It seems like only five minutes since I last wrote to provide you with an update, but nonetheless, a lot has happened since then!
As always, I’ve been out and about across the constituency speaking to residents about the issues that are concerning them. I’ve heard from them about everything from public transport, community safety to rising bills, climate change and of course ‘Partygate’ and the Prime Minister’s behaviour in public office.
Last month’s National Campaign Day was also a great success and thank you to everyone who came out to support us on a wet and windy Saturday morning. We spoke to lots of residents across the constituency who are very worried about the energy price rise and the coming crisis in inflation and falling incomes.
Scandalous Mental health support
This month I revealed that the government’s flagship mental health support for young people in schools would mean just one mental health specialist for approximately 3,000 children in the city.
I’m campaigning for better mental health support for young people in schools and I still want to hear your experiences. The amount of funding the government is providing to schools is pitiful and amounts to just 72p per child in Sheffield. If you’re happy to share your experiences with me in confidence, please email me via: Louise@LouiseHaigh.org.uk
Special Educations Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Provision
This month Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have carried out a joint visit of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities provision in the city. They also asked for comment from parents and carers.
I have campaigned for many years to improve SEND provision not just in Sheffield but across the country, but they are being badly let down by a system that lacks the funding and resources to support them.
Government’s energy announcement
The Chancellor announced the government’s plan to support people with the rising cost of their energy bills. It turns out that their announcement was a ‘buy now pay later’ scheme that is actually helping out so-called struggling energy firms rather than people on low incomes.
Labour has a plan that would keep energy bills low by cutting VAT on energy bills, expanding the warms homes discount and taking at least £200 off a typical bill.
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I visited Sheffield Renewables along with Ed Miliband MP, Olivia Blake MP and South Yorkshire Mayoral candidate Oliver Coppard to see the fantastic work they do. They are a volunteer run and members-owned organisation that fund, develop, own and operate Renewable Energy schemes.
They were formed by a group of volunteers in late 2007 who all wanted to contribute to improving the environmental sustainability of Sheffield. It was great to see the work they’re doing as a community energy project and alongside the South Yorkshire Energy centre to tackle fuel poverty.
Recycling changed in Sheffield
I’m pleased that Sheffield Council have announced that they are making changes to the current and future recycling services. The exact nature of these changes is still to be confirmed by the government, but it’s likely that they will introduce a weekly food waste collection and expansion of current recycling services.
This is great news especially because when I held my Big Green Conversation event, expanding kerb side recycling was one of the main issues people wanted more of.
Gleadless Valley masterplan consultation
Sheffield City Council have launched their consultation to gather residents’ views on their draft Gleadless Valley Masterplan. This plan would make improvement to housing, shared and green spaces, services and facilities in the area and employment skills. The overall aim of the masterplan is to make Gleadless Valley a great place to live, work, grow up and grow old.
Situation in Ukraine
Last night we saw President Putin’s Russian forces invade Ukraine. The significance of this can barely be overstated. It is the most dangerous moment for Europe since the end of the Cold War. Missile strikes were fired on major cities, airports and command posts and troops entered the country from multiple directions. The Ukrainian government has made five asks of its allies:
- For weapons and equipment
- Financial assistance
- Humanitarian assistance
- The strongest possible sanctions against Putin’s regime
- To stand united in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
The Labour Party stands united with our NATO allies and the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression and now we must match our rhetoric with action, implement the hardest possible sanctions against all those who have links to Putin and the influence of Russian money must be extricated from the UK.
There is evidence of significant cyber-attacks and Russian special forces activity in Ukraine over many months and there is intelligence to suggest that lists have been drawn up of individuals who would resist Putin and who will be targeted for arrest or assassination. We will see increasing and frightening examples of disinformation spread by the Russians and I would ask you to consider very carefully anything you see online that does not come from verified sources.
There are various assessments of the capacity of the Ukrainian army to withstand Russian forces and tragically, it is expected that this will be a short and brutal takeover, potentially within just a few days.
I believe it is important that we must remain united in our opposition to these attempts to redraw the map of Europe and to reinstall the Soviet Union’s power and influence and over the coming days and weeks we will be debating in Parliament what further steps the UK can take to strengthen our response.
But the Tory Party still has very serious questions to answer about the influence of Russian money over their party. They have received almost £2m from donors who had made money from Russia or Russians since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and have failed to introduce key legislation as recommended by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia.
Bus funding and fare rises
The government, time and time again have said that they will transform bus services across the country. But instead, they’re presiding over managed decline of our bus networks. They have broken their promises on delivering great bus services and have slashed funding across all regions. Here in Sheffield, we have seen bus services cut and bus operators increasing fares by more than 6%.
Instead of putting passengers first, the Tories are cutting funding and overseeing a failing system.
As I said in the media recently I want to see a move to full franchising to the public have control over the system.
NHS waiting time
The true state of NHS waiting times were revealed this month with more than 6million people waiting for NHS care.
In 2010 when Labour left office, 2.6 million people were on the waiting list. This figure has risen ever since, and this can’t all be blamed on Covid. When the pandemic hit 4.4million were on this list and now this is more than 6 million.
This now isn’t a Covid backlog, it’s Tory backlog. We face record waiting lists and staff shortages of 100,000. The last Labour government reduced waiting times from 18 months to 18 weeks and the next labour government will secure the future of our NHS and provide the staff it needs to treat patients on time.
Government’s Levelling Up plan
The government’s long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper was published this month. The Tories stood on a manifesto commitment to level-up communities, but after 12 years in power, every area of the country is worse off.
Here in Sheffield, the government expect us to be grateful for an award of £13million against a backdrop of £215million worth of cuts.