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Toby Perkins questioning the Prime Minister in the debate on Monday

Update on Syrian Refugee Crisis

Toby Perkins questioning the Prime Minister in the debate on Monday

Toby Perkins questioning the Prime Minister in the debate on Monday

The last few weeks of media coverage have been dominated by the devastating global crisis we have seen in recent months in regards to the situation of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. I have received a large number of emails, letters and social media messages asking me to ensure Britain plays a full part in helping people in peril.

Like everyone, I was horrified to see the picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up dead on a Turkish beach. And whilst that photograph became an iconic snapshot of the whole appalling tragedy, other human catastrophes occur every day, the desperation and suffering that these people have gone through is unimaginable.

Huge numbers of people are dying trying to cross the Mediterranean to Southern Europe from war-torn Libya and Syria. But millions more are stuck in refugee camps in Jordan, Libya and elsewhere. Lawlessness in these countries means that there is little authority to control the flow; some of the militias controlling the country are profiting from the perilous trade.

This is indisputably one of the worst human tragedies since the war and the desire to see Britain play its part in alleviating the suffering is widespread.

I welcome the steps the government has taken thus far in their approach, however, I strongly believe that more substantial, immediate action is needed, given the scale of the crisis we face.

My colleague Yvette Cooper secured a three-hour emergency debate yesterday, to analyse in detail what the government has proposed and to discuss what further humanitarian role Britain can make. I spoke in the debate and made clear to the Home Secretary that Chesterfield is fully pledged to supporting those who are seeking refuge.

Below is a link to the question I asked David Cameron on Monday about how the government can do more to harness the huge desire amongst British people to play our part to alleviate suffering of desperate Syrian refugees, as well as the speech I made yesterday:

Monday’s Question: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/a472a129-39b4-4c22-a8f4-f0785e2cf856?in=17:41:58&out=17:43:00

Yesterday’s Speech: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/85646ce6-0ade-44cc-834a-6d4ea7e61e09?in=16:21:15&out=16:25:11

Speech 8/09/15 – Check on delivery:

I commend my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the shadow Home Secretary, for securing the debate, and for the tremendous way in which she has led the fight. Labour Members are of the view that the Government’s response is inadequate, but the Government have responded more generously than they did a few weeks ago. The shadow Home Secretary deserves great credit for getting the Government at least to take the steps they have taken.

The tragic death of Alan Kurdi is a bucket of cold water over the whole of our nation and the Government. It was the moment at which public opinion changed and when people said we must do more. We recognise that the appalling suffering of those refugees is a moment in history. History will look back on our generation, and on this Parliament and this Government, and ask what we did when we faced this appalling moment. I believe that we are failing to live up to our historical role as a place of safe haven, and to live up to the incredibly proud role that Britain has played over many years to support refugees, whether that is the 10,000 of the Kindertransport in the late 1930s, the 300,000 Poles who came here after the second world war or the 42,000 Ugandan Asians who came to Britain after the historic situation there. When history looks at our generation and our current response to this appalling situation, it will judge us badly for the failure to take more refugees.

In the Government’s response, they not only fail to appreciate the suffering that people are experiencing, but underestimate the capacity and desire, which the harrowing pictures have evoked, to help people. I said yesterday to the Prime Minister that if ever there was an opportunity for him to make the big society something that means something to people, this is it. People all over our communities are saying that they want to make a difference.

People are saying that they want to make a difference. They are saying, “Please let me know how I can help.” Councils in Derbyshire have offered to act as reception centres for refugees. The Labour council in Chesterfield has said that it stands willing to do whatever is needed to support people in that terrible situation. The Government underestimate the capacity in our country to make a stand in the once-in-a-lifetime atrocious situation that we face.

The Government should explore the far greater potential that there is among proud Britons who are standing ready and willing to help people in their hour of need. In our history, when the world has needed heroes, Britain has so often come forward and shown how truly great our nation can be.

Let us not let this generation, when the world is expecting so much of us, be the one that lets our country’s reputation down. Let us not be the ones who, when we tell our children and grandchildren about the roles we played, have to look down at our shoes and say that when this country was needed we did not do what

we could. There is more we can do. We should be taking more refugees. In all our communities, we know we can do more. Let this Parliament and this Government be the ones to say we will do more. Let us lift what we are doing right now.

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3627086678

Blog: The Future of Mental Health Services

New research by YoungMinds, a leading children’s mental health charity, has shown that since 2010 a total of £85m has been lost from the budgets of mental health trusts and local authorities, with £35m of these cuts coming from mental health services for children and young people in England.

Mental health is an urgent national policy issue, particularly when it comes to the care and support we provide to children and young people.  Mental ill health will soon be the biggest burden on society both economically and sociologically, costing around £105 billion per annum.  By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem.  But we spend a fraction of our overall health budget on mental health. Mental health research only receives just 6.5% of total funding in the UK compared with 25% for cancer, 15% for neurological diseases and 9% for cardiovascular conditions.

These are figures which should make every politician sit up and take notice.

There are a number of areas in which our mental health provision needs to improve:

  • Stop neglecting child mental health – a recent report by the independent Mental Health Taskforce showed that only 6 per cent of the mental health budget is spent on children, even though three quarters of adult mental illness begins before the age of 18. Since 2010, the underinvestment and poor delivery of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have led to a growing number of young people being placed in adult wards, and many sent hundreds of miles for hospital care as a result of bed shortages. This not only puts young people at risk but has a negative impact on their rehabilitation and recovery.

I am regularly contacted by concerned parents who feel their children are not receiving the support they need for their mental health and that this is having a negative effect on their education, physical health and quality of life.  Going forward we need better provision of talking therapies for children and a better understanding of how to identify and respond to mental health in schools. Before the election the Tories pledged to increase funding for children’s mental health services, Labour will be making sure that they honour that pledge.

  • Early Intervention – since 2010 there have been a cutbacks in early intervention and prevention services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Early Intervention in Psychosis Services and the Early Intervention Grant which funds Sure Start services. This short-sighted approach by the government means that people are not getting the support they need when they first develop ill mental health and it ends up costing the NHS billions down the line when these people eventually reach crisis point. I firmly believe focusing more on early intervention services will achieve better outcomes for patients and create long-term savings for the NHS.

To ensure we have early intervention for our children and young people, we need to properly train our teachers to deal with mental health issues, so that mental health needs are identified sooner and children receive the treatment and support they need as soon as possible.

  • Talking therapies – there is a limited availability of counselling services in Chesterfield even though they can provide the kind of lower-level, preventative intervention that can stop problems subsequently becoming more serious. It is completely unacceptable that some of my constituents are having to wait almost 6 months before they can be seen by a counsellor, by which time their needs can have increased significantly and the treatment they need be more extensive and costly. A Labour government would have introduced a maximum 28-day wait once a patient has been referred for talking therapies.

  • Parity of Esteem – This needs to be more than just a political slogan. Real action needs to be taken to so that mental health is given parity of esteem with other areas of health. This means improving diagnosis, increasing mental health awareness across all NHS departments and commissioning the right services to deliver the parity of esteem agenda. Mental health patients should have equal access to the most effective treatment possible, equal consideration regarding waiting list times and the equal regard and consultation as other service users. And the delivery of our mental health services needs to have an equal focus on improvements in the standard of care and a commensurate allocation of resources.

The cuts to mental health funding we have seen over the last five years were the first time the mental health budget had been cut in over a decade. The government focused on short-term savings that left patients without the help or early support they needed and that will cost the NHS billions in the long-term.

Together with improving services, we also need to start changing society’s attitudes towards mental health. This government has relegated mental health to the sidelines and once again made people feel stigmatised and less likely to talk about or address their mental health issues.

3627086678There can be no short-termism in our approach to mental health. People need help as early as possible, for as long as needed and individual to their needs.

This is the right thing for patients and for the long-term viability of our health services.

If you would like to read more about the research carried out by Young Minds please click here http://www.itv.com/news/2015-07-27/revealed-tens-of-millions-slashed-from-mental-health-budgets/

Please also visit the ‘Labour Campaign for Mental Health’ facebook page to read statements on mental health from the Labour leadership candidates https://www.facebook.com/labourmentalhealth

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Toby at the recent 'Medieval Market'

Blog: Chesterfield Town Centre – why we should be optimistic about the future

Just as bygone Christmases are remembered as snowier, and summers more sunny, so anyone who can remember Chesterfield market from years ago will tell you it was a much busier, bustling place. I have had many constituents contact me over the last few years to lament the reduction in the size of the market and fewer shoppers visiting our town centre. Whilst there is an element of truth about it, we still have much to be proud of.

Town centres and markets across the country have all experienced a decline, over many years and for many reasons, including because of our economy going in to recession and consumers shopping habits changing dramatically; also the growth of online shopping, development of out-of-town retail parks, diversification of product availability in supermarkets, increasing number of budget retailers, people having less disposable income and various other factors.

To stop the decline and start to grow again, our town centres are going to have to fundamentally change and adapt to the new retail landscape and offer more than just shopping to attract people in. This is something city centres have been doing for a number of years with reconfigured layouts and new attractions, such as urban beaches, big wheels, food festivals etc and is something that our towns need to replicate on a smaller scale.

Chesterfield has been one of the more resilient town centres in the East Midlands and has a much lower shop vacancy rate when compared to nearby towns such as Mansfield and Ashfield. One of the reasons for Chesterfield’s resilience, and why we should remain optimistic about the future of our market and shopping centre, is the Labour-run Borough Council’s willingness to invest during tough economic times and to innovate and adapt to the modern retail climate.

Following on from the recent £4m refurbishment of the Market Hall, which has provided improved retail spaces together with modern business units, the Council has been working with local businesses and stakeholders to develop a ‘Town Centre Masterplan’ together with an event-driven market place. I have been impressed by the recent ‘Artisan Markets’ and ‘Medieval Market’ that have been held and are bringing people in from miles around.

The Council’s ‘Masterplan’ is being finalised and will focus on modernising the layout of the market so that it is more accessible, has improved sightlines, better cover for bad weather and has additional space for other attractions and events.

With the right planning and will to improve, we can make the most of our beautiful town and its advantageous location.

Toby at the recent 'Medieval Market'

Toby at the recent ‘Medieval Market’

Chesterfield is one of the gateway towns to the Peak District and the improvements being made in our town centre will hopefully increase tourism and provide a boost for our hotels, guest houses, cafes, pubs and shops. And with the planned £400m Peak Resorts development being created near Chesterfield, we will see more jobs being created and more opportunities to increase visitor footfall in our town.

There is a lot of work to be done, but we should feel optimistic about the future for our market and town centre businesses.

Please click here to read more about about the Council’s ‘Masterplan’:

http://www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/news/grassroots/chesterfield-borough-council-agrees-masterplan-for-future-development-of-town-centre-1-7374517

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Toby with Megan Tinsley, from Chesterfield, who now plays for England under 17s

BLOG: England’s Lionesses Should Inspire Us for a Summer of Sport – and a Lasting Legacy in Women’s Football

Toby with Chesterfield FC Ladies football team

Toby with Chesterfield FC Ladies football team

The whole country was captivated by the Lionesses as they defied the odds and roared their way through to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in Canada last month. England played some scintillating football with great team performances that saw them score some of the best goals in the competition and knock out the hosts along the way.

It was heart-breaking to see them dominate in the semi-final against Japan only to lose due to an own goal in stoppage time.

I hope that the excitement, athleticism and sheer joy shown by England’s women will inspire us all to get active this summer and make the most of the (hopefully) sunny weather to enjoy sports and improve our fitness. But what I also hope for, is that this will have a lasting impression on how we view, invest in and engage with women’s sport.

The World Cup has smashed many people’s preconceptions about international women’s football and shown that it can be as competitive, compelling and gut-wrenching as the men’s game. I hope that the buzz created by this team is already inspiring the next generation of girls to get involved in schools and parks across the country. I hope that this is a legacy we can build on to ensure that women’s football continues to grow and improve.

To build on England’s success in Canada we need to see real investment by the FA in to the women’s game, backed up by new facilities, more female coaches and positive marketing campaigns, like the inspiring ‘This Girl Can’ campaign adverts from Sport England. We also need to see football clubs follow teams like Chesterfield Ladies F.C. who have been inspiring women and girls for over twenty years to get involved in the game.

There has been a failure to build on the success of the Olympic Games and create a lasting sporting legacy, with a recent Sport England’s survey showing that the number of people taking part in sport of any kind has fallen by 220,000 since London 2012. The survey also revealed two million fewer women aged 14-40 take part in regular sport than men, and when it comes to competitive sports this disparity is even greater.

Toby with Megan Tinsley, from Chesterfield, who now plays for England under 17s

Toby with Megan Tinsley, from Chesterfield, who now plays for England under 17s

At a time when there is a great need for more of us to play sport I am delighted that the redevelopment of the Queen’s Park Sports Centre is almost completed. Only with this kind of investment, together with cultural changes in attitude towards women’s sport and each of us finding time to play competitive sports, will we create the next Lucy Bronze or Linda Bassett.

Whether this is going along to one of Chesterfield FC’s first games of the season, playing cricket in the park with the family, challenging a friend to a game of tennis on our local courts or playing volleyball on the beach whilst on holiday. Get active, get involved and have fun.

 

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Toby on the Gritstone Edge Walk near Baslow in the Peak District National Park

Blog: Celebrate ‘National Parks Week’ by visiting the Peak District

One of the delights of living in Chesterfield is the fact that the Peak District National Park is right on our

doorstep. The Park has so many beautiful places, from the scenic majesty at Monsall Head or the Ladybower Dam, to the hidden wonder of the Blue John Cavern or the old cobbled streets of Bakewell. And the many different activities available make it an accessible and attractive park for visitors of all ages. You can do anything from hiking to rock climbing, birdwatching to canoeing, camping to trail biking. It is a place I love to visit with my family and yo

u will often see me walking up the hills on a weekend or stopping for a drink in one of the brilliant country pubs.

As today is the start of ‘National Parks Week 2015’ (27th July to 2nd August), I would urge everyone to explore the Peak District and take advantage of what it has to offer.

Labour created the first National Parks in the UK by passing the National Parks and Countryside Access Act

Toby on the Gritstone Edge Walk near Baslow in the Peak District National Park

Toby on the Gritstone Edge Walk near Baslow in the Peak District National Park

1949, with the Peak District being named a National Park in 1951. We did this because Labour believes everyone has the right to access and enjoy the countryside, not just a privileged few. Since then, our National Parks have flourished and become landscapes that are not only vital to our wildlife and environment, but vital to our economy with the tourism they attract and jobs they support.

Regrettably, the National Park Authorities (NPAs) that operate our National Parks have suffered a 36% real terms cut in their government grant since 2010. And further planned reductions to the National Park Grant over the next 5 years will have a massive effect on NPAs ability to operate, which will place events, projects, jobs and wildlife at risk.

Over 90 million people visit National Parks every year, and the rural businesses operating within the Parks employ 68,000 people and have an annual turnover of more than £10bn. Our National Parks are vibrant, productive landscapes, containing some of the best hotels and shops and home to companies producing high quality food and drink.

National Parks are a proud Labour legacy, created with the aim of protecting our wildlife and landscape for future generations to appreciate. It is vital that we support our parks and make use of these amazing resources that are right on our doorstep.

I encourage my constituents to reconnect with nature this summer by visiting the Peak District National Park, and support local businesses by sampling some of the local food and drink. Please have a look at some of the events being held in the Peak District during ‘National Parks Week’ and try to go along. A list of events can be found at http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/visiting/national-parks-week-2015/peakdistrict

 

 

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Statement on the Welfare Bill

Many local people have contacted Toby in recent days regarding the vote on the Welfare Bill on Monday night.  Below he blogs about the vote and how he voted.

Understandably there has been considerable interest in the bill and what the response to it by Labour says about us as an opposition.

Apprentice Video Screen ShotLet me start by saying that I am in politics as a Labour MP to help us get into power so that we may take steps to build a fairer and more equal society and reduce poverty and inequality. I am very proud of the last Labour government’s achievements in lifting over 1 million children out of poverty.

It was no coincidence that the Conservatives should choose the final week of parliament before Labour’s leadership election to bring forward a bill of this nature. They knew that it would pose political problems for the Labour Party, sadly the inadequacy of our response as an opposition has turned a tricky situation into a shambles.

The first misconception that has been allowed to be propagated by the confusion of our response is that we didn’t vote against the bill – we did, I did. By proposing what is known as a reasoned amendment we voted to scrap the Welfare Bill.  The reasoned amendment listed the parts of the bill that we supported (see details below) but also said that on balance we were declining to support the bill because of the things that we opposed.

Of course we lost that vote, just as we knew we would, just as we would have lost a vote on 2nd reading. There is a perfectly logical reason for us to attempt to vote down the sections of the bill that we don’t support rather than vote down the whole bill and lose the things we support. There was also a logical argument (which many of my colleagues made) for opposing the entire bill (including things we supported) in order to make a point. In practical terms neither of these would have made a difference, the government has a majority and not a single Tory MP has expressed dissatisfaction with it, so it will pass either way, it is a question of how we as an opposition best make our point.

What’s in the Bill

When I first looked through the Bill it was abundantly clear what the government was up to. They had lumped together measures that Labour – and most people in Chesterfield – would support with other policies that we would obviously oppose. Their goal was to cause political damage to Labour, particularly during our leadership contest.  The Tories know that they benefit when the Left is divided, and so that’s what they use the tools of government to try and achieve.

On the issues that I support in this Bill, the three most significant are the creation of three million new apprentices (many are the higher and advanced ones included in the last Labour manifesto); lowering of rents for tenants in social housing; and more investment into the ‘troubled families programme’ which has its origins in the early intervention policies of the last Labour government.

In my judgement each of these three measures would directly benefit the constituents I was sent to Parliament to represent. Voting against the 2nd reading of the bill would have meant voting against these measures (and you would hear the Tories on the TV saying “Labour voted against increasing apprenticeships and cutting rents for social tenants” for the next five years), which was a key reason why the party leadership decided not to oppose the 2nd reading of the bill.

But then there are the other measures like the abolition of child poverty targets and cuts to support for the sick and disabled who are not fit for work – this includes people who have cancer or Parkinson’s disease.

Only a Tory government could propose removing the legal duty for the government to tackle child poverty (introduced by the last Labour government.  Only a Tory government could propose reducing the welfare budget that goes to terminally ill cancer patients. We should always remember that it is Cameron’s Conservatives who came up with these ideas and brought them before Parliament.

It should go without saying that these are terrible policies which I wholeheartedly oppose, and our reasoned amendment (see more below) did oppose them.

What’s not in the Bill

Lots of people have raised with me the issue of cuts to tax credits, particularly for those families with more than two children.  Tax credits were a great achievement of the last Labour Government which helped to lift 1 million children out of poverty.  But let me be absolutely clear – cuts to Tax Credits were not a part of the Bill presented to the House of Commons this week.

The government have made it clear that they intend to cut Tax Credits, but this will be introduced later in the year by another parliamentary procedure called a ‘statutory instrument’ and Labour will oppose them then.

Reasoned amendment

I’ve met many local Council tenants struggling with arears at my weekly surgeries.  I stood on a manifesto in May to create more apprenticeships.  I have seen the success of early intervention programmes in addressing long term youth unemployment.  Whilst our amendment would have had the effect of killing the bill, our amendment at least put on record our support for these measures.

This does mean that by supporting Labour’s amendment I voted against cuts to support for disabled people and abolition of the child poverty targets.

What happens next

There are three more stages that this Bill must pass through in the House of Commons before it moves to the House of Lords.

The next is Committee Stage where a smaller committee of MPs can scrutinise the Bill line by line and table amendments to each section of it. Labour have already published some of the amendments we will seek to introduce at this stage and I’ve included them at the bottom of this blog so you can see the approach we will take at this stage.

Then the Bill returns for its Report Stage, and finally it’s Third Reading. At these points it is still possible for me to vote against the entire Bill if I believe that is the only course of action left. After that, the Bill passes to the Lords where the government lacks a majority and the Labour team there can try to bring further influence.

Defeating the government

Some people have contacted me, and posted on social media, that Labour could have won the vote on Monday because not every single Tory voted.  What actually happened was that, because the Conservatives knew we were going to abstain, they allowed some of the MPs to go home, or for ministers to attend meetings rather than vote.  If we were going to vote against it they would have got all of their MPs out to vote to defeat us – exactly as they were able to do with the reasoned amendment.

It’s difficult to deal with, but the truth is that now the Conservatives have won an outright majority we cannot ever defeat the government unless some Tory MPs vote with us, and on Monday not a single Tory MP broke ranks to abstain or vote against the Bill.

The Tories chose to put all these conflicting policies into one Bill deliberately to divide us and create powerful dilemmas for Labour MPs.  It is imperative that once we have a new leader in place we start to offer credible united opposition of a sort that I am afraid was sadly missing on this occasion.

***

I personally think the approach the leadership attempted to carry out was the best response to a difficult situation.

I appreciate that other people will take a different view and respect this.  Some will argue that we should oppose everything if we disagree with anything, others that our course of action on this occasion was right, there are strong arguments for both approaches.

Either way, a disorganised and disunited opposition only makes the government’s job easier and I apologise that as a group we failed to provide the sort of unified and coherent opposition the country deserved.

If you would like to meet to discuss this further I would be very happy to do so.  Simply call 386286 to make an appointment.

***

Here are some of the amendments Labour will try to have included in the Bill:

  • An amendment to prevent the Government abolishing the targets for reducing child poverty;
  • The Government are also trying to delete child poverty from the remit of the ‘Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’ so that it becomes just the ‘Social Mobility Commission’. An amendment will prevent that taking place;
  • An amendment which will mean that the household benefit cap would not apply to persons who are responsible for a child under 2 years old, are a carer, or are in temporary accommodation because of domestic violence;
  • A new clause which will require the Secretary of State to report each year on the impact of the household benefit cap, particularly on child poverty;
  • An amendment which will require the level of the household benefit cap to be reviewed every year, rather than only once in a Parliament. The review would be based on the new clause above requiring the impact of the benefit cap on child poverty to be assessed each year;
  • An amendment which will require the Social Security Advisory Committee to review the Discretionary Housing Payments fund each year to ensure that sufficient resources are available. Discretionary Housing Payments are used to support those who are unfairly affected by the benefit cap;
  • An amendment which will set the target of full employment as 80 per cent of the working age population – in line with the Labour Government’s definition and recent research which shows that this would be an ambitious target. The Bill includes a process for reviewing progress towards ‘full employment’, but does not define what is meant by that;
  • An amendment to require the UK Commission on Employment and Skills to assess whether the Government’s target for apprenticeships is being met, so that the Government can be held to account. There is significant concern among businesses and others that the quality of apprenticeships is being watered down in order to increase the numbers;
  • An amendment which will require the resources which are being dedicated to helping troubled families to be clearly set out;
  • An amendment which will ensure that interventions to support troubled families are focused on helping people into work;
  • An amendment to prevent the Bill restricting Universal Credit for three or subsequent children even when the third child is born before 5 April 2017;
  • A new clause preventing the restrictions to tax credits applying to three or more children where a third child is born as a result of a multiple birth, where a third of subsequent child is fostered or adopted, where a third child or subsequent child is disabled, or where a family with three or more children moves onto tax credits or universal credit in exceptional circumstances – including but not restricted to the death of one member of the family, the departure of one parent or loss of income through unemployment – which would be set out by the Social Security Advisory Committee. It also sets up an appeals process for all cases covered by this clause;
  • An amendment preventing cuts in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for the WRAG group of around £30 a week. People who are in the WRAG group have been through a rigorous test which has deemed them not fit for work, for example because they have Parkinson’s or are being treated for cancer;
  • An amendment requiring the Government to produce a plan to offset the impact of lower social rents on housing associations. Labour supports the reduction in social housing rents, which will help low-income families and bring down the housing benefits bill. However, we must protect against impacts on the ability of housing associations to build new affordable homes and maintain their existing properties;
  • An amendment which subjects the four-year benefit freeze to an annual review subject to changes in inflation.

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226-ed-25-02-2015

BLOG: Chesterfield needs a better plan and a Labour Budget

This week’s Budget changed nothing for working people here in Chesterfield.

George Osborne spent an hour telling people they’ve never had it so good. But after five years of the Tory government, working people are still an average £1,600 a year worse off.

226-ed-25-02-2015The Tories came into office promising to protect our National Health Service, make people better off and balance the books. But their plan hasn’t worked and the Budget said nothing about the NHS. I’m worried that the NHS as we know it won’t survive five more years of the Tories.

The Tory government started Budget day with plans for extreme spending cuts and they ended Budget day with plans for extreme spending cuts which go beyond simply balancing the books.

They would mean deep cuts to police, defence and social care which are almost impossible to achieve. That’s why I believe the Tory plans can only be achieved by putting the NHS at risk and raising VAT again.

That’s what you get from a Tory Chancellor who gives with one hand and takes away much more with the other. The Tories can’t build a better future for working people because they only stand up for a privileged few.

Labour has set out a better plan for Britain’s future; a plan that works for ordinary families, rewarding the hard work they do and saving the NHS they rely on.

So a Labour Budget will raise living standards by increasing the minimum wage and with 25 hours of free childcare for working parents.

We will save our NHS from the Tories with 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 GPs and cancer tests guaranteed in one week, paid for by closing tax loopholes and a mansion tax on properties over £2million.

We will cut business rates for small firms, reduce tuition fees to £6,000 a year and guarantee an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the grades. We will cut taxes for millions of working people through a lower 10p starting rate.

And we will balance the books in a fairer way by reversing the Tory tax cut for millionaires and scrapping the Bedroom Tax.

That’s the Labour Budget we need; a better plan that puts working families first and saves our NHS. Not a Budget flop from a Chancellor whose plan is failing working families here in Chesterfield.

By Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield

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Hospital picture with Toby

Update from Westminster: 19 March 2015

The Tory plan is failing working families

Less than a day after George Osborne delivered his Budget, it’s already unravelling – with the Tories’ plans for extreme cuts, and the risk they pose to the NHS, increasingly clear.

sausagesGeorge Osborne spent an hour telling people they’ve never had it so good. But after five years of the Tories working people are still an average £1,600 a year worse off. That’s why he has failed to balance the books as he promised.

Our National Health Service is in crisis. But George Osborne had nothing to say about the NHS.

The Tories started yesterday with plans for extreme spending cuts. And they ended yesterday with plans for extreme spending cuts.

As the independent Office for Budget Responsibility said, these Budget plans will mean “a sharp acceleration” in cuts to public spending – even bigger after the election than over the last five years. These are deeper cuts which go beyond simply balancing the books. They could only be delivered by raising VAT again and putting our NHS at risk.

That’s what you get from a Tory Chancellor who gives with one hand and takes much more with the other.

The Lib Dems have backed the Tories all the way 

Lib Dem attempts to differentiate themselves from the Tories aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Even Danny Alexander admits the Tories’ record is their own.

Clegg and CameronThe Lib Dems backed the Tories all the way and working families have paid the price. Thanks to the Lib Dems, working people’s wages are down £1,600 a year since 2010 and tax and benefit changes have left families £1,127 worse off.

The Lib Dems and Nick Clegg broke their central election promises and cannot be trusted. Rather than delivering fair taxes they hiked VAT, and rather than abolishing tuition fees they trebled them. The Lib Dems have been part of a government which imposed the bedroom tax while cutting taxes for millionaires.

You can’t trust the Lib Dems. No matter what they say, they share the Tories’ record of failing working people.

So the election remains a choice between a Tory plan which is failing working families and Labour’s better plan which will put working families first and save our NHS.

Labour’s better plan

Labour’s better plan will put working families first and save our NHS:

  • Hospital picture with TobyRaising living standards by increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour and 25 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Saving and transforming our NHS with a £2.5 billion a year Time to Care Fund which will pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and a guarantee of cancer tests in one week.
  • Cutting business rates for 1.5 million small business properties and getting 200,000 new homes built a year.
  • Balancing the books in a fair way by reversing the Tory tax cut for millionaires.
  • A tax cut for 24 million working people through a lower 10p starting rate of tax.
  • And guaranteeing an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the basic grades and cutting tuition fees to £6,000.

Posted in Blog, Featured, NewsComments Off on Update from Westminster: 19 March 2015

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

Surgeries

I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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