Guest column: New Bill will help keep our brave emergency service workers safe

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

Our emergency services do a brilliant job and should not have to fear for their safety whilst they are doing their job.

Many people have recently contacted me about assaults on emergency service workers and the related Protect the Protectors campaign by the Police Federation.

I understand the concerns that have been raised about the strength, scope and effectiveness of existing legislation protecting emergency service workers, and I am aware of a Private Members Bill - the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill - that has been introduced to Parliament seeking to strengthen the law around this issue.

I support this Bill and I am pleased that it passed its second reading unopposed in the Commons last week.

The Bill proposes to introduce new offences protecting all emergency service workers, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and nurses.

Our emergency service workers do a brilliant job and their safety must be paramount.

I believe the tougher sentences in the Bill will send a message that we will never accept that our emergency service workers can be assaulted while doing their job and we will do everything in our power to protect them.

However, I also believe they must be paid properly for the essential work that they do and this is why I will continue to press the Government to lift its cap on public sector pay for all public service workers.

This week we had a major debate on the Tories social care crisis.

They did a U-turn on the detail of their disastrous ‘dementia tax’ policy within four days of announcing it during the General Election campaign, creating a Tory policy vacuum on social care.

The Government appear to have no plans to address the crisis they have created.

By March 2018 the Tories will have overseen £6.3 billion being taken from adult social care budgets since 2013.

Now councils are left to make the difficult decisions on eligibility for care.

The number of people receiving publicly funded social care has fallen by more than a quarter since the Tories came into power.

Age UK report that there are 1.2 million older people in England living with unmet care needs.

Funding cuts are now having a detrimental impact on care quality – almost a quarter of all adult social care services had the poorest ratings for safety.

The Tories are spending less on social care now than Labour was in 2010, despite the demand for social care having increased.

Labour wants to secure additional funding for our social care system.

In our manifesto we pledged £8 billion extra for social care in this Parliament.