Archive for Archived press releases

Local Unemployme​nt Still ‘Rising Inexorably​’ Despite SSI and AXA Jobs Boost

 Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has said local unemployment was still ‘rising inexorably’ despite the welcome news of jobs boosts at Redcar steelworks and AXA Insurance in Middlesbrough.

Tom said “Recent new figures which show a continued national rise in unemployment is mirrored exactly by the local figures for my constituency.  The constituency now has an unemployment rate of 5.2% which represents 3,182 people signing on at local Job Centres.  This time last year the rate was 4.8% with 2,973 people on the register.”

“This is despite the welcome news this year of thousands of new jobs being created at SSI in Redcar as the steelworks moves into restart mode, and the news that a big jobs boost is happening with AXA insurance opening new town centre offices in Middlesbrough.”

“Clearly, the coalition’s policies of deflation and a public spending freeze are combining to bring about a rise in unemployment for many, and heightening job insecurity for many, many more.  The job cuts on the cards at both Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland Councils will only help to make the matters worse as we go into the Christmas season.”

“Local people are not working – and neither are David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s policies.”

“Printing new money does not mean Teesside small business will benefit”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (7th October 2011) that the moves by Chancellor George Osborne to pump more cash into the economy by pushing in £75 billion of new cash will almost certainly not benefit small businesses on Teesside ‘by one iota’.

Tom said “It is becoming clearer by the day that this cash tends to be hoarded by the banks, and only released by borrowing grudgingly at best, and by keeping the tills firmly locked at worst.”

“This tendency will now intensify, given that only this morning one of the World’s largest credit agencies, Moody’s, has downgraded the credit ratings of major banks in the UK including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and the Nationwide Building Society. This will terrify the banks who fear losing customers, and one net effect will be to squeeze borrowing even more so as to keep their cash balances at a high level.”

“Given that the coalition’s deflation policy have driven demand and growth out of the economy, this, together with the news on bank ratings, will only increase the trend for banks to again start speculating on the markets. This helps no one at all.”

 

“Osborne and Cameron are 96% short of their own growth target of 3%. On average since the Tory-LibDem Government came to power, growth has been 0.1%, before the euro zone crisis. They strangled the fragile recovery, and by printing £75BN for the banks now the government is admitting their deficit plan has been an abject failure. As George Osborne said on the 09.01.09: “quantitative easing is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed””.

“The Bank of England’s estimates from the last round of Quantitative easing showed a minimum estimated inflationary effect of 1.5%, which will hurt peoples household budgets even further. There is only one way to get Britain moving – and that is to launch a programme of public works, infrastructure investment and house building. That, not pandering to the banks, will revive the economy, helping small businesses in areas like Teesside and put people back to work.”

“Not to do this will mean that this Tory-LibDem Government has taken us into a double dip recession.”

 

“Government must act to see that British steel is used on Teesside wind energy project”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (6th October 2011) has called on Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to take urgent action to see that an offshore wind farm being built in Tees Bay will contain UK and Teesside steel.

Tom said “I have been told by senior managers at Tata Long Products – which covers the Lackenby Beam Mill – that they have been trying to be suppliers of up to 6,400 tonnes of steel plate for the new Teesside Offshore Wind Farm which will be built a mile off the coast of Redcar, and which is being built and run by French energy giant, EDF.”

“But up to date, they have been unable to break into this market, despite the wind farm being within sight of one of Tata’s main plants.”

“The farm will consist of 27 turbines to generate 62MW of electricity. EDF Energy is the site operator and responsible for general procurement decisions. I am told that EDF has placed the contract including the turbine foundation structures with Dutch company Van Oord. Van Oord, in turn, has been negotiating with three suppliers of foundation structures (monopiles) – EEW (Germany), SIF (Netherlands) and TAG Energy Solutions here on Teesside.”

“Each monopile contains approximately 400 tonnes of steel plate – which will provide work for Tata Mills at Scunthorpe, and could give opportunities to Lackenby and the special profiles plant at Skinningrove. The trouble is that SIF, as one of the main sub-contractors, has a long-standing relationship with the German steel producer Dillingen which has always supplied SIF with steel. There will be 15 Monopiles built by TAG but these will be under terms given to them by SIF. This will mean that this work in the UK will be done, but using German – not British – steel.”

 

“Tata have asked to be tenderers for this work, but so far this has been rejected. I feel this unfair and could well have a big knock-on impact for the future. The renewable energy supply chain is very complex and procurement decisions are starting to be made outside the UK which favours more established suppliers in mainland Europe, firms who show little or no interest in allowing a UK supply chain to emerge.”

“This means the UK steel industry and the UK economy does not gain much economic benefit from this infrastructure investment, even though we, as electricity users will pay for it through our electricity bills.”

“I have therefore set out these facts in a detailed letter to Vince Cable, asking him to look at this case as a matter of urgency, and saying that he should be now making a diary date with Tata Managers to see how this log-jam can be sorted out for the benefit of the local steel industry and for UK consumers.”

“The ball is now in Vince Cable’s court – and I, Tata and Tata’s workers and the members of the Community Trade Union who make up the majority of Tata’s employees, expect a positive response from him.”

George Osborne’s “credit easing” is a codeword for his failure and further economic plan

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (5th October 2011) attacked the proposal by Tory Chancellor George Osborne to boost the economy through what is called ‘credit easing’ is an admission that they have failed to bring the banks to heel, and a move that will intensify economic woe for the UK.

Tom said “this new policy, which is still uncosted, is basically putting up more state cash to persuade banks to lend more to business customers. All this shows is that the much vaunted ‘Project Merlin’ – the supposed understanding with banks to encourage them to lend – has failed and failed dismally.”

“Project Merlin was intended to curb bonuses and keep banks lending, and increase that lending. That has not happened, as any small business manager on Teesside will tell you.”

“So now more state cash – and we still don’t know how much – will be pushed into the fray. And this will only increase the existing state borrowing figures and enlarge the deficit. The reality is that to avoid this, the Chancellor will have to make further cuts in public spending, hitting local councils, the armed forces, the NHS and the Police yet again.”

“All this shows is that the Office for Budget Responsibility – who warned against such an approach – were right, and that the Chancellor and his chums are again wrong. The tragedy is that it will be ordinary men and women in my constituency who will be paying the price of his error.”

Victory for pub landlady on showing Premier League matches “a victory for a free media and free enjoyment”

The news that a Portsmouth pub landlady has won her bid to be allowed to show premier league matches from foreign satellite broadcasters was described as a victory for common justice and common enjoyment by Tom Blenkinsop, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

 

Tom said “Mrs Karen Murphy took on the multi-millionaires in a David and Goliath battle against the cash and the power of both Sky TV and the Premier League – and won.  The previous law that was used to prosecute pub landlords and club stewards from showing these matches on non-Sky outlets, and instead forcing them to pay extortionate sums to Sky if they did want to show these matches, is dead.”

 

“This is a victory for common enjoyment and for the future of many pubs and clubs, for whom this will be a lifeline.  The total Sky stranglehold was always unjust – the TV equivalent of saying you could only read a newspaper in a pub if it was one owned by Rupert Murdoch.  That statement would be laughed out of court.  Now this same tactic as employed by his TV company has also been laughed out of court.”
 

“This will stop the practice of Sky sending round paid snoopers to pubs and clubs on a Saturday afternoon, and then, on the evidence they found, taking licensees and club committees to court, where they – and there have been licensees hit by this in my constituency – have been fined thousands of pounds by magistrates upholding a supposed law protecting wealthy clubs and Sky TV.”

“This is a decisive victory for common sense.  Mr Murdoch and the billionaire owners of Premier League clubs should now finally accept that they have lost.”

Tom Blenkinsop: “we have won a victory for stranded Huntcliff schoolchildren”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (3rd October 2011) claimed what he said was a ‘rare victory’ with a local bus operator, which will see local schoolchildren at Saltburn’s Huntcliff Campus, and who live in Skelton, Brotton, Marske, Redcar and Loftus, once again get a bus from the school gates to get them directly home.

Tom said “When Arriva re-jigged their local bus routes a few months, and diverted the 48 bus which used to run past the school, pupils from these areas either had to walk into Saltburn Town Centre or wait a long 50 minutes for a bus home.”

“Affected parents contacted me over this, and I fired off a suggestion to the bus company that they divert buses at the end of the school day to get these children home.”

“I pointed out that some of the children are at primary school age, and that this raised a danger for them in the dark later afternoons of winter”
“In this case, Arriva, the local bus operator, have co-operated in this, and they have now told me that a bus in both directions will now be diverted to pick up at the school at the end of the school day. This is a rare victory, but one that I thank Arriva for, and one that I know will be a relied for parents – and indeed for local residents on that stretch of road who will now have a better service.”

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have “failed local women”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (3rd October 2011) said that David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg had ‘failed local women’.

Tom said “This isn’t me saying this – it is the Prime Minister’s own people. A No 10 memo said “we have made bold statements or promises but haven’t delivered enough”.

“Take jobs. Women’s unemployment is now at its highest since 1988.”

“Take child support for hard working families. Cuts to childcare tax credit are costing working families up to £1,560 per year.”

“And tax policies have hit women hardest. Out of nearly £17bn of tax rises and benefit cuts announced so far, over £11bn comes from women.”

“It gets worse. Part-time working mums will lose working tax credit if their partner loses his job whilst cuts to Child Benefit will cost higher rate taxpaying families with three children £2,450 a year.”

“Meanwhile the people who got us into this mess are escaping. More than twice as much is being taken from direct financial support for children than from the banks.”

“Rushed state pension age rises are leaving thousands of women in their 50’s thousands of pounds worse off – and locally many women who will be affected are voicing their protests to me.”

“All I can say is that faced with these facts, and faced with the knowledge that his own advisors are telling him that he has screwed up, all David Cameron – as well as Nick Clegg – can do is apologise to my women constituents now.”

Tory Britain is no safe haven

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today hailed Shadow Chancellor Ed Ball’s speech as ‘showing Britain the alternative to austerity and unemployment’ and shows that ‘a Tory Britain is not a safe haven’.Tom said “Ed Balls laid out starkly and clearly how the coalition’s economic policies are flat lining jobs and prosperity in today’s Britain.  The failure of the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition is illustrated most graphically by the latest government borrowing figures which came out only a few days ago.  A record borrowing level of £15.9 billion – a leap of £1.9 billion in a single month – is simply due to two factors – the loss of government revenues from employment and productive industry and the cash that has to be spent to prime social security to aid the millions of workless families in today’s society.”

“The loss of income tax revenues should have come as no surprise after the implementation of policies that have seen thousands on thousands of public sector jobs wiped out through cabinet imposed spending cuts on councils, government agencies, the police, our armed forces and the NHS.  The shortfall on business taxes should have come as no surprise after slashing public sector spending contracts with private sector businesses and deflating any hopes of economic growth from investment in manufacturing.”
 
“They have also bilked areas like Teesside from getting the full benefit from EU Regional Funds earmarked for us, by refusing to match fund it, instead hiding it away in Treasury funds for their own pet projects and a cynical election give-away.”

“The great tragedy is that – at heart – Chancellor George Osborne and his Bullingdon Boy colleagues really don’t care.  They are the willing prisoners of an outdated ideology that equates the public sector, and public sector workers, as not needed in the world they want to create.  They do not see that in a modern state and a modern economy, planned public spending can act as an economic stimulus to boost private sector business, and, through strategic and judicious intervention, help to modernise private business and manufacturing so that UK industry can compete properly in a global economy.”

“Ed Balls set out today how such policies can help turn the corner for UK PLC and to help those – like too many of my constituents – who are workless or who fear for the future of their jobs, to once again have hope for new jobs and for job security in an expanding economy.”

“Look at Teesside here – look at how, say, investment in new infrastructure schemes could help the steel industry to expand.  Look at how a speeded up programme of oil and gas extraction from our coastal waters could boost our engineering and construction base.  Look at how Ed Balls’ proposal to cut VAT on household repairs and goods would help our chemical companies who supply the bulk products for paint, plastics and coating materials.  Look at how a cut in NI contributions and a dedicated investment bank would help local small firms struggling to grow.”

“These are the economic policies that Britain – and my constituents – need.  They don’t need continued deflation, austerity and spending cuts.  Ed Balls set out Labour’s Plan A.  It is a plan that can work.”

We have a Government that is now hounding the dying

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has hit out at leaked plans by Ministers at the Department of Work and Pensions to begin plans to penalise people with terminal illness by cutting their benefits.
 
Tom said “On Wednesday evening news leaked out that thousands of people with serious or terminal illnesses will begin to receive letters from the Department for Work and Pensions.  They will, on opening these letters, find that as a result of a little noticed clause in the Welfare Reform Bill, that their ‘Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)’ will be time-limited to one year from April 2012, meaning those people who have been told by their specialists that they are terminally ill and who have accessed contribution based ESA since April 2011 may lose all out of work help in just six months time.”
 
“Disabled and benefit specialists calculate that on present statistical knowledge at least 700,000 people will be affected by this ruling by 2015 and that possibly 400,000 seriously ill people will lose out altogether on all benefits.”
 
“What makes this even worse is that these letters will be going out even before the Bill becomes an Act.  Indeed, the House of Lords have yet to scrutinise these plans.”
 
“One can only imagine the trauma that this could cause for people possibly in excruciating pain, and for their nearest and dearest.  The sheer impact of possibly having to face up to a cut in their benefit support will be devastating for people already told they only have a limited time left to live.”
 
“There is still time for this coalition government to reverse these plans.  The welfare reform bill enters Lords committee sessions in two weeks and this could give Ministers the time to amend or scrap these plans.  But if they don’t, I would appeal to all those Lib Dem or Tory Peers who oppose this to join with Labour and cross-bench peers who will be putting amendments down to stop this plan succeeding”

Tom to quiz ministers on how much public cash is being wasted on job seeking agency that cannot spell words like “learning”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, is to quiz Department for Work and Pensions Ministers over how much public cash has been paid to job seeking advice company, Avanta, after local unemployed people criticised it for poor standards, including basic spelling errors on a website designed, among other things, to help job seekers write CV’s.Tom said “News came out yesterday that this Enfield based company had been running a distance learning website designed to help unemployed people brush up on basic literacy skills which was littered with basic spelling mistakes – and that was two months after the errors were pointed out by customers.”

“Misspelt words on their website include “opportunities”, “working” and “effective” – the very words needed for a good CV!  In addition local job seekers talk of ‘chaotic inductions’ and contradictory information given to job seekers referred to Avanta by local Job Centres.”

“Companies like Avanta are seizing on new profit opportunities offered by the outsourcing of job seeking programmes away from professional job centres and their dedicated staff, but the story is not a happy one.  Indeed, only the other week we heard of another Teesside job seeking agency making many of its own staff redundant – a bizarre way to expand their potential customer base!”

“Profit is at the heart of these companies.  I have heard that up to £30,000 can be paid on the nail by the DWP for a successful job seeker placed in a job via the Work Programme and I want to know from Ministers how much cash from the taxpayer has been spent on a job seeker advice agency that seemingly does not know how to spell or use a spell checker.”