• A fair deal for St Helens

    One of my top priorities is to fight for a fairer deal for St Helens and to ensure our schools, hospitals and transport system are fully funded and deliver proper services.

    Some of the problems we face and the differences between our area and other regions are laid bare in a recent report by England’s Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield called “Growing up North”.

    It lays out in stark detail some of the challenges facing children in our region and shows that unless we get urgent action from the Government, the gap between children in the North and those in London is likely to widen over the next 15 years.

    Among the report’s findings are that a disproportionate number of children in the North are growing up in communities of entrenched disadvantage which have not enjoyed the same financial growth or government support that have improved opportunities in other parts of the country, especially London and the South East.

    As a result, too many disadvantaged children in our region are being left behind, with many facing an education gap that starts before they even get into the classroom and widens throughout education.

    Too many children drop out of education before they reach the age of 18. The Government needs to do far more to invest in our schools and help transform the prospects of our children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    As I highlighted last year, schools in St Helens are facing crippling budget cuts of up to £9 million by 2019. The huge Government funding cuts are the equivalent of £386 per pupil and could mean the loss of up to 238 teachers, according to figures compiled by the teaching unions.

    If children in our region are to get equality of opportunity when it comes to jobs and training, we need the Government to reverse its funding cuts to our schools. I will continue to fight to make sure we get the best possible deal for schools in St Helens North so children get the best possible start in life.