Tag Archives: government

Role models video

Dame Anne recently took part in a campaign by Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People, which aimed to raise the aspirations of young disabled people by highlighting some disabled role models in society.

You can watch Dame Anne’s interview below:

Dame Anne Urges Government Rethink

MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg is calling for a review of funding criteria to prevent Aberdeen losing out on £6.5 million. Despite successfully bidding for funding from the Urban Broadband Fund 2 (UBF2), Aberdeen City and Shire could potentially lose out due to a lack of agreement over funding criteria.

Dame Anne has, therefore, written to the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport asking her to alter the criteria to allow both local authorities to access the £6.5 million and deliver a world class fibre optic broadband infrastructure for the region.

Dame Anne said: “Aberdeen is a dynamic and vibrant city, a world leader in innovative technology, and the UK powerhouse for oil and gas production. Yet, potential development is being threatened by poor broadband speed.

“As a strong supporter of the bid for UBF2 funding, I was thrilled when we were successful following the immense amount of hard work and effort that went into our campaign. I continue to receive a number of phone calls from constituents still complaining of poor broadband speeds and I am both disappointed and frustrated by the slow progress in developing super fast broadband for everyone in the region. Not only are big companies being held back by limited broadband speeds, SMEs, which are vital components of the oil and gas supply chain are also suffering.

“I am therefore calling on the government to alter the funding criteria to ensure that Aberdeen City and Shire have the opportunity to really benefit from this money.”

Aberdeen City and Shire Councils are proposing a joint venture which would see a fibre based broadband infrastructure built across the North East boosting the local economy and providing a long term income stream for both authorities. However, a lack of agreement between DCMS and the European Commission indicates that the joint digital strategy proposed by the two local authorities is unlikely to meet the current criteria.

Dame Anne stated: “It appears that any funds released would have to be spent on either demand stimulation or vouchers for SMEs, neither of which is required in this area as Aberdeen City and Shire have the highest and second highest rates of broadband uptake in the UK. However, it is clear that what is required here in the North East is a world class fibre based infrastructure in order for us to fully realise our potential.”

The UBF2, also known as the Super Connected Cities Fund, was announced by the UK government in early 2012. In December 2012, Aberdeen was announced as one of twelve cities across the UK to be awarded a share of £50 million in order to provide homes and businesses with fibre optic broadband and high speed wireless Internet access.

ATOS debate speech (transcript)

Below is the transcript of Dame Anne’s contribution to the debate on ATOS and it’s role in carrying out Work Capability assessments for those applying for Employment Support Allowance held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 4th September 2012:

Dame Anne Begg (Aberdeen South) (Lab): Congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex) on securing this important debate. This is my first time speaking after my extended absence and therefore a good subject.

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): On behalf of everybody in the room and in the House, I welcome the hon. Lady back to the House. We are delighted to see her in such good shape. We were sad to hear of the difficulties in the long period of recovery she has had to go through. She is very welcome back.

Dame Anne Begg: I thank the Minister for being gracious. He may not be quite so gracious by the time he has heard what I have to say. I do not think that the Government have grasped how disastrous the ESA assessment system is. It is not something that can be fixed by a few tweaks here and there; we tried that with the Harrington review. What we have heard today in the Chamber—and in the “Dispatches” and “Panorama” programmes filmed in June this year—suggests that not much has changed. The people complaining are not just the usual suspects, not just the radical crips, the workshy or those who want money without being assessed. They are ordinary people, most of whom worked hard all their lives until the sky fell in and they lost their job because of an illness or an acquired disability

It is not enough for Government to say that the genuine claimant has nothing to fear. In too many cases, genuine claimants are not scoring any points in their initial assessment. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the contract that Atos is delivering. When the British Medical Association votes at its conference to say that the work capability assessment is not fit for purpose there is something wrong with the system. When GPs are reporting an increased workload, not just as a result of providing reports but as a result of treating patients whose condition has worsened as a result of their WCA experience, there is something wrong with the system.

When my constituent, who has lost his job because he has motor neurone disease, scores zero on his WCA and is found fully fit for work, there is something wrong with the system. When that same constituent appears in front of a tribunal and in less than five minutes is awarded 15 points, there is something wrong with the system. When people with rapidly progressive illnesses are not automatically put in the support group, there is something wrong with the system. When some people would rather do without the money to which they are absolutely entitled rather than submit to the stress of a WCA, there is something wrong with the system. When someone with a severe illness has to fight for a year through an appeal to get the correct benefit, only to be called in almost immediately for another assessment, there is something wrong with the system. When the recall and assessment happen the following year, and the following year, there is something wrong with the system. When people feel so persecuted, there is something wrong with the system. To top it all, they lose their contributory ESA after only a year if they are in the WRAG group.

When up to 40% of appeals are successful and there is no penalty for the company carrying out the assessments, there is something wrong with the contract. When so many appeals result in an award of ESA support group status when the original assessment was no points, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no penalty for a high percentage of wrong decisions, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no incentive for assessors to get the assessment correct first time, there is something wrong with the contract. It is time for the Government to act, because there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole system.

Text of full debate available from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk

Video of full debate available from: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11307&st=10:58:30

Dame Anne speaks at 2h 7mins.

You can also watch a clip from the debate here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeatCaWVGEQ