, ,

Darren Jones: “It’s time for a social broadband tariff to end digital poverty”

MP calls for new ‘social tariff’ for broadband for children on free school meals.

Today in Parliament, Darren Jones is introducing the Internet Access Bill. This Ten Minute Rule Bill could extend access to an affordable social tariff for broadband to 1.4 million children on free school meals.

On Wednesday 20th January, Darren Jones MP (Labour, Bristol North West) will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons that demands the Government use existing powers to introduce a social tariff for broadband that is affordable for low-income families.

The Bill will also call for the eligibility for a broadband social tariff to be extended to include every household with a child on free school meals, which, according to January 2020 data from the House of Commons Library, means over 1.4 million children could be entitled to receive low-cost broadband.      

The Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sports already has the statutory powers (UK Statutory Instrument: The Electronic Communications and Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 2020) to require Ofcom, the broadband regulator, to set up a social tariff for broadband. Ofcom would define what ‘affordable’ is and Internet Service Providers will be required to provide it.

So far, this bill has the support of three former DCMS Secretaries of State, Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, and Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP and dozens of other MPs including the official spokespersons for the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid.

Commenting, Mr Jones, who chairs the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: 

“Temporary uplifts to mobile data and free access to certain educational websites during the lockdown are important, but temporary. We need a long-term solution to digital poverty in our country, especially for children who need internet access for educational purposes. My Bill merely highlights the powers that already exist in law to introduce a social tariff for broadband. It doesn’t ask for new legislation or money from the Treasury.”

The broadband regulator, Ofcom, estimates that one in five UK households frequently struggle to pay monthly telecoms bill and nearly two million children are missing out on education because their household lacks broadband or a computer.

Commenting Helen Milner OBE, the Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation, said

The Covid pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated an existing inequality in access to the internet. We support Darren Jones’ call for a social tariff for broadband, which we believe will make a fundamental difference to this issue for many children and low-income households across the country. By offering routes to low-cost internet access, we can ensure that no parent will have to choose between feeding their children or helping them to learn online.”

, , , , , ,

Fix Free School Meals and implement a child poverty action plan, Darren Jones writes to Prime Minister

Following the latest Free School Meals scandal which revealed widespread problems with child food parcels, Darren wrote to the Prime Minister demanding action. With millions of children asked to learn from home during the winter spike in COVID cases, families across the country have been supplied with inadequate and unnutritious food parcels by outsourced catering companies, instead of supermarket vouchers.

Parents are the best judge of which foods their children will eat, and the Government’s approach to Free School Meals shows a disregard for the serious issue of child poverty in the UK. The standard of food parcels offered to some families is not only a national embarrassment but deeply offensive to parents struggling to provide for their children during a pandemic that has cost one million jobs so far.

An example of a 10-day food parcel received by parents.

During the previous Labour governments, two million children were lifted out of poverty. Yet since 2017, there has been a 52% increase in children living in destitution in the UK. Darren raised the lack of a child poverty strategy in any of the Chancellor’s economic policies during the last Financial Statement and this admission remains unaddressed.

Darren followed up his letter to the Prime Minister by giving an assessment of the Government’s dismissive attitude towards child poverty on Channel Four News, January 12th. You can read Darren’s letter in full below:

,

Darren demands urgent corrective action to resolve the A-Levels crisis.

In support of students in Bristol North West and across the country, Darren has urged the Education Secretary to urgently resolve the A-Level crisis unfolding in Colleges and Sixth Forms across the country. Corrective action needs to be taken now and this mistake cannot be repeated when GSCE results are published this week.

You can read Darren’s letter in full below. If you are a student that has been impacted by this discriminatory algorithm, please contact Darren directly at darren.jones@parliament.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

, , , ,

Darren calls for restricted vehicle access to Henbury Court Primary

Darren Jones MP has written to Bristol City Council Transport lead Cllr Kye Dudd to ask for signs to be placed on Trevelyan Walk in Henbury which ask parents not to drop-off/pick-up children on the cul-de-sac during the school run. This came after Darren met with the school’s leadership, who told the MP that congestion on Trevelyan Walk at peak times has become a serious problem for themselves and local residents – there had also been a number of near-misses involving students.

Darren said:

“By advising parents that driving down the cul-de-sac is undesirable for the school, [road signs with flashing lights] would in my opinion go much of the way to solving the school’s traffic problems.”

Letter to Cllr Kye Dudd

 

, , , , , , , , , ,

Darren encourages schools to teach WW1 Remembrance

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has written to all Primary schools in Bristol North West encouraging them to take part in a free scheme which educates pupils on the importance of WW1 Remembrance.

Darren said:

“During early October, I contacted all 29 primary schools in Bristol North West, inviting them to use the free lesson and assembly plans supplied by the Royal British Legion and National Literacy Trust. These plans can be used in English, Science and History lessons – as well as school assemblies – to ensure Remembrance, and the importance of peace, is universally understood. The plans commemorate the First World War generation – those who served, sacrificed and changed our world.

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, I urge all schools to get involved”!

Here’s a copy of the letter Darren sent to Badocks Wood Academy in Southmead: