A response to the 2018 Budget

In politics words matter a lot. Less than a month ago Theresa May delivered her leaders’ address to Tory party conference, in which she proclaimed, “A decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off.” Chancellor Philip Hammond echoed Mrs May earlier this week in his Autumn Statement, saying, “austerity is finally coming to an end”.
In both speeches, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor indicated that cuts in public spending, begun under David Cameron and George Osborne, would soon be over and that those who have suffered the most over the past ten years will finally see relief.

Their words were nothing more than cynical, spin politics and by the end of the Autumn Statement the truth had been revealed, that this was just another budget full of broken promises and more punishing cuts.

It is simply shocking that after eight years of gruelling public sector cuts, stagnant wages, a health and social care crisis, a rising cost of living and the national debt double the size, the Government is still hell bent on defending their indefensible austerity programme. And to add to the misery they are eluding the British people with half-truths, smoke and mirrors.

In response to the Autumn Statement the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) confirmed that under the Government’s plans, austerity is set to continue for years, with further cuts in essential public services like local councils, police, and prisons.

I agree with IFS Director Paul Johnson, when he said, “If I were a prison governor, a local authority chief executive or a head teacher, I would struggle to find much to celebrate. I would be preparing for more difficult years ahead.”

The lowest moment for me was the Chancellor’s crass remark about providing £400m cash for what he called the “little extras”. We all know the huge pressure Head Teachers and their staff are under. With pupils numbers and school on-costs going up its getting harder and harder to provide great education with real terms budget cuts. So it was no surprise to see #LittleExtras trending as teachers took to Twitter to vent their anger at this Government.

Back at home I was delighted to see that four of our local heroes were honoured at the FACT (Fighting All Cancers Together) awards dinner on Tuesday evening. England keeper Jordan Pickford, TV’s Colin Briggs, Marian Adamson whose family developed Ramside Hall and Geordie comedian Bobby Pattison were awarded special honours by the charity for their contribution to our region.

FACT, a charity which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is based in my constituency. Joanne Smith, their charismatic Chief Executive, started the organisation when she was recovering from Cancer with two young children and couldn’t find support services. Ten years on and Joanne is running a charity providing all manner of support, from therapies and counselling to fitness classes and wig fitting. They have already delivered 9,000 support sessions across the region this year.

But in addition to the day to day running of the charity, Joanne has a big vision for the future of cancer support in our region. She plans to build a state of the art support centre with people living with all forms of cancer, survivors and their families on the former Dunston Hill Primary School site.

The “Big Build” is an ambitious project, but one that will provide vital support for local people and their friends and families affected by their diagnosis – and it needs a big response from all of us to make it happen.
If you’d like to know more about this exciting project or can support in any way, visit fact-bigbuild.co.uk.

Liz discusses the World Transplant Games in Parliament

 

The World Transplant Games is due to take place in Newcastle and Gateshead in 2019. The highly emotive games are a celebration of a second chance of living life to the full. The Games demonstrate the success of transplant surgery and promote the need to raise public awareness of discussing our wishes with our families and increase organ donation.

With this in mind, I asked the Culture Secretary what support he is giving the games, and urged him to give the best possible support he can. Whilst the Culture Secretary told me he was happy to support the Games, I will be following up with him to ensure that we get all the support we can from government.

You can find out more abut the Games here: http://worldtransplantgames.org/

Liz chairs the latest APPCOG meeting

APPCOG

 

Last week I had the pleasure of chairing the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG).

We looked at recent research, which found that those living in fuel poor and vulnerable households are more likely to be victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. The prohibitive costs of heating homes means that not only are they more likely to engage in dangerous behaviour – like using kitchen hobs or ovens to heat their homes, or not getting their appliances serviced as they can’t afford it. They are also often living in precarious housing situations where they feel like they cannot challenge their landlord or are hard to reach by professional services. If their vulnerability is health related, they are also more likely to spend more time in the home, increasing the likelihood of long-lasting effects from low level exposure.

It was troubling to hear some of the experiences people have had with this. I was therefore glad to have the opportunity to discuss what more can be done to help those worst affected by this. I’m look forward to more opportunities to work with APPCOG in the future, and hopefully help those who need it most.

 

Liz questions cuts to Northumbria Police

 

Yesterday I asked the Home Sectretary about the cuts to Northumbria Police.

Since 2010, Northumbria Police have had funding cuts of £140m and lost 1000 jobs. They now face an additional cost of £11m. I therefore asked if the Home Sectretary if he had pressed the Treasury to fund this cost before more police jobs are lost.

We need to fund our Police properly. They are already too stretched as things stand.

Third meeting of the APPG on PKU

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This afternoon we had the third meeting of the APPG on Phenylketonuria (PKU). It was great to discuss the updates in both NICE and NHS England’s appraisal of PKU drug Kuvan, which is still not available on the NHS.

We also discussed the problems many PKU patients are having in getting their essential dietary products prescribed by their local CCGs. I will be writing to CCGs nationwide about this.

I will continue to fight for PKU patients! I hope in the near future we will finally see Kuvan available on the NHS, and also see dietary products more readily available for patients.

Big Lottery Fund drop-in – Birtley

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We had an excellent drop-in session with the Big Lottery Fund last Friday in Birtley. The fund have been keen to inform local organisations in the constituency of the funding opportunities available to them. It was an excellent to see so many interested constituents attend.

I will be hosting another drop-in session with the Big Lottery Fund on Friday 2nd November, 10:00-12:00, for those unable to attend the first session. This will take place in Blaydon Library.

For more information on the funding opportunities available to local organisations, follow this link:

https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/…/national-lottery-awards…