Tuesday, 30 December 2014

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Friday, 26 December 2014

Cambridge MP calls for rail fares to be made more affordable

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has continued his campaign to reduce rail fares, and has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament ahead of the latest increase coming into effect, saying that rail fares are already too high and need to be reduced in real terms, to make train travel more affordable for commuters and other railway users.

Julian said “I have been lobbying the Government every year about this important issue. Many people use our railway system to travel, whether it be to and from work, to visit friends and family, or for leisure. The fact that the UK has some of the most expensive train fares in the world already is a cause for concern, as we should be looking to encourage people to use the train to ease congestion and pollution, rather than put them off by increasing what are already high costs.”

“The Labour government had a deliberate policy to make train users pay more, by increasing rail fares above inflation year after year. That’s why rail fares went up a colossal 66% under Labour. Although this government continued the increases, thanks to pressure from me and my colleagues that has now been reduced, so rail fares go up in line with inflation only. That’s an improvement, but I want to go further. I want to see rail fares reduced in real terms, to make rail travel more affordable for all.”

“I hope that Labour and Tories alike will abandon their policies of rail fare increases, and agree with me and fellow Liberal Democrats that fares are already too high and need to be reduced.”

The full text of the EDM reads as below, and has received support from Lib Dem, Labour, and Tory MPs:


That this House expresses its concern that rail fares are too high, making it expensive for commuters and other travellers to travel by train; notes that from 2004 onwards the then Government set as its policy on rail fares that they should go up by one per cent above the retail price index (RPI) each year; further notes that this policy was continued under the current Government until 2012; further notes that it was then replaced with a policy of RPI-only increases; welcomes this reduction and the end of the era of above-inflation raises in rail fares, but believes that rail fares are currently too high; and calls on the Government to ensure that rail fares are reduced in real terms.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Pupil Premium will deliver more cash for our schools by Cllr David Jenkins

Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have given schools in Cambridgeshire a £12 million Christmas present.

The cash is an increase in the Pupil Premium funding, which targets extra money to schools depending on the number of children from disadvantaged backgrounds they have. It is a major Liberal Democrat priority that is being delivered by the Coalition Government.

In Cottenham, Histon and Impington 424 pupils are expected to be eligible, meaning that our schools are set to benefit from an extra £381 thouand to support disadvantaged children.

The Pupil Premium covers any primary or secondary school pupil that has been registered for Free School Meals in the past six years. For 2013/14, the Premium will be worth £1.65bn, or £900 per pupil, in total.

David says: ‘This is good news and is a step towards ensuring that children are not held back by poverty and disadvantage. For too long, social background has been a deciding factor in a child’s chances for the future. It’s good that the Liberal Democrats are helping every child to reach their full potential.’

‘This money does not just help the poorest children, it helps every child. Fewer children falling behind means less disruption in class and a better education for everyone.’

Details of the extra income for our schools is given in the table below.

SchoolNumber of PupilsExtra Funding
Cottenham Primary School51£45,450
Cottenham Village College90£81,000
Histon and Impington Infant School16£14,400
Histon and Impington Junior School42£37,800
Impington Village College169£152,100
Oakington CofE VA Primary School12£10,800
Orchard Park Community Primary School44£39,600

Friday, 19 December 2014

Record number of disadvantaged students getting university places

As the number of university entrants passed 500,000 for the first time this year, the gap between the most advantaged and the most disadvantaged students is at its lowest.

Liberal Democrats put safeguards in place to encourage disadvantaged young people to go to university. Setting the system on a sustainable footing, with the poorest 30% of graduates paying less overall than under the old system.

According to a UCAS report released today, disadvantaged young people are over 10% more likely to enter higher education than they were a year ago.

The Liberal Democrats recognise that we couldn't deliver our policy on tuition fees. The truth is that both Labour and the Conservatives supported higher fees, so we were unable to carry out our promise without backing from the two parties.

However, we have worked to make sure the system is as fair as possible in order to protect lower earning graduates. No student pays up front and they only pay back once they're earning over £21,000.

Click here to find out more about tuition fees.

£12m to help people with mental health issues return to work

Liberal Democrats in government have announced a further £12 million investment to help people with mental health conditions get back into work.

This ties in with the Liberal Democrats' commitment to bringing treatment for mental health problems out of the shadows and in line with physical health.

You can back our campaign to help us stamp out the stigma attached to mental health here.

The funding will be used in four pilot areas to test whether better coordination of mental health and employment services can help people to find and stay in work, whilst improving their mental health.

The pilot areas include Blackpool, Greater Manchester, North East Combined Authority and West London Alliance. They will trial a number of approaches, including:
  • Support packages to help claimants create bespoke action plans and coordinate exisiting local support services 
  • Support for new employees to make sure they can stay in work and cope with anxiety and other ongoing problems 
  • Training employment advisors to identity mental health problems and for GPs to recognise the importance of work in improving mental health 
Nick Clegg said:

"It is shocking to think that mental health is now the leading cause of illness in the workplace. It's even more shocking that many of the people suffering are simply not getting the support they need.

"That's why I'm working hard in government to bring mental health out of the shadows. I'm heading up a dedicated mental health taskforce and pushing for investment in pilots like this to help create a fairer society where people get the right support and treatment they need, when they need it."

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cambridge MP welcomes month on month fall in unemployment

Cambridge’s unemployment figures continue to fall and more and more young people are finding work.

The news that 666 people were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the city last month, 536 lower than the same period last year, has been welcomed by MP Julian Huppert.

Figures also show that 115 18 to 24-year-olds were claiming, 135 lower than the same period last year; and the number of long term unemployed is also falling with 160 people claiming for more than 12 months, 145 lower than last year.

Julian said: “It’s really encouraging that month on month we see these figures coming down. This is good news for the people searching for work, good news for companies and good news for the city’s economy generally.

“We have seen real growth in the jobs’ market as companies grow in confidence and many long-term unemployed are now finding work. I am also delighted to see that there are increasing opportunities out there for our young people.

“Clearly, the run-up to Christmas presents more seasonal opportunities but I hope many of those jobs will turn into permanent positions in the New Year. Obviously it’s tough for those still searching for work and no more so than at this time of year but I am optimistic their fortunes will change soon.”

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert backs call to safeguard refuges for domestic violence victims

MP Julian Huppert has backed a call to the government to make sure women suffering domestic violence and their children have a safe place to go.

He has co-sponsored a Parliamentary 10 Minute Rule Bill which would ensure that there was a network of women's refuges around the country, and ensure local authorities do not insist on restricting access only to women living in a particular town or city.

The Bill, presented to Parliament today (Wednesday, December 17) by Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker, has been drawn up after some refuges became the targets of local authority cuts.

Julian said: “We have come a long way in recognising domestic violence and encouraging women to seek help safe in the knowledge that someone will listen. But when they do come forward we need to make sure there is a safe place for them and their children to go. Turning them away because they are not local is abhorrent - women and children fleeing domestic violence are often best advised to go to a different city from the abuser.

“This Bill aims to make sure that local authorities meet a set of rules to safeguard these refuges and give victims a chance to escape the perpetrators. One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lives – this is a startling statistic and one that demands our full attention.”

Julian welcomed the government’s recent £10 million investment in women’s refuges but added that it needed to go further.

He said that women were now having the confidence to come forward and report domestic violence but that around a third of all victims are turned down by the refuges where they seek help.

“Behind these statistics are real lives,” added Julian. “These are women and children running away from dangerous situations in their own homes and they must have places where they can feel safe and get the support to rebuild their lives.”

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: “We very much welcome the debate in Parliament today on refuge funding. A long-term funding solution for specialist refuges is vital to ensure the safety of women and children fleeing domestic violence.

“We thank Julian Huppert, MP, for his co-sponsorship of this Bill, and his continued support for our campaign to ensure there is a safe space for every women and child fleeing domestic violence who needs it.”

The Bill is scheduled to have its Second Reading in Parliament on January 23, 2015.

Cambridge MP welcomes news city could get £5m New Homes Bonus

MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the news that Cambridge could receive almost £5 million in New Homes Bonus from the government, as well as £4.2 million going to Cambridgeshire County Council.

The money will be paid to Cambridge City Council as a reward for providing homes including building new and affordable properties and bringing empty homes back into use.

Julian said: “This is excellent news for Cambridge where we are seeing huge growth. We desperately need new homes for families and the New Homes Bonus gives us some money to help us achieve that.

“During the Labour years, the number of social and council houses fell 421,000 and waiting lists almost doubled, leaving our housing supply in crisis. Under the Lib Dem-run City Council we put in measures to address that including bringing empty homes back into use and making sure new developments include 40 per cent of affordable homes.

“The New Homes Bonus rewards that effort giving us money to provide more housing and make sure services and community facilities keep pace.”

The New Homes Bonus provisional figure for Cambridge of £4,963,189 has been calculated on a total of 1,205 units, including 11 empty homes and 547 affordable homes.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Cambridge MP welcomes end to detention of mentally ill teenagers in policecells

MP Julian Huppert, who has been campaigning to improve treatment of people with mental health problems, has welcomed news that reforms are to be announced by the Home Secretary.

Julian, who has been conducting an inquiry with the Home Affairs Select Committee on mental health and policing, said the end to “outdated practices” including detaining mentally ill teenagers in police cells are long overdue.

“We are starting to give mental health priority on our government’s agenda,” said Julian, who led a Westminster debate on mental health last week and launched a petition for £500 million extra funding a year. “We are starting to talk about it openly and act to improve care rather than neglect it as happened in the past which has led to the problems we face today.

“For far too long, we have failed to address the real need for crisis care for mentally ill people. The police and acute hospitals have faced a heavy workload as they receive mentally ill people who have nowhere else to go. We have followed outdated practices that have risked adding to a person’s confusion and mental state because there was not enough investment in alternatives.

“Now young people with a mental illness will be treated as they should be and found a place where they can get the mental health support they need, not left languishing in a police cell. And our Lib Dem initiated Crisis Care Concordat, which Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have signed up to, seeks to encourage joined up working between the NHS and the police for prevention and early intervention by sharing information so that we can make better provision for people from the outset.”

Julian has been contacted by Pinpoint and Healthwatch and many constituents about child and adolescent mental health.

“Those who experience their first mental health problems at that stage can often be helped to recover completely,” said Julian. “Early intervention can be so vital but waiting lists are far too long.

“In Cambridgeshire, the health committee is trying to work with Centre 33 to provide more counselling support for young people. And Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group is allocating an extra £1.5 million to mental health this year and a further £2.2 million from April to improve patients’ access to psychological therapies.

“I am delighted that mental health has been given parity of esteem with physical health, but now we need year on year investment so that the one in four of us who will suffer a mental health problem in our lifetimes will get the immediate help we need.”

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cambridge MP meets apprentice chalking up valuable training in class

Apprentice, Andrew George has gone back to school to chalk up valuable training that could lead to a career in teaching.

Andrew, 18 is taking an advanced apprenticeship in support for teaching and learning in schools and tomorrow (Friday, December 12) he will meet Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert to tell him more about his role.

Julian has been invited to Cambridge’s King’s Hedges Primary School as part of his monthly Celebrating Apprenticeships initiative.

“I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I felt I would get a better understanding of what it is like being a teacher and if it is really what I wanted to do,” said Andrew. “I’m really enjoying working as an apprentice because I feel I am learning something new every day and also getting some money as well, which is always good.”

A spokesperson at King’s Hedges Primary School said: “We as a school decided that an apprenticeship might offer us access to a young enthusiastic individual who wanted to train to be a teaching assistant. Although it took a long time to find a suitable candidate, we feel that we have an apprentice who has now become a valuable member of our team.”

Since 2010 there have been 2,010 new apprenticeships started in Cambridge and 15,540 across the county with 330 businesses receiving the £1,500 apprenticeship grant.

Julian said: “I’m really looking forward to meeting Andrew and finding out more about his role. He is clearly enjoying his apprenticeship and hopefully it will prove really useful in helping him to make a decision as to whether to enter the teaching profession.

“Our apprenticeship programme has been hugely successful giving young people the chance to get paid while they train and find out so much more about their chosen industry. And it gives businesses the opportunity to train members of staff to meet the requirements of their specific companies while at the same time giving a young person that first crucial step on the job ladder.

“I hope more companies across the county will see the value of the apprenticeship programme and offer young people a chance.”

Cambridge MP supports campaign to give people with learning disabilities a voice

MP Julian Huppert has signed up to support a national campaign to make sure people with learning disabilities and their families are heard in the run-up to the General Election in May.

He is supporting Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign which is backing the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK, many who feel they are not listened to by those in power.

Julian said: “This campaign is really important to make sure people with learning disabilities and their families are heard on the issues that are important to them such as better healthcare and education.

“If they don’t have a voice many of the issues that affect them could go unheard and potentially unresolved.”

Campaign organisers have launched a manifesto which explores the issues that matter most to people with a learning disability and their families and on which they want to see action from the next UK government. These include improving healthcare for people with a learning disability, ending disability hate crime and improving support in education.

And through the new Hear my voice website: www.hear-my-voice-org-uk people with learning disabilities and their families can share their experiences with the local MPs and, in return MPs and election candidates can show their support by signing up.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cambridge MP welcomes investment to help city's homeless young people

MP Julian Huppert has welcomed government funding of almost £76,000 to help homeless young people across the city and the county.

The money is being paid to Cambridge City Council which will work in partnership with the other local authorities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to make sure young people with the greatest need are prioritised for help.

Under the Fair Chance Fund, the council will receive £75,981 this year and a further £126,636 has been provisionally awarded for next year subject to Treasury approval.

The fund is designed to pay for sustained housing, employment and educational support for homeless 18 to 24 year olds with investors putting in money through social impact bonds.

Julian said: “In an ideal world, all young people would have a supportive family and a good home life, but that’s not the reality for some. They find themselves on the street with no prospects and it’s difficult to find a way through that.

“This fund will go some way to making sure homeless young people get the help they need to turn their lives around. It could give them a chance to find accommodation, gain qualifications and move into work.

“And it brings long-term benefits for the taxpayer and our county generally because homelessness can lead to crime, alcohol and drug dependency and poor health. Through this fund we have the opportunity to identify those most in need and offer them much-needed support.”

The funding for Cambridgeshire is part of a £23 million investment by the government to tackle homelessness. The Fair Chance Fund is being set up with £15 million to give 1,600 homeless young people the chance to get their lives back on track and £8 million is being invested in a Help for Single Homeless Fund to support around 22,000 people.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Cambridge MP takes fight for better health funding to Parliament

MP Julian Huppert is taking his fight over Cambridgeshire’s cash-strapped health services to Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday, December 10).

He will lead a debate in Westminster Hall on Mental Health and the Cambridgeshire Health Economy as he pushes for a fairer deal for the county.

And today (Tuesday, December 9) Julian led a delegation of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group to see Health and Social Care Minister Norman Lamb to discuss the issues.

Julian will tell Parliament how Cambridgeshire receives £35 million less than the Government's own calculations for a fair allocation of NHS money. This leaves us as the second lowest funded per head in the country. In a fast-growing county with an ageing population this puts an incredible strain on services, he says.

“And, in addition we have the massive costs of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital privatisation and the huge PFI contracts at Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough Hospitals – a result of poor decisions made by the Labour government,” says Julian. “The Peterborough PFI contract actually costs 18 per cent of the total annual budget for the hospital – that’s a huge bill.”

Julian will welcome the extra £2 billion of government money for the NHS, and in particular Mental Health and the legislation that achieves parity of esteem between physical and mental health. He will press for a fair share of that money to go to areas like Cambridgeshire that get low funding levels, not just to top up those already running surpluses.

And he will welcome the decision of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group to allocate an extra £1.5 million to mental health this year and a further £2.2 million from April to improve patients’ access to psychological therapies.

“But we need to go further,” said Julian, “and we can only do that if we get a fairer funding share allocation and more money for mental health. That is why I have launched my petition calling for an extra £500 million to be spent on mental health year on year. Mental Health has been ignored for far too long, causing harm to many vulnerable people.

“In contrast, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary has said that the NHS should not have any more money until it becomes more efficient, that would mean depriving patients of essential treatments and potentially cutting back on services; this is absolutely wrong.

“Labour was also wrong to push ahead with privatisation in the NHS – it left the country with a huge financial burden. As a result of the deals they struck medical spending on non-NHS providers increased from £1.1 billion in 1997/8 to £7.5 billion by 2009/10. They left our hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy with health outcomes well below the EU15 average.

“I was determined to try to stop this government making the same mistakes; that is why I opposed Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill and voted for a Private Member’s Bill which set out to undo the worst bits of that legislation.”

Julian will welcome the recent decision to allow Cambridgeshire’s contract for elderly services to stay within the NHS, for which he campaigned hard. And he will welcome the Lib Dem initiated Crisis Care Concordat for mental health, to which Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have signed up, which seeks to encourage joined up working between the NHS and the police for prevention and early intervention by sharing information.

“We have made some real headway in addressing some of the problems in our NHS but there is still a long way to go to achieving efficient, cost-effective health services and we can only do that if we invest,” added Julian.

“I will continue to push for a fairer funding deal for Cambridgeshire so that our county and others across the country can get the money they need to deliver the level of care we deserve.”

Julian’s debate Mental Health and the Cambridgeshire Health Economy will take place tomorrow (Wednesday, December 10) at Westminster Hall at 4pm.

Friday, 5 December 2014

[huppertmedia] Press Release: Huppert calls on Government to invest more in mental health

MP Julian Huppert is calling on the government to invest an extra £500 million a year in mental health to get a fairer deal for patients.

He is launching a petition on Saturday (November 6) on the Liberal Democrat stall at Cambridge’s Mill Road Winter Fair in a bid to get the government to do more to address the decades of neglect in mental health funding.

And during the event the Lib Dems will be raising money for Centre 33 – the charity which offers help to young people with their problems - with a children’s lucky dip.

Julian said: “One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some time in our lives and yet only £1 in every £9 of NHS spending is on specialist mental health services.

“Mental health has been neglected by consecutive governments but we are changing that. We have written into law equality for mental health with physical health and we are introducing the first ever waiting time standards for mental health.

“We also need more research to find better treatments and we need to end the stigma around mental health.”

Juliet Snell, Centre 33’s Director said: “It is really great that the Liberal Democrats will be supporting the work of Centre 33 on their stall at this year’s Mill Road Winter Fair where they will also be calling for the government to put more funding into mental health services.

“Centre 33 provides free and confidential mental health and counselling services for young people locally. No matter how big or how small the problem we’re here to help. Our team are used to talking to young people about all sorts of issues, whatever it is, it’s always OK and safe to talk about it with Centre 33. Details will be available on the Liberal Democrat stall or you can visit our website at www.centre33.org.uk.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ed Cearns, who represents Cambridge’s Market ward said: “We want the government to put more money into mental health so that we can address the years of underfunding.

“We want to transform mental health care so that people get the help they need. An extra £500 million year on year could make a real difference to treatments and research.

"I'm pleased that as well as raising awareness we will be raising money for a fantastic local charity."

Lib Dem MP celebrates victory on international aid target

MP Julian Huppert is celebrating victory after Parliament backed legislation he was co-sponsoring which commits 0.7 per cent of the country’s gross national income to overseas aid.

Britain was one of many countries which promised to hit this target in 1970, but it was only under this government that it was finally achieved, making us the first G7 country to do so.

“This legislation has been hard fought and it is time we made a commitment in law to meet this target,” said Julian. “This new law will save lives. It will allow us to provide aid and shelter to families fleeing countries torn apart by war and provide nutrition and better health for starving children. We will be able to buy vital medicines and equipment for countries fighting Ebola to help stop the spread of this deadly disease.

“I am delighted to have co-sponsored this Lib Dem-led Bill and to have won cross party support to get it passed. We agreed this aid target almost 45 years ago and have finally met that target thanks to the Lib Dems in government.

“Britain is leading the way on this and I hope it will be what is needed to encourage other G7 countries following. We cannot sit back while children are going hungry and families don’t have safe places to live when we can do something about it.”

The aid commitment was a Lib Dem general election manifesto promise and part of the 2010 coalition agreement.

The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill was led by Lib Dem ex-cabinet minister, Michael Moore, who topped the ballot for Private Member's Bills.