Category Archives: Parliament

MP raises “abject failure” of women’s pension age changes

Jo Cox raises concerns about women's pensionsJo Cox MP raised questions in the House of Commons yesterday over changes to the state pension age for women.

Over 1,400 women in Batley & Spen are affected by the changes and Mrs Cox told MPs that she had been approached by a constituent who had still not had official notification of the changes from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Mrs Cox said: “Does the minister accept the abject failure on the part of the DWP to communicate these changes to the women affected by them?

“Does he think it is acceptable that some women have found out only through the brilliant work of the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaigners?”

You can watch the exchange, including the minister’s reply, here. Alternatively you can read the Official Report of Mrs Cox’s question here.

Autism debate: Ministers must deal with delays and backlog

Jo Cox leads a debate on AutismBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox used Parliament yesterday to raise concerns about the heartbreaking national crisis around Autism assessments and the backlog and delays that are preventing people, particularly children, from getting a diagnosis.

The national average is more than three years. Locally, some are waiting more than two years.

This follows on from work Mrs Cox has done with parents and others in Batley & Spen and with the National Autistic Society.

During the debate she welcomed news that the two Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Kirklees Council now have a plan in place to clear the backlog locally within a year.

After the debate, Mrs Cox said: “The government is slowly waking up to the scale of the personal tragedy of delayed Autism diagnosis.

“I think the commitment is there but the minister needs to keep driving forward progress to deal with the backlog and the delays.”

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “Too many autistic people and their families are being pushed into anxiety or depression by years waiting for an autism diagnosis. It is deeply traumatic not to know why you or your child feel or act differently to those around you.

“A diagnosis can be life changing. It can explain years of feeling different, give people essential information about what might help, and unlock professional advice and support.

“Reducing waiting times will drastically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on the autism spectrum and their families, and it can also save money at a time when public funds are strained.

“The Government and NHS England have recognised the seriousness of the issue and are making some welcome steps to address it. But they have fallen short by not committing to start monitoring autism diagnosis waiting times across England. Without this, it’s very difficult to effectively measure how services are performing, work out what’s causing long waits in different areas and ultimately improve services.

“Autistic people have waited long enough, they can’t wait any longer.”

Jo Cox raises national crisis in Autism delays and backlog

Jo Cox leads a debate on AutismChildren are waiting on average more than three years for an Autism diagnosis.

The delays and backlogs with assessments is a national crisis and it was raised in Parliament this morning by Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox.

Without a diagnosis funding and support for children does not materialise. This has led, Mrs Cox has told Parliament, to many parents having to pay privately to get a diagnosis.

Mrs Cox said: “It is really important to underline the scale of this problem, and the consequences of it.

“You only have to meet a handful of parents to realise the unbelievable pressures these waiting times put them under. Diagnosis is a critical milestone for people on the spectrum.

“It helps individuals take control of their lives and can unlock access to essential support and services. It can be just as important for parents, family members and friends, enabling them to better understand what is happening to their loved ones.”

National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance that says it should be no longer than three months before between being referred and being seen for diagnosis.

Jo Cox meets Autism campaigners from Kirklees before her debate

Jo Cox met with Autism campaigners from Kirklees before her debate

Mrs Cox has met with local families with children awaiting diagnosis, the National Autistic Society and those responsible for health services in Kirklees. She welcomes news, ahead of her speech, that a plan is now in place to clear the backlog in Kirklees within a year.

She said: “Some in Kirklees have been waiting more than two years for a diagnosis. I am delighted that the CCGs and Kirklees Council now have a plan in place to address the backlog having committed funding.

“I hope the government will take steps to help all local authorities and health commissioners to do the same across the country.”

One constituent told Mrs Cox what a blessing her son’s diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome had been. It didn’t just provide access to support and services but it helped everyone to understand why he felt and behaved the way he did. Her son said wished he had been diagnosed sooner because: “I always knew I was different, now I know why.”

Mrs Cox will tell MPs that this family were able to get a diagnosis because they had the ability to pay for it privately after raising £2,500.

“Here is a crisis now so acute that some desperate parents are paying for help that by right they should be able to access on the NHS – but what about those without the resources to pay? They are currently left in a distressing and damaging limbo – often for years,” she added.

Mrs Cox used the debate to ask the government to commit to:

  • A new requirement on NHS England to collect, publish and monitor data on diagnosis waiting times, including data on how many people are known to their GP to have autism.
  • That NHS England should ensure that standard ‘waiting times’ on mental health reflect the NICE national guidance that no one will wait longer than three months between referral and being seen for diagnosis.
  • That Government must share in this commitment, ensuring that NHS England now meets the three  month target and to meet this aim access to an autism diagnosis should be written into the Department of Health’s Mandate to NHS England, which means that they will be held to account on this target and it becomes a priority for them to get right.


MP speaks out against benefit cuts for those who can’t work

Jo Cox speaks against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Jo Cox speaks against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox spoke in a debate in the House of Commons last night as MPs considered the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

Mrs Cox spoke against government plans to cut payments to those on Employment Support Allowance as a way to force them back into work, people the government already accepts are unable to work.

Mrs Cox said: ”  I urge the Government to remember that, by their own definition, claimants receiving work-related ESA are not capable of work at that time. They are people the Government’s own work capability assessment has deemed not to be fit for work.

“Surely it is therefore preposterous that the Government think they can cure those people’s complex and long-term ailments and miraculously incentivise them to return to work by reducing their financial support.”

You can watch the full speech by clicking here.

Batley & Spen MP praised for championing plight of Syrians

010316 Syria UQ ceasefire2Jo Cox was granted an Urgent Question in Parliament yesterday, forcing the Foreign Office to send a minister to the Commons to answer a series of questions from the Batley & Spen MP.

The Speaker granted Mrs Cox’s application to urgently raise questions about reported breaches of the new ceasefire in Syria’s civil war.

Mrs Cox was praised by MPs on all sides of the House of Commons for championing this issue and continuing to raise the plight of Syrians in Parliament and press for their protection.

You can hear Mrs Cox’s series of questions and the minister’s answers by clicking here.