• The Living Wage Foundation recommended that the living wage for areas outside London should be £8.75 per hour – which is a gross 40 hour weekly wage of £350.

    But many workers in St Helens are working full time for the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour – which leaves these workers £50 a week short of the Living Wage Foundation recommendation.

    That means less money in the bank at the end of the month, and less money for food, bills and transport.

    Conor is supporting St Helens Council in leading the way as a council committed to a Living Wage, but the Government needs to do far more to raise wages for workers in St Helens and across the country.

    That’s why a Labour Government would raise the Living Wage to £10 an hour, giving workers and families on lower pay the income security they need.

  • Music and the UK economy

    Last week, Conor led a debate in the House of Commons on the contribution of music to the UK economy – which totalled £4.4 billion last year alone.

    The number of people employed across the industry grew last year by 19% to more than 140,000, and despite the uncertainty over Brexit, the music business generated export revenues of £2.5 billion in 2016.

    Here in St Helens, 25,500 people attended live music events in 2016, generating a box office spend of £1.2 million.

    St Helens is also recognised by the Arts Council as a UK leader in arts and culture and despite huge cuts to its budget, the Council has committed to providing whole-class first access to instrumental programmes for key stage 2 children.

    St Helens also fortunate to have fantastic venues like the Citadel and the hugely successful Westfield Street and Reminisce festivals, which are adding to those impressive figures.

    But the Government must do more to support young musicians and underfunded music such as brass and silver bands, like the excellent Haydock, Valley and Rainford bands that are truly the lifeblood of communities in St Helens.

  • Irish parliamentarians visit to Westminster

    Conor hosted the largest ever delegation of Irish parliamentarians to Westminster this week for meetings and events with MPs, Peers and political parties to discuss Brexit and challenges and opportunities facing UK-Ireland relations, including in trade and investment.

    The delegation included members of the Dáil Éireann and the Seanad Éireann, Ireland’s lower and upper Houses.

    It was particularly good to have Éamon Ó Cuív TD there, whose grandfather Eamon De Valera was Taoiseach and President of Ireland. ‘Dev’ made a famous and impromptu visit to Earlestown in the 1930’s when he addressed a large crowd who had gathered at the train station to greet him on his journey between Liverpool and Manchester.

    The visit this week followed a visit of MPs and Peers to Dublin in February, which Conor led, and was a great opportunity for dialogue and discussion at a crucial time in our relations

  • Invest in St Helens Ambassadors

    It was great to open the Invest in St Helens Ambassadors event on Monday, and to see so many local businesses backing the programme.

    St Helens is a fantastic place, with a proud tradition and a great future.

    There is a particularly bright opportunity to bring train building back to St Helens – and back to Newton-le-Willows specifically – and I’m currently working to try and bring about investment in Parkside by a major international train manufacturer that would build on the proud tradition of the Vulcan works and bring skilled jobs for the future at the cutting edge of modern technology.

    This is exactly the kind of investment that we need and I know that all the St Helens Ambassadors will work hard to promote the borough and the opportunities that exist for investment, jobs and growth here.

    You can find out more at www.investinsthelens.com

  • Funeral Poverty

    I share constituents concern about the worrying rise in funeral costs and I appreciate this can leave families with significant additional financial responsibilities at the most difficult and emotional of times.

    In December 2016 I backed calls for child burial fees to be scrapped and supported the campaign launched by Labour MP Carolyn Harris who moved MPs to tears when she told the story of the death of her eight-year-old son in a road crash.

    No parent should have to endure the heartbreak of having to bury their child, that pain is made so much worse if they cannot afford to meet the cost of a funeral at such a difficult time. The Government should be doing far more to help parents in such a difficult situation by increasing the financial assistance available to them.

    Funerals offer families the opportunity to celebrate the life of a loved one, and providing a simple ceremony and proper burial or cremation is a matter of respect for those who have passed away. I believe it is absolutely right that support is available to bereaved families to provide dignified funerals, regardless of income. At the 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to fund child burial fees for bereaved parents, and to transform our social security system to ensure it is there for all of us in our time of need. It is very concerning that research from Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index for 2017 indicated that one in six families arranging a funeral struggled to afford its cost, and a report from SunLife found that funeral costs have risen 70% in the past decade, and 4.7% in the last year alone. I am aware that Fair Funerals is calling for the Chancellor to review the Social Fund Funeral Payment. The Government recently consulted on reforms to the Funeral Expenses Payments Scheme, and intends to bring forward a number of reforms due to take effect in spring 2018. However, the Government will not increase the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payments scheme because it believes that the current amount makes a significant contribution towards a funeral. I share your concerns that this payment has not kept pace with inflation and I agree that the current cap is insufficient. I hope that the Government will listen to the concerns raised by individuals and organisations such as the Fair Funerals campaign and take action to tackle funeral poverty.

  • Armed Forces recruitment and retention crisis

    This week in the House of Commons Conor took part in a defence debate led by Labour’s frontbench.

    Conor raised the Armed Forces recruitment and retention crisis that has arisen on the Tories’ watch, and the fact that more service personnel are leaving and fewer joining both regular and reserve forces year-on-year.

    The Defence Minister said that Conor’s figures were inaccurate. The only problem with that was that they weren’t Conor’s figures, they were his from an official Ministry of Defence report.

    You can see the intervention below and read Conors entire contribution – in which I pay tribute to St Helens veterans’ champion Andy Reid – here https://hansard.parliament.uk/…/44334061-A7…/ArmedForcesPay…

  • Haydock Band Sucsess

    Congratulations to all members of The Haydock Band on their performance at the Wychavon Festival of Brass Champions, and for winning a section prize. This year’s performance was the band’s first time entering the competition, in which brass bands from all over the country compete.

    It’s great to see excellent musical talent from St Helens performing on the national stage, and the band should be proud of their performance this year.

    Musicians, venues and events like the Wychavon Festival provide a huge boost to our economy, as well as their creative and cultural impact. I’ll be leading a debate in the House of Commons on Friday to call on the Government to do all it can to support our thriving music sector moving forward.

  • Miners Deserve A Fair Pension

    Former miners in St Helens, Lancashire and across the country deserve a fair pension. But it turns out that vast sums of money made from investing their pension contributions has been going straight into the Government’s coffers instead of into miners’ own bank accounts. The Government has received an incredible £3.4billion thanks to an unjust deal that was struck years ago.

    This is unfair and unjust treatment. Alongside other MPs representing coalfield constituencies, I have been campaigning on this issue and recently attended a meeting with Trustees of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme and the National Union of Mineworkers, and we are now all jointly calling for a renegotiation of the scheme and asking to meet the Government to find a resolution.

    As my colleague Gloria de Piero MP said:

    “Miners powered our country for generations. They survived one of the most brutal strikes this country has ever seen. And they deserve the pension they worked their entire lives for and is rightfully theirs.”

  • Government Needs To Support Defence Workers In The North Of England

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has called on the Government to do more to support defence workers in the north of England, including bringing forward an order for new Red Arrows jets to keep the iconic team flying British aircraft.

    The world famous Red Arrows fly the BAE Systems built Hawk but without new orders now, production is at risk of ending. BAE has recently announced a thousand job losses and this week Mr McGinn met the company and defence workers affected, as well as trade union representatives from GMB and Unite.

    He also took part in the Air Combat Power Visit at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, which is a full scale display of the RAFs abilities and strengths, from Force Protection and sustaining operations on the ground, to surveillance, intelligence acquisition and air power. Mr McGinn met with the Chief of the Air Staff Sir Stephen Hillier and the RAF personnel who maintain the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert, made up of high readiness units that can scramble to meet airborne threats.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “RAF personnel, including those I met at Coningsby, and workers in the defence industry make a huge contribution to the UK’s national security, yet production is at risk and skilled jobs in the north of England could go, including in the supply chain which would have an impact in towns like St Helens.

    “The Government must commit to ensuring the UK maintains a strong defence industrial base and properly resourced Armed Forces on air, land and sea”.

  • Conor slams Tory cuts to Merseyside fire safety inspectors

    Conor McGinn has slammed Government cuts to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service as new figures show the number of fire safety inspectors is down by a fifth since 2013.

    Fire safety inspectors are responsible for vital statutory safety inspections and audits, but cuts mean there are now just 34 inspectors across Merseyside – down from 42 in 2013.

    The 19 per cent reduction in fire safety inspectors puts extra pressure on the Fire and Rescue Service, with less firefighters available to carry out safety checks on hospitals, schools and shops.

    Mr McGinn is calling for the Government to immediately halt the decline in fire safety inspectors and is backing a campaign by the Fire Brigades Union to keep buildings safe, protecting the public and firefighters.

    Commenting, Conor said:

    “Our firefighters do an incredible job with dedication and professionalism, often under very difficult circumstances.

    “But Government cuts to fire safety inspectors puts more pressure on already overstretched services by making it harder to spot fire risks in public buildings.

    “The Government needs to urgently get to grips with this and halt the decline in fire safety inspectors, which are down by a fifth in Merseyside since 2013, and put public and firefighter’s safety first.”

     

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