Liz writes October 2019

“People before privilege” was the theme of last week’s Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
We announced bold new policies including putting the final say on Brexit back to the people, rolling out a new national living wage that extends to young people aged 16 plus, and a radical green new deal for Britain, so we can lead the way in tackling climate change.
Our annual conference is a bit like a big family get together. We come together once a year to celebrate everything we share in common, we argue passionately for our deeply held beliefs and rows do, at times, break out.
Of all the parties, Labour’s conference has always been the most dramatic, but that drama flows from democratic debate as we thrash out ideas of how we can take our country forward in the years ahead. We are, after all, a “broach church”, with over half a million members from all walks of life.
One of the areas our whole family agrees on is the urgent need for a social care service fit for 2019 and beyond. The Government’s complete failure to publish their white paper on social care, promised over the last three years, demonstrates that they are not up to the job of delivery.
While the Tories are set to cut taxes for the wealthiest in society, Labour announced last week that our next government will create a National Care Service, with record investment in free personal care to support older people to live independently with dignity and security. We will ensure more people can access help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals in their own homes and residential care.
With nearly £8 billion taken from council budgets for social care since 2010, we now have one million people not getting the care they need. 87 people die each day waiting for care and more than five million unpaid carers are looking after family and friends.
So, we’ll address the funding gap in social care and support local authorities to directly provide, rather than outsource adult social care. That means more accountability and a better use of public money, rather than the private sector model that has failed to provide decent care for many of our vulnerable people in favour of profits for shareholders.
Currently, only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care. People with dementia face the highest costs for care. Labour’s plans will more than double the number of people receiving state-funded care and reduce the number of people facing catastrophic costs for their care.
Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions, reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.
As part of the National Care Service, We will raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts, ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time; end 15-minute care visits; and improve access to training and development for care staff.
We will put an end to the culture of overworked, underpaid care workers who are only allowed ten minute visits to those they care for. The current system simply isn’t fit for purpose, and is sucking money out of the system and into offshore tax havens. It simply can’t go on.
Nothing is more important than dignity in retirement for those who have built our country and given younger generations the world we live in today. Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour.
Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system. Our National Care Service will be universally available for all who need it.

Youth Parliament debate on Religious Education

36884113_2142674362679830_8912681558725361664_nThis afternoon I chaired a debate on the teaching of RE in schools.

Young people from across the country, including a group from Whickham School in my constituency, have come to Westminster to debate issues around religious literacy.

They have debated the right to withdraw from RE lessons, challenging extremism and whether there is still a place for the study of RE in a modern, secular society.

I’m pleased that MPs have joined us to listen to such an eloquent and stimulating debate.

Thanks to NATRE, RE Today and the RE Council for organising such an informative and challenging session.

36816470_2142674462679820_4919997428272201728_n

Gateshead School Catering is best UK performer for the second year in a row!

Gateshead Council’s School Catering Service has been singled out for the second year running as the UK’s top performing school meals provider by the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE).

Liz said “It’s great to see our council winning awards such as this. It shows the dedication of the 350 members of staff who provide more than 11,000 nutritionally-balanced meals every day in 80 primary and secondary schools across Gateshead and beyond.

In our 2017 manifesto, Labour rightly promised to bring in universal free school meals for all primary school children, and make sure no child is held back because their access to a good school meal is hindered by their background.”

Visit to St Joseph’s Junior School in Birtley

Liz visited St Joseph’s Junior School in Birtley this morning as part of Parliament’s Education Service and the North East outreach programme.

Liz said “Thank you to staff and pupils at St Joseph’s Junior School in Birtley this morning for such a warm welcome. There were so many fantastic questions from key stage 2 pupils about being an MP and how Parliament works.”

Further real-terms funding cuts for schools

NEU

Commenting on the Education Secretary’s statement to the House of Commons on the new schools National Funding Formula, Liz Twist MP for Blaydon said:

“Today’s announcement shows the Government has yet again failed to address the real issue at the heart of our schools; that there simply isn’t enough money going to schools in the first place. At the recent General Election school cuts came up time and time again on the doorstep, with many parents and teachers concerned that many schools were struggling to cope with the increasing demand and reaching a tipping point.

“The Education Secretary has now confirmed that, despite a record number of pupils in schools and inflationary pressures, there is no new money going into the system, meaning a real terms cut for schools.

“Schools across Blaydon constituency face real uncertainty about the future. Head teachers cannot be expected to make further “efficiency savings” when they are already struggling to set school budgets. Heads need to be able to plan for the future and this announcement gives very little detail about funding beyond 2020.

“This broken promise shows the true extent of Tory contempt for pupils, teachers and parents, many of whom are still waiting for new schools to be built seven years after the school building programme was cancelled. Only a Labour government can be trusted to reverse the school cuts and invest in our young people, to make sure that every child is given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”