Bedroom Tax vote

Yesterday in Parliament I voted to scrap the heinous and unfair bedroom tax. Labour, who have pledged to abolish the bedroom tax if we win the next election, called today’s vote on this important issue.

The motion read: “That this House believes that the housing benefit social sector size criteria, otherwise known as the bedroom tax, should be abolished with immediate effect.”

It was defeated by 298 votes to 266 thanks to Conservative and Lib Dem MPs, who voted against the motion.

The Tory and Lib Dem Government introduced this unjust policy and it has affected around half a million households across the country. Two thirds of these households include a disabled person.

Like most of this Government’s policies it has hit Liverpool especially hard. My constituency of Liverpool Riverside is the sixth worst affected in the country and 2,430 people have lost out as a result.

This cannot be allowed to continue and a future Labour Government will repeal this abhorrent tax. In the mean time I will do all I can to put pressure on the Tory/Lib Dem Government to reverse it.

Liverpool is tackling Ebola through important research

Yesterday in Parliament I praised the fantastic work that the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health and the School of Tropical medicine are doing to tackle the deadly Ebola virus.

Researchers at the two Liverpool institutions are currently helping to fight the Ebola outbreak in Africa and are working together to understand the spread of the virus and the risks it poses to the UK.

I asked the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt:

Liverpool University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, have done a great deal of work to address the problem of the transmission of Ebola. Does the Secretary of State’s work involve their recommendations, and do his proposals for combating Ebola, particularly as regards international travel, address the issues that those institutions raise?

The Health Secretary agreed with me saying that “we have fantastic research on the spread of infectious diseases at a number of institutions in this country, including in Liverpool, and we are not only using that research in the battle that we are leading in Sierra Leone, but making it available to partner countries leading the battle in other parts of west Africa”.

The full text of the question can be found here: http://bit.ly/1vZPw2S

My calls for Aigburth Cricket Club to be saved

I am calling on the owners of the land in Southwood Road (where Aigburth Cricket Club is based) to withdraw their plans to evict the club on November 15th.

The Cricket and Bowls club, who have been in existence for nearly 130 years, face eviction – having been asked to leave the ground by the owners.

I have been supporting the club and have taken up their case with Sport England and Liverpool City Council.

Sport England say that they would oppose alternative development unless the site was surplus to requirements. Liverpool City Council have confirmed to me that Liverpool currently has an under provision of cricket pitches.

In addition, should the owner wish to sell the land they would be responsible for replacing provision in the area and would have to provide “an equivalent or better quantity and quality of playing field including ancillary facilities within the locality.”

I call for the eviction notice issued on Aigburth Cricket Club to be withdrawn with its requirements for the Club to vacate the Southwood Road site by November 15th.

Sport England and the Council have indicated the difficulties the owner would face if he sought to close the club and develop the land for other purposes.

This situation is causing great anxiety to the many people who use this club.

It is time the uncertainty was removed.

Government must think again on cuts for disabled students

I am very concerned that the Government has not yet completed an equality analysis on its plans to cut Disabled Student Allowances (DSA). This was revealed in the Minister’s answer to my written parliamentary question (June 11th):

Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what impact assessments he carried out on proposals to change disabled students’ allowances.

Mr Willetts: The proposed changes to disabled students’ allowances will be subject to an equality analysis, which will consider their impact in relation to protected characteristics. Extensive discussions are under way with a wide range of stakeholders to help inform this.

I will consider a final version of the equality analysis before any final decisions are made and regulations are laid before the House.

Higher education students can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if they have a:

  • disability
  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia

I have also signed David Blunkett’s Early Day Motion (EDM 48) on this issue. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/48

I have made representations to the Minister. This deserves a major rethink. The government must think again.

No decision must be taken before the equality impact is published and debated!

The Bedroom Tax – One Year On

On the one year anniversary of the Bedroom Tax, Labour has pledged to scrap the Bedroom Tax when it forms the next government, which has hit over 78,000 people in the North West, 26,000 in Merseyside alone.

Since David Cameron’s government introduced the Bedroom Tax low-income households have been forced to find, on average an extra £720 a year. According to the National Housing Federation two thirds of households hit by the Bedroom Tax cannot find the money to pay their rents and one in seven are at risk of eviction.

Some of the poorest households have been hit by this cruel and costly tax on bedrooms. It’s time for the government to ditch the Bedroom Tax.

The next Labour Government will repeal the Bedroom Tax.Image

Turf cutting ceremony at new Royal

Along with Mayor Joe Anderson, Lord Mayor Cllr Gary Miller and Walton MP SteveIMG_0041 Rotheram, I was very pleased to be at the new Royal Liverpool hospital’s turf cutting ceremony on Monday morning. I am delighted to see it now happening.

It has been a long journey to get here, with many dedicated groups playing their part to secure the £429m investment. The city is a step closer to having a new world class hospital in 2017 – an important part of our city’s regeneration.

I look forward to seeing the construction progress.

Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School shortlisted in national ‘win a classroom’ competition

Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Kensington has been named as a finalist in a national competition to win an £80,000 classroom. This morning, I met with Mr Daniels, the Head, and pupils at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Hall Lane about their great achievement in making the final stage of the competition.

The school was selected from nearly 400 schools that entered the competition in the Times Educational Supplement. It will now battle it out against four other shortlisted schools in a public vote to win a bespoke classroom.

Pupils and parents at Sacred Heart Primary produced a short film for the competition, which can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beN7QjWNhAs

The competition was open to all primary and secondary schools in the UK. To enter, schools simply had to explain, in no more than 300 words, why they deserved to win a new learning space.

A panel of four judges selected the six shortlisted schools. The panel included Olympian Rob Hayles; Lord Jim Knight, Shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister in the Lords and consultant on education, technology and welfare; Gail Larkin, National Association of Head Teachers Vice-President; TES Editor and Digital Publishing Director Ann Mroz; and Managing Director of Clearspace Construction Scott Horner.

The judges were impressed with Sacred Heart’s plan to turn the permanent modular building into a ‘love to talk’ classroom to encourage speaking and listening throughout the school, particularly in aid of the many students that speak little or no English. As well as providing much-needed classroom space, it will also benefit the local community by providing a drop-in centre for parents at the school and enable the school to lead ‘baby and toddler’ sessions.

The eventual winner of the £80,000 building will now be decided by a public vote. Voting is now open at http://www.tesconnect.com/building and closes on 27 April 2014.

The winner will be announced on Thursday 8 May 2014.More information about the competition can be found at: http://www.clearspaceeducation.co.uk or http://www.tesconnect.com/building

I hope you can give your support to the school!