Six months ago I wrote about my concern over the sudden closure of Chorley Accident and Emergency. Sadly it is still closed to this day, with the hospital trust blaming staff shortages and an inability to effectively recruit.
This week 80 people from Chorley and the surrounding areas travelled to Parliament to make their voices heard. The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, claimed he had no time to meet with them, but I joined Lindsay Hoyle and a selection of other MPs to listen to their concerns.
I met people who were clearly passionate about their local community and rightly feel they should have access to essential services. It is shameful that they have been left to feel abandoned by our NHS and by our Government.
The closure of Chorley A&E adds pressure to already stretched services across the region, including here in Bolton. We already have a high demand for services and this will increase over the winter months, the added pressure of displaced people from other towns will only make matters worse.
If one Trust feels it cannot find enough doctors to function it may only be a matter of time before other services close for the same reason, unless the Government listens and takes action.
Thank you to all of those campaigners who took the time to come to Parliament on Monday. You have my support and I shall continue to work with my colleagues around the region to push the Government to re-open A&E as soon as possible.
Six months ago I wrote about my concern over the sudden closure of Chorley Accident and Emergency. Sadly it is still closed to this day, with the hospital trust blaming...
You may recall that earlier this year I wrote about my concern over the Government’s plans to cut housing benefit, to the detriment of supported housing schemes.
Since then I have met with several housing providers to find out more about the possible effects of this policy here in Bolton. I know from my casework that older residents often struggle to find housing that meets their additional requirements, and the uncertainty caused by this policy puts at risk any future investment into the housing projects needed to meet this rising demand. Many other specialist schemes, like housing for teenage single mothers who need extra help, could be at risk of closure.
In Parliament, Labour have opposed the changes and called for a total exemption for all social housing schemes from the Local Housing Allowance cap. Opposition-led debates in both January and July forced the Government to delay the plans and rethink.
This week we heard further concessions from the Government. Social rents being linked to LHA has been pushed back again, to 2019. While housing benefit will no longer cover the extra costs that come with supported housing, a new ring-fenced “top-up” funding scheme will be created and managed by local authorities.
It is good that the Government are beginning to recognise the problems that this policy would cause for the supported housing sector, but this still isn’t good enough.
The lack of detail about the “top-up” system suggests that this could be a confusing extra layer of bureaucracy which hurts funding for providers and creates instability for tenants.
Funding is key as well. The Government has a record of ring-fencing funding for a specific purpose, handing it to local authorities, and then cutting it to the point where Councils can no longer meet demand. Given that George Osborne originally designed the cap as a way to cut money in the budget it’s a real possibility that this “top-up” concession will not be properly funded.
The Government need to clear up this uncertainty. People who have suffered domestic abuse, veterans, older people, disabled people, the homeless, former offenders, veterans and young people leaving care are all being put at risk without a clear package of support.
Labour will continue to hold the Government to account over this, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in this policy to take part in the upcoming consultation.
You may recall that earlier this year I wrote about my concern over the Government’s plans to cut housing benefit, to the detriment of supported housing schemes.Since then I...
There have been some huge political events this year that have dominated the headlines but I’d like to highlight a campaign that you may not have heard about which could have a big impact on women across the country.
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is a group set up to lobby on behalf of women born in the 1950s who are subject to rapid short-notice changes in their state pension age.
It has long been planned to equalise the pension age of men and women. However, in order to save money, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government opted to accelerate this process in 2011. As a result, women born after April 1951 are discovering that they will not receive their pension when they expected and have a limited amount of time to make alternative arrangements.
This Friday (16th Sept 10am) WASPI is holding a demonstration outside Manchester Town Hall to highlight the campaign. Many women are only now realising what the Government’s policy means for them, so it is important to spread the word that pension ages are changing. Over 99,000 women will be impacted in Greater Manchester alone.
If you think that someone you know may be affected you can check the new pension entitlement age here.
While I agree the equalising the state pension age is the right thing to do, it is unfair that this group of women will be penalised and transitional arrangements must be put into place as soon as possible.
Labour has put forward six different options for the Government to consider and has forced several votes in the House of Commons, but the Government still refuses to act.
As well as voting to support those affected I have been lobbying the Minister responsible for this on behalf on my constituents. If you have any concerns about your pension as a result of the Government’s position then please get in contact with me and I will be happy to raise your case with the Minister.
There have been some huge political events this year that have dominated the headlines but I’d like to highlight a campaign that you may not have heard about which could...
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