Category Archives: Press Releases

Easington MP condemns Tory-led Government’s failing housing policy

The Tory-led Government’s policies were exposed today as official figures revealed that affordable house building had collapsed in the North East. The figures from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency show that affordable housing starts fell 21% from 1,247 to just 991 in 2011/2012 compared with the previous year.

These figures demonstrate the disastrous impact of the Tory-led Government’s housing and economic policies and the need for urgent action to build much needed homes and get the economy going again.

Labour would repeat the bankers’ bonus tax to build 25,000 new affordable homes. Together with our proposed 5% cut to VAT on home improvements, that would mean more homes, that are in a better condition, creating much needed jobs and apprenticeships. 

Grahame Morris MP said:

“The Tory-led Government is failing families in East Durham who are in desperate need of a home. We have a growing housing crisis and the Government’s policies are making it worse. Across the country there has been a 68% fall in affordable home starts and in the North East we have seen over a 21% decrease.”

“Labour has called on the Government to take action by repeating the bankers’ bonus tax to fund 25,000 new affordable homes while proposing a one year cut in VAT on home improvements, repairs and maintenance to help homeowners, small businesses and create much needed jobs and apprenticeships.”

“This government needs to think less about grabbing headlines and more about tackling the worsening housing crisis.”

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister said:

“These figures reveal the true extent of the tragic failure of the Tory-led Government’s housing and economic policies. The £4 billion cut to the affordable housing budget not only led to a disastrous 68 per cent collapse in affordable house building over the past year but hit the construction and house building industries hard, helping tip us back into double-dip recession.

“The Government was warned time and time again that its policies would make the housing crisis worse – locking families out of the housing market, fuelling rising rents in the private rented sector and leaving more people on housing waiting lists. But Grant Shapps refuses to listen, and instead spins a tale that things are getting better.

“The houses completed over the past year are a legacy of Labour’s affordable housing programme and the action we took to build much needed homes. We would act again now using a tax on bank bonuses to build up to 25,000 affordable homes, fund 100,000 youth jobs and get the economy going again.”

Grahame Morris MP Attacks Tories For Dismal NHS Satisfaction Ratings

 

Following the biggest decline in public satisfaction with the NHS in almost thirty years it is time for David Cameron to live up to his promise to protect the NHS. 

Results from the annual British Social Attitudes survey show that public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen from 70% last year to 58% – the largest annual drop since the survey started in 1983.

The study, funded by the King’s Fund think tank, questioned 1,096 people about their views on health care between July and November last year. It also found drops in satisfaction with GPs, inpatient & outpatient services and accident & emergency services.

During the 2010 general election campaign David Cameron promised that he would “protect frontline services” but these results show that the British public clearly believe the NHS is deteriorating on his watch.

The Tories and their Lib Dem allies inherited an NHS with the highest-ever levels of public satisfaction and in their first full year in charge these levels have plummeted by a record amount.

 We’re already seeing the results of the Conservative-led Government’s damaging health policies as the numbers of people who waited longer than 18 weeks for treatment in Hartlepool PCT has increased by 65%.

The Tories’ abysmal record on the NHS also includes wasting £3 billion on a reckless top down re-organisation, scrapping Labour’s waiting time guarantees for hospital treatments and GP appointment and making a £1.2 billion real cut in funding for England’s NHS services. The NHS is simply too important to keep going backwards under the Tories.

The lessons to be learnt from this survey are clear: people want to see their NHS properly protected and David Cameron has to change course to stop it sinking further into chaos.

Easington MP backs call for national action to improve care for people with diabetes

 

Grahame Morris MP has shown his support for tackling poor diabetes care by backing a call by Diabetes UK for a national plan to improve healthcare for people with diabetes.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, attended Diabetes UK’s parliamentary launch of its State of the Nation 2012 report, which revealed that just half of people with diabetes are getting the basic checks and services they need to manage their condition. The charity is urging the Government to implement a national plan for improving diabetes healthcare.

Diabetes UK also held a lobby on the same day at the Houses of Parliament where people with diabetes directly appealed to MPs and Ministers to commit to improving diabetes services and care. Throughout the day, many of those attending met with their MPs to share their stories of using diabetes services.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch, Grahame Morris MP said: “As the Diabetes UK report shows, people with diabetes here in my constituency and across the country are not getting the healthcare they need. If we don’t act now to improve diabetes healthcare then even greater numbers will be at risk of developing devastating health complications such as blindness and amputations.

“This is why I’m backing Diabetes UK’s call for a national implementation plan to improve care for people with diabetes. The Government must put diabetes at the top of its agenda if we are to prevent what is fast becoming a crisis. I will be talking to local NHS leaders about what can be done to improve diabetes healthcare in my constituency.”

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We are pleased to have Grahame Morris’s support on what is a very important issue. Diabetes has become one of the biggest health challenges we face, with 3.7 million people with diabetes in the UK and 7 million people at high risk. Our State of the Nation report shows many people with diabetes are being badly let down by the poor quality of services on offer, which puts them at increased risk of developing life threatening complications and premature death. This is simply not good enough.

“We need effective treatment, services focused on prevention, early diagnosis, and greater screening if we are to effectively tackle this issue. This is why we are calling for a Government implementation plan to deliver this. The human and financial cost is simply too big to ignore.”

Diabetes UK’s State of the Nation report can be downloaded at www.diabetes.org.uk

500 days and counting: PM urged to listen as the number of workless households in East Durham soar to an all time high.

Grahame Morris MP has once again called on the Prime Minister to support private sector jobs in Easington as new figures show a sharp rise in the number of jobless households.

The number of households where no one has ever worked rose sharply in the last quarter of 2011 to 291,000 – a rise of over 7% on the year before.

Labour has revealed House of Commons library research showing the Government is now set to spend an extra £9 billion more than planned on welfare payments and housing benefits, due to rising unemployment.

And fresh revelations confirm:

  • The unemployment Minister, Chris Grayling, was forced to admit that some Government contractors may leave the troubled Work Programme – but he claimed to be ‘relaxed’ about it. The Programme has been hit by allegations of fraud at some of the contractors.
  • The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said botched council tax benefit changes will ‘severely undermine’ the new Universal Credit set to be introduced in just over a year’s time.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“The North East continues to be hit the hardest by the Government’s Austerity programme, which is sucking demand out of our economy.

The Government’s promised private sector led recovery has failed to materialise. Their attack on working people with excessive public spending cuts, tax rises, and Beecroft’s “no fault sacking” has undermined consumer confidence needed to stimulate growth.

One year after the Government’s Work Programme started we’ve seen the number of people out of work in Easington go up by 20 %. One of the highest year on year increases in unemployment in the country.

Locally, over the past weeks we have seen over a thousand job losses with the closure of Cumbrian Seafoods in Seaham, and JD Sports and Dewhurst in Peterlee.

It is no surprise the number of households where someone has never worked has hit an all time high. The Government failed Work Programme will mean an extra £9 billion being spent on welfare payments and housing benefit rather than supporting jobs and growth.

It is nearly 500 days since I first invited the Prime Minister to Easington, yet despite being one of the most deprived communities in the country, David Cameron refuses to accept my invitation or listen to our concerns.

The problems we are now facing are at crisis point and I have once again invited the Prime Minister to visit Easington and lend his support to those private sector regeneration projects in Murton, and Peterlee that continue to face unjustifiable delays at this time”

 

Easington MP raises awareness of take your meds campaign, just like that

 

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, is supporting the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) campaign highlighting the importance of taking prescribed medication as directed by your doctor, pharmacist or nurse, and where you can go for help.

Around 29 per cent of people in the North East have returned medicines without using them, while around 25 per cent have thrown them away putting their heart health at risk.

 

The statistics have prompted the BHF to launch its Just Like That campaign, featuring the late great comedian Tommy Cooper, urging people with heart problems, high cholesterol and high blood pressure to take their medications.

Nearly 60 percent of people in the North East have high cholesterol and more than 30 per cent have high blood pressure. These conditions are known as invisible killers because they don’t have symptoms but left untreated slowly damage blood vessels in the heart and make it easier for potentially deadly clots to form causing a heart attack or stroke.

Grahame Morris MP said: “The British Heart Foundation has highlighted that many people struggle to take their medication as prescribed and so it’s important to spread the message that there is help out there.

“The nation’s heart charity is raising awareness of a very important issue and anyone who is worried about their medication should give the charity’s friendly and qualified nurses a call for support and guidance.

“I hope this campaign is successful in helping my constituents take Tommy’s catchphrase to heart and they take their medicines, just like that.”

The BHF is asking anyone struggling with their medication to phone its nurses via its Heart Helpline on 0300 333 1 333 or to visit bhf.org.uk/tommy.

Watchdog not Lapdog

Grahame Morris MP has backed Which?’s Watchdog not Lapdog campaign to show support for a strong, open and proactive financial regulator that stands up for consumers.

The Financial Services Bill which is currently going through parliament will change how the financial services industry is regulated, creating a new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with responsibility for protecting consumers.

Mr Morris, who today adopted the Which? Watchdog agrees that after the financial crisis and disasters like the payment protection insurance (PPI) mis selling scandal, the new regulator must:

Be ready to show its teeth – issue fines that are big enough to act as deterrents and promote competition by making sure products are transparent, simple to compare and easy to switch between.

Not be afraid to bark – tell consumers when firms are found to have broken the rules, what it is investigating and what it is going to do to stop it.

Sniff out dodgy products – take a more proactive approach and ban dodgy financial products and misleading adverts before they cause problems. Lessons must be learnt from the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal.

Grahame Morris MP, says:

“At a time when money is tight it’s really important that the new financial regulator is a watchdog that puts consumers at the heart of everything it does.”

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says: 

“People have told us they want a regulator that stands up to the financial services industry and fights on behalf of the consumer. The Which? Watchdog represents everything the new financial regulator must be. We need a financial watchdog that is ready to show its teeth to the banks, bark at poor customer service and sniff out dodgy financial products.

To find out whether your friends and family’s MPs have adopted the Which? Watchdog visit www.which.co.uk/watchdogadoption.

Easington MP accuses Coalition of “running amok” with the NHS

Health select committee member and Labour MP Grahame Morris said that the planned outsourcing of treatments was part of a massive shift towards backdoor privatisation of all public services.

And he predicted that when the full extent of the coalition’s agenda is made clear, ministers will suffer a huge public backlash.

In a Westminster Hall debate spearheaded by the Easington MP on ‘outsourcing to the private sector by government departments’ he claimed politicians were in danger of losing control of public services as the influence of business over public policy was set to rise due to Coalition reforms.

“Ordinary people oppose rapid upheaval and fundamental reforms to public services,” he said.

“Yet this government has run amok with the NHS and forged ahead with public service ‘reform’ and outsourcing at a breakneck speed.”

He insisted that Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude had exposed the government’s real agenda by saying he wanted to  “extend competition in the provision of public services further and faster than ever before” with no bias between public and private sector providers.

Mr Morris said: “His government is out of step with the public on public service reform.

“Whereas ordinary people want public services in public hands for the public good, the government wants public services outsourced to business for the good of private profit.

“Whereas ordinary people want universalism, the government wants to decentralise, remove targets and create local variations and postcode lotteries, going against the idea of standardised and universal access.

“Frontline workers are being treated like pawns in a game of chess facing constant change, reorganisations and regarding at the whim of the political elites.

“Across the public sector, workers know that this latest policy move, towards the mass outsourcing of services and a free-for-all for businesses is the last hurrah.

“It means the end of job security for staff.

“It means the end of nationally determined pay, terms and conditions.”

Mr Morris predicted that under the coalition public services will become “ever more fragmented, unstable and variable offering short-term and risky employment not by the state but by any fly-by-night private outfit.”

He pointed to the contracting out of police services, 999 call centres, benefits administration and road building as the pace of government out-sourcing gathers speed.

“As more services are passed over to the private sector there is also a stark danger that we lose control over our public services altogether,” Mr Morris added

 

MP Calls for National Standards for Prostate Cancer Care

Easington MP Grahame Morris has expressed support for work being undertaken by The Prostate Cancer Charity to identify a national set of standards of quality prostate cancer care.

 After a wide-ranging consultation with people affected by prostate cancer, The Prostate Cancer Charity has compiled a draft set of standards that set out what good quality care looks like. The Charity is now calling on men who have been affected by prostate cancer, their partners and healthcare professionals to provide feedback on the standards, to ensure they reflect the care men with prostate cancer need.

Once finalised, The Prostate Cancer Charity will be working with the Government, health professionals and commissioners to ensure these standards are implemented across the country, so that men everywhere receive the same high quality care – regardless of where they live.

Grahame Morris MP said,

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, which is why I believe it’s essential we know exactly what people affected by the disease require and expect from our health service”

“I am therefore delighted to back calls for national standards of care, and would urge anyone with direct or indirect experience of the disease to feed back on The Prostate Cancer Charity’s draft standards. Men everywhere deserve quality prostate cancer care, and delivering that is what this initiative is all about.”

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said:

“It’s fantastic that Grahame Morris has backed our call, and I look forward working with him over the months ahead to make this a reality”.

“We need national standards of quality prostate cancer care to ensure that healthcare providers and NHS staff know what services and level of care they should be providing to patients. We also need standards to ensure that men who have, or are concerned about, prostate cancer know exactly what level of care and support they are entitled to receive.

“Before we finalise our standards we need to be absolutely clear that they reflect what men with prostate cancer want – which is why we want to hear from as many people with experience of the disease as possible.”

To view and feedback on The Prostate Cancer Charity’s draft standards of quality prostate cancer care visit: www.prostate-cancer.org.uk/takeaction

Save Our Pubs

Grahamemorris BPW3Easington MP Grahame Morris is calling on the Chancellor to save our pubs on the eve of the budget.

The newly elected Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group has called on the Government to cancel the 2% above inflation tax rise on beer in the budget, which would result in a 5-10p hike on the price of a pint in the pub.

Speaking on the eve of the budget, Grahame Morris MP said:

“In the North East pubs are closing at an alarming rate of one every fortnight. Rural pubs, those at the heart of our communities, are being hardest hit closing at a rate of six a week.

Good pubs are essential for healthy communities; they allow people of all ages to socialise in a safe and relaxed environment. They are a social hub especially for smaller more isolated communities”

CAMRA, Campaign For Real Ale, are calling on the Government to take action following research showing that 16 pubs now close across the country on a weekly basis.

In just six years there has been a 30% collapse in the volume of beer sold in pubs as more than 7,000 pubs have closed, with off-sales about to overtake beer sale in pubs for the first time ever.

The UK now has the second highest duty on beer in the European Union, paying on average over £1 in beer duty and VAT for every single pint you buy in the pub.

Mr Morris added:

“High beer taxes are forcing people out of pubs into drinking at home. This is not good for the community as we see more alcohol on our streets.

Supermarkets continue to undermine beer sales in community pubs offering alcohol for as little as 50p a pint. This cannot continue if we are to save our Great British pub.

I ask the Chancellor not to price pubs out of the market – give beer a break and cancel the beer duty rise”

Grahame Morris MP joins The Big Switch to cut energy bills

Easington MP Grahame Morris has backed ‘The Big Switch’ campaign for consumers to get a cheaper deal on their energy bills.

The Big Switch, launched last month by consumer champion Which? and 38 Degrees, is a new way for people to buy their energy. This will be the first time in the UK that a very large number of people will join together as a group to negotiate a deal with energy companies.

Grahame Morris is urging constituents to join the more than 200,000-strong group who have already signed up to The Big Switch, and to use their collective power to try to cut their energy bills and help shake up the market.

Which? has invited all energy companies to take part and will be negotiating with them to secure the cheapest deal. Energy companies will be asked to submit a market leading deal and take part in a reverse auction. If a deal is secured, Which? will contact everyone who signed up with a personalised savings estimate. Which? will handle the switching process, making it as quick and easy as possible.

Grahame Morris, says:

“Soaring energy bills are driving up inflation and contributing to the cost of living crisis afflicting tens of thousands of families across the North East. Labour believes that community action, including collective purchasing, is essential to reforming our energy market, and I am pleased to support the Big Switch campaign.”

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 

“We know people are really struggling with their bills as household incomes are squeezed so it is encouraging that over 200,000 people are taking action to get a better deal on their energy bills.

“There is still time for people to join The Big Switch to get a cheaper deal so spread the word to your friends and family.”

Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint said:

“Collective switching is a simple but potentially trailblazing way to give people more control over their energy bills. When people come together, they will have more power to negotiate cheaper energy bills with the big energy companies.”

“It sets an exciting precedent which organisations such as local authorities and housing associations could take up to negotiate better energy deals on behalf of their residents. Our energy market needs reform – and people power is the first step.”