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After this morning’s incident at Firvale School, Gill Furniss Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough commented:

“I was shocked to hear the news about the incident at Firvale School in my Constituency this morning. I am incredibly relieved that on this occasion no one was harmed but it is awful to think that anyone would choose to endanger the lives of schoolchildren in this way.”

“My thanks go to the police for their swift response and local people can be assured that the area is now safe. I will be seeking to meet with the Police as soon as possible to discuss how our schools can be better protected from serious incidents such as this.”

“As a society, we have a duty to ensure that our Young people can learn and live free from danger and an incident such as this must be treated with the utmost seriousness. My thoughts are today with the staff and pupils of Firvale School.”

For more information on this incident see: https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/ex-pupil-in-custody-after-car-ploughed-into-sheffield-school-1-9014700

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100 Years of Female Suffrage
This week, we celebrated the landmark centenary year of some women being given the right to vote.

It was such a proud moment to celebrate the tremendous courage of those brave women who fought so hard for change and the legacy they have left behind.

I am particularly proud that the first women’s suffrage organisation came from Sheffield and as a woman born and bred in Sheffield, I will continue the fight for women’s rights.

As we celebrate these women, we should also look forward to the possibilities for the next 100 years and make 2018 a year of great achievement for women and girls everywhere.

That’s why, to mark the 100th anniversary, Labour have launched a year-long campaign that will celebrate the great achievements of the women suffrage movement and look at how we can take the next steps to achieve full equality for women.

Our challenge now must be to build on past achievements and push for full equality and protection for women: financially, in the workplace, in families and homes and in public spaces.

Sadly, many policies introduced by this Conservative government are turning back the clock on equality for women. Cuts to public services and social security are landing disproportionately on women.

Labour in government will strengthen legislation around sex discrimination and introduce policies to tackle the structural and economic barriers that stop women from reaching their full potential.
I encourage everyone to get involved and celebrate this important date and commit with Labour to taking #TheNextSteps   https://labour.org.uk/page/the-next-step/

In Parliament 

Debate on the Military detention of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities

Wednesday saw a debate on the military detention of Palestinian Children by Israeli authorities. Many of you wrote to me to make representation and I share your concerns.
DCI Palestine (Defence for Children International) revealed the systemic mistreatment of minors by Israeli authorities, from the night time raids by soldiers taking minors at gunpoint to subjecting them to stress positions or solitary confinement when detained. This is clearly appalling and should be stopped immediately.

I raised the specific issue about the US President Donald Trump and his reckless threats that he would stop Palestinian aid, threatening the only survival channel for many Palestinian victims, in particular children.

Meeting with Steel Union Representatives
This week, I welcomed a group of Steel Union representatives from across the UK to discuss the steel industry and how we can sustain pressure on the Government.

It is safe to say the Government has sidelined the steel industry, but we will keep pressing them to ensure steel gets the support it needs to be have a sustainable future and sustain those vital jobs that are so crucial to so many communities in the UK.

NHS Winter Crisis 
On Monday, the Government was asked to make a statement on the NHS winter crisis. This follows a debate in January when MPs unanimously called on Ministers to increase funding for the NHS this year to enable hospitals to resume a full service to the public.

In recent weeks, over 95% of hospital beds have been full, we have seen the highest-ever number of A&E diverts, 50,000 elective operations have been cancelled, and urgent operations have been cancelled too.

Waiting time standards are legal duties contained within the NHS constitution, yet the crisis that our NHS is now in is so deep, and the underfunding so severe, that NHS England has been forced to abandon the four-hour A&E target until March 2019.

I believe the Government is entirely out of touch with the reality of the NHS winter crisis. Ministers should put forward a sustainable, long-term plan for the NHS to ensure it receives proper funding and can deliver the care patients need.

 

 

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This Week in Parliament

On Monday, I represented the frontbench on a debate on Fireworks. I know many of you wrote in regarding this and raising various issues including how animals are affected by fireworks.

I raised these with the Minister and pushed him on bringing about a public awareness campaign so that we can plan ahead of firework displays and give those with pets enough time to reduce the disturbances.

On Tuesday, I questioned the Government about their views on the ‘Keep Me Posted’ campaign calling for more choice over how customers receive their statements and bills.

Due to digitalization, many people are finding they are being penalized for requesting paper bills. I will continue to press the Government on these issues in the weeks ahead.

I also posed a series of Parliamentary Questions to Ministers across Government Departments. You can track the questions and answer here:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers//?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons&member=4571

 

 

 

The British Legion’s ‘Count Them In’ campaign

I declared my support for The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland’s ‘Count Them In’ campaign, which calls for the Armed Forces community to be included as a topic in the next Census.
It has been estimated that there are currently between 6.5 million and 6.7 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population. However, little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group. Inclusion of this topic in the next census would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community.

I met with representatives of The Royal British Legion and David, a veteran, to discuss the campaign in Parliament on Tuesday 30 January.

CWU and the Royal Mail Group come to an agreement

I was delighted that the CWU, the union representing postal workers, and the Royal Mail Group have come to an agreement over pay, pensions and working conditions.

This has been a long process, but I send my congratulations to the leadership at CWU, the union reps and all the workers who have, through hard work and determination, achieved significant concessions from their employer.  #PowerOfTheUnion

In the news…

The Shadow Heath Secretary, Jon Ashworth writes about Labour’s plans for the NHS:
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/nhs-future_uk_5a717d71e4b0ae29f08c2dfd

Labour’s Housing Team have announced their plans:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/01/labour-plans-landowners-sell-state-fraction-value?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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I am proud to have backed the National Autistic Society and Ambitious About Autism campaign, Held Back, to ensure the Government introduces a national autism and educational strategy.

I have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP urging him to take action to make sure the 120,000 school-aged children on the autism spectrum in England are no longer held back. This joins over 20,000 other individuals who signed this open letter.

The open letter to the Secretary of State for Education was handed to Damian Hinds MP at a reception in Parliament on 31 January, which I was proud to attend. The letter is in response to an autism and education report which was launched in November 2017 by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) alongside the National Autistic Society.

The APPGA report was published following an inquiry, which included a survey of over 3,000 parents, carers, young people and teachers. There were also expert witness evidence sessions in Parliament. The findings, which came three years after the Government introduced a new special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England, showed that the education system was still failing to meet the needs of autistic children and young people.

I have spoken with constituents and heard personal accounts from families who are still struggling to secure the right school provision and education support for their autistic child.

This issue is so important. We must ensure all autistic children receive the education they deserve, so that no child is held back because they’re autistic.

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On Friday 26th January, I held a consultation event at Sheffield Town Hall for older people in Brightside and Hillsborough and across Sheffield. I was very pleased that Steve Chu, Chief Executive of Age UK Sheffield also joined us to give his perspective on many of the issues raised.

We had so many important questions raised on many many issues from finance, travel, care and democratic involvement and I have a lot of information to take to Westminster.

Perhaps the most consistently raised issue was that of housing and how the availability of suitable housing has a huge impact on the lives of older people and their families. We have a huge fight to ensure that everyone in Sheffield has a house that meets their needs as they grow older which will have a hugely positive effect on our care system and the availability of houses for growing families.

I hope to announce more consultation events soon and these will be announced here.

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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.

Saturday 27th January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

Local Events

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘The power of words’.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Sheffield and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. Sheffield will hold a commemoration on Thursday 25th January, 5 30-7pm in the Winter Gardens.

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.”

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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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Happy New Year to all my constituents and I hope you have had a good break. My office will be open again to deal with all your casework queries from next Monday, 8th of January. However, you can always get in touch at any point here.

2018 will be a difficult year for our country and City but I will keep working hard for you both here and at Westminster to achieve an economy that works for ordinary people and fight for an outcome in the Brexit negotiations that protects jobs and workers’ rights.

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