I am sure many have seen the heart breaking images of the 3 year old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi whose body was swept up on a beach in Turkey. Words cannot describe how harrowing this image was for anyone to see.
But this is just one image. Thousands of men, women and children have lost their lives this summer fleeing their home country in order to save themselves and their families, only to be crammed into unsafe boats and trucks by people traffickers who have no regard for their lives whatsoever.
So far the response from the Prime Minister and the Government has been a disgrace. With the 2500 people estimated to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this summer, Britain has taken in just 216 Syrian refugees. This is a humanitarian crisis of a colossal scale and as a nation we cannot stand by and watch.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, recently called on David Cameron to take in 10,000 refugees. I am 100% behind her plans and call on the Prime Minister to act now rather than look on by as he has done all summer.
This is not an issue of being politically popular. It is our duty as a nation to look after human beings, provide refuge for those who need it, and to do everything we can to help put an end to this humanitarian disaster.
Save the Children are running a Syria Crisis Appel. Donations can be made here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/emergencies/syria-appeal?sourcecode=A12022054&utm_campaign=syria&utm_medium=ppc&utm_source=pss1&sissr=1
Paula Sherriff MP is launching a competition to identify Dewsbury constituency’s best export, which will be showcased alongside the best exports of other parliamentary constituencies as part of the Exported by Britain Campaign.
“Exported by Britain” is a campaign jointly run by the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) and the All-Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group (APDIG). The APDIG and APMG will expand on the success of their previous project, Made by Britain, which asked MPs to nominate an object or product manufactured in their constituencies. It attracted over 300 nominations from across the country.
The government has been repeatedly warned that it will miss its target of doubling exports to £1 trillion by 2020. A recent warning from the Cross-Party Public Accounts Committee on 17th January suggested that the UK’s export economy is lagging behind its French and German competitors partly because SME’s here are not receiving adequate support from the government.
Paula said: "The Dewsbury constituency is rich in manufacturing and innovation. I have had the pleasure of visiting many of our small and medium enterprises (SME’s) but there are many more that I would like to visit in the coming months. I am looking to nominate a manufacturing or creative industries export for the @exportedbybritain campaign. Our SME’s need to be put on the map and their voice heard by a government who is not doing enough to support them."
Paula Sherriff, MP for the Dewsbury constituency, has criticised retailers operating in hospitals who are charging up to 90% more for various items than in their high street stores.
It has been revealed that high street traders such as Marks & Spencer and WH Smith, who have stores in hospitals all over the country, are ripping off patients and hospital visitors. Recent research showed that items such as bottled water, sandwiches and stationary are considerably more expensive in hospital stores in comparison to the same items on the High Street. For example a 750ml bottle of water costing £1.00 in a WH Smith store in Leeds City Centre is marked at £1.89 at Pinderfields Hospital.
Paula who has recently launched a campaign for Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to drop proposals to charge Blue Badge holders for parking said:
“I will be raising this issue in parliament when I return after recess. It’s a case of the most vulnerable being exploited once again. Nobody chooses to be in hospital, either as a patient or visiting a loved one, and these retailers are taking advantage of a captive audience.”
The Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospital Trust commented to the BBC that pricing policy was a commercial decision by WH Smith.
Paula said “I am not accepting that the Trust should wash its hands of this issue. Whilst the retailers are a private entity the Trust should take responsibility when issuing contracts on how these companies operate.”
The company with the largest apprenticeship scheme in our region welcomed Paula for a tour of their factory this week.
Roman Blinds Direct received an award from Kirklees Council earlier this year in recognition of their unrivalled work in giving local young people a first step on the career ladder.
The company’s spokesman said: “It was brilliant to have Paula on site, chatting with our apprentices and seeing the operation in action. She seemed really passionate about what we’re doing here. It’s great to have our local MP so enthusiastic about our business!”
Paula spoke with members of staff during her visit:
"I was pleased to attend the impressive premises of Interior Goods Direct at Grange Moor yesterday. This business started off as a small enterprise and now employs nearly 200 staff as one of the UK's leading blinds manufacturers.
“I was delighted to hear that the company are making significant investment into our young people by offering quality apprenticeships and was able to chat with some of those apprentices during my visit."
"Offering apprenticeships is key. It's important that all young people are working towards their vocation, rather than just university."
“It is crucial that apprenticeships are quality, and that people are learning about all aspects of the business, going forward, we are returning to young people going into more and more apprentices and learning valuable skills.”
“Apprenticeships offer support and advice, and are the link between employers and young people. They are bridging the gap between young people and businesses.
“I left school when I was 18 and got a job. I’ve worked in the police and as a Victim Support officer and in the Health Service. I have a strong work ethic.”
“I’m always in awe of the fine work of businesses like this one.”
Let’s put an end to foul pay in football and in every workplace!
The football season kicked off this weekend all over the country. We all know that footballers, particularly in the Premiership, get paid some astronomical salaries. Each year there is much speculation around the transfer deals and salaries being offered, but little does anyone question the working conditions of those behind the scenes of a club, in the office, the catering staff or those staffing the turnstiles.
Some may know that I am a proud Trade Unionist, which is why last weekend I was delighted to have been invited to a five a side football match sponsored by my Union, the GMB. The event was designed to highlight the "End Foul Pay" campaign amongst football league clubs.
It is estimated that there are around 450,000 people in Yorkshire earning less than the living wage and it is therefore vital that these clubs set an example, particularly to our young people, and pay the grounds staff, catering staff, office staff etc a fair days pay for a fair days work. After all, the football matches wouldn't go ahead without their input.
An Early Day Motion 355 has been submitted that I have signed. It calls on all football league clubs to pay their staff a living wage.
Obviously it’s not just football clubs who are not paying a fair wage to their employees. It is an issue all over the country in the private and public sector. Kirklees has one of the highest proportions of people earning below the living wage in the whole of Yorkshire & the Humber.
Woman and part time workers are disproportionately affected. 26% of jobs held by woman and 42% held by part time workers pay less than the living wage. This only adds to the misery of many women who are already losing thousands of pounds in tax credit cuts.
A living wage benefits everyone in society. Better pay means the welfare bill is reduced, employers benefit through staff loyalty and higher productivity and the economy grows due to people having more money to spend.
Government departments and local authorities need to set a bench mark and be living wage employers. Currently there are just 82 councils in England and Wales paying or committed to paying their staff a living wage. If local authorities pay their staff a living wage and have policies in place ensuring the procurement of services of companies they commission pay a living wage then living standards will rise.
Better pay and working conditions from rights to paid holiday, maternity leave and ending child labour are all things we benefit from thanks to the Trade Union movement. This government is determined to destroy that. Trade Unions represent everyday workers and fight for a fair deal in the work place. As a committed Trade Unionist I will fight tooth and nail against the Trade Union Bill which is the biggest attack on workers’ rights in a generation. I will always fight for fair pay and the rights of workers.
Paula's open letter to Stephen Eames (Mid Yorks NHS Trust) regarding the closure of the Coronary Care Unit at Dewsbury Hospital
Last week Paula met with her local Dewsbury Barclays Bank branch to discuss a number of issues. Topics discussed were an apprenticeship scheme, paying the living wage, and investment in small and medium enterprises to help rejuvenate Dewsbury town centre.
Before the General Election, the Chancellor said that within 100 days of a Conservative Government, Dewsbury would become an Enterprise Zone. Dewsbury becoming an Enterprise Zone means that new businesses and businesses that choose to move premises will be exempt from paying business rates for 5 years.
Paula said, “It is now 90 days since the election, so the Government has 10 more days to fulfil this pledge, and yet there has been no sign of progress. The local Dewsbury branch of Barclays are ready and willing to help Dewsbury town centre, I just hope the government don’t let us down again. I will continue to push the Chancellor to make good on his promise.”
Paula has written an open letter to Stephen Eames, Chief Exec of Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust expressing her disappointment over the handling of the changes to parking charges.
The changes which came into force on Saturday 1 August will see parking charges rise, payment to be made on exit and most controversially the implementation of charges to disabled blue bade holders. Local MPs and the media were only alerted of the changes less than 48 hours before they came into force meaning that most patients would not have been aware prior to attending the hospital this weekend.
Paula commented: “I am extremely disappointed by the manner in which I was informed of these changes. To receive information such as this, which will have a huge impact on many of my constituents, with less than 48 hours’ notice is completely unacceptable.
“I have requested a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Trust and have let my feelings known on how the situation has been handled. I do not support the implementation of hospital parking charges for blue badge holders regardless of the Trust’s deficit.”
You can read the content of Paula’s letter to Stephen Eames here:
In the last few weeks we have seen another broken manifesto promise from the Government, this time a dramatic U-turn coming from Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
A key promise in the Conservative manifesto in May, to cap care costs for the elderly, has been shelved less than three months into the new Parliament.
On top of the disappointing and utter shameful treatment of the electorate, the fiasco is estimated to have cost tax payers £100 million. Not only money wasted on advertising agency fees, but it has been reported that countrywide, already cash strapped local authorities had been implementing new IT systems and training staff in anticipation of the now shelved reforms.
Having worked on the front line of the Health Service for over 13 years I was recently elected onto the Health Select Committee. The first committee meeting took place shortly before Parliament went into recess earlier this month where I was given the opportunity to question the NHS Chief Executive and Chief Nurse on the astronomical fees which have been spent using agency staff and management consultants. Since 2011 there has been an increase in spend on agency staff from £1.8bn to £3.3bn across the country, locally the spending has risen from £91,000 to £1,250,000 in the same time period within the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust.
Furthermore there is also the scandal of the increase in the use of management consultancies. It is alleged that the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust could have spent up to £11 million over the last five years on management consultants such as Ernst & Young. Upon questioning the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, he informed me that whilst new contracts would be capped, existing contracts would have to be honoured.
The amount of money being spent on agencies and management consultancies is alarming. Serious questions need be asked as to why our NHS doesn’t have the nurses it needs and why we need to spend millions on external consultants to make decisions for us. Is a public sector pay freeze and stripping out the so called bureaucracy really saving tax payer money and providing a better value NHS?
Our NHS workers are amongst the hardest workers in society. Doctors, Nurses and other hospital staff work long hours under incredibly stressful conditions and their input should not go unrecognised. Since being elected as your MP I have undertaken ward walks at Dewsbury Hospital, day and night and have witnessed first-hand the great work being done often in pressurised circumstances. I have been heartened in recent weeks to see the overwhelming public support for them spread across social media including the #ImAtWorkJeremy campaign which went viral on twitter following the Health Secretary's misleading comments suggesting weekend hospital staffing levels lead to higher death rates.
Prior to the General Election I promised that I would always stand up for Dewsbury Hospital and the NHS and I will continue to hold this Government to account to ensure a better deal for all us within the Dewsbury constituency.
Voting against the wishes of my own party was not something I envisaged myself doing when I was elected as MP for Dewsbury 11 weeks ago. This was an incredibly difficult decision and not one that was taken lightly. The Dewsbury constituency has pockets of high levels of deprivation and child poverty and ultimately I had to make the choice to stand up for the people I was elected to represent. To abstain would have been letting many of my constituents down.
Tax Credits are in the main an ‘in work’ benefit. They were introduced by the last Labour government and have been proven to improve the lives of millions of families.
The Government are proposing multiple measures to cut tax credits, amongst them to limit child tax credits to two children only. Child Tax Credits as the title suggests are intended for the child and the costs incurred for raising that child. A child does not choose when to be born so why should a third or fourth child suffer as a result.
George Osborne has appealed to, in his words, ‘progressive’ Labour MPs to vote with the government on the Welfare Bill. I however do not see anything progressive about taking away from low paid working families at the same time as cutting taxes for large corporations.
I agree that we need to bring down the deficit and national debt. However I don’t agree that it is a fair or responsible to transfer the nation’s debt onto that of a low paid household. It also doesn’t make economic sense when trying to grow an economy, that working people have less money to spend in it.