Time to Stop Squeezing Family Incomes

John Robertson MP with Usdaw member, Janette Parker

Local MP, John Robertson, has joined forces with Usdaw, the shop workers union, to call on the Coalition Government to stop squeezing family incomes by continuing to cut the help they get through tax credits and other benefits.

Just days before the Budget, at a time when many hard working families are already concerned about how difficult it is to manage their finances, Usdaw arranged to take some of their members, who are being hit the hardest by the Government’s shake up of the welfare state to Parliament, to meet MPs.

John Hannett, General Secretary of Usdaw said, “Since coming to power the Coalition Government’s austerity measures have already taken hundreds of pounds out of the pockets of hard working families.

“Our members tell us, that despite working hard, it is getting more and more difficult to pay the bills, put food on the table and clothe their children”

“We are concerned that things are only going to get worse – as the Government’s flawed bedroom tax comes into force and further changes to tax credits later this year, hit almost 3 million families who will lose on average – £137 each month.”

“Next week’s Budget is the Government’s chance to prove that it cares about children and families. It is time for this Government to do a U turn – stop cutting family incomes and start to support hard working families.”

Glasgow MP John Robertson said, “I was pleased to join members of Usdaw at their recent event at the House of Commons. Trade unions like Usdaw have an important job to do – speaking up for their members”

“More than one in every four children are already growing up in poverty and of those children 62%, has at least one person in their home who is employed.”

Families in Glasgow North West and around the country are getting squeezed tighter and tighter – it’s time for the Coalition Government to stop cutting and start listening to hard pressed families.”

 

INTERNET NOVICES WILL STRUGGLE TO CLAIM BENEFITS

With Universal Credit claims being online only, cross-party group of MPs calls for internet strategy to make sure no one will be missed.

Around one quarter of job seekers have broadband at home and will have to rely on internet access points in job centres or libraries to claim their allowance once Universal Credit comes in. John Robertson MP, Chair of the Communications group, is leading the call, concerned that this will make it more difficult for people who live far away from internet access points, or who do not have the skills to surf online.

Disabled people and elderly people are also disadvantaged, with 53% of people who have never used the internet having a disability, and 90% of those who have used the internet being under 65. While these people may not need to rely on the internet for welfare, Mr Robertson highlights how better deals on energy or other necessities can be found by the internet savvy.

The Glasgow MP said: “We have the highest internet usage in Europe, but still some of the most vulnerable groups are getting left behind. And what is sad, is that these people could gain the most from using it at home – through being able to claim their benefits much more easily or even getting cheaper energy bills.”

“Worryingly, the Government has started to move everything online – with Universal Credit being a major example – but it hasn’t even done an assessment of where people can access the internet in libraries or whether people even know how to use the internet. We need an urgent strategy to make sure job seekers, disabled people and the elderly do not lose out.”

John Robertson has tabled an Early Day Motion, which can be found here.

Stop the Millionaire’s Tax Cut

There are fewer than 25 days until April 6th – when 13,000 millionaires will get a £100,000 tax cut.

In David Cameron’s Britain, millions are paying more while millionaires get a tax cut.

Sign the petition here.

NEW MODERN LOOK AND LONGER HOURS FOR DYKE ROAD POST OFFICE

To celebrate launch of the new style, open-plan branch, John Robertson MP ‘cut the ribbon’ at Dyke Road Post Office today, 8 March 2013.

John Robertson MP said: “I’m delighted to officially open the new Dyke Road Post Office.  I know how important post office services are to communities like Dyke Road and I am sure everyone will join me in congratulating the subpostmaster on his hard work. I wish Mr Burmy continued success with his business.”

Subpostmaster Mr Bhubinder Singh Burmy said: “The branch closed for a week to allow us to undertake the refurbishment. I am delighted with the new ‘main’ style branch and I am sure my customers will enjoy the additional hours being provided. I want to thank them for their patience during the improvement works.”

The new branch has three serving positions: a mixture of 2 screened with 1 Post Office serving point at the retail counter available during shop opening hours, including Sundays.

Post Office Regional Network Manager for Scotland and North England, Sue Richardson, Scotland, said: “We are confident that this new modern Post Office service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future.

“This modernisation is part of a three-year investment programme, the largest in the history of the Post Office, that will see around 6000 branches (about half the Post Office network) converting to new-style branches.”

The Post Office, now independent of Royal Mail, is the largest retail network in the UK, with over 11,500 branches. It is also one of the fastest growing financial services companies and is developing its online and telephony services.

Update from Westminster – 7/3/2013

This week: Energy Bill amendment, Hunterston visit and British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

Oppose the Bedroom Tax

Imagine a government so incompetent that it designed a tax that hit soldiers but not prisoners; or a Department so useless it punished foster parents for the crime of giving a home to a child in need. Imagine ministers so out of touch they had to be told by others their plans hurt tens of thousands of pensioners – because they didn’t know.

Welcome to today’s Department for Work and Pensions. From the crack team that gave us a Work Programme that is officially worse than doing nothing, we now have a Bedroom Tax that we suspect may cost more than it saves.

Labour supports sensible welfare reform but the bedroom tax is crazy. Ministers claim they are trying to solve under-occupancy but David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have been forced to admit that it is impossible for their plans to work because there aren’t enough smaller homes for families to move to.

It is in black and white in their own impact assessment – they know this policy won’t work. So all the Bedroom Tax will achieve is making some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society event poorer. Two thirds of these families, by the way, are home to someone with a disability and the National Housing Federation say 200,000 are receiving Disability Living Allowance.

From the Guardian to the Sun, everyone is warning the government that this policy is a mess, but Ministers are burying their heads in the sand.

In fact the department is in such a shambles that DWP press officers were forced to slap down their own Secretary of State after he told the six o’clock news he was looking at making changes. The whole thing is descending into farce.

The scheme is now so chaotic it could actually end up costing more than it saves in many parts of the country. If families are made homeless or pushed into expensive private rented accommodation the tax payer could actually be left with a higher bill – and still the problem of under occupancy will not be solved.

In Scotland 33% of people living in council or housing association homes who receive housing benefit will be hit. This means 80,000 people will be worse off by £624 a year when the bedroom tax comes into force.

The tragedy is this government’s plans won’t even succeed on their own terms. Everyone agrees the welfare bill needs to come down, but this government is now expected to spend £13bn more than planned because of they are totally failing to get Britain moving again.

The best way to bring down the benefits bill is to get people into jobs. That’s why Labour is calling for a tough but fair compulsory jobs guarantee. We would offer anyone who has been out of work for more than two years a real job – one that they would be required to take, no ifs and no buts.

Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works, not more chaos and confusion from this government.

The Bedroom Tax is now in total disarray. Ministers must now admit they have got this horribly wrong and think again – before it’s too late.

CALL FOR FUEL POVERTY TAX

Energy companies that make “excessive profit” should be taxed by the energy regulator, say a group of Labour MPs.

The MPs want the Government’s Energy Bill to include the proposal, and they are calling for support on their amendment. The announcement comes just days after British Gas, which raised prices by 6% late last year, reported profits of £606 million. John Robertson and Jim Sheridan want to see Ofgem given full access to company accounts and then permission to fine any companies that are seen to be making excessive profits at the expense of the consumer.

Mr Robertson, who sits on the Energy select committee, hopes it will put a stop to cases like that of Iberdrola, the parent company of Scottish Power, which transferred £800m to the US, while raising prices in this country. He said: “The energy companies hold us to ransom and it is about time they started giving us a fair deal. I am convinced they hide their accounts in different pots so it looks as though they only make small profits. If there was a real threat that this sort of behaviour had a consequence, I don’t think we would see the sort of price rises we have been seeing over the last few years.”

Mr Sheridan spoke about how they would use the money to tackle fuel poverty. He said: “40% of the population is in fuel poverty or struggling to pay bills and this is due to Big Six greed. If they were seen to be exploiting their customers, then the fine should be used to help those who are suffering the most. It is about time they took responsibility for their decisions.”

The amendment can be found here.