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CONTENTS
EU Referendum: why I am campaigning to stay in
Response to recent increase in burglaries in Saddleworth
The Welfare Reform and Work Bill back in the Commons
Disability Equality roadshow
Oldham court closures
Alzheimer's Society's Fix Dementia campaign
Constituency Update
Parliamentary Business
 
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News from
Debbie Abrahams MP

For Oldham East and Saddleworth

February 2016

Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>

Welcome to the February edition of my e-newsletter! This month's e-newsletter contains information on the EU referendum and why I'll be campaigning to stay in, the response to a recent increase in burglaries, the Welfare Reform and Work bill and constituency and parliamentary updates. 

For more regular news you can like my page on Facebook, follow me on twitter @Debbie_abrahams or visit my website at www.debbieabrahams.org.uk

Debbie Abrahams MP
EU Referendum: why I am campaigning to stay in

I am incredibly proud to be British, but I am also an internationalist and an unabashed Europhile. Part of that is due to my personal experience. My great-grandparents were migrants from Poland and Germany. My grandmothers were French and Irish. My dad’s wife is Dutch, and she and my dad have retired to Spain. My brother’s wife is American, and she and my brother live in the US. My husband was born in South Africa. Before I became an MP, my work as a public health consultant took me across the world, and predominantly across Europe. I have seen the immense benefits of that cultural diversity and those employment opportunities, not only in my own personal life but in the economic benefits to our Borough and the country as a whole.

The European Union (EU) is our biggest trading partner, alone contributing £227 billion to the economy last year, with £26.5 billion in investment coming from Europe every year. There are 3.5 million associated jobs, of which 14,000 are in our area of Oldham. Britain’s EU membership makes us a major player in world trade. As an EU member, we are part of a market of 500 million consumers that other countries want to do business with. The UK is stronger in negotiating deals with countries such as China and the US as part of the EU group of 28 nations than we would be on our own.

It is not just Britain’s prosperity that depends on our EU membership. After the horrors of two world wars in the previous century, the EU fosters greater ties and supports struggling regions. I was working in Merseyside in the 1990s when European objective 1 funding was made available to that area. Our working together across Europe with our member state partners has ensured 70 years of peace between European states. Cross-border co-operation is essential for Britain’s future safety and wellbeing. Viruses such as Zika and Ebola do not recognise borders, nor do organised crime gangs and tax evaders, or carbon particulates and nitrous dioxide emissions. All those issues require our working closely with EU and other international countries, and the best way to achieve that is by being part of Europe, not on the fringes. That does not mean that we should not be striving for reform within all the EU institutions in strengthening governance, democratic accountability and sovereignty, but if you are going to change the rules, you need to be part of the club. That's why I'll be campaigning to stay in. I hope to have many discussions with constituents about this on my regular door knocking sessions. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me by email on abrahamsd@parliament.uk  

Response to recent increase in burglaries in Saddleworth

I have recently been contacted by constituents regarding the increase in burglaries in Saddleworth. I have since been in contact with Greater Manchester Police (GMP). It is important that the local community feel safe and that effective action is taken by our local police service to reduce crime. GMP informed me that an operation in response to the increase in burglaries was put in to place in early January. They have been working with their partners and businesses to increase awareness and tackle the problem to ensure the safety of constituents living in Saddleworth and affected areas. I should also note that GMP have informed me that the increase in burglaries has not affected Saddleworth in isolation but has also affected other parts of the Borough and Greater Manchester. 

I understand Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s) have been visiting premises to offer advice on crime prevention and are assisting in the introduction of a business watch scheme. Police Officers are aware of the increased crime reports and have been concentrating on nights to police the area.

I held a productive community meeting with GMP this past Saturday at Uppermill Civic Hall. The Police provided an update on their operation and the recent ten arrests which have taken place. Furthermore, I have visited businesses in Uppermill who have been affected. I will also continue to raise constituents’ concerns about safety in affected areas with GMP in my regular meetings with them. The first duty of any Government is the safety and security of our citizens. This is why during a debate in Parliament on the Police Grant Settlement, I raised the issue of burglaries in the local area and cuts to our local police service, as GMP has seen a reduction of 2,000 front line posts. You can read more here. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any concerns you may have. 

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill back in the Commons

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill was back in the House of Commons last week. During the debate discussing the amendments to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, I spoke for Labour against the bill as it will increase poverty and make life harder for families across the country.

The Government plans to cut £30 a week, or £1,500 a year, in employment support for sick or disabled people who have been assessed by the Government’s own Work Capability Assessment as ‘not fit for work’.

The Government wanted to remove ‘income’ as a measure of child poverty because they know that the data would reveal the true impact of their cuts. 
But, following pressure from Labour, the Lords and other organisations, the Government has now been forced into retreat after agreeing that it should continue to report lack of money as a measure of child poverty.

They know only too well that two thirds of children living in poverty are from working families. The government’s own advisers on child poverty – the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission – criticised Tory plans to remove income as a measure of child poverty too. The House of Lords voted overwhelmingly to re-instate income as a measure of child poverty (Lords amendment 1) and to prevent cuts to Employment and Support Allowance for disabled people taking steps back into work (Lords amendments 8 and 9).

A leading medical journal, The Lancet also backed the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health in All Policies inquiry, which I chair, into the impact of the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015-2016 on child poverty, child health and inequalities, and warned that a ‘generation of children who grow up in poverty…risk being airbrushed from official records’.  Read more here

This Government has tried to regenerate the economy on the backs of the poor and disabled. Like the NHS, our social security system is based on principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring us of our dignities and the basics of life should any one of us become ill, disabled or fall on hard times. The government needs to remember this, and stop its attacks on the poor and vulnerable. You can watch my speech here.

Disability Equality Roadshow

Preparation is continuing on my upcoming Disability Equality Roadshow. I recently met with a number of national disability charities to look at how we will put the events together across the country and ensure they will be open and accessible to all. Over the next two years I want to talk to people about what a social security system for disabled people fit for the 21st century should look like and what Labour should do.

This past weekend, I met with Labour members at the Yorkshire & Humber regional conference to discuss the upcoming Disability Equality Roadshow. Updates on the Roadshow will be available on my website, twitter and facebook pages. 

Oldham Court closures

I have received a letter from the Government informing me that Oldham County Court and Oldham Magistrates Court are due to close.

I'm outraged that the Government didn't listen during the consultation and decided to go ahead in denying the people of Oldham East and Saddleworth effective access to justice. The closures mean it will be more difficult for victims, witnesses, claimants and defendants to attend courts and engage with the system. Conveniently (for them), they decided to release this just before recess.

Supporting Alzheimer's Society's Fix Dementia campaign

On Wednesday 10 February, I joined over 160 MPs at the launch of Alzheimer’s Society’s new campaign Fix Dementia Care which calls for improvements in hospital care for people living with dementia.

MPs gathered in Westminster to call for greater transparency across the NHS following an Alzheimer’s Society investigation which found too many people with dementia are falling while in hospital, being discharged at night or being marooned in hospital despite their medical treatment having finished. Read more here.

In my role as a Dementia Friendly Champion, I will be running a Dementia Friends session in Parliament on 1st March with MPs, peers and staff as part of building a Dementia Friendly Parliament. 

Constituency Update

In addition to my regular advice surgeries I have been keeping busy locally this month.

I am delighted the Oldham Fairness Commission (OFC) hosted its conference at Mahdlo on 29th January. Thanks to the over 100 people who joined us at Mahdlo for the OFC conference. People from across the Borough came together as the OFC commissioners discussed their draft plans to tackle inequalities and build a ‪Fairer Oldham. There were some great questions and discussions as people put across their thoughts and challenged Commissioners on their plans. This is not the end of the process but just the beginning in fact! We will be sharing details and outcomes from the conference in the comings weeks so please watch this space. We know that fairer and more equal societies benefit all of us – we’re doing our bit in Oldham. To keep up with progress and watch a video from the conference click here.

I went with a group of young people from Mahdlo, Oldham Greenhill Community Sports Club and Cllr Shaid Mushtaq to watch the Word Club Challenge rugby league game between Leeds Rhinos and North Queensland Cowboys. Watch our video here. Thanks to Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Rhinos Foundation for welcoming us! We had a fantastic time with many of the young people experiencing live rugby league for the first time. As part of my sports campaign I aim to work with people from all backgrounds and abilities to make sport more inclusive.

Alongside my regular constituent surgeries, I am holding drop in advice surgeries across the Borough with the Council, local housing associations and Greater Manchester Police. The surgeries are working well and are proving useful as we are able to work together with constituents to address their concerns, in a face to face setting. Over the next month I will be in Shaw. If you want more information on these surgeries please call my constituency office on 0161 624 4248.

If you are organising any constituency events and would like me to participate (ideally Fri-Mon), please e-mail abrahamsd@parliament.uk and we will do our best to fit you into the diary!

   

Parliamentary Business

During a recent Westminster Hall debate on the effect of the Bedroom Tax across the UK, I responded for Labour as the Shadow Minister for Disabled People on why the policy is discriminatory, unfair and divisive. I informed MPs taking part in the debate that the latest figures for 2015 show approximately 443,000 people are affected, with an average weekly income reduction of £15.27. That is more than £61 a month or £800 a year—up about 10% from what the Government originally estimated. Read more here.

My colleague Louise Haigh MP secured an incredibly important debate about work capability assessments and gave an excellent speech. I responded for Labour in this debate with damning statistics about the present work capability assessments (WCA) and how a complete overhaul of the WCA is needed. An important requirement of any government policy is that it will not knowingly harm it's citizens. However, the present WCA goes against this. You can watch my contribution here.


I also intervened in a debate on cash retentions to press Ministers to abide by promises of my late payment campaign. The practice of cash retentions involves the withholding of payment until the completion of a job. This is a practice rife in the construction industry often resulting in smaller companies losing money. My campaign, Be Fair – Pay On Time was set up to highlight the effects of late payments on small and medium enterprises.


 
ADVICE SURGERY DETAILS

If you live in Oldham East and Saddleworth and would like to attend one of my surgeries to discuss personal cases regarding housing, immigration, social security or other matters please call the Oldham office on 0161 624 4248 to book an appointment.

PLEASE NOTE ALL SURGERIES ARE BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

My next advice surgeries are on:

Friday 11 March 2016; 5:00pm - 6:00pm at 11 Church Lane, Oldham, OL1 3AN


Saturday 12 March 2016; 10:00-11:00AM, Uppermill Civic Hall, Lee Street, Uppermill, OL3 6AE 

If you have an urgent enquiry, please send an
e-mail, including your name, address contact number and details of the issue you are e-mailing about.
Meetings and Events

Some of the events I've been involved in this month have included:

27 Jan – Meeting with Unite the Union’s Disability Representatives

27 Jan – Responded as Shadow Minister to a debate on support for disabled people

27 Jan – Intervened in a debate on cash retentions – pressing Ministers to abide by promises of my Be Fair – Pay on Time campaign on late payments.

28 Jan – Attended the Glodwick Cricket Club relaunch

28 Jan – Speech on proposed Health and Social Care Commission – NHS should be based on people not profit

2 Feb – Met with Royal College of Psychiatrists regarding Employment Support Allowance assessments and mental health

2 Feb – Met with Shadow Health Secretary, Heidi Alexander, alongside a local campaigner to discuss secondary breast cancer

2 Feb – Attended Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman’s Dinner and continued to highlight my Be Fair – Pay on Time campaign on late payments

3 Feb – Met with former Remploy Workers and the GMB Union.

3 Feb – Intervened in a debate on tax avoidance by multinational companies

5 Feb – Attended the Saddleworth Parish Council Dinner

6 Feb - Met residents in Crompton as part of my regular door knocking sessions

9 Feb – Responded as Shadow Minister to a debate on Work Capability Assessments

9 Feb – Met with the Papworth Trust regarding policies on disabled people

10 Feb – Participated in the pre-PMQs programme on BBC Radio 5 Live which you can listen to again here

10 Feb – Call with Superintendent Denise Worth regarding increased burglaries in Saddleworth

10 Feb – Attended the play ‘Light’ at Battersea Arts Centre before participating in a panel on access and participation for disabled people in the arts

12 Feb - Spoke at an 'Making Employment Accessible' event in Oldham

12 Feb - Attended my regular Oldham MPs and Council Leader meeting

13 Feb - Constituency advice surgery in Lees


21 Feb - Trip to Leeds Rhinos v North Queensland Cowboys rugby league game with young people from Oldham


23 Feb – Took part in the vigil and demonstration against the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG) cut in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill outside Parliament, prior to speaking for Labour on the Lords Amendments in the Chamber

23 Feb – Responded as Shadow Minister to a debate on Bedroom Tax and its regional impacts

26 Feb - Drop in advice surgery with Council, Police and local housing associations in Shaw

26 Feb - Attended the Mayor civic and charity ball

27 Feb - Community meeting in Upperrmill with Police in response to an increase in burglaries

27 Feb - Disability Equality Roadshow consultation at Yorks & Humber Regional Labour Party conference


 
Focus on....

A new night market...
is being launched at the heart of Oldham town centre to showcase the best of local arts, crafts, and alternative fashions. 

The events will be in held in the town’s new bierkeller on the last Friday of every month from 5pm to midnight. Find out more here.
Debbie on the Parliamentary Website

To find out more about how I have represented Oldham East and Saddleworth in Parliament, you can read my contributions in debates and questions I have asked here on the parliamentary website.  
Be Fair - Pay on Time

To keep up to date on my Be Fair - Pay on Time campaign, read my campaign page here

To get up to the minute news and information between e-newsletters see my
Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or read my blog.

 
If you know anyone who would like to receive news about Oldham East and Saddleworth, they can sign up to my e-newsletter here.  Past editions my e-newsletter can be accessed here.
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