Archives for: April 2011
Rachel has written an article for Progress, criticising George Osborne’s economic policy and calling for him to switch to a Plan B – read it here
In response the announcement by the Office of National Statistics this week that Britain’s economy has stagnated over the past six months, Rachel argues that there was little in the Chancellor’s Budget to encourage growth and it is being felt by families, pensioners and small businesses. The Conservative-led Government’s austerity programme has reversed the economic recovery of early 2010 under the Labour government.
It is time that the Chancellor changed his policies; the lack of economic growth should serve as a wake-up call. What we need Rachel argues is a Plan B, a plan to stimulate growth:
‘The reality is that you cannot cut an economy out of recession, and the best way to reduce the budget deficit is through jobs and growth, not through higher unemployment and business failures’
Economist David Blanchflower has written in the Guardian, echoing Rachel’s sentiments – read it here.
Rachel visited the local community mobile library as it made its stop at Snowden Crescent. Rachel chatted with Piotr, who doubles as driver AND librarian, and Bev, who runs the service.
Rachel said, “It was great to see the fantastic range of books and IT services on offer in the mobile library. With the libraries service facing dramatic cutbacks, it’s really important that as many people as possible find out about the mobile service, and make the best use of it.”
Leeds City Council runs various mobile library services, including special versions for older people and children. To find out your nearest calling point, visit the information pages by clicking here.
The Government's decision to accelerate the increase in the State Pension Age has prompted serious concerns for thousands of women up and down the country who will have to wait for up to two years to receive their state pension.
On Sunday Rachel travelled to Blackpool to speak to an USDAW conference about the change. In Blackpool, she met Barbara Bates, the woman who started the petition at www.unionstogether.org.uk against the change.
Barbara spoke movingly about what it will mean for her to wait two years. She has a part time job, and has no pension savings, like 40% of the women in that age group. She has already had to plan for an increase of four years, but now has to wait an extra two years to receive her state pension.
Rachel continued her calls for a change to the Government's plans, to recognise the impact it will have on 500,000 women, and called for them to change their timetable to make sure that no one faces a wait of more than a year.
The Regional Growth Fund is worth one-third of the budget used by Regional Development Agencies such as Yorkshire Forward, and has been allocated behind closed doors by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. No schemes in Leeds got the go-ahead, and the Times has commented that the regional development fund has largely gone to big businesses.
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, John Denham MP, said:
"The Tory-led Government is choking off the funding needed for regions to grow and create the jobs our economy needs. The Government is allocating ?1.4bn over three years to projects, two thirds less than the ?1.4bn a year Labour were investing through the RDAs alone.
“The desire to cut too far and too fast has caused growth to be revised down and the unemployment forecast to rise, all while Government is holding back support for businesses looking for investment which will help regions to create jobs and ease reliance on the public sector.
“There are more losers than winners with today’s announcement.
Labour would have added an additional ?200m to the funding today through a repeat of the bankers bonus tax, a quick but effective way of supporting growth and creating jobs. Vince Cable will have to explain why hundreds of viable projects for growth won’t go ahead across the country.
“The Tory-led Government need to rethink their growth strategy and invest in our regions, and get a grip on the scale of the challenge facing the country today. We cannot afford their wasted year to turn into two.”
Age UK launched a campaign today to get more money into pensioners' pockets, and Rachel was quick to lend her support to the campaign.
“Older people in our society are facing some really tough times, and so it’s vital that everyone gets what they’re entitled to. I regularly meet older constituents who could really use some support, but are uncertain of how or what to claim, or even embarrassed about asking for help. I really hope that they all get in touch with the fantastic team at Age UK, and start getting they support they need ? it’s no less than they deserve.
I’ll be doing all I can to spread this message across my constituency, and I hope as many local people as possible will join me in helping to get more money in the pockets of our older residents.”
In Leeds, the charity has helped older people in Leeds increase their benefits by ?225,000 in the last year, vital when half of them say they are just 'getting by'. A survey of 1,200 over 65s said that 1 in 5 pensioners had cut back on their heating over the winter to save money.
The Chief Executive of Age UK in Leeds, Solo, said: “At a time when so many people are struggling financially, it is unacceptable that vital benefits are failing to reach some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people in our society. This is money that could make a huge difference to people’s quality of life. Any older person who is worried about money should contact our information and advice service at Age UK Leeds on 0113 3893003 ”
Rachel is pictured with Solo, CE of Age UK in Leeds, and visitors to the Age UK centre in Leeds
My Day With Rachel Reeves
Rodley Nature Reserve
When I arrived at Rachel’s office I was told what we would be doing.
The first thing that she said was that we would be going down to
Rodley Nature Reserve.
So about 15 minutes later we set off. When we arrived we was greeted by a police man (who was really friendly). Then we walked into the café we was greeted by some of the volunteers from Natural England.
After saying hello we had a guided tour round the reserve. Even though I wasn’t at school I still learnt stuff. We went down through dragon fly lake and even saw some swans.
Leeds Metropolitan University
So after we had been to Rodley Nature Reserve we headed to the main building of Leeds Metropolitan University to have lunch with Susan Price (the vice chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University)
When we arrived we went in the lift up to floor 5 (the top floor) where Susan Price’s office was. We waited outside for about 5 minutes until we was told to go into the conference room where we were greeted by Susan Price.
During lunch we was talking about the prices of university and if they will rise by the time some of us went.
After we had finished talking about the prices I asked Susan Price and Rachel Reeves some questions.
Because of the upcoming election we went round houses and flats to ask who they were voting and if they were voting.
We started off in a block of flats which had 14 floors. We covered them in around 15 minutes and then went outside to knock on house doors. It was a very hot and sunny day.
Because it was hot, we all got an 99 from the ice cream man.
All in all I had an excellent day and the ice cream was really tasty
Also I can see how hard rachel’s job is and how hard her team work in supporting leeds west.
By Jayden Toole
Bramley St Peters C of E Primary School
On Friday a group of local residents attended a meeting, regarding government cuts to police budgets and what they could mean in Leeds West, to express their concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.
Rachel hosted the meeting at Hillside Hall, alongside Armley Labour councillor Alison Lowe, representative on the West Yorkshire Police Authority, Farnley & Wortley Labour councillor John Hardy and Farnley & Wortley Labour local election candidate Stuart McKenna.
Councillor Lowe reported the good news that Leeds City Council have pledged to continue funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), however the government cuts to the police budget will mean an estimated 1500 jobs within West Yorkshire Police will be lost, including up to 500 on the front-line, with a £40.5million slashed from the budget this year alone.
Residents discussed problems with anti-social behaviour and burglaries and the general feeling from all was that they would like to see more police and PCSO patrols, especially throughout the night, as a deterrent to these crimes. Of course, the reduction the police budget will likely mean les ‘bobbies on the beat’, although PCSO numbers will remain the same. As well as anti-social behaviour and burglary, dangerous driving was also raised as a major concern.
Rachel, Alison, Stuart and John emphasised the importance of reporting all crimes to the police so that they have a record of all incidents and know which areas need the most resources. The work of the local Neighbourhood Police Teams was praised for the difference that they have made in some previously problem areas. You can find out more about your local Neighbourhood Policing Team and how to contact them by clicking here.
Rodley Nature Reserve is designed to bring wetland wildlife back into the Leeds area and is maintained by an army of volunteers. The Friends of Rodley Nature Reserve also boasts over 300 members and this provides valuable income through membership to keep the Reserve up and running.
Natural England have provided 80% of the cost of the new extension as part of their work on educational access. The larger facility will be able to provide adequate space for schools and other groups who visit the Reserve.
“I had a lovely morning at Rodley Nature Reserve, it is fantastic that Leeds West has this great resource right on the doorstep. I would highly encourage more people to visit; there’s lots to see and do, it’s free of charge and the staff are always friendly and welcoming.
The staff and volunteers do a great job of maintaining the Reserve and it is wonderful to see so many people who are giving up their free time to take care of this facility.”
Rachel spent Saturday with a team of members and supporters in Kirkstall. They were speaking to residents in Hawksworth Wood, and spreading the word about the campaign to restore post office services on the estate.
Rachel is working hard to make sure that the post office resumes services on the estate. The campaign has attracted hundreds of supporters. Rachel said:
"It is vital that the Post Office provide a dedicated service for Hawksworth Wood. I'm pressing them hard to do so - and will not stop until we have a Post Office that is readily available for everyone on the estate."
Rachel was joined by local Councillor John Illingworth, who said: "The people of Hawksworth Wood need a Post Office. The closest one is up Butcher Hill or a bus ride away - out of easy reach for many local residents. I am working hard as part of the local Labour team to ensure that the Post Office resolves this issue."