Friday, 19 December 2014

1.6 million pensioners hit by David Cameron’s 87p pension rise

On 4 December the government announced the state pension will rise by £2.85 a week. But ministers were forced to admit in the following week that up to 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income. Labour are calling on David Cameron to come clean with 1.6 million pensioners about the future value of the state pension.

David Cameron to be open and honest with pensioners after new figures showed 63,180 pensioners in North West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p.

On 4th December 2014 the government announced the state pension would rise by £2.85 a week. But in the following days ministers were forced to admit up to 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income.

The government promised the state pension would rise by £2.85 in April next year but 63,180 pensioners in North West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p will receive a rise of just 87p. David Cameron’s government have not been open and honest with pensioners about the state pension, saying one thing and doing another. It’s time for the government to treat pensioners with respect and be upfront about the value of their pensions.”
Gregg McClymont said, “1.6 million pensioners who have done the right thing, worked hard and saved for a pension have been let down by the government. It’s time for David Cameron to come clean with pensioners across the country about the future value of their state pension.”
Source: (Figures in a row called: ‘savings credit only’ - http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/100pc/pc/pctype/ccgor/a_carate_r_pctype_c_ccgor_may14.html 

Constituency figures are available in the first column here:
http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/100pc/pc/ccparlc/ccptnr/pctype/a_carate_r_ccparlc_c_ccptnr_p_pctype_savings_credit_only_may14.html 
(the numbers need to be multiplied by 1000, e.g. Aldershot is at least 450 pensioners affected)

Local Government settlement. Tory home counties can given funding boost (despite austerity), Labour areaas get walloped (again!)


Of the 19 councils with the max 6.4% cut in spending power. 6 are in the NW - Barrow, Burnley, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle and Preston whilst Surrey gets an increase of +3.1% and Buckinghamshire +2.4%

For the provisional allocation the 2015/16 year, only three local authorities (the Isles of Scilly, Oadby and Wigston, Purbeck) get less than Hyndburn.

For the total cumulative allocation, including the provisional payments, only two local authorities (the Isles of Scilly, Oadby and Wigston) get less than Hyndburn.

The Isles of Scilly can probably be discounted from the comparison anyway as it’s uniquely small.

We shouldn't be surprised. The Tories want Britain to return to 1930's. 5 more years of porridge, a rising debt and huge deficit. All to be paid for by the poor and north so a double whammy for Hyndburn. Cameron, Osborne are just two posh boys who've never had any sense of consequence or reality I genuinely don't think they understand or care about areas like Hyndburn. The train less train line to Manchester speaks volumes.


Hilary Benn: Instead of a fairer settlement the Government has hit the communities with the most need the hardest

Please see below and a link to a press release from Hilary Benn Hilary Benn in response to the Local Government Finance settlement:

“Ministers have been criticised by the National Audit Office, among others, for having little understanding of the impact on frontline services of their decisions and they are failing to devolve power so that public money is most effectively spent.

“Instead of a fairer settlement the Government has hit the communities with the most need the hardest, and instead of giving councils the long-term budgets and freedoms they need to make real long-term sustainable savings the libraries that enrich our children’s education, the social care for our elderly to keep them healthy and out of hospital and the everyday council services like bin collections and street cleaning are bearing the brunt.

“Today was a chance to address the charge of complacency but it is now clear that the government doesn’t have a plan for the future of local services. Labour would encourage further sharing of services to protect the frontline and keep the services residents rely on.”

http://press.labour.org.uk/post/105526868434/instead-of-a-fairer-settlement-the-government-has

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Fwd: Ofcom investigation into Premier League football rights

There's a lot of football supporters in Haslingden and Hyndburn and I thought this may be of interest. 

Sent on behalf of Kevin Miles, Chief Executive, the Football Supporters' Federation:

It has been brought to my attention that Ofcom have recently written to all MPs and members of the House of Lords in relation to their investigation into the FA Premier League's joint-selling arrangements for live audio-visual media rights.

I understand that within their correspondence Ofcom refer to their planned consultation with, among other bodies, the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF).

With this in mind I thought it appropriate to write to MPs and members of the House of Lords to clarify our position in relation to Premier League media rights.

Our submission to Ofcom outlined:
  1. The FSF's support for the principle of collective selling by the FA Premier League of audio-visual rights;
  2. The FSF's commitment to the "closed period" for the live broadcasting of matches, between 14.45 and 17.15 on Saturdays (crucial to the economic survival of many clubs lower down the football pyramid);
  3. The FSF's opposition to any increase in the total number of Premier League games televised live each season.

You can read the FSF's full submission to Ofcom via the attached document or this web link.

Yours faithfully,

Kevin

Kevin Miles

Chief Executive

The Football Supporters' Federation

phone 0330 44 000 44 :: web www.fsf.org.uk

Join the FSF for free today here

Labour's pledge to control immigration with fair rules

Labour will control immigration with clear, fair rules. People who come here won't be able to claim benefits for at least two years and we will make it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers.

 

Last week Ed Miliband set out Labour's first election pledge: to build a strong economic foundation by dealing with the deficit and balancing the books. And just as we will apply the values of the British people in the way our economy is run, so too on immigration.

  • Not turning our back on the world, but ensuring our borders are properly managed.
  • A sense of fairness means that we can't simply allow wages to be undercut.
  • A sense of fairness means that entitlement to benefits should be earned, so you contribute for longer before you claim.
  • And belief in community means that people should learn English and be part of our society.

We are proud to stand up for those values because they are Labour's values. Our pledge shows how we will put these values into action. With Labour, controlling immigration is one part of a bigger plan to raise living standards, invest and improve the NHS and turn Britain around for everyday working people.

 

Labour's immigration plan will be based on five principles:

  1. Stronger border controls: making it easier to deport foreign criminals, check people in and out of the country, and stop illegal immigration. Not putting up with continued under-investment, chaos and failure, presiding over a borders agency that is clearly unfit for purpose.  
  2. A smarter system of controls: so we get the top talent and investment we need, whilst controlling low skilled migration. Not setting an undeliverable 'net migration' target, which has ended up forcing the government to reduce the number of students, even though they bring contribute millions to Britain, simply because they are the easiest to control, whilst doing nothing to stop low skilled migration.
  3. Fair rules at work: a new law to prevent employers undercutting wages by exploiting immigration and banning agencies from recruiting only from abroad. Not shrugging our shoulders as this government have done – refusing to act because they are ideologically opposed to any strengthening of workers' rights.
  4. Earned entitlements: changing the rules so that people coming here won't be able to claim benefits for at least two years. A real plan to deliver change in Europe, not putting Britain on a path to exit from the European Union, which would put at risk 3 million jobs.
  5. Integration, not divided communities: people working in public services in public facing roles required to speak English. Not simply crossing our fingers and hoping that integration will occur on its own.

Exploitation law to prevent undercutting of workers

The next Labour government will introduce fair rules to tackle people's concerns about the impact of immigration in our economy, our social security system and our communities. Including the way some employers have systematically exploited people from other countries, enabling them to pay lower wage rates and offer worse conditions  than for their existing workers. This leads not only to the exploitation of migrants, but the undermining of wages for local workers.

Labour has already promised to increase the fines ten-fold for firms paying below the National Minimum Wage, close down loopholes in agency worker laws that allow firms to undercut directly employed staff, ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from abroad, and calling for a new law  against extreme cases of exploitation. On top of that we have announced how the next Labour government will stop employers exploiting foreign workers. The new law would define different forms of exploitation.

To prove that a criminal offence has been committed, evidence would have to be provided that some abuse of power had occurred and that migrants were employed on significantly different terms to local workers. For the first time, it means that undercutting of wages and conditions, although it will not be sufficient on its own, can be used as a piece of evidence of exploitation.

Earned entitlements

Our social security system needs to be based on our values of fairness, work and contribution, and must work alongside economic reforms to make work pay. But it was never designed for the level of migration we are now seeing and the way it interacts with EU rules is creating anomalies and injustices that are damaging public trust.

A Labour government will work with other European countries to extend the period that EU jobseekers wait before claiming out of work benefits from three months to two years, to put the same system in place for in-work benefits, and to stop child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries. 

These are real changes that Britain needs, not the kind of unworkable, hollow and vague promises made by David Cameron.

 

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Consultation on the future of the voluntary sector in Haslingden and Hyndburn – 16th January 2015

I am hosting a roundtable discussion event to get the thoughts of local voluntary groups on the future of the voluntary sector, and what action the Government could take to support the valuable work they do. 

 

I am hoping to get a wide cross-section of people who run charities and voluntary organisations in the constituency to attend, as well as trustees and local volunteers themselves, and that is why I am writing to you.

 

I know first-hand the vital work that local charities and voluntary organisations do in Haslingden and Hyndburn.  There are so many bodies that are active locally and I think that it is extremely important that the Government does what it can to ensure these organisations can keep going and can fulfil their potential.  In order to renew and strengthen the relationship between Government and the voluntary sector we need input from groups across the constituency.

 

The event takes place on Friday 16th January 2015, at 1pm-4pm at Accrington Library, St James' Street, Accrington, Lancashire, BB5 1NQ, and I urge all interested local groups, trusttes and volunteers to come along.

 

It would be helpful if you can let my office know if you are able to attend so that we can gauge numbers. Please RSVP to nick.swanson@parliament.uk. Groups are welcome to submit a written response if you are unable to attend the roundtable.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Letter to Graham Jones MP reveals East Lancs NHS Special Services may be moved away

Specialist Services could leave East Lancashire altogether.

7 Specialist NHS Services are under threat of moving out of East Lancashire, a letter to Graham Jones, Labour MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn has revealed.



In response to a letter from Graham, the CEO of East Lancs Hospitals Trust, Kevin McGee named 7 specialist services which are under threat of being taken out of East Lancashire all together, including:

Pancreatic Cancer Services
Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Services
Neonatal Critical Care
HIV Services
Respiratory – Severe Asthma Services
Complex Vascular Services
Complex Disability (wheelchair) Services

The letter states that this is being driven by the Government’s “centralisation agenda”, aimed at cutting the number of specialists providing these services. This is despite the fact that Mr McGee states that he believes East Lancashire is best capable of providing these services under existing arrangements.


In the letter, the CEO says explicitly: “We believe the above services are provided to a high standard within East Lancashire and would wish to see them continue to be delivered locally.”

Responding to the letter, Graham said:

“These are not trivial services, a significant number of my constituents rely on being able to easily access these services on a regular basis. These services are all for chronic or long-term conditions which many in Haslingden and Hyndburn need to be able to access easily.”

“Moving them from East Lancashire would be a step back as far as Haslingden and Hyndburn is concerned.”

“I accept these decisions should be clinical but in this case I believe – as does the CEO of the Hospitals Trust – that they should continue to be delivered in East Lancashire. Yet because of the changes to the NHS made under the Tories, we now risk losing them to another region, leaving constituents with distant services and potentially affecting the Trust’s finances. It is a pattern which is being repeated up and down the country – communities feeling that decisions on NHS services are being taken against their wishes.”
The Lancashire Telegraph today.







Meeting with local Police commanders this afternoon

Met this afternoon with Julian Platt, Police Chief Inspector and Pam Holgate, Geographic Inspector - both responsible for policing in Hyndburn.

We discussed the cuts - which I want to say more about following my  meeting with the Steve Finnigan, Lancashire Chief Constable and Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Clive Grunshaw.  yesterday in Parliament. The cuts in Lancashire are having an adverse impact on policing and the thought that 40% have been allocated and 60% further cuts have yet to come will leave communities unprotected. One figure from yesterday's meeting was the number of incidents that Lancs constabulary deployed to this year (18,000) as compared with years previous (30,000). The police do not attend a significant number of crimes immediately because they do not have the manpower.

At today's meeting the issue of the cuts and the impact it is having on the front line was discussed. Only yesterday the police had to take two separate individuals from road traffic accidents to A&E reducing their capability.

We discussed operational budgets and the tension between funding neighbourhood policing and PCSO's/neighbourhood officers verses full time response bobbies. I like the PCC agree that Lancashire's success has become because of our successful neighbourhood policing model - a model which is already been stretched to thinly. People are saying they see their PCSO's less and less.

One of the avenues the PCC has gone down is to recruit more special constables. It is 10 hours a week voluntary with training with the advantage that that experience can be used in an application for full time posts. If anyone is interested an application pack to be a Special Constable for Lancashire Constabulary can be found here. Hyndburn does offer better opportunities through the successful CanSafe initiative which we discussed. Where professional staff from all agencies come together into 6 units to patrol the streets in an evening picking up youngsters at risk and taking them to a place of refuge and care. CanSafe is now complemented by SafeHaven where children are kept overnight if their parents cannot be contacted and they are vulnerable. Special constables working on CanSafe get the opportunity to work with a variety of other agencies first hand and pick up a wide range of policing and social care experiences.

The is also cadet training on offer. I have previously been out on operations with the teams and seen what brilliant scheme it is. the PCC has also been to see just how effective an initiative this is prevention and care as well as policing. Big thanks to all those involved including Can Safe chair and Councillor Joyce Plummer (Peel Ward/Hyndburn) where the scheme first started.

Operation Aristo was discussed. An on going major operation against drug dealers and suppliers which has led to numerous high profile arrests, court cases and lengthy prison sentences. This has been a significant worry for the people of west Accrington who at times have felt terrorised by these criminals.

We also discussed  counter terrorism and anti social behaviour.

Lancashire Constabulary are one the best police forces in the country, well led at all levels  and the relationship with Councillors and MPs continues to be strong. Sadly the governments austerity programme is threatening the very existence of polcing as we have known it.





Tory-led Government’s pension changes could put firefighters’ lives at risk

The way Ministers in the Tory-led Government have handled firefighters’ pensions has been deeply irresponsible. They have presided over 47 separate periods of strike action by firefighters in England since September 2013 and, after more than three years of dispute, they have failed to negotiate a fair and sustainable solution.

The new Fire Minister offered firefighters warm words and raised their hopes when she first took up the post, only to cease negotiations and put down essentially the same offer that her predecessor in the role proposed in June 2013.

Labour cannot support the pension regulations for England because they are built on an assumption of a dangerously low aerobic fitness measure for firefighters. The Williams Review, which the Government itself commissioned, states that the aerobic fitness measure the Government is basing their plans on means “the risk of sudden catastrophic cardiac events increases… with a risk of sudden death particularly while undergoing high levels of physical exertion”. This flawed fitness standard would put firefighters needlessly at risk and fail to protect the public.

If a more robust fitness standard is implemented it would mean that the assumptions on which the Government’s pension regulations are based would no longer be valid. The result would be that a number of firefighters who try to maintain fitness would be unable to meet these operational standards into their late 50s through no fault of their own.

The Government’s firefighter’s pension regulations are not fit for purpose and Labour will oppose them. This is why I have signed the ‘prayer’ on the regulations, put forward by the Labour Party frontbench, with the aim of securing a full Parliamentary debate on the floor of the House to hold the Government to account and scrutinise the regulations. Over 250 MPs have signed this ‘prayer’ to put pressure on the Government to schedule a debate and give them a vote, and Labour have formally requested.

Importantly, these regulations are not the only configuration possible within the amount of money that the Treasury has set aside for the scheme, which we support. Devolved Governments are negotiating fairer alternative proposals within these financial limits and have averted strike action. In England, Ministers in DCLG have failed to do so.

Firefighters risk their lives to save ours and they deserve better than this – and I will continue to support them.