Blog

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Helping a Bolton College student with a quiz - May 2017

Like many areas of public service, sixth form education has been hit hard by funding cuts in the last few years.

Many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds find it harder to access this stage of education than they would have under the last Labour Government because of the ending of the Education Maintenance Allowance. Now they are being impacted again as budget cuts are eliminating schemes that address inequality and aid social mobility.

The best 16-19 education includes a range of support to help students, but budgets have been cut back to just the basics of funding an A-level.

Provision of careers advice, employability skills, study skills, mental health support and enrichment activities have all suffered as a result of Government cuts.

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Holding a Q&A with A-level students - October 2017


I recently met with the Principal of Bolton Sixth Form College who told me that the college is putting itself under financial strain to maintain these kinds of services.

However, we know from responses to recent parliamentary questions that there was a £135 million underspend in the 16-19 education budget in the 2014-15 financial year; a £132 million underspend in the 2015-16 financial year; and a £106 million underspend in the 2016-17 financial year.

The figures below show how much funding school sixth forms and colleges in Bolton North East lost out on as a result of the Government’s decision to redirect this underspend away from 16-19 education. (I’ve also included Bolton College and Bolton Sixth Form College, which sit in Bolton South East but are accessed by many students who live in my constituency.) Further information on the underspend, including methodology, can be found on www.supportoursixthformers.org

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Ahead of the Budget I have written to the Chancellor to ask that this underspend be reinvested in sixth form education. This would mean £200 extra per student targeted at delivering the rounded support that helps improve social mobility.

Funding sixth form education

Helping a Bolton College student with a quiz - May 2017 Like many areas of public service, sixth form education has been hit hard by funding cuts in the last...

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Nobody should ever have to go to work fearing that they will be threatened or abused, but for many retail staff this is a regular occurrence.

I am working with the shopworkers union Usdaw to highlight the problems faced by retail staff. Respect for Shopworkers Week runs from 13th to 19th November and seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at staff who are serving the public.

It is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.

Usdaw’s survey of retail workers shows that half of shopworkers were verbally abused in the last year, with 29% being threatened with violence and 8% suffering physical assaults. A third of those suffering physical violence did not report the incident to their employer.

Abuse is not part of the job.

I will continue to campaign with Usdaw to provide shopworkers with the support that they need and deserve. We must give a clear message to everyone that abusing or assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable. Everyone should be able to go about their work free from fear.

I am one of 49 MPs so far to add my name to the following Early Day Motion in Parliament in support of the campaign:

That this House applauds the members and representatives of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers for their Freedom From Fear campaign, which seeks to bring together employers, the police and local authorities to tackle the scourge of violence, threats and abuse against public-facing workers; further applauds the work of all trade unions in running campaigns that seek to protect their members at work; is appalled that public-facing workers are assaulted, threatened or abused; and calls on the Government to recognise the need to extend provisions in law to support the protection of shop workers by imposing an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties.

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Sir David Crausby with Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett - 2014

Keep your cool this Christmas

Nobody should ever have to go to work fearing that they will be threatened or abused, but for many retail staff this is a regular occurrence. I am working with...

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During the General Election I raised concerns that local schools were facing huge cuts to their budgets under the Conservative plans to change the funding formula.

Over the summer, feeling the pressure, the Government announced extra measures that they claimed would fix the problem and help schools. I wrote at the time that the threat had not passed and we needed to see the details.

Now the details are clear. Some local schools won’t be hit as hard under this revised plan, but every single school bar one in Bolton North East will be worse off.

You can see key figures below and if you want more detail visit https://schoolcuts.org.uk

Education is one of the best investments that we can make as a country. I don’t want to see teachers forced to buy school supplies out of their own pockets while class sizes grow and standards fall.

The Chancellor needs to put this right in the budget and ensure all our schools are properly funded.

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Blackshaw School: -£59,913 budget change by 2019. -£288 per pupil

Bolton Parish C.E. School: -£37,873 budget change by 2019. -£183 per pupil

Bolton St Catherine's Academy: -£479,346 budget change by 2019. -£473 per pupil

Brownlow Fold School: -£45,996 budget change by 2019. -£221 per pupil

Canon Slade: -£389,498 budget change by 2019. -£287 per pupil

Castle Hill: £9,807 budget change by 2019. £48 per pupil

Eagley Infant School: -£61,693 budget change by 2019. -£355 per pupil

Eagley Junior School: -£52,433 budget change by 2019. -£223 per pupil

Egerton CP: -£72,086 budget change by 2019. -£331per pupil

Gaskell CP: -£67,619 budget change by 2019. -£203 per pupil

Gilnow C.P: -£52,182 budget change by 2019. -£247 per pupil

Hardy Mill CP: -£62,439 budget change by 2019. -£202 per pupil

Harwood Meadows Primary School: -£50,131 budget change by 2019. -£233 per pupil

High Lawn Community Primary School: -£113,416 budget change by 2019. -£276 per pupil

Holy Infant and St Anthony RC: -£30,545 budget change by 2019. -£153 per pupil

Leverhulme Community Primary School: -£88,068 budget change by 2019. -£216 per pupil

Moorgate School: -£68,287 budget change by 2019. -£257 per pupil

Oxford Grove C.P. School: -£119,747 budget change by 2019. -£312 per pupil

Red Lane Primary School: -£95,164 budget change by 2019. -£226 per pupil

SS Osmund and Andrew's RCP: -£48,003 budget change by 2019. -£134 per pupil

Sharples Primary School: -£22,781 budget change by 2019. -£112 per pupil

Sharples School: -£439,030 budget change by 2019. -£593 per pupil

St Brendan's RC Primary School: -£61,763 budget change by 2019. -£293 per pupil

St Columba's RCP School: -£23,494 budget change by 2019. -£112 per pupil

St John's RC Primary School: -£60,413 budget change by 2019. -£293 per pupil

St Paul's CofE Primary School: -£63,635 budget change by 2019. -£297 per pupil

St. Joseph's R.C. Primary: -£38,120 budget change by 2019. -£185 per pupil

St. Matthews C.E.P. School: -£75,206 budget change by 2019. -£181 per pupil

St. Maxentius C.E. Primary: -£57,957 budget change by 2019. -£260 per pupil

St. Stephen and All Martyrs': -£31,607 budget change by 2019. -£151 per pupil

St. Thomas' CofE Primary School: -£87,019 budget change by 2019. -£275 per pupil

The Oaks C.P. School: -£67,696 budget change by 2019. -£321 per pupil

The Valley Community School: -£63,665 budget change by 2019. -£151 per pupil

Thornleigh Salesian College: -£398,309 budget change by 2019. -£348 per pupil

Tonge Moor Community Primary: -£89,740 budget change by 2019. -£246 per pupil

Turton High School: -£394,543 budget change by 2019. -£330 per pupil

Walmsley C.E. School: -£60,896 budget change by 2019. -£175 per pupil

Bolton's schools face dramatic funding cuts

During the General Election I raised concerns that local schools were facing huge cuts to their budgets under the Conservative plans to change the funding formula. Over the summer, feeling...

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It’s rarely a top priority for people and I don’t often receive correspondence on the issue, but when you push people on to the subject of dental services you hear many of the same criticisms. It’s too hard find a dentist; the available ones are too far away; the local dentist is now private and the fees are unaffordable.

Many people go years without a basic check-up, or have given up altogether on trying to find a dentist.

The figures show that it’s children who are the worst affected by this situation. Recent statistics have shown that 42% of children did not visit an NHS dentist last year. There were 45,224 cases of children aged from infancy up to 19 who needed hospital treatment because of tooth decay in 2016/17.

I’ve been questioning the Government recently over the adequacy of dentistry provision. You can see their full response below, but I find the suggestion that 41% of adults didn’t even try to get an appointment to be striking.

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How could the NHS cope if everyone was as pro-active as we’d like, and is poor provision causing people to stop engaging unless they face a dental emergency? 

What has you experience been of local dentists? Have you struggled to find somewhere? Have you given up looking? I’m interested to hear from local residents on this issue.

Access to NHS dentists

  It’s rarely a top priority for people and I don’t often receive correspondence on the issue, but when you push people on to the subject of dental services you...

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The Government continue to press on with their roll-out of Universal Credit in the face of clear evidence that the policy is pushing people into spirals of debt and poverty.

Only a small number of people are currently claiming Universal Credit but over the next few months this will increase rapidly.

Labour continue to lobby the Government in Parliament, calling for an urgent pause so that the problems can be fixed before any more families or financially vulnerable people are put into serious difficulty.

I have signed the following Motion in Parliament:

That this House is concerned that research from Citizens Advice indicates that over half of claimants of universal credit are in debt, putting huge anxiety and stress onto families; notes that on average universal credit claimants have less than £4 per month to repay creditors and that the system of advance payments immediately puts claimants into debt; further notes that the six weeks initial waiting period and further payment delays for around 20 per cent of claimants increase the number of claimants who have to resort to loans or debt at the start of their claim; calls on the Government to report monthly to the House on the number of full service claimants on universal credit and the numbers receiving their payments in full and on time, and to pause the roll-out for an urgent review of the level of support received under universal credit, the seven day waiting period for which no payment is made, the 63 per cent clawback of earnings, the work allowances which have been severely cut and the support for families with disabled children which has been abolished within universal credit; urges the Government to ensure that households that combine work with support under universal credit can achieve a decent minimum standard of living, that levels of personal debt are not increased and that universal credit is no longer a factor in the projected increase in child poverty; and further calls on the Government to make it a priority to update the 2011 impact assessment on universal credit on the 10 million households that will be affected.

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/381

I hope that this will help to keep the pressure on the Government. We need to see meaningful changes as soon as possible.

Pausing Universal Credit

  The Government continue to press on with their roll-out of Universal Credit in the face of clear evidence that the policy is pushing people into spirals of debt and...

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As the temperature falls and people begin to switch on their heating, energy bills can be a major cause of financial stress.

If you’re looking for a cheaper energy deal this winter you may want to look into the new switching scheme that has been set up for Greater Manchester.

The Big Clean Switch helps local residents to save money by switching to renewable energy providers.

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Around two thirds of homes are guaranteed to save money by switching to the cheapest clean tariff. This is because so many homes are still on standard variable deals with the Big Six suppliers, which have been recognised by the Competitions & Markets Authority as being the most expensive. So it’s worth having a look.

During the pilot of the scheme (the first of its kind) households saved an average of £290 a year compared to their old supplier.

It’s great for the environment too. If just 1 in every 100 homes in Greater Manchester switch to a renewable provider it will be the carbon equivalent of taking over 10,000 cars off the roads.

Visit https://bigcleanswitch.org/gm

All you have to do is pop in a few details about your current deal and usage and it will generate a range of alternatives from clean suppliers and the potential savings that you could make.

There’s no obligation to switch if you don’t want to, but if you like the look of a new deal you’ll be helped through the switching process if you decide to go ahead.

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The Big Clean Energy Switch

As the temperature falls and people begin to switch on their heating, energy bills can be a major cause of financial stress. If you’re looking for a cheaper energy deal...

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Wages in Britain today simply do not match the cost of living. The gap between the richest and the poorest continues to increase and in-work poverty is becoming a major problem all across the country.

The Government branded “National Living Wage” is £7.50 and those under 25 are entitled to less, even when doing the exact same job as an older worker at the same company.

This is not a real Living Wage by definition. A Living Wage is a concept that has existed for a long time. A fair wage that meets the basic costs of living, such as household bills, housing, transport and groceries.

In Bolton North East, 21.3% of workers, 6000 in total, earn less than a Living Wage.

In the North West, this figure is 23.8%, a total of 686,000 people.

This week the Living Wage Foundation have announced their updated figures for the Living Wage based on the current cost of living. People need to make £8.75 an hour just to make ends meet.

If we want to tackle issues like inequality, the high cost of living, and rising personal debt we need to start looking at wage stagnation and make sure low paid workers make at least enough to pay the bills.

Find out more about the Living Wage here.

A wage that meets the cost of living

Wages in Britain today simply do not match the cost of living. The gap between the richest and the poorest continues to increase and in-work poverty is becoming a major...

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Local trains continue to cause headaches for commuters as the fight for improvements continues.

A long awaited upgrade to the line between Bolton and Blackburn was completed last year, which should allow for double the number of services to run through Hall i’ th’ Wood and Bromley Cross stations. Extra services were due last Christmas, but Northern Rail has still not delivered on this. I now have assurances from them that extra services will appear in the May 2018 timetable.

The electrification of the Preston-Bolton-Manchester line has been causing a wide range of issues for commuters since 2014. Not only have the works made commuting difficult at times, overcrowding was made worsened by trains being diverted away from Bolton. Regrettably this project has been delayed yet again. A number of services, including our links to Scotland, can only return to Bolton once electrification is complete. This is now not estimated to be before the May 2018 timetable.

In the last few weeks I have heard from many residents that the service has dramatically worsened. There are issues on the Blackburn line which serves Bromley Cross and Hall i’ th’ Wood.

Two carriage services during peak times is insufficient and people are being left on the platform or forced to share standing space in the toilets just to get on board. The lack of frequency on this line means there are few alternatives if you’re forced to miss a service through overcrowding.

I have written to Northern Rail to raise concerns about these issues, but have not received a reply at the time of writing.

I also contacted Network Rail following suggestions that recent delays to services may be down to a reoccurring signalling issue. You can find their response below.

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I will continue to challenge the Government and local operators over our poor services and fight for improvements. For an overview on my work in the last few years visit www.davidcrausby.co.uk/trains

Local trains overcrowding - update

  Local trains continue to cause headaches for commuters as the fight for improvements continues. A long awaited upgrade to the line between Bolton and Blackburn was completed last year,...

Last month I raised concerns with the Prime Minister about job losses at major firms across the North West.

One of my examples was BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace), who are expecting to lose many high skilled workers.

As a former long standing member of the Defence Select Committee I know how important it is that our armed forces have the best equipment and that our procurement reflects that.

That is why I joined a cross-party group of MPs to sign an open letter to the Prime Minister asking her to protect our defence capability and much needed jobs for the region. http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2017-10-15/prime-minister-urged-to-intervene-to-save-bae-jobs-in-brough/

I fear that if jobs are lost, ultimately skills will be lost. If that is the case, when new aircraft are needed in the future it will no longer be possible for them to be made in the UK.

I met with BAE workers during their recent lobby of Parliament to listen to their concerns and express my support.

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Most recently I have added my name to the following Early Day Motion in Parliament to again raise concerns with the Government over the loss of skilled jobs in the region.

That this House notes the October 2017 announcement of job losses at BAE Systems sites in northern England, such as Brough and Warton; further notes that one reason given for this was the reduction in the level of production of the Hawk aircraft; believes that this will be devastating to local communities and the families of those who have lost their job; further believes that the Government could have saved those jobs by ordering nine new Hawk aircraft for the Red Arrows; further notes the loss of high skilled jobs in other industries such as steel; believes that creating and maintaining secure, well-paid and productive jobs should be the centre of the Government's industrial strategy; and calls on the Government to act to bring more well-paid, high skilled jobs to northern England and to help to retrain those who will lose their job.

Supporting BAE workers

Last month I raised concerns with the Prime Minister about job losses at major firms across the North West. One of my examples was BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace), who...

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In September my colleague Chuka Umunna raised a debate in Parliament on the issue of blacklisting.

As a former engineer and trade union convener I have seen blacklisting first hand and know the devastating effect it can have on people who are just trying to make a decent living for their family. This is a practice that has no place in modern Britain. 

During the debate we discussed the matter of Big Ben and its famous clock tower. The £29m contract for the refurbishment has been awarded to the construction company Sir Robert McAlpine.

Just last year, a number of leading construction companies, including Sir Robert McAlpine, made an out-of-court settlement over blacklisting claims. Some £50 million was paid in compensation to more than 700 workers with union legal costs estimated at £25m.

How the Government spends money and awards contracts can have a major impact on business practices. This arrangement signals that firms who engage in unacceptable practices will not face serious consequences.

We should seek to hold companies to the highest standards if they want to take on public sector contracts. I have backed a motion in Parliament expressing disapproval in the way this has been handled and I hope that the House of Commons Commission will rethink their decision and award the contract to a company with no history of blacklisting.

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/401

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Big Ben and blacklisting

  In September my colleague Chuka Umunna raised a debate in Parliament on the issue of blacklisting. As a former engineer and trade union convener I have seen blacklisting first...

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