Let’s make this the year in which standards of education in the Black Country rise by more than anywhere else in the country.
NEW YEAR, NEW AMBITIONS
With the start of the New Year, many people in Dudley will be making resolutions.
But I want our whole area to make a resolution to make education our number one priority in 2014.
Let’s make this the year in which standards in the Black Country rise by more than anywhere else in the country.
We have some brilliant headteachers, some superb teachers and some great schools, but the whole community has to make this its priority. It should be the number one thing for everyone from parents to businesses. They have to get involved and support their schools.
It’s the only way we’ll secure a bright future for Dudley with new industries and new jobs.
George Osborne was jubilant in December as he announced the first real growth in our economy since he stalled the recovery three years ago.
That’s very welcome, but we need to see the benefits here in Dudley.
Unemployment here is still far too high. The latest figures show that 2,350 young people are out of work, almost 1 in 10. When I left Castle High School in the eighties I remember how many of my friends ended up unemployed. We can't afford another jobless generation in Dudley.
Prices have risen faster than wages almost every month since the Tories came in, and the strain of wages not keeping up with the rising cost of living is increasing.
Energy prices keep going up, food prices are rising 4.3 per cent year on year, childcare costs rose by £5 a week last year, and rents are up by 5 per cent.
All of these little rises add up to a massive 25% rise in the cost of living over the last 5 years– at the same time as wages have stagnated.
In fact the pressure on working families is so bad the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently said that it has created ‘an unprecedented erosion of household living standards’.
And I know from the many conversations I have with constituents that they are worried about the future especially for their children.
I am collecting evidence from local families to show how they are experiencing economy recovery because I believe the Chancellor needs to see in black and white what is actually going on.
Lots of local people have been asking me if I support plans to give MPs an 11 per cent pay increase.
Let me be totally clear – plans to hand MPs a pay rise are completely bonkers and I won’t be accepting it.
I’m from Dudley and being the town’s MP is a huge privilege. It’s a well-paid job, but I earned more before I was an MP so I’m not in it for the money.
Times are tough for people in Dudley and when so many local families are struggling with the cost of living and others are subject to pay restraint, I’ll use it to increase my support for good causes and organisations in Dudley.