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The Government is 'addicted to models now dangerously outdated', Gordon writes for Politics Home, in his role as Labour Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills.Headshot.jpg

The context for this year's A level results - for all the achievements of tens of thousands of young people with achievements that bring them and their families pride and joy - makes progression into Higher Education (for them and universities and FE Colleges hoping to receive them) look more problematic than ever.

Some of this might be attributed to specific concerns post-Brexit - the fall in EU applicants & general fears of universities about a hard-Brexit making matters still worse - hence universities now warning Ministers to allow EU staff to remain in place and not have to reapply for settled status, as well as worries about post 2020 research funding.

There are also concerns for post 92 universities that have benefitted from EU structural funding to the communities in which they operate, in terms of jobs and contracts, where Government has yet to spell out how or if they will replace such funding post-Brexit.

But the evidence is mounting that much of this weakness is the cumulative effect of Tory ministers' actions since the tripling of tuition fees in 2012 - now becoming both socially and economically destructive. Two recent reports, from OFFA and the Social Market Foundation, point to growing dropout rates, especially of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly at the end of their first year. The most recent Sutton Trust survey shows the poorest stats on school students planning for HE in 8 years, with two thirds citing money worries, yet Universities Minister Jo Johnson remains in denial.

The July 20 report commissioned from London Economics by UCU, suggests thousands of graduates will suffer a midlife tax crisis through repayments of accrued interest on student loans, which now with a nine fold increase in inflation from 0.3% in April 2016 will get radically worse. Under this Government's current formula, interest on those loans rises to 6.1% this autumn, and who knows where thereafter? None of this exactly hangs out a welcome sign to this year's A level students.

To compound this, measures put in place by David Willetts in 2012, to allay fears about the impact of trebling tuition fees, have been systematically stripped away. A triple whammy - freezing the student tuition loan repayment threshold, scrapping maintenance grants and bursaries for loans- was described by the IfS last month as 'increasing the burden of student loans the most for low and middle earners'.

Throw in the disastrous fall in numbers of part time and mature students- on which the Government so far only offers derisory initiatives too little too late - and you get a sense of how the nudge factor so beloved of Tory theorists is now working to push would be students away from HE, not towards it.

Competition from so called 'earn as you learn' degree apprenticeships and the potential for higher level skills apprenticeships with top employers to remove the debt factor for those fortunate to get them, adds further to the challenges for traditional HE entries.

Instead of looking rapidly at reversing the changes on grants, the threshold and NHS bursaries, as we have been urging, the Government have just ploughed on regardless. Wedded to an outdated market driven Thatcherism stuck in the late 20th century, not understanding the changes of the 21st Century and our international competitors, Jo Johnson has shown both arrogance and complacency in failing to adjust.

He pins his hopes on an explosion of new private providers, while all around him the threats to our existing world class HE institutions are piling up. It will be they and the local economies (as well as the UK economy) to which they contribute, plus would be UK students and graduates who will suffer if there is no change from this Government's addiction to models now dangerously out of date.

Politics Home: Government 'arrogance' is hampering students progression into Higher Education

The Government is 'addicted to models now dangerously outdated', Gordon writes for Politics Home, in his role as Labour Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills. The context...

With the school holidays in full swing, Gordon has been down to one of the Blackpool FC Community Trust’s summer camps to give his support.Community_Trust_2017_2.jpg

He met up with the Trust’s Chief Executive Ashley Hackett at the Marton Academy camp where over 90 children were attending, with a further 60 also up the road at Hawes Side Academy. As well as football, there were a range of activities for the children to take part in from hockey, dodgeball and also arts and crafts.

Gordon said: “I’ve been going down to visit the summer camps now for the past three years and it’s always great to see what is happening. The children attending are always having a lot of fun but also learning lots of new skills with the wide range of activities run by the Trust’s staff and volunteers.

“The summer camp numbers are growing year by year and that is a testament to the hard work of Ashley and his excellent staff. I was delighted to hear they have been recognised for this work with a nomination at this year’s BIBA awards.”

As well as chatting with the children, Gordon was updated by Ashley on the work being done by the Community Trust to engage with people more widely across Blackpool. He told Gordon, how they were working with different groups such as other local junior football clubs but also with faith and other third sector organisations across the town.

Gordon added: “The Community Trust are now delivering over 60 different programmes, including work with organisations such as the National Citizens Service. I am pleased to see them engaging with people of all ages in Blackpool and the work they are doing is making an important difference to the local community - I will continue to support them in the work they are doing to improve people’s lives.”

Ashley said: “It was great to catch up with Gordon again and we really appreciate him showing his continued support to all our very important projects delivered across Blackpool.”

Gordon joins in with the fun at Blackpool FC Community Trust Summer Camp

With the school holidays in full swing, Gordon has been down to one of the Blackpool FC Community Trust’s summer camps to give his support. He met up with the...

Gordon has teamed up with the charity Anthony Nolan to thank the 502 people in his constituency who have registered with them as stem cell donors.Portrait_3.jpg

Young men aged between 16-30 are the most likely to be asked to donate to give someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder a second chance at life. The average age for donors in Blackpool South is 34 with 36% of donors in the community being male.

The figures come from the Anthony Nolan’s “Communities versus Blood Cancer” campaign, which celebrates the people who have already registered as donors. It also aims to raise awareness of the shortage of donors that still exists.

Gordon is now encouraging more local people, particularly men aged between 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds (where there is a real shortage), to register as stem cell donors.

He said: “I am very proud that there over 500 people in Blackpool South who have registered as a stem cell donor and selfishly volunteered to give someone a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I strongly hope that more people from across the town will be inspired to sign up and show that together, our communities can provide a cure for blood cancer.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “We’re grateful to all the registered donors in Blackpool South for helping us in our goal of saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.

“Anthony Nolan’s pioneering research, dedicated nurses and patient-focused services mean we have increased the support patients receive at every stage of their transplant journey – but without the contribution of selfless donors, our vital work would be impossible.”

For more information about Anthony Nolan, visit www.anthonynolan.org

Gordon thanks stem cell donors in Blackpool South for Blood Cancer campaign

Gordon has teamed up with the charity Anthony Nolan to thank the 502 people in his constituency who have registered with them as stem cell donors. Young men aged between...

Gordon has blasted moves to shelve a review into gambling machines known as the “crack cocaine of gamblers”.GM_PIC.jpg

The study into fixed odds betting terminals, which can see punters bet £100 every 20 seconds, was called by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport last year. But now Whitehall sources say Chancellor Philip Hammond is considering scrapping the review because it could see tax revenues plunge if stakes were restricted to £2 as has been suggested.

Gordon said if true, ditching the review would be a “disgrace” since the machines have seen people gamble themselves into poverty and cause huge social problems, particularly in poorer areas of the country and in seaside resorts.

According to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, there are 157 of the machines in Blackpool. It claimed last August that a total of £175m was gambled on them in the previous year, netting bookmakers more than £5m.

Gordon told the Blackpool Gazette: “If it is true that the Government, led by the Treasury, is planning to scrap the review into fixed odds betting terminals which its own Department of Culture, Media and Sport has called for, it would be an absolute disgrace.

“There is ample evidence that FOBTs are not only very addictive and particularly affect poorer communities, but also they are also a big issue in seaside and coastal towns like Blackpool.

“Blackpool Council and many others have commented on the proliferation of these machines on the high streets and the negative effect they have.

“If the Government is really concerned about the loss of revenue then they should not have handed £1bn over to the DUP.

“It is obvious that Philip Hammond is afraid that the review will confirm everything that people have said about the machines.

“Any moves to cancel this review should be resisted by all parties.”

Comments and text taken from the Blackpool Gazette

Gordon blasts Government over moves to shelve betting machine review

Gordon has blasted moves to shelve a review into gambling machines known as the “crack cocaine of gamblers”. The study into fixed odds betting terminals, which can see punters bet...

Gordon has called on the Prime Minster and her Government to make the Universal Credit helpline free - saying the system was letting down some of his most vulnerable constituents. PMQs_-_190717.jpg

He brought up the issue at Prime Minsters Questions after being contacted locally by the Salvation Army and Streetlife about the problems claimants were having around Universal Credit and benefit sanctions - some of whom are suffering from mental health problems.

In his question to Theresa May, he said: "Does the Prime Minister know that the Universal Credit process is failing my constituents. Locally the Salvation Army and Streetlife report that vulnerable Blackpool people are juggling a month’s money without help. That there are unfair sanctions for people with mental health issues, that a six-week wait for money is causing more stress, and that there is a phone helpline that Citizens Advice says can cost claimants 55p a minute and take 39 minutes to answer. 

"Can she start by getting them a freephone number?"

Mrs May failed to answer Gordon's specific ask on the issue of helpline charges, only saying "The DWP is constantly looking at the scheme and how it is operating around the country to ensure that any problems that people raise are addressed". 

You can see the exchange in full by clicking here.

Gordon calls on Government to make Universal Credit helpline free

Gordon has called on the Prime Minster and her Government to make the Universal Credit helpline free - saying the system was letting down some of his most vulnerable constituents. ...

Gordon has committed his support to help Cancer Research UK save more lives in Blackpool and across the UK.Cancer_Research_UK.jpg

Gordon, also a member of the a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ovarian Cancer, attended a event held by Cancer Research UK in Westminster last week (12 July) to find out how he can keep cancer at the top of the new Parliament’s agenda.

Over the course of this Parliament, two million people will be diagnosed with cancer across the UK, so Cancer Research UK needs political support in order to continue to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Survival in the UK is still lagging behind other countries and too many cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.

At the event, Gordon met some of Cancer Research UK’s dedicated volunteer Campaign Ambassadors. There he was told around 970 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Blackpool South, underlining the need for him and other MPs to join the fight against the disease.

He said: “We must not underestimate the devastating impact cancer will have on people in Blackpool now and in the future, so it gives me hope to hear that Cancer Research UK’s pioneering research is turning the tables on the disease.

“The outlook for new and better cancer treatments in the UK is bright. However, it is clear that there is a critical role for politicians to play in helping to prevent and detect cancer earlier and bring innovative new treatments to patients faster.

“One life lost to this terrible disease is one too many and that’s why I’m supporting Cancer Research UK in their mission to beat cancer sooner.”

Matt Davies, Cancer Research UK’s Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning said: “At Cancer Research UK, we’re resolute in our ambition to see 3 in 4 patients surviving cancer by 2034. To achieve this we need cancer at the top of the political agenda and so we’re grateful to Gordon for helping to highlight the importance of research and action in beating the disease.

“Survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years. But there’s still so much more to do and we cannot do it alone.

For more information please visit cruk.org.

Gordon pledges support to Cancer Research UK

Gordon has committed his support to help Cancer Research UK save more lives in Blackpool and across the UK. Gordon, also a member of the a member of the All...

Gordon has been showing his support to the Blackpool Jazz and Blues festival which took place over the weekend at the Winter Gardens and St John's Square.Stephen_Pierre.jpg

It was the first time Gordon had been to the event and he was "proud" to show his support for the two day event organised by local businessman and musician Stephen Pierre.

Gordon said: "I was really proud to support such a great event and want to congratulate Stephen and his team for their work. All the money raised went to the Trinity Hospice which is a very worthwhile local cause."

Stephen said: "Promoting live music, showcasing aspiring talent and supporting charity, can only be a positive for the community. Most importantly it’s a creative way of improving the town’s reputation both locally and on a national level and I am really pleased with the way it has gone. Thanks to everyone for their support."

Among the acts involved this year were BBC Young Musician of The Year 2015 award winner Alexander Bone and his band and veteran jazz pianist Frank Flynn, while trumpet ace Terry Reaney led his 18-piece Blue Bird Big Band as he celebrated his 80th birthday in the Spanish Hall on Saturday.

 

Gordon shows support to Blackpool Jazz and Festival

Gordon has been showing his support to the Blackpool Jazz and Blues festival which took place over the weekend at the Winter Gardens and St John's Square. It was the...

Gordon has expressed his concern about the introduction of car parking charges for Blue Badge holders at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. 

He has also critisised the way the Trust has gone about the decision saying there was "no proper consultation" held, after it was announced free parking would come to an end. 

Speaking to the Gazette he said: "We have not been given any indication as to how much money this is intended to raise.

"I will be asking the trust for answers to these questions. People with disabilities will feel they are being discriminated against."

Gordon expresses concern at hospital parking charges for Blue Badge holders

Gordon has expressed his concern about the introduction of car parking charges for Blue Badge holders at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.  He has also critisised the way the Trust has gone...

Gordon is to hold his first advice surgery since the election next Friday (7th July).

This will take place from 3.00pm to around 4.00pm at the Salvation Army on Raikes Parade, Blackpool, FY1 4EL.

Appointments are required and can be made by either calling 01253 344143 or emailing gordonmarsdenmp@parliament.uk . 

Gordon's next Advice Surgery - Friday 7th July

Gordon is to hold his first advice surgery since the election next Friday (7th July). This will take place from 3.00pm to around 4.00pm at the Salvation Army on Raikes...

Gordon has used a speech at the ALEP (Association of Employment and Learning Providers) Conference in London to accuse the Government of not putting its money or mouth into traineeships. AELP_Conference.jpg

Speaking as Shadow Skills Minister, he said the traineeship programme had suffered from a lack of funding, "mixed signals" and a failure from the government to put its money where its mouth is.

Gordon said the theme of the Government’s FE and skills strategy must be "progression, progression, progression", and that failing to focus on this would "deny tens of thousands of young people" the chance to improve their lives.

"I have made a constant theme of my time as shadow FE and skills minister and indeed it's true in HE as well, which I also cover, is that it’s got to be about progression, progression, progression.

"If we don’t get a step change in the number of young people who can’t get on to apprenticeships at the moment because they haven’t got the wherewithal to do so, and don’t get that additional confidence, soft skills, enabling skills, specific skills…during the programme, like the traineeship programme, then we are not going to…get the step change which we have to get to improve our skills, productivity," he added.

"And you just look at the situation compared to our EU competitors and we are in dire straits. And that, of course, will deny tens of thousands of young people, and older people as well in some cases, better life chances."

Gordon explained that traineeships had suffered from "mixed signals". "They’ve constantly either not funded it, [or] they’ve changed it," he said. "Nick Boles ummed and ah-ed: was it for employment? And if you send out mixed signals to people then they’re not going to want to make commitments to take them up…you just need to have that clarity."

He also told delegates that, in terms of opportunities for progression, the Department for Education had "turned a cloth ear" to the needs of thousands of young people.

"Whether by design or by lack of joined-up thinking, DfE and its officials have consistently turned a cloth ear to your priorities and the needs of the tens of thousands of young people who need the progression, jobs and life changes your sector can provide.

"As I have consistently said, it’s crucial the government utilises traineeships as a key point of entry to get far more young people competitive… traineeships were and are a fine idea but more young people need to complete those programmes if it’s to be a success," he added.

 

 

Ministers haven’t put money into traineeships, says Gordon

Gordon has used a speech at the ALEP (Association of Employment and Learning Providers) Conference in London to accuse the Government of not putting its money or mouth into traineeships.  Speaking as...

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