Jim Cunningham MP

Labour Member of Parliament for Coventry South

Blog

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Despite the myth that MP’s take a long summer holiday during a Parliamentary Recess, the reality is very different. It’s been a busy few weeks in Coventry South as I use the time to catch up with local groups and organisations to hear about the work they are doing for local people across the city. 

This recess I’ve also used the time to deliver on some of the pledges I made during the General Election on schools, education, housing, policing, Brexit and the greenbelt.

A few weeks ago I met with Whitefrairs to discuss their plans to build more social housing in the city, as well as ensuring that they are doing all they can to improve the properties they have. I regularly receive correspondence from constituents who are Whitefrairs tenants about issues of anti-social behaviour and sometimes poor living conditions. I continue to speak to Whitefrairs on a regular basis about their plans. 

Building new homes does not however mean building on our green belt. I’ve been a strong and vocal opponent of Warwick District Council’s plans to build on Kings Hill and earlier this summer I joined over 100 local residents to show our opposition to the plans that would not only destroy part of our green belt but would also cause additional pressure on our roads and overstretched public services.

Education was a key part of the election campaign. I campaigned against the damaging Conservative cuts to our schools and their plans to raise tuition fees even further, putting working class kids at an even greater disadvantage when it comes to higher education. Prior to the recess I met with a number of Head Teachers and the Council to discuss how we could work together to stop these cuts to school budgets and whilst the Government has now backtracked slightly, ask any Head Teacher if they are confident the money coming from Government will cover their costs in the years to come and the answer will be a resounding no.

On Higher Education I met with Warwick University’s new Vice-Chancellor to hear about the exciting plans afoot for one of our two world class universities in the city. It’s fantastic that Coventry, a population seven years younger than the UK average is able to boast about two brilliant Universities now both in the top 12 nationally!

I was back at Warwick to welcome hundreds of young people to the Biology Olympiad where they came together to celebrate the huge achievements of this sector over the last few years. Not only were these people at Warwick University, they were in Coventry and it’s another example of how much the wider city benefits from our world class universities. 

It’s our world class universities that are key to our City of Culture 2021 bid and I was delighted to meet with the bid team earlier this month to talk about how we can work together to deliver Coventry the crown when the results are announced at the end of this year. I’m hosting a Westminster Hall debate on September 5th followed a week later by a reception in the House of Commons as we look to drum up support for this exciting venture. 

Last week I had the honour of visiting Acorns Childrens Hospice in Birmingham. It’s one of the most humbling experiences you have as an MP, visiting those in unthinkable situations but seeing the compassion shown to them by staff and volunteers. It’s the best and the worst of our world coming together. Hospice’s play a vital role in health care and what’s most shocking perhaps is they are too often reliant on fundraising rather than NHS cash. It’s something that we as a country must look at, whether it’s a hospice for adults or children, as we live longer and as medical advances occur the need for hospices will only grow.

Later this week I’m meeting with the Superintendent for Coventry and then with David Jamieson, our Police and Crime Commissioner. Fear of crime was an issue raised with me time and time again during the election campaign and although money is tight, I’m hopeful we can secure more resource for Coventry. In Parliament, I’m battling the Tories to give us the cash we need in Coventry to provide more Police on our streets. Their cuts to the Coventry Police since 2010 have been scandalous and Labour have opposed them every step of the way. 

And as we head back to London in September, the diary is already filling up with a meeting scheduled in with West Midlands Trains firs up, the new rail company who won the recent franchise bid.

As ever, my office remains open throughout the summer and you can contact us through telephone, email and the post. 

An update on Coventry issues. What I've been up to.

Despite the myth that MP’s take a long summer holiday during a Parliamentary Recess, the reality is very different. It’s been a busy few weeks in Coventry South as I use...

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Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry, met with older people from across the country at an event in Parliament organised by the charity Age UK.  

 

The Age Champions event was the charity’s annual summer reception and highlighted the challenges of an ageing population and opportunities in later life.

 

MPs heard how they can tackle issues affecting older people in Coventry South and across the country, including loneliness and isolation, social care and ‎the importance of a decent income.

Jim pledges to speak up for older people

Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry, met with older people from across the country at an event in Parliament organised by the charity Age UK.     The Age Champions event was... Read more

Screen_Shot_2017-05-25_at_16.19.22.pngBelow is the contribution I made to the Queens Speech debate on Tuesday of this week:

I have visited a number of schools in my constituency, and the message has been the same at each one: they may have to make teachers and classroom assistants redundant. I believe that every child should receive every possible opportunity to succeed in life, regardless of their background. I am therefore disappointed that no clear education legislation is outlined in the Queen’s Speech. There are only vague commitments to allow children to attend good schools.

I hope that the Government have finally dropped their vanity project of introducing more grammar schools. That policy would have served only to increase the divisions in society. Instead of trying to create new schools, we should be focusing on our existing schools to ensure that they are sufficiently funded. That is what will give our children the best opportunities in life. However, despite having pledged to ensure that every child gets the education they deserve, the Government proposed in their manifesto to remove free school meals. I am pleased that that policy has been scrapped, but we must not forget that they tried to introduce it in the first place.

It is under proposals from this same Government that schools are having their funding cut for the first time in 20 years, which will mean teachers losing their jobs and our children being taught in supersized classes. In Coventry, over £29 million will be cut from the local authority’s education budget, which will mean, on average, £600 less per pupil. One school in my constituency is facing a reduction of £1,600 per pupil. That is simply not good enough. Our children deserve better.

We have seen time and again that this Government are failing the people of this country, whether children at the start of their lives or people at the other end of their lives—for example, by threatening to scrap the pensions triple lock, or by letting down the women who have seen their state pension age increase but received inadequate transitional arrangements.

I will now move on to local services. We have seen a shift in focus, with responsibility moving from central to local government. It is important that local authorities can shape their service provision, but they are having to do so in the face of constant budget cuts. Since 2010, Coventry Council has lost £106 million a year, which represents a 50% cut in Government grant funding. By 2020, the Government will have cut £655 million from the council’s budget. When people have increasingly complex needs, especially in areas such as adult social care and mental health services, Coventry and Warwickshire local authorities expect a deficit of £33 million by 2020-21 in social care. Although we have, I hope, seen the back of the Government’s proposed dementia tax, more must be done urgently to tackle the crisis in social care, and there was no specific mention of that in the Green Paper.

The Chancellor said in his Mansion House speech that,

“people are weary of the long slog”

and that the Conservatives are listening to people after the election. But is he really hearing what the people of this country need? It is simply staggering that the Government are continuing to pursue an agenda of austerity. Other vital local services are still being cut. The Department for Work and Pensions has announced the closure of 108 sites by March 2018, including the Tile Hill jobcentre in Coventry, which means that claimants will now have to travel for up to an hour to get to a jobcentre. That will be incredibly difficult for many of the more vulnerable users of the jobcentre.

At a time when the gap between rich and poor is widening, it is more important than ever to ensure that we are caring for those who need it the most. Therefore, while I welcome the mention in the Queen’s Speech of the very important issue of domestic violence, let us not forget that 17% of specialist women’s refuges have closed since 2010. That means that women will have been unable to get the help and support they so desperately need. Some 20,000 police officers have been cut, and much has been made in the national press of the consequences. While the Government say one thing, their policies seem to do the exact opposite.

Queens Speech Debate

Below is the contribution I made to the Queens Speech debate on Tuesday of this week: I have visited a number of schools in my constituency, and the message has...

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On Thursday 8th June, residents of Coventry returned me to Parliament for the 7th time. I am deeply humbled and honoured to once again represent the people of Coventry South. 

I want to thank everyone who voted for me. I will do very best to deliver for you over the months and years to come. 

During the election, my team spoke to thousands of people about their concerns. My job now is to stand up for the people who live in Coventry South. I made some key pledges during the campaign and now I intend to carry them out. 

I wrote for the Coventry Telegraph, my plan for the first 100 days. You can read it online here.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have a policy question or a personal issue. I'll try my best to help. You can get in touch using the information here.

Thank you - Getting on with the job

On Thursday 8th June, residents of Coventry returned me to Parliament for the 7th time. I am deeply humbled and honoured to once again represent the people of Coventry South. ...

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The next Labour government will put rail passengers first by putting the brakes on rapidly increasing rail fares andsaving commuters an average of £1,014 on their season tickets 

Under a Labour government, passengers will on average save £1,014 on their rail season tickets over the next parliament, compared to the cost under a Tory government. 

Since 2010, regulated rail fares have risen by 27.1%, increasing the average cost of a season ticket by £594.

The 2015 Conservative manifesto included a commitment to keeping rail fares frozen in real terms. However, regulated fares were capped at the Retail Price Index (RPI), which consistently over-estimates inflation, rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Labour will cap regulated fair rises at the Consumer Price Index (CPI), using the money saved through bringing rail franchises back into public ownership. As more services come into public ownership, greater amounts of savings become available, and Labour will aim to introduce further fare caps or reductions. 

Jim Cunningham, Labour’s candidate for Coventry South said:

“One popular route in Coventry South is Coventry to Oxford where rail users have seen season tickets increase from £3388 in 2010 to £4440 today.

“The Tories have, for seven years, presided over huge increases – and under another five years of the Tories ticket prices are on course to be as high as £5233 by the end of the next parliament.

“Labour has a different plan – to bring rail franchises back into public ownership that would save commuters in Coventry £1617 over the next five years.

Labour are also committed to maintaining three trains from Coventry to London per hour. The Tories have given no such guarantee.” 

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, said: 

“Under the Conservatives, rail fares have sky-rocketed and tickets are some of the most expensive in Europe.

“Labour will take Britain's railways back into public control and put more money into people's pockets by capping fares. This will save commuters £1,014 on their rail season tickets over the next Parliament, as part of our plan to promote services for the many, not the few.” 

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said:

“Theresa May’s failure to commit to freezing rail fares shows just how out of touch they are. 

“Under the Conservatives, fares have risen three times faster than wages, passenger satisfaction is plummeting, punctuality has fallen to a 10 year low and promised upgrades have either 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. Labour will take the railways back into public ownership and put passengers first by capping fares. 

The 2017 Tory manifesto has failed to make any commitment to keeping rail fares frozen in real terms, meaning rail fares are likely to rise above inflation (RPI) if the Conservatives win the general election. 

Between 2011 - 2013 the Tories allowed fares to rise by RPI plus 1 per cent. If fares continue to increase by the same rate, the average cost of a season ticket will rise by an extra £160 by the end of the next parliament, compared to being frozen at RPI.

Rail passengers in Coventry South £1617 better off under Labour 

The next Labour government will put rail passengers first by putting the brakes on rapidly increasing rail fares andsaving commuters an average of £1,014 on their season tickets  Under a...

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The Conservative’s plans to scrap universal infant free school meals will leave the families of infant children £450 worse off everyyear, Labour analysis shows. 

Labour analysis has shown that there are around 11,857 children in Coventry who will no longer be eligible for free school meals under the new system, where only those children who were eligible for free school meals under the means testing system will still be eligible. 

Labour will ensure that every primary school child, whatever their background, have a hot and healthy meal during the school day, by introducing universal free school meals for every primary school child.

Jim Cunningham, Labour’s candidate for Coventry South, said:

“These figures show that, under Tory proposals, 11,857 children in Coventry will no longer be eligible for free school meals. 

“The fact that working families, already facing falling real wages under the Tories, will need to find nearly £450 a year to pay the Tories’ lunch tax shows that Theresa May’s Conservatives have no plans to help those who are just about managing.

“Only Labour will stand up for working families, from universal free school meals in primary school, to a real living wage of £10 an hour, as we build a country for the many, not the few.” 

Tory plans to scrap free school meals for 11,857 children in Coventry

The Conservative’s plans to scrap universal infant free school meals will leave the families of infant children £450 worse off everyyear, Labour analysis shows.  Labour analysis has shown that there...

“This is truly heart breaking news and my thoughts are with those affected.

“The details are still coming to light but from what we know, this cowardly attack has killed 22 people and injured another 59. This callous and indiscriminate act of violence has again achieved nothing but heartache and pain.

“My thoughts are today with those killed and injured and their families. At times like this, I also think of our emergency services – those people who are at this very moment saving lives, protecting lives and searching to discover the truth and bring to justice those involved.

“As a mark of respect, my campaign to be re-elected in Coventry South will be suspended until further notice.”

Statement on the attack in Manchester

“This is truly heart breaking news and my thoughts are with those affected. “The details are still coming to light but from what we know, this cowardly attack has killed...

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15,000 pensioners will see their winter fuel payments scrapped if the Conservatives win the General Election. This move would signal the end of universal support for older people and follows on from policy announcements from Theresa May that will hit the eldest hardest.   

Labour’s candidate in Coventry South, Jim Cunningham said;

 

“If you have contributed all of your life it is only fair you have access to a secure and dignified retirement. That is why Labour will protect pensioner incomes by legislating to keep the Triple Lock on state pensions over the lifetime of the next parliament. This means your pension will rise each year by whichever is highest: average earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent.

 

“Labour will also keep Winter Fuel Payments and free bus passes for everyone over the age of 60. Labour will ensure that there is no rise in the State Pension age beyond 66, and we will give the NHS and social care the funding they need, making it easier for you to access the help and health care you may need.

 

“In Coventry South, the choice has never been clearer. It’s between me, someone who has lived in Coventry for 60 years or the Tory candidate who lives in Kent. I will vote to protect pensioner incomes. The Tory candidate will not.”

 

The Tories have launched an all-out attack on pensioners and now older people face four major burdens under a Conservative government. The Tories have announced they would: 

 

  1. Scrap the “Triple Lock” on state pensions after 2020, this means your pension is not guaranteed to increase by 2.5 per cent every year
  2. Raise the State Pension Age, meaning 34 million people will face the prospect of working longer
  3. Means-test Winter Fuel Payments, this means 15,000 pensioners in Coventry South could be left without the financial support they need to heat their home in the winter
  4. Make even more people pay for their own social care. In the last parliament £4.6 billion was cut from social care budgets and now the Tories want to use the value of your property to contribute to the costs of social care at home, making it even harder for pensioners to receive the care they deserve.

 

15,000 pensioners to lose Winter Fuel Payment under the Tories in Coventry South

15,000 pensioners will see their winter fuel payments scrapped if the Conservatives win the General Election. This move would signal the end of universal support for older people and follows...

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Cheryl Sloan, a WASPI leader in the West Midlands, is keen for the WASPI support group in Coventry & Warwickshire to grow. For information email waspicov@yahoo.com or 07760 441 943

Coventry Labour Candidates, Geoffrey Robinson, Jim Cunningham and Colleen Fletcher have pledged their support for women who they say have been 'very badly let down' by increases in the state pension age.

They have pledged their support for the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign group to back calls for pension relief payments for women born in the 1950s.

Launched in 2015, the WASPI campaign is seeking compensation for what it views as the unjust treatment of women who have been left out of pocket due to changes to the state pension age.

Acts of parliament in 1995 and 2011 led to the pension age for women rising from 60 to 65. It is set to come into force in 2018, two years earlier than originally planned.

Campaigners say the changes have left more than three million women in Britain in limbo after they stopped work at 60 only to later find out the retirement age had been extended without adequate notice. 11,000 women in Coventry are affected.

Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Coventry North West, said: “The stories from the women affected by the rise in the pension age are truly heart breaking.  These women have worked all their lives, paying into the state pot, only to then find out the rules have been changed. They have been very badly let down.”

Jim Cunningham said: “I have supported this campaign for a long while now and if re-elected, I will continue to work with a cross-section of colleagues in Parliament to push for proper and adequate transitional arrangements for women affected by these changes.  The whole process was done without adequate notice and with no transitional arrangements meaning people haven’t been able to make alternative financial arrangements.”

Colleen Fletcher said: “The lack of notice given regarding changes in the state pension age by the Government has left many women facing real hardship. It is vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women in Coventry and across the UK, who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.”

“Sadly the Tories have so far refused to do anything to alleviate the worse cases, claiming that the current social security system was sufficient to meet the needs of everyone. The Tories have completely failed to act to address the plight of these older women.”

Legislation introduced by the Tory government in 1995 and reaffirmed in the Tory coalition Pensions Act of 2011 mean that women born on or after 6 April 1951 are being unfairly hit by an increase in the state pension age. Many of them were entirely unaware of the changes and were not warned by Government agencies prior to their expected retirement. The resulting impact has left many women who have worked their entire life without employment and adequate support, having not been able to put their own arrangements in place.

Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) do not oppose pension age equalisation, but do not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented. Many people’s retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences due to poor preparation and communication on the Governments part.

The Government’s changes have affected women who would normally have retired earlier under the 1995 Pensions Act. Labour plans to extend eligibility to pension credit to these women, ensuring that they are not forced into the Government’s punitive social security regime.  The Labour Party is calling on the Government to implement these plans, to give vulnerable women in our country some stability until their delayed state pension is available.  The concession would operate for affected women up to 2022.

The local Coventry contact is Cheryl Sloan and can be contacted on 07760 441 943 or waspicov@yahoo.com The WASPI website is www.Waspi.co.uk

Cheryl Sloan, said: “I must make this very clear, we are not against State Pension Age Equalisation, we are protesting at the manner in which these pension reforms have been implemented hitting a specific cohort of women, those born in the 1950s, particularly hard and unfairly.  The 1995 and 2011 Pensions Act, have caused me, indignity, anxiety and despair.  This is because the Government failed to notify me until January 2012, seventeen years after the 1995 Act.   I have lost over £40,000 in state pension and it is far too late in my working life to do anything to compensate for this loss.  Although I have well over the required NI contributions, I have been robbed of my pension, I must wait a further 5 years.  I have had all my options and choices taken from me through no fault of my own.  My husband and I now survive off his pension alone and I mean survive. Our life is spent struggling and juggling our finances.  We are considering moving, we do not want to do this, this is our home and we have lived here for thirty-five years but we can't afford the upkeep of our property, we have spent our savings on day to day living.”

“But I consider myself lucky, I have a husband who has a pension, many of these women are alone, divorced, single even widowed, they have nothing, there is no safety net. They have one option, that of signing on for Job seekers and the regime which comes with it, why should we have to suffer that indignity at our age, we have worked hard all our lives, we've paid our dues, the government should pay out !”

 

WASPI women 'badly let down' says Coventry Labour Candidates, with 11,000 women affected in Coventry

Cheryl Sloan, a WASPI leader in the West Midlands, is keen for the WASPI support group in Coventry & Warwickshire to grow. For information email waspicov@yahoo.com or 07760 441 943 Coventry Labour...

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While ordinary hard working families in Coventry South are worried about falling incomes, insecure employment and cuts to public

services, this out of touch Tory Government have said that they want to bring back fox hunting. 

Despite the polls showing that the public do not want a return to fox hunting, the Prime Minister has revealed she intends to lift the ban. 

The Labour Party banned cruel blood sports in 1999 and implemented the Hunting Act in 2004. However, Theresa May would reverse the ban on fox hunting by holding a free vote on repealing the Act.

Jim Cunningham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Coventry South, said:

“It’s a warped sense of priorities when Theresa May thinks the return of fox hunting is something the majority of people in this country would support.

“It is absolutely clear that the British public do not want to see a return to hunting with hounds. Voters in Coventry South want their elected politicians to concentrate on important issues like healthcare, public safety and jobs – not on bringing back cruel blood sports. 

“It just shows how utterly out of touch the Tories are that this is their priority. Only Labour can be trusted to fight for working people on the issues that matter. I’m asking everyone in Coventry South to sign Labour’s petition against bringing back fox hunting and send a clear message to the Tories.”

Labour’s candidate for Coventry south slams out-of-touch Tories as PM reveals they want to bring back fox hunting

While ordinary hard working families in Coventry South are worried about falling incomes, insecure employment and cuts to public services, this out of touch Tory Government have said that they...

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