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Darren speaks to BBC Bristol about GKN

GKN employ 59,800 people, including 1,900 at their Bristol sites. Their Aerospace division is vital to UK defences, and to other UK Aerospace businesses who rely on their supplies.

A week ago, GKN lost a shareholder vote on a Melrose hostile takeover. Melrose are a US firm who are know to buy and quickly liquidate businesses, meaning that thousands of GKN jobs could be at risk.

Darren spoke to BBC Bristol about what he was doing about this, in the face of a government not willing or able to intervene in the takeover despite economic and defence interests at risk.

 

 

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Darren speaks on GKN

Melrose is continuing with its hostile take over bid for GKN, and Airbus (GKNs largest customer) has said it can’t work with a business like Melrose. In response to the Government, Melrose has said it will keep GKN in North Bristol for the next five years.

Watch what Darren had to say about the matter below:

 

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MP visits Shirehampton Nursery to discuss rising childcare costs

Darren Jones (MP for Bristol North West) visited Snap Dragons nursery in Shirehampton on Friday 23rd March to hear from parents and staff about concerns with the Government’s intention to close the Childcare Vouchers scheme, and to move parents to a new Tax Free Childcare scheme.

Today, parents can claim vouchers from their employers to contribute to the cost of childcare. However, in the next financial year the Government will close the Childcare Vouchers scheme and parents will have to use a new Tax Free Childcare system. This will require parents to register on an online system, register each child and then make an online payment for each child per month. The Government will then “top up” the balance by 20% and the system will then pay the childcare provider directly. This change was originally due to take place in April, but following pressure from across the House last week, the Government delayed the roll out to October 2018.

However, Darren wants parents to be aware of the changes now – namely because the system is harder to use, and because many parents will find they receive significantly less childcare support, in effect increasing childcare costs for parents across Bristol. Click here to read more about the changes.

Commenting, Darren said:

“I’ve already had a number of constituents in my surgery at their wits end due to the new tax free childcare system. It doesn’t work, requires parents to re-register every three months and has put my constituents in real difficulties in paying their childcare providers. To make it worse, most parents don’t realise they could lose thousands of pounds in childcare support each year.”

“Supporting families and creating a parent-friendly workplace is one of my top priorities as a local MP. This flawed change by the Government will make it harder for working parents, not easier. And it will make it harder for parents wanting to return to work too. I will continue to call on the Government to get it right. But I also call on parents to get informed as soon as possible, so they aren’t left in difficulty when the childcare voucher scheme closes in a few months’ time.”

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Darren nominates local NHS Heroes for national awards

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has submitted a number of nominations to the NHS 70 Parliamentary Awards. In July 2018 the NHS will celebrate its 70th birthday. As a key part of the celebrations to mark this milestone, NHS England and NHS Improvement have established the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards.

The purpose of the awards is to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, identify and highlight innovative and high-quality care across every constituency in England, and thank staff for their dedication, hard work and commitment by recognising and honouring their achievements

Darren said:

“ I am incredibly proud of the work all of our NHS staff do in Bristol North West and across the city, it was difficult to narrow down some of the submissions I received but I’m delighted to have been able to make nominations in a wide range of categories. Whilst the national competition is bound to be a tight race, I’ve got my fingers crossed that at least some of our fantastic NHS services in Bristol make the final stage”.

 

Darren submitted the following nominations (click the links for more info about each nomination):

 

The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award Southmead Hospital’s Emergency Dept
The Excellence in Cancer Care Award North Bristol NHS Trust Colorectal Cancer Team
The Care and Compassion Award Southmead Hospital’s End of Life Care Team
The Person-Centred Care Champion Award North Bristol Trust Hospital@Night Team
The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award InterAct Stroke Support @ Southmead Hospital

 

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The change from Childcare Vouchers to Tax Free Childcare, and what it means for you

Childcare Vouchers is a scheme where your employer provides childcare vouchers. For new applicants, it’s being replaced by Tax Free Childcare (although this has been delayed from April to October 2018 due to pressure from the Labour party). Tax Free Childcare is where parents put money into a special account for each child which is then topped up by the Government and paid directly to the childcare provider. The schemes offer different levels of support.

Childcare Vouchers will close to new applicants, from 4th October 2018. People already on this scheme will be allowed to continue, but people won’t be allowed to re-join.

After this point, all new entrants to the Childcare system will receive this bit of their childcare support as Tax Free Childcare. It’s worth nothing that Tax- Free Childcare or Childcare Vouchers are on top of any Free Childcare entitlement you have (for example, the 30 hours free childcare provided to some by the Government).

What does this mean for me?

If you’re eligible for both or for only Childcare Vouchers, you could lose a lot of money if Childcare Vouchers is the better option for you and you’re not on it by October 2018.

What am I eligible for? 

If you fulfil the conditions for either scheme, you’re eligible that scheme –

Childcare Vouchers Tax Free Childcare
Who can apply Only those whose employer offers it. This doesn’t include the self-employed. Anyone
Minimum earnings None. One parent needs to work. £120/week –  and if you’re a couple, both of you must be earning.
Child’s maximum age 15 (16 if disabled) 11 (16 if disabled)
Maximum income None Less than £100,000 per parent

 

If I’m eligible for both, what’s better for me? 

This depends on your specific circumstances.

According to Money Saving Expert, if you’re spending less than £6,252 a year on Childcare (or £9,252 if you’re a basic rate Taxpayer household) Childcare Vouchers will always be better.

Above these levels, it depends on how much you are earning and how much you are spending on childcare. You can find out more here.

Note that Tax-Free Childcare cannot be used at the same time as Universal Credit, Childcare Vouchers or Tax-Credits (including both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit). This is different to the Childcare Voucher scheme, and means that Childcare Vouchers might be better for some families who are eligible for both.

 

 

Where can I read more information about this?

Money Saving Expert has a great breakdown of this information – https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/Tax-Free-Childcare

The government information on Childcare Vouchers is here https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/childcare-vouchers, and that for Tax Free Childcare is here – https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/tax-free-childcare

 

 

 

 

 

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Darren supports Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s campaign for Orkambi

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his views on access to Orkambi for constituents with Cystic Fibrosis.

Darren said:

“ I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and I appreciate the strength of support for making Orkambi available on the NHS, this is demonstrated by an online petition signed by  113,000 people.

In July 2016, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded in its final guidance that Orkambi “could not be considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources” and subsequently did not recommend the drug for use on the NHS. I share the disappointment that will have been felt by many at this decision.

I understand that access to the drug Orkambi can extend the lives of 50% of the 10,400 people in the UK who currently live with CF, with this drug already available in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Greece and the United States.

The Government has welcomed dialogue between the pharmaceutical company, Vertex, and NHS England to agree a deal that would make Orkambi available to NHS patients. I know that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has been working hard in pushing Vertex to put forward a substantive proposal to NHS England.

Parliament will hold a debate on access to Orkambi for people with CF on 19 March 2018. I will follow the debate closely and keep in mind the points my constituents have raised. In the meantime, I believe it is the responsibility of Ministers to facilitate the end of the deadlock between Vertex and NHS England so that people can access this vital drug and see their lives transformed.

At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to tackle the growing problem of rationing of services and medicines across England. The manifesto also committed to ensuring that all NHS patients get fast access to the most effective new drugs and treatments, and to insist on value-for-money agreements with pharmaceutical companies”.

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Watch Darren on Sunday Politics West

Darren appeared on Sunday Politics West today. He was asked about the Customs Union, amongst other things:

To find out what else Darren was asked about, watch his full appearance at 38 minutes in here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09vjp76/sunday-politics-west-18032018.

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Darren meets First Bus and presses for changes to route 76

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones met the Managing Director of First bus, James Freeman, on 9th March 2018 and pressed for changes to the 76 bus route. The route no longer stops at Henbury School and has also affected residents travelling to Southmead Hospital and Henbury’s local vets.

Darren also shared his concerns about the impact of rising fares, the two-tiered fare system recently introduced and the poor service of route 2 through Henleaze.

Darren said:

“ James was aware of my concerns about the changes made to the 76 route. I wrote to him in advance of Friday’s meeting to push for at least some of the original route to be reinstated and drop-off and pick-ups at Henbury School. Along with local councillors, I also launched a petition which has been signed by over 545 local residents. I am delighted to hear First will be reassessing the changes they made.

I’m also aware from Henleaze constituents that route 2 is also a cause for concern with many services cancelled or erratic in arrival time. I made James aware of those issues and asked that he investigate.

I also shared my thoughts on the two-tiered payment policies First have recently introduced – these require customers to pay 50p extra for day passes if payment is not made via an app. Many people are not able to use app-based systems – these people are likely to be some of Bristol North West’s (and the cities) most vulnerable residents – the very people often least able to pay the extra charge.

I am clear that for people to be encouraged out of cars and onto public transport the service must be accessible, affordable and reliable”.

 

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Darren questions the government over Severn Bridge traffic

Both the Department of Transport and the Wales Office have failed to assess the increase in car travel in North Bristol following the removal of tolls on the Severn Bridge. Darren questioned the government over this failure.

Watch below:

 

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Darren calls for increased schools funding and continued free school meals

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has backed calls – ahead of today’s spring budget – for the government to rethink schools funding and changes to free school meals under Universal Credit.

New research by the school cuts coalition of unions (NEU, NAHT, ASCL, UNISON, GMB Union and Unite the union) shows that class sizes are rising in most schools in Bristol North West as a result of the Government’s cuts to education.

There is a particular problem in secondary schools because of a shortfall of £500m a year to funding for 11 – 16-year olds between 2015/16 and 2019/20, plus the deep cuts to sixth form funding (over 17% per pupil since 2010).

62% of secondary schools in England have increased the size of their classes in the last two years (2014/15 to 2016/17). In Bristol North West, secondary schools have an average of 1.2 more students in every class. The average income per pupil in Bristol North West’s secondary schools has also dropped from £5995 in 2015/16 to a forecast of £5247 in 2019/20.

Bristol North West’s primary schools are also not immune with average class sizes having risen by 0.6 pupils per class, this comes alongside 46% of primary schools seeing the pupil to teacher ratio decreasing, leaving pupils with less support.

Darren said:

“ These figures show that the Government is failing in its stated aim to even out the differences in education – 100% of secondary schools in Bristol North West have seen a decrease in the Teaching Assistant to pupil ratio, with 50% also seeing a drop-in pupil to Teacher ratio. 31% of secondary school students also currently access Free Schools Meals, which are at risk because of changes to Universal Credit – we can’t stand back and let these cuts happen – the impact they will have on our children and their families will last a lifetime. Children and young people only get one chance at school and college and we know that education cuts never heal.

As a country we should be investing in this, and future, generations of young people. I am continuing to call on the Government to urgently address the funding crisis, protect free school meals and not continue to ignore these very real problems. I will be writing to each Bristol North West school to ask how the lack of funding will continue to impact their staff and pupils – the government must understand once and for all that good quality education is a price worth paying”.