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I hope you are well. As usual, I am resuming my e-newsletters to you with updates about the work I am doing in the constituency and in Westminster to represent my constituents of Brightside and Hillsborough.

As always, I continue to hold regular surgeries to hear about constituency matters affecting you and if you have any issues you would like to bring to my attention please do not hesitate to email me at gill.furniss.mp@parliament.uk.

 

Carillion’s Collapse: a badge of the Government’s failed ideology.  

This week saw the shocking collapse of Carillion, one of the biggest services company in the UK.

It has been clear for months that Carillion has been in difficulty but the Government continued to hand over contracts to the company even after profits warnings were issued.

Labour calls on the Government to bring these crucial public sector contracts back in-house in order to protect Carillion’s 20,000 employees, supply chain companies, pension holders and British taxpayers.

Read Shadow Business Minister, Rebecca Long Bailey’s piece on Corrillians collapse:  https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/01/carillion-issued-3-profit-warnings-so-why-was-it-still-getting-government

Carillion has a base in Sheffield employing some 250 people, so I understand some of you may be directly affected by their collapse. I asked the Cabinet Office Minister a question in the House of Commons relating to these jobs. Whilst I was given some assurance that in the short term this office would remain as it is, unfortunately, there was no such reassurance for the long-term of the Sheffield office.

There is a website set up to provide information for anyone affected – see http://www.pwc.co.uk/carillion  and a dedicated helpline – 0800 063 9282.

Please call The Pension Advisory Service (TPAS) on 0300 123 1047 for free and impartial guidance if you are worried the Corillian collapse will affect your pension.

 

NHS Winter Crisis

This winter has seen one of the worst NHS crises’ on record.

More than 75,000 patients, including many elderly and frail, were stuck in the back of ambulances for over 30 minutes in the winter cold this December and January. A&Es were forced to turn patients away 150 times, elective operations have been cancelled until mid-January, and sanctions on mixed sex wards have been suspended.

Despite the best efforts of all NHS staff working flat out at what is an extremely difficult time, the Government continues to starve the NHS of resources: district nurses have been cut; walk-in centres have been closed; 15,000 beds have been cut; and the NHS remains understaffed and overstretched.

I believe the Government is entirely out of touch with the reality of the NHS winter crisis. Many hospitals have reported 100% bed occupancy rates, yet on Monday the Government said that there were “seats to sit on” if beds were not available. Placing sick patients in chairs because of acute bed shortages is clearly not acceptable, yet hospitals cannot cope and are being forced into these intolerable situations.

With 100,000 vacancies across the NHS, alongside the biggest financial squeeze in its history, patients are paying the price for Ministers’ neglect of the NHS this winter. As the NHS enters its 70th year, the Government must explain why it has allowed underfunding and cuts to health and social care to continue.

End Car Parking Charges

Vulnerable patients and hardworking staff should not have to top up hospitals to make up for Tory underfunding in our NHS. This week, I raised the issue of NHS car parking charges, urging the Government to properly fund the NHS so that patients and staff don’t have to top up the gap in NHS funding.

Read the full article here: https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-mps-call-for-free-hospital-parking-in-row-over-charges-1-8948023

Holocaust Memorial Day

This week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Brightside and Hillsborough and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.

Steel

Last week, the Taxation (Cross Border Trade Bill) made it’s way through its Second Reading in Parliament. However, the Bill offers no protection to our steel industry against Chinese dumping which was at the heart of the steel crisis which shook the sector only a few year ago. We will keep pressing the Government to ensure that effective trade defences are in place post-Brexit to protect our steel industry from aggressive steel dumping.

In other steel related news, last week there was an incident at Scunthorpe steelworks. I spoke to trade union officials who reassured me that there were no injuries or great damage – but I was reminded by the often dangerous conditions our steelworkers can find themselves in.
For further details, http://www.scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk/news/scunthorpe-news/emergency-services-called-incident-scunthorpe-1039235#ICID=sharebar_twitter

 

WE ARE LIONS-play about the Grunwick Dispute at the Lantern Theatre.

 

You can see all information here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/FEFKKK

 

In the news…
We’ve had very worrying news about the NHS Winter Crisis and Doctors are saying that we have people dying in hospital corridors.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/11/nhs-patients-dying-in-hospital-corridors-doctors-tell-theresa-may
Locally, thousands of Sheffield children could lose access to Free School meals due to Universal credit.
https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/thousands-of-sheffield-children-could-miss-out-on-free-school-meals-1-8941746
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YEMEN

On Monday, the Minister for the Middle East made a statement on the
humanitarian and political situation in Yemen, and the implications of the
conflict there for regional security.

Twenty-one million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance and seven million are one step away from famine. Yemen imports 90% of its food andthree quarters of that comes via the ports at Hodeidah and Salif.

Following an attempted missile attack on the Saudi capital Riyadh by Houthi rebels on 4 November, the Saudi-led coalition temporarily closed Yemen’s ports. This was to strengthen the UN-mandated arms embargo amid reports that Iran has provided the Houthis with ballistic missiles.

I unequivocally condemn the missile firing and understand the Saudis’ anger over it.  However, the strengthened blockade risks making an already dire humanitarian situation even worse, as supplies of food,medicine and other humanitarian goods have ground to a halt. Water and sewerage systems in major cities have also stopped operating because of a lack of fuel.

The Minister expressed deep concern about the situation in Yemen and called on all parties to ensure immediate access for commercial and humanitarian supplies through land, air andsea ports. However, as the crisis in Yemen keeps getting worse, I believe we need urgent action, rather than yet more good intentions from the Government.

In my view, if the Government cannot show its influence with the Saudis by persuading them that ports should be opened up to humanitarian supplies then it is time for a change of approach. I believe it should suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, pending the outcome of an independent, international UN-led investigation of potential violations of international humanitarian law on both sides of the conflict. The Government should be taking appropriate action to bring this conflict to a peaceful, negotiated resolution.

BUDGET 2017: a Tory Government out of touch with reality 

Wednesday’s Budget offered nothing to tackle the issues that matter most to people in Brightside and Hillsborough.
Crucially, there was no increase in spending for our vital public services. The Chancellor provided no extra funding for mental health services facing higher demands; no mention of how to cope with the social care crisis; and not a word about helping our struggling police services which since 2010 has seen a 36% cut in funding in South Yorkshire.

With our NHS struggling to cope in the coming winter months, the Budget did not provide near enough the levels of funding so that our NHS has the resources it needs to provide an excellent service within the waiting time targets. NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens has said £4bn is necessary immediately to sustain the levels of demand – yesterday’s announcement did not come close to this.

While the Chancellor cracked jokes with his fellow Tories, the Budget was unraveling the dire reality about the state of our economy: lower projected growth, faltering productivity, lower wages and rising debts. This is the record of Tory austerity.

There was a lack of energy and real direction in this Budget. It is clear only a Labour Government will provide the investment needed to support our public sector and get our economy growing sufficiently.

The Chancellor has not done near enough to stop the misery that the current rollout of Universal Credit is causing.

The Government are still offering a desperate choice to those moving on to Universal Credit– wait 5 weeks to receive support or take a Government loan, going further into debt to make ends meet.

Labour is calling on the Government to pause and fix UC. In particular, we are calling on the Government to:

i.          Reduce the six-week wait for payment, so that it lines up with the way people are paid, with all applicants to receive fortnightly payments if they so choose.

ii.         Ensure everyone has the opportunity to have their rent paid directly to the landlord, to stop the spate of pre-emptive eviction notices that we are now seeing.

iii.        Allow households to have split payments instead of just one going predominantly to the male, so setting back women’s financial autonomy.

iv.        Change the monthly assessment for self-employed workers to a yearly one, to account for volatile working patterns.

v.         Restore the work allowances slashed from UC in 2015.. Hammond should also end the freeze in social security payments, and ensure all children are supported through UC, not just the first two.

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