I recently visited Bellerive school to see their new bus service – The Green Bus.
Congratulations to Bellerive school for this imaginative initiative. I hope this is a great success.
The service helps students to get to school at a reasonable cost.
I have now been informed that the new Lark Lane Post Office at number 65 will open on Monday 29 April.
This is welcomed news and the branch will be a great benefit to the area.
I am very concerned about the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations which will come in to force on the 1st of April.
Labour tabled a fatal motion against the original regulations in the House of Lords and asked an Urgent Question in the House of Commons. Following strong opposition, the Government announced that the regulations would be re-drafted.
The regulations have now been revised by the Department for Health but offer little improvement and will have the same impact. Labour is calling for the regulations to be annulled.
I have received many representations from constituents and I have signed EDMs on this important issue.
I voted against the Health and Social Care Bill when it was debated in Parliament. I did not accept assurances made by ministers that the Bill would not lead to privatisation of the NHS. These regulations will drive competition in to the heart of our NHS.
There are concerns that a decision not to put services out to tender could lead to a legal challenge by a commercial provider. This is likely to encourage services to be tendered to avoid such litigation.
I will continue to press the Government and fight against plans for privatisation. It is clear that the Tory/Lib Dem Government cannot be trusted with our NHS.
I have intervened in the dispute concerning the “refurbishment” of Aigburth station and proposed demolition of the pitched roof shelter and wrought iron columns.
The works were due to take place over the next few days but Network Rail have telephoned me to say that this will be put on hold pending a meeting on site this Monday (25th), 11am.
This is an important opportunity for local residents to make their views known and I will be present.
I am concerned about the impact of the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ on Liverpool Riverside. From April 1st those in social housing deemed by the Government to have an ‘extra’ bedroom will lose 14% of their housing benefit unless they find a smaller home to move in to. This policy risks homelessness and poverty.
The Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ is unfair and two thirds of households hit are home to someone with a disability. National Housing Federation figures show that in Liverpool Riverside 2,920 will be hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ losing on average £728 per year. Riverside is the fourth worst affected constituency in the country as a result of this unfair and retrospective tax.
I have made continued representations to Ministers on this issue and have signed EDM 984: Under-Occupancy Penalty and the Vulnerable which notes that withdrawing housing benefit from social tenants with unoccupied bedrooms will hit the poor, the vulnerable and the disabled hardest and penalises parents with sons and daughters in the armed forces living at home. I have also attended meetings in Liverpool and in Parliament with social landlords who are very concerned about this.
It is important that its implementation is closely monitored so that we can continue to campaign for change.
I am very concerned about the impact of drastic Government cuts on Merseyside’s Fire and Rescue Services. Strong lobbying by Merseyside MPs and the Fire Authority prevented the cuts being even deeper.
The current Merseyside Grant cut for 2013/14 is 8.7% and will be cut by a further 7.5% in 2014/15. Merseyside received the worst Grant settlement in the country for the last two years, this cut was twice the national average.
The Fire Authority has already had to make £9.2 million of savings in the last two years and will now have to make a further £10 million of savings over the next two years.
It is deplorable that the scale and depth of Government cuts mean that front line services will now be affected. The Fire Authority has announced that the budget cuts will come from £7 million in back office and support services and £3 million from emergency response. More than 140 jobs, 90 of these firefighter posts will be lost as a result. All of the fire stations will be kept open but the number of fire engines will be reduced.
Our fire and rescue services play a vital role in our communities and it is appalling that Government cuts are having a substantial impact on front line services.
I have raised the issue of the unfair cuts on a number of occasions with the Government and met with representatives from the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. I will continue to fight against further cuts to secure a fairer deal for Liverpool and Merseyside.
The Campaign to End Child Poverty last week published a report which shows that 42% of children in Liverpool Riverside are living below the poverty line, the fourth highest level in the country.
The table shown here is a breakdown of the statistics for each ward in the Riverside constituency.
The report highlighted the struggle facing families in a city hit hard by Government cuts and it is reprehensible that more than 2 in 5 children live in poverty.
On the 23rd January 2013, I challenged the Prime Minister on this, asking:
The Government’s welfare Bill will plunge 200,000 extra children into poverty, and children in places such as Liverpool are already suffering. Yet the Government want to make the poor go away by redefining poverty. Does the Prime Minister really think he is going to get away with that?
What I would say to the hon. Lady is that the introduction of universal credit is going to reduce the number of children living in relative-income poverty by around 250,000. Those are the figures.
On the issue of welfare, we face a clear choice. Given that in-work benefits have gone up by 20% over the last five years compared with just a 10% increase in wages, we believe that it is right that welfare benefits should not continue to go up ahead of wages. I note what Labour have done this week: great sound and fury, voting against the Bill and saying it is completely wrong, but completely refusing to reverse it. That is the complete policy vacuum that we face from the Labour party.
Liverpool is being hit disproportionately by Government cuts, with the City Council’s budget reduction amounting to £329 per person compared with an English average of £160. We face a toxic package of cuts – cuts to local services, council tax benefit, housing benefit and the bedroom tax. I will continue to press the Government on this issue and to speak up for the people of Liverpool.