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Jim Fitzpartick
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2014 December

19 Dec

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Pensions, housing and the Bedroom Tax

December 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

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In the past week, we have seen a number of important issues brought to the spotlight. This includes the Firefighter’s Pension Scheme, Government Housing allocation and the Bedroom Tax.

As I made clear in the Commons, the Firefighter’s Pension Scheme is not fit for purpose in its current state.

I myself am a former firefighter and was a member of the firemen’s pension scheme when I served in the London fire brigade from 1974 to 1997.

Firefighters currently contribute 14.2 per cent towards their pension, making it a very expensive scheme for them, and currently it requires firefighters to remain employed until the age of 60. This clearly raises alarm bells from a health and safety perspective.

An assessment commissioned by the Government found that up to see two thirds of firefighters would not make the cut.

Taking both of these points into consideration, it is appalling to some firefighters stand to lose out on up to a quarter of their pension because of current rules.

The second issue I want to talk about is the issue of housing.

I receive lots of representations from my constituents about housing. It’s by far the biggest issue locally.

This is why I am delighted to see through the Government’s announcement of almost £25million of funding to improve the quality of housing in Tower Hamlets. However, despite the cash injection, it is clear that more will need to be done.

Now I will move onto what has now become dubbed the Bedroom Tax.

Thanks to Labour, MPs were given the opportunity to debate and vote to scrap the tax on Wednesday.

Since the Bedroom Tax was introduced around half a million low-income households have been forced to find, on average an extra £700 a year. In Poplar and Limehouse, 1203 people have been hit by the Bedroom Tax.

Despite our efforts, the Tories and Lib Dems defeated the motion with 298 MPs voting against and 266 voting in favour.

Reflecting on the above, the Government’s response to each of these key issues provides an insight into just how out of touch the Coalition is with local issues and local people in Poplar and Limehouse.

I hope to see an end to this in only 6 months when we can elect a Labour government.

Finally, I’d like to sign off with a special thank you to my readers, wishing you all a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2015.

– Jim

19 Dec

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Home Heating Help

December 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

26% OF HOUSEHOLDS IN POPLAR AND LIMEHOUSE ELIGIBLE FOR HOME HEATING HELP

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New research from Home Heat Helpline shows 13,000 households in Poplar and Limehouse are eligible for help to keep their home warm this winter.

The research found that 26% of households in Poplar and Limehouse are eligible for help from energy companies this winter. As a result, Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is encouraging people to find out what they could be entitled to.

Homes that may qualify include all those living in certain deprived areas as well as low income pensioners, disadvantaged families with children or those with a disability that live in a rural area.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP:

“Many people may not know where to turn for free advice on keeping their homes warm. One of the best ways for people in Poplar and Limehouse to stay warm this winter is to act now, and call the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 to see if they’re eligible for help.”

Lawrence Slade, Chief Operating Officer, Home Heat Helpline:

“The research speaks for itself – an astounding 3.2 million households in Britain are entitled to home heating help. As we’re now in winter, we are urging people to make a free, confidential call to the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.”

Last year, 98 per cent of eligible households may have missed out on free advice and support because they did not call the independent Helpline.

The British Energy Aid Report, carried out by the New Policy Institute on behalf of Home Heat Helpline, showed that one in eight British homes across Great Britain is entitled to relief, a total of 3.2 million households.

Ten local authority areas with the highest proportion of eligible households

Local authority Eligible hhlds (000s) Total hhlds (000s) % of hhlds Rank
Newham 38 102 38% 1
Hackney 37 102 36% 2
Tower Hamlets 30 101 30% 3
North Norfolk 13 46 29% 4
West Somerset 5 16 29% 5
Waltham Forest 28 97 29% 6
Sandwell 34 121 28% 7
Liverpool 58 207 28% 8
Islington 26 94 28% 9
East Lindsey 17 61 28% 10

16 Dec

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£25 million to improve homes in Tower Hamlets

December 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

Rushanara Ali MP and Jim Fitzpatrick MP welcome £25 million injection of funding to improve homes in Tower Hamlets

Rushanara Ali MP and Jim Fitzpatrick MP today welcomed the Government’s announcement of almost £25 million of funding for housing in Tower Hamlets.

Having already successfully secured some £165 million of funding for local homes through the Decent Homes programme, Tower Hamlets’ Labour MPs welcomed the latest landmark in campaigning in Parliament to highlight the housing problems faced by local residents and the need for additional funding from national government across the borough. The money has been secured through the New Homes Bonus funding.

Reacting to the announcement, Rushanara Ali MP said:

“I am delighted about this much-needed boost of £25million funding to housing in Tower Hamlets. It will make a real difference in helping us continue to address the housing issues across our borough. But with over 22,000 people on the housing waiting list, there is an urgent need for more investment in housing, and that is why the next Labour Government, if elected in May 2015, will build a million new homes over the next Parliament and provide a better deal for private renters across the UK.”

Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse said:

“Housing is the biggest issue in Tower Hamlets, I receive countless correspondence from. These resources will be very welcome. We need a proper strategy for housing for local people.”

12 Dec

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Designated Drivers with Coca Cola and THINK!

December 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

Jim Fitzpatrick MP invites Poplar and Limehouse Designated Drivers to celebrate
Christmas with Coca-Cola

036 Coke reception 02 12 14- Jim Fitzpatrick MP 1

  • Jim Fitzpatrick MP encourages constituents to reward their Designated Drivers through national scheme run by Coca-Cola in partnership with the Department for Transport’s THINK! road safety campaign

Jim Fitzpatrick MP invites Poplar and Limehouse’s designated drivers to claim their reward for keeping the roads safe this Christmas. As part of a national campaign run by Coca-Cola in partnership with the Department for Transport’s THINK! campaign, designated drivers can enjoy a “buy one, get one free” offer on Coca-Cola, Diet Coke,  Coca-Cola Zero as they celebrate the festive period in local pubs and bars. For the first year Schweppes is also included in the offer.

Now in its seventh year, the campaign is bigger than ever and will be on offer in more than 12,500 pubs and bars across Great Britain. The programme will run throughout the entire month of December in pubs across Poplar and Limehouse and all over the country, as part of an ongoing partnership with the Department for Transport’s THINK! road safety Campaign.

Last year, over one million free soft drinks were given away in more than 8,000 venues across Great Britain. For the first time ever this year’s campaign is supported by a nationwide radio campaign across 240 radio stations across the country.

The Designated Driver scheme follows the launch of the 50th anniversary campaign from THINK! last month, which demonstrated how attitudes towards drink driving have changed in the last half century since the first public information film was shown. This research showed that 92% of the British public would be ashamed to drink and drive.  This was supported by new research commissioned by Coca-Cola Great Britain, which found that the vast majority (83%) of people surveyed said they would never be tempted to encourage the designated driver to have a drink once inside the pub on a night out.

12 Dec

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Care2Save

December 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

JIM FITZPATRICK MP AND DONNA AIR UNITE TO SUPPORT NEW CARE2SAVE SHOPPING WEBSITE SET TO BENEFIT HOSPICES AND CHARITIES IN POPLAR AND LIMEHOUSE

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Jim Fitzpatrick MP has showed his support at a Westminster event today (Wednesday 10 December) for Care2Save.co.uk, the newly-launched shopping site that will help raise funds for charities across Poplar and Limehouse when people shop online.

Online spending over Christmas is predicted to reach an all-time high of £13bn[1]. If just 5 per cent of purchases are made through Care2Save.co.uk, £19.5m could be raised for good causes this festive season.

The briefing enabled MPs to learn how Care2Save.co.uk provides a new income stream for hospices and charities in the UK. Donna Air – actress, designer and supporter of Care2Save – was also at the event, having recently revealed that her grandfather is suffering from dementia and is being cared for in a hospice.

Care2Save is unique in the UK, as it is the only charity owned and run shopping website that gives 100% of the money that it makes through commission directly to the charity sector.

The site offers over 12 million products from over 2,000 UK-based high street retailers, making it a one-stop shop for Christmas shopping whilst giving commission from all purchases to charity – without costing the customer a penny. 80 per cent of the commission generated through each purchase goes to a registered charity of the shopper’s choice, and the remaining 20 per cent goes to the Care2Save Charitable Trust, which supports hospice and palliative care in the UK and globally.

This enables people to support their chosen charity this Christmas and each time they shop in the future. It also provides much-needed funds for the hospice sector: a service which most families will need at some point.

There are more than 220 hospices in the UK, which collectively care for around 360,000 people each year.

Representatives from Care2Save, including the founders, were on hand at the briefing to explain how the website works and demonstrate how much money it could raise for charities this Christmas.

Commenting on the event, Jim Fitzpatrick MP said, “It was great to attend the Care2Save event today and to find out more about hospice care in my constituency. I am delighted to support care2save.co.uk and can’t believe how easy it makes it to raise funds for our local hospices – and in fact for all local charities this Christmas.”

Andrea Fragata Ladeira, CEO, Care2Save: “Hospice care will touch all of our lives at one point or another; whether for ourselves or those close to us. Together through Care2Save we have the opportunity to transform the hospice sector and to raise significant sums for other charities in the process. The support of MPs is vital, and we sincerely hope that the MPs who kindly joined us today and as many people as possible will now join us in making Care2Save.co.uk their shopping website of choice for Christmas and beyond.”

[1] http://internetretailing.net/2014/08/uk-online-shoppers-set-to-spend-13bn-this-christmas-forecast/

08 Dec

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Government’s pension changes could put firefighters’ lives at risk

December 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Local MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Jim Fitzpatrick warned that changes that the Government is making to firefighters’ pensions are built on the assumption of a dangerously low aerobic fitness standard.

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.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP has signed the ‘prayer against’ the regulations, put forward by the Labour Party frontbench, with the aim of securing a full Parliamentary debate to hold the Government to account and oppose the regulations. Over 250 MPs have put their names to this to put pressure on the Government to schedule a debate and give them a vote.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:

“The Government’s Firefighters’ pension regulations are not fit for purpose. They are based on an assumption about a dangerously low fitness standard, which would put public safety and the lives of firefighters at risk.

“The Tories can’t build a better future for working people because they stand up only for a privileged few. Firefighters risk their lives to save ours and they deserve better than this.”

05 Dec

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Jim Fitzpatrick MP supports the national Warm Homes Campaign

December 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

032 - Warm HomesPoplar and Limehouse MP is supporting a national winter-long fuel poverty campaign to show how to end the current ‘scourge of fuel poverty’.

The campaign is run by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and supported by around 300 organisations, from local authorities, housing associations, health agencies, other voluntary agencies, community groups, energy efficiency installers and manufacturers. It will highlight that urgent action will need to be taken by the Government to prevent thousands of people dying this winter as local services struggle to cope with the burden of cold homes.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said “3159 households in my constituency alone are estimated to be in fuel poverty, unable to stay warm and healthy in their homes. This is simply unacceptable.”

Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA said “The Prime Minister, Ministers and MPs have been forewarned that local health services will not be able to cope this winter with cold-related hospital admissions and repeat GP visits. The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of £1.5bn treating cold related illnesses and 10,000 lives could have been saved last year alone. We need the Government to use the forthcoming Autumn statement to deliver some essential short-term relief, including extending the Warm Home Discount and Winter Fuel Payment to low-income families. In the longer term we need an ambitious fuel poverty strategy that prioritises the improvement of energy efficiency in low-income households’.

05 Dec

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THE TORIES’ ECONOMIC RECORD IS ONE OF REPEATED BROKEN PROMISES

December 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

David Cameron and George Osborne have failed every test and broken every promise they’ve made on the economy.

They promised we’d be all in this together but then they gave millionaires a huge tax cut. They promised people would be better off but most people in Poplar and Limehouse are not feeling the recovery and working people are now £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories.

And this cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor had to admit that his key promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year – now lies in tatters.

Because wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get the deficit down aren’t coming in.

Unlike Labour, the Tories don’t understand the fundamental link between the living standards of everyday working people in Poplar and Limehouse and Britain’s ability to deal with the deficit. George Osborne has now borrowed a staggering £219 billion more than he planned and the economy is set to slow down next year after forecasts for wages have been revised down again.

Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. How out of touch can you get? What we needed yesterday was the better and fairer plan Labour has set out.

Labour’s plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, scrap the bedroom tax and cut business rates for small firms. We will balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion a year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.

Changing stamp duty to help people on middle and low incomes is welcome, but we also need to get more homes built and we need a Mansion tax to help save and transform our NHS. With an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of Tory spending plans we can get the extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs we need to help transform our NHS and save it from the Tories.

The Tories promised to eliminate the deficit by 2015 but with less money coming in because of their wrong economic decisions, they’ve broken their promise, failed their own economic test and its hardworking people who are paying the price. It’s time for an economic recovery for the many, not just a few.

04 Dec

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Mayor Rahman U-Turn on Nursery Closures

December 4, 2014 | By | No Comments

overland nursery

On Wednesday 3rd December, at a meeting of Tower Hamlets Council Cabinet, Mayor Lutfur Rahman carried out a U-turn on his proposals to close four local nurseries following a campaign led by local parents and supported by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Rushanara Ali MP and local Labour councillors.

Last week, Cllr Danny Hassell introduced a motion at Full Council calling on the Mayor to reverse his proposed nursery closures.

Jim Fitzpatrick, Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse, said:

“It is great news that Mayor Lutfur has decided to overturn his original plan to close all four nurseries including Overland’s Children Centre which provide specialist care for deaf children.

Ultimately, it would have been our youngsters who would have suffered most if this decision was allowed to pass through uncontested and for their sake, I am pleased with the outcome of this campaign.

I would like to congratulate all the mothers and staff who worked tirelessly to keep the campaign afloat including our local Labour councillors – well done to you all.”

Cllr Danny Hassell, Labour Spokesperson for Schools, said:

“Nurseries are a vital frontline service for children and their families, so I’m very pleased that Mayor Rahman has reversed his decision to close all council-run nurseries in the borough.

The parents who have been campaigning against this vicious cut have run a very strong campaign and they should be very proud of their work. The Labour Group will continue to support them and their families as we move forward.

We are very pleased the four nurseries that faced closure will now remain open.”

Cllr Rachael Saunders, Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, said:

“When Lutfur Rahman tabled his cuts proposals, we were very clear that the cuts to children’s services could not be allowed to stand. The Save our Nurseries campaign, led by local mums, has done a brilliant job of demonstrating to us all why these nurseries are so important.

Tower Hamlets children deserve the best start in life.  With 49% of our children living in poverty, the support that these nurseries give is vital.

Our work is not yet done – we will continue to fight proposed cuts to vital local services, including social care and children’s centres.  We know that these cuts have been imposed by government – Lutfur Rahman has a responsibility to keep his promises to protect the front line.”

01 Dec

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#GivingTuesday

December 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

029 Giving Tuesday

With Sharon Auger from State Street Bank

MP urges people to do one good thing for charity on #GivingTuesday

Jim Fitzpatrick MP has encouraged constituency charities and businesses to take part in the international campaign asking people to give their time, money or voice to charity on one day.

#GivingTuesday takes place for the first time in the UK on the 2 December and is gathering momentum with over 500 businesses and charities joining the other 10,000 partner organisations in the global movement.

The campaign in the UK is being led by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), working closely with software provider Blackbaud.  There are 42 founding partners including Facebook, Argos, Homebase, Glamour, Thomson Reuters, PwC, Cancer Research UK, the RSPCA, Breast Cancer Care, Marie Curie Cancer Care, the RNIB, the NSPCC, The Cabinet Office, the National Union of Students and JustGiving.

#GivingTuesday comes directly after the big shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and asks people and organisations to do one simple charitable act on the day in the run up to Christmas.  While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are good for the economy and great for getting deals, #GivingTuesday is the chance to give something back.

The campaign was launched in the US in 2012 and has become a global movement with Canada, Mexico, Israel, Australia, Singapore and Latin America all getting on board in 2013.  Last year #GivingTuesday received support from the White House, actor Kevin Bacon and model Heidi Klum and charities saw a huge spike in donations on the day.

Partner organisations are encouraged to take the campaign and do something of their own with it.  For example, an ice cream parlour in Baltimore created its very own #GivingTuesday ice cream and gave the proceeds made from sales to a local charity.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse said:

“#GivingTuesday is an exciting opportunity for charities, businesses and individuals to shine a light on the causes they care about and encourage more people to get involved with giving.”

“People in Poplar and Limehouse are enormously generous and support more causes that I can list.  It would be great if people can get behind this new way to talk about the fantastic causes we all care about.”

“I am proud to support #GivingTuesday and look forward to celebrating the generosity of my constituents and the great work done by our local charities.”

Hannah Terrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Charities Aid Foundation said:

“It is fantastic to see so much enthusiasm for the #GivingTuesday movement from people across the country including some brilliant charities and businesses.”

“We are delighted by the support we have received so far and want to encourage as many businesses, charities and individuals to take up #GivingTuesday and really run with it.  We are already hearing so many creative and inspiring ideas and hope we can get the whole nation thinking about charity at the start of the festive season.”

More information can be found on the #GivingTuesday website including a full list of partners.  To find out more email givingtuesday@cafonline.org or follow the campaign on Twitter.

 

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