Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Teather’

What’s the government got against children?

29/02/2012, 07:00:03 AM

by Michael Dugher

Today Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem minister for children and families, will be questioned by a cross-party group of MPs following a damning report by the all-party parliamentary group on Sure Start that said that, the UK is facing a “childcare crisis”.

The report highlights that fewer than half of all councils are able to provide adequate help for working parents.   Last week, I appeared on the BBC’s Any Questions? alongside Sarah Teather.  When asked what the government should do in the forthcoming budget she said: “One of the most important things is to put money back into families’ pockets”.  I nearly choked on my BBC mineral water.

The truth is that life getting more difficult for many families with children.  This was highlighted again on Monday by the national childcare charity Daycare Trust, which revealed that 44,000 fewer families have received help with childcare costs since cuts to tax credits took effect last April.  Furthermore, by cutting the maximum level of support available through the childcare element of the working tax credit, the government is taking an additional £500 per year away from many low-income working families.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Just two weeks ago, the shadow treasury minister, Cathy Jamieson, revealed that 200,000 households, including 470,000 children, will lose tax credits worth almost £4,000 a year unless they significantly increase their working hours.

Due to changes that will come into effect in April, couples with children will have to work a total of 24 hours a week, rather than 16 hours, to qualify for the working tax credit.  In Barnsley alone, this could affect over 750 households and 1,400 children.  At a time when many employers are reducing, not increasing, the hours for part-time employees.  The government seems, perversely, to have a ‘work to welfare’ policy.

Government policies are also forcing many Sure Start children’s centres to close; centres which have been so successful in helping families and communities in poorer areas.  The government claims it is still committed to Sure Start, but figures revealed by Labour show that Sure Start budgets have been slashed in 83% of England’s local authorities.  The average decrease in real-term budgets was 11%last year and will be at least 21%this year.  Children’s charities, such as 4Children, have rightly voiced their concerns about the potential impact this will have on child poverty.


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Friday News Review

24/12/2010, 06:59:42 AM

Browne caught out, but Teather plays a straight bat

Jeremy Browne described some of the Conservatives’ partners in the European Parliament as “nutty”. He said foreign diplomats were delighted that the Lib Dems had ensured the Government was “far more amenable and civilised” towards the European Union than a Tory administration. The disclosures are made on the fourth and final day of The Daily Telegraph investigation into the true feelings of senior Lib Dems towards the Coalition. Speaking to an undercover reporter posing as a supporter in his Taunton Deane constituency, Mr Browne, who is regarded as being on the Right wing of his party, disclosed that he and colleagues had been engaged in a struggle to persuade the Tories to relax a planned cap on immigration. “The Tories had a very harsh, in my view, immigration policy,” he said. “That’s not to say I think that there shouldn’t be, you know, a level of immigration which can’t be assimilated in society – I’m not in favour of letting rip and letting everyone in – I think we need to have a proper, functioning policy. But the Conservative one I thought was driven by quite a lot of uncharitable instincts. I think, with the involvement of the Lib Dems plus the more liberal-minded Tories, we’ll end up with a policy which is more enlightened.” Asked about Mr Cameron’s decision to ally his party with some far-Right parties in eastern Europe, he said: “They [the parties] are quite nutty and that’s an embarrassment to them.” – Telegraph

She said that some Conservatives were finding Coalition politics “very painful indeed”, but added: “Most of them are finding it a relief. They are not having to pander to their own Right-wing, they are having to pander to our Left-wing.” Miss Teather was the only one of the 10 ministers visited by this newspaper whose private views largely reflected her public comments. “I think Michael Gove is deeply relieved to be in Coalition, because it meant that we got an extra slug of money for schools and that was work that I did with Nick Clegg behind the scenes,” she said. “We had an absolute fight to get that extra money into schools, and he would never have had that if he had just been a Secretary of State in a Conservative government.” – Telegraph

Cable strikes back

Vince Cable today broke his silence to speak of how a sting by undercover reporters had caused “great damage” to the confidential relationship between MPs and constituents. The Business Secretary said the Daily Telegraph’s tactics had “completely undermined” the work of local MPs and he would need to be “more guarded” in the future. Dr Cable said today: “I feel quite angry and strongly about this, I’ve had constituency surgeries now for 13 years every week, that’s well over 600. Thousands and thousands of constituents have been to see me, often on very difficult and highly confidential issues which have been respected by me and by them. Then somebody who isn’t a constituent falsifies their name and address and comes in with a hidden microphone – it completely undermines the whole basis on which you operate as a local MP.” – Richmond and Twickenham Times

End of the line for ‘firebrand’ Sheridan

Tommy Sheridan was told to go home and prepare for jail after being found guilty of perjury yesterday. The former Scottish Socialist Party leader was convicted of lying under oath five times during his 2006 defamation victory against the News of the World. Judge Lord Bracadale told him: “You have been convicted of the serious offence of perjury and must return to court expecting to begin a prison sentence.” But ex-MSP Sheridan, 46, will be free to spend Christmas with wife Gail and his five-year-old daughter Gabrielle after being bailed until sentencing on January 26. Senior legal sources expect him to be jailed for around five years. The working class hero’s fall from grace was complete at 3.45pm yesterday at the end of the dramatic 12-week-trial – Scotland’s longest ever perjury case. Surrounded by Gail, his mother Alice, 72, and other family members, Sheridan was greeted by applause from supporters in the foyer of the High Court in Glasgow. – Daily Record

The trial of Tommy Sheridan cast new light on the News of the World’s use of private detectives who have been convicted of illegal phone hacking and “blagging” confidential data. Sheridan’s attempt to highlight the practice saw Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s chief media adviser and former editor of the NoW, appear in court. Coulson, thought to be the first NoW senior executive to be questioned on oath in a criminal trial about the affair, repeatedly denied having any knowledge of illegal activity by his staff. The high court in Glasgow heard that Sheridan’s name, home address and personal mobile details appeared twice in the notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire, a NoW freelance investigator convicted of illegally accessing private phone messages of the royal household and other public figures for the tabloid in 2007. The two sets of notes, believed to date to 2004 when the NoW’s first investigation into Sheridan’s alleged adultery was at its peak, could suggest Mulcaire was twice ordered to hack Sheridan’s mobile phone or pass on his private pin code to NoW reporters. – Guardian

Lib Dem Council Leader in video gaffe

Many council leaders are happy to appear in front of television cameras to talk about their work but most would baulk at flexing their acting muscles while belting out a version of the Lou Reed song Perfect Day. Sheffield Council boss Paul Scriven appeared to have no such concerns, however, when he agreed to star in a video which features him arriving at a luxury hotel and extolling the virtues of its staff and the services they can offer. The production, which appeared on the internet yesterday was, according to Councillor Scriven, supposed to be a private training video for Sheffield’s four-star Mercure St Paul’s Hotel, and was never intended for public consumption. But the scenes which show him arriving in a taxi with his tie askew and shirt untucked, and a sequence in which he serenades staff before drinking a pink cocktail, have led to ridicule and questions over his political judgement. Yesterday, members of Sheffield Council’s Labour group said it was “difficult to understand” why Coun Scriven had decided to act in the video and claimed that the performance was “not what the people of Sheffield would expect.” – Yorkshire Post

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Ed Balls’ change of heart

13/09/2010, 07:13:33 PM

Well that didn’t last long. Last month Ed Balls, that well-known shrinking violet, that hider of lights under bushels, wrote a piece in The Times entitled: “The traps to avoid if Labour is to win back votes”.

He wrote:

First, we risk falling into Mr. Cameron’s trap by focusing our fire too much on the Liberal Democrats. Yes, they have ditched their manifesto and sold their principles for power — and done so on the backs of the unemployed, public sector workers and the poorest in our communities.

But while we must win back voters lost to the Lib Dems, we must not let the Tories off the hook. Even if Lib Dem ministers are wheeled out by Downing Street to defend the most unpopular decisions, we must not forget this is fundamentally a Conservative Government. The reason why the fiasco over school building cuts and the rushed Academies Bill is so damaging for the Government is that a senior Tory is in the frame. So Labour must focus its fire on the Tories, not just on the Liberal cannon fodder shielding Mr Cameron.

That advice seems to have lasted a whopping 39 days. Ed “Cannon” Balls has fired off a furious broadside at Lib Dem education minister, Sarah Teather, who miraculously seems to have found an exemption for schools in her constituency from suffering the fate of other schools across the country with the scrapping of Building Schools for the Future programme. Funny that.

He said:

… it is brazen hypocrisy of Sarah Teather to expect her colleagues to face public anger about cuts to their local school building programmes, while using her position as Michael Gove’s deputy to try to protect herself in her own constituency. She seems happy to go along with the cancellation of over 700 schools in other constituencies, but only as long as hers are protected.

Ouch. Has he had a change of heart about bashing the Lib Dems since writing his Times piece? Was Michael Gove still out for the count on the deck? Or is Sarah Teather’s ‘brazen hypocrisy’ simply too good a target to miss? Even if at 4ft 10in she is a rather small target.

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