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MP visits annual Foodbank collection in Horfield

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones dropped-in to support volunteers and those donating at last weekend’s (1st December) annual Foodbank #everycancounts collection.

Darren said:

“I stopped by North Bristol Foodbank’s annual collection in Tesco on Golden Hill in Horfield and it was heart-warming to see the generosity of shoppers and volunteers. Whilst at the store, I met the Foodbank manager as well as new and experienced volunteers to find out more about the Foodbank’s work. Whilst I would prefer we lived in a country that did not require foodbanks, sadly more and more people are reliant upon them each year so it is good to see so many people supporting those in need”.

To find out more about North Bristol Foodbank please visit: https://northbristol.foodbank.org.uk/ 

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Darren demands stop to Universal Credit roll-out

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a letter, alongside all South West Labour MPs, calling on Amber Rudd the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit and for immediate measure to be put in place to reverse the hardships it has caused.

This follow’s Darren’s extensive work on Universal Credit:

Darren first called for a delay to the roll out to new benefit claimants in October 2017. Universal Credit was, at that time, due to be rolled-out from Horfield and Shirehampton Job Centres in May 2018 (this was delayed until September 2018 with some additional funding in place).

Darren also backed large-scale changes to the full migration of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit in advance of the 2017 Autumn Budget and in advance of the 2018 Autumn Budget, he called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise to ensure no benefit claimant would suffer hardship, or less income, under Universal Credit.

Darren also wrote to then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, calling for an end to the ‘two-child policy’ on benefits in October 2018 and – ahead of the 2018 Spring Budget – for free schools to be protected under the Universal Credit roll-out.

Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt. Claims often take weeks and weeks to resolve! I am clear that it should not take people to lose their homes, resort to food banks or go to unscrupulous lenders to survive for the government to act – especially when charities, MPs and advice organisations have been shouting warnings about financial hardship and waiting times for well over a year. I call upon the Secretary of State to listen to concerns and stop the roll-out of Universal Credit”.

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Darren gets response on Migrant Impact Fund

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, wrote to the Chancellor in advance of the Autumn Budget calling for the  Migrant Impact Fund to be restored.

Darren has now received a response:

Darren Jones MP said:

“The £50m Migrant Impact Fund (although it now appears only £35million was awarded) was set-up several years ago in response to legitimate concerns that public services needed central funding to help support any unexpected pressure on local services such as housing, schools and hospitals. This was – and still is – common sense and the fund should have never been replaced with the much less effective Controlling Migration Fund which does not fund things such as additional pressures on healthcare. This change was ill-thought out so I am disappointed this response has repeated the same old explanations without actually considering the points my letter raised – namely, that this backwards step applies pressure to healthcare services who can ill afford it, only helps to fans the flames of prejudice. I continue to call for the Migrant Impact Fund to be restored”.

 

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Darren congratulates National Express on Living Wage Accreditation

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, met with National Express last week (2nd November) following their accreditation by the Living Wage Foundation as part of Living Wage Week (5th to 9th November).

National Express will be rolling out the real Living Wage rates across all of their UK businesses, including staff based at Bristol Coach Station in Marlborough Street. It makes National Express the largest private sector employer in UK public transport to be officially recognised by the Foundation. The move will benefit more than 240 employees, most of whom work in the UK Coach business. The voluntary rise was put in place in January 2018 and has increased pay for roles including customer service advisors, drivers, apprentice engineers and cleaners to at least £8.75 an hour (£10.20 in London), higher than the statutory Living Wage of £7.38 for under 25s and £7.83 for over 25s.

As well as pledging to pay its UK staff the real Living Wage, National Express has ensured all agency and contracted staff are included in this increase and is working with its partner operators to ensure their employees are also paid the real Living Wage by 2020.

Darren said:

” This is a huge step in the right direction and one which National Express should be rightly proud of. Since being elected as MP for Bristol North West in June last year, I have made it a top priority to campaign for fair terms and conditions for employees and that employees are paid a wage they can live on. It is therefore fantastic to see National Express becoming the largest private sector employer to offer all staff the higher real living wage.

I also welcome their commitment to ensuring this is adopted by other companies it works with – too many companies don’t properly investigate unethical working practises within their supply chain so National Express are throwing down a challenge to other businesses to up their game. I hope to see an end to unethical working practises in Bristol, and beyond – this accreditation supports those endeavours”.

 

 

 

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Darren joins Unison’s call for boost in council funding

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has signed a cross-party letter,  coordinated by trade union Unison calling on the Chancellor to boost funding for councils in England.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Our council are facing unprecedented cuts during a time of rapidly rising demand for adult social care services, child safeguarding referrals and support for children with Special Educational Needs. We all know people feel upset when they see local services closing but in reality councils can only do so much with the shrinking money and staff they have available. Since 2010, 220,000 local government staff have been made redundant and more posts have been removed or left unfilled and there’s been a 49% drop in funding. We are fortunate thanks to our Labour council’s efforts that libraries were saved from closure and they have protected as many services for the vulnerable as possible but with adequate funding they could achieve far more.

We now have even loyal Conservative council leaders calling for the broken funding system to be urgently reviewed before people suffer  – change is urgently needed and can be delayed no longer. I hope to see a significant boost to council funding in the Chancellor’s Budget on Monday (29th October) anything else will only lead to greater suffering in our communities”.

 

 

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Darren calls for end to two-child limit policy on Benefits

Darren Jones MP has signed a cross-party letter led by colleague Rushanara Ali, calling on the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Esther McVey to scrap the cruel two-child limit on some benefit entitlements.

Darren Jones MP said:

” Whilst the government claim this policy is to encourage future ‘responsible parenting’, in many cases it has been applied retrospectively to families who already have 2+ children! Since coming into effect last April, the two-child limit policy has affected an estimated 400,000 children and will eventually affect around 3 million children once the transitional protection runs out – including 5000 in Bristol North West. Each of these families will be £4,000 a year worse off, on average, than in the absence of the policy.

I want to stop the policy being extended to all new Universal Credit claimants from February next year.

In the letter signed by over 100 MP’s we say:

“The two-child limit makes it harder for working families with more than two children to work their way out of poverty, however hard they try to improve their situation. Furthermore, many non-working families will no longer be able to escape the impact of the benefit cap by moving into employment, because they would instead be caught by the two-child limit.”

“The complex rules for applying the two-child limit, including the lengthening list of exemptions, undermine the aim of making the benefits system simpler to understand and easier to administer“.

See the letter here: Universal Credit – Letter

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Darren calls for restoration of Migrant Impact Fund

Darren Jones MP for Bristol North West, has called for the Migrant Impact Fund to be restored in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget on Monday (29th October).

Darren Jones MP said:

“The £50m fund was set-up several years ago in response to local government’s legitimate concerns that they needed central funding to help support any unexpected pressure on local services such as housing, schools and hospitals. This is common sense and the fund should have never been replaced with the much less effective Controlling Migration Fund which does not fund things such as additional pressures on healthcare. This change was an ill-thought out, backwards step that only helps to fans the flames of prejudice – it must be reversed“.

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MP calls on Chancellor to protect income under Universal Credit

Ahead of the forthcoming Autumn Budget, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones has called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise that no benefit claimant would suffer financial hardship, or receive less income, under Universal Credit.

This is not the first time Darren has spoken out – he also called on the Chancellor in last year’s budget to make changes to the scheme and ensure families were not facing debt because of Universal Credit. Darren also pushed for a delay to the roll-out of Universal Credit for new claimants in October last year – at that time Darren called for “the multiple flaws in the system to be sorted out or the roll-out must be put on hold”.

Whilst the government made a number of small improvements to Universal Credit for new claimants, the so-called ‘managed migration’ of hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of 6 benefit groups (including ESA, Child Tax Credit and Income Support) has continued to cause widespread concern.

Ahead of the budget, Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt. Claims often take weeks and weeks to resolve!

It seems from today’s (16th October 2018) leaked reports, the government are considering delaying movement of 6 groups of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit until at least next summer (rather than January) with most moving from 2020-2023.

They are also considering supporting people on ESA, Job Seekers and Income support for 2 extra weeks whilst their Universal Credit claim is sorted along with better help for the self-employed, whose income fluctuates. It’s a disgrace that the same cover period won’t be considered for child tax credits – which are provided to low-income, often lone, working parents – because DWP and HMRC systems can’t be integrated! A similar ‘cover policy’ for those on Housing Benefit was only introduced last year after people started losing their homes because claims were often taking in excess of 6 weeks to assess.

I am clear that it should not take people to lose their homes, resort to food banks or go to unscrupulous lenders to survive for the government to act – especially when charities, MPs and advice organisations have been shouting warnings about financial hardship and waiting times for over a year. The government must keep its initial pledge that no-one should be worse-off by moving to Universal Credit. I call upon the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to keep that promise.

On a more practical level, once that promise has been kept, until the DWP has enough trained staff and working IT systems to move people across quickly and correctly, migration should be delayed indefinitely”.

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Darren signs food insecurity letter

Food insecurity is a widespread problem in the UK, with the Trussell Trust alone seeing a million people at its food banks a year. However, there are no statistics on exactly how many people are struggling for food for how long. To tackle the problem we need to know how widespread it is, so Darren signed a letter to the Government asking them to begin measuring food insecurity.

 

 

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Darren says ‘don’t risk it’ – report scams!

June is Citizens Advice’s annual Scams Awareness Month. This year’s theme is ‘don’t risk it’ – if you’re unsure about the deal you are being sold then it may be too good to be true. Citizens Advice research has found that a staggering 72% of people have been targeted by scammers in the last 2 years and even more worryingly, nearly 40% of people had been targeted 5 or more times. These are often the most vulnerable in our communities.

Almost half of people surveyed had taken no action to protect themselves against scams.

You can find out more information on common scams and how to report them here.

Darren said:

” I want to help make sure my constituents don’t fall victim to scammers – victims of scams often don’t come forward, making it difficult to know the true impact that scams have in our local communities. It also makes it hard to bring scammers to justice. That’s why I am supporting Scams Awareness Month and encouraging residents of Bristol North West to report dodgy traders to Citizens Advice and Trading Standards”.