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North East poverty needs to be addressed

In the wake of a report showing that more than half of all people in the North East have less than £100 of savings, UKIP’s local Euro-MP Jonathan Arnott has urged more to be done about the high levels of poverty within the region.

The report by the Money Advice Service found that 50.7% of people in the North East have less than £100 of savings to fall back on, one of the highest rates in the country.

“At its core, people can afford to save when they’re in stable, regular employment. We need to end the abuse of zero hours contracts and ensure that our government does more to create jobs in the region with the most unemployment in the country,” said Mr Arnott.

“That means standing up for manufacturing, among ideas we’ve proposed in our Vision for the North East document.

“We also need to do better in our education system at teaching the value of saving for a rainy day, because all of us have at one time or another faced unexpected bills. When a bill strikes, the cycle of payday lenders can lead to a debt trap that is very hard to get out of.

“It’s a combination of making sure that there are enough jobs paying a decent wage to live on, and helping to ensure that people recognise the huge financial value to themselves of putting some money aside.

“The government’s decision in April to introduce a Personal Savings Allowance so that modest interest earnings aren’t taxed was a good one – credit where credit is due,” he added

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An extra €31,000 for Eurocrats coffee break

North East MEP Jonathan Arnott has criticised spending an extra €31,000 on drinks and biscuits for internal EU meetings.

A report was passed today (Wed) in the European Parliament’s budget committee without a vote to transfer that amount of taxpayers’ money to cover the increased cost of tea, coffee, water and biscuits.

Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP and member of the budget committee said later, “Spending an extra €31,000 on that is ludicrously inefficient. If the new contractor is forcing prices up then why not find the most cost efficient provider?

“This is small change to the EU but it sums up their convoluted financial approach. Throwing good money after bad and hoping that nobody notices. It is time for the EU to wake up and smell the coffee and frankly they’re really taking the biscuit this time.”

The extra money will be used to provide those refreshments at plenary sessions of the Committee of the Regions.

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The new North East devolution plan is a political hotchpotch

News that three North East councils are believed to be going it alone on a devolution deal has been described as a “political hotchpotch” by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

The government had declared a devolution deal was off the table when the proposal involving all seven local authorities collapsed earlier this month.

But ITV Tyne Tees has reported that Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland – the three areas that voted for a devolution deal – have got together and now negotiations are taking place with the government over forming their own separate deal.

“This is just bizarre,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP.

“It would be crazy to have Newcastle and Gateshead having separate arrangements and we would end up with a political hotchpotch in the region and no actual North East plan.

“Nobody ever planned a three-Council mini-devolution scheme and I’m concerned that this will be pushed through for political reasons rather than based on any evidence to suggest it could work.

“There seems to be no overall strategy and some people would lose out in the inevitable funding postcode lottery,” he said.

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North East education has been underfunded and neglected

Comments by the country’s senior schools inspector about the North-South divide in secondary education have been welcomed by North East MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“I fear that the worries expressed by Sir Michael Wilshaw,  Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, are totally justified and therefore welcome him bringing this important matter into the public arena,” said Mr Arnott.

Sir Michael has said that the growing divide in performance between secondary schools in the North and South should make us “worry as a nation” and poses serious consequences for the future.

“He is quite right that this divide must end; the youngsters of the North East deserve the best start in life,” said Mr Arnott, a former teacher and UKIP Euro-MP.

“Sadly education in the region has been underfunded and neglected in the same way as so many other aspects such as transport links and investment in industry and technology.

“Only today George Osborne has been talking about the Northern Powerhouse but we want and need action now. We have the highest unemployment rate in the country and our education standards need be among the best in the country to empower our youngsters to succeed in life.

“It is encouraging that Sir Michael singled out North and South Tyneside as areas where secondary schools are doing well and perhaps detailed analysis of why that is could help to raise standards elsewhere,” said Mr Arnott.

“We must never be complacent about education, it is vital for our country that children’s abilities are not wasted,” he added.

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Jonathan Arnott MEP calls for investment not more empty words

The latest unemployment figures for the North East – showing it is still the highest in the country – demonstrate the ongoing need for investment in the region, said local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“It is just not good enough for the government to keep muttering about the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ as if that is some magic panacea.

“We need to see it put into action now – as these latest figures show. Empty words and promises mean nothing,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP.

Official figures released today show that the national unemployment rate is 4.9% but in the North East it is 7.5% with the number of jobless up by 3,000 to 98,000 between May and July.

“I have repeatedly urged action to improve job prospects in the region and I don’t want to sound like a broken record but empty words don’t put food on the table.

“The difference between the North East and the UK average is now more than five times greater than it was a decade ago,” said Mr Arnott.

“It is because of our deep concerns for the North East that we have just issued ‘A Vision for the North East’ in which we set out detailed proposals for the region post-Brexit. We need positive action and UKIP is determined to show the way.”

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Jonathan Arnott MEP reacts to report about problems facing girls in Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough’s MEP Jonathan Arnott has reacted to a report that the town has been branded the worst place for girls to grow up with a mixture of sadness and anger.

The report revealing that the town is the worst place to be a girl was produced by the charity Plan International UK. Having looked at factors including child poverty, educational attainment and teenage pregnancy rates it found a stark geographical divide for girls’ prospects, with inner city areas performing the worst.

Jonathan Arnott said “Last week I visited two charities in Middlesbrough (Teen Challenge and Tickle The Taste Buds) working with people at risk of substance abuse and to combat homelessness and provide support for families who simply can’t cope. I know that the charitable sector is doing phenomenal work, and I think it’s vital that we recognise the positives as well as the negatives.

“I hope that this report doesn’t result in people talking Middlesbrough down, especially at a time when there seems to be the prospect of some development and even the football team is on the way up!

“But nobody should be under any illusions about the reality of the lives of those hit hardest by poverty in Middlesbrough. It can be no coincidence that the town has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with the North East region topping the regional figures again last month with 7.6% unemployment,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP.

The charity is calling for girls’ committees to be set up, mandatory sex and relationship education, and greater cross-departmental government cooperation to address the problems which include daily harassment.

Mr Arnott said, “We already have mandatory sex and relationship education in this country. This must be age-appropriate and I’ve consistently opposed calls for this to be extended to children as young as five. But the report is absolutely right to say that girls are being let down and we all have a responsibility to eradicate this situation.

“The North East is the region of the country most in need of improvement across the board and I fear only when that happens will the inequalities facing girls and young women be remedied.”

Last week, UKIP launched its Vision For The North East which demanded a fairer deal for the North East in terms of funding and a range of policies to create jobs and get the economy moving again.