I recently visited the Salford Women’s Centre and I was truly bowled meeting the dedicated ladies there. In the face of savage Government cuts to our mental health, welfare and public services, the centre are seeing more and more women being referred to them.
Ranging from survivors of domestic violence, sufferers of post-natal depression, to the most vulnerable who have had vital support cut away. On a shoestring they keep their doors open to all in need and the ladies there work way beyond the call of duty.
It really humbled me to meet such sincere and loving people.
Alongside Salford Councillor Paul Longshaw, it was great to meet first time buyers Laura and Mark at ‘the Firs’ Langworthy this month. The Firs development is a collection of homes for Shared Ownership sale and private rent, a development consisting of two and three bedroom homes. This site has 15 properties for sale and 15 houses for private rent on Fir Street.
Laura and Mark, already living round the corner from the development they told me that "Langworthy has good vibes", and I couldn’t agree more.
I’m looking forward to seeing more exciting things to come from Langworthy in terms of a good housing mix so that this brilliant community spirit is matched with the access to affordable and social housing developments it deserves.
Quite simply one of the best communities in the world - Fact!
Salford City Radio is a risk of closure. If you can help this cracking community radio station please click the link below. It's at serious risk of being lost forever in the next few months unless we save it, and as Salford's only dedicated community radio voice this would be terrible.
It was really lovely to be part of celebrations for the opening of St Luke's C of E Primary yesterday along with Paul Dennett, Bishop of Manchester, Mrs Partridge, pupils old and new and many more. Such a lovely school, and the pupils were so well behaved and entertained us with a sing song.
It has been a great pleasure to visit so many schools across Salford and Eccles since being elected, such as Wardley C of E Primary School, St Mary’s, Oakwood Academy and Swinton High, to name just a few.
The amazing Islington Mill was recently saved from closure after concerns were raised by neighbours about the level of noise from the venue late at night. I am very pleased that this hub of creative and community engagement will continue after people across Salford and beyond, including myself, wrote to Salford Council licencing department in support of the venue.
A 'Save Islington Mill' campaign was launched and supporters including Tim Burgess of the Charlatans spoke highly of the venue as a “brilliant performance space”. Islington Mill is a shining light for Salford, and long may it continue.
Earlier this month I made my first appearance on BBC Question Time. Filmed in Wallesey, Liverpool, I was sat beside David Dimbleby on a panel that included Patrick Mcloughlin MP, LBC host Majid Naavaz and Nick Hewer of Countdown and the Apprentice.
It was a tough night with attacks from all sides, but I had the crowd on my side as it was Patrick McLoughlin who was left to defend the shambolic actions of the Tory Government.
I know that there are a lot of mixed emotions across the country and across Salford about the decision to leave the European Union, especially with the vote being so very close. It is right that people across Salford are contacting me in their thousands to express their thoughts and concerns and I must stress that whatever your position on this (or indeed any other issues) the thoughts and concerns of Salford and Eccles residents are crucial in helping me to formulate the interventions I make.
This is quite simply one of the biggest decisions our Country has taken and now it is up to the Government and indeed, MP’s like myself to voice the concerns of their constituents.
I campaigned to remain in Europe, not because I did not recognise some of its failings, but because I wanted to try and reform them so that the flaws I could see would not outweigh many of the significant benefits we received. My main fear, as I explained at the time, was that Brexit would be used by the Government as an excuse to throw away many of the very positive things we gained from the EU, such as worker’s rights, financial regulation, health, safety and environmental regulations and as a result we would see a system to replace it that acted in the interests of the few not the many.
I do however believe in democracy and I accept and respect the result of the referendum.
I will not be blocking the triggering of Article 50 in Parliament this week as I believe it would undermine the democratic process to vote against beginning the formal process of leaving the EU.
It is now crucial to secure the best withdrawal deal for Britain and that the Government listens to all communities across Britain when it enters into negotiations and indeed acts in their best interests.
I do feel very strongly that the action the Government is about to take must be in the interests of Salford, Eccles, Swinton and Pendlebury and I intend to make sure that the Government hears my views on any deal they seek to strike with Europe. Ultimately I want a Brexit plan that serves the interest of my community, not a Brexit plan that helps this Government build an economic model that serves the interests of a select few, even more so than it does now.
In terms of how the Government is held to account, as you know, the High Court determined that the Government does not have the power to trigger Article 50 without the consent of Parliament, when it comes to legislation Parliament is sovereign.
The High Court decision was upheld after the Government appealed the judgement in the Supreme Court, this decision will now allow Parliament to scrutinise and vote on the deal that the Government wants to put forward.
Labour has stated that the Government's plan must be published in plenty of time before Article 50 is triggered to allow for the House of Commons, the devolved administrations, the Brexit Select Committee and the British people a chance to scrutinise it. There are big issues involved in this that matter to everyone in every part of our country, and I believe the Government must be able to provide clear answers to questions on these issues.
Labour will be putting forward amendments to the Governments proposals this week such as to protect workers’ rights and environmental rights and also to ensure that we can progress a real clamp down on tax avoidance. Labour will also demand a vote in Parliament on the terms of the final Brexit deal before it goes before European Leaders and MEPs.
Our withdrawal from the EU is the most important issue facing our country for generations and it is crucial that we secure the best outcome for all of us.
Hidden behind the news of the Supreme Court Brexit ruling, the Tory government has been quietly rowing back on scrutiny of its own tax and spending plans.
They are doing this by pushing through a revision to the Charter for Budget Responsibility, just 15 months after it was launched by then-chancellor George Osborne.
The Charter for Budget Responsibility is essentially an outline of the government’s fiscal rules. It is a document that has the intention of demonstrating that a government’s own fiscal plans are consistent, watertight and planned well in advance.
In theory, if the fiscal plans put forward are credible, it provides long term stability for business and investors so that they can plan for the years ahead. It also reassures the people of Britain and indeed the markets that the government will secure the funds it requires for public spending and will not attempt to spend excessively.
The credibility of the government’s fiscal plan as outlined in the Charter for Budget Responsibility has however been called into question time and time again.
Labour opposed the government’s updated charter in 2015 as it epitomised the government’s austerity agenda and refusal to intervene and invest in our nation’s future. We said at the time that the targets for tax and spending that it set were unachievable without damaging the economy. That became obvious by the time of last year’s budget, and over the summer the government dropped its main tax and spending target. Yesterday, the current chancellor attempted to seek approval from Parliament to break with his predecessor’s fiscal targets and amend the charter.
Has the chancellor accepted the policy advice of international organisations like the IMF and the OECD, or the CBI and the TUC here in Britain, that austerity is not a credible economic model and that the government’s role is to support investment?
……..No, sadly he has not.
The amendments considered today leave the government still committed to its austerity agenda which has forced misery on the most vulnerable people in Britain and has failed to allow the necessary investment for future growth and prosperity.
It is encouraging that the previous surplus target for 2020 has been ditched and now the government seeks to balance the books at some point in the next parliament. This target meant, bizarrely, that by 2020 the government would be taxing people more than it spent. However, capital (investment) and current (day-to-day) spending are still lumped together and therefore the government’s ability to engage in large-scale investment is significantly constrained.
This is quite the opposite to Labour’s fiscal position: to deliver £250bn of direct government investment over a decade, with a further £250bn mobilised with private sector support through a National Investment Bank and network of regional development banks.
This is simply the scale of investment deemed necessary by organisations simply to put us on a level playing field with other industrialised countries around the world: the government’s own infrastructure pipeline lists £500bn of work to be getting on with. We would reverse decades of under-investment across the country that today mean too much of our economy is dependent on poorly-paid, insecure work.
Labour’s own fiscal rule, its fiscal credibility rule, would also ensure responsible management of the public finances by balancing day-to-day spending inside of five years, and ensuring that debt is falling as a percentage of GDP over the course of a parliament.
But when the economy suffers a shock Labour’s rules can be suspended when the independent monetary policy committee decides circumstances require fiscal policy to work together with monetary policy.
We know the rules contained within the government’s charter do not work effectively – and so does the government, that’s why they’re changing them. But rather than put in place a new fiscal rule that would provide the structure needed to rebuild and transform our economy as we prepare for Brexit, the chancellor has chosen to cut of the oxygen needed to create a fertile environment for business.
It is time he realised that we must forge a new economic destiny that ensures Britain has a prestigious place at the world’s table, not threaten to simply turn Britain into a tax haven.
We need to rebuild those communities who have been left behind for far too long. If anything should have awoken the government, Brexit should.
Those communities who had been starved of investment up and down Britain were angry, and they were right to be angry.
We have endured nearly seven wasted years where investment has been skewed heavily towards the places that already prosper. An economy where the government promises £5,000 of investment per head in London, but just £413 in the North East of England.
An economy where local authorities have lost £18bn of government funding in real terms between 2010 and 2015, with the poorest councils bearing the brunt.
An economy where the government slashes the budgets of vital services such as social care and then asks local areas, to “find the money yourselves” through council tax increases.
We were told that if we pulled together and dealt with the sting of austerity for a while things would improve.
So were these sacrifices worth it? Is the deficit at zero? Have we slashed national debt?
No……the government, on figures out this week, has added almost £700bn to the national debt.
This isn’t just more than the previous Labour government. It’s more borrowing than every single Labour government in history, added together.
We have an economy driven by consumer spending not trade and exports. Even the Bank of England has voiced its concern over the sustainability of this model going forward as much of this spending is fuelled by worrying levels of household debt.
Then we have what the Bank calls a lost decade on earnings where wages have stagnated to the extent that most non retired families have less money now than they did before the financial crash according to the Office for National Statistics.
Productivity growth has stagnated. We know German workers produce the same in four days as UK workers do in five. That is largely because they had governments that invested in industry and infrastructure. We have not.
This is not the soundtrack of a government who is jostling to make us one of the world’s leading economies post-Brexit.
This is a future based on low investment, low productivity, low wage, and little to no public services.
I am a Northern MP and I still recall the Conservative government of the 1980s stripping away industry from our towns and cities. Our communities suffered immeasurable damage and the government back then said that our Northern cities would simply be allowed to enter into a state of “managed decline”.
What we see in the amended Charter for Budget Responsibility, is in reality a Charter for Alternative Facts, which is no better than the steady management of decline.
Household debt is a ticking time bomb for the economy and a huge problem for families but the Chancellor refused to acknowledge this today when I asked him to acknowledge worrying household debt figures released recently.
Both the TUC and the Bank of England’s figures show that personal debt is increasing at worryingly fast levels; it grew 10.8%, to £192.2bn in the year to 30 November and the average household debt was a record high of near £13,000 in the three months to September 2016, even excluding mortgages.
Even the Bank of England voiced concern recently, that the UK was relying upon consumer spending rather than exports and investment to boost growth, which boded ‘poorly’ for the future
People across Salford and Eccles are some of the worst affected in Britain’s ever growing mountain of personal debt. With Brexit looming and all the uncertainty that comes with it, should interest rates rise in the coming months along with inflation, Salford residents may see their debts rise and cost of living increase. It’s a ticking time bomb in my opinion.
We need to be supporting Salford residents and our economy now more than ever, not unnecessarily increasing their debt and preventing economic growth at a local level.
Rising air fares and food prices helped to push up UK inflation to its highest rate since July 2014 in December.
The annual rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rose to 1.6% last month, up from 1.2% in November, the Office for National Statistics said.
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, commenting on the ONS inflation figures, which show CPI has risen to 1.6 per cent in December, up from 1.2 per cent on the previous month, said:
"Today's inflation figures mean people will be facing a squeeze on their pay, on top of the six wasted years of flat and falling living standards under the Tories.
"Working people deserve better than this. The Tories boast about economic growth but our rigged system mean it's an elite who benefit. Only Labour will reform our rigged economic system and deliver pay increases for working people with a Real Living Wage and investment in jobs and skills for the future."