The latest news from round our region

Labour today publishes analysis of overcrowding in English primary schools with more than half a million pupils being taught in super-size classes. It reveals:

 

  • The South East is the worst hit area with latest figures showing over 90,000 primary school pupils in classes over 30

 

  • 542,679 children are now in super-size classes in primary school, as class-sizes continue to rise

 

  • 39,000 primary pupils are in classes of over 36 pupils and 16,571 are now in class sizes of at least 40

 

  • The mounting pressure on school places is now starting to hit secondary schools, with figures showing an increase in the number of pupils in very large classes in the last year

 

  • The number of infant school children (between the age of 5 and 7 years) in classes over 30 has almost trebled since 2010

 

Commenting on the figures, Shadow Schools Minister, Mike Kane, said:

 “These figures expose seven years of Tory failure in our schools. The number of pupils being taught in super-sized classes is skyrocketing while schools face the first real terms cuts to their budgets in a generation.

“This situation is unsustainable. If the Tories wanted to give every child the education they deserve they would ensure that children were not crammed into super-sized classes.

“A Labour Government would ensure that schools are built where they are needed, and cap class sizes at 30 for all primary school pupils.”

 

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South East worst-hit by super-sized classrooms

Labour today publishes analysis of overcrowding in English primary schools with more than half a million pupils being taught in super-size classes. It reveals:   The South East is the...

Today, Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was in Hove to visit FuturLab- an award winning British mobile and console games developer. 

Brighton and Hove is home to one of Europe’s most creative and vibrant digital and IT Clusters; and to a community of entrepreneurs keen to contribute to policies that encourage future growth.

As part of Labour’s week of campaigning on education, Tom, joined by Peter Kyle MP, met with Kirsty Rigden, Development Director and James Marsden, Managing Director at FuturLab to discuss Labour’s plan to invest in the creative and digital economy and to tackle the digital skills crisis head on.

Tom Watson MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“Brighton and Hove is at the forefront of the digital revolution, and it’s brilliant to see what so many new tech businesses are doing for the area. 

“FuturLab is at the centre of progress on Virtual Reality and are producing fantastic games. 

"I'm a gamer, I've played thousands of games over the years, but their newest release, Tiny Tracks, was the most impressive virtual reality game I've played yet. 

“If we are going to sustain the success story that is the British Games industry we have to invest from early on and make sure we have an education system that produces the talent we need to sustain growth.

“The current situation where 22% of school IT equipment is ineffective and 65% of computer science teachers don’t have a relevant qualification is just not good enough.

“Labour will make it a priority that the sector gets the support it needs so Brighton and Hove’s success story can be replicated across the country.”

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove and Portslade, said:

"I'm so proud to be MP for an area that has such talent and creative entrepreneurs. 

“I set up my own digital company twenty years ago so I understand the pressures and the rewards of working in Hove and Portslade - that's why week in, week out I'm working to support these amazing small businesses to grow."

Ends

Notes to Editors:

The core UK games Industry contributed £755m in direct Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2015. The industry directly employed 12,100 full-time employees in 1,802 active games companies- a growth rate of 63% between 2011-2015 (The games industry in numbers https://ukie.org.uk/research)

Despite the huge growth in the industry, in 2016 a Parliament Science and Technology Select Committee report found that 12 million people in the UK lacked basic digital skills.  (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmsctech/270/270.pdf

Labour’s plan to invest in the creative and digital economy

Today, Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was in Hove to visit FuturLab- an award winning...

Over a million people in the South East will lose out by £10,000 each under Government’s plans for state pension age change

New analysis by the House of Commons Library has revealed that 7.6 million people will lose out by nearly £10,000 each under the Government’s plans to bring forward changes to the state pension age. 1,066,000 people will lose out in the South East.

The change will affect all men and women currently between the age of 39 and 47, who will be forced to work a year longer before they can access their state pension entitlement.

The Government’s announcement of their plans to bring forward changes to the state pension age last Thursday came more than two months after their legal deadline, 7 May 2017, evading debate on the issue leading up to the General Election.

The announcement was heavily criticised, as it followed evidence from the renowned expert on life expectancy, Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who just days before had described how a century-long rise in life expectancy was “pretty close to having ground to a halt.” Professor Marmot pointed to 2010 as the turning point, when the Government began its austerity programme.

Just over a week ago, the Government’s own advisory body, Public Health England, had published data showing significant disparities in Healthy Life Expectancy. For example, it showed how on average a man living in Nottingham would be only be expected to live in good health until the age of 57, a full eleven years earlier than the Government’s newly timetabled state pension age increase to 68.

A Director of Public Health England described how the average pensioner will now have to deal with a “toxic cocktail” of ill health throughout their whole retirement, and for some years before.

Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

“This is a disgraceful and unjustified attack on the state pension by this Government, who are asking millions of people to work longer to pay for their failing austerity plans.

“Labour want to take a measured approach, leaving the state pension age at 66 while we review the evidence emerging around life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, considering how we can best protect those doing demanding jobs and the contributions they have already made.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

1.      Quote from House of Commons Library analysis of the impact of changes to the state pension age: “Table A.1, page 32 of the Government’s State Pension Age Final Report shows that the SPA change announced on Wednesday will reduce state pension expenditure by around £74 billion between 2037/38 and 2045/46 (the period over which people will be affected by this change). £74 billion divided by 7.6 million equals an average ‘loss’ of around £9,800 per person. This is what we might expect, as it is approximately equivalent to around one year’s worth of payments of the new State Pension (£159.55 per week * 52 weeks = £8,300 per annum).”

 2.      Comments on trends in Life Expectancy by Professor Sir Michael Marmot:[https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/18/rise-in-life-expectancy-has-stalled-since-2010-research-shows

3.      Public Health England report into Healthy Life Expectancy: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-profile-for-england/chapter-1-life-expectancy-and-healthy-life-expectancy 

 

Over a million people in the South East will lose out by £10,000 each under Government’s plans for state pension age change

Over a million people in the South East will lose out by £10,000 each under Government’s plans for state pension age change New analysis by the House of Commons Library...

Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on the announcement that Southeastern will increase off-peak fare prices, said:

“This further fare rise is another slap in the face for long-suffering rail passengers. Fares have sky rocketed since 2010, passenger satisfaction is plummeting and punctuality has fallen to a ten year low.

“A railway works best as an integrated network, but privatisation and franchising have meant breaking it up to create opportunities for companies to extract a profit, resulting in costly inefficiencies resulting in sky high fares.

“The current system is broken. It is time for our railways to be run under public ownership, in the public interest as an integrated national asset with affordable fares for all and long-term investment in the railway network.”

Ends 

This further fare rise is another slap in the face for long-suffering rail passengers- McDonald

Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on the announcement that Southeastern will increase off-peak fare prices, said: “This further fare rise is another slap in the face for long-suffering...

 

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has been selected to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for Slough.

Tan is the Chair of Gravesham Constituency Labour Party, the former Mayor of Gravesham and is a seasoned campaigner for the Labour Party in the South East.

Tan Dhesi said:

“It is a privilege and an honour to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Slough, the town I was born and brought up in, and a place I love so much.  

“I want to thank Fiona Mactaggart for her 20 years of dedication to Slough and the Labour Party.

“I am determined to be a strong voice for Slough after 7 years of damaging Tory cuts. 

“This General Election is a choice between a Labour Party, who will stand up for the many and a Conservative Party, which only looks after the privileged few.

“If elected, I will work tirelessly for the people of Slough.”

Ends

Note to editors

Selection is subject to NEC endorsement – the NEC meets to endorse candidates next week

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has been selected to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for Slough

  Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has been selected to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for Slough. Tan is the Chair of Gravesham Constituency Labour Party, the former Mayor of Gravesham and...

Following the retirement of Andrew Smith, Anneliese Dodds has been selected to be the parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

Anneliese is a Labour MEP for the South East of England and is a seasoned campaigner in Oxford.

Anneliese lives in the heart of Oxford East, where she is raising her young family.  

Anneliese Dodds said:

“It is a privilege and an honour to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Oxford East, my home seat and a place I love so much.  

“Andrew Smith has been an outstanding MP for our area, working tirelessly to deliver for people across our community. I want to thank him for his 40 years of dedication to Oxford East as both Cllr and MP.

“His are big shoes to fill, but I am determined to be the strong voice our area needs after 7 years of damaging Tory cuts.

“My main priority for Oxford East is countering the Tories' extreme and chaotic approach to Brexit. If elected I would use my contacts across Europe to protect trade and scientific links which are so important to the local economy. “ 

Ends

Note to editors

Selection is still subject to final NEC approval – NEC meets next week to approve candidates.

 

Anneliese Dodds has been selected to be the parliamentary candidate for Oxford East

Following the retirement of Andrew Smith, Anneliese Dodds has been selected to be the parliamentary candidate for Oxford East. Anneliese is a Labour MEP for the South East of England...

Reading Borough Labour council has been praised for its pioneering housing scheme in a new report showcasing the innovative work that Labour councils are doing on housing around the country.

Local Housing InnovationsThe Best of Labour in Power profiles 20 Labour councils at the leading edge in cutting homelessness, building new homes for first time buyers, investing in super-energy efficient homes and delivering new council housing.

Reading Council is buying 500 existing (and potentially new) residential properties to rent over a five-year period, funding the investment through a cost-neutral model of subsidising sub-market rent with the provision of full market rent units.

The ground-breaking ‘Homes for Reading’ project has been picked as one of 20 stand-out schemes from across the country by Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey who edited the report.   

This comes as new analysis by the House of Commons Library, reveals that Labour councils have out-built Tory councils by an average of 1000 new homes since 2010. 

It shows that in Conservative-led local authority areas there were 1,679 new homes built on average between 2010 and 2016, while under Labour councils 2,577 were built on average – more than 50% more homes.

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey MP said:

“The approach of Reading Borough council shows that the Labour party in power can make a real difference.

“After seven years of Tory failure on housing, from falling home-ownership to rising homelessness, Britain has a housing crisis and needs many more good homes.

“And while Tory Ministers talk about getting Britain building but their own local councils are lagging behind.

He added that the report alongside the new analysis on council housebuilding figures showed that “Labour doesn’t just build more, we build better too. Labour councils across the country are pulling out all the stops to help people with the day-to-day housing pressures they face.”

ENDS

Reading Borough Council hailed for pioneering housing scheme, as new analysis shows Labour councils are out-building Tory councils by 50%

Reading Borough Labour council has been praised for its pioneering housing scheme in a new report showcasing the innovative work that Labour councils are doing on housing around the country....

On Saturday, during a visit to Gravesend to campaign in the upcoming local elections in Kent on the 4th May, John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, reaffirmed a pledge made last summer by Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, to invest in essential communications and energy infrastructure in the South East.

Labour has pledged to rebalance investment across the country after new figures show that the South East has just £1,081 spent per person on essential infrastructure, compared to £3,114 per person in London.

Mr McDonnell highlighted how the South East is one of the regions worst hit by rising rail fares and in a speech to Labour Party members John talked about Labour’s policy to take back control of our railways by bringing them back under public ownership.

Speaking to members at the Labour Party office in Gravesend, John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

 “After seven years of Tory failure on the economy, too much of our country is being held back. There’s a huge potential in places like Gravesend and across Kent for investment in new technologies like renewable energy. We’re committed to rewriting the rules so that investment decisions made in Whitehall don’t just focus on what’s good for a few people in the City of London.

“Labour will deliver the long-term patient investment needed to create the jobs of the future in new technologies, renewable energy and in transport infrastructure fit for the 21st century.

“On 4th May people across Kent will have the chance to vote for their next county council. Labour is the only party that are serious about achieving the investment that is needed to restore pride and prosperity to Kent and we will take back control of our railways.”

Ends

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor reaffirms promise to invest in South East

On Saturday, during a visit to Gravesend to campaign in the upcoming local elections in Kent on the 4th May, John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, reaffirmed a pledge made...

The Tories famously pledged to be the “most family friendly Government we’ve ever had” before the 2010 election. As part of this claim they said they would protect Sure Start, the transformative early year years programme introduced by Labour to give young children the best start in life. But new research, based on Freedom of Information requests to councils, reveals that there are now over 1,240 fewer designated Sure Start children’s centres than when the Tories took office- a fall of around 34 per cent since 2010.

In the South East, 150 Sure Start Centres have been slashed.

Angela Rayner MP: Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, commenting on the closures, said:

“The Tories claim they’re protecting Sure Start, but they’re not. They use tricky accounting methods- like pointing to buildings which are still open but which are running much reduced services-to try to pull the wool over people’s eyes. But the facts speak for themselves.

“There are a third fewer designated centres than there were when the Tories came to office. We know that because we asked local authorities, those tasked with running these vital services, and that’s what they told us.

“The Tories are taking us backwards. It’s a scandal that parents and children are paying the price.”

Ends

The Tories have slashed Sure Start. There are now 150 fewer centres in the South East

The Tories famously pledged to be the “most family friendly Government we’ve ever had” before the 2010 election. As part of this claim they said they would protect Sure Start,...

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on the launch of a consultation into the South Eastern franchise, said:

“Under the Tories, punctuality has fallen to a 10 year low, passenger satisfaction is plummeting, fares have risen three times faster than wages and promised upgrades have been delayed by years or scrapped altogether.

“Privatised rail has failed and it will take more than tinkering around the edges to deliver much needed improvements for passengers.” 

South Eastern Consultation

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on the launch of a consultation into the South Eastern franchise, said: “Under the Tories, punctuality has fallen to a 10 year...

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