, , , ,

Darren visits Shirehampton School

As part of his mission to visit every school in Bristol North West, Darren Jones MP has visited St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School in Shirehampton for a festive assembly.

Darren said after the visit:

“On 15th December, I visited St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School in Shirehampton to take part in their festive assembly. I always enjoy visiting schools, meeting students and staff and hopefully inspiring the next generation to participate in democracy and politics. It’s heart-warming and inspiring to hear of the huge range of ambitions and plans that our young people have.

Education can’t be done on the cheap and schools must have the funding they need to enable all students to meet their potential. I am proud to show my support today – and every day – to end the short-sighted and cruel government cuts to education”.

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

 

 

, , , ,

Darren welcomes FCA overdraft ruling

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has welcomed news (announced on 18th December 2018) that the Financial Conduct Authority will stop banks charging higher prices for unarranged overdraft fees – an issue Darren campaigned on earlier this year.

Darren said:

“Back in May, I joined with consumer champion Which? and over 80 fellow parliamentarians in signing a letter calling on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to bring an end to excessive overdraft charges.

Today the FCA announced that banks will no longer be able to charge higher prices for people who go over their arranged overdraft limit, in radical new proposals set down by the UK’s financial watchdog.

I welcome today’s strong action from the regulator as more than 50% of banks’ unarranged overdraft fees came from just 1.5% of customers in 2016, in some cases unarranged overdraft fees can be more than ten times as high as fees for payday loans and people living in deprived areas are more likely to be impacted by these fees”.

Under the new proposals, the FCA plans to:

•Stop firms from charging higher prices when customers use an unarranged overdraft – around 30% of overdrafts are unarranged.

•Simplify overdraft pricing so that arranged overdrafts are priced using a single interest rate on each account.

•Standardising the presentation of arranged overdraft prices so that they are easier to compare and requiring a representative annual percentage rate (APR) in certain advertising for arranged overdrafts.

Darren receives Government reply to Dementia letter

Earlier this year, Darren wrote to the Health Secretary to ask that he address Dementia within both the upcoming Social Care Green Paper and the NHS long-term plan. The Minister of State for Care has now replied to this letter.

Here is Darren’s original letter to the Health Secretary:

Government reply to Darren’s Letter on Blue Belt Initiative

Darren wrote to the Government in order to ask for their views on the Blue Belt Initiative, which aims to achieve establishment of effective Marine Protection Areas around British Overseas Territories. The Government has now replied; you can read Darren’s initial letter below.

This was the contents of Darren’s letter:

As a signatory of the Blue Belt Charter, I am pleased to hear that the Government is championing an increase in the international target for ocean protection, 30% of the ocean protected by 2030.

But this must be underpinned by strong UK action in its own waters. I am concerned that the Government still has much to do to deliver well managed Marine Protected Areas in the Overseas Territories, as well as in polar and international waters.

It is concerning that the Government has still not delivered ‘well managed Marine Protected Areas’ in the Overseas Territories, according to the Great British Oceans organisation. If the Government is serious about this issue, this must change.

I’m particularly worried about the South Sandwich Islands, which host globally significant wildlife, including around 10% of the world’s penguins. These waters lie within the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands MPA, less than 2% of which are currently fully protected.

I’m sure that you, like me, want to see a healthy global environment survive into the future. Please help make sure that this is the case.

How to contact your MP over the holidays

After a busy year, my office will close from 4.30 pm on Friday 21st December to 9 am on Wednesday 2nd January.

If during this time you require urgent assistance, please email darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk and include the word ‘Urgent’ in your email’s subject line – be sure to include your full address and postcode as I can only respond to my constituents.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. See you in January and thank you for your continued support.

 

, , , , ,

Darren calls for investment in social care

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has spoken our about the need for dramatic investment in social care funding following the release of the Coram Family and Childcare Older People’s Care Survey 2018. This is the third annual survey mapping the cost and availability of older people’s care across the UK.

Darren said:

“Anyone who needs social care or tries to put care in place for an older relative knows the current system is not fit for purpose. The government continues to dodge any real assessment of the social care crisis facing the UK’s ageing population, doesn’t fund council’s properly so they can adequately meet rising demand and has not ensured parity of importance between health and social care services.

I have met many constituents who have struggled to source adequate care and find the bureaucracy of the system significantly adds to levels of anxiety and stress. The Local Government Association is right to say the government just kick this issue ‘into the long grass’. I will continue to call on the government to fund council’s properly so they can meet the demand for social care services“.

The key findings of the survey in relation to the availability of older people’s care were:

•There is not enough care available for older people, with only one in five local authorities (20 per cent) reporting enough care in their area to meet demand.

•Over 4.3 million people aged 75 and over live in areas where there is not enough social care to meet demand.

•Some 34 per cent of local authorities expect the situation to get worse in the next year, while only 1 per cent expect it to get better. Bristol City Council has only recently flagged up how catastrophic a no-deal Brexit could be for social care across the city.

Key findings on the price of care were:

•The average weekly price paid by local authorities for all residential care types in the UK is £585. This represents a 5 per cent price rise since last year.

•UK averages show that individuals paying for their own care face prices which are 13 per cent more expensive than what the local authority pays for the same care. It takes less than 17 months for someone funding their own care to spend over £20,000.

,

Darren asks Government about the ethics of autonomous and artificial intelligence defence systems

In a statement about the Government’s Modernising Defence Programme, Darren asked the Secretary of State for Defence about the work he was doing on an international basis to ensure that new defence technologies are used in an ethical way.

 

, , , ,

Darren backs Royal College of Nursing

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has spoken about his continued support for nurses in higher education.

Darren said:

“I’m continuing to support the Royal College of Nursing‘s campaign calling on the government to put a minimum of £1bn back into nursing higher education.

Nursing students are unique. Their courses are longer than other degrees and, on top of their studies, they spend additional time on clinical placement working all hours of the day and night.

Many nursing students are struggling financially because they don’t have time to work to support themselves. It’s causing some students to quit their courses.

It’s no surprise then that since the changes to nursing degree funding in 2016, there are nearly 900 fewer nurses due to start at university.

The Government must fix this. It must look again at how it funds nursing higher education, including by putting a minimum of £1bn a year back into the system to support students.

There are already almost 41,000 nursing vacancies in England alone. Without action now this could rise to at least 48,000 in the next five years, because there won’t be enough newly qualified nurses to address this shortfall.

In a speech at the RCN on 31st October 2018 the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care acknowledged the significant gap in the nursing workforce and recognised action is needed. He said, “simply put: we need more (nurses). And that means more permanent nurses”. He also said that (nursing students) “must get the support they need to complete their training so they can serve in our NHS”. Yet the government have done nothing to change the current situation!

I continue to call upon the government to #FundOurFuture nurses”.

You can get involved, and support the campaign, here: https://www.rcn.org.uk/…/ca…/student-funding-fund-our-future  

,

Darren asks the Government about childcare provision

Free childcare has the potential to boost parents’ flexibility. Darren asked the Government about introducing free childcare provision for all two year olds and younger children.

Darren Jones,Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of (a) the cost to the public purse of increasing free childcare provision to all two year old and younger children, and (b) the economic effect of increasing free childcare provision.

Nadhim Zahawi, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government has no plans to extend the early learning for two-year-olds programme. However, the government does have a range of offers available to support parents with care for children under the age of 12 (or children with disabilities until the age of 17). The government is already supporting working parents of two-year-olds with middle or higher incomes. We have also introduced Tax-Free Childcare, which will be available to around 1.5 million households to help pay for childcare costs. Parents can also claim up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit.

In September 2017, the government introduced 30 hours free childcare for working parents, which gave parents who qualified an additional 15 hours a week of free childcare.

In September 2018, the department published an independent year one evaluation of 30 hours[1]. The evaluation showed that 30 hours is making a real difference to family finances with the majority of parents reporting that they had more money to spend (78%).

Over a quarter of mothers said, they had increased their hours and more than one in ten (15%) stated they would not be working without the extended hours. These effects were stronger for lower income families.

The study also showed that over half (51%) of providers increased staff hours or number of staff to deliver extended hours.

[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/629460/Evaluation_of_early_implementation_of_30_hours_free_childcare_.pdf

, , , ,

Darren questions government changes to low-emission car incentives.

Darren Jones MP has continued to question the government’s recent decision to remove some financial incentives to purchase plug-in hybrid and electric cars.

Darren Jones MP said:

Back in October, I slammed the government’s decision to reduce, and in some cases remove, the financial incentives to purchase ultra-low emission vehicles.

This seemed reckless and short-sighted at a time when governments across the world know they must act to reduce emissions and the health and environmental impacts of air pollution.

In follow-up, I asked the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he “made an assessment of the potential effect of reducing incentives for plug-in hybrid and electric cars on the number of purchases of those vehicles before taking the decision to reduce those incentives“.

In response, I was advised – “since 2011, the plug-in car grant has provided a discount to the price of over 170,000 cars, and disbursed over £0.7 billion to support the early market for ultra low emission vehicles. Based on internal assessments made before the change to grant rates in October 2018, we expect sales of ultra low emission cars to continue at similar levels in 2019 to those seen in 2018″.

I then asked if the government would publish the data that assessment was based on. I was told “The Government’s internal assessment relies, in part, on commercially sensitive data from manufacturers and cannot be published for that reason”.

I disagree with this conclusion and I would not be at all surprised to see the number of ultra low-emission cars being purchased significantly reduce. I am very clear – the government must support initiatives that aim to reduce emissions wherever possible – not to do so is a dereliction of their environmental responsibilities”.

You can follow Darren’s work on climate change, animal welfare and the environmental protection here.