Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – September 2018
Crawley Open House is one of a kind with a history in providing help and support to homeless people locally.
Whilst not the local housing authority – that’s Crawley Borough Council’s responsibility – I’m grateful for the years of discretionary funding that West Sussex County Council has provided Open House. I recognise they need to ensure efficient spending on behalf of local taxpayers but I think their proposal to now reduce grant funding to this charity is a false economy.
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. As Crawley MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer, I questioned Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions calling for a continued focus on blood cancer awareness, diagnosis and prevention.
This month I also chaired the latest meeting of the Blood Cancer APPG, welcomed parliamentarians to an event in Westminster Hall hosted by Bloodwise, in addition to taking part in the charity’s Twitter Takeover by managing its social media feed for a day.
Every year, around 38,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with blood cancer, with this condition claiming the lives of more than 15,000 people annually in Britain.
If you’re feeling fatigued, experiencing night sweats or have noticed unexplained weight loss, you’re displaying symptoms of what could be described as a ‘hidden’ cancer; so-named because while patients might be receiving or waiting to start treatment, they may not be displaying any obvious signs of ill health. With some 137 different types, blood cancer is the UK’s fifth most common cancer and third biggest cancer killer.
More Crawley families with the security of employment: Since 2010, an average of some 1,000 people have entered the workplace every day, meaning more and more families across the country have the security of employment and a regular pay packet.
In Crawley, we’ve seen unemployment fall by 60 per cent in this time; only possible with policies in place that are pro-worker and pro-business as part of the building of a stronger, fairer economy which continues to create more jobs.
What’s not always mentioned, however, is what this means for families. Across the south east of England, there’re now over 47,000 fewer children in households with no one working.
Overall across Britain the number of workless households is down 964,000 since 2010, with the proportion of workless households now at its lowest level since records began in 1996. The fall over the last year was more than 11,000.
Increasing funding for Crawley schools: Following campaigning from myself and other West Sussex MPs, schools across the county are to receive an additional £28 million in funding through the new National Funding Formula with most Crawley schools getting an increase of over 10 per cent.
Extra support is welcome, and I continue to call for additional financial backing to recognise the increasing costs borne by schools, with a particular emphasis on special educational needs.
Currently, 28 per cent of children finish their reception year without early communication and reading skills necessary to get on in life, and it’s the ambition of the Government to cut this number in half over the next ten years. For my part, it’s a cause I’ve raised with ministers and is something I’ll continue to take forward with the Education Secretary.
Due to recent reforms and the hard work of Crawley teachers and pupils, education standards are rising in our schools. England is rising up international literacy league tables and there are over 150,000 more six year olds on track to be fluent readers compared with six years ago, and school funding will increase to £43.5 billion in 2019-20.
There’s still more to be done to ensure that all children can fulfil their potential and achieve as much as their talents and hard work can take them, and I’ll continue to pursue this directly with the Government.
Crawley Town Community Foundation: From this September, the Community Foundation will be offering a two year Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching & Development. The course is designed for anyone seeking to achieve a university degree while gaining experience for a career in the football industry.
The programme is being delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales, and all students will be enrolled as a student at that university. All lectures, seminars and tutorials are delivered in a supportive and inspirational club environment through online material.
Additionally, as September comes to a close we are approaching the end of Blood Cancer Awareness Month. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer I’ve heard a number of accounts of how Macmillan Cancer Support nurses help people beating and living with cancer. Given the charity’s work I’m grateful to Crawley Town Football Club for holding a Macmillan Coffee Morning on Friday 28th September, from 9am to 1pm in Redz Bar at Broadfield Stadium.
Working together to protect the protectors: The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill received royal assent this month – officially becoming law after being approved by both Houses of Parliament.
The legislation doubles maximum sentences for assault against members of our emergency services from six to 12 months in prison. It includes our police, paramedics, fire service personnel, prison and custody officers as well as search and rescue staff.
By working together and putting party political differences aside, we’ve been able to do the right thing for those who put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.
Crawley in work: Local unemployment has fallen by 56 per cent since 2010. Nationally, there have been an average of 1,000 more people into work each and every day over the last eight years.
Wages are continuing to rise faster than prices, meaning pay packets can go further in Crawley and nationwide.
Transforming the way people save for retirement: In recent years, the way many people save for retirement has been transformed through the Government’s automatic enrolment policy.
Figures released recently show that the number of workplace pension schemes has reached a record high of 41.1 million in 2017, up nearly 50 per cent in the last six years.
Since its launch in 2012, almost 10 million people have been enrolled into a workplace pension, with a large number of new savers under the age of 30. Some 48,000 more people in Crawley are now enrolled in a workplace pension.
Dame Caroline Haslett: I’ve written to the Three Bridges Forum in support of their work to establish a memorial to Dame Caroline, whose work in the field of engineering as well as her campaigning for equality for women places her as one of Crawley’s pioneers.
I welcome the establishment of the Caroline Haslett Memorial Project (CHaMP) sub-committee, and the exhibition currently on display at Crawley Library throughout August and September. Her local contributions include her work on the Crawley Development Corporation, helping establish the New Town we know today.
Voice & Vote: In this centenary year of the first women in Britain gaining the right to vote, I’m urging Crawley residents to visit the ‘Voice & Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament’ exhibition in Westminster Hall.
The display looks back at two centuries of women’s representation and campaigning, examines where we are today, and shows that anyone can make change happen and exercise their democratic rights.
£9 billion business broadband boost: Welcoming figures showing that superfast broadband has boosted the turnover of local businesses across the UK by £9 billion. This boost to the UK economy has created some 49,000 jobs. 97 per cent of homes and businesses in the south east of England now have access to superfast broadband.
Anthony Nolan: Supporting the Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign, and thanking the 785 potential stem cell donors from Crawley registered with Anthony Nolan.
I’m proud that Crawley has 785 people who have selflessly volunteered to give someone a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.
I’m grateful to the Crawley residents who have been in contact with me in support of this campaign – I’ve been pleased to work with Anthony Nolan since my first election to Parliament and look forward to doing so again in the future.
As Chair of the APPG on Blood Cancer I strongly hope that more people from our community will be inspired to sign up and show that together, we can provide a cure for blood cancer.
With my best wishes
Member of Parliament for Crawley