• 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.”

  • 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.”

  • Conor hears about plans at Newton family and community centre

    newton-family-and-community-centre

    Conor met Fiona Ruddy to catch up on the latest news about Newton family and community centre.
    Over a cup of tea at Chouxchouxbedoo café on Newton High Street because the centre’s kitchen was being refurbished, the centre’s chair Fiona told Conor about plans to run a new dementia café.
    The centre also has a host of other community events in the pipeline after the revamp of the kitchen, sponsored by Taylor Wimpey Homes, is finished.


    It has had a busy summer with events run by Wargrave Big Local and the Prince’s Trust, as well as a summer fete and a very successful summer play scheme.


    The play scheme was the centre’s flagship programme for children (along with the 426 Club), providing activities for children aged 5-13.


    Conor also heard about the centre’s bid for Lottery money to offer more activities for youngsters.


    The centre’s volunteers have held a number of fundraising activities – including bag-packing at Tesco and Iceland – at the High Street Hub and Newton Town Show
    Fiona said: “
    We are so fortunate to be very well supported by local businesses, Newton Rotary Club and Newton and Earlestown Community Group, as well as the wider community.


    “We couldn’t run these activities without our very dedicated and supportive group of volunteers that make these activities possible at the community centre. So, a big thank you goes to all the volunteers.”

  • Conor gets down to business with Rainford Hub’s new chairman

    Rainford hub

    Conor met Rainford Hub’s new chairman Nathan Blackburn to find out about the work it’s doing to help and promote businesses in the village. 
    Since it was set up in 2014, the Hub has held meetings where local businesses can get together to exchange ideas and information. 
    It has also invited along guest speakers like St Helens RFC chairman Eamonn McManus to give inspirational talks to Hub members.


    Conor met Nathan at one of Rainford’s successful businesses, The Cherry Orchard Tearoom in Church Road, to talk about a whole range of issues affecting local traders, including the positive impact of the Village Centre Improvement Scheme on local businesses. 


    Afterwards, Conor said: “It was good to meet Nathan to talk about the Hub and their plans for the future. 


    “I am happy to do what I can to support the group as they work with others in the village and the council to support local businesses. 


    “Rainford has some great businesses ranging from engineering companies to farms, pubs, web designers, restaurants and shops which are the life blood of a village. The Hub brings them together in a constructive way which can only benefit Rainford.”


    Nathan said: “I’d like to thank Conor for his support and enthusiasm for Rainford which is encouraging and further motivates us to continue working on behalf of the village. 


    “I am really looking forward to future projects and to working to further better the businesses and community of Rainford.”

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