Politically Speaking in the Wakefield Express

Every morning across the Wakefield district thousands of parents drop their children off at nursery, pre-school or their local childminders and head off to work. Their child’s safety is in the hands of the childcare professionals who care for, entertain and educate the children in their care.
 
Which is why, in a recent visit to the Wrenthorpe, Pre-School parents told me how worried they were about Government plans to increase the number of children who can be looked after by staff in nurseries and by childminders.

For anyone who’s spent the day looking after a group of toddlers, the changes seemed immense.

Nursery staff and childminders told me that they were concerned it would have limited the quality of the activities they’re able to run with children and the time they could spend with each child.

While parents in Wrenthorpe told me their priority was the quality and safety of the care their children received. “I’m genuinely really worried” was the verdict of one Wrenthorpe mum.
 
The Pre-School Learning Alliance and other campaigning organisations such as Mumsnet and Netmums also ran strong campaigns against the proposals saying they wouldn’t save parents’ money and would have put quality and safety at risk.
And as well as nurseries, hundreds of childminders who live and work in my Morley and Outwood constituency would have been affected.
 
Which is why, following our calls for a change of course just a fortnight ago, it is welcome news that the Government has bowed to our public pressure and announced it would be dropping these plans for now.

Not listening to the views of people across the board, all of whom were opposed to their plans, would have been foolish. But while this is welcome news, we do not yet know whether the Government has fully woken up to our concerns.
 
I am launching a questionnaire for parents and child care professionals. Do help me by filling it out or emailing me your concerns to ed@edballs.com. We must keep the pressure up so these plans don’t re- surface in a few weeks time. 

*******
 
Winter fuel allowances were introduced by the last Labour Government to help combat fuel poverty. But they’ve always been paid to everyone over the age of 60, regardless of their income. Which meant a pensioner living in Springhills gets it, as does Lord Sugar. 
 
But these are difficult times. The economy has flatlined since the last election and continues to struggle. Our NHS and social care system is under massive pressure. In times like these, is it really a priority to pay the Winter Fuel Allowance – a vital support for middle and low income pensioners – to the richest 5%? These are pensioners with incomes over £42,000, high enough to pay the higher or top rates of tax. So I’ve announced that if Labour wins the next election, pensioners on more than £42,000 a year would lose their winter fuel allowance.  This way we can safeguard this vital cash for the 95 per cent of pensioners on middle and low incomes who need it most.

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Posted June 7th, 2013 by Ed