My Diary Week Ending 26th November 2017
The Chancellor began with a quick confession at the start of his hour plus Budget Speech. He admitted that productivity is down, growth is down and living standards are down - all under his Conservative Government. He then waffled a lot, failed to say he was doing anything to tackle the crisis in social care and spectacularly failed to deliver the Brexiteers promise of £350 million a week for the NHS.
I'd met with the Sixth Form Colleges Association earlier in the week - whose members, like John Leggott College International, are reeling from the collapse in funding for 16-19 year old education. The Chancellor did nothing to address the shortfall of £1200 in funding every 16-19 year old compared to funding every 11-16 year old. Such a huge gap is unsustainable.
I asked the Prime Minister to promise to ensure that the steel industry is not damaged by the changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme - something threatened by the way the UK is bungling its exit negotiations with the EU. I got no reassurance in her vacuous reply so I have followed up with a letter explaining the issue in more detail. If the Government is serious about Industrial Strategy these are the things they need to deal easily with! I met with the Pensions Minister about the changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme - in particular the need for clarity around the position of high-low pensioners. I have asked the Trustees to put back the date that people need to choose until the Government's rapid technical consultation on proposed changes has been decided on, which should be very soon. It is crucial that people have all the information they need to be able to make the decision in their best interests. At the All Party Steel Group we were briefed on progress towards a steel sector deal - but again the Government appears to be well off the pace!
There were some great visitors from our area to Parliament this week. It was good to catch up with Lincs FM's Sean Dunderdale at a lobby for commercial radio. As well as being a brilliant ambassador for commercial radio Sean has worked for ever for our amazing Scunthorpe Hospital Radio.
Hull University's new Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Lea, met up with local MPs and was really positive about the sort of leadership role the University hopes to provide in the future across the sub-region. Finally it was great to join Le-An and Keri (pictured right) standing up for Palestinian human rights on a lobby for Palestine .
Back in Scunthorpe I was really impressed with the young people and volunteers I met on my visit to 119 Scunthorpe Sqn ATC (pictured left). What a fantastic bunch of people!
Likewise the team at Barclays Bank Scunthorpe were really impressive and took me through all the work they are doing to support local people and businesses on getting the banking and financial services they need.
It was good to see Scunthorpe Market busy as it celebrates 45 years of its rich and varied Food Hall. North Lincolnshire Council have confirmed they will be considering the 20,000 name petition at their Council Meeting on 14th December. Let's hope they are listening to local people for once!
Finally it was good to see local Pancreatic Cancer Action campaigners (pictured right) out and about in Brigg rattling their cans and raising awareness. Something Cadney and Howsham's Debbie Clark was also doing for the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance (pictured left). So many fabulous people locally!