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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 to host surgery for local carers

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, will be hosting a Carers-themed surgery with Carers Support Centre Bristol and South Gloucestershire on Friday 18th January.

Do you care for a friend, relative, family member or neighbour with an illness or disability? Do you need Darren’s support or would like to share your experiences so they inform Darren’s work in the future?

To meet with Darren you must live in Bristol North West. The Bristol North West constituency covers Avonmouth, Shirehampton, Lawrence Weston, Henbury, Brentry, Horfield, Lockleaze, Aurora Springs in Cheswick Village, Southmead, Sea Mills, Coombe Dingle, Sneyd Park, Stoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym, Westbury Park and Henleaze.

If you’re not sure if Darren is your MP, you can check here – If Darren is your MP and you’re a carer, come and meet him!

The surgery will take place on 18th January in Southmead between 10.30 and 12.30 with 6 pre-bookable appointments available.

If you would like to find out more or book a 15 minute slot, contact Caroline McAleese, Carers Engagement & Involvement Lead, Carers Support Centre on 0117 958 9989 or carolinem@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

“In the course of my work as Bristol North West’s MP I have met many carers, including those at Henleaze-based Singing for the Brain and at my weekly constituency surgeries. I’m well aware of the challenges carers face and the dire need for more support for them , that’s why I backed the Carers Support Centre ‘carers need care too’ campaign and am hosting this themed surgery. I look forward to meeting more local carers and doing what I can to help and support them”.

 

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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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MP comments on WASPI pension poverty

Following concerns that women affected by the government’s acceleration of pension changes are facing rising poverty, Darren Jones MP shared his views on the so-called WASPI campaign.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Many women had just 18 months notice of the extension of their pension age, whilst some were given inaccurate information by government departments when the government chose to accelerate pension equality. Others won’t ever get full pension because of career breaks decades ago when they were raising children or working part time.

Nobody in the WASPI campaign disputes pension age equality but how this has been handled and the hardship it has caused many is totally unacceptable. I continue to support the WASPI campaign and the women in my constituency affected by this shambolic decision”.

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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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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 comments on Rough Sleeping Strategy

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones shared his views following the release of the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy on 13 8 18.

Darren said:

” It’s all too little, too late and as anyone who visits our city centre knows it unfortunately won’t slow down the increasing numbers of people driven onto the streets by the government’s austerity politics and cuts to the support available to the most vulnerable. I anticipate Universal Credit, now rolling out across Bristol, will only make matters worse.

The government need to urgently assess the impact their cuts are having across the whole public, voluntary and charitable sphere and stop this political experiment – it isn’t working! This strategy fails to address the root causes of rough sleeping – the starting point for this, and the Social Housing Green Paper, should have been a significant increase in the number of social properties built alongside dramatically improved access to mental health care, employment support and training, security for private renters and substance misuse services“.

 

 

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Darren writes to government about PIP for young cancer patients

For the first three months of their diagnosis, young cancer patients aren’t allowed PIP benefits. This is despite the fact that PIP is meant to help people with the costs of serious illness or disability. Darren wrote to the Government minister responsible to ask her to review this.

You can read the full letter here:

 

Dear Minister,

 

RE: Please review PIP for young cancer patients so they get financial support backdated from the day of diagnosis

I am writing to you on behalf of my constituents, to ask you to take action to review Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for young cancer patients so that they get the financial support they are entitled to backdated from the day of their diagnosis.

Every year in the UK over 4,000 children and young people under 25 are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer costs from day one. The first three months of treatment for young cancer patients are a difficult and expensive time,  as treatment starts immediately and is often a long way from home. CLIC Sargent’s #Cancercosts research found that young people are spending an average of £360 a month during active cancer treatment.

However, young cancer patients currently have to wait three months before they can apply to the Government for PIP, the benefit designed to help with the cost of an illness or disability. It’s not right that young cancer parents can’t access the financial support they are entitled to, at the time when they most desperately need it.

I would be grateful if your Department could review PIP for young cancer patients so that they get financial support backdated from the day of diagnosis.

I look forward to hearing your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

Darren Jones MP

And below is the reply Darren received from the Government: