Education cuts based on wrong figures

              Michael Gove can’t Count

Michael Gove Secretary of State for Education and Surrey Heath MP is dangerously bad with numbers. Worse than this he has used his incomprehension to justify all his sweeping changes to education in this country.

In order to justify the creation of academies and free schools he uses the figures from triennial international tests for 15 year olds for 2000. According to Gove these show us at 25th for reading, 27th for maths, and 4th for science. Unfortunately he has just received a letter from Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority rebuking him for distorting the real figures. The real figures show us 7th in reading, 8th in maths, and sixth in science.

Michael Gove employs his figures to seek to justify a supposed decline in standards coinciding with Labour’s period in office. In fact more recent surveys put us in the world’s top five in terms of educational attainment beaten only by the Pacific Rim countries. In cognitive skills and educational attainment we are ahead of other European countries and the US according to recent research published by Pearson.

Genuine research also shows that despite the extra money Gove is channelling to academies, their performance is still not better than the schools managed by the local councils he continually maligns. Unfortunately he does not feel it necessary to justify his changes on the basis of genuine statistical evidence because all he needs is a smokescreen in order to see our schools taken over by private companies seeking to make a profit from their operation.

Murray Rowlands

Chair Surrey Labour Party


County’s Sure Start Centres and Early Intervention Schemes Under Threat

“Labour’s fears for the future of Sure Start Centres here in Surrey at the General Election were justified,” says Labour County Councillor Victor Agarwal.

The Stanwell County Councillor was commenting on a report that a £1bn scheme for nursery education for two year olds would be funded by a raid on money earmarked by Surrey County Council for Sure Start and other early intervention schemes.

“I understand that the money to run Sure Start is to be top sliced from money set aside not only for Sure Start  but other parent and toddler schemes,parenting projects, short breaks for disabled children and money designated for the Government’s troubled families programme,” County Councillor Agarwal continues. “This will leave a 20 percent shortfall in Surrey’s early intervention schemes.”

“I will be seeking clarification if it is the intention of Surrey to make up this shortfall or whether the controlling Conservative Group will betray the promise made at the last Election to continue both Sure Start and early intervention programmes,” he concludes.

Save the Children has to help children in UK for first time

The charity Save the Children has launched it’s first ever fund-raising campaign to be able to help children here in the UK. Poverty is increasing fast because of Tory and Lib Dem cuts, and Save the Children has warned that children are not getting regular hot meals, not having warm coats.

The charity’s Chief Executive Justin Forsyth said the government has to do more to protect “the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts”.  ”No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat and with holes in their shoes. Poverty is tearing families apart…. That’s why for the first time in our history we are launching a UK appeal.”

Guildford has most expensive housing in the country – we need to build more homes

A survey of wages and house prices for all parts of the UK has shown that Guildford is the least affordable place to buy a home in the whole country. The survey showed the average home now costs 7 times the average salaries of couples in the town, meaning buying a new home is impossible for most people. And renting is no solution either, as the survey also showed that Guildford is more expensive to rent than anywhere else except London.

Labour across Surrey has always campaigned for more homes to rent and buy at affordable prices. This shocking survey shows that Tory councils across the county have failed the people who live here by not delivering the homes we need.

Government allow massive rail fare increases

The government have just agreed to impose massive rail fare increases on Surrey commuters. A Guildford to London season ticket will go up £200, to nearly £3,300 a year. The increase is also £200 from Woking, to £2,952. The 6% rises are nearly double inflation.

And over the next three years, fares will rise by 20%.

So while Surrey’s Tory MPs claim their rail fares for work, they are increasing rail fares for Surrey residents at twice the rate of inflation. We’re not all in this together!

Gove’s cuts undermine sport in Surrey and ruins Olympic legacy in county


Michael Gove a Surrey MP and Secretary of State for Education has seriously undermined access to sport by young people in his own County,” County Councillor Victor Agarwal told Party workers in Stanwell on Sunday.

By decimating the sports partnership programme which encouraged so many young people into competitive sport he has undermined physical education here. Surrey has lost £2.5million in a grant supporting a whole range of sporting activity. Gone are 6 partnership workers, 3 competitive managers, 9 FE sports coordinators, 50 secondary school sports coordinators, and 350 primary link teachers,” the Stanwell Councillor continued

Michael Gove belatedly replaced the sports partnership grant with £570,000 towards weaker schemes for releasing specialist PE teachers for additional training,” he points out. “He ignored pleas by one of Surrey’s leading sports specialist Richard Nixon to rethink his decision on cutting sports partnership. Mr Nixon points to the decline in participation in sports such as rugby, netball and hockey that has followed the Education Minister’s cut.”

It is sad to note the disappearance of 6 school partnerships in Waverley, Ash, Mid Surrey and Mole Valley. Further when he abolished the building programme of Schools for the future we lost an all-weather hockey pitch designed to play an important part in fostering the sport in the County.”

Councillor Agarwal went on to support Sir Keith Mills the Chief Executive of London’s bid for the Olympic Games in his complaint that far from encouraging one million young people into active participation in sport, figures show participation as flat lining.

I will be asking the executive member for education for Surrey how sport in Surrey has dealt with the loss of its sports partnerships. The fact is only 7 per cent of young people are privately educated and yet one third of our medal winners went to private schools. Despite Michael Gove the way forward lies in doing something about this inequality of opportunity, “ councillor Agarwal concludes.  


Cuts in Council Tax Benefit bring hardship for Poor in Surrey from April


The prestigious Institute of Fiscal Studies say that cuts in council tax benefit are certain to affect the poorest families. Thousands of Surrey families on low incomes or receiving Job Seekers Allowance depend on this benefit to meet the cost of their council tax. 85% of the benefit goes to 5.9million mainly lower income families.

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government decision to abolish the benefit paid throughout the country to people on low incomes. They are cutting the money previously made available to councils by ten per cent and leaving it up to individual councils whether they pay it at all or redefine who will be the recipient.

Surrey is likely to suffer disproportionately because so many households paying council tax here are paying it at a higher rate because so many houses are in a higher band for council tax. Many families who struggle after losing a job and receive job seekers allowance can usually expect the benefit to cover the council tax for their homes.

There is a commitment to protect pensioners but the consequence of this stipulation is a cut of 19 % available to support working age claimants. Further Surrey’s above average number of pensioners requiring protection from the cut may mean a reduction in the money available to help with council tax being greater than this. From next April the Institute for Fiscal Studies are predicting that like the poll tax councils will be faced with chasing people through the courts to secure payment of council tax. Council tax debt is a priority debt and bailiffs will be quickly in action.

The Government believe that cutting council tax benefit will somehow encourage people to seek employment. It is hard to see the connection and the collapse of work programme makes this even more unlikely. As far as localism in Surrey is concerned the many councillors are being expected to reinvent a scheme to help the many people here trying to make ends meet with drastically limited money available to achieve the objective. There is a danger that in their desperation these people will question the provision of services the tax pays for and they are so dependent upon.     

Sign the petition to stop police privatisation

From Robert Evans, Labour’s candidate for Surrey’s Police Commissioner


The Government wants Surrey Police to sell contracts to the private sector to run vital crime services like crime investigation, forensics, answering 999 calls, providing custody and a wide range of other police activities. This privatisation is being pushed by the Government on ideological and cost-saving grounds. There is no evidence that the private sector could run police services more efficiently. In reality privatisation inevitably leads to poorer services as private companies cut back so as to increase their profits. In the end, Surrey residents could all become victims. Accordingly we the undersigned oppose these plans and call on the Government and Surrey to keep our police publicly controlled. Please sign now.

Thousands of doctors could be sacked


Cuts in NHS funding and the crisis caused by cuts made by Cameron and Clegg mean that some trusts are running out of money. In a drastic plan that has leaked, NHS bosses threaten to fire all staff and rehire them on new contracts with pay cuts, an end to overtime and staff made to work longer shifts. These changes would not just demoralise NHS staff, but making staff work longer shifts could leave staff tired and more prone to mistakes.

Pensioners lose half their pensions to fees – Labour will act


A report has revealed that millions of savers are losing up to half the value of their pensions, thanks to hidden fees. Nine in ten of the biggest pension fund managers don’t warn about fees at all. Fees take up to 40% of the total value for typical pensions.


Ed Miliband has said that savers must be protected from these sorts of fees, and called for a new set of regulations that will force pensions companies to use a structure that makes charges clear – and that fees may need to be capped by law. This came after Labour launched a report as part of its policy review that identified problems that need to be solved by the next Labour government.