Lancaster Labour Party

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I’ve spoken to many people in Lancaster and Fleetwood who have told me that they are struggling to cope with the hated bedroom tax, introduced by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in Westminster. In the North West alone over 75,411 people have been affected.

This is a policy that unfairly hits hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities or who are carers, and it threatens to cost more than it saves which is why the next Labour government will abolish it.

The Liberal Democrats have repeatedly backed the Tories to keep the Bedroom Tax in place and have refused to join previous Labour attempts to scrap the policy. Yet today the Liberal Democrats joined Labour MPs by voting against their own policy in Parliament.

Unfortunately this vote will not abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour will do if elected next year, but it is a step in the right direction and a glimmer of hope for many.

The Labour Party has been clear and consistent in its opposition to the Bedroom Tax. It is an unfair and unworkable policy that causes misery to hundreds of thousands of people by forcing them out of their homes, most of whom have nowhere else to move to.

I’m glad the Liberal Democrats voted with us today but sadly it’s come too late for the thousands of people who’ve been forced into debt as a result of the Bedroom Tax and thousands more who have been forced to rely on food banks to survive. The truth is you can’t trust a word that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats say.

The only sure way to get the Bedroom Tax repealed will be to elect a Labour government next year.
Can you volunteer to help make sure this happens?

Misery of the Coalition's Bedroom Tax continues despite vote in Parliament

I’ve spoken to many people in Lancaster and Fleetwood who have told me that they are struggling to cope with the hated bedroom tax, introduced by the Tories and Liberal...

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Local Parliamentary candidate Cat Smith has today called for support for parliamentary moves to enshrine Britain’s commitment to the rest of the world in law.

On Friday September 12 MPs will vote on legislation to enshrine the UK’s promise to donate 0.7% of our Gross National Income in international aid – in line with promises made over 40 years ago.

Cat Smith said,

“Partly thanks to UK aid, global development has been a tremendous success over the last two decades – poverty has halved, more than nine in ten now receive a primary education and 17,000 fewer children die each day.

“But there is much more to do – this generation has the power to eliminate aid dependency for good. We could enable a billion people to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent half a million a year from dying on their first day.

“British aid makes a huge difference to millions – we should be proud of what our generosity can do for those in need and what it says about us as a country.”

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Jim Murphy said,

The Labour party has been demanding that Ministers keep their promise to legislate on 0.7% for years. It was a Labour government that put this country on the road to fulfilling that historic commitment, it was Labour whose pledge to legislate forced the other two parties to follow suit, and it is Labour that has shouted loud and most often about this government’s failure to do so.

“Labour will do everything we can to ensure that this Bill becomes a law. We know that some Tory backbenchers will do everything they can to hold us back, but whatever they do, the Labour party will not turn our back on those in need.”

The House of Commons will vote on legislation to enshrine the UK’s commitment to donate 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) in Official Development Assistance  (ODA) on Friday 12 September.

Between 1997 and 2010 Labour:

  • Helped lift 3 million people out of poverty each year.
  • Helped to get some 40 million more children into school.
  • Improved water or sanitation services for over 1.5 million people.

 

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Cat Smith backs life saving bill

Local Parliamentary candidate Cat Smith has today called for support for parliamentary moves to enshrine Britain’s commitment to the rest of the world in law. On Friday September 12 MPs...

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Households in the Lancaster district have lost nearly six times as much council funding as those in the ten most well off areas of the country, new figures show.

Cat Smith, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, is calling for a fairer funding deal after the figures revealed that households in the Lancaster district have each lost an average of £286.31 in Government funding since the Tory-led Coalition Government came to power in 2010.

The ten least deprived areas in the country lost an average of just £48.35 per household.

And 13 councils, all in the south, have enjoyed increases in average funding per household.  The Isles of Scilly receive an extra £80.11 per household, while households in Epsom and Ewell district in Surrey get an extra £61.43 per household.

The figures come after Lancaster City Council lost £1.7m in Government funding – nearly 14% of its total – for 2014/15.  Between April 2010 and April 2014 the number of staff employed by the council fell from 955 to 791 – by 17% - amid the budget cuts.  Spending on services is likely to have to be cut by another £2.5m over the next two years as the Coalition’s cuts continue to bite.

Ms Smith said: “David Cameron told people in this country ‘We are all in it together’ but these figures again show that nothing could be further from the truth.

“It is a scandal that spending has increased in households in more affluent areas while some areas of real deprivation have lost as much as £1,000 per household.

“Lancaster has not lost quite that much but £286 is still a significant amount, especially for an area in the top half of the table for deprivation in which some people are really struggling.

“People understand that touch choices have to made following the recession but they have a right to expect that these choices will be fair and Labour will ensure a fairer deal for everyone.

“We will devolve £30 billion in Government funding to local councils and enterprise partnerships - giving them more powers to help local people and invest in things that really matter like skills for young people, apprenticeships, health and social care, new homes and transport.”

People in Lancaster lose cash in ‘unfair’ council funding deal

Households in the Lancaster district have lost nearly six times as much council funding as those in the ten most well off areas of the country, new figures show. Cat...

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Labour's general election candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Cat Smith, visited the Royal Mail mail centre in Preston which serves North Lancashire and South Cumbria, including Lancaster and Fleetwood. During the visit she spoke with staff working at the site about the challenges they are facing as a business as well as meeting with shop-floor staff and representatives from the Communications Workers Union.

 

Labour's Cat Smith visits local Royal Mail mail centre

Labour's general election candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Cat Smith, visited the Royal Mail mail centre in Preston which serves North Lancashire and South Cumbria, including Lancaster and Fleetwood. During...

Proposals which could allow American healthcare companies bid for contracts to run NHS services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and Fleetwood Hospital have been given the thumbs-down by local residents.

Nearly three quarters of people surveyed in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency said the NHS should be excluded from a new EU-US trade agreement.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) aims to make trade between Europe and the United States easier.

But if the NHS is included as part of the deal, private healthcare companies in the US would be guaranteed the right to bid to run NHS services.  If a future UK government tried to stop the practice, US healthcare firms could then take legal action due to the lost business opportunities.

The polling company Survation asked people in Lancaster and Fleetwood for their views during a telephone survey.

More than 71 per cent of people surveyed said Prime Minister David Cameron should exclude the NHS from TTIP, while little more than 7 per cent supported its inclusion.  Just over 21 per cent of people said they weren’t sure.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, who has been campaigning with Keep Our NHS Public against the privatisation of pharmacy services at the RLI, said: “People in Lancaster and Fleetwood are sending a clear message to David Cameron that he should put the safety of local patients ahead of fat profits for trans-Atlantic multinationals.

“The Tory-led Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act is already putting our precious NHS at risk by allowing private companies to compete for contracts.

“Including the NHS in TTIP could make this situation even worse.  Imagine a company boss in California or a manager in Massachusetts being accountable for local health services here in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

“The Prime Minister needs to make a clear commitment to excluding the NHS from this deal and re-think his Government’s damaging health reforms.”

The telephone survey involved 202 people chosen at random.

Local Residents Call on Prime Minister to Exempt NHS from Trade Deal

Proposals which could allow American healthcare companies bid for contracts to run NHS services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and Fleetwood Hospital have been given the thumbs-down by local...

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Cat Smith is asking people in Lancaster and Fleetwood to join her in turning their lights out on the evening of 4th August to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

The Lights Out campaign invites people across the country to switch off their lights between 10pm and 11pm on 4 August and light a single candle in a shared moment of national reflection.

The moment will mark precisely a century since Britain declared war on Germany and formally entered the First World War at 11pm on 4 August 1914.

The campaign is inspired by the words of the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who famously remarked on the outbreak of the war: 'The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.'

Millions of people across the UK are expected to take part in Lights Out, which will see hundreds of public buildings and iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and Blackpool Illuminations also turning out their lights.

The project is being organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations, with particular support from the Royal British Legion.

Cat Smith, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood said:

"The First World War was a conflict that changed Britain forever. It touched every family, affected every community and fundamentally altered our country's place in the world

"The centenary anniversary is a unique opportunity for us to commemorate those who served and sacrificed for us on the frontline and the home front, and to think about the profound impact the war had on our society. 

"I hope people across Lancaster and Fleetwood will join me in taking part in the Lights Out campaign and turn out their lights between 10pm and 11pm on 4 August. With the busy lives we lead today, the simple act of pausing, switching off the lights and lighting a candle will be a very powerful tribute."

Labour's Cat Smith invites people in Lancaster and Fleetwood to join her in turning their lights out to mark the centenary of the First World War

Cat Smith is asking people in Lancaster and Fleetwood to join her in turning their lights out on the evening of 4th August to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First...

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Fears that the founding values of the NHS are under “the worst ever attack” were raised during a public meeting into plans to privatise pharmacy services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood issued the warning during Wednesday evening’s No Health Sell Off meeting at Lancaster Town Hall.

Earlier that day campaigners handed in a petition of more than 9,000 signatures opposing the pharmacy sell-off to John Hutton, acting chair of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

At the meeting, Ms Smith was joined in raising concerns over the pharmacy proposals by fellow speakers, Eugene Doherty, president of the Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Council and Dr David Wrigley of the Ash Trees Surgery in Carnforth.

More than 80 people in the audience were urged to write to their local Conservative MPs Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) and David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) to oppose the privatisation of the pharmacy services.  Both were invited to the meeting but did not attend.

Ms Smith said: “Learning that the trust was taking expressions of interest from private companies to run pharmacy services was a wake-up call for us here across Morecambe Bay.

“Since the introduction of this government’s Health and Social Care Act, the number of NHS contracts awarded to non-NHS providers has more than trebled. This leaves the future of our NHS in the hands of companies whose main objective is making profit for shareholders, rather than the provision of quality healthcare which is free at the point of use.”

Ms Smith said the NHS was “in the grips of a silent sell off”.

She added: “Its founding values are under the worst ever attack.  Sixty five years ago our parents, grandparents and great grandparents stood together to make sure that no person would ever be denied good healthcare, on the grounds of wealth.

“Now, the Labour movement’s greatest social achievement is facing extinction.”

Ms Smith told how the hospital trust’s advert for the contract had stated that a “key business driver” for the sale was VAT savings due to a loophole which means that while the NHS has to pay 20% VAT on drug dispensing, private companies do not.

A campaign day held in Lancaster city centre at the end of last month revealed huge public opposition to the £25m pharmacy services sell-off, which also affects Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal and Furness General Hospital in Barrow.  More than 800 people signed  the petition on that day alone.

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Labour Candidate speaks out against NHS sell off of pharmacy services

Fears that the founding values of the NHS are under “the worst ever attack” were raised during a public meeting into plans to privatise pharmacy services at the Royal Lancaster...

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More than 6,000 homes in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency are in ‘fuel poverty’, new figures reveal.
Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the area, is calling for much more to be done to tackle cold, draughty homes, with high energy prices increasingly taking their toll on cash-strapped families.
Government figures show that 6,039 homes in the constituency are officially classed as being in “fuel poverty” - meaning they spend more than 10% of their total income on heating their home. [1]
Ms Smith is calling on the Coalition to reverse its cuts to insulation schemes. [2] 
She has joined more than 180 charities, campaign groups, unions and companies making up the Energy Bill Revolution coalition to call for a huge programme to upgrade the energy efficiency of our homes – starting with the poorest households. [3]
Ms Smith said: “It is shocking to think that in 21st century Britain so many people in Lancaster and Fleetwood cannot afford to heat their own homes.
“This can have serious consequences, especially for vulnerable people like the elderly and young children.
“Now is the time the Coalition should be planning ahead for next winter and trying to ensure nobody has to suffer in this way.
“Labour has pledged to freeze energy bills if it wins the general election next year, but the Coalition has the power to do this now, as well as to reverse its damaging cuts to insulation schemes.
“Fuel poverty is just one element of the cost of living crisis which has resulted in the average family being £1,600 worse off under this Government.”
UK homes are among the hardest to heat in Europe, with too little insulation and leaky windows and doors. 
Countries such as Sweden have very little fuel poverty, despite much colder weather and similar energy prices that are similar to the UK.  That is because their homes are so much more energy efficient.
Previous work by the Energy Bill Revolution has shown that improving homes like this would create more jobs, be better for the economy, and be more popular with the public than any other major building project.

ENDS

NOTES

[1] Figures from Department of Energy and Climate Change show that in England as a whole, 2.6m homes are in fuel poverty.  Full figures available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/199833/Fuel_Poverty_Report_2013_FINALv2.pdf
[2] http://www.energybillrevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/FP_spendingFINAL.pdf
[3] http://www.energybillrevolution.org/whos-behind-it/

Time to end the scandal of cold homes says Labour candidate

More than 6,000 homes in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency are in ‘fuel poverty’, new figures reveal. Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the area, is calling for much...

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Cat Smith, Labour’s candidate for MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has backed Labour plans for a better deal for those renting their homes privately.

In an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons forced by Labour earlier last week, Labour called on the Government to stand up for generation rent by backing Labour’s reform plans in a vote in Parliament.

Eric Ollerenshaw, Tory MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, failed to back Labour’s reforms to the private rented sector to give the nine million people who rent greater stability and certainty by legislating for three year tenancies with a ceiling on rent increases and making renting more affordable by banning letting agent fees charged to tenants.

The next Labour government will act to ban letting agents’ fees for tenants, and will legislate to make three year tenancies with predictable rents the standard in the private rented sector to give people who rent the certainty they need.

Labour has also committed to getting 200,000 built a year by 2020 so that more families can fulfil their dream of home ownership.

Cat Smith said:

“Families who are renting in Lancaster and Fleetwood are often worried about the prospect that their rent could jump up by a big amount from one year to the next. Having rented here for many years myself, I know they want to be able to settle down, put down roots and have peace of mind.

“While the Tory-led Government refuses to act, a Labour Government will give families the security of a longer tenancy and predictable rents to stop excessive rises so that they can manage tight family finances and plan ahead.

“If you buy your home, most estate agents will not charge you fees, but people who rent are given no protection and they get charged £350 on average. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people and that’s why Labour will legislate to ban these rip-off charges by letting agents.”

LABOUR CANDIDATE CALLS FOR A FAIRER DEAL FOR RENTERS

Cat Smith, Labour’s candidate for MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has backed Labour plans for a better deal for those renting their homes privately. In an Opposition Day debate in...

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Nearly 600 households in the Lancaster district and 400 people in Wyre have been hit by the Government’s Bedroom Tax, new figures show.

The figures, released on the first anniversary of the introduction of the charge, show that 581 households in Lancaster were affected by the tax between May and November last year, with 416 impacted in Wyre.

Yet a recent BBC survey suggested that just six per cent of those affected in the UK had been able to downsize to a smaller home.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: “Labour has already pledged to scrap this cruel and unfair tax if we win the next General Election.

“The Bedroom Tax hits vulnerable people in the Lancaster district, some of whom are already really struggling to make ends meet and the Government’s own figures show that two-thirds of people affected nationally are disabled."

“The Conservative-led Government has known all along that there were not enough smaller homes for people to move to - its figures for how much the Bedroom Tax would raise were based upon people being hit by the tax and show it was always intended for use as a cash cow.

“But worse still, last month’s Budget shows the housing benefits bill is rising and will cost £1 billion more than thought over the next five years as people are forced to move to more expensive private rented homes by the Bedroom Tax and the shortage of affordable housing.”

Ms Smith added that Labour would fund its move to scrap the Bedroom Tax by reversing the Government’s recent tax cut for hedge funds and a shares for rights scheme which has opened up a tax loophole meaning lost revenue of £1 billion.

Separate constituency figures for Lancaster and Fleetwood show the number of households affected by the Bedroom Tax stood at 538 in May 2013.

By November 2013 that figure had reduced to just 460, suggesting few of those hit by the tax have been able to move house.

New figures show effect of Bedroom Tax in Lancaster & Fleetwood

Nearly 600 households in the Lancaster district and 400 people in Wyre have been hit by the Government’s Bedroom Tax, new figures show.

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Labour Parliamentary candidate Cat Smith has pledged her support to Fair Pay Fortnight and voiced her anger at the Government for presiding over a cost of living crisis in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Fair Pay Fortnight runs from16 February to 1 March 2015 and aims to draw attention to low pay in the United Kingdom. Figures released by the Trade Union Congress this week show that nearly one in four jobs (24.9%) in the Lancaster and Fleetwood Parliamentary constituency pay less than the living wage. For part-time jobs the figure rises to more than one in three (36.8%).

The living wage is the hourly amount it is calculated an individual needs to earn to cover the basic costs of living. It currently stands at £7.85 an hour, £1.35 higher than the current minimum wage for those over 21 of £6.50.

Separate figures show that average annual full-time pay in the North West has fallen by £2,461 in real terms since 2010.

Speaking on the subject Cat Smith said “The extent of the cost of living crisis faced by working people in Lancaster and Fleetwood is deeply worrying. Wages have fallen dramatically in 2010 while the number of zero-hours contracts and other forms of insecure employment have increased. It is little wonder that the Trussell Trust have identified low-pay as one of the primary reasons for food-bank referrals.”

“By pursuing policies such as successive real terms cuts to the minimum wage and introducing fees for employment tribunals the responsibility for this unacceptable state of affairs lies squarely with this Government. We desperately need a change. Lancaster and Fleetwood needs a pay-rise. Labour is committed to increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour, supporting living wage employers and ending exploitative zero hours contracts. In May we have the opportunity elect a Government that will deliver achievements that we can celebrate during Fair Pay Fortnight next year.”

Cat Backs Fair Pay Fortnight

Labour Parliamentary candidate Cat Smith has pledged her support to Fair Pay Fortnight and voiced her anger at the Government for presiding over a cost of living crisis in Lancaster...

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New figures showing that an estimated 2,300 children in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency live in a household in energy debt have sparked calls for the Government to do more to help.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said she wanted to see the criteria governing eligibility for help in the shape of a £140 cut in energy bills extended to include families with children.

She is supporting a campaign by The Children’s Society, calling for government guidance to Ofgem and energy companies to be changed.

The national child poverty charity has produced figures showing that around 1,300 families in Lancaster and Fleetwood are behind on their energy bills – affecting 2,300 children.

Ms Smith, who has written to secretary of state Ed Davey to call for help to be extended to families with children, said: “No family should ever have to choose between heating and eating but that is exactly what is happening here in Lancaster and Fleetwood – as well as in communities all over the country.

“Vulnerably families have been hit hard by the Conservative-led government which has failed to tackle the Cost of Living crisis while at the same time implementing unfair policies like the Bedroom Tax and giving tax cuts to millionaires.

“Debts can lead to desperate measures including people turning to food banks and even loan sharks, not to mention causing problems with anxiety and depression.

“This can only make it more difficult for families to give their children the best possible start in life and we owe it to our future generations to provide help where it is needed most.”

Research by The Children’s Society in its recent Show Some Warmth report showed that there are more than 800,000 children living in families in energy debt across the UK.

But currently, only those families with disabled children and children under the age of five qualify for the discount.

See link to The Children’s Society report here http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications/show-some-warmth-full-report

2,300 local children affected by energy debt

New figures showing that an estimated 2,300 children in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency live in a household in energy debt have sparked calls for the Government to do...

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Cat Smith has pledged to fight the unfair Bedroom Tax affecting hundreds of families in Lancaster and Fleetwood.
She said:

“The Bedroom Tax will cost people £3,700 in Lancaster and Fleetwood if the Tories win again. At the moment, 443 people are paying, but at least many more will be caught if the Tories win again. Labour has pledged to abolish the Bedroom Tax and only a Labour government will do this.

Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform, said:

“The government has imposed the Bedroom Tax on families who are already hard pressed to make ends meet. There aren’t enough smaller properties for people to move so even the government’s own studies show that people are having to cut back on household essentials to pay it. Only a Labour government will abolish the Bedroom Tax.”

Cat Smith fights the Bedroom Tax

Cat Smith has pledged to fight the unfair Bedroom Tax affecting hundreds of families in Lancaster and Fleetwood.She said: “The Bedroom Tax will cost people £3,700 in Lancaster and Fleetwood...

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We are now just four months away from the most significant general election in a generation.

On May 7 people in Lancaster and Fleetwood and across the country will have the opportunity to make a choice, and it could be one of the most important choices they make.

It will be a choice between a positive Labour vison that puts working people first, deals with the deficit and protects our NHS or a Tory plan where only a few at the top succeed and public services are threatened.

Fundamentally, it comes down to who we want our country to work for – everyday working people and their families or a privileged few at the top.

The Tory experiment has failed and their record - on living standards, prospects for our children, protecting our public services and dealing with our nation’s debts - is one to run from, not run on.

Those backing the Tories have deep pockets and more than enough to pay for the expensive billboard posters that will be seen across the country, but I’m confident that our values will mean more to people than overpriced adverts.

I’ve spent the last years speaking to people in Lancaster and Fleetwood about what they want for our area and for our country because their decision could make a real difference to our community and the people living here. Now, over the next four months I’m going to renew my efforts as I hope to speak to as many local people as possible about Labour’s plans.

These plans include balancing the books as soon as possible, rewarding hard work through an £8 minimum wage and an end to exploitive zero-hours contracts, providing more opportunities for young people, controlling immigration and protecting our NHS through a guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours and a £2.5 billion Time to Care fund for thousands more health staff.

I’m passionate about these issues and making sure that local people know what Labour’s priorities are and what we stand for. But this is going to be a tough fight which is why I’m asking you to help.

If you’re interested in kicking out the Tories and making sure there is a Labour government in May 2015 then please contact the campaign team via ben_singleton@labour.org.uk or on 07872 417 252 and join me in fighting for victory on the streets and doorsteps of our area by speaking to local people about Labour’s offer of hope for the future.

Labour’s plan is not simply about creating a fairer society; it is about creating a more prosperous one too. In May everyone faces a choice between the Labour and conservative visons for the future – but only Labour will use the talents of all to ensure we can succeed together.

The general election campaign has begun and it is a battle to decide who our country works for

We are now just four months away from the most significant general election in a generation. On May 7 people in Lancaster and Fleetwood and across the country will have...

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Since 2010, the Government has allowed the train companies to hit passengers in Lancaster and Fleetwood with massive fare rises of over 20 per cent since 2010. The new fare rises came into effect on 2nd January 2015.

Now some season tickets in the North West have risen by 30% per cent since 2010, costing thousands of pounds more for commuters.

Locally, a season ticket from Lancaster to Manchester has gone up by 23%, from £2,648 to £3,264. And, a season ticket from Blackpool North to Manchester for people living in Fleetwood has gone up by 24%, from £2,592 to £3,204.

Cat Smith, the Labour candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood will campaign for a better deal for passengers and taxpayers. This can be done by reforming the railways, simplifying the ticketing system and enforcing a strict cap on fares on every route. Labour will give passengers a voice in how the railways are run and stop passengers getting fleeced at ticket machines by making it a legal right for passengers to be sold the cheapest available ticket for their journey.

Commenting, Cat Smith said:

“David Cameron is presiding over a rip-off railway in Britain. He has failed to stand up for working people in Lancaster and Fleetwood struggling with the cost‐of‐living crisis and has allowed the train companies to hit passengers with massive fare rises of over 20 per cent since 2010.

“Some season tickets for passengers living in Lancaster and Fleetwood have now risen by over 23 per cent under this Government, forcing people to pay thousands of pounds more to commute to work on increasingly overcrowded trains.

“Out‐of‐touch Ministers talk about 'fair fares for comfortable commuting', but this is a world away from the reality for millions of hard‐up commuters living in Lancaster and Fleetwood.”

Season tickets for people living in Lancaster and Fleetwood up by as much as 24% per cent since 2010

Since 2010, the Government has allowed the train companies to hit passengers in Lancaster and Fleetwood with massive fare rises of over 20 per cent since 2010. The new fare...

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David Cameron and George Osborne have failed every test and broken every promise they’ve made on the economy.

They promised we’d be all in this together but then they gave millionaires a huge tax cut. They promised people would be better off but most people in Lancaster and Fleetwood are not feeling the recovery and working people are now £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories.

And this cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor had to admit that his key promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year – now lies in tatters.

Because wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get the deficit down aren’t coming in.

Unlike Labour, the Tories don’t understand the fundamental link between the living standards of everyday working people in Lancaster and Fleetwood, and Britain’s ability to deal with the deficit. George Osborne has now borrowed a staggering £219 billion more than he planned and the economy is set to slow down next year after forecasts for wages have been revised down again.

Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. How out of touch can you get? What we needed yesterday was the better and fairer plan Labour has set out.

Labour’s plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, scrap the bedroom tax and cut business rates for small firms. We will balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion a year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.

Changing stamp duty to help people on middle and low incomes is welcome, but we also need to get more homes built and we need a Mansion tax to help save and transform our NHS. With an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of Tory spending plans we can get the extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs we need to help transform our NHS and save it from the Tories.

The Tories promised to eliminate the deficit by 2015 but with less money coming in because of their wrong economic decisions, they’ve broken their promise, failed their own economic test and its hardworking people who are paying the price. It’s time for an economic recovery for the many, not just a few.

The Tories’ economic record is one of repeated broken promises

David Cameron and George Osborne have failed every test and broken every promise they’ve made on the economy. They promised we’d be all in this together but then they gave...

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In the week of Equal Pay Day new figures reveal women in the North West earn £2.11 less per hour than men.

In the North West women are earning £2.11 less than men an hour new analysis reveals.

Equal Pay Day – the day women effectively start working for free because they are still paid less than men falls on 4 November this year, 3 days earlier than in 2013 because of the rising pay gap.

Labour have pledged to take action to deliver equal pay by requiring companies with more than 250 workers will to publish their hourly pay gap in their annual report. For the first time employees will be able to see if discrimination exists and whether all the top jobs are still dominated by men.

Cat Smith, Labour's candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood said: “Equal pay is long overdue. Under David Cameron and Nick Clegg the pay gap is back on the rise after years of progress, as families are struggling with rising prices. A Labour Government will take action by asking employers to publish their pay gap be.”

Equal Pay Now

In the week of Equal Pay Day new figures reveal women in the North West earn £2.11 less per hour than men. In the North West women are earning £2.11...

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Here in Wyre, the affordable homes for rent built for those in need last year was just 1 per cent of those needed – it would take at least 167 years to clear waiting lists at current rates. The Tory-led Government is making the housing crisis worse and new figures show nationally a collapse of nearly 50 per cent in the number of affordable home ownership properties built over the past year, compared with the last year of the last Labour Government.

In Wyre the housing waiting list currently stands at a staggering 3,343. 

Parliamentary candidate Cat Smith said that the next Labour Government will make tackling the housing crisis a national priority and give more help for small and medium-sized builders to get Britain building.

"Families in Fleetwood, and across Wyre, are desperate for appropriate housing. The next Labour Government will establish a new cross-government task force, to include all the major Whitehall departments, to drive a co-ordinated approach to increasing housing supply and tackling the housing crisis and introduce fast-track planning on small sites of less than ten homes.

“While the Tories say the housing market is back on track, the truth is they’ve presided over the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s. Now we learn that the number of affordable homes for aspiring first-time buyers has collapsed and at current rates it would take 167 years here to build the homes for those most in need. To say that is simply too long is to state the blindingly obvious. Wherever you are in the housing market, the Tories are failing you.

“Labour has set out the first serious plan in a generation for building homes at the scale and speed our nation needs. Our plan will see 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 so that everyone can have a decent home at a price they can afford.”

David Cameron’s failure is locking out thousands of families and young people from the housing market. The Tories are failing to stand up for the many people struggling to get an affordable home to rent and to buy.

167 years to clear housing waiting list in Wyre

Here in Wyre, the affordable homes for rent built for those in need last year was just 1 per cent of those needed – it would take at least 167 years...

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Under David Cameron the number of unqualified teachers is rising dramatically, threatening standards in our schools. There are now 17,100 unqualified teachers in classrooms across the country, with numbers on the rise in two thirds of regions.

In the North West there are now 1250 unqualified teachers in our schools – 320 more than last year and a rise of 34 per cent.

David Cameron’s decision to allow unqualified teachers to be permanently employed in schools is seriously threatening standards for our children. Whilst all the evidence shows us that high-quality teaching makes the biggest difference to raising school standards, it is truly shocking that this Government has introduced this damaging policy and made entry requirements into teaching in this country amongst the lowest in world.

Labour will reverse the unqualified teachers policy and put teaching standards first, with our ambition of a world class teacher in every classroom. We will ensure that all teachers become properly qualified, continue to build their skills and are able to pursue new career pathways that keep the best teachers in the classrooms.

The use of unqualified teachers in the North West is up by a third

Under David Cameron the number of unqualified teachers is rising dramatically, threatening standards in our schools. There are now 17,100 unqualified teachers in classrooms across the country, with numbers on...

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Labour's general election candidate, Cat Smith has expressed shock at figures released by NHS England showing rising numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours at Accident and Emergency. 

The figures released for July to September 2014 show a marked increase from the same time last year. Figures for the last three months for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, show that 1,310 people have waited longer than four hours in A&E, 286 more patients than this time last year.

Cat Smith said,

"David Cameron promised he'd protect the NHS, but backed up by votes from our local Tory MP he wasted billions on an unnecessary re-organisation, inflicted deep cuts on social care and made it harder to see a GP.  Latest figures for A&E show that the Tories are taking the NHS backwards.
 
I am challenging our Tory MP for Fleetwood to back Labour’s plans to -
 

  • Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and the same day for those who need it.
  • Guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests.
  • Create a £2.5 billion a year NHS Time to Care Fund to support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more home care workers and 3,000 more midwives – funded by a mansion tax on homes worth £2 million or more, by ensuring that tax avoiders play by the rules and by a levy on tobacco companies.
  • Repeal David Cameron's NHS changes that put private profit before patients, so that NHS professionals can focus on your care, not competition law.

I am appalled that this government, supported by our local Tory MP, have consistently put private profit before patient care here in on the Fylde Coast."

Fleetwood patients waiting longer at A&E

Labour's general election candidate, Cat Smith has expressed shock at figures released by NHS England showing rising numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours at Accident and Emergency.  The...

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