Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central
Keeping in touch - April 2017
Last Tuesday I got on the train to London preparing for a normal week. By the time I arrived it was clear that Theresa May was going to call a General Election. It was a bit of a shock to say the least. The Government was elected for a five year term and she had promised that she would serve it out.
So this Parliament is coming to an end this week. It’s been a huge privilege to represent you again over the last two years, and I hope to continue to do so after 8 June. I’d like to thank everyone who’s raised their concerns and who have worked with me to get the voice of local people heard in Parliament. Over the last two years, among other things, I’m pleased to have:
- Worked with Sheffield Citizens Advice to secure a change in the law to end the injustice of terminally ill people waiting weeks to receive extra benefits.
- Pressed the case for proper NHS funding, highlighted the crisis in mental health services, backed junior doctors and opposed the scrapping of nursing and midwifery bursaries.
- Set up an all-party group with Lord Bilimoria to make the case for international students, who are so important to Sheffield’s two universities and to local jobs.
Of course, it’s been a difficult two years with widening inequality, a crisis in our public services and increasing numbers of people in low paid and insecure work – all issues that I’ve pressed in Parliament. I was deeply disappointed by the result of the EU referendum, after campaigning so strongly to remain, and have worked as a member of Labour’s front bench to oppose the Tories’ reckless and destructive approach to Brexit.
This newsletter covers what I’ve been up to over the last month. As I won’t be an MP from the dissolution of Parliament on 3rd May, there’ll be no newsletter next month. But, if I’m re-elected, I’ll write again in June. In the meantime, you’ll be able to keep in touch with me on Twitter, Facebook or email.
Help for families in debt
I spoke in Parliament about shocking reports in Sheffield of loan sharks threatening victims with rape and violence, and the need for a Breathing Space scheme to help families in debt. Tackling debt problems has been a big part of my work over the last seven years. I helped to secure new rules that saw complaints about payday loan companies halve. But personal debt is still a major issue, and I’ll continue to work on it. Read more in The Star here.
Meeting Ministers on disability support
I was outraged with Government proposals for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) that could result in 160,000 people with mental health conditions receiving less support, and backed a parliamentary motion against it. I also secured a meeting between Ministers, Sheffield Citizens Advice and me to discuss wider concerns around the shift from Disability Living Allowance to PIP. Read more.
Challenging Tory Brexit
I’ve continued to challenge Tory plans for Brexit as a Shadow Minister and wrote for the Yorkshire Post on the need for the UK to maintain a close relationship with a strong European Union, even if we’re leaving. I’ve also continued to press the case for rights for EU nationals – urging the Government to change the text of EEA permanent residence refusal letters to remove the instruction to make preparations to leave the UK.
Higher Education Bill
The Higher Education and Research Bill, on which I’ve done lots of work, was affected by the early election. As there was not time to debate the amendments from the House of Lords it went into a procedure called ‘wash-up’ - a negotiated agreement on outstanding issues. Unfortunately, it meant we lost the vote on an amendment to change Government policy on international students that I’d been working on. We secured some concessions on other issues, which you can read about here.
Fair funding for social care
This week I challenged Ministers on the unequal distribution of funding for adult social care – highlighting that the extra Council Tax introduced by the Government will produce more than three times as much money for Surrey as for Sheffield. Read more.
Last month I wrote about meeting with campaigners from Sheffield to discuss the ‘It ain’t over’ campaign to beat HIV and Aids. Since then I pressed their concerns with the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel. Read more.
Sheffield leading on housing
This Government has presided over historically low levels of house building across the UK. In the House of Commons, I urged the Government to follow Sheffield’s lead on affordable housing, seen as a model for tackling the housing crisis, and do more to address the country’s housing crisis. Read more.
Save our bees
Lots of constituents have got in touch calling for the Government to keep the ban on neonicotinoids, because of concerns about the impact on bees, and I’ve written to the Environment Secretary urging a permanent ban. See here.
Meeting the Red Cross
I met with the Red Cross to discuss Can’t Stay, Can’t Go, a report on the position facing asylum seekers who have been refused permission to remain in the UK but cannot leave. Read more about my work on refugees and migration here.
There’ll probably be a lot more, but a few local groups have already arranged election hustings in which I’ll be participating. Do come along - and get in touch if you want to organise an event.
- St. Mark’s Church, Broomhill - 6pm, Sunday, 4 June
- Sheffield for Democracy – St. Mary’s Community Centre, Bramall Lane – 7pm, Tuesday, 23 May
- Education Question Time for Sheffield NUT - King Edward School - Thursday 18th May, 6 pm
Register to vote!
Register by 22 May to vote in the General Election. You can register to vote, update your details on the electoral register or change your voting preferences (e.g. in person or by post) here.
I hosted a meeting of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, of which I’m Chair. Read more about my support for proportional representation and other democratic reforms here.
Eastern Avenue Jobcentre
I met with PCS members from Sheffield to discuss our campaign against the Government’s closure of the Eastern Avenue Jobcentre. I’ve raised the issue in the House of Commons.
Pressing concerns on trees
I met again with the Council over concerns on trees – particularly pressing for greater transparency over Independent Tree Panel recommendations.
Paris-London Bike Ride for Alzheimer’s
I visited the Laurel and Limes Care Home in Broomhill to cycle a couple of miles as part of a fundraising initiative for the Alzheimer’s Society – read more and donate here.
The Great Get Together - Sunday 18th June 2017, time TBC - Manor Fields Park
The Big Draw - Saturday 15th July, 11am - 4pm - Manor Fields Park and Manor Lodge
Everyone’s Festival - 19th August 2017, time TBC – Manor Fields Park. More details to appear here.
Save Our NHS event - The Sheffield Festival of Debate has an event by Sheffield Save Our NHS - Thursday 4 May, Quaker Meeting House, 7pm. More details here.
Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SAYiT) Open Day - Saturday 13th May - At: SAYiT, Scotia Works, Leadmill Road - drop in anytime from 11.30 – 2.30. More details here.
Fabian Society Regional Conference - Saturday 29th April at The Circle, 33 Rockingham Lane. 0930-16.30 More details here.