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Darren hosts surgery for local carers

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

” 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 other 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 hosted this themed surgery.

I look forward to meeting more local carers and doing what I can to help and support them. I’ve agreed to host at least one carers-themed surgery a year but in the meantime, if you need support, please email my office at darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk (be sure to include your full address and postcode) and we’ll see how we can help you”.

 

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Universal Credit Two-Child Benefit Cap lifted after MP campaign

Following sustained pressure from MPs including Darren Jones, charitable organisations and advice agencies, the two-child benefit cap for families claiming Universal Credit has been removed. It was due to be enforced retrospectively from February 2019 for parents whose third (or more) child was born before Universal Credit was rolled out in 2017.

Darren Jones MP had previously signed a cross-party letter led by colleague Rushanara Ali, calling on the Prime Minister, Chancellor and then DWP Secretary Esther McVey to scrap the cruel two-child limit on some benefit entitlements. See the letter here: Universal Credit – Letter

Darren Jones MP said:

“I campaigned last year for the cruel two-child benefit cap (which was about to be applied retrospectively to families claiming Universal Credit (UC) with 3 or more kids prior to 2017) to be quashed.  I also campaigned for the transfer of existing claimants (of so-called Legacy Benefits) onto UC to be stopped as government admitted some claimants would be worse-off purely because of the move onto UC.

I am therefore delighted to hear the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd has bowed to sustained pressure and ditched plans to extend the two-child benefit cap for UC claimants (from February 2019) as planned. This cap would have affected around 15,000 families, some of which will be here in Bristol North West. This cap would have pushed many vulnerable families into further financial hardship and children born before UC existed into poverty.

Amber Rudd has also confirmed she will delay asking MPs to vote on the transfer of people onto UC and will use this time to re-assess waiting times and the roll-out.

Whilst people must consider their financial situation when planning their family, alongside many other considerations, any retrospective capping of benefits is blatantly unfair and punishes children already born.

I will continue to call upon the government to review their wider two-child benefit cap and make sure no-one is poorer because of admin changes in how their benefits are paid”.

 

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Darren calls for investment in social care

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has spoken our about the need for dramatic investment in social care funding following the release of the Coram Family and Childcare Older People’s Care Survey 2018. This is the third annual survey mapping the cost and availability of older people’s care across the UK.

Darren said:

“Anyone who needs social care or tries to put care in place for an older relative knows the current system is not fit for purpose. The government continues to dodge any real assessment of the social care crisis facing the UK’s ageing population, doesn’t fund council’s properly so they can adequately meet rising demand and has not ensured parity of importance between health and social care services.

I have met many constituents who have struggled to source adequate care and find the bureaucracy of the system significantly adds to levels of anxiety and stress. The Local Government Association is right to say the government just kick this issue ‘into the long grass’. I will continue to call on the government to fund council’s properly so they can meet the demand for social care services“.

The key findings of the survey in relation to the availability of older people’s care were:

•There is not enough care available for older people, with only one in five local authorities (20 per cent) reporting enough care in their area to meet demand.

•Over 4.3 million people aged 75 and over live in areas where there is not enough social care to meet demand.

•Some 34 per cent of local authorities expect the situation to get worse in the next year, while only 1 per cent expect it to get better. Bristol City Council has only recently flagged up how catastrophic a no-deal Brexit could be for social care across the city.

Key findings on the price of care were:

•The average weekly price paid by local authorities for all residential care types in the UK is £585. This represents a 5 per cent price rise since last year.

•UK averages show that individuals paying for their own care face prices which are 13 per cent more expensive than what the local authority pays for the same care. It takes less than 17 months for someone funding their own care to spend over £20,000.

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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“.