Nic Dakin MP

Standing up for Local People

News

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After weeks of speculation regarding the Government lifting the public sector pay cap, this week’s announcement demonstrates that it is business as usual. The derisory increase in prison officer pay announced this morning goes nowhere close to meeting the rise in inflation, which rose to 2.9% in figures released this week.

Despite Tory rhetoric about proposals to lift the public sector pay cap, it is clear that no such move is intended.

Rather than announcing a raise for undervalued and underpaid staff, the Government has announced further cuts in pay for police and prison staff. To make matters worse the funding for these derisory increases will come from existing budgets, which means further cuts to frontline staff.

Labour will end the public sector pay cap – because our public sector workers deserve a fair wage.

For seven years public sector workers have seen deep cuts to their pay. It is a disgrace that one in five NHS staff are forced to take a second job simply to get by.

How can it be that, in the fifth richest nation on earth, public sector workers in Scunthorpe are forced to rely on emergency foodbanks?

With public sector pay falling faster than private pay and with another increase in the rate of inflation, Labour will scrap the 1% pay cap for all public sector workers.

On the same day we see inflation rise to 2.9% we get this derisory attempt by the Tories to pretend they are lifting the public sector pay cap, when in reality they are still going ahead with a pay cut in real terms for prison and police officers. And to add further insult to injury, the Government are paying for this minimal change by further cuts to their already strained budgets.

Only Labour is prepared to ensure that our dedicated public sector workers are truly recognised for what they do for their communities by ending the public sector pay cap for all public sector workers.

Together we can ensure that our public sector workers get the pay and the respect that they deserve. 

Scrap the public sector pay cap

  After weeks of speculation regarding the Government lifting the public sector pay cap, this week’s announcement demonstrates that it is business as usual. The derisory increase in prison officer...

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North Lincolnshire Council were the lowest spenders of Discretionary Housing Payments in the country for financial year 2016/17. This is money given to councils by Government to help local people who fall into short term difficulties paying their rent. Unspent money is sent back and spent elsewhere in the country. 

Conservative North Lincolnshire Council spent the lowest proportion of money allocated, spending only 17% of their allocation on helping local people. Of the 375 councils that spent their Discretionary Housing Payments budget only eight spent less than half.

I have obtained figures from the Department for Work and Pensions which show that North Lincolnshire had £294,816 available to spend from the Government but spent only £50,735.

The seven local authorities who spent less cash than North Lincolnshire Council all spend above 45% of the money made available to them.

Discretionary Housing Payments are temporary and made available to people who due to a change in circumstances are struggling to cover their rent. It can also help with one-off costs like a rent deposit, rent in advance or removal costs to help you move into a new home.

Many people have struggled to make ends meet because of the Bedroom Tax and other changes in circumstance. The Discretionary Housing Payments is there to assist in these times of trouble. North Lincolnshire Council spent nothing to help people in the following areas:

To help with short term rental costs while the claimant seeks employment- £0
To help with on-going rental costs for disabled person in adapted accommodation- £0
To help with on-going rental costs for a foster carer- £0

The amount spent on helping to secure and move on to alternative accommodation (e.g. rent deposit) for those affected by Local Housing Allowance reforms North Lincolnshire spend £7.

This money is given to local authorities for them to spend helping local people. It is money that would be spent in the local area in local businesses.

People contact me every week where there circumstances have changed and they find it difficult to pay their rent in the short term. Too often they are refused Discretionary Housing Payments by our Conservative Council. And the money that could have been spent to help them is spent elsewhere in the country. It’s time for the Council to wake up to its responsibilities and use the money that it is given to help local people who are struggling.

Local People Are Being Short Changed by Conservative North Lincolnshire Council.

North Lincolnshire Council were the lowest spenders of Discretionary Housing Payments in the country for financial year 2016/17. This is money given to councils by Government to help local people...

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The debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill began last week and the vote on the Second Reading will be late tonight. If the Bill is not passed as second reading it dies and the Government will have to bring a different Bill to the House.

I want to be clear with you - this Bill is not about whether Britain leaves the EU.

That issue was settled by the referendum result and the vote to trigger Article 50 which I and the vast majority of Labour MPs supported.

Labour has been very clear: we respect the referendum result and recognise that Britain is leaving the EU. This Bill today is about how we leave the EU, what role Parliament has in the process and how we safeguard vital rights and protections as we leave.

Sadly, in its current form the Bill is not acceptable. We need to get the Government to address our very real concerns through the parliamentary process. As it stands this Bill will put huge, unaccountable power into the hands of this minority Tory Government, sidelining Parliament on major decisions around workers’ rights, equality rights, consumer rights and environmental protection.

It will take power away from Parliament and that's not what people voted for. Hopefully the Government will step back from this power grab and behave responsibly by responding constructively to these very real concerns. We can then crack on together with the very difficult job in hand.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

The debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill began last week and the vote on the Second Reading will be late tonight. If the Bill is not passed as second reading it...

The education of young people is important not only to individuals, but to this country as a whole. To be a prosperous UK, particularly in a post-Brexit world, we need to make sure that our future workforce are provided with the skills and knowledge needed for their future careers. To do this effectively, we must ensure that our colleges and schools are provided with the right resources.

According to figures from the Sixth Form Colleges Association, the average education funding per 11-16 student is £5,751. This drops to an average of £4,531 for 16-18 education. The rates paid by the Department for Education have been fixed in cash terms since 2013 despite inflationary pressures each year.

There is a growing gap between the funding made available to educate this age group and the actual cost of delivering a high quality curriculum. This has had a significant impact on students as the current funding levels mean that most young people only receive around 15 hours of teaching and support per week. This is considerably less than in other high performing education systems in other countries.

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If no action is taken, this will have a detrimental impact on the commitment to improving the skills of the UK population. Earlier this year, the Chancellor announced plans in the Budget to invest £500 million as part of the proposed T Levels outlined in the Post-16 Skills Plan and Lord Sainsbury’s Review. This increase in funding for students aged 16-19 studying technical courses will equate to around 25 hours per week but is only likely to cover around 25% of those in education. Higher study hours should be an aspiration for everyone. The Government was right to identify that students studying technical courses require additional support to succeed, but the same is true of young people studying A Levels and applied general qualifications – particularly disadvantaged students.

It’s because of this that I’m pleased to be holding a debate in Westminster Hall this afternoon on the issue. For too long, young people have been shortchanged when it comes to education. A high-quality curriculum needs proper investment. The importance of teaching hours and student contact time should not be underestimated. The Government has a duty to ensure that young people have access to the learning hours needed to give them every opportunity to succeed.

Young people deserve more. My blog for the Association of Colleges.

The education of young people is important not only to individuals, but to this country as a whole. To be a prosperous UK, particularly in a post-Brexit world, we need...

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My article for Politics Home: 

In its offer to the British people this year the Conservative Party promised fair funding for schools but its current proposals wholly ignore post-16.  This made sense when compulsory education ended at 16, but is nonsense now the Raising of the Participation Age means everyone remains in education and training up to 18. And it is not being honest with the electorate who would expect the fair funding promise to cover sixth formers. 

It is those very sixth formers who are now being most short-changed by our education system. 

The average funding of £4,531 per student received by Colleges and school sixth forms is already 21% less than the £5,751 per pupil received to educate 11-16 year olds in secondary schools.  This compares with average spending once they progress into higher education of £8,781 per student.  And in private schools the funding of students actually increases post-16 to reflect the additional cost - £15,333 per student!

Worryingly cuts to education funding for 16 to 19 year olds in 2011, 2013 and 2014 are fast turning English sixth form education into a part time experience. 

Recent research from the Institute of Education describes sixth form education in England as “uniquely narrow and short” compared to the high performing education systems in Shanghai, Singapore, Canada and elsewhere. Our sixth formers are now only funded to receive half the tuition time as sixth formers in other leading economies. Students in other leading education systems – our global competitors - receive more tuition time and study more subjects.

The funding that schools and colleges now receive to educate sixth formers covers the cost of delivering just three A level or equivalent qualifications, little more. As a result, the wider support offer to students has been greatly diminished.

Before my election to Parliament I was Principal of John Leggott College so I know from personal experience how keeping students busy is the best way to maximise their chances of success.  Programmes of study where students have too much free time are not effective in getting the best out of them. These students are in transition from a fairly directed pre-16 learning environment to the independent learning of HE and the world of work. That transition needs to be appropriately supported.

Sadly the student experience in schools and colleges is deteriorating. Over a third of colleges have dropped modern foreign languages courses and the majority have reduced or removed the extra-curricular activities available to students including music, drama and sport. 

Even more concerning two out of three colleges do not believe the funding they will receive next year will be sufficient to support students that are educationally or economically disadvantaged.  So the underfunding of 16-19 education is becoming a real obstacle to improving social mobility.

Schools increasingly find themselves having to use the funding intended for 11-16 year olds to subsidise their sixth forms, which risks damaging the education of younger students.

Grammar schools are particularly concerned about the funding of 16-19 education and increasingly raising serious concerns.  

But it is not too late for the Government to wake up to its responsibility to 16-19 year olds. I am pleased to support the two modest, reasonable asks being made by ASCL, AoC and SFCA to #SupportOurSixthformers.

First the Government should use last year’s 16-19 underspend to make an immediate modest annual increase in funding of £200 per student. Secondly the Government should recognise the challenge in this area and announce a full review of sixth form funding to ensure it is linked to the realistic costs of delivering a rounded, high quality education. The sort of education that we would all want for our children, the sort of education they deserve and the country needs them to have.  It is time for the Government to make true its promise to bring fair funding to our schools, including our sixth formers. 

Cuts to 16-19 education funding is turning English sixth form into a 'part time experience'

  My article for Politics Home:  In its offer to the British people this year the Conservative Party promised fair funding for schools but its current proposals wholly ignore post-16. ...

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