Road funding

Fiona Bruce MP is calling on the Government to significantly increase investment in UK roads. The Fairfuel UK All Party Parliamentary Group, of which Fiona Bruce MP is a member, held a meeting in Parliament to discuss a new report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research on the effects of road investment.
The report showed that theUK’s highways lag behind European counterparts. Having built a total of just 46 miles of new motorway between 2000 to 2009, its road infrastructure is now ranked 27th in the world - 11 places behind Germany and 21 behind France. Furthermore, despite 90% of all journeys taken by road in 2016, rail travel received nine times more investment.
The report revealed that drivers pay £35bn in tax each year - yet only 18.3% of this goes back into roads. It also showed that 37 million drivers consistently pay the highest tax at the pumps worldwide - first for diesel and fifth for petrol. These findings follow a detailed survey of Fairfuel supporters from across the UK, where over 6,000 respondents identified roads that need to be either improved or new ones to be built in their regions.
Fiona Bruce MP said
The report highlights that we are in major need of new and improved roads in the UK. I was shocked to hear for example, that in the next 13 years, congestion is estimated to cost the country £300 billion. It shows conclusively that investing in road improvements and new highways is economically, socially and environmentally beneficial. It will cut congestion, reduce emissions and massively improve the economy.”
Fiona continued:

If the same investment of HS2 was to be spent on roads, based on historic averages for road investment, there would be benefits of £250.7 billion to the economy. This is more than four times the expected net benefits of the entire HS2 network. It is about time that roads get the investment they so clearly need.
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School funding

Fiona Bruce MP meets Secretary of state for Education on Schools Funding proposals
Fiona Bruce MP has met with Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education to relay the extreme level of concern and high number of objections from local residents to the Government’s new funding proposals.
Speaking after the meeting Fiona Bruce saidI wanted the Secretary of State to hear directly of the extreme concern on the part of teachers, parents, and students about these proposals in so far as they would, unless changed, mean that at £4122 per pupil they are very substantially lower than the £4800 sum which Headteachers in my constituency have calculated as the minimum sum reasonably required to educate young people here. Anything less would, I told her, mean severe reduction in provision either in teaching staff numbers or facilities or both and would make pupils in Cheshire East the lowest funded in the country.”
Fiona Bruce continuedWhilst noting my concerns, the Secretary of State urged that every concerned resident make their views known on the Government consultation. I am now urging everyone in my constituency concerned about the Government’s school funding proposals to make their concerns known by contributing on the Government website at https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/. The Government consultation closes 22nd March and I urge people not to leave it to the last day to participate.”

Fiona Bruce added “It is completely unjust that other parts of the country will have over £2000 more per pupil to spend on education – Tower Hamlets Authority in London would have over £6500, and I have made it very clear to Government Ministers that I will be voting against these proposals unless they are changed, which I very much hope they will be – and a huge groundswell of objections through the Government consultation could really help this.”
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High Strength ciders and new fund for A&E Departments

MP welcomes consultation on high strength ciders and new £100m fund for GP triage projects in A&E departments announced in Chancellor’s Budget


Fiona Bruce MP has welcomed the fact that in this week’s budget statement the Chancellor has confirmed he has acted on requests by her and other MPs to consider the damage caused to young people’s lives through drinking cheap white cider, by announcing he will consult on increasing the tax on this product. Para 3.33 of the budget red book says “The Government will consult on introducing a new duty band for still cider just below 7.5%abv to target white ciders.”

Currently it is possible to buy a three-litre bottle of 7.5% ABV cider, containing the equivalent amount of alcohol as 22 shots of vodka, for just £3.50. As a result of these low prices, these drinks are a favourite among children and vulnerable groups.

He also announced a £100million fund set up to fund GP triage projects in A&E departments, to relieve pressure on them next winter. This is vital at a time when alcohol-related admissions put A&E departments under severe pressure.

Treasury Minister, Jane Ellison MP, told Fiona Bruce this week “I am well aware, not least from my previous role as Minister for Public Health, of the health and social harms associated with problem consumption of alcohol, including cheap high-strength ciders. I would like to reassure you that the Government is committed to reducing excessive alcohol consumption and tackling the related heath harms...it is certainly helpful to have seen the arguments and issues that have been raised. I can assure you that the views expressed will be carefully considered.”

Commenting on the announcements, Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton who is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on alcohol harm said:

“I welcome the government consulting on high-strength cider, a product currently receives the lowest duty per unit of any alcohol product, and the government clearly recognises the need to address the anomalies in the tax system which mean that these ciders can be taxed at such low rates yet cause high rates of harm.

“By taxing these drinks more strongly, the government would also encourage producers to lower the alcohol content in the drinks. I worked with colleagues from all parties on this issue and look forward to engaging with the consultation.


The £100million fund set up to fund GP triage projects in A&E departments, to relieve pressure on them next winter is vitally important. Our All party parliamentary group released a report late last year that highlighted the resource and time burden that alcohol misuse has on emergency services. It found that over 70% of all attendances at A&E departments are alcohol related at weekends. The GP triage projects will play a vital role in helping alleviate some of the pressures that alcohol-related admissions cause. ‘
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UK emplyment figures



Fiona Bruce MP has welcomed the news that the UK unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in 12 years, according to figures released today. 

It’s also great news in the North West where 220,000 more people are back in work in since 2010. 

In the Congleton Constituency the number of people claiming the key out of work benefits has fallen by 1,072 - a 67 per cent drop – since 2010.

Today’s figures also show wages continuing to grow strongly, the employment rate running at a record high and long-term unemployment at its lowest since before the 2008 recession.

Local MP Fiona Bruce said:


‘This is great news for our country and for local people, with the number of people in my constituency relying on the key out of work benefits down 67 per cent since 2010, and the unemployment rate nationwide at its lowest level since 2005.” 
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Support for workers with arthritis

Fiona Bruce MP hosts event in Parliament and calls on the Government to provide more support for workers with Arthritis
Fiona Bruce MP hosted an event in Parliament on behalf of Arthritis Research UK to highlight the major impact of arthritis on people’s ability to work, and to call on the Government to provide more support for workers with arthritis to help close the ‘arthritis employment gap.’
Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions like back pain affect one in six of us, and arthritis is the number one cause of pain and disability, according to Arthritis Research UK. It causes pain, stiffness and fatigue that can make every day work tasks such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and typing difficult. Only 60% of working age people with a musculoskeletal condition are in work, compared to 80% among those without a health condition or a disability. This ‘arthritis work gap’ means that 600,000 people with arthritis are currently missing out on the opportunity to work. It is also the leading cause of workplace absence in the UK, causing 32.4 million sick days each year.
Fiona Bruce MP said:
“The ability to work is something that we often take for granted, but I’ve learnt from talking to local constituents and working closely with Arthritis UK how difficult this can be for those living with the pain and unpredictability of arthritis. I was shocked to learn about its impact in the in the Congleton Constituency - almost 18% of people in Cheshire East are living with back pain, a leading cause of sickness absence!
Fiona continued:
“But with the right support, many people are able to work. That’s why I was so pleased to host this event in Parliament, to communicate to fellow MPs the impact of this terrible condition on workplace sickness absence in the UK and to press for change in this vital area. The Government must ensure that there is a level playing field so that people with arthritis who are able to work have the right support to remain and return to work.
The event follows a Parliamentary debate on the 20thOctober 2016, which for the first time in five years brought the issue of arthritis to the fore. In this debate, Fiona Bruce MP powerfully told the story of a constituent, Christine Walker, a long-time sufferer of arthritis and supporter of the charity Arthritis UK. Christine was subsequently invited by Fiona to attend the recent event where she spoke with MPs, telling them of her experiences with the condition and further emphasising the need for action on the issue.
Following the event, Christine said:
“I was so pleased to attend the event in Parliament hosted by Fiona Bruce and to share my experiences with MPs, not only to expose them to the terrible impacts of arthritis, but to show them that with the right support and flexibility, living and working with arthritis becomes achievable. I hope that through events such as this, and through the hard work of MPs such as Fiona, we might be able to see changes.”


To find out more about working when you are living with arthritis please visit Arthritis UK’s website at http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/arthritis-and-daily-life/work-and-arthritis.aspx
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Alcohol Harm

Fiona Bruce MP Calls on Chancellor to take action in the Budget to Tackle Alcohol Harm
Fiona Bruce MP as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Alcohol Harm is calling on the Government to take action to address the devastating harms caused to young and vulnerable people by cheap, high strength alcohol. Her calls follow a debate lead by Fiona Bruce MP in Parliament on 2nd February entitled “Tackling Alcohol Harm”, which received a great amount of cross party support.
With at times heart-rending speeches in the House of Commons during the debate, Fiona Bruce MP, alongside other Members of Parliament, spoke of the all too often forgotten harms caused by alcohol, from those injured in road traffic accidents to children and partners caught up in domestic violence, patients needing treatments for serious illnesses who have to wait because precious NHS resources are being used to tackle the issue, to taxpayers through the tax bill we all pay for the cost of treating alcohol harm.
In response to the powerful debate, the Government Health Minister responding, Nicola Blackwood MP, agreed to work with concerned MPs to put a plan in place taken to tackle the terrible harms caused by alcohol. Following this, Fiona Bruce MP in an open letter to the Chancellor has led several other MPs to challenge Chancellor Phillip Hammond MP to change the duty on cheap cider, often drunk by young people with damaging health effects, in the next week’s Spring Budget (8thMarch).
Fiona Bruce MP said: “As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, I have been shocked and saddened to hear countless stories of the harms inflicted by excessive drinking across our society. Only this week I heard the heartrending account of the Mum of a teenager whose daughter went out for the evening and drank 3 bottles of high strength cider. She came home feeling unwell, her mum put her to bed, and tragically found her dead the next morning. I am calling on the Chancellor to take action in the Budget to increase the duty on high strength ‘white’ ciders, such as Frosty Jack’s, to help reduce the high level of harm caused by these drinks, which are the drink of choice of the young, vulnerable and also the homeless, often because they are cheapest way of getting drunk. For about £3.50 young people can buy white cider with the equivalent alcohol in it of 22 shots of vodka. This is not about condemning responsible drinking – our group wants people to enjoy alcohol responsibly – it is about preventing the devastating consequences of excessive drinking which can be so damaging.”

Sir Ian Gilmore, who has campaigned with Fiona Bruce MP, said this week “There is no good reason for the Chancellor not to increase the duty on high strength cider.”
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Electrical Safety

With winter now upon us and colder temperatures forecast, many older people are worried about fuel bills and rely on portable electric heaters and electric blankets to keep warm and cut the costs of heating an entire home. But it can be a risky business.
Electricity causes almost half of all domestic fires – most of which arise from electrical products - with the over 60s at far greater risk from them than any other age group. Almost 40% of deaths from portable heaters were of people aged 80 and over during 2013-2014.  And it’s been estimated that damaged electric blankets are responsible for over 5,000 UK house fires each year.
To get some advice and support in highlighting the need for electrical safety for older people, Fiona Bruce MP visited Electrical Safety First’s drop-in ‘surgery’, which was recently held in Portcullis House, Westminster.
 “As we live longer and tend to remain in properties for longer, regular home safety checks are often forgotten and electrical wiring and appliances tend to be older”, explains Fiona.
 “Electrical Safety First’s campaign highlights how - by taking just a few moments to ensure electrical sockets, wires and cords are in good condition and sockets aren’t overloaded - can make a real difference to the safety of older relatives and friends”.
The Charity has regularly run a series of campaigns to increase awareness of electrical risk but this is the first time it has offered a ‘surgery’ for MPs.
“This winter we have been encouraging friends and family to check in on older people and look around for electrical danger”, adds Robert Jervis-Gibbons, for the charity Electrical Safety First.

The Charity has been calling for a free, five-yearly electrical safety check for all households with one person aged over 75 and statutory, five-yearly checks in all care homes. It has also developed information packs to help keep older people electrically safe this winter, which can be downloaded from http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-older-people/ 
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Government Minister to visit Congleton Factory


Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, has today secured agreement for Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to visit the Senior Aerospace Bird Bellows factory in Congleton.
In the House of Commons today, Fiona Bruce asked

·         Fiona Bruce 

Leading aerospace part designer and manufacturer, Senior Aerospace Bird Bellows in my constituency, speaks positively of the support from the Government’s Sharing in Growth scheme, which it says will be key in helping the company to realise its ambitious growth strategy. Will the Minister join me in congratulating the company on its plans and consider visiting its factory in Congleton to learn more?

·         Jesse Norman


I absolutely join my hon. Friend in congratulating the company. I have visited companies benefiting from the Sharing in Growth programme and I would be delighted to go to see the one in her constituency.
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Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Fiona Bruce MP promotes New Report Calling for Government Action on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Fiona Bruce MP is part of a group of MPs promoting a new report calling on the Government to help reduce the impact of problem gambling.
The Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), of which she is a member, launched the report on today in the House of Commons.
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) allow users to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookie environment. Political concern and controversy has been growing about the highly addictive nature of the machines, with one campaign group even calling them the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.
The cross party group of MPs, of which Fiona Bruce is a member, has today published the results of six months of investigations and evidence gathering. The report calls for a substantial reduction in the maximum stake which can be wagered on a FOBT and more powers for local councils to control the proliferation of betting shops.
Speaking on her support for the campaign for a stake reduction, Fiona said:
“I have been increasingly concerned about the impact FOBTs have had, on both the lives of those addicted to gambling on them and also the impact on their families, particularly young children who can go without food and heat in their homes as a result, and have spoken about this a number of times in the House of Commons. The ability to lose vast amounts of money on these on high speed and highly addictive machines is one of the key causes of harm associated with gambling addiction, leading to greater losses.
“These machines should be properly regulated, as the All Party Group proposes in this report, and the maximum stake reduced to £2 instead of £100.”
The Inquiry comes at a critical time, as the Government considers the responses to its Call for Evidence on Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility and as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport moves towards publishing the Review of Stakes and Prizes. 
The FOBT APPG took evidence from, among others, academics, problem gamblers, campaign groups, local authorities, industry experts, Gambling Minister Tracey Crouch, Sarah Harrison. Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Chris Kelly, Chair of the Responsible Strategy Gambling Board, Kate Lampard, Chair of Gamble Aware.
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School Funding Plans

Fiona Bruce arranges for Headteachers and Council Leader to meet Schools Minister in Parliament on School Funding plans

Following her strong speech in the House of Commons (attached) just before Christmas challenging the Government to rethink the proposed new formula for school funding, Fiona Bruce arranged for a delegation of Headteachers from Congleton, Sandbach and Alsager to speak directly to Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP about the impact of these proposals on local schools.
The meeting was joined by Rachel Bailey, Leader of Cheshire East Council, Jacky Forster, Director of Education at Cheshire East and MPs David Rutley Macclesfield and Antoinette Sandbach Eddisbury.
Fiona Bruce MP saidThe potential impact of these proposals putting schools in my constituency and the wider Cheshire East area at the bottom of the schools funding league table if they go ahead, required immediate challenge to Government to go back to the drawing board and rethink them, which is why I arranged this delegation and why the majority of High School Heads in my constituency travelled to London to the meeting this week with the Schools Minister.”
Fiona continuedThe length of time the Schools Minister gave to the meeting – far longer than usual for a Ministerial meeting – and the manner in which he listened intently and agreed to work further with local Headteachers on essential pupil funding levels, shows that there is a case to answer for reviewing these proposals. The meeting was a constructive start to making a case on behalf of pupils and schools here in the Congleton Constituency and wider Cheshire East area.”
She added “There is a Government consultation about these proposals which I urge local people are urged to contribute to. Visit https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/

The consultation deadline is 22nd March.” 
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