Success of South Bristol Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair

More than 400 people took advantage of career and skills support provided by 30 employers and training providers at the first ever South Bristol Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair, hosted by Karin Smyth MP.

Karin Smyth MP, with City of Bristol College Principal Lee Probert and apprentices Casey Abrams and Craig Jenkins

The Bristol South MP teamed up with City of Bristol College and The Bristol Post to organise the event, at Hengrove’s South Bristol Skills Academy.

Those who attended had the opportunity to:
• Find out what local apprenticeship opportunities are available
• Learn what employers are looking for, how they recruit and what training they offer
• Find out about training, and what employers look for when they’re recruiting
• Strengthen their CV by showing it to employers for advice
• Talk to current apprentices about what life’s like for them.

Karin Smyth said: “It was good to see so many people coming through the doors of the excellent South Bristol Skills Academy, and there was a real buzz in the hall.

“Having talked to dozens of people on the day I know they were grateful for the good advice and support they received in a ‘one-stop shop’ environment, helping them better understand the career pathways that are available.

“I was delighted to use my role as local MP to bring together young people and adult job seekers together with a range of employers and training providers to open dialogues and discussions between them. This will be good not only for those considering future careers, but also for employers which are well-placed to open doors.

“I know many parents who brought young people along appreciated the chance to get a better understanding which will help them provide support in the months and years ahead.

“As we head for Brexit, south Bristol’s skills and apprenticeships priority becomes even more important because we need to make the most of the opportunities that Brexit might provide to improve local employment and training.

“For example, if restrictions on free movement lie ahead, leading to fewer foreign workers, it will be even more important to ensure good quality training opportunities – in construction, IT, engineering and the NHS, for example – so people living in communities across south Bristol can access these jobs.”

Lee Probert, Principal and Chief Executive of City of Bristol College said: “We were delighted to host this Jobs and Apprenticeships fair on behalf of Karin Smyth MP. Here at the City of Bristol College we work closely with employers to ensure we are developing highly employable students that are focussed on their progression into the workplace and which are meeting the needs of local businesses. The job fair was a great opportunity to showcase potential employers to the students and to demonstrate to employers what our students have to offer.”

National trailer safety conference in heart of Bedminster

Over a dozen organisations which share a role in improving the safety of towed trailers will meet in Bedminster, Bristol to plot the way forward following the tragic death of three year-old Freddie Hussey in 2014.

Karin Smyth MP has organised the summit to co-ordinate improvements, as she continues her work in Bristol South and in Parliament on behalf of Freddie’s parents, Donna and Scott Hussey.

Donna and Scott Hussey will attend the conference and Donna will open proceedings with a speech outlining her family’s experiences and the importance they attach to the urgent work needed to avoid more families experiencing similar tragedies.

The meeting follows work Karin Smyth has been undertaking after she was approached for help by the Husseys shortly after being elected as Bristol South MP. Freddie Hussey was killed in January 2014 as he and his mother walked home along Parson Street after dropping off Freddie’s older brother at school. A two tonne trailer towed by a Land Rover careered across the pavement, fatally crushing Freddie.

Last year Karin Smyth organised a special Parliamentary debate on trailer safety, responded to by Road Safety Minister Andrew Jones MP, and subsequently arranged a meeting between the Minister and Freddie’s parents. There has since been a national trailer safety campaign #TowSafe4Freddie run by the government’s Driver and Vehicle Safety Agency in Freddie’s memory to educate drivers and raise the profile of trailer safety.

Karin Smyth says: “I am using my role as Bristol South MP to bring together national organisations that influence driver behaviour, and which share a role in improving the safety of towed trailers. I wanted to bring them right to the heart of the Bedminster community devastated by the Freddie Hussey’s tragic death in 2014.

“My aim is that the meeting will provide a focus for co-ordinating trailer safety initiatives, and to help determine the next steps we need to take in national campaigning on this life-or-death issue.

“First and foremost I want those in positions to influence road safety to continue to do all they can to avoid any more tragedies of the type experienced by the Husseys. Freddie’s family have been determined that some good should come of their son’s tragic death and I share this goal.”

Scott and Donna Hussey said: “We feel that by travelling from different parts of the country to come to Bedminster and promote trailer safety, those attending are playing an important part in honouring Freddie’s memory – trying to help prevent other families from suffering as we continue to.

“At first it did feel like no one was listening to us but thanks to Karin and then meeting the transport minister, we felt the situation was being taken more seriously and we are pleased that this meeting is taking place.

“After the court case we wanted to make some good out of the awful situation we found ourselves in. We made a promise to Freddie that we would fight for him and we didn’t want to lose him in vain.

“When we began looking at the number of incidents that were occurring and began collecting evidence, we were shocked and angry and wanted to prevent someone else experiencing what we had. Which is why we started a petition and wrote to Karin, our MP.”

Attendance at the conference includes:

Trade organisations
• The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd
Supports and promotes the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad
• National Trailer and Towing Association Ltd
‘The Voice of the UK Light Trailer and Towing Industry’
• British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association
The trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing sector
• The National Caravan Council
The UK trade body for the tourer, motorhome, caravan holiday home and park home industries

Organisations representing people who pull trailers:
• The Camping and Caravanning Club
Member organisation providing benefits to campers / caravan users
• Caravan and MotorHome Club
Club for touring caravanners, motor caravanners and trailer tenters
• British Horse Society
The UK’s largest equestrian charity; members use trailers to transport horses
• National Farmers Union
Trade union representing farmers who trail farm machinery

Government
• Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency
Government agency, reporting to Department for Transport, which ran the recent #towsafe4freddie online video and social media campaign
• Highways England
Government company with responsibility for managing England’s motorways and major roads
• Avon and Somerset Police

Local organisations
• Bailey’s Caravans
Constituency-based caravan manufacturer
• Baileys Balloons
Hot air balloon company based in North Somerset

Update on EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

I wanted to provide an update following the conclusion of Parliamentary processes surrounding the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

In the final House of Commons votes on Monday 13 March, I voted in favour of two Labour amendments to the Bill. These began as Labour amendments in the House of Commons back in February, and Labour tabled and voted for them previously in the House of Lords.

These amendments would have given much needed certainty for the three million EU nationals living in the UK, and ensured a meaningful vote on the final Article 50 deal – including, crucially, if Theresa May fails to reach an agreement.

Importantly, neither of Labour’s amendments would have delayed the triggering of Article 50.

I found it very disappointing that the Prime Minister ignored Labour’s amendments in the final Commons vote and that so few Conservative MPs were willing to support us. However, the Conservatives have a majority in the Commons and this was used to push through the Bill, without amendment, in line with the Prime Minister’s wishes.

It seems clear that the Prime Minister is more concerned with getting a ‘clean’ Bill rather than considering the merits of the amendments on these important issues. In my view this sets a worrying precedent for the negotiations.

Turning to what happens next, the Prime Minister will soon be able to invoke Article 50. Labour will continue to argue for the best possible Brexit deal – one that prioritises jobs and the economy and leads to no changes to all EU-derived rights, including workplace rights and environmental protections.

With my colleagues I will continue to insist that all EU-derived laws are introduced into UK law without qualification or limitation. Labour will also argue for a close, cooperative future relationship with the EU and make the case for continued engagement, not isolation from our most important trading partner and closest neighbours.

I believe the Prime Minister’s approach is taking huge risks with the economy of Bristol, the West Country and Britain as a whole, and with our future place in the world. This is increasing the threat of no deal being reached, which would be disastrous for trade and businesses.

In closing let me assure you that along with my Labour colleagues I will use every means possible to continue raising these issues in Parliament and to put pressure on the Government to change course.

Tory tax rise threatens south Bristol prosperity

As up to 6,800 self-employed people living and working in south Bristol look set to face an unexpected tax rise from April 2018, MP Karin Smyth said:

“Bristol South has hardly any large employers, but lots of small and medium sized enterprises and a great many self-employed people. Self-employment plays a vital part in our local economy.

“Today’s small and medium sized businesses began with enterprising people putting themselves out there, taking a risk, and having a go – working dawn to dusk and beyond to make it work.

“As they grow, small businesses create local jobs for local people and so these tax hikes threaten the enterprise that is vital to prosperity in constituencies like mine.

“I also know that many people have chosen the self-employment route because it enables them to better balance work and family life.

“It’s clear the government thought further taxing self-employed people would provide a trouble-free revenue-raising measure. But the widespread opposition to these tax changes have taken Ministers by surprise and they need a rethink.”

Budget short-changing Bristol South

People in south Bristol are being short-changed by the government, Karin Smyth MP has told the House of Commons.

Speaking in the debate following the Chancellor’s 2017 Budget, Karin Smyth said: “Bristol South has a proud industrial and economic heritage. It is part of the west of England economy, which contributes more than £10 million to the Treasury every year, but it is also home to some of the greatest health inequalities in England.

“The last Labour Government recognised the contribution made by the people of Bristol South to our prosperity. The last Labour Government invested in our future, in our young people and in the fabric of our city, but they also recognised the severe economic need that people faced. This Government continue to short-change the people of Bristol South, and today is no exception.

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“Let us consider the contrast between the 13 years of the last Labour Government and what has happened since 2010.”

Under Labour, she said: “Investment in doctors and nurses meant the shortest waiting times that NHS has ever experienced, with demonstrable improvements in health outcomes. The money allocated by the Labour Government meant that after more than 50 years of campaigning, the people in my community finally got the hospital that they had been waiting for—the excellent and well-appreciated South Bristol community hospital.”

Turning to education, she explained how under Labour Bristol South had benefited from more teachers, support staff and teaching assistants and improved outcomes for children.

“Every secondary school was rebuilt under Labour, with new classrooms, laboratories and other facilities in Bedminster Down and Ashton Park schools, as well as in schools in Whitchurch, Hengrove, Hartcliffe and Withywood (Bridge Learning Campus, Oasis Academy John Williams, St Bernadette’s Secondary and Merchants Academy).”

She added: “Families from across Bristol South benefited hugely from Sure Start, and a brand new £30 million state-of-the-art post-16 campus was an investment in our further education. Further education was thriving, with a wealth of adult skills opportunities.

School funding cuts

“In education, our children face school funding cuts—every school in my constituency will lose out—and children’s services are under threat,” she said. “Headteachers have told me their concerns about losing £1.9 million in cuts across the city, with a £1.8 million cut in the education services grant and a reduction in special needs funding as well. This Government have cut 40% from the adult skills budget, and there is now a gaping hole in adult training provision.”

Health and social care funding

On health and social care, Karin Smyth said: “We expected some social care money and that money is welcome, but over three years it is not enough. I look forward to the Green Paper, but it bodes ill that the Government have already said they do not want to talk about a ‘death tax’. Such talk will not help the future of older people in our society.

“The money is not enough for the programme of work that is expected, and the Government need to start being honest with the public about that. Today does not alter that position.”

Individuals and families

Karin Smyth contrasted Labour government measures which helped south Bristol families, such as increases in child benefit, the introduction of child tax credits and the national minimum wage. She pointed out how Labour cut long term youth unemployment and helped lift pensioners out of poverty and children lifted from relative poverty.

But she said: “Now, under this Government, the one in five households in Bristol South that rely on tax credits has lost out. The Library has shown that the bedroom tax has cost Bristol South people some £3.6 million.”

In conclusion, the Labour MP said: “With some hubris, the Chancellor said today that ‘they don’t call it the ‘last’ Labour Government for nothing.’ I assure him and the people of Bristol South that the next Labour Government will once again reward their hard work, recognise their endeavour and deliver for them all.”

South Bristol job & apprenticeships showcase event

Young people in south Bristol interested in finding an apprenticeship have an opportunity to meet more than 30 employers and training providers when MP Karin Smyth hosts the first ever South Bristol Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair (Friday 10 March).

The Bristol South MP has teamed up with City of Bristol College and The Bristol Post to organise the event, at Hengrove’s South Bristol Skills Academy.

A range of employers, training providers and others will be there to help attendees:
• Find out what apprenticeship opportunities are available
• Learn what employers are looking for, how they recruit and what training they offer
• Find out about training, and what employers look for when they’re recruiting
• Strengthen their CV by showing it to employers for advice
• Talk to current apprentices about what life’s like for them.

Small and medium sized businesses will also be able to attend to find out
• How to take on an apprentice without bureaucracy
• Get information about how to recruit and pay
• Find out about the new Apprenticeships Levy

Karin Smyth says: “Whether you’re a secondary school or sixth form student; an adult looking to get back into work, an employer, or a parent or carer, you’re invited to come along to understand what pathways are open to young people.

“Fewer young people living in Bristol South go to university than from any other UK constituency, so there’s a vital need for other avenues. We’re also home to some of the most deprived wards in the country. And we have hardly any large employers, the type of which offer apprenticeships on a large scale.

“We do have many small and medium sized firms which are open-minded about offering apprenticeships, but often just need more support and information about how to go about it.

“So I decided to use my position as local Member of Parliament to organise a special event that will offer young people – and adults looking to get back into work or re-train – a perfect chance to learn more.

“As we head for Brexit, south Bristol’s skills and apprenticeships priority becomes even more important because we need to make the most of the opportunities that Brexit might provide to improve local employment and training.

“For example, if restrictions on free movement lie ahead, leading to fewer foreign workers, it will be even more important to ensure good quality training opportunities – in construction, IT, engineering and the NHS, for example – so people living in communities across south Bristol can access these jobs.”

Lee Probert, Principal and Chief Executive of City of Bristol College said: “We are delighted to host this Jobs and Apprenticeships fair on behalf of Karin Smyth MP. Here at the City of Bristol College we work closely with employers to ensure we are developing highly employable students that are focussed on their progression into the workplace and which are meeting the needs of local businesses. The job fair is a great opportunity to showcase potential employers to the students and to demonstrate to employers what our students have to offer.”

The South Bristol Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair takes place on Friday 10 March, from 12 noon to 5.30 pm at the South Bristol Skills Academy, BS14 0DB – in Hengrove, next to the leisure centre and hospital.

The event is free and everyone is welcome to attend: secondary school and sixth form students; adults looking to get back into work; parents and carers too. There is no need to book a place.

Bristol makes a mockery of widening university access

Commenting on news that around half the schools taking part in Bristol University’s Bristol Scholars scheme (which is supposed to help disadvantaged students into higher education) are private schools, and that a third of places offered by the 2017 scheme were offered to private school pupils, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said:

“When Bristol Scholars was launched it was widely praised and as south Bristol’s MP I considered it an encouraging step forward for my constituents. But if a university scheme aimed at improving access to higher education for talented young people who wouldn’t otherwise get these opportunities is being used by private fee-paying schools, then something is wrong.

“By offering private school pupils a third of places on an initiative that’s meant to widen university access for disadvantaged students, Bristol University is making a mockery of its own scheme. I am very disappointed by these figures.

“Data from UCAS show that Bristol South sends fewer of its young people to university than any other UK constituency. Bristol South is home to some of the most deprived wards in the country.

“Whilst university is not right for everyone, I know from my regular visits to schools in my constituency that there are huge numbers of students with the potential to do well in higher education. This scheme was trumpeted at helping break down some of the barriers that prevent them doing so. Sadly it seems to have offered false hope.

“I have written to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol, expressing my dismay and disappointment, asking for an explanation of what steps the university is taking to ensure this and other similar programmes will truly benefit the people who most need them. I have also asked him how many students from Bristol South have been offered a place in the 2017 scheme and to confirm to me that the published criteria for this scheme are being upheld.”

Financial Sustainability of the NHS: new Committee report

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I have been working in the Committee and elsewhere in Parliament to highlight the problems facing the NHS over funding and other issues.

I see the impact of these problems locally, in my regular surgeries, for example with acute pressures on GPs and waits for operations.

I took the opportunity to speak in the health and social care Estimates Day debate on Monday 27 February and you can read what I said here

The debate was timely, not least because the Public Accounts Committee had the same day published a report on the Financial Sustainability of the NHS, which can be found here

It summarises these issues and makes recommendations. We now need to await a Government response.

Along with my Labour colleagues I will continue to apply pressure to Ministers on this most important issue.

Karin Smyth MP

South Bristol Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair

South Bristol Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair

Friday 10 March, 12 noon to 5.30pm

South Bristol Skills Academy, City of Bristol College Hengrove, BS14 0DB

FREE admission. All are welcome

EMPLOYERS: Book your space here

Organised by Karin Smyth MP, in association with City of Bristol College and The Bristol Post

•  Find out what apprenticeship opportunities are available for south Bristol people
•  1 to 1 support and advice
•  Learn how to find an apprenticeship: what employers are looking for, how they recruit and what training they offer
•  Learn what an apprenticeship could offer you
•  Talk to apprentices about what life’s like for them
•  Find out from employers about training, and what they look for when they’re recruiting
•  Bring your CV to show to employers and / or to get advice about how to make it stronger

… and for small businesses
•  Find out about how to take on an apprentice without bureaucracy
•  Find out how to pay and how to recruit
•  Get information about the new Apprenticeships Levy

All welcome, especially:
•  Secondary school and sixth form students
•  Adult job seekers and those looking to get back into work or change career
•  Parents, grandparents & carers
•  Small businesses

If you’re an employer looking to get involved as an exhibitor, please use this link for the Registration of Interest and Booking Form

Business rates discussions during MP trader walkabout

Karin Smyth MP talks with Jenny Margot, of Margot May tea rooms, North Street, Bedminster

With a government business rate review looming, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth met Bedminster traders to discuss potential changes to the bills they face.

The Labour MP has already raised local concerns about the impact of the first business rate review for seven years with Chancellor Philip Hammond MP and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid MP.

“Many firms based in our area are bracing themselves for rises in their tax bills,” she said. “A number of business owners have raised concerns that their profitability and, in some cases, their viability, will be threatened as a result of the ongoing revaluation process.

“During my walk along North Street, Bedminster, there was a mixed picture. Some traders are expecting to lose out and others think they’ll face reduced bills. The overall impression from this walkabout, however, was a high level of confusion from many traders who are genuinely unclear about what their next rates bill will bring.

“Small and medium sized businesses in south Bristol are the key to delivering jobs and training for local people. Their continuing health is vital to our area’s future and I’ll continue to do what I can to represent their concerns, their fears and their aspirations to government decision-makers.

“I have told Ministers that I share local concerns about business rates and have asked for assurances that following the business rate review, small and medium sized businesses in Bristol South will find they have been properly protected.”

The trader walkabout was part of Karin Smyth MP’s ongoing engagement with businesses across south Bristol and followed similar trader walkabouts in Withywood earlier this month, Knowle West in January, and Bedminster shortly before Christmas.