Grahame Morris MP supports HEART UK’s campaign for Better Heart Health

Grahame Morris PledgeEasington MP Grahame Morris is supporting HEART UK, The Cholesterol Charity, in its aim of ensuring that cardiovascular disease (CVD), one of the UK’s biggest killers, remains a key government priority. This comes as HEART UK releases a new cholesterol plan for government setting out clear and focussed recommendations designed to address the issues around treatment and management of CVD.

Despite progress in some areas of CVD management over the past 20 years, there are still around 160,000 deaths every year in the UK and about 175,000 heart attacks, so it is more important than ever that CVD remains high on the UK health agenda.

Grahame Morris MP attended the official launch of the new plan for government at a one off cholesterol testing event in the House of Commons, highlighting HEART UK’s mission for the majority of UK adults to know and understand their cholesterol levels in order to take any necessary action.

Speaking after the event, Grahame Morris MP, said: “I wholeheartedly endorse HEART UK’s attempts to ensure that everyone knows their cholesterol and that the Government does all it can to ensure that patients at high risk of CVD are identified, managed and cared for in the best possible way. Cholesterol testing is simple, quick and painless and I would urge all adults to get themselves tested. I am committed to working with the local NHS and in Parliament to ensure that heart disease services are well-coordinated and remain a public health priority nationally and in East Durham”.

The policy priorities set out in HEART UK’s cholesterol plan for new government calls for:

  • Maintaining the Health Checks programme which tests patient’s cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI, preventing 2,500 heart attacks and strokes
  • Increasing in the diagnosis of Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) patients from 15% to 50% by 2020 through implementing a FH cascade screening programme
  • Ensuring all patients have equal access to CVD prevention, diagnosis and support services across our NHS

Commenting on the new plan for government launch and testing event, HEART UK Chief Executive, Ms Jules Payne, said: “I would like to thank Grahame for pledging to support HEART UK’s ambition of implementing our recommendations. With cardiovascular disease remaining one of the UK’s biggest killers and cholesterol being a major contributor, we are urging the Government not be complacent with the current programmes and to dedicate funding and support to future management, treatment and reporting of heart disease.”

“There is still a lot of work to do both at local and national levels to ensure that knowledge of different lipid conditions is understood by adults in the UK and that once conditions are diagnosed, our health system can continue to give them the help and support required,”

Grahame Morris MP is joining with Citizens Advice to help people in East Durham save money

CABGrahame Morris MP is encouraging people living in East Durham to be one step ahead with their finances by getting help from Citizens Advice.

Together with Citizens Advice, the MP for Easington, is inviting local people to try out five tips to help them keep on top of their bills and save money.

People are advised to:

  • Build your budget – List your regular income and spending to help stay on top of your money and save for unexpected costs or the future. You can use the Citizens Advice online Budgeting Tool.
  • Drill those bills – Check with your energy provider that you are on the best deal. Ask your local Citizens Advice if they are running Energy Best Deal group advice sessions or use Citizens Advice’s price comparison tool for help cutting your energy bills.
  • Control your credit – If you have debts, keep a list of them and compare it with your monthly budget. If you think you will struggle to pay some of them, ask your local Citizens Advice for help negotiating with your creditors.
  • Plan your pension – If you are able to, you should top up your State Pension with your own pension to make sure you’ll have enough money to see you through retirement. Pension Wise offers free, impartial guidance if you are over 50 and on a defined contribution scheme.
  • Seek advice – Citizens Advice offers free, impartial advice on money management and other issues. However, for more complex issues like buying a house or considering investments, you may wish to consider paying to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser. Organisations like the Personal Finance Society can help you get in touch with Independent Financial Advisers.

Grahame Morris MP met people from across the charity’s network at an event in Parliament on Tuesday 2 February. He heard about how local Citizens Advice are working with people across England and Wales to help them work out a budget, save money on bills and build confidence using online and mobile banking. Citizens Advice can also help people understand the benefits of seeing an Independent Financial Adviser.

Citizens Advice helped 5924 people in the North East to improve their financial skills between April 2014 and March 2015.

Grahame Morris MP said:

“We can all benefit from being one step ahead with our finances.

“Developing money management skills can give a real sense of security and helps put you in charge of your money, keep on top of bills and avoid unaffordable debt.

“As local MP for Easington I work closely with Citizens Advice on many issues. I would encourage anyone who wants to improve their money management skills to contact their local Citizens Advice.”

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“Managing your money better can help keep your family and home secure.

“Getting help with planning a budget can put people in a better position to pay for daily costs and cope with sudden expenses such as emergency car repairs. Shopping around and negotiating with energy and broadband suppliers can also help to reduce your bills.

“Anyone looking to save money on their day-to-day costs can get help from their local Citizens Advice or checking our website www.citizensadvice.org.uk.”

MP highlights advice on reducing risk of burglary in Easington

Burglary HotspotsCommenting on the launch of MoneySuperMarket’s annual Burglary Claims Tracker, Grahame Morris MP has urged householders in Easington to take five easy steps to help secure their homes and reduce the likelihood of burglary.

Five top tips for safeguarding your home include:

  1. Always keep doors and windows locked when your home is unoccupied and when you’re asleep at night
  2. Install timers on your lights, so they come on at night when you’re not home
  3. Ensure items of value are kept away from easy view through windows and don’t leave house or car keys where they can be reached through a letterbox
  4. Install and use a suitable alarm system and join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
  5. Ensure your home contents insurance is fully up to date and provides enough cover for all your belongings

Taking these five easy steps is crucial, as MoneySuperMarket’s data shows that Easington has a rate of 8.6 such claims per every 1000 quotes.

These findings come after MoneySuperMarket analysed two million home insurance quotes run over the last two years. Overall, the tracker found that London is the UK’s burglary claims capital, home to 16 of the top 20 hotspots, with South Tulse Hill and Dulwich postal district SE21 identified as the number one claims hotspot, with a rate of 61.2 such claims per 1,000 quotes.

Grahame Morris MP said:

“Despite burglaries in Easington being below the national average, MoneySuperMarket’s research highlights that people must remain vigilant to protect their homes from theft.

“I would urge all of my constituents to take care of their homes by taking these five easy precautions.”

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said:

Burglars have two thoughts uppermost in their minds: where am I most likely to find something worth stealing and where am I least likely to get caught?

“Our findings suggest thieves favour busy urban areas where strangers are unlikely to be spotted and it’s easy to make a quick getaway. But leafy suburbs are also heavily targeted, with burglars following the money to affluent areas.

“The best way to avoid the emotional turmoil and financial distress associated with a burglary is to be vigilant, make a concerted effort to secure your home and put in place the safety net of appropriate contents insurance in case the worst should happen.

“Contents insurance represents great value – the average cost of combined buildings and contents cover is £110. But anyone who hasn’t switched for a number of years will probably be paying substantially more, making it important to shop around for a more competitive price the next time the policy is up for renewal.

“Householders can also now check the MoneySuperMarket Burglary Claims calculator to see whether they live in a high risk area.

Further information on how to secure your home and prevent burglary can be found at MoneySuperMarket’s Burglary Hotspots Hub.

 

YOUNG CARERS AWARENESS DAY – GRAHAME MORRIS MP HELPS TO RAISE AWARENESS IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Young CarersEasington MP Grahame Morris has today (Thursday, January 28) recognised the work of young carers in East Durham as the nation marks Young Adult Carers Awareness Day.

The day has been established to recognise and reach out to the 700,000 young people who are caring for a family member or friends, often with little or no support.

Young carers are children and young people under 18 years old who provide unpaid care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances. Many young carers are as young as five or six years old and most care for a parent or other close family member, day in, day out. 13,000 young carers care for over 50 hours a week, the equivalent of seven days full work.

Unfortunately, the needs of young carers often go unrecognised which makes it very difficult for them to focus on their school work and enjoy the usual social activities of a young person.

Young Carers Awareness Day has been set up to raise awareness of these issues and to recognise the work that young carers are doing daily. It will also help organisations who may come into contact with young carers to offer them greater support.

Grahame Morris MP for Easington said:

“Today is a very important day and it’s a chance to do two things. Firstly, to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the thousands of young carers who give up so much time and energy to support their friends or family.

“But, it’s yet another reminder of the urgent need to continue improving and developing the support services available to young carers, a group that has too often been forgotten or marginalised. I hope that here in East Durham we can continue to do everything we can to identify, contact, and offer support to young carers as well as helping carers who have not yet been identified to come forward and get the support they need and deserve.”

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust said:

“We know young carers miss on average 48 school days – that’s nearly 10 weeks of school a year – due to their caring role. Those aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET).

“We must change this and make sure they all get the support they need so they can thrive and enjoy their childhoods like any other young person. On Young Carers Awareness Day, we want to reach isolated young carers up and down the UK, who desperately need our help.”

Carers Trust helps almost 30,000 young carers and young adult carers (up to the age of 24) to cope with their caring role through specialised services and centres across the UK.

Follow #ycad or visit https://www.carers.org/young-carers-awareness-day to find out more about Young Carers Awareness Day and how you can get involved.

Easington MP backs Run Peterlee Sport Relief charity mile

Run PeterleeEasington MP Grahame Morris is calling on local residents to get involved with Run Peterlee, ahead of the Peterlee Sport Relief charity mile on Sunday 20th March.

Local Running Club, Run Peterlee, will host the towns first Sport Relief mile at Houghall College, Peterlee, raising money for good causes in the UK as well as people living in the world’s poorest communities.

Ian Kitching, Run Peterlee Organiser said:

“The Run Peterlee event is open to everyone, from little one’s with their mums and dads, to runners wanting to compete against the clock.

The Sport Relief mile is a family fun event, helping people to get involved in running while raising money for good causes at the same time.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“I am delighted to support Run Peterlee and encourage local people to get behind their fundraising efforts for Sport Relief.

I am looking forward to the event which I am confident will raise a lot of money for charity and I hope will inspire more people in East Durham to participate in sport and Run Peterlee”

Anyone wanting more information about the Peterlee Sport Relief charity mile can contact event organiser Ian Kitching at kitch84@hotmail.com or those interested in joining Run Peterlee should contact Rob Dunn at robdunn1@sky.com

To keep up to date and register for Peterlee Sport Relief please visit – http://my.sportrelief.com/search/event/result?id=4058&location=Peterlee

 

 

UK recovery built on unsustainable foundations

ProductivityAn Opposition Debate on Trade, Exports, Innovation and Productivity highlighted the fragile nature of our economic recovery.

The fundamentals for a strong economy have been overlooked by a Government more interested in short term headlines than our long term economic interests.

The Government’s promise to “rebalance” the economy has not materialised with the UK now having record high trade deficits for 2014 and 2013. Our balance of payments, the amount we import compared to the amount we export, show a trade deficit of £34 billion. However, this figure is mis-leading and masks our trade deficit in goods, which stands at £123.1 billion.

The Chancellor promised to double exports to £1 trillion by 2020, however, he missed the target by more than £350 billion and at the current rate he will not hit his target until 2032.

Productivity is also lacking behind, with the Office for National Statistics stating that the extent of stagnation in productivity is “unprecedented in the post-war period”.

Higher productivity is essential in determining our long-term growth rate, with stronger productivity leading to stronger growth. This would lead to increased tax revenues, reducing the government’s budget deficit.

Towards the end of last year, productivity was just 0.7% above the pre-recession levels of seven years earlier.

The UK is lagging behind our international competitors, ranked sixth amongst the G7 countries and 20 percentage points behind the G7 average, the widest productivity gap since records began in 1991.

After six years of austerity the government have failed to clear the deficit, and the fundamentals of our economy are weak to such an extent that even the Chancellor has warned of dangerous times ahead.

Pointing to international threats, he failed to acknowledge the problems at home.

There has been a failure to rebalance the economy without enough emphasis on manufacturing and engineering which can create the export-driven recovery we need to succeed. Public investment remains skewed towards London and the South East, and while the government push for airport expansion in the South, HS2 from London to Leeds, and cross-rail in the capital, regions in the North struggle for investment in basic infrastructure in transport and broadband, holding back our development, despite being home to the manufacturing and engineering business that will drive forward an export led recovery.

The lack of any response to the collapse of the strategically important steel industry exposed the government’s lack of any genuine industrial strategy.

The rhetoric of the Northern Powerhouse is not met with any practical policies or support. While London benefits from seemingly unlimited levels of public investment, the Government fail to support not only traditional industry in the North East, but also emerging industries here in East Durham.

The Centre of Creative Excellence remains on the drawing board despite the potential to transform our area, delivering new jobs and training opportunities in export led industries such as media, film and digital technology.

At a time when we need to support workers to obtain skills and training to compete in an ever changing global economy, the government are kicking away the ladders of opportunity. Tuition Fees are making higher education increasingly unaffordable and the change from grant to loans will only increase this debt for the poorest students. The government failure to support adult life-long learning has resulted in unprecedented cuts to adult learning budgets undermining the work of Further Education Colleges.

The Government have not only failed on the fundamentals, but have presided over an unsustainable consumer driven recovery based on personal debt.

While UK households were running a surplus of £70bn five years ago, today UK family finances are running a £40bn deficit.

High levels of personal debt are damaging to individual families and the fabric of our society, affecting health, wellbeing and work.

The Children Society highlights the stress of debt problems affect relationships, children are more likely to struggle in school, and nine out of ten families with problem debt are forced to cut back on essentials such as food, clothing or heating in order to keep up with repayments.

The Office of Budget Responsibility predict that over the course of this parliament household debt will rise to 167% of household income, with the OBR going on to predict that debt levels in 2020 will exceed the levels of household debt before the 2007/08 financial crash.

Such high levels of debt are not only damaging to the individual but also to the economy as a whole.

The Bank of England warns that high levels of household indebtedness is likely to have a ‘large adverse effect on aggregate demand’, adding that “high levels of household debt have been associated with deeper downturns and more protracted recoveries in the United Kingdom.”

Time is running out.

We cannot continue to build an economic recovery on unsustainable and ever increasing personal consumer debt, because once that bubble bursts the collapse of family finances will also mean a collapse in the nation’s finances.

The export driven manufacturing led economy is possible, however, it will mean tough decisions for the Chancellor who will have to move away from his comfort zone and over-reliance on the City of London.

We need an economy built on skills and training, manufacturing and productivity, with a comprehensive industrial strategy that supports the real economy.

Easington MP comments on Hartlepool hospital fertility unit closure

attachment-2Following the release of information by the Royal College of Nursing relating to the closure of the IVF and fertility unit at Hartlepool, Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“We need to know the real reasons why North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is closing its IVF and fertility treatment unit at Hartlepool.

I am concerned that little effort was made to recruit the staff necessary to retain the unit, and an issue over safety has been purposely engineered with a view to closing the unit.

I fear the decision to close the unit has more to do with cost cutting in view of the Trust’s budget deficits.

It is unacceptable that services continue to be to run down and I am concerned that safety issues have been used too many times by the Trust to justify the closure of services at Hartlepool.

If the Trust’s management cannot safely secure and maintain services at Hartlepool they are failing in their duty to patients.”

RCN calls for immediate halt to North East NHS ARU closure and reveals that trust WERE able to recruit to unit as recently as May 2015

For immediate release:

Following the announcement last week that, due to recruitment problems, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is closing its IVF and fertility treatment unit at Hartlepool, the RCN can reveal today that the trust only has advertised the current vacancy once, in September, and then for only a week, on the NHS jobs website. Last week, the Trust said: “We have made every effort for some time to recruit, however we cannot continue to provide all aspects of the current service safely due to an inability to recruit embryologists.”

Sarah Dodsworth, RCN Northern regional director said: “The trust has stated that one of the main reasons for closing the unit is because they are struggling to recruit to the position of Embryologist. And yet, they were successful at recruiting to this post as recently as May 2015.

She added: “Since the post became vacant, they have only advertised the position once, in September, and even then it was only advertised on the NHS jobs website for a week.

“To abolish a successful, high quality unit, and put a number of our members- who are excellent nurses- at risk of redundancy based on a failure to recruit to a post after advertising it only for a week, is clearly unacceptable.

“We know that the NHS struggles to recruit currently, But no attempt has been made to advertise the post for a reasonable amount of time, or further afield, or to recruit from abroad. The trust must put this decision on hold until it undertakes a full and transparent consultation with the broader community and stakeholders.”

Excess Winter Deaths soar by 2.5 times in England and Wales.

Fuel Poverty2Shocking figures released by the Office of National Statistics predict that the number of people dying prematurely in winter 2014-15 are two and half times higher than in the previous winter. In East Durham the reported number of excess deaths has averaged 34 over the past 5 years. However since the total for England and Wales has leapt from 17,460 to 43,900 it is almost certain that East Durham will see a worrying growth in local figures.

The number of excess winter deaths (EWD) are defined as the difference between the number of deaths which occurred in the winter months of December to March and the average number of deaths which occurred in the rest of the year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that between 30 and 50% of EWDs are caused by poorly insulated cold homes.

The ONS figures show that fatalities in women have more than doubled with people aged over 75 worst affected.

Clive Lewis, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, says, “The latest figures show the highest number of EWDs since the winter of 1999, with many of these being older people, often living in homes with poor insulation. Yet the government is cutting back on life-saving energy efficiency measures by up to 65%. Labour believes that everybody has a right to access the basic level of energy they need to keep their home warm enough to live in. With 2.35 million households now living in fuel poverty, this government clearly doesn’t share our vision.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris said, “The average number of EWDs was already cause for concern, these new figures show that government cuts are really hurting our most vulnerable neighbours. These figures are truly shocking, particularly as this huge rise happened over one of the mildest winters in recent years. As the weather turns cold this week we are gravely concerned for the many people living in fuel poverty in East Durham.

Regrettably it will be those on low incomes and in poor quality housing who will suffer because of this government’s lack of investment in energy efficiency and home insulation schemes.”

Last Chance to Save Student Grants

Pension Equalisation DebateLabour will hold a debate and a vote on the floor of the House of Commons, to challenge the government decision to scrap student maintenance grants.

The government are planning to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds, replacing them with additional loans.

This change would mean that the poorest 40% of students going to university in England will graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, with the changes disproportionately impacting older learners, women and those from older industrial areas like East Durham.

These sweeping changes were not in the Conservative election manifesto, and the government attempted to force through the changes via an obscure Commons committee rather than holding a full debate in the House of Commons chamber.

Speaking prior to the debate, Easington MP Grahame Morris said: “Labour have tabled a motion to annul the statutory instrument enacting these changes, in the hope that we can halt the Tories’ pernicious and punitive plans.

Maintenance grants provide vital support for students from the lowest income families including those from the North East working hard to improve their lot. It is simply wrong for the government to penalise poorer students who should not have to leave university with greater debts than their more privileged peers.

The government should be expanding educational opportunities instead of forcing through changes that will make the poorest students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will rack-up in the process.”

Labour will resist these change.”

Local MP calls for tougher laws to tackle criminal driving

Criminal Driving BillEasington MP, Grahame Morris, has added his name to a Bill that seeks to bring in tougher penalties for those who drive dangerously and risk lives of innocent road users and pedestrians.

The Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill was presented in the House of Commons by Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, with Grahame Morris MP being the Bill’s
co-sponsor. They were joined by 29 further MPs, from all parties, who also backed the Bill.

The Bill has called for increasing the length of sentences, to redefine criminal driving, amend bail conditions, and to enhance investigation standards by both the police and in courts. It also calls for improving the treatment of victims and their families.

According to the most recent government figures, for the year 2014-15, 389 people were killed due to dangerous driving. Campaigners have long argued that sentences are too light and do not reflect the severity of offences.

An ongoing review by the Ministry of Justice into driving offences is expected to produce a consultation document later this year into potential legislative changes that are likely to follow in 2017.

Commenting, Grahame Morris MP said:

“Victims of criminal driving and their families must always have confidence that our legal system will deliver justice, but time and again they feel let down. I was pleased to co-sponsor the Criminal Driving Bill, which calls for tougher sentences, improving investigations and supporting victims better. The government’s review into driving offences is expected to report later this year, and this is a matter I will be watching closely so we can finally begin to deliver the proper justice that campaigners have long called for.”

Greg Mulholland MP added:

“I greatly welcomed Grahame’s support for the Criminal Driving Bill. He has campaigned on behalf of families whose lives have been affected by a reckless driver and who feel let down by our legal system. With Grahame’s support, we will continue the campaign for tougher laws until proper justice is delivered.”

Alice Bailey, Campaigns and Communications Officer at road safety charity Brake, also added:

“Brake is very pleased to see Grahame Morris MP helping to lead the Criminal Driving Bill and fight for victims of criminal driving and their families. We have long believed that our legal system gives them a raw deal and that’s why it is vital Parliament brings forward some much needed changes. The Criminal Driving Bill contains many of these changes and we hope to continue working with Mr. Morris on this hugely important issue.”

The Bill in detail:

Aims of the Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill:

A Bill to make provision to strengthen penalties related to serious criminal driving offences that lead to serious injury or death; to redefine such offences and amend bail conditions for those charged with them; to enhance the standards of investigation, both by the police and in the Courts, into such offences; to improve the treatment of victims of such offences and their families within the justice system; and for connected purposes.

Key points of the Bill
• Redefining criminal driving
• Replace the charges of Careless Driving and Dangerous Driving with a single charge
• Scrap the charge of causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving
• Increase the maximum penalty for Dangerous Driving from 2 years to 5 years
• Scrap the charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving under the influence of drink or drugs
• Increase the maximum sentence for Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving from 5 years to 14 years
• Increase the maximum sentence for failing to stop following a fatal or serious injury crash – to bring in much stiffer penalties for hit and run drivers
• Increase the maximum sentence for Causing Death by and Causing Serious Injuries by Driving Unlicensed, Disqualified or Uninsured from 2 years to 14 years
• Tougher sentencing within the range of sentences available
• Change the sentencing guidelines so that sentences for multiple deaths must no longer run concurrently
• Tougher sentences for those driving while disqualified
• Making driving licence suspension an automatic condition of bail in cases of dangerous and careless drivers who have seriously injured or killed
• Victims in cases where charges of criminal driving are brought must be treated as victims of crime until the contrary is proven
• Appropriate investigation of collisions
• Proper implementation of the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on investigating road deaths and more rigorous training based on it.
• Implementing the recommendations of the 2002 report by the CPS Inspectorate
• Government should introduce national standards requiring judges and magistrates to receive appropriate training and advice on traffic offences, including discussion of case studies, to encourage them to implement appropriately tough charges and penalties
• An independent and transparent assessment of offender’s punishment
• Release evidence to victims and their families
• Change the rules on how an offender “shows remorse” in a way that can lead to sentence reduction
• The Department for Transport should stop describing incidents of criminal driving as “accidents”
• Police forces should be obliged to implement recommendations of the IPCC