• Conor fights for ex-miners and families hit by rule change on compensation claims for killer disease

    parkside

    Conor is calling on the Government to reverse a “despicable” rule change that makes it harder for ex-miners and their relatives to claim compensation for potentially fatal lung disease.

     

    The St Helens North MP is calling for a rethink from ministers amid fears that former miners and their families could miss out on a vital cash lifeline.

     

    Thousands of miners contracted pneumoconiosis – also known as miner’s lung or black lung – after breathing in coal dust at work.

     

    Under the 1974 Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Scheme (CWPS), ex-miners, as well as their widows or family members, are able to claim for compensation for their illnesses.

     

    But Mr McGinn has warned that a change in the rules for making compensation claims could affect thousands of families of ex-miners in St Helens and across the region.

     

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which administers the scheme, has ruled that the relatives of deceased miners will be forced to include a Grant of Probate with any compensation claim.

     

    The change will make claiming compensation harder because families are likely to have to pay for solicitor or legal advice to get the Grant of Probate – a legal document which proves they have the right to deal with the deceased miner’s assets and administer their estate.

     

    Mr McGinn has thrown his support behind a House of Commons motion calling for a U-turn on the rule change amid fears that it is a move to cut the cash paid out under the compensation scheme.

     

    Commenting, St Helens North MP Mr McGinn said:

     

    “These changes look like an effort by the Government to cut the amount of compensation paid out under the scheme by making it harder to make a successful claim.

     

    “Thousands of hard working miners and their families have been affected by this awful disease because of the difficult and dangerous job they did, including those who worked in local pits like Parkside.

     

    “ It seems the Government is trying to stop ex-miners and the relatives who look after them getting the compensation they deserve.

     

    “It is a despicable attack on those who are suffering with a terminal illness.  The decision to change the rules should be reversed as a matter of urgency.

    Details and full text of the Early Day Motion that Conor is supporting here:

    https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/348/

  • Conor has called for urgent action to help the soaring number of people forced to rely on St Helens food banks

    foodbanks

    The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network , published new figures this week revealing how many emergency food parcels it has delivered in St Helens North.

    Shocking figures reveal that between April and September 2016 volunteers provided 2,224 emergency food supplies to adults and children in St Helens North. A total of 778 of the emergency aid parcels, which contain enough food for three days, went to children in the constituency.

    Commenting Mr McGinn said: “It’s shocking that the number of people in St Helens who are forced to rely on food banks has continued to rise.

    “I have visited the foodbank in St Helens and whilst the volunteers there do an amazing job, it is shameful that so many people, including children, have been pushed into poverty because of the policies of this Tory Government.

    “As one of the world’s richest economies in 2016, families should not be reliant on emergency food handouts just to survive, and that’s why I support the Trussell Trust’s idea of a new hotline to help the most urgent cases.”

    Across the UK, the Trussell Trust’s network of 420 food banks distributed 519,342 food packages to people in crisis between April and September 2016 – compared to 506,369 over the same period last year.

    Conor is backing the Trussell Trust’s call on the Government to set up special telephone hotlines between food banks and the Department for Work and Pensions to enable volunteers to help those using food banks solve their problems more quickly.

    The Trussell Trust said problems with benefit payments, including administrative delays and benefit sanctions, were the biggest reason why individuals were referred to food banks.

    It says the new hotline would focus on the most urgent cases and provide vital, trouble-shooting support for people referred to food banks because of problems with a welfare claim.

    It would help ensure the underlying causes of people’s crises are tackled faster, reducing stress and negative impact on the mental wellbeing of people due to delays, admin errors and instances where benefit sanctions have been questionably applied.

    David McAuley, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said: “To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system works fairly and compassionately, stopping people getting to a point where they have no money to eat.”

  • Conor calls for bedroom tax to be scrapped and praises families after Supreme Court ruling

    bedroom-tax-jpg

    Conor reiterated his call for the bedroom tax to be scrapped, following the Supreme Court ruling that the bedroom tax is unfair and discriminatory.

    Last week, a woman who has spina bifida and a couple who look after their severely-disabled grandson won their Supreme Court appeals against the bedroom tax. The court ruled that the government’s changes to housing benefit discriminated against them.

    Since April 2013, housing benefit for people in the social rented sector deemed to have a spare bedroom has been reduced by 14%. In the North West over 63,000 homes have been affected and over 2000 households in St Helens.

    In 2013 the Government gave local authorities more funding for discretionary housing payments, in part to allow them to cover the costs of the bedroom tax in some instances. Statistics from DWP in July showed that 40% of all local authorities had spent all the money allocated to them.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “I would like to pay tribute to all the families for their tireless work on bringing this issue to court. The true cruelty of the Tories bedroom tax has been exposed.

    “The bedroom tax is a cruel and unnecessary policy. And the Government have failed to provide adequate funding for local authorities to mitigate the worst effects.

    “As a result, the ill-thought-out and callous bedroom tax punishes low-income social housing tenants and those most vulnerable in our society.

    “A Labour Government would scrap the disgraceful bedroom tax, ending the misery faced by people in my constituency and across the country.”

  • Sea Bass

    I share your concern about the serious decline in bass stocks across Europe, which I believe is largely the result of commercial overfishing over the last 30 years.

    The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) recommended an 80% cut in bass mortality across the EU for 2015. However, the measures introduced across the EU for 2015 reduced catches by only 36%. ICES had previously recommended a 36% cut for 2014 but this was not implemented; and bass landings by UK vessels rose by 30% in 2014. It is very disappointing that expert scientific advice was ignored. For 2016, ICES recommended a 90% cut, and it has now recommended a complete ban on catching bass for next year. I believe this is what happens when early warnings are not heeded. If drastic action is not taken urgently, I believe that the fish will simply not be there for people to catch in future.

    While the Government has taken the view that previous measures by the European Council represented steps in the right direction, I believe the European Commission’s proposals for 2016 were watered down by EU Fisheries Ministers. These measures were inadequate and it is clear they have not done enough to achieve the reductions in fishing mortality needed to allow the stock to recover to levels capable of the sustainable fishing of the species.

    Until we leave the EU, current arrangements for fisheries remain in place and, as you know, the EU Fisheries Council will next meet in December. The European Commission has now published its proposals for Atlantic and North Sea fish quotas in 2017 ahead of the meeting. The Commission has proposed a total commercial fishing ban on Atlantic sea bass from 2017, in order to prevent a collapse in fish stocks. A final decision on next year’s quotas will be taken by EU ministers at the meeting in December. Before the European Council’s proposals had been published, the UK Government said that its approach to the negotiations would include consideration of the scientific advice from ICES on bass for 2017 and would also take into account the current and long term interests of the recreational and commercial fishing sectors in relation to sea bass stocks.

    As you may be aware, there was a debate in the House of Commons on 11 February 2016 about this issue. The motion noted that the EU restrictions on recreational bass fishing had, up to that point, failed to address the real threat to the future viability of UK sea bass stocks. It also called on the Government to make representations within the EU on the reconsideration of those restrictions. I supported the motion, which was agreed to without a vote.

    Further action is clearly needed at EU level, not only to conserve sea bass stocks, but to restore them to sustainable levels. I remain about the poor quality of UK commercial landing records and am pleased my Shadow Frontbench colleagues have pressed the Government to take national action to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported landings. Evidence shows that, when a sustainability stock strategy is put in place, fish stocks are revived and in the longer term, productivity is far higher.

    I am following this issue closely and will continue to press the Government to do more to secure a sustainable future for sea bass and to take a firm position on this important issue within the EU in December.

     

  • Conor campaigns for better local bus services in St Helens

    bus

    Conor is fighting Government plans to ban new council-run bus firms to help protect and improve local services.

    He has joined the campaign to “take control of our buses” which is opposed to a planned new law that would stop local councils setting up new municipal bus companies.
    Conor has already met local councillors and passengers who are worried about a shake-up by Merseytravel of bus services in Seneley Green.


    Now, he wants to put the brakes on a key section of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s Bus Services Bill that is currently going through Parliament.


    Under Clause 21 of the proposed legislation, English local authorities would be stopped from setting up council-run bus firms that could operate their own services.
    But Conor is opposing the change and is pictured with the campaign’s “battle bus” as part of the fight against the ban.


    Conor said:

    “I have already met councillors from Billinge and Seneley Green, as well as local bus users because of their worries about changes to local services.
    “This Tory plan contained in the Bus Services Bill is a further threat to bus services which are a lifeline to many people.


    “Since the deregulation of bus services 30 years ago, ticket prices have rocketed and services have worsened. Private firms continue to put profit before passengers
    .


    “I will be fighting this dangerous and ill thought out plan by the Government to ban councils from running bus companies.


    “Councils can play a vital role in running community services on less busy routes that private firms often ignore because they are more interested in chasing a profit.”

  • Conor calls for real living wage

    living-wage

    One of the great legacies of the last Labour Government is the National Minimum Wage. Introduced in the teeth of opposition from the Tories, it raised the wages of millions of workers and helped improve living standards for families across the country.

    In April 2016 the government introduced a higher minimum wage rate for all staff over 25 years of age inspired by the Living Wage campaign – even calling it the ‘National Living Wage’.

    Yet the government’s ‘National Living Wage’ is not calculated according to what employees and their families need to live. It is based on a target to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020. Under current forecasts, this means a rise to less than £9 per hour by 2020.

    This is unacceptable. I want to see a statutory REAL Living Wage which independent forecasts put this at over £10/hour in 2020.

    Labour’s REAL Living Wage will reflect the cost of living. It is about ensuring what households need to survive & doesn’t take account of possible employment effects. Labour’s REAL Living Wage will be an independent economic calculation based on the cost of living and adjusted for inflation.

    Moreover, Labour’s REAL Living Wage is just one aspect of our plan to tackle low pay. Only a Labour Government can deliver the industrial strategy to rebuild and transform Britain – to address wage stagnation, inequality, regional imbalance and provide investment support in those areas like St Helens which have been hardest hit by economic decline and austerity.

    Paying a living wage makes a real difference to workers and employers, their families and the wider community. I recognise the challenges of becoming a Living Wage employer, but it’s a challenge we need to help more organisations meet, if workers and their families are to live, and not just get by. I am delighted to see more and more employers in St Helens and across the country become living wage employers.

    Decent pay is not just fundamentally right, it’s good for business, it’s good for employees, and it’s good for Britain.

     

  • Conor visits Lansbury Bridge School and Sports College

    lansbury

    Speaking after the visit, Conor said:

    “I was impressed with the fantastic work and atmosphere at Lansbury Bridge when I met some of the staff, pupils and governors. And, I was glad to get the chance to talk to one of the students, Ben Smith, who touched everyone after his mother, Gail Twist, posted online the inspirational letter sent to her autistic son Ben by his teacher Mrs Clarkson. She talked about how 11-year-old Ben from St Helen had made fabulous progress and how he had a range of talents beyond his SATs results.


    “I enjoyed my visit to the school and would like to thank headteacher Jane Grecic and the Chair of Governors Christine Tyler for welcoming me and showing me around.


    “It was a pleasure to meet the students and learn from them about their experiences at Lansbury Bridge. The letter to Ben is just one example of the excellent teaching in schools across the constituency. But we need to make sure that, once young people have benefited from a good education, they have the right life chances after leaving school.


    “I have raised a number of issues with Government ministers over special educational needs provision, including what more can be done to improve workplace opportunities for students leaving Lansbury Bridge and other similar schools.”

  • Conor urges young people to take up meningitis vaccine

    meningitis

    Conor McGinn is encouraging young people to protect themselves from a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis.

    He has backed calls from Meningitis Now after a worrying increase of 809% in meningococcal (group W) meningitis cases in the past five years.
    The government launched a vaccination programme to protect young people aged 14-15 through schools, and those aged 17 to 18 through their GP.


    But, despite the introduction of this vaccine, and the increased risk to students and young people, the uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine remains very low, with just 10.5 % of 17 and 18-year-olds within Merseyside taking up the vaccine, and 17.4% across England.


    Young people and particularly first year university students are at an increased risk from meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis and septicaemia. Early signs can go undetected, and in young people can be put down to a bout of the flu, or even a hangover.

    Conor said:“I’m supporting the important work that Meningitis Now is doing in raising awareness of this serious issue.


    “The news recently of a death of a student at the University of Northumbria shows just how dangerous meningitis can be.


    “The rapid increase in the amount of cases and that vaccination levels are so low in Merseyside is worrying.


    “I strongly encourage young people to take up the free vaccinations for Men ACWY, which are on offer through GP practices, to ensure they are protected.”

  • Conor & St Helens Labour support national education campaign day

    education-not-segregation

    St Helens Labour activists will be in Church Square, St Helens between 11.00am and 1.00pm tomorrow Saturday the 1st of October as part of Labour’s campaign to oppose Tory plans to bring back grammar schools.

    Conor is pictured here with Cllr Andy Bowden, St Helens Council Cabinet Member for Education. St Helens Labour opposes the reintroduction of grammar schools and supports education for all, not selection for a few.

  • Conor demands action after shock figures show Merseyside children lose out on Government education cash

    Conor has slammed the Government after figures he obtained revealed less money is spent on educating young children on Merseyside than the rest of the country.

     

    Conor is demanding action from Education Secretary Justine Greening after the shocking findings emerged in parliamentary questions he asked.

     

    Across England, an average of £4.56 per hour in central Government cash is spent on the education of three and four-year-old children.

     

    However, according to the information obtained by Labour MP Mr McGinn, far less is spent on the early years education of children across Merseyside.

     

    The replies to Conor from Education Minister Caroline Dinenage revealed all five Merseyside boroughs get below the national average of £4.56 per hour spent on each child.

     

    In the worst case, the figures showed Halton will get just £3.54 per hour to spent on three and four-year-olds this year – almost £1 an hour less than the national average.

     

    St Helens gets just £3.61 per child per hour from central Government towards the education of three and four-year-olds.  The figure is 95p per hour below the national average of £4.56.

     

    In Knowsley, central Government funds amount to £4.49 per hour for the borough’s three and four-year-olds.  Sefton receives £4.03 per child per hour – just ahead of Wirral which gets £4.02.

     

    In her parliamentary answer to Conor, Ms Dinenage said the national average hourly rate paid in 2016-17 by the Department of Education to local authorities in England is £4.56 for three and four year olds and £5.09 for two year olds, including the early years pupil premium.

     

    Commenting Conor said:

     

    “For all their talk of a Northern Powerhouse, the Government is still short-changing Merseyside when it comes to education.

     

    “It’s a disgrace that in some areas almost £1 an hour less is spent on educating young children on Merseyside compared to the rest of the country. That is unfair and unjust.

     

    “The figures that I have obtained show Tory Ministers are betraying a generation of young pupils in Merseyside by starving local authorities of the funds they need to drive up education standards.

     

    “We need a level playing field where children on Merseyside get the same opportunities and as much Government funding as children in the rest of the country.

     

    “Theresa May and her Education Secretary Justine Greening should end their obsession with reintroducing selection in education with new grammar schools and focus on properly funding schools across Merseyside.”

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