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Darren says ‘Stay well this winter’

Winter brings with it a number of challenges for all of us, but particularly the increased risk of illness as temperatures drop.

Getting the flu can be bad enough for even the fittest of us, but for older people and those with long-term conditions in particular it can cause serious health problems. The Chief Medical Officer warned this week that flu and complications associated with it – such as pneumonia – cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England – around 6,000 of which are people with existing heart and lung conditions. This is not to mention the hundreds of A&E trips to Southmead Hospital, GP appointments and emergency admissions that our local NHS sees every year over winter – official figures show that flu and pneumonia account for 2.9m bed days in English hospitals.

The strain, and therefore strength, of flu changes every year, so even if you’ve had vaccinations in previous years these won’t offer protection. And if the experience in Australia and New Zealand is anything to go by, this winter could see a much stronger strain than in recent years.
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Darren continues to raise concerns about Universal Credit roll-out

Following receipt of an MP Briefing from Citizens Advice, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones has continued to push for a delay to the roll-out of Universal Credit, which is due in Horfield and Shirehampton in May 2018.

Citizens Advice has released unparalleled evidence on the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) – they have helped people with over 100,000 UC issues since it was introduced and have seen the equivalent of 12% of new Universal Credit claimants every month.

The Citizens Advice briefing that highlighted:

– Universal Credit isn’t working for too many people.

– The 6 week wait risks pushing people into debt. Over half of the people we’ve helped who receive UC were forced to borrow money while waiting for their first
payment.

– 1 in 5 claimants wait longer than 6 weeks . Support isn’t available for new claimants having problems with evidence verification and the claimant commitment.

– Advance Payments help but are only partially propping up a flawed system. They provide people with only 50% of a payment, which covers 2 weeks, and most people wait 6 or more weeks.

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Darren praises Bristol Charity in Parliament

On Wednesday I spoke in a debate about the effect of arts on health. Amongst other things, I praised Bristol Music Trust for their work in increasing arts access, and called for support for the Musicians’ Union campaign for free movement for musicians.

WATCH here:

Read the full text of the speech here:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. I congratulate Mr Vaizey on securing this important debate. I agree with the Arts Council, which says:

“Art and culture make life better, help to build diverse communities and improve our quality of life.”

As a Bristol MP, I am proud of the reputation my great city has in support for and delivery of the arts. I say to the Minister, whose Department is making the decision on the Channel 4 relocation, that Bristol is its natural home. Channel 4 would be welcomed with open arms, supported by a booming sector with expertise and a vision for the future of broadcasting.

As the Member for Bristol North West, I represent a constituency of haves and have-nots when it comes to access to the arts. For many of my constituents, getting to and accessing the best of Bristol’s art and culture is economically unviable. That is why I welcome the excellent work of Bristol’s Colston Hall, and the Bristol Music Trust, which works from it, in reaching out to distant communities to bring affordable arts to the many, not just the few. I also congratulate them on their funding efforts to build the first fully accessible music venue in the country.

In Bristol, we rely on performers from across the world and, indeed, Europe. I therefore call on the Minister and the Government to support the Musicians Union’s call for a commitment to ensuring the free movement of musicians.

I will conclude my remarks by talking about music and performance. As a child growing up in Lawrence Weston in my consistency—a council estate on the outskirts of Bristol—I never really got to experience the arts, but one Christmas, when I was in primary school, there was a performance from a local orchestra. There I was, sat on the floor, amazed by the noise that the musicians produced and the sound that they created, together, as an outfit. I decided that that was what I wanted to do, so I went to Portway Community School, now Oasis Academy Brightstowe, which had an amazing school orchestra, led at the time by Nicola Berry, and I learned the tenor saxophone—first, in the symphonic wind orchestra and, latterly, as a jazz musician.

Thanks to predecessors of the Bristol Music Trust, I got access to instruments, one-on-one tuition, music and the ability to practise and take my grades—because of public funding. Music taught me discipline and teamwork, and built my confidence, but public funds are required for pupils whose parents cannot afford to provide them with access to music. Children from low-income families are three times more likely to get a degree if they have been involved in arts and culture than those who have not.

I am always grateful to the people who gave me that opportunity and I call on the Government to ensure that other children, in my constituency and around the country, are not left behind. We must not let the music halls of our schools fall silent across the country. Our performance and confidence as young people, as cities and as a country is based on arts and culture. I hope that the Government will continue to invest in and support local authorities and charities to ensure that all of us, regardless of background, have access to excellent arts and culture training and performance, and the ability to build our confidence for roles such as becoming a Member of Parliament in the future.

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Darren Jones MP Calls for End to Gridlock

On Wednesday 27th September, Bristol North West’s MP submitted a formal response to Tim Bowles, Combined Authority Mayor for West of England. This was in relation to the West of England Strategy Discussion paper.
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Darren visits Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones, made an educational visit to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC) today (28th September) to gain a wider insight into paediatric palliative care.

Darren met with the palliative care and bereavement support team at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children to talk about the team’s key roles at the hospital and the delivery of palliative care locally and regionally.

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Switch to Save – MP plans local energy event.

If you are on a standard variable tariff with one of ‘the big 6’ suppliers the chances are you are overpaying for your energy.

According to Octopus Energy, households in Bristol North West are overpaying by an eye watering £6,980,000 every year! That’s 23,800 families overpaying on average £293 per year.
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Darren Jones supports Breast Cancer Now’s call to Wear It Pink

Darren Jones MP for Bristol North West, has dressed in pink to lend his support to Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, which will see thousands of people across the UK adding a splash of pink to their outfits on Friday 20 October and raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

Darren is encouraging his constituents in Bristol North West to join him, and sign up to take part in the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser. The event, which takes place during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is in its 16th year and has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research.

Darren, joined by fellow parliamentarians in Westminster earlier this month, showed his support for the thousands of women and men affected by breast cancer each year, encouraging people across the UK to take part on wear it pink day.
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Scrap the cap campaign: Update from Darren Jones MP

The latest report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies highlights that standards will deteriorate in hospitals and schools, in particular, if recruitment problems are caused by on-going low pay.

With Southmead Hospital, as well as many schools in the constituency, this is one of many reasons why I strongly support scrapping the public sector pay cap – with pay increases funded by government.

The current situation can not continue. #scrapthecap

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Darren Jones MP backs campaign to scrap public sector pay cap for nurses

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has backed the growing campaign for the Government to scrap the 1 per cent cap on public sector pay in the upcoming Budget.

As the Commons returned from summer recess, Jones met with frontline nurses as part of the Royal College of Nursing’s lobby of Parliament.
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Darren Jones MP votes against the government’s Brexit bill

Darren today voted against the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which proposes handing over huge powers to the government from Parliament. It also proposes getting rid of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Here’s Darren explaining why he voted the way he did:

We have the first round of important votes next week on Brexit. This is why I’m voting against the EU Withdrawal Bill on Monday.

I’ve just come from the House of Commons, where I listened to Brexit Secretary David Davies introduce what’s called the “second reading” of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

I’ve always been clear on my views about Brexit. I think it’s a disaster. But my deep concern about this Bill isn’t about Brexit. It’s about the fact that the Bill, as worded, is a massive power grab by the government.

You elect an MP to represent you in Parliament. I have one vote on behalf of about 100,000 of you. You therefore get a say on what this country does. That’s why the Prime Minister must get votes through Parliament to do stuff.

The EU Withdrawal Bill gives the Prime Minister and her Ministers the legal right to make stuff up without requiring a vote in Parliament. That means that lots of the rights you have from EU law (such as maternity leave, holiday pay, consumer rights and much more) could be changed by a Minister without a debate and vote in Parliament. That means I can’t vote against the Government to protect your rights being changed.

The Bill doesn’t have to be this way. The purpose of it is to copy and paste EU law into UK law so that, if we leave entirely, the laws that we have today carry on as they are. But the Government is using this Bill to increase its power in a way which hasn’t been done before.

Ministers, including the Prime Minister, are accountable to Parliament so that – through me – they’re accountable to you. This Bill fundamentally changes the way that Parliament works.

It’s for that reason that I won’t be voting for it.

The final vote on this bill will be in the next few months. Keep your eyes peeled for more news and views on this from your MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones.