Friday, 23 January 2015

Tackling low pay and encouraging the Living Wage

After spending years saying that there was no cost of living crisis, last week David Cameron said that Britain deserves a pay rise - a huge admission of failure. The recovery may have reached the City of London, but it hasn't reached the kitchen tables of working people around the country. We are now approaching the end of the first Parliament since the 1920s in which people will be worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

So here are some facts about pay under David Cameron: 
  • Since the last election average wages have fallen by £1,600 a year with the number getting less than the Living Wage rising from 3.4 million to 4.9 million.
  • Last year company directors' rewards increased by 21%. A director in a FTSE 100 company now earns on average 130 times more than their average employee – and 300 times more than the Living Wage. 
  • The Government has cut taxes for people earning £150,000 a year even while salaries at the top have been soaring away and ordinary workers’ wages have fallen. And if the Tories win the election, they want to cut taxes for millionaires even further.
The next Labour Government will raise the National Minimum Wage so that it gets closer to average earnings every year – rising to more than £8 before 2020.

But it is not just the legal minimum that matters. Labour believes government can do more to work with employers to pay the Living Wage. And firms that can afford to pay multi-million pound salaries at the top need to explain why they will not pay the Living Wage to those at the bottom.

Some 30 Labour local authorities are now paying the Living Wage to their staff. 

The next Labour Government will do more to encourage the Living Wage at the bottom and shed light on the pay packages given to some at the top.  

We will: 
  • Introduce Make Work Pay contracts, with a tax rebate for employers that sign up to become Living Wage employers in the first year of the next Parliament.
  • Ensure that central government learns the lessons from local government in where firms seeking public sector contracts are required to pay the Living Wage.
  • Require companies to publish the ratio of the pay of their top earner compared to the average employee and the pay packages of the 10 highest paid employees outside the boardroom.
  • Put an employee representative on remuneration committees, ensuring the views of ordinary staff are heard when decisions to award top pay packages are made.
Tackling low pay and encouraging the Living Wage is one of the ways the next Labour Government can ensure everyone’s hard work is rewarded and we build real and enduring prosperity. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tory election launch ignores their NHS crisis

Labour Party: The Tories are launching their election campaign today - and the NHS isn't part of it.

Last week's A and E figures exposed the worst week the NHS has experienced in living memory, with record numbers waiting over four hours to be seen, and hospitals around the country declaring "major incident" status. With the NHS so important to everyone in this country, and the Tory NHS crisis worsening day after day, it's a staggering omission by David Cameron to fail to make the NHS one of his six election themes.

On the deficit David Cameron has broken his promise to balance the books because he has failed to deliver rising living standards for all. Working people are worse off under the Tories and that's why the tax revenues needed to get the deficit down have fallen short.

The Tories have abandoned the centre-ground with an extreme plan for even deeper spending cuts which would take public spending back to a share of national income last seen in the 1930s, when there was no NHS and children left school at 14.

Labour will cut the deficit every year and get the current budget into surplus and national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament.

Our tough but balanced plan is different from the Tories' extreme and ideological approach. Alongside sensible spending cuts we will reverse David Cameron's tax cut for millionaires and tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

And we'll raise £2.5 billion for a Time to Care Fund for the NHS, funded by a mansion tax on homes worth over £2 million, by clamping down on tax avoidance schemes and by a new levy on tobacco companies.

That's the only way to balance the books in a fair way while protecting our NHS.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Great news old stables @ Haworth Art Gallery to be refurbished (£552,000 HLF).

Great news old stables at Haworth Art Gallery to be refurbished with £552,000 HLF. I have supported and encouraged local Labour councillors in seeking to improve this fantastic asset


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Why I disagree with a Lancashire wide Combined Authority.

@GrahamJones_MP: I disagree with this proposal and so do the vast majority of people in East Lancashire.

It is my intention alongside many other people in East Lancashire to oppose this proposal because it works against the interests of ordinary people in East Lancashire. 

Accrington Observer story here.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Promoting Healthy Living Pharmacies in Hyndburn

Earlier this month I visited Baxenden Pharmacy and saw the work they do as a Healthy Living Pharmacy. They are part of an initiative to roll out HLP across East Lancashire. (see Table below for Hyndburn). It is important given the pressures on GP's and ultimately on A and E that Pharmacies play a role in delivering front line care but also have the skills to identify some early symptoms in patients and guide them towards a GP.

It was fascinating to hear about the early intervention work that the Pharmacy offers as part of Lancashire's public health delivery. Smoking and confidential pregnancy advice in particular.

I was there to launch an awareness campaign around Sepsis, previously known as septicaemia or gangrene. Staff awareness and willingness to advise and part of the transformation of pharmacy's from retail and dispensing drugs, to an increasing role in primary care and clinical intervention.

Following my visit I received further details of the Health Living Pharmacy initiative in Hyndburn. One of the issues that came up clearly was the commissioning of services and I know my colleague Azhar Ali is doing everything he can to unravel the complex process and historic contracts he inherited from the previous administration. I will be writing to Lancashire County Council to see what can be done to promote Healthy Living Pharmacies across the County.

Hello Graham,

It was very nice to meet you on Friday at Baxenden Pharmacy for the Sepsis campaign and to discuss local issues.

Here’s the information that you requested.

Healthy Living Pharmacies in Hyndburn 

53-55 High Street
Working towards
Accrington Late Night Pharmacy
188 Blackburn Road
Working towards
13-17 Peel Street
Working towards
Huncoat Pharmacy
20 Station Road
Working towards
Accrington Pharmacy
257 Whalley Rd
HLP accredited
351, Blackburn Rd
HLP accredited
Baxenden Pharmacy
516 Manchester Rd
HLP accredited
2 Cornhill
HLP accredited
67/69 Union Rd
HLP accredited
240, Union Rd
HLP accredited

What is different about Healthy Living Pharmacies?

The HLP programme is a quality framework which the pharmacy that signs up must comply with.

It provides reassurance to commissioners that quality services can be delivered in these pharmacies and that a greater number of interventions will take place

It provides a mechanism to engage and develop staff that generates renewed enthusiasm and motivation.

It’s great for patients to be able to access services locally, and health and wellbeing advice readily.

This was evidenced in the national HLP pathfinder of which East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen were a pathfinder site.

HLP covers

Workforce development for all staff (leadership for pharmacists; Royal Society of Public Health Level 2 Understanding Health Improvement for Health Champions; and Brief advice training for all staff)

Engagement – joined up working within the pharmacy and with other health and social care partners

Environment – a professional premises with a proactive health focussed ethos

Information - health and wellbeing advice and services are readily available and are current and relevant

There are also local aspects included in the HLP Programme that vary by area across the country.

The Lancashire version is attached. This includes Lancashire CC area, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.

HLPs across Lancashire were invited to take part in the Sepsis campaign – the 2 pharmacies noted above were included.

I worked with Julie and the Sepsis Trust to develop the pharmacy Crib sheet which I have also scanned in and attached for your information.

Part of the Health Champion role is to create eye catching displays (like the sepsis campaign) and change them regularly, open conversations with patients and customers about health related topics (such as the latest campaign topic) and to develop and keep an up to date signposting file for all the pharmacy staff to use.

Please feel free to contact me if you do have any queries.

Kind regards, Lesley
Healthy Living Pharmacy Strategic Lead

Monday, 22 December 2014

One North’s proposals for an interconnected north should be the start, not the end of a conversation

Back in September, One North – a group of 5 cities in the North of England – produced a proposal for the economic and infrastructural future of the North, based on the inter-connectivity of those five city regions; Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The report puts forward a lot of positive proposals for the North, and I would agree with the vast majority of what is contained in the proposal. It offers an excellent basis for economic growth in the North and a coherent plan for the North is something that has been missing for a long time (with the exception of Lord Prescott's Northern Way)

However I represent an area of the sizeable region of East Lancashire (and indeed Lancashire), and it is right that when a proposal is put forward which involved the spending of billions of pounds worth of taxpayers’ money on a project for ‘the north’, that I ask how it will benefit my constituents?

As the report states, the North of England has a population of 15,000,000, however the numbers of people who will be ‘covered’ by this are significantly lower. And unfortunately, the report doesn’t appear to offer much to Lancashire (the word ‘Lancashire’ only appears in the report once), the largest and one of the most populated local authorities in England.

The plan essentially looks after transport links for the five city regions suggesting that £billions should be invested in these five cities regions. It clearly doesn't involve the 530,000 in East Lancashire who still remain with a  train less rail line, just 18 miles from city centre Manchester.

I believe it would be possible to maintain the clarity and direction of the proposal, but to make it more inclusive of areas of the North like Lancashire, or Teeside or East Yorkshire. All areas with huge populations and a massive contribution to make to the economic future of the North of England, which deserve to be given much greater thought and prominence.

It is easy to defend the report by saying, that the purpose of the report is connectivity between these 5 cities, and not something wider. But we should not miss an opportunity for the whole of the North. As it stands we have a document which looks at the north through the perspective of 5 cities, and then joins them up with a plan that fits this perspective.

Half a plan based on the five cities is a start. We now need to a comprehensive plan and I would argue, some kind of fair, stable and democratic underpinning to ensure it's success.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Labour will give greater control over local bus services to cities and country regions

Labour is launching a new campaign– called ‘Passenger Power’ - about putting communities and passengers in control of local bus services. Labour will hand powers back to local communities to save crucial bus routes.

New government figures have revealed that local bus routes in the North West are being slashed on this Government's watch, leaving people stranded. The new figures show that compared to 2010, there were 13 million less miles of local bus services in the North West last year.

Across England, over 1,300 bus routes have been cut since 2010. People living in rural areas in particular are seeing their bus services disappear. In rural areas, the number of miles of local bus service has dropped by a massive 23 per cent compared to 2010.

At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, going up by 25 per cent since 2010 - an increase five times faster than wage growth. Over the same period, operating costs for local bus services has stayed the same. The new figures reveal that bus passenger fare receipts from this year were half a billion pounds more than in 2010. And the operating revenue for the bus companies has increased by four per cent since 2010.

Bus companies have been cutting crucial routes that people rely at the same time as increasing fares to maximise their own profits. Like the energy companies, the bus market is broken.

Labour is setting out a new plan for local bus services to fix the problems. The next Labour Government will legislate to give greater control over local bus services to cities and county regions. Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, local areas will be able to provide better services at one clearly understood price.

Local bus services are the lifelines of our communities.

Whilst the bus companies are coining it in, local bus routes are being slashed and this Government says everything is fine.

The bus market is clearly broken and the way local services are provided is not fit for purpose. Labour will stand up for passengers by changing the way things work to hand all English regions London-style powers over local bus services. This will ensure communities get the local bus services they need."

Friday, 19 December 2014

1.6 million pensioners hit by David Cameron’s 87p pension rise

On 4 December the government announced the state pension will rise by £2.85 a week. But ministers were forced to admit in the following week that up to 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income. Labour are calling on David Cameron to come clean with 1.6 million pensioners about the future value of the state pension.

David Cameron to be open and honest with pensioners after new figures showed 63,180 pensioners in North West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p.

On 4th December 2014 the government announced the state pension would rise by £2.85 a week. But in the following days ministers were forced to admit up to 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income.

The government promised the state pension would rise by £2.85 in April next year but 63,180 pensioners in North West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p will receive a rise of just 87p. David Cameron’s government have not been open and honest with pensioners about the state pension, saying one thing and doing another. It’s time for the government to treat pensioners with respect and be upfront about the value of their pensions.”
Gregg McClymont said, “1.6 million pensioners who have done the right thing, worked hard and saved for a pension have been let down by the government. It’s time for David Cameron to come clean with pensioners across the country about the future value of their state pension.”
Source: (Figures in a row called: ‘savings credit only’ - 

Constituency figures are available in the first column here: 
(the numbers need to be multiplied by 1000, e.g. Aldershot is at least 450 pensioners affected)