounding access to treatments and information, and it’s clear that men with prostate cancer are not getting all the support that they vitally need.

Toby Outside Big Ben“This isn’t good enough and men deserve much better.  Since the launch of our Men United campaign we have seen huge public will to work together as a force for change.  We’re delighted that Toby has pledged to play a role in abolishing these inequalities by helping to tackle the injustices that men and their families are facing in Derbyshire.”

For more information on the injustices faced by men living with or at risk of prostate cancer go to:

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TP interview in his office

What Small Businesses Can Expect from a Labour Government

On 10 June 2014, Toby Perkins gave a speech to The Entrepreneur’s Network policy think tank on the subject of “What Small Businesses Can Expect from a Labour Government”.  You can read this below.

Many thanks for that introduction Philip.  I would just like to say that it is a privilege not only to be invited here today, but also to have been invited to become an Ambassador for the Entrepeneurs Network.  I’m sure TEN is going to go from strength to strength and I look forward to being a part of that journey.

TP interview in his officeI am particularly excited about this journey because in many ways I still think of myself as more of a businessman than a politician.  Before 2010 I could even have been described as a human being.

One of the reasons I was so delighted to be appointed as Ed’s Shadow Small Business Minister is because I have lived many of the problems I am now tasked with finding solutions for.

After leaving behind a less than auspicious academic career, I took on a telesales job and continued to work in the private sector for my entire career up to 2010.  I eventually set up the third of my own small businesses in the Sportswear business, supplying and importing bespoke Rugby kit to Clubs, universities and schools and through an internet business, Club Rugby.

Alongside this work I was also involved in a social enterprise.  Based in the area of Chesterfield I previously represented as a Borough Councillor, the Families First Children’s Nursery was a cooperative formed with investment from the last Labour Government.  Serving an area with significant deprivation, the nursery has overseen a dramatic improvement in Early Years Education.

So supporting and promoting entrepreneurs and small businesses is always at the heart of my approach to politics … and I can assure everyone here that entrepreneurs are central to the vision of One Nation Labour too.

In his first ever conference speech as leader in 2010, Ed Miliband expressed his determination to; “make Labour the party of enterprise and small business” and he has energetically pursued this goal ever since.

In 2011, Labour became the first party to set up an entrepreneurs’ network – the NG, or “Next Generation” network – to showcase the best of British talent and help aspiring business people hear from some of our most inspirational business leaders.

Cutting edge events have involved Dragons Den Piers Linney, Samir Desai founder of Funding Circle, MOBOs founder Kayna King at a women in entrepreneurship event at Wayra hub, and a Google hangout linking entrepreneurs across tech centres in Tel Aviv, Tech City and Lagos.

Its free to get involved and if any of you would like to join and come to future events please do give me your cards after lunch.

In 2012 Labour launched a scheme to encourage more people with a small business background to stand for Labour at election time.  This has now borne fruit with entrepreneurs standing for Labour in key marginals such as Reading West, Bury North and Stafford.

In 2013 Labour’s Small Business Taskforce, comprised of successful entrepreneurs, business representatives and academics produced their list of final recommendations to the Party.

Labour has committed to following many of these, including taking steps to help small starts ups more easily access quick broadband connections.

The next Labour government is determined not to sit on the sidelines but to take an active role on the side of entrepreneurs and create an environment where small firms can survive and thrive.

To achieve this we have a clear plan to support entrepreneurs in the big challenges they face.

An area where a Labour government would make a real difference is in access to finance.  Many of you will have read my article in The Entrepreneur’s Network’s launch manifesto about how government can take a leading role to support small businesses in accessing finance.  So this seems an appropriate area to start on today.

Entrepreneurs who want to start out, or to grow their small business consistently tell me that their biggest barrier is the reluctance of banks to lend.

Figures published in the last week showed that in the first quarter of this year net lending to SMEs by Funding for Lending participants actually fell by £700 million.  And in the last year net lending to SMEs has fallen by £3.2 billion.

Rather than continuing to tinker around the edges of this problem, Labour’s solution is truly transformative.  Around 90% of the UK’s five million small businesses are locked into just five big banks, who lend on roughly the same criteria. It’s not uncommon to hear about entrepreneurs rejected by each of these in turn.

By contrast, our prime European competitor, Germany, actually increased lending during the global downturn.

They achieved this because of the existence of Sparkassen.  These are commercial banks, but they are also established with state backing.  They return a profit to shareholders but are confined to a specified region and have a legal responsibility to promote local economic growth.

When I visited Germany I was struck by the pride and faith ordinary savers, businesses and entrepreneurs have in their Sparkassen.  They talk about these banks in the same terms a British person might talk about the NHS or the BBC.

It was also apparent as soon as you step into a local branch that these are banks run on a different basis from many closer to home.  I met local bank managers who are intimately attuned to their local economies and have the autonomy and the authority to lend significant sums to entrepreneurs whom they feel will succeed in their town, community or region.

Of course the Sparkassen have a long tradition in Germany and are ingrained into its federal structure.  It would be impossible to exactly replicate the model in this country.

But its key principles – permanency through state backing; a core duty to support growth and innovation within a defined geographic area; and professionalism with real banking experts that understand their local customers and communities – could be transferred to a British context.  Examples such as the Bank of Salford, which lends to businesses and consumers within the City of Salford, highlight the potential of this transformative model.

A working group, dominated not by politicians, but by those with real experience in the field, are currently taking this forward on our behalf.

Outside of banking, new start ups are also held back from receiving finance by late-payments from the larger organisations they supply to.  Late payment is a clear example of what Chuka Umunna, my boss … and the Shadow Secretary for Business, has identified as “blue tape” where small businesses are held back by more established larger companies.  A quarter of company bankruptcies are estimated to be the result of late payments.

Businesses need a strong government willing to take action on their behalf.

The last Labour government created an interest rate penalty for large firms who delayed payment to their small suppliers.  The next Labour government will further tackle this issue and ensure government sets the best example, by making it mandatory for all government bodies to publish their record on this.

We obviously welcome the government’s commitment to take action on this issue as announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech, however we share the concerns of the FSB and others that these steps will not go far enough and will seek to strengthen them in Committee.

The cost-of-living crisis has also spread to entrepreneurs and Labour is determined to address this.  The £1,500 rise in business rates since 2010 has hurt entrepeneurs.  Labour would not bring forward the planned one per cent Corporation Tax cut for 80,000 large firms and use the money to instead cut the business rate bills of 1.5 million small firms.

Likewise, when one in every seven pounds of GDP is spent by the state, Labour understands that procurement is the biggest lever we can pull to help entrepreneurs branch out into new markets.  Unfortunately, the current Whitehall machinery is not set up to understand and respond to the need of British small businesses.

Currently, none of the fifteen civil servants reporting directly to the BIS permanent secretary is responsible for small businesses and the amount of procurement spend which goes to small businesses is not precisely monitored.

By contrast, the head of the US Small Business Administration – a team at the heart of the US government that promotes the interests of small businesses across government – reports directly to the President and 45% of US Federal procurement spend goes to US small businesses.

To catch up with our competitors and to ensure that the next Labour government is the best customer it can be we will establish our own Small Business Administration at the heart of government, something organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses have long campaigned for.

All these measures support those who have already started out, but it is also a crucial task for government to create an environment where an entrepreneurial career path is accessible and normal.  Previous efforts to improve social mobility have perhaps overly focused on the professions, when entrepreneurialism can also be a great path to prosperity.

This is why Labour’s Waltham Forest Council is pioneering a scheme which places an entrepreneur or business owner on the board of governors at each local school to ensure that pupils are exposed to this exciting career path early in life.

Similarly, Labour’s plans to give parents of primary school children guaranteed access to childcare from 8am-6pm will help people from all backgrounds to find the space to pursue entrepreneurial projects.

As innovators and challengers of tired orthodoxies I see entrepreneurs as Labour’s natural allies.  I hope the broad overview I have just provided has been helpful and you can see that we have a suite of active policies to support small businesses at every stage of their development.

I have no doubt Labour is fulfilling Ed Miliband’s vision to become the Party of enterprise and small business and would be delighted to discuss any of the ideas I have just touched upon in greater detail.  Thank you very much for listening.

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Toby Perkins MP with Mrs Chapman (headteacher), Mrs Rebecca Fenby (Parent Governor) and Cllr Sharon Blank at Hady Lane Primary School

Chesterfield MP Wades In On School Flood Crisis

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins visited Hady Lane Primary School today to assess the on-going problem of flooding on the path that leads to the school.

Toby Perkins MP with Mrs Chapman (headteacher),  Mrs Rebecca Fenby (Parent Governor) and Cllr Sharon Blank at Hady Lane Primary School

Toby Perkins MP with Mrs Chapman (headteacher), Mrs Rebecca Fenby (Parent Governor) and Cllr Sharon Blank at Hady Lane Primary School

Toby said, “This is a longstanding issue that has been affecting parents and pupils for several years and they are quite rightly fed up with it. Something needs to be done now to ensure that there is a long-term solution to this problem. That’s why I have arranged this visit, which will allow the school, the County Council and decision makers to discuss what can be done to resolve this issue once and for all.”

Toby was joined at the school by Cllr Sharon Blank from Chesterfield Borough Council, headteacher Susan Chapman and governors. The flooding on the path has resulted in pupils having to wade through water in wellington boots or walk through the adjoining field. Only last week, the Derbyshire Fire Service had to be alerted to help pump out and drain the path following another day of heavy rain. One angry parent explained to Toby, “Our kids’ clothes are getting wet and dirty. And it’s dangerous to have children struggling through water that is sometimes almost a foot high.”

Toby was first made aware of the seriousness of the situation during his weekly constituency surgery by Mrs Rebecca Fenby, a parent who has worked very hard to get the Council to address the flooding.  Since then Toby has been attempting to coordinate discussions between council departments, parents and the school to ensure a solution is found.

The school’s preferred option involves a new path not at risk of flooding, which has been costed by Derbyshire County Council and is being considered by the cash-strapped council.

Toby said, “I already have plans to meet with Cllr Kevin Gillott, Deputy Leader at Derbyshire County Council, to discuss the affordability and feasibility of plans the Council has developed that could potentially resolve this problem.”

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Toby Perkins MP with Midwife Lyn Guerriero and Matron of the Chesterfield Birth Centre Julie Clark

Full marks maternity unit all set for a bright future

Toby Perkins MP with Midwife Lyn Guerriero and Matron of the Chesterfield Birth Centre Julie Clark

Toby Perkins MP with Midwife Lyn Guerriero and Matron of the Chesterfield Birth Centre Julie Clark

MP Toby Perkins visited the Chesterfield Birth Centre to congratulate staff on an unprecedented 50 out of 50 score on a national “safety check” assessment, which confirmed the unit’s place as one of the safest in the region, and to see the brand new computer system which is helping the ward stride ever onwards in terms of efficiency and high standards.

Toby said “To score full marks on this assessment is nearly unheard of and fantastic news. It’s clear the staff have been working incredibly hard to make this happen, and the score reflects the excellent standards of care that families experience at the unit”

Matron of the Birth Centre Julie Clark said “We are very proud to have come this far and have such a high quality of care and a reputation for being one of the best birth units in the area. All the staff work so hard to keep our standards high, and this score recognises their achievement.

Our new computer system will help us keep up the good work. It’s designed to ensure better monitoring of patients, and faster access to patient notes, which frees up midwives to give more time and care to expectant families.”

Toby said “I think the staff here deserve to be recognised for this great achievement. They are fully committed to high clinical standards and the new computer system will help them move even further up the scale with improved efficiency, allowing midwives more time to be in direct contact with patients.”

“My own son was born here 16 years ago so it’s great to see the unit going from strength to strength, and to know that expectant parents and new arrivals in Chesterfield will still be in such excellent hands.”

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New figures reveal the urgency of Chesterfield’s housing crisis

New figures, released to local MP Toby Perkins, by the National House Building Council (NHBC), reveal that new house building in Chesterfield has fallen to just one third of the national average.  This far behind the figures needed to keep up with projected demand and marks the 5th quarter of decline in a row.

NHBC is the official supplier of housing statistics to DCLG and the only source of data which breaks down housing numbers to a constituency level.

The full figures from the NHBC are as follows:

New homes started: Q1 2013 Q2 2013 Q3 2013 Q4 2013 Q1 2014






UK constituency average






Local MP, Toby Perkins said:

“Once again the Tory-led government’s policies are having a real impact on people in Chesterfield.  


Under David Cameron the number of homes built has fallen to the lowest level in peacetime since the 1920s.

“This demonstrates even further the need to press of with developments at Waterside and Donkins, as a shortage of new build is bad for those looking for a home and the economy.

“That’s why Labour has committed to getting 200,000 homes a year built by 2020 and to introduce tough new ‘use it or lose it’ powers to prevent companies sitting on land while waiting for the price to rise.”

Perkins also expressed his dismay that the Tory-led Government voted against Labour’s amendment to ban unfair letting agent fees last month which will dismay ‘Generation Rent’ – the nine million people in this country including 1.3 million families who live in rented accommodation for whom housing is already insecure, uncertain and a strain on family finance.

He said:

“Labour is standing up for private renters who are being hit hard by David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis and we will continue to push for letting agent fees on tenants to be banned.

“The average up-front fees are £350, but in high demand areas these fees can be much higher.  A Labour government will ban letting agent fees on tenants as well as introducing long- term stable tenancies with predictable rents.”

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Shadow Pubs Minister

Toby’s response to today’s announcement on pubs

Responding to the government’s response to its consultation on pub companies, Shadow Pubs Minister Toby Perkins MP said:

“Labour has led calls for a statutory code to give local pubs the protection they need and to ensure landlords get a fair deal. Any action to help pubs is welcome, particularly after ministers have dragged their feet for more than three years during which time hundreds of publicans have lost their livelihoods.

Shadow Pubs Minister“The changes ministers have announced today do not include a free-of-tie option or the genuinely independent rent reviews which Labour and campaigners have been calling for. Specifically, it is hard to see what the parallel rent assessments will actually deliver. Labour will work to ensure the Code has sufficient teeth to ensure it makes a genuine difference for publicans.

“We are pleased that the government have now accepted many of the arguments that they have been voting against in three Commons votes, however we fear that the watered down version the government appear to be offering will not affect the changes that can prevent the large increase in pub closures we have seen in the last year. We will assist the government to get a statutory code on to the statute book as quickly as possible and work to ensure that it safeguards the future of the industry by delivering the real change publicans have been calling for.”


Please call 020 7219 2320 for further information and comment.

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Ed Miliband and Toby

BLOG: Making Europe work for Chesterfield

Lots of local jobs in our town rely on Europe.  Yet all of us know Europe needs to change.

That’s why as the local MP for Chesterfield, I want Europe to work better for Britain.

Unlike the Tories, Labour has an agenda for reform in Europe, not exit from Europe.

Earlier this year Ed Miliband has set out the reforms that a Labour government would be pushing for from day one in Government.

First, we want a Europe of growth and jobs, not a Europe of austerity and unemployment. Labour would work with British businesses – through the CBI – to secure new opportunities for British exporters. That would boost the UK economy in the years ahead, and create new jobs.

Second, Labour will work to reform the rules that allow citizens of new member states being able to come and work here in the UK.

Ed Miliband and TobyEU citizens who come to work here in Britain should contribute to our society as well as our economy. That is why Labour would double the length of time before an EU citizen would be eligible for Job Seekers Allowance, and work to make it easier to automatically deport someone who commits a crime shortly after they arrive in this country.

Labour has also announced that we will take action to ensure the minimum wage is properly enforced, close loopholes in rules for agency workers, and look at EU directives designed to prevent undercutting and a race to the bottom.

Further, Ed Miliband has also announced that the next Labour government will legislate for a lock that ensures in the future, no major transfer of powers can happen without the public’s consent.

This would not just be a referendum to ratify a decision on powers – instead it would be an in/out referendum, with a clear choice for the public to make on our membership of the EU.

It is bad for Britain that David Cameron seems to be spending more time negotiating with his backbenchers than negotiating with other European leaders.  His weakness in the Tory Party means David Cameron has been forced into saying that in 24 months he is going to try and convince 27 other countries to support a fundamental redesign of Europe that none of them support.

David Cameron just can’t be trusted on Europe: he can’t tell us what he is negotiating for, he has no strategy for achieving change and he can’t tell us whether he will vote yes or no.

Businesses—from the CBI to Nissan to DHL—are worried about the country drifting to exit. That is the danger of where the Tory party is heading.

So it is clear that the dividing line on the EU is not simply status quo vs change.

The choice in 2015 is between a Conservative Party fast unravelling over Europe, and a Labour Party united in working to make the EU work better for Britain.

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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 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
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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