Statement from Rebecca Long Bailey MP and Salford and Eccles CLP Chair John Ferguson:
It is with great sadness that we must tell you that Councillor Paul Longshaw passed away suddenly yesterday.
We are shocked and devastated to lose such a good friend and comrade with a heart of gold.
Paul was committed to the Labour Party, a true socialist through and through. He loved people and he loved Salford. His passion was in housing, first as an officer and latterly as a Councillor.
He had a fire in his belly that drove him to work tirelessly improving housing across the city. He believed that a decent, secure and quality home was a human right. He also passionately believed in social housing being delivered in the way Beveridge dreamed - communities should be mixed and diverse, with decent quality social homes being of the same standard as private homes. Solid vibrant communities providing the bedrock of aspiration and quality of life.
Paul spent over two decades working within Salford City Council’s Housing Team, and helped deliver their first fit for purpose Housing Strategy. Not content with the status quo, he could see that homes and regeneration solidified communities and changed people’s life chances.
We know when he began to see the Pendleton regeneration take place he was proud that no one could tell the difference between social homes and private homes sitting side by side. "That's the way it should be" he said.
In 2016, Paul wanted to do more, he wanted to fight against the constraints this Government was putting on this city and its aspirations to deliver for its people. A regular volunteer at homeless projects and night shelters in the city, he was angry at the senseless homelessness on our streets and so he became a councillor for the city he loved in the ward of Langworthy where he had worked so hard to regenerate.
Since being elected to the council in 2016, and serving as Lead Member for Housing he worked tirelessly to demand the funding from Government that Salford and Greater Manchester deserves to provide housing for its people.
Paul was also a committed councillor in representing the people of Langworthy, taking up their issues and concerns.
Politics was not Paul's only passion though. Many of you know him as one of Salford's number one cultural champions. He was proud of our rich musical and cultural heritage, often seen sporting Smith's t-shirts or his favourite Salford Crescent train station t-shirt, he was always encouraging us to go to gigs and plays across the city.
We will miss him and we know that you will too, but the legend of Paul Longshaw will most certainly live on.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
The British economy is less productive today than it was a decade ago. That means for every hour of work done, we make less than we did in 2007. Our pay too is lower than it was a decade ago, with weekly wages buying less today than it did in 2007.
These two damning statistics are linked. We must look at improving pay to increase productivity. Britain’s productivity gap - it takes us five days to produce what France can in four - has many causes: underinvestment in skills, infrastructure and R&D (research and development), limited government support for business and industry, and low wages.
To solve this problem, government must be willing and able to intervene in the economy. Our economy needs infrastructure investment to meet the OECD recommendation of 3.5% of GDP. Our manufacturing sector, which offers workers higher average pay than services, with productivity growth three times faster than the economy as a whole and delivers 68% of business R&D, needs the supportive policies it currently lacks.
The government is failing to create a broad, fertile and supportive business environment that incentivises upgrading of technology and skills, which would improve productivity.
There is wide agreement that we need to solve our productivity crisis to enable employers to pay higher wages. Far less widely acknowledged is that higher wages must be part of the solution to that productivity crisis, as wage growth also provides the spur for firms to develop and use new technologies which boost productivity.
Lifting wages alone will not solve low productivity growth. But if higher wages sit alongside a comprehensive industrial strategy to develop the infrastructure, technology, skills and industries fit for the 21st Century, it will.
Historically, this has been the case. Indeed, Professor Robert Allen argues that Britain’s high wages relative to other countries in the 18th and 19th Centuries fuelled the industrial revolution.
He argues that in the eighteenth century many countries shared characteristics which would have improved the supply of new technologies, such as scientific and technical culture. But only one country, Britain, had firms with the demand, due to having the highest wages in the world, to develop and use new technologies, which led to an upward virtuous spiral of higher wages and higher productivity.
Statistical research looking at more contemporary economies supports this argument. Alfred Kleinknecht, looking at OECD countries over the last 50 years, demonstrates that higher wage growth is linked to productivity growth.
With a comprehensive industrial strategy, this argument could hold for Britain today for at least three reasons.
Firstly, if wages rise alongside a robust support and incentive system for business, then firms will be encouraged to boost investment in new technology and training to ensure workers produce more to sustain their higher wages and also increase the firm’s profitability.
Secondly, firms will substitute capital - machines, buildings etc. - for labour, if wages are high relative to the price of capital. Increasing capital per worker will improve productivity and drive technological progress. Combined with government investment in education and action to incentivise businesses to upskill workers - as Labour are committed to doing through their National Education Service - this process is crucial to creating a high-skill, high-productivity, high-wage economy.
Thirdly, high wages may have a direct effect on workers by motivating them to work harder or stay loyal to the firm. There are three broad areas a Labour government would intervene in to increase wages.
Firstly, we would improve workers’ collective bargaining power, so they can negotiate better pay and conditions. This would be achieved by strengthening employment law and its enforcement, giving unions the right to access workplaces, repealing the Trade Union Act, which unfairly ties the hands of unions, and rolling out setting wages through negotiations between workers and employers across a whole sector.
Secondly, we will boost the wages of over 11 million workers - almost half - through legislation and the public sector. Labour’s £10 per hour Real Living Wage would give almost one in four workers a pay rise. We would also lift the public sector pay cap, improving the wages of an estimated 5.4 million workers.
Thirdly, Labour would create the conditions for businesses to improve wages themselves through greater productivity. This requires government action to increase private and public investment in capital, infrastructure, skills and R&D, giving firms greater access to finance, and providing a fair taxation system that incentives growth such as reforming business rates system.
Britain is lagging behind other advanced economies. Our people are dynamic but that dynamism is stifled, with us all losing out. We must breathe new life into our economy. We can’t do that without supporting the workers, who will drive that process and make our economy fit for the 21st Century.
Labour has that approach, which understands that to increase productivity, we need an active government and a pay rise for workers. Without this comprehensive two pronged approach, we’ll never have an economy that works for the many not the few.
Business – it’s a man’s world, right? That’s what we were historically told by children’s toys and television ads showing girls aspiring to be ballerinas and princesses while boys grow up to be the construction worker or the engineer.
Now we have certainly come on a long way since the gender stereotypes of decades gone by but it is clear that the mismanagement of our economy by this government has affected women disproportionately.
Women have suffered more than men from the government’s austerity agenda and the “gender pay gap” between female and male employees remains stubbornly wide at 18.1 per cent according to the ONS, with more women than men on the national minimum wage.
Indeed a recent report by the Runnymede Trust and the Women’s Budget Group have confirmed that women are hit harder than men across all incomes groups, with BAME women particularly hard hit. Asian women in the poorest third of households will be £2,247 worse off by 2020, almost twice the loss faced by white men in the poorest third of households (£1,159).
We are clear however that there is no way out of this failed economic model without a government that is prepared to intervene in the economy and to put power in the hands of people and their local communities.
During the general election we announced our industrial strategy designed to do just that – and to create a million good jobs over the course of the next parliament.
We stated that we would rebuild and transform the British economy with an industrial strategy centred around three pillars: national missions to tackle the biggest challenges facing the modern world; cross-cutting policies to create a fertile ground for business activity; and co-operation between employers, workers and government at a sector level to strengthen existing industrial strengths and cultivate new ones.
Unlike the Tories, whose industrial strategy green paper amounted to little more than a cobbling together of existing policies, our industrial strategy has real teeth. It will be powered by our national investment bank and national transformation fund, which together will provide the investment our economy so desperately needs.
Our plans for a national education service would mean that everyone could retrain and re-skill at any time, particularly benefitting women who may have been culturally steered away from certain career choices or had caring or other responsibilities which prevented them studying.
We also advocated taking a more active and collaborative role in the economy, working with employers and trade unions and using all available policy levers to create the industries and high paid high skilled jobs of the future.
This is an industrial strategy for a richer, fairer Britain. One that recognises that redistribution isn’t enough; job quality and work satisfaction also matter. That it matters where growth comes from and who that growth benefits. One that creates greater wealth in our country and makes sure that everyone has a fairer share in that wealth.
Jess Phillips, chair of Labours women’s parliamentary Labour party was recently quoted as saying that industrial strategy had nothing for women, being all about “men with shovels”. She was clear that she was not talking about Labour’s industrial strategy however and quite right too, because we are proud that the team leading Labour’s industrial strategy consisted largely of women, spearheaded by a female shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy – a lawyer – and a female shadow minister, an engineer.
The government’s industrial strategy could however be guilty of the aforementioned accusations, focussing on just a few handpicked sectors – targeting only 10 per cent of our manufacturing base and only 1 per cent of the whole economy, according to research from Sheffield Hallam University.
The government’s strategy doesn’t even mention major sectors such as retail and hospitality, despite their importance to British economy. The retail sector employs more people than any other in the UK, and has a far higher rate of female employment than traditional manufacturing. We’ve pledged to found a new Catapult Centre for retail, which will help to drive productivity and wages across the sector.
In terms of infrastructure and construction – the construction and engineering sector is a major part of our economy, and investment in infrastructure benefits people of all genders across Britain. Labour’s manifesto pledged massive investment to transform the infrastructure we all rely on, from better transport links and faster broadband connections to cheaper energy. In stark contrast all we seem to get from government are re-announcements of the same investment pledges and indeed the shelving of major infrastructure projects such as the electrification of rail lines.
It is true however that more men would be employed in “shovel-ready” construction projects than women: in the housebuilding sector, for instance, only 12 per cent of employees are women. It is clear that we should see this as an invitation to break down sectoral gender segregation by supporting more women to become engineers and construction workers.
More broadly, Labour is putting forward policies to enhance the autonomy and economic freedom of women in the workplace. Our plans to expand childcare and extend maternity pay will allow mothers to re-enter the workplace earlier, if they want to, and we have also pledged to enhance worker’s rights and strengthen protections against unfair redundancy.
Crucially, our plans for a real living wage of £10 an hour and a maximum pay ratio in the public sector will disproportionately benefit women, who are more likely to be in low paid work. According to the ONS, 61 per cent of people earning below the living wage are women.
Many of our female colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party are doing great work making women’s voices heard in every sphere of political and economic life. From fierce advocacy for survivors of domestic violence, to the treatment of women in the workplace, to the access women have to NHS services and much more, women’s issues are an increasingly prominent part of the political agenda.
We are clear that women’s issues are not separate or detached from the broader questions of how our economy works.
To achieve real economic equality for women, we need to redistribute wealth and power – the historic mission of our party.
Woman with dementia praised by David Cameron 'has benefits cut by Tories because she can care for herself'
One of the most shocking cases to come through my office recently. Joy Watson, amazing Salford Dementia campaigner, praised by David Cameron for her work has had her disability benefits cut. Absolutely shameful!
“It is disgusting to hear what Joy and her husband are having to go through. Not only having to adjust their lives with the continuing degenerative condition that dementia brings, but to have the safety net of Personal Independence Payments and Carers Allowance pulled from under them.”
“I have written to the DWP and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to request they look again at the decision made. Unfortunately, having seen so many cases come through my constituency office this is not a rare case. “
A woman with dementia once praised by former Prime Minister David Cameron has had her benefits stopped over claims that she can care for herself.
Joy Watson was forced to give up her job as a carer after she was diagnosed four years ago and is unable to manage her own medicine or cook because she forgets to turn off the gas.
The 58-year-old and her retired husband Tony are now struggling to pay their bills after the Department for Work and Pensions decided she was able to look after herself.
Joy, who is receiving £400 less each month, was left stunned when her benefits were stopped, telling the Manchester Evening News that dementia is a progressive disease and her condition will only get worse.
Tony can’t understand how anyone could think she could look after herself, saying that she forgets her words, can't even hold a cup of tea properly and mixes up vital medication if she manages it on her own.
He and Joy have worked hard to show people it is possible to enjoy life with dementia and help others.
They worry now that their efforts to keep Joy well and living the best possible life have led directly to the benefits being cut. They have been told it is likely to be next year before a tribunal will hear their appeal - leaving them in a desperate situation.
Speaking haltingly as she struggles to remember the right words, Joy said: “I had to give up the job I loved and I don’t see any sense in this decision. I feel really as if I’m being penalised for trying to live well, I don’t think [the system] is geared up for understanding people with dementia and their needs.
“They don’t see me when I’m fretting, when I can’t do the thing I want to do.
Joy used her own difficult experiences whilst out shopping to create a booklet for staff in shops and banks and gave one to each business in Eccles, signing up hundreds to a dementia friendly scheme.
Although she tries to live as independently as possible Tony says Joy is unable to look after herself. When she has tried to cook she has forgotten to turn the gas on, or not put water in the pan with vegetables and most worryingly she also forgets to turn the gas off.
A couple of years ago she went away with a carer for a few days and took her evening pills in the morning leaving her like a zombie all day.
Tony said: “The assessment lasted about an hour and Joy did not move from the sofa once.
“She struggled to remember her words, her hands shook and although we explained she can’t make meals because she forgets to turn off the gas and she can’t manage her medicine - she mixes up her evening and morning tablets - their report said she is able to look after herself.
“I have tried to help Joy to be as independent as possible, to live as well as possible, she has always wanted to help others and I believe that going out and talking to people about dementia has kept her brain working - it is her passion and we are so proud of what she has achieved.
“Joy is an amazing woman and she has worked so hard to keep herself well - she looks great, people can’t always tell she has dementia and I can’t help feeling if she had sat on the settee and stagnated, we would be getting all these benefits now.”
Last year Joy was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Salford, and was recognised with the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award.
At the time the former Prime Minister had said: “Since being diagnosed with Dementia, Joy has worked tirelessly to help people understand how we can all support people in our communities with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
"She is an incredible ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, reaching a huge number of people and businesses with information and advice that will help them join the dementia Friends movement. I am delighted to recognise Joy’s service by making her the UK’s 457th Point of Light.”
Rebecca Long Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles, and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, said: “It is disgusting to hear what Joy and her husband are having to go through. Not only having to adjust their lives with the continuing degenerative condition that dementia brings, but to have the safety net of Personal Independence Payments and Carers Allowance pulled from under them.”
“I have written to the DWP and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to request they look again at the decision made. Unfortunately, having seen so many cases come through my constituency office this is not a rare case. “
She called on the government to “urgently review” their policy of assessing those with dementia and stopping benefits for months leaving many with little or no money to live on.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Anyone that disagrees with a decision can appeal.”
People may get the daily living part of PIP if they need help more than half of the time with things such as preparing or eating food, washing, bathing and using the toilet, dressing and undressing, reading and communicating.
Meanwhile Joy is trying to remain positive, throwing her energy into a plan to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research by riding the longest zipwire in Europe.
Great launch for Salford Youth Day yesterday, and it's clear to see we have so many inspiring young people in Salford. There were great speeches from our youth MP, Youth Mayor, and still young but not enough to be in the Youth category: Lisa Stone, Paul Dennett and Peter Connor. Great singing from Taylor Evitt and brilliant dancing from the Urban Angels dance group.
Also lots of fun to play twister with Salford young carers and Cllr Lisa Stone and see our youth MP play pie face against Paul the Mayor, lol
Months on from the general election and still no sign of the Prime Minister's energy cap election pledge....
Today's announcement of a review shows the Government’s procrastination when it comes to reforming the broken energy market. Homes and businesses face a bleak winter ahead with soaring and unfair energy costs. They need action and the delivery of a clear election promise not another review!
Ofgem's recent watered down price cap proposals went nowhere near the promise made by the Prime Minister to adopt Labour's principle of a price cap and last week’s energy price hikes clearly showed the Government would be nowhere near implementing their election promise anytime soon.
Let's remember Theresa May pledged unequivocally to knock £100 off the bills of 17 million customers.....not a review...
It does seem that reports of senior cabinet members and the big six energy companies lobbying the Prime Minster to drop the price cap commitment are correct.
Stopped by the Brilliant Ordsall Festival on Saturday. Thank you to all who organised it and to Cllr Tanya Burch and Labour members who manned the Labour stall.
As well as the Labour stall, there was a stall for Salford Unemployed Resource Centre, manned by the legendary Tapps and Paul Kelly, and I even had time for a quick blood pressure test at the community health stall.
Was great to meet workers constructing the Ordsall Chord recently and get a tour of works as they take shape.
It looks pretty impressive and is just a snap shot of the type of upgraded rail infrastructure we need to see delivered across GM to provide the rail network we deserve.
I was also pleased to see that some of the on site engineers were ladies.
Labour's Rebecca Long-Bailey on why she fears key manifesto pledge could be quietly dropped
Shadow Business Secretary says she was unconvinced by the Tories' manifesto vow to cap bills - and now it's in danger of being axed
Staggeringly, in one of the richest nations in the world, more than 4 million people are living in fuel poverty across Britain.
Ofgem confirmed recently that energy bills account for 10% of spending in the poorest households, compared with just 5.5% in 2004.
So imagine my surprise when the Theresa May called for Labour’s energy price cap to be implemented during her general election campaign.
In the run-up to the 2015 election her party had attacked Labour’s price cap policy as “extremely dangerous” and coming from a “Marxist Universe”.
Yet there she stood in 2017, a ‘born again price cap convert’.
Historically, if you’re a Big Six energy company then the Government’s bark is worse than its bite.
So I was decidedly unconvinced of this apparent ‘road to Damascus’ style conversion by Theresa May.
Fast forward to the present time and it seems that the Tories are back to business as usual.
Various media outlets reported recently that Senior Cabinet members and the Big Six energy companies were ‘lobbying’ for the Conservative Price Cap Manifesto commitment to be dropped.
Clearly their chosen election gimmick didn’t win them the majority they so craved, so why should they carry on pretending to care about struggling households and businesses?
The much heralded post-election letter of manifesto demands from Business Secretary Greg Clark to Ofgem simply asked for details of the action Ofgem intends to take in relation to safeguarding those on poor value tariffs.
Somewhat deliberately silent, it seems, on the big price cap issue.
Suspicions were compounded further last week when Prime Minister ‘refused’ to confirm ‘unambiguously’ that the price cap would be upheld when questioned during her Queen's Speech contribution.
Today in this sea of ambiguity, I asked Mr Clark across the floor of Parliament whether ‘he’ would implement the promised price cap - to deliver 17million customers the £100 savings his Prime Minister promised.
To this he could simply have said ‘yes’.
Instead, after an awkward interlude where he praised Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity at Glastonbury, he spoke around this issue but made no commitment to his party’s price cap manifesto promise.
It would appear therefore that there has indeed been a significant U-turn of the Tory party position.
This suggests a weak Prime Minister who is unable to push through her own commitments - and that the recent speculation in the media that the Big Six energy firms are lobbying for watered down commitments seem to be well founded.
The Tory party is once again surrendering to big energy business interests at the expense of real people who are suffering with rising energy bills.
They’ve proven to bill payers across the country that they cannot be trusted and that they cannot deliver.
The Grenfell Tower fire is a tragedy that should never have happened and has shocked the whole country. The Governments priority must be to ensure those who are affected by the fire are given the support they need now and in the years ahead, including rehousing in their local area. The government has eventually committed help for those affected, and I will be monitoring progress closely in the period ahead to ensure that those who have lost everything are not let down again.
My priority in Salford and Eccles over the last week has been to immediately ensure that those living in high-rise residential buildings are safe, and there are urgent checks being done across the city by the fire authority, council and housing associations. Salford as a Local Authority area has confirmed that the number of high rise blocks owned by Housing Association Partners is in the region of 43. I have been liaising closely with both the Local Authority and Housing Associations over the last week to ensure that urgent fire safety checks are being carried out at all blocks, that residents are being informed and reassured and that a full and urgent assessment of the materials used on the exterior cladding of buildings as well as materials within is carried out. I am assured that this is currently being carried out across the city. I am also ensuring that any direct fire safety queries from residents are being picked up urgently by the relevant Housing Provider so please do urgently send me any other specific issues or concerns you may be aware of so that I can make sure they are dealt with.
In terms of the latest updates, a Greater Manchester Task Force of Housing providers, local authorities and the fire authority has now been set up to monitor fire safety checks across the whole of Greater Manchester and I also understand that whilst testing is being carried out in Salford and Eccles, a 24 hour visual guard response is being implemented at all blocks that may be at risk to ensure regular checks are being carried out on all floors, both to reassure residents and to ensure safety until the results of such assessments are clear. I am assured that checks will be frequent at least one every hour and where there is a security guard on site thy will check all floors regularly.
In addition to what is being done in Salford and Eccles, the Government has also asked all housing providers to assess cladding and fire safety in all blocks urgently and to provide that information to Government. It is my view that Ministers should publish these results to reassure residents urgently and to make directions to ensure public safety immediately.
I am still awaiting the full assessments from Housing Providers but whilst tests are carried out I have been made aware this week that some blocks are clad with an aluminium polyurethane composite. Whilst I understand that they may differ from that used at Grenfell tragedy and I have been assured of tenant safety by housing providers that all fire checks have been robustly carried out, I want total assurance of safety immediately and I have written to Government requiring an immediate and robust response from Government.
Labour supports a public inquiry to get to the bottom of how this disaster happened, and to hold those responsible to account, but we cannot wait months or years for a report. You will see that I am urging the Government to take immediate action now and to provide the funding for Housing Providers in Salford to carry out immediate works to retrofit sprinklers and to assure funding for any works required plus support for tenants once the findings of assessments is clear.
Ministers need not wait on the findings of any new inquiry to act. Coroners’ reports sent to the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2013 provide clear recommendations for improving the safety in high–rise residential blocks, important parts of which were ignored or rejected by Ministers. This includes the retrofitting of sprinklers into high-rise blocks and overhauling building regulations as Conservative Ministers promised to do in 2013, but have still not done. Ministers should now act immediately on these recommendations which they have had for four years.