• Royal British Legion’s 2017 manifesto

    A number of constituents have contacting me recently about the Royal British Legion’s 2017 manifesto, highlighting a number of important issues. Firstly, I support the Royal British Legion’s calls for there to be questions for the next census about membership of the Armed Forces community. I believe this would be a simple way of acquiring an additional source of information about the veterans living in our area to allow public services to better meet their needs. I also believe we must promote greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, seek greater consistency in its implementation by public authorities, and also promote increased participation in the Corporate Covenant. I agree it is important that the Government monitor any new research that is published on Gulf War illnesses, particularly as it has said it has no plans to fund further research into this itself. However, I understand that the Ministry of Defence has commissioned further research into the development and prevention of Non-Freezing Cold Injury, and it is, of course, only right that those who have sustained life-changing injuries while serving our country receive the best medical care. In December 2015, the Ministry of Defence committed to looking at options to addressing concerns around housing support for separated partners of Service personnel and reporting back on these in 2016. Disappointingly, it is still to report back on this issue and I hope the Government will bring forward proposals for change swiftly. It is concerning that the 2017 Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey showed a further decline in satisfaction with Service life. However, over the last seven years our Armed Forces have been hit by rent rises, pay restraint and changes to tax and benefits, putting real pressure on our Service personnel and their families. We have a duty to properly reward and remunerate our Armed Forces. I believe the Government should therefore lift the public sector pay cap, allowing the Armed Forces Pay Review Body to make pay recommendations without restriction that reflect the hard work of our Service personnel. Our Armed Forces are driven by the hardworking men and women who serve and it is time the Government recognised that. This is also why the manifesto I stood on at the General Election in June 2017 was committed to driving up standards in Service accommodation, reviewing and improving the Forces Help to Buy scheme, and rolling out a Homes Fit for Heroes programme to insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free.

    I can assure you that I am fully committed to supporting our Armed Forces community within our constituency and at a national level. I have campaigned locally for improved funding for veterans homes and supported the armed forces ‘Count them in campaign’ in St Helens. You can find out more about my work in this area on my website – http://www.conormcginn.co.uk/conor-marks-armed-forces-day-and-gives-backing-to-royal-british-legion-campaign/

     

  • Breast Cancer Care Campaign

    I sympathise profoundly with anyone who has been affected by cancer and I pay tribute to Breast Cancer Care for its work in supporting people living with secondary breast cancer, and their families, and in raising awareness of the connected issues. I am concerned by Breast Cancer Care’s recent report, Secondary: Not Second Rate, which found that people are experiencing delays in diagnosis of secondary breast cancer which can prevent timely access to vital treatment and care. Despite the huge progress that has been made on improving cancer services, we still lag behind other countries, and there is worrying evidence that the progress we have been making on cancer care has stalled, or potentially even gone backwards. It is concerning that the Government has missed the national cancer target – that 85% of patients should start treatment within 62 days of a GP referral – since January 2014. The target of 93% of patients with an urgent referral for breast symptoms to see a specialist within two weeks was also missed in each month between February and July this year. At the General Election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to invest an additional £30 billion in the NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need. The manifesto also pledged to deliver the Cancer Strategy for England in full by 2020, guarantee access to treatment within 18 weeks, and take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next parliament. I believe that improving cancer services and outcomes should be a key priority for the Government and that we should set an ambition for the NHS to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe. Key to this will be improving early diagnosis, public awareness and screening programmes, as well as ensuring that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly. I hope the Government gives careful consideration to the recommendations outlined by Breast Cancer Care and ensures that all patients with secondary breast cancer receive the best possible care and support.

  • Conor Visits Willowbrook Livingwell Centre

    It was good to meet staff, volunteers and Chairman Alan Chick at Willowbrook Hospice recently. The Hospice does a fantastic job of caring for individuals and families across St Helens, providing a really valuable service and delivering comfort when it is needed most.

    The Hospice has helped over 7,500 people since opening in 1997. Health funding is being increasingly squeezed by central government, with a £20 million shortfall in funding across the health economy in St Helens alone. This puts pressure on the hospice movement to raise more funds, and this is where the Living well Centre is such a valuable asset in supporting its fundraising.

    But Willowbrook still needs support, not just from the thousands of individuals who donate and fund-raise but also from the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Government. That is why I am calling on the Government to fully recognise the valuable work hospices do and give them the support they need and deserve.

  • Taxation on beer and pubs

    Taxation on beer and pubs [and the related campaign from CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale]. Is an important issue and I know that it will be of concern to many people in our area. Pubs in the UK create one million jobs and make £80,000 on average for their local economy each year. They are also community hubs. I therefore agree that we must take action to ensure their long-term future.
    I value our pubs, which are often at the heart of community life, I myself am a CAMRA member of over ten years standing. I appreciate the importance of the beer and pub industry to the UK. The pub is a long-established part of British life and the industry employs 850,000 people, mainly in the local pubs that form the hub of many communities. I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that pubs continue to enjoy the important role that they do in British life. I appreciate your concerns about the level of beer duty. As you may be aware, at the 2017 Spring Budget, the Government increased the level of beer duty by retail price index inflation. This added 2p to the cost of a pint of beer and together with increases in other alcohol duties will cost pubs £125 million this year. I believe this was the wrong decision and poses a risk to pubs, particularly coming alongside increasing inflation and higher business rates. On business rates, the Government announced in March 2017 that it would be providing a £1,000 discount for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000. I know that CAMRA, while believing the Government should go further, welcomed this support. However, I am concerned that this relief represents only a temporary respite rather than long-term support. There remain serious questions over how pubs will afford to stay open after the discount ends in 2018. I believe we need a fundamental review of business rates, alongside a number of other reforms, including switching from RPI to consumer price index inflation. On beer and pubs more widely, at the recent General Election I stood on a manifesto that committed to setting up a national review of local pubs to examine the causes for their decline, as well as establishing a joint taskforce that will consider their future sustainability. It also committed to giving communities more power to shape their town centres, including by strengthening powers to protect pubs. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to call for action to support the long-term future of local pubs. You can view my press release on this here – http://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/news/15116577.Pubs_play_a_vital_role__says_McGinn/?ref=rl&lp=2

  • Conor McGinn backs bid for St Helens regeneration funding

    Conor McGinn backs bid for St Helens regeneration funding

    Local MP Conor McGinn has pledged to work with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) and back its bid to secure £40 million in funding – helping communities in St Helens.

    The Trust supports former coalfield communities and invests in jobs and skills, and St Helens will stand to gain if the funding bid is successful.

    Four in ten people in St Helens live in the top 20 per cent of most deprived neighbourhoods in the country – making it a priority areas for regeneration funding.

    On top of this, 23 per cent of people in St Helens have a limiting long-term illness, compared to the national average of 18 per cent.

    Under plans set out by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the new funding will assist 10,000 young people into work and help a further 200,000 people access sports and fitness projects.

    Throughout the country, an estimated 5.5 million people live in former coalfield communities – one in ten across England.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “Communities in St Helens face higher levels of deprivation and rates of long term illness than the national average.

    “As a former coalfield community, it’s important that St Helens benefits from central government regeneration funding, which is why I am proud to back the important work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and support their bid for £40 million of funding.

    “Jobs, skills and training are all vital for our communities and it is important the Government invests in our young people through regeneration funding – here in St Helens and across other former coalfield communities.”

    Coalfields Regeneration Trust Chairman Peter McNestry added:

    “People may think that £40 million is a lot of money to ask for, but when you consider the scale of the challenges that still remain, it requires this level of ambition if we are to make the significant and lasting impacts needed.

    “We know that we can deliver a social return on investment of £10 for every £1 spent. There is no other organisation in the country that could achieve this in our communities.”

     

  • Events in Catalonia

     I appreciate that numerous concerns have been raised about activities both prior to the independence referendum in Catalonia and on the day of the referendum itself. I believe that disputes over sovereignty should be resolved in accordance with local rules and laws, and that any referendums on these issues need to constitutional as well as democratic and fair.

    I recognise that Spain’s constitutional court had suspended the 1 October referendum. However, the images of violence against citizens on the day of the referendum were shocking and the overreaction by the Spanish authorities, through aggressive police action and the forcible closure of polling stations, was clearly unacceptable.

    All sides must now strive to come together to reach a solution to this constitutional crisis. Violence of any sort will simply serve to worsen divisions and make a resolution harder to reach.

    Spain is of course a close ally of the UK and I believe the Prime Minister must therefore appeal directly to the Spanish Government about the importance of dialogue and finding a political solution to this situation.

     

     

  • Conor gives his support to St Helens libraries and Libraries Week

    Conor McGinn visited Moss Bank and Haydock libraries as he praised dedicated library staff in St Helens and threw his support behind Libraries Week.

    Over the last week, local libraries have showcased the creativity, innovation and diversity they offer. In St Helens, the activities range from tea and talk events, family reading sessions, examining the Borough archives and Read and Rhyme sessions that introduce children to the fun of reading.

    Conor said: “Libraries Week is a wonderful showcase for all that our libraries have to offer thanks to the efforts of their dedicated staff. As well as their traditional role, our award-winning library service is a key partner in tackling social exclusion and isolation by giving people a place to meet and socialise.

    “We have also seen our libraries used as venues for top quality arts and drama productions and exhibitions through the Cultural Hubs programme. Like thousands of constituents, I and my family have enjoyed using our library service which is an invaluable asset, and Libraries Week gives us the opportunity to shout about its success and importance to our communities.”

  • Later Life Ambitions campaign

    I welcome the Later Life Ambitions campaign  which covers a range of issues including pensions, care services, housing and bus services. More should be done to ensure all retired people can have a secure and dignified life. In my view the failure to guarantee a decent standard of living for all older people, and cuts to social care in particular, are making older people feel abandoned.

    I recently called for the Government to rethink its decision to cut financial assistance for vulnerable people in supported housing. I spoke out after visiting Heald Farm Court in Newton-le-Willows, one of Helena’s 22 supported housing schemes in the borough, which provides homes for over 80 older people. The implementation of a cap will reduce the specialist services provided to those in supported housing schemes increasing pressures on the NHS and local authority.

    Last year a report from the House of Commons Health Committee linked the lack of resources in social care to the increase in the number of people who do not receive the care they need. Age UK’s analysis has demonstrated that there was a £160 million cut in spending in real terms on older people’s social care in the five years to 2015/16. There are now nearly 1.2 million people aged 65+ who do not receive the help they need with essential daily living activities. The severe problems in care are caused by insufficient funding in the face of growing demand. Warnings from a wide group of doctors, leaders and professionals in the health and care sector have been ignored. As a result there are over a million older people with unmet care needs, many of them isolated and lonely. At the recent General Election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged to focus resources on care services to address the severe funding problems and increase social care budgets by a further £8 billion over the lifetime of this Parliament.  I can assure that I will continue to stand up for pensioners, including the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes, and for a fair deal for women born in the 1950s who have been affected by changes to the state pension age. I will bear in mind the views you have raised when these issues are debated in Parliament.

  • St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School Celebrates 60 Years

    It was lovely to join staff, pupils, parents and the community of St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School in Parr at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King for a Diamond Jubilee Celebration Mass of Thanksgiving.

    The service is just one of the events being held to mark the school’s 60th anniversary and to celebrate the part its staff, students – past and present – and the wider community have played in the school’s journey and success.

    I want to particularly thank headteacher Mrs Catherine Twist for inviting me to take part in this special event to mark the school’s Diamond Jubilee year, and to Archbishop Malcolm McMahon for his warm welcome to all of us to the Cathedral.

    St Cuthbert’s has been an important part of our community since its opening in 1957 and in adding my congratulations to the school for reaching this important milestone, I would particularly like to thank all the current staff and governors, and many others in similar roles over the last 60 years, who have been dedicated to providing young people in the area with a good education, an ethos of care and community, and strong values to take forward in to adult life.

  • ‘We Own It’ Campaign

    I share the concerns of the many people who have written to me about the NHS and ‘We Own It’ campaign. I agree that a comprehensive health service should continue to be provided free at the point of use and that encroaching privatisation of the NHS must be halted. I also believe that there needs to be more investment to provide the NHS and social care with the funding it so desperately needs.

    In my constituency of St. Helens North, I am concerned that The Department of Health are cutting our public health grants by £909,000, with further cuts likely. The funding for adult social care was also slashed by over £4.5billion from 2010-2015. The blame lies squarely with the Tory government, which over its six years in office has caused a financial and staffing crisis in the NHS. In August, I met with the St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group and urged them not to proceed with their proposal to cancel non-urgent hospital referrals. Thankfully we were successful, however there are still outstanding issues around finances and service provision and I will continue to work with the Department of Health, NHS, St Helens CCG, St Helens Council and other partners to find a resolution to these. You can read the rest of my press release here:

    http://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/news/14677125.McGinn__Government_must_ensure_St_Helens_gets_its_fair_share_of_NHS_funding/?ref=mrb&lp=15 The Government recently confirmed that NHS England expenditure on independent providers has increased by £3.4 billion since 2011/12. At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that committed to reverse the privatisation of our NHS, return our health service into expert public control, and repeal the Health and Social Care Act which puts profits before patients. I support the introduction of a new legal duty on the Health Secretary to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS, and I agree that there should be no new private finance initiative deals. Throughout the summer the Opposition successfully opposed the Government’s proposal to sell 75% of NHS Professionals, an effective and successful public body which saves the taxpayer around £70 million a year and ensures that hospitals don’t have to rely on expensive private staffing agencies. The Government’s plans were met with widespread opposition from NHS staff and patients. More widely, I am concerned that under this Government waiting lists have topped 4 million and the number of patients spending more than 4 hours in A&E has risen 250%. A report by the British Medical Association revealed that the number of people waiting on trolleys reached the highest level to date in November 2016. I am committed to protecting and strengthening our NHS and that means stopping the drive towards privatisation and ensuring the NHS is based on collaboration and integration, not on competition and fragmentation.

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