Margaret Greenwood MP
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Newsletter for September 2016
On 14 September, I spoke in a parliamentary debate on NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). England has been divided up into 44 STPs, each of which has to come up with a plan showing how they intend to manage health care. Crucially, STPs are not allowed to be in deficit, so NHS managers are being asked to come up with ways to balance the books - whether that be through cuts to services, sale of NHS assets such as buildings and land, or any other means at their disposal. Any reduction in NHS services is a matter of very real concern and I will be keeping a keen eye on what is happening here in Wirral. You can read my contributions to the debate in Parliament via the link: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-09-14c.948.1&s=speaker%3A25349#g991.0
Earlier this month, I attended Wirral Earth Fest at St Bridget's Church Fields in West Kirby. The festival is a partnership of Transition Towns West Kirby and St Bridget's Church, and celebrates those who make Wirral more earth and people friendly. Along with music, storytelling, maypole dancing and pony rides, there were stalls promoting issues relating to environmental and social justice, including Wirral Wildlife Trust, Fair Trade and Amnesty International.
The Wirral Barn Owl Trust (WBOT) was there too with a beautiful tame owl called Eric. Barn owls are threatened locally: there was an 85% decline in Cheshire and Wirral between 1932 and 1985 due to loss of habitats supporting the voles and mice they feed on, and the loss of nest and roost sites in old farm buildings. WBOT supports the local barn owl population by providing nest boxes. In 1999, there was only one known pair of breeding barn owls in Wirral; in 2012, the number had increased to 42. You can find out more about this worthwhile charity via the link: www.wirralbarnowltrust.org
I was delighted to be shown around the facilities at Pensby Primary School, and saw how the building is integrated with that of Stanley Special Primary School, including shared swimming facilities. Sound early years education provides an important foundation for learning throughout life, and it was a real pleasure to see the work that is being done there.
I also attended the awards evening at Woodchurch High School. As a former school teacher, I know just how hard students and teachers work, and the crucial role played by parents in supporting their children's education. Learning is vital not just for employment prospects, but for wellbeing too. It really is important we take the time to celebrate educational progress.
Constituents in Irby have been in touch with my office to express concerns over the removal of bus services in the area, and I have raised the issue with Merseytravel. If this issue affects you, please feel free to contact my office for more information.
Earlier in September, I called on the Government to drop its proposed tax hike for businesses installing solar panels on their properties. Government plans to update tax rates for business properties installing solar panels on the rooftops could land companies with a tax bill that is six to eight times higher than at present. This would mean that for many businesses, rooftop solar installations cost more to run than they generate. This hike to business rates would penalise thousands of companies who have already invested in rooftop solar panels in good faith, and it will also damage the development of clean energy.
I also recently called on the Government to do more to help tackle high levels of personal debt. According to statistics from the charity StepChange, which supports people in debt, between 2012 and 2015 the number of people seeking debt help in Wirral West increased by 44%. Debt problems can spiral out of control and have a very damaging effect on the lives of the people in debt and their families as well. The Government should ensure that free debt advice is properly funded so that people can get help at an early stage; it should also tackle the issue of low pay and insecure employment.
Over the past month in Parliament, I have also spoken out on:
• Climate change - I spoke in a debate called by the opposition and called on the Government to take climate change seriously. I asked it to produce an ambitious energy strategy that makes investment in renewables a priority, and to bring the Paris climate change treaty to Parliament for approval as soon as possible so that ratification can move forward rapidly.
• Social justice - I called for action across Government to promote social justice, and highlighted the Government's failure in tackling poverty and inequality in the UK.
On 16 September, I joined a Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) women from Wirral in Liverpool to campaign for fair pensions for women born in the 1950s. The WASPI campaign is one of the most prominent campaigns I have seen in Westminster this year. I support them in their quest for a fair deal for those women who were born in the 1950s. These women have given so much to their families, the workplace and the wider society, and are simply asking for fairness.
Recently, I accompanied Jeremy Corbyn and Frank Field on a visit to Neo Café at Beaconsfield Community House in Birkenhead. The project sources good quality food donations from supermarkets, and make it available to people in the local community. People who haven't got the money to pay can contribute their time to help run the café instead. The Neo Café is a real community hub, with cookery classes, a craft room and a garden. Nobody should go hungry in 21st century Britain, and this project is doing its bit to make sure no-one does.
Over recent weeks, I have held surgeries across the constituency as usual, taking up personal issues that people have raised with me. I have also continued to correspond with many constituents on a wide range of both local and national issues.
If you have something you would like help with, or if you would like to raise any general issues with me, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Margaret Greenwood MP