After an extremely hectic first term in Parliament, the summer recess allows me more opportunities to get out and about in the constituency and I am making the most of the time available to me. This week, I have had a busy and varied agenda, beginning with an invitation from Lancashire Fire and Rescue service to attend the presentation of the Prince’s Trust awards. The event was held at Burnley Football Club and celebrated the achievements of a group of young people aged 16 years to 24 years, collectively known as Team 44. The young people had successfully completed a twelve week training course that involved a variety of challenges designed to build confidence, develop new skills and enhance employment opportunities. Both collectively and individually the young people had overcome initial difficulties and were all able to give a good account of themselves. I was very impressed and I wish them well in their future careers.
I met with the Chief Executive of the East Lancashire Hospital Trust on Friday and was able to raise a number of concerns on behalf of my constituents on a range of health related issues. I want to ensure that the people of Burnley and Padiham get the very best treatment from the NHS whether that is at their GP surgery, Burnley General, Blackburn Royal or any of the other regional hospitals that routinely provide specialist care for Burnley people. I will always campaign for more and better services to be available at BGH and of course I will be vehemently opposing the Trust’s proposal to consider removing the Fracture Clinic from Burnley. There are serious ongoing concerns about the cuts in funding to the NHS. This year the health service has a funding gap of £30 billion. The Government have promised to provide £8 billion of that but have not as yet identified where this will come from. This still leaves a shortfall of an eye-watering £22 billion. This will obviously have implications for staffing and inevitably for patient care. I will monitor the situation closely and keep you informed.
The recent Welfare and Work Bill has caused a commotion in Parliament and beyond, and much has been made of the fact that the majority of Labour MPs abstained on this vote. Of course I can only speak for myself. I was absolutely outraged at the majority of the Government’s proposals and I look forward to working with a new Leader to defeat them and to prevent them from becoming law. I could not, though, bring myself to vote against the creation of real apprenticeships, which could bring such benefit to the young people of this town. One has to ask why these two issues were deliberately mixed in one bill.
Please be assured I strongly oppose the changes to the tax credit system, the benefit freeze, the derisory 1% pay rise for public servants, the scrapping of maintenance grants for less well- off students, the cuts in work related benefits for those suffering with cancer and other serious illnesses and so much more. Furthermore, I was disgusted to see the Chancellor introduce a new National Living wage hat is less than the current level and those under 25 years old are not even to get that! Some might say that there was a deliberate attempt to hoodwink the public into thinking that they are trying to help working people. These measures taken collectively will hit the poorest, the most vulnerable and low paid in Burnley and Padiham very hard and I will fight them tooth and nail.