My passion for campaigning against child poverty stems from the reason why I stood for parliament. Members of Parliament serve in politics to change lives. For me, that means no child in Britain should grow up in poverty. We should not simply accept a situation where the luck of birth can hold you back throughout your lifetime. Growing up in poverty means you are more likely to fall behind in school, less likely to secure a stable job in the future, and more likely to suffer from ill health in later life. So this campaign is about making sure that Britain is a country that gives every child the opportunity of the best start in life.
- September 2015: I voted against the Government plans to cut Working Tax Credits which would massively affect rates of child poverty. Read my article in the Barnsley Chronicle about it here.
- February 2016: 'Just One Thing' campaign launched with publication of initial report - asking people what one thing they would change to tackle child poverty in Barnsley Central.
- March 2016: My constituents recognised and contributed to the debate surrounding child poverty following my call for action, submitting their ideas via the 'Just One Thing' website.
- July 2016: The second Child Poverty report is published, now adapted to showing the suggestions from Barnsley Central constituents on how they would tackle child poverty.
- September 2016: 'My advice to the Government - Want to beat child poverty? End the freeze on working-age benefits'. Read my article, which introduces my Private Member's Bill, here.
- November 2016: I held a roundtable discussion in Parliament with various charities to discuss my Private Member's Bill.
December 2016: My questioning of the Government reveals that 150 Sure Start Centres closed in 2015. Read more about it here.
You can find various Parliamentary Questions I have asked surrounding the issue of child poverty here.
- December 2016: The government abolishes Child Poverty Unit and it merges into the Department of Work and Pensions. Number 10 claims that the work on reducing Child Poverty will continue.
- January 2017: I kick-started my Parliamentary launch for my Private Member's Bill.
- January 2017: Appeared on Sophie Ridge on Sunday, setting out my Private Member's Bill on Sky News:
- Friday 3 February 2017: Second Reading of my Private Member's Bill.
- February 2017: My article in The Yorkshire Post on the day of my Private Member's Bill on Child Poverty.
The campaign continues. There is a growing recognition, both locally and nationally, that child poverty is a serious and increasing problem. It is vital that we keep this issue at the forefront of the minds of national and local policy makers. Action can be taken through a number of avenues – within Parliament, the local authority, the Labour Party, and our local communities.
I do hope you will continue to support our growing campaign. You can sign up here for updates from me about this and other campaigns.