News

Wigan’s Lisa back Labour’s call for people to switch

Wigan’s MP Lisa has backed calls from colleague Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commenting on the Independent on Sunday’s investigation into the Great British Energy Rip-Off, which showed that the big six energy companies still have a stranglehold in their former monopoly areas, the MP said: “It’s no wonder the energy giants are so shame-faced about hiking up energy bills when they have a stranglehold over the energy market. People talk about the big six, but in most parts of the country there’s only one big supplier in town.

“It cannot be right that customers who have stuck with their old supplier pay a premium for their loyalty.

“The time has come to create a tough new regulator to police the energy market properly and force the energy companies to pass on price cuts to the public.”

Lisa said: “Until the next Labour Government can introduce a fairer system for energy regulation people should take advantage of Labour’s switch together scheme and force the energy monopolies to lower prices.”

Details of Labour’s SwitchTogether scheme to help lower energy bills can be found here: http://www.switchtogether.org.uk/

October 29, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

As child poverty increases, social workers must be supported

Relationships are vital for children and most will look first to their family. For others, though, it might be their social worker, teacher, independent reviewing officer, nurse or any other member of the diverse children’s workforce to whom they turn. That is why I believe that we fail children if we fail to support the people who work with them.

Yet for some time these frontline workers have been under significant and increasing pressure, so that now, in places, the system is creaking at the seams. With rising numbers of children in care, nearly eight in every 10 social workers say their caseloads are unmanageable. Teachers report more and more children turning up for school hungry and unready to learn, while charities such as the NSPCC report that neglect is going unnoticed.

The government has failed to acknowledge that what happens outside schools has a huge impact on children’s ability to do well within them. Since the coalition took office, out-of-school support for children has taken above-average cuts through the early intervention grant and local authority budget settlements, youth services have shrunk or disappeared, and financial support for low-income families has diminished. It is hardly surprising, then, that child poverty is projected to rise and frontline workers are under more pressure.

Immediate action is a moral imperative. Ministers need to remind other agencies of their responsibilities to children so that the crucial job of keeping children safe does not revert simply to social workers and teachers. Despite supporting the adoption reforms, pressures on social workers must not be allowed to increase further, which is why I have urged caution in applying new targets. Speed is important, but it should never be at the expense of the quality and sustainability of child placements.

Finally, we must take seriously requests from frontline social workers for more help with paperwork – reducing it when it is unnecessary and offering support when it is essential. By doing that, they can spend more time with children to better understand their priorities; putting young people’s voices at the heart of the decisions taken with and for them.

There is much that can be done immediately, but there are no quick fixes. In the long term, reshaping public services so that they are preventive and not solely crisis management will make the biggest difference for frontline staff and for children.

This article was originally published in The Guardian on 24 October 2012

October 25, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa blasts Government inaction on youth unemployment

Young people in Wigan are paying the price for this government’s economic failure as long term youth unemployment in our area continues to soar

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, Lisa Nandy MP said: “These figures offer no let up for young people in Wigan who are increasingly shut out of the jobs market because of this Government’s economic failure.

“Long term youth unemployment here in Wigan is up  159% in the last year, but ministers still refuse to take decisive action.

“Labour’s not waiting for the election to take action. Our Youth Jobs Taskforce is pulling together the best ideas from across the country to take action now, such as Wigan Council’s apprenticeship programme.  

Lisa continued: “This Government’s disastrous economic plan continues to have damaging implications for Wigan. Ministers should be making youth unemployment their top priority and I will continue to challenge them on this.”

October 25, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy MP backs Guide Dogs’ Safe and Sound campaign

MP Lisa sets blistering lap time on Scalextric track at party conference. Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is supporting a Guide Dogs campaign (www.guidedogs.org.uk/campaigns) which highlights the potential danger that quiet electric and hybrid vehicles present to visually impaired people.

Lisa showed her support for the Safe and Sound campaign when visiting the Guide Dogs’ stand at the recent Labour Party Conference. The imaginative stand featured a large Scalextric track, complete with Guide Stig dressed in a white racing suit and helmet, and conference delegates were invited to post their best times on a leader board.

After achieving a respectable lap time of 3.2 seconds, Lisa said: “I’m pleased to support Guide Dogs’ Safe and Sound campaign, because quiet vehicles pose a real danger to all pedestrians, especially those living with sight loss.

“I think Guide Dogs did a great job of raising awareness of a serious issue in a fun way.”

October 18, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

MP Lisa on the right line

BT has agreed to clean up a Pemberton eyesore in response to a campaign led by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and local Councillor Paul Prescott. Residents had raised serious issues of anti social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti linked to the BT phone box situated on Banks Avenue Pemberton, which has caused concern and disturbance to the local community for several years.

Lisa wrote to the Chief Executive of BT raising concerns over graffiti and the inappropriate advertising of junk food on the phone box. Lisa and Cllr Prescott pointed out to BT, that the phone box no longer served any function as, due to the vandalism, it was inoperable.

In response BT have now agreed to repair the phone box, clean up the graffiti, take down the advertising and seek permission from Wigan Council to remove the kiosk permanently.

Lisa said: “I am delighted that BT have agreed to deal with this eyesore. The kiosk has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour for some time and finally residents have got the action they deserve.”

October 17, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy addresses Compass rally at Labour Party Conference

Addressing the Compass Rally at Labour Party Conference this month, Lisa Nandy quoted former Labour leader Harold Wilson and called for the Labour Party to become the ‘moral crusade’ it once was.  Speaking on a platform with Guardian journalists John Harris and Polly Toynbee, Shadow Cabinet members Owen Smith MP, Jon Trickett MP and Chuka Umunna MP and Baroness Ruth Lister, Lisa Nandy said:

“Over the course of my lifetime Britain has grown more unequal. We are a country where a small number of people hold an astonishing proportion of wealth and power. We remain a country where, for children being born today, the lives of their parents will determines, more than anything else, their own.

Over my lifetime public services – gas, water, railways – have been sold off for profit, amassing wealth for a few but leaving pensioners choosing between heating and eating, and the railways completely off limits for many.

Today British multinationals are allowed to rampage across the globe, putting profits before people with appalling consequences for them and the environment, with virtual impunity here and overseas.

And we have a Government that seeks to divide people from one another to preserve the status quo: they pit young against old, women against men, citizens against immigrants and the working poor against the unemployed. They justify it by telling us there is no alternative.

The labour movement cannot for one moment allow that sense of hopelessness to take hold. People look to us for hope, optimism and ambition. Somewhere along the line they stopped believing in us as a moral crusade but that’s what we must become that again not just to win, but to change this.

Our urgent priority is to prove there is a radical alternative, one that challenges those principles that have held over my lifetime despite so much evidence to the contrary. That private is inherently better than public, that individuals rank above the collective interest, that wealth is a measure of success.

For some time now I have said that we need to demonstrate that something different is possible, with actions not with words. We need those bold, flagship policies that give people something tangible to hold onto and a sense that we get it.

I think people cannot wait for these for much longer. Increasingly children are growing up in the UK hungry and cold, foodbanks are springing up across Manchester and the rest of the UK in response to families unable to feed themselves, young people are without work losing confidence by the day, a growing army of families are working every day for wages so low they have to be topped up by state handouts, and older people right now here in Manchester are ending their lives without dignity. 

So I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a few of the things I would like to see in our next manifesto. It’s a wish list, not an announcement, but while Jon is here, here are some of my big wishes:

  • A child income guarantee. It cannot be right that children are stealing to eat, relying on food banks both in working and workless households, and that 4 million will be growing up hungry by the next election. In Scandinavia children are guaranteed a minimum income by the state. No more child hunger.
  • Taxing unearned wealth. We cannot keep squeezing the working poor. They quite simply have nothing left to give. I’d like to see us look seriously at Andy Burnham’s proposal of land value taxation.
  • A new vision for social care, starting with the right to request flexible working to care for elderly parents. It isn’t just a question of whether the state or the market steps in. We need to reshape our priorities in society around family, not work.
  • Votes at 16 to give this generation a real say in the society that we are creating for them. The problems we create now are ones they will inherit. It appals me that they don’t have a say in those decisions right now.
  • A new vision for our education system, one that’s based on collaboration, not competition.
  • And I’d like to see companies that have committed human rights or environmental abuse barred from receiving state support, including public contracts, and barred from listing on the London Stock Exchange. The LSE should not be home to abuse of human rights and we should simply not allow it.
  • A humane immigration policy

Bobby Kennedy famously said some men see things as they are and say why, he said, I dream things that never were and say why not. That should be in the forefront of all of our minds as we approach the next election.

The commitments I’m suggesting about are big and ambitious, if we win the next election we will have to choose which we prioritise, but we must think big if we’re going to change this. Child income guarantee, a fairer more sustainable tax system, these are ideas worthy of the party that introduced national insurance, the NHS, comprehensive education and the minimum wage, and frankly, today in Britain, nothing smaller will do.”

October 15, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy addresses Labour Friends of Palestine and Middle East meeting

At a packed Labour Party Friends of Palestine and the Middle East fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference, Lisa Nandy highlighted the role of British business in the occupied Palestinian territories.

She said we needed to send a clear message to those businesses that were the face of Britain in countries such as Palestine and all other countries in conflict that they should be upholding the highest possible standards of ethical behaviour.

Lisa called for any company involved in the violation of human rights to be delisted from the London Stock Exchange, for proper labelling to be enforced on products from the Occupied Territories and for Government to cease contracts and public procurement for any company involved in unethical behaviour.

October 12, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy hosts Social Media session at Labour Conference with YouthZone and O2

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy chaired a discussion at Labour Party conference in association with O2 on social media and its place in political campaigning.

The panel included O2 Think Big’s Robert Aitken, Young Labour’s Simon Darvill, Lord Steve Bassam and Tom Watson MP.

The event can be viewed here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjtObF-DQpQ&list=UUSANGhOju90XRJa8TU0UVAQ&index=1&feature=plcp

October 12, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy addresses New Statesman and Medical Aid for Palestinians event at Labour Conference

Last week MAP hosted a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference in association with the New Statesman entitled, ‘New Thinking on Palestine: What Role Can British Policy Play?’ The panel included Phyllis Starkey, MAP Trustee and former Labour MP; Ian Lucas MP, Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Families; and Councillor Attalah Said. It was chaired by the Editor of the New Statesman, Jason Cowley.

Lisa Nandy, Shadow Minister for Children and Families said the following:

Over the course of the few days during which she had been in the West Bank, Nandy said, there had been many things that had made her upset and angry on the behalf of Palestinian people “who were being systematically stripped of their dignity”. However, the thing that concerned her most as the Shadow Minister for Children and Families was what was happening to children in Palestine. “Palestinian children,” she said, “only have the opportunity to meet the other side when they are watching their parents being humiliated at checkpoints; when they are walking miles to school because somebody has built a wall between their home and their school; when they are having names called at them by settler communities; when they are watching water being siphoned off from them in the Jordan Valley so that they don’t have enough water to wash in or to drink, while just a few miles away within their actual line of sight they are seeing settler children who are swimming in swimming pools.” This situation, Nandy commented, is creating a sense of hate, hopelessness and despair and the time for action is now.

Focusing her remarks on the role of British companies in helping to perpetuate a system that “is trampling over the very basic rights of Palestinians,” Nandy said she was shocked and appalled when she got to the West Bank to see that there were several British-based multinationals helping to prop up the system.

Singling out G4S, which was in charge of security at the Labour conference, Nandy spoke about the role the company is playing, providing services under contract with Israel to Israeli prisoners in detention facilities, including Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank. As part of that contract they are involved in transferring prisoners to Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as restricting family visiting rights to young people under the age of 18 in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nandy stated, was a crucial land mark in recognising how important it is to uphold the rights of the child across the globe. “The truth,” she continued, “is that if you threaten children’s rights anywhere, you threaten children’s rights everywhere.”

Other examples of British based companies included Veolia, which runs waste management companies under contract to local authorities in the UK whilst being involved in the development and running of an illegal tram system across the West Bank, and Eden Springs which siphons water from the Golan Heights and then provides that water for profit to the Westminster and Scottish governments.

Although she has raised these concerns with governments repeatedly over the last couple of years, they have said it is not a matter of public significance, despite the fact that these companies are in receipt of public money and hold significant public contracts.

G4S has said that it will exit from the work that they are doing under contract with Israel at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, however, Nandy said, it is “making a mockery of our commitment to human rights in the UK”. Referring to Professor John Ruggie’s set of principles for business and human rights, she stressed the importance of recognising that the same ethical responsibilities that apply to individuals and to states also apply to businesses. Three things need to happen, she said:

1. The London Stock Exchange cannot continue to be a home to companies involved in perpetrating gross human rights and environmental violations around the world. Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange should be assessed for their environmental, social and human rights impact.

2. Labelling needs to be more clearly defined. Often goods that are labelled as being from Israel are actually from the occupied Palestinian territory.

3. Public contracts should not be awarded to firms that consistently violate human rights.

This, Nandy suggested, is “not only a moral imperative because of our obligation to the Palestinian people or to children, it is a priority because we have to do everything we can to help create a level playing field so that those businesses that are upholding the right standards are encouraged to flourish.” These companies, she continued, “are our public face around the world – in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory – these companies represent Britain.”

October 12, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Attracting and Retaining Excellent Social Workers Depends on a Better Social Work System

Originally Published in Huffington Post:

Last week the IPPR proposed a new graduate scheme for social workers, run by a social enterprise Frontline which would be independent of government. Frontline would train top graduates at summer school who then would spend a year training on the job in a local authority, before committing to a minimum of two years working with disadvantaged children.

The report is based on a very welcome recognition that good relationships are crucial to children’s lives and that very often the social worker is the critical adult in a vulnerable young person’s life. Ensuring we have excellent, highly motivated people who are empowered to do better by children than they currently can is a priority. But while individuals are one of the most critical factors in changing children’s lives, that should not allow us to ignore the wider pressures in the social work system – pressures which are becoming intolerable for too many good social workers for a number of reasons.

Firstly, since Lord Laming’s report into the tragic death of Victoria Climbie there has been a recognition that it is everybody’s responsibility in society to keep children safe from harm. Labour’s 2004 Children Act made that a statutory duty and introduced comprehensive guidance, Working Together, which aimed to empower the police, health services and others to do it. Charities warn that the pressures on other agencies, coupled with the Government’s reduction of Working Together and their catastrophic health reforms, has left other agencies increasingly retreating into their own core functions. This leaves social services under greater pressure than before.

Yet this is also at a time when the level of resources available to them has been reduced – through huge cuts to the Early Intervention Grant, youth services and local authority children’s services departments in areas where there is the greatest need. Meanwhile there are rising numbers of children in care, for many reasons including poverty. These factors have left nearly eight of every 10 social workers saying their caseloads are now unmanageable.

This is dangerous because it means that many of the people whose job it is to listen to and understand the children they support simply do not have enough time to do it. Three of the things highlighted by Professor Eileen Munro in her review of the profession – cutting administrative burdens, improving administrative support and putting in place robust management systems – would help immediately and the government’s progress on these has been too slow.

But in the longer term reshaping our public services so that they are active agents of prevention, not crisis management services, is vital. That is why Labour is right to say that a change of course on the economy is not only badly needed but would be our top priority in government.

Earlier this year I met with children to discuss what they value in the adults who work with them. Like the IPPR report, they believed it was essential those people had high aspirations for them, and they said that very often they do, with amazing consequences. But they also believed that the adults who support them need to understand their lives, which is one of many reasons why, alongside top graduates, we must retain the ability to attract people through other routes and from other backgrounds.

Finally, despite shortages of social workers there are currently many graduate social workers out of work. The shortage is in no small part caused by a lack of people with experience who stay in the system. Burnout is cited frequently as a key reason for high turnover. That is why it is essential that while we continue to strive to attract and promote excellent social workers from all backgrounds we do not lose sight of the wider system which will determine our ability to retain them.

October 10, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment