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Column: Kevin Barron’s View From The Valley

Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron

Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron

Earlier this week a debate on banking took place in the House of Commons, calling on the Government to improve confidence in the financial sector.

Britain needs banks that work for the whole economy, including individuals, small businesses and corporates, if we are to earn our way out of the cost of living crisis.

That’s why it is disappointing that banks want to go back to business as usual, indicating that they are about to pay huge bonuses to traders for performance in 2013.

The motion debated highlighted the fact that the Government has failed to boost competition in the banking industry, failed to raise standards and public trust in the sector, and rejected a fully independent licensing system for bankers.

The motion also called on the Chancellor to drop his legal challenge to the European Union’s cap on bankers’ bonuses.

At a time when families face a cost of living crisis and lending to business is falling, it cannot be right for him to approve a doubling of the bank bonus cap.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the National Minimum Wage, a policy which boosted pay without leading to a loss of jobs.

Before it was introduced, some people were paid as little as £1 an hour.

For example, the Low Pay Unit found someone working in a chip shop earning just 80p an hour.

It also found a factory worker earning £1.22 an hour and a residential home worker earning £1.66 an hour.

Many people bitterly opposed the introduction of the minimum wage legislation and now low pay has got worse under this Government, with the National Minimum Wage having been undermined.

Families are on average £1,600 a year worse off since 2010 and the value of the minimum wage has declined by almost 5 per cent during the same period.

The Government is completely failing to properly enforce the minimum wage with only two prosecutions in four years for firms paying below the National Minimum Wage, despite evidence that as many as 300,000 people in the UK earn less than the National Minimum Wage.

At a time when families are being hit by a cost of living crisis, I would like to see the Government take action to restore the value of the National Minimum Wage and do more to encourage employers to pay a living wage.

I am also calling for a tenfold increase in penalties for rogue companies that don’t pay employees the minimum wage and more effective enforcement, including by giving local authorities new powers.

The Speaker’s School Council Awards are an annual awards scheme that helps to celebrate and recognise the achievements of school councils.

The scheme would like to hear about school council projects that have led to positive changes and have made a difference in schools or communities.

The scheme is open to every infant, primary and secondary school in the UK.

A winning school council in each of the four age categories receives an award, whilst every school council that enters receives a prestigious certificate from the Speaker of the House of Commons and a web badge.

Winning councils will be invited to Parliament to attend an awards ceremony in the Speaker’s Apartments and be presented with a trophy by the Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

The deadline for entries is 30 April 2014. For more information, including tips for getting projects started and inspiration from previous winners, please visit www.speakersschoolcouncil.org

• I hold regular constituency surgeries at which you can get help and advice.They are on a Saturday morning from 10am to 12 noon at my office, 9 Lordens Hill, Dinnington. Upcoming dates are 25th January, 8th and 22nd February.

 

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