A fantastic turnout at today’s march and rally, where hundreds of parents, children and campaigners took to the streets in support of the fight for the five campaign to save Salford’s five ‘outstanding’ nurseries.
It was amazing to welcome and speak alongside Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who spoke passionately about how important early years provisions are to children. I read a statement from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn who gave his support to the campaign; and heard speeches by parents, nursery workers, union officials, Salford Mayor Paul Dennett, and local MPs Barbara Keeley and Graham Stringer.
Government and ministers must now listen, and act to help Salford Council save these nurseries.
The takeover of GKN by Melrose could mean the break up of the company which could risk U.K. jobs, skills, national security and technology.
Three months after the collapse of construction giant Carillion, with its billions of pounds of public sector contracts, the Conservative government has been lacklustre in its response.
Before going bust, Carillion had issued three profit warnings in the months leading up to its demise. It was a company clearly in trouble. Yet, following these warnings, the government went ahead and awarded nearly £2bn worth of additional public sector contracts to Carillion despite the government’s own strategic risk management policy dictating that entirely the opposite should have occurred.
In the aftermath, news about the mismanagement of Carillion by a small group of executive managers continues to emerge. Its financial directors are set to be investigated by the accounting watchdog, and last month it was revealed that bosses believed that paying into the firm’s pension deficit was a “waste of money”.
The revelations are indicative of the reckless corporate culture that was allowed to develop and of a Tory government either too distracted or, worse, deliberately ignoring bad behaviour.
The government failed to answer serious questions.
Today, Greg Clark had the opportunity to explain what the government was doing to help the sub-contractors, many of them small local businesses. But no clear answer was forthcoming – rather it was a display of ducking and diving to the questions posed by the select committee.
Why, despite these numerous profit warnings, did they continue risking taxpayers’ money by awarding contract after contract?
Was the government really oblivious to the gross levels of mismanagement and general lack of regard shown by senior managers and shareholders, who protected themselves at the expense of the workers?
Why after Carillion’s collapse did the government fail to protect the pay, conditions or pensions of workers on Carillion contracts? Over 1,500 people have already lost their jobs, with more still unsure as to what the future holds for them. Thousands of pension holders are still in the dark as to what will happen to their hard earned pensions.
Sub-contractors were being mistreated again and again by Carillion and exposed to extreme risk. Both the Federation of Small Businesses and SEC Group warned that Carillion was transferring risk to the thousands of small business within its supply chain. Why did the government take no action?
Despite the government’s own 30-day payment procurement policy and the Prompt Payment Code, the company doubled its payment period for business in the supply chain to 120 days. Now many are at risk of bankruptcy.
The future of corporate governance
Carillion’s collapse has shown that it is not simply the Tories’ privatisation dogma that risks lurching our public services from crisis to crisis. Their approach to corporate governance has been deliberately silent, underwhelming and damaging.
For too long the Tories have turned a blind eye. Scandals such as the collapse of BHS and Carillion showed how the future prosperity of a company and its workforce can be sacrificed for the sake of a quick buck. In both of these instances, the government failed to step in, even as the warning bells rang time and time again.
Labour understands the urgency of the situation. We launched our own review into corporate governance earlier this year to question the big challenges that must be addressed. It is about time the government stops waxing lyrical with the rhetoric and plays catch up.
Government’s Taylor review response did virtually nothing to tackle the challenges and insecurity for the self-employed
The Government’s response to the Taylor review did virtually nothing to tackle the challenges and insecurity self-employed people face. Leaving gig workers such as Deliveroo and Uber drivers without their basic employment rights.
There are real fears, that despite the Prime Minster's repeated assurances, that the quality of work will worsen still, with reports that the Cabinet Minister's are pushing for major employment law deregulation as we exit the EU. Today I asked the Secretary of State for Business if his department is looking into the deregulation of our hard-won worker's rights.
He failed to answer the question.....
Research by the Labour Party has found that Conservative failure to take action to stop electricity and gas firms raising prices has cost British households nearly £1,000 in extra energy costs over the past seven years.
Today, I spoke at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference to discuss Labour's industrial strategy and the challenges facing business, such as Brexit, and the deep-seated problems in our economy.
We must not fall into the trap of believing that Brexit is our only economic challenge, or that things were just fine with the UK before 2016. They were not. There are deep-seated problems with the UK economy such as low productivity and a lack of investment in our infrastructure. Labour will solve these challenges by securing a jobs first Brexit and a robust, ambitious, locally centred and mission orientated industrial strategy that sees a true collaboration between business and government.
Today being International Women’s Day we remember we still have a long way to go before we achieve true equality. When 86% of Tory austerity cuts have fallen on women, domestic violence shelters are closing at an alarming rate, the gender pay persists, sexual harassment is rife and women are still underrepresented in business, in Parliament and across public life.
We must all come together, men and women, to finally achieve true gender equality, for all women, regardless of their class, race, ethnicity, disability or sexuality.
We must remember that the energy price cap is simply a sticking plaster and that there is a much deeper problem with the UK’s energy system that needs to be addressed.
Over the past few months report after report has detailed the unfairness of the current system but it must be noted that the final bills consumers face are not simply an issue of supply company manipulation.
The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit found last year that the six Distribution Network Operators made an average profit margin after tax of 32% a year between 2010 and 2015, equating to £10 billion over six years.
At the same time shareholders have received £5.1 billion in dividends, half the net profit generated and £13 per household per year.
Citizen’s Advice last year calculated that network operators including the National Grid had made £7.5 billion in “unjustified” profits which, in their opinion, should be returned to consumers.
This is quite frankly exploitation of a natural monopoly. This is not a market and there is no competition.
The Labour Party has been clear that it will not allow this exploitation to continue. We will radically reform the UK’s energy system not just tinker around the edges and if the Government is serious about protecting consumers we expect them to do the same.
On Saturday 17th February I attended the public meeting with City Mayor Paul Dennett, Salford Labour Councillors, Union members, and hundreds of concerned residents and parents to discuss what can be done to campaign against the proposed closure of five nurseries across Salford, and what can be done to find a solution.
Whilst listening to the nursery staff who spoke, it was clear that they care passionately about the care they give children there and that this is more than simply a job. It was also clear from those parents who spoke that the quality of these nurseries are exemplary and they form a vital part of the fabric of our community.
I am extremely concerned that these five nurseries, which are rated ‘Outstanding’, could be forced to close, leaving hundreds of families having to locate places at private nurseries elsewhere, and leaving dedicated nursery staff without a job.
At the meeting I pledged my full support to the campaign and confirm that I will do anything I can to raise this issue and demand the relevant funding from Government.
On the 21st of February 2018 the 90 day consultation period was suspended so that these actions can take place and as I understand it the position is to halt the consultation for at least 30 days. I will be closely monitoring the progress, and liaising with all parties involved to offer any assistance that I can with the campaign. It is sad to say that I believe this campaign to save the five nurseries is likely to be the first of many against cuts to services over the next few years as the council faces further Government cuts in many other areas.
Since 2010 the Tory Government has taken £186million off Salford City Council; 47% of the budget, which is decimating local services and jobs. The council have already confirmed that Salford have been unable to apply for the government’s flexibility funding due to the eligibility criteria set by the Department for Education. It is clear that the current government does not believe in the public provision of public services, and cares not for the impact to our communities. This ideology is what has driven them to reducing local authority spending in Salford, and across the country.
Enough is enough, we've got to stand together and make sure we fight as a community and show that we're not going to take this lying down.
If you would like to contact me about anything specific that I can help with, or anything you need me to raise please do not hesitate to get in touch at Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I met with GKN workers to discuss the potential takeover of GKN by Melrose. The fortunes of GKN are threatened by this potential takeover and there are wider implications for our industrial strategy and defence capability and its workforce.
Worryingly the basis of the Melrose business model is to dismantle a business and try to sell each part off, indeed the motto of Melrose is “Buy, improve and sell". The Government cannot just sit back and allow for such takeovers to go ahead without appropriate investigation.