Paul Blomfield - Sheffield Central

Start The Week: It's the Easter Parliamentary recess, so I'm doing lots in Sheffield over this fortnight

Monday 14th April - Parliament's now in recess for Easter, which gives me a chance to be out and about in Sheffield. I'll be spending a lot of the time knocking on doors and meeting constituents, as well as seeing individuals who've contacted me over issues including city centre GP services, legal aid, child sexual exploitation, and the End Hunger Fast campaign supported by Church Action on Poverty, Trussell Trust, the Quakers and Just Fair. This afternoon I'm meeting with the University of Sheffield to discuss concerns raised by constituents over plans for the Institute of Lifelong Learning, then I'll be going on to the opening of a new building for the Engineering Faculty - named after Sheffield's first woman Master Cutler, Pam Liversidge, who is a successful local engineer.

Highlights of next week include two fundraising events, both on Wednesday 23 April, which are open to all - perhaps you can join me? From 2.30 to 4pm, I'll be supporting the Cake Break at the Harland Cafe on John Street to raise money for Cavendish Cancer Care, of which I'm a patron. That evening I'll be at the Merrie Monk on Manor Park for an evening of entertainment, with a pie and pea supper, to raise funds for the Women of Steel statue appeal - and we'll be joined by local 'woman of steel' Dot Slingsby. On Thursday evening I'll be speaking at a political forum for members of my union, Unite, at the Trades and Labour Club on Duke Street. On Friday, I've one of my regular 'open access' surgeries, I'll be meeting local Councillors and, in the evening, I'll be reporting back to the monthly meeting of my Constituency Labour Party. There'll be more door-knocking and meeting constituents over the weekend, before heading back to Westminster on Monday 28 April (when I'll be publishing my next 'Start the Week').

A shameful decision to axe 239 Sheffield civil service jobs - Ministers must think again

5th March 2014 – On Monday Shared Services Connected Limited, a private company part-owned by the government, announced they are shutting the Department for Work and Pensions office at Kings Court in Sheffield with the loss of 239 jobs. 

This is a shameful decision and reveals the Government's breathtaking hypocrisy about 'offshoring' jobs abroad. 

The civil service jobs at the DWP office were privatised in November 2013 when SCCL were handed a lucrative £1bn contract to run civil service office functions. SCCL handles the sensitive personal and confidential data of tens of thousands of civil servants in a number of Government departments. 

I've issued a statement to the press about this shameful decision which you can read here. My full comments from the press release are also copied below:

"Just weeks after David Cameron said Britain should become the 're-shore nation', Ministers have let a private company take an axe to publically funded civil service jobs from Sheffield and look set to let them move the jobs offshore. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. 

"Last year I asked the Government how many jobs would be moved offshore under this privatisation contract. The Minister refused to give a straight answer and said 'the future delivery model' hadn't been decided (you can read my question and the Minister's answer here). Now it's very clear they knew exactly what the model was and it shamefully involves all of the civil servants in Sheffield losing their jobs. I'll be writing to Ministers to find out when they first knew about these plans and to call on them to think again.

"This is another example of the Government's using the cover of austerity to scrap public sector jobs in Sheffield, while at the same time handing out lucrative contracts to private firms." 

New fuel poverty figures are a national scandal

Figures show 8,770 households in Sheffield Central are living in fuel poverty.

Friday 7th February - This week was Cold Homes Week– a series of events and activities to focus attention on the shocking state of many of the UK’s homes and on fuel poverty. Earlier this week I met campaigners from the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, which I'm backing, and received a scarf knitted by their supporters.

The Cold Homes Week campaign also released new fuel poverty figures and they make shocking reading. Over 7 million people in the UK and 8770 in our area, in Sheffield Central constituency, are living in fuel poverty, and often having to make the choice between heating and eating.  It’s a national scandal. The Government should listen to the 180 organisations backing Cold Homes Week and invest to insulate cold homes and make them more energy efficient. Insulating and retro-fitting homes will not only bring bills down and reduce carbon emissions, but it could create a huge amount of jobs. 

But at a time when families are facing record fuel bills and energy companies are enjoying huge profits, the Government also needs to step in and take action on bills. The Prime Minister should act to freeze gas and electricity bills which would save the average household £120.

WATCH my speech on Regional Arts and Culture funding. Video from my Westminster Hall debate.

Wednesday 5th February - Thank you very much to everyone who got in touch ahead of the debate and shared their views about arts and culture in Sheffield. In my opening speech in yesterday's debate I highlighted lots of the information and views that people sent me. 

You can watch the speech below:  

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You can read my opening speech from yesterday's debate and the full debate here.

During the debate, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's inquiry into the work of the Arts Council was mentioned. You can find more details about the inquiry here. The Select Committee is currently seeking views on whether the geographical distribution of Arts Council funding is fair and the justification for the current weighting of this towards London. If you are interested in this issue it would be great if you could contribute to the inquiry by submitting evidence by the deadline of February 24th. Details of how to submit evidence are available at the link below.

You can also read the short press release I sent out ahead of yesterday's debate here: Paul Blomfield MP calls for an end to London-centric arts funding

Meeting local 38 degrees campaigners to oppose the Gagging Bill

Friday 17th January – Today I met campaigners from 38 degrees who handed me a petition opposing the Government’s Lobbying Bill. The petition, which has been signed by over 190,000 people calls on the Government to fix or scrap the 'Gagging Bill'. 38 degrees supporters are rightly concerned that the Bill would stop charities and campaigning groups from speaking out on the big issues facing the country and believe it is an 'unacceptable threat to democracy and freedom of speech'. Click here to add your support to the campaign.

I share the concerns of 38 degrees campaigners and will be voting against the Gagging Bill when it is debated in Parliament next week. The Gagging Bill fails to tackle the real lobbying abuses and the problem of big money in politics, instead the Bill is an attempt to stifle free speech and criticism of the Government in the run-up to the election.

You can read my full press release here.

Freeze That Bill - Stop the energy price hike

The huge increases in fuel prices by the big energy companies that we've seen this Autumn show why Ed Miliband's pledge to freeze gas and electricity costs until 2017 if we win the next election is so important.

This will save a typical household £120 and an average business £1,800. Find out how much you could save.

But people need help now. So I’m calling on David Cameron to freeze our bills now.

Sign the petition today and add your voice to the Freeze That Bill campaign 

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Latest News

14/04/14 09:05

Start The Week: It's the Easter Parliamentary recess, so I'm doing lots in Sheffield over this fortnight

Parliament's now in recess for Easter, which gives me a chance to be out and about in Sheffield....

07/04/14 09:15

Opposing the off-shoring of Sheffield jobs, defending access to judicial review, supporting local business and travelling to Wembley - just some of my week ahead

This week I've secured a Westminster Hall debate on Government plans to cut 239 Department of...

31/03/14 07:58

Start The Week: Fair pay, the Khat ban, post-16 education, and the recognition of Somaliland - all part of my week ahead

Yesterday I was pleased to speak at the Living Wage Day (see some of the photos from the day here),...

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