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CONTENTS

The impact of Brexit
My new Shadow Work and Pensions role and Labour Leadership election

Summer School - Class of 2016
Shadow Work and Pensions update
Marzia gains her British Citizenship
Why I'm supporting Andy Burnham for Greater Manchester Mayor

Constituency Update
Parliamentary Business
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News from
Debbie Abrahams MP

For Oldham East and Saddleworth

July 2016

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

This is the July edition of my e-newsletter. 

This edition contains information on the EU Referendum and the impact of Brexit, my annual 'Working for your Community' Summer School; 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 

 
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
The impact of Brexit

The month after the most important election in our lifetime, whether to remain or leave the European Union, we are only just starting to unpick what the referendum result means for the UK, for its different regions, areas and nation states, and for our communities across the country.

Crucially we need to understand why the majority of people who voted, voted to leave and what this means. Some have been quick to respond pointing the finger at immigration levels as the cause of the Leave result. However, although concerns about immigration were often raised on the doorstep, when I dug a little deeper, it was clear that immigration was often a symptom, a “catch all”, for a whole range of issues people are facing after six years of austerity Britain. It is also clear - the leaders of the Brexit campaign have no plan.

Following Brexit, many people have said they had suffered xenophobic and racist abuse after voters decided to quit the EU. In one case, members of the Polish community said abuse was hurled at them by pub goers in Salford, who shouted ‘go home, go home’. The Oldham Chronicle reported how a Polish businessman in Oldham said he and his fellow compatriots were ‘terrified’.

I called an urgent meeting with fellow Oldham MPs Jim McMahon and Angela Rayner, Oldham Council Leader, Jean Stretton and Greater Manchester Police. Following a really fractious campaign, tensions are already simmering in some local communities and we, as leaders, must act to contain the situation.

I am proud of our diverse and inclusive community and believe we must all pull together and act quickly to ensure that any incidents are reported and investigated, public order is maintained and that no-one feels threatened or intimidated.

You can read more on my analysis of the EU referendum vote here and here

My new Shadow Work and Pensions role and Labour Leadership election

A number of constituents have contacted me over the last three weeks regarding the Labour leadership. The situation that both the country and the Party finds itself in, following the result of the EU referendum vote, is an incredibly difficult one. Under a year ago, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in a democratic vote of members, registered supporters and affiliates and I respect that democratic mandate.

Although I didn’t support Jeremy in last year’s leadership contest, he has a mandate and I have at all times sought to offer constructive support, first as Shadow Minister for Disabled People, and more recently as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

At a very difficult time, I believe Labour should be concentrating on working together to provide an effective Opposition and ensuring that we get the best possible deal for the country in the Brexit negotiations. I have endeavoured to do this to the best of my ability.

I hope that this election will be held in a comradely spirit, with all members, supporters and affiliates respecting differing views and opinions. I will continue to do what I can to effectively oppose the Government, as your local MP, during these turbulent times. You can read more here.

Summer School - Class of 2016

My third annual 'Working for your Community' Summer School has just recently graduated. As an MP, I am often asked for placements and unfortunately cannot accommodate them all.

To try and give as many young people from Oldham as possible 
experience of community development and politics, I run a summer school for 18-24 year olds. The aim of the summer school is for participants to develop community action skills and experience by working on various community projects in Oldham.


The Summer School spent the first week in Oldham hearing from a range of speakers including rugby league legend, Kevin Sinfield and women's rights activist, Marzia Babakarkhail (watch a video of their session here) with a one day visit to Parliament where the group had a tour of Parliament and met various politicians, researchers and advisers including, Shadow Home Office Secretary, Andy Burnham MP.

In Week 2 - participants spent time with Oldham-based organisations and charities which included, the Link Centre, Oldham Foodbank, Positive Steps, PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund and Web Applications UK. I want to thank all these organisations for giving each of the participants a wonderful experience and understanding of what it means to give back to your local community. I am so very proud of all the participants and it has been so great to see their confidence grow over the two weeks. We had a lovely graduation session with all the participants, organisations and our special guest, Andy Burnham MP. My team and I are already looking forward to next year! Find out more on my Summer School here.

Shadow Work and Pensions update

As ever, there has been a great deal of work in Parliament particularly in my new role as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

During an Opposition Day Debate on Supported Housing, I led the debate for Labour to challenge the Government on this vitally important issue. Although types of supported housing services range widely, they all share the common purpose of providing a safe, secure home and support for vulnerable people to live independent, healthy and fulfilling lives—something we all want. Over the past year, there has been considerable anxiety across supported housing providers that not only are there already too few places to cope with current levels of need, but that collectively, the Government’s 1% cut to housing benefit in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016—which also affects supported housing—and the cap on local housing allowance announced in the autumn statement, will make thousands of supported housing schemes unviable, affecting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people. Watch my speech here.

I also took to the dispatch box for the first time this month to lead on Work and Pensions questions.You can watch my Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State on the 200,000 more children living in poverty over the last year, the impact of Brexit on the Department, particularly on pensions, and more here.

I really enjoyed attending and speaking at the NUT disabled teachers conference,‬ 'making change happen' this month. It was invaluable to be able to hear from them not only about their personal experiences as disabled teachers but also their hopes and ideas for the future. I look forward to working with them on policies that enable disability equality.

The roll out of Universal Credit (UC) has been delayed by a year so UC will now only finish rolling out in March 2022 - the seventh time its timetable has been revised since the all-in-one benefit launched in 2013. The new Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, who admitted the fresh hold-up in a written statement slipped out in his first week in the job, will no doubt be embarrassed at these further delays. But hopefully he will look at the myriad of problems not only in UC implementation but since the cut in work allowances (on average 2.6m people in low paid work will lose £1600 pa) and immediately reverse these cuts. Read more here.

The BHS pension scheme is the first big test for the Prime Minister’s promise to get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business after the devastating report into the BHS fiasco published yesterday by the Work and Pensions (W&P) Select Committee. Systemic failure of regulation, corporate governance and of accountants and lawyers allowed Philip Green to get away with taking vast sums out of this company while running up over half a billion pound deficit in the pension fund of his workforce. The abject role played by Goldman Sachs, and many others, has also been revealed in this scandal. These are the same organisations that manage the pension assets of millions of UK workers and will be well aware of the obligations to the pension fund. I fully support the final conclusion of the W&P Select Committee Report which states that Sir Philip owes it to the BHS pensioners to find a resolution urgently. 

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) showed that young people’s incomes are still seven per cent below their pre-crisis levels in 2007-08. This report is more evidence that the Government can’t go on repeating the mantra that getting more people in employment automatically gives them a way out of poverty. That is clearly not happening. While there are more people in work their wages have gone down and young people have been hit the hardest. Theresa May needs to demonstrate that she’s not just spouting warm words when she addresses ‘ordinary working class families’ that she understands their struggles. She needs to take action to help them now. Scrapping the Welfare Reform and Work Act of 2016 would be a good start. Read the IFS report here.

At another Opposition Day Debate I reminded the Government of their pledge last year at the general election to halve the Disability Employment Gap. Unfortunately it has increased to 34%. There are approximately 12 million people living with a disability, impairment or limiting long term illness in the UK today, 5.7m are of working age, 5.2m are over 65 and 0.8m are children. Although 4 million people with disabilities are working already, there are another 1.3 million who are fit for and want to work, but are currently unemployed. But as we’ve heard, the gap in the employment rate for disabled people compared to non-disabled people has grown under this Government to 34%, a 4% increase since they came into office. As the vast majority - 90% - of disabled people used to work this is such a waste of their skills, experience and talent. It is over 70 years since legislation was first introduced to prohibit employment-related discrimination against disabled people. Sadly, we are still fighting to address this discrimination and the inequality in employment disabled people still continue to face. Changing attitudes and behaviour needs cultural change, it needs leadership. And Labour will provide it. Read the speech and my proposals of how to address the Disability Employment Gap here


Marzia gains her British Citizenship

I'm so pleased for my good friend Marzia Babakarkhail and so proud of her after everything she has been through. Many of you will know that Marzia was a judge in Afghanistan who was targeted by the Taliban for the work she did to promote women’s rights. After an attempt on her life she fled to the UK. The fact that she has now settled here, has gained her British citzenship and wants to be an active member in our country is a fantastic reflection of all the positive support that she has received. The UK’s support of refugees, not just in the past, but now and, hopefully, in the future, is something we should be proud of. Read more here

 

Why I'm supporting Andy Burnham for Greater Manchester Mayor

Labour Party members will soon be asked to choose our candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester. The new  Mayor will head-up the Devolution deal given to the whole city-region, including here in Oldham and Saddleworth, mirroring the role of mayors in London and soon other devolved areas across the country.

The new Greater Manchester mayor is not just another civic role. The candidate we select will almost certainly go on to represent Greater Manchester on the national and world stage. We need someone with the leadership skills and experience, someone who has operated at a senior Government level, someone with strong Labour values and the integrity to hold such a position.  That’s why I am backing Andy Burnham, a fellow Greater Manchester MP, to be Mayor. Find out more on why I am supporting Andy here.


Constituency Update

It's been a busy time in the constituency as well as in Parliament. 

Alongside my regular constituency surgeries I recently chaired and convened the second joint agency and residents meeting about traffic concerns in Denshaw. At the meeting, Oldham Highways presented a number of proposals regarding speed reduction including a suggestion of a school zone and results from a speed survey. Highways England, responsible for motorways and diversionary routes nationwide, said in a statement they are reviewing all diversions nationwide and will test revisions with a pilot scheme in each region. I will continue to raise the matter of joint funding for any potential improvement works. We will meet again in September to review progress of agreed actions. 

Thanks to all who attended the meeting in Uppermill last week about the 184 Diggle bus service. At this meeting it was announced that from September, the 558 bus will go to Blue Coat School via Diggle and Dobcross at 7.30am. Also from September the Y23 school bus will leave from Blue Coat school to Diggle via Dobcross at 15.35 arriving at 16.10. Well done to Liz Readfern and other local residents for their hard work and input from local councillors, bus companies and Transport for Greater Manchester. It just shows what you can do when you work together! 

I have been continuing with my school visits and enjoyed meeting with pupils from Greenhill academy in Glodwick and St Thomas RC School in Lees. I have to say that my school visits are one of the things I enjoy most! The pupils have some brilliant questions for me! I look forward to continuing my visits across the Borough. 

I recently met Love Lydgate group. I want to thank them for their lovely welcome and congratulate them all for the amazing work they are doing locally. I look forward to continue working with them on community projects across Oldham and Saddleworth. 

I have written to the Department for Transport (DfT) and Rail North (RN) demanding better access to Greenfield station for people with mobility issues and an increase in the frequency of the services to alleviate overcrowding. Although some service cuts were removed from the recently awarded franchise plans I remain concerned about lack of accessibility for commuters with mobility issues at Greenfield station. Considering that local commuters have seen a 24% increase in season ticket prices in recent years, I’ve expressed my disappointment that constituents using the station are not provided with better access, despite the issue being raised on numerous occasions. I’ve also requested information about any plans the DfT and RN have to increase the frequency of the trains at Greenfield station especially after the Greenfield Rail Action Group have brought the issue of delays due to overcrowding to my attention. Read more here.

I am so proud of my husband, John for setting up The John Abrahams cricket academy at Oldham College. Find out what's on offer at the John Abrahams Cricket Academy here and it's free if you're under 19!

Congratulations to Oldham's new Youth Mayor, T-Jay Turner. I look forward to working with T-Jay in his new role and I know he will be a great advocate for young people in our Borough. Find out more about T-Jay here. I also want to wish former Youth Mayor, Saskia Edwards Korolczuk all the very best with her future endeavours and thank her for all her hard work over the past year.

   

Parliamentary business

I have had a number of meetings in Parliament this month. I met with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) on how we can work together to reduce the Disability Employment Gap, they have been very supportive and I look forward to our continued dialogue and action on this.

I also met with Action Cerebal Palsy as they highlighted the post code lottery in children's services. It is important we compare services across the UK and learn from the best. I will be writing to Oldham CCG and Oldham Council about services locally. 

I was recently re-elected Senior Vice Chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Kashmir and also attended a meeting about the recent violence in the region which is very concerning. I will continue to raise concerns regarding human rights violations and will be conducting an inquiry on the mater with the APPG. I was also recently elected Vice Chair of the APPG for Race and Community. 


To read all my contributions in Parliament click here.


 
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:

Saturday 30 July 2016; 10.30am - 11.30am, Oldham town centre

Friday 19 August 2016; 5:00-  6:00pm, Oldham town centre

Saturday 20 August; 10.00am - 11.00am, Uppermill

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:

1 July - Visit to meet with pupils at Greenhill School.

1 July - Meeting with fellow Oldham MPs, Jim McMahon and Angela Rayner, Oldham Council Leader, Jean Stretton and Greater Manchester Police on tackling hate crime.

2 July - Attended the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ordination of Father David Hawthorn.

4 July - Attended the APPG on Social Intergration.

5 July - Attended the Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture given by Frank Gardner OBE, BBC Security Correspondent, charting his own experiences of life and work as a disabled person.

8 July - Visit to St Edwards RC primary school to speak with pupils.

8 July - Constituent advice surgery in Oldham town centre.

9 July - Constituent advice surgery in Lees.

11 July - At the dispatch box for the first time to lead Work and Pensions questions for Labour as Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions .

12 July - Attended the annual general meeting of the APPG for Health in All Policies.

12 July- Met with the Federation of Small Businesses about my Be Fair, Pay on Time campaign and the disability employment gap.

13 July - Met with Action Cerebral Palsy about the disparities in services for children.

13 July - Met with the Teenage Cancer Trust about their Cancer Education report.

15 July - Chair and convened second meeting of joint agencies and residents regarding traffic and speeding in Denshaw.

16 July - Deliverered speech at National Union of Teachers Disabled Teachers conference.

18 July - Delivered introduction session for the start of my 'Working for your Community' Summer School.

18 July -Met with the Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire charity.

19 July - Toured Parliament with my Summer School participants and hosted meetings with politicians including Andy Burnham MP, advisers and researchers.

20 July - Met with Unison and Usdaw regarding universal credit.

20 July - Led the Opposition Day Debate on Supported Housing.

20 July- Attended the annual general meeting of the APPG on Kashmir.

20 July - Attended the annual general meeting of the APPG on Dementia.

22 July - Took part in a joint meting in Diggle with residents, local Councillors, Transport for Greater Manchester about the 184 Diggle Bus.

22 July - Met with Love Lydgate community group members.

22 July - Constituency advice surgery in Oldham town centre.

23 July - Attended charity fundraiser in Uppermill organised by Eamon O'Daly to raise money for acid attack victims.

26 July  - Meeting with the Young Women's Trust in Oldham.

26 July - Meeting with the People's Pension in Oldham.

27 July - Meeting with Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) regarding employment support.

29 July - Summer School graduation ceremony with participants, community placement organisations and special guest, Andy Burnham MP.

30 July - Constituent advice surgery in Oldham town centre.

30 July - Spoke at Oldham Pride.
Focus on....

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Somme and number of events were held in Oldham to remember and learn from the events that took place.

The battle was fought between July 1 and November 1916 near the Somme River in France. On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties. Find out more at oldhamremembers.org.uk

 
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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