News

This afternoon I asked the Justice Minister to respond to concerns expressed by Deerbolt Prison Governor about the lack of local control over contractors. The Governor had spoken to me about the difficulties that prisons have in challenging unreliable contractors following the centralisation of control by this government

We know that a good education service in prison reduces re-offending so I am pleased that the Minister is finally listening and I will be monitoring his promise to give more control to prisons to deal efficiently with unreliable education contractors.

 

Helen secures promise of better controls over prison education contractors

This afternoon I asked the Justice Minister to respond to concerns expressed by Deerbolt Prison Governor about the lack of local control over contractors. The Governor had spoken to me... Read more

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I challenged the Tory Chancellor on his failure to make any real progress on rural broadband roll-out - a huge issue for farmers and other rural businesses in this constituency. Last week I met with UTASS, Raby Estates and CLA North to discuss the further delays in the digital rollout in Teesdale.

As a member of the Treasury Select Committee last year I pushed the government to delay their plans to make small businesses keep digital records and provide quarterly updates to HMRC for their VAT. It is clear to me that until farmers and other rural businesses have efficient access to broadband the government should not expect them to complete government paperwork online.

I am very disappointed that the Chancellor refused to extend the deadline until our connectivity is improved and instead has chosen to ignore the concerns of rural business in the Bishop Auckland constituency.

 

 

 

Helen presses for government action on poor rural connectivity

I challenged the Tory Chancellor on his failure to make any real progress on rural broadband roll-out - a huge issue for farmers and other rural businesses in this constituency. Last... Read more

 

I’ve been leading for Labour on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which looks to bring back some powers once we leave the EU.

We had Second Reading of the Bill on the 20th of February, and I highlighted a number of issues with this bill, particularly on the money-laundering side, which only has 2 out of 50+ clauses dedicated to it!

In Committee, the Government stopped proceedings to avoid discussion. It was not clear why. Perhaps they just didn’t want to face scrutiny on sanctioning human rights abusers… or perhaps they were just ashamed of their record on money laundering. Regardless, I have never seen such behaviour in my 13 years as an MP; it was so shocking that even the BBC covered it.

When we finally got on with Committee, 3 hours short on an already tight schedule, they then tried to shut me down again. This was because I suggested that they did not want to increase transparency in offshore tax havens which facilitate money laundering because a number of Tories, including the PM’s husband, have offshore investments and links.

They can try as much as they want but they will not shut us down. We will be moving and backing amendments to increase transparency in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, to sanction human rights abusers and to stop criminals from buying up property all over the UK so they can launder their money, while we face a homelessness crisis and while young people struggle to get a foot on the property market.

 

Helen leads on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill

  I’ve been leading for Labour on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which looks to bring back some powers once we leave the EU. We had Second Reading of...

I have received news that cold weather payments have been triggered in the following postcodes.

DL1, DL2, DL4 ,DL10, DL11, DL12, DL13, DL14, DL15, DL16, DL17, DH6

If you entitled to Cold weather payments you will receive them automatically and do not need to request them. For more information visit www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.

Eligibility:

You may get Cold Weather Payments if you’re getting:

    Pension Credit
    Income Support
    Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    Universal Credit
    Pension Credit

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and have any of the following:

   a disability or pensioner premium
   a child who is disabled
   Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
   a child under 5 living with you
   Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get income-related ESA and have any of the following:

   a severe or enhanced disability premium
   a pensioner premium
   a child who is disabled
   Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
   a child under 5 living with you

Universal Credit

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Universal Credit, you’re not employed or self-employed and one of the following apply:

   you get a limited capability for work amount (with or without a work-related activity amount)
   you get the disabled child amount in your claim
   you have a child under 5 living with you
   You’ll also be eligible if you have a disabled child amount in your claim, whether you are employed or not.

What you'll get

If you are entitled to cold weather payments you’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. 

After each period of very cold weather in your area, you should get a payment within 14 working days. It’s paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments. This payment is automatic so you do not need to contact the DWP.

Cold Weather Payments don’t affect your other benefits.


If you don’t receive your Cold Weather Payment

Tell your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office if you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you haven’t.

If you’re getting Universal Credit, contact the helpline instead.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (For more information about call charges)

Have cold weather payments been triggered in your postcode?

I have received news that cold weather payments have been triggered in the following postcodes. DL1, DL2, DL4 ,DL10, DL11, DL12, DL13, DL14, DL15, DL16, DL17, DH6 If you entitled...

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I am furious that Barclays Bank are planning to close their local branch in Spennymoor. Local people are rightly fed up of banks deserting the high street.

This is why last month in Parliament I called on the government to change the competition laws so that banks have to act in the public interest not just their own.

It seems sensible to me that banks could share premises, which would save them money and mean that those of us who do not bank online keep this important local service.

I suggest to the Minister that we should look at changing the competition rules. It seems to me that it might be possible for some banks to share premises, which would undoubtedly enable them to save money, but they say that that would be a breach of competition legislation. That tells me that the competition legislation and the competition authority’s mandate are wrong. There should be a public interest test as well as a competition test so that the banks do what they are meant to do - serve the public.

 

Helen calls for changes to competition law to secure future of local banking

I am furious that Barclays Bank are planning to close their local branch in Spennymoor. Local people are rightly fed up of banks deserting the high street. This is why last... Read more

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I came to Auckland Youth & Community Centre to look at the plans for new homes in Woodhouse Close. If you live here and would like more information about the plans you can contact County Durham Housing Group by visiting their website or telephoning them on 0191 349 7642 or by emailing development@cdhg.co.uk.

Helen attends exhibition for new housing in Woodhouse Close

I came to Auckland Youth & Community Centre to look at the plans for new homes in Woodhouse Close. If you live here and would like more information about the...

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Helen popped in to meet local families taking part in a Big Chefs, Little Chefs session at Auckland Youth & Community Centre. The children were there during half term to learn to cook healthy food for the Chinese New Year.

Big Chefs, Little Chefs run regular sessions during school holidays offering local families the opportunity to cook together in an informal session and sit down to eat afterwards.

Please visit the Big Chefs, Little Chefs website or Facebook to find out more about future sessions.

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Helen joins in Chinese New Year healthy eating class

         Helen popped in to meet local families taking part in a Big Chefs, Little Chefs session at Auckland Youth & Community Centre. The children were there...

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Around 50 constituents gathered last Saturday to hear about Helen's visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank to see first-hand one of the most serious ongoing political problems in the world. She was joined by Bill Williamson, Chair of County Durham Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Palestinian students from Durham University. 

Guests heard first hand from Palestinian Students who spoke openly about their experiences living in Gaza.

Helen hosts discussion on Jerusalem and the West Bank

  Around 50 constituents gathered last Saturday to hear about Helen's visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank to see first-hand one of the most serious ongoing political problems in...

I took the opportunity to raise Stephen's case during this afternoon's PMQs. I was pleased that the Prime Minister promised that his case would be reviewed and I will follow this up with another letter to the Home Secretary. It is important to keep up the pressure to ensure that Stephen remains with his supportive family and community in Shildon. 

I also asked that she looks at the wider issues of modern slavery to ensure that this doesn't happen to other child victims.

 

Prime Minister promises that Stephen's case will be looked at again - PMQs

I took the opportunity to raise Stephen's case during this afternoon's PMQs. I was pleased that the Prime Minister promised that his case would be reviewed and I will follow...

This morning I challenged the Health Minister over the increasing number of empty NHS properties in the Bishop Auckland Constituency. Shildon Health Centre is empty and Richardson Hospital lies half empty while health services are being cut as the rents are too high.

"In my constituency Shildon medical centre and half of the Richardson Community Hospital are empty, yet patient services are being cut because the rents charged by NHS Property Services are too high. When will the Secretary of State sort out this waste of resources?"


As you can see I received a terrible answer - my question was not asking for more resource but for the government to use existing resources properly!

 

Helen challenges Health Minister over empty NHS Properties

This morning I challenged the Health Minister over the increasing number of empty NHS properties in the Bishop Auckland Constituency. Shildon Health Centre is empty and Richardson Hospital lies half...

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