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Supported housing schemes can be very valuable to communities. They come in many forms – homeless hostels, sheltered housing for older residents, refuge for victims of domestic violence, specialist accommodation for former members of the armed forces and many more.

The Government are proposing changes that could put these schemes at risk. I don’t want to see services lost, and I want housing providers to keep investing in these schemes in the future.

I’ve been meeting with local providers and visiting schemes in our community to get a better understanding of the issues involved. So far I’ve met with St Vincent’s Housing Association, Great Places Housing Group, and Bolton at Home.

This week I visited Bolton House, which is run by Riverside. They offer temporary accommodation and intensive support to offenders on license who are homeless. They work with other local agencies to try and break the cycles of reoffending and homelessness so that people can move on to live independent lives in the community.

It was encouraging to meet with the staff and hear how the various agencies in Bolton are working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community and ensure that they can reintegrate. 

 

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What are the Government proposing? 

Many of the people who need to live in supported housing rely on Housing Benefit to pay the rent. The Government are trying to change the rules for Housing Benefit in social housing, linking it to the Local Housing Allowance. 

This would mean people could probably get money for a normal council house (for example) but Housing Benefit would no longer meet the extra costs that come with supported housing (like the cost of an on-site warden).  

Although, this would vary across the country. Rent in social housing is roughly the same all across the country, but private rents that the cap would be based on vary wildly.  

In places like London and the South East where rental costs are high services would likely see no change to their ability to claim costs through housing benefit, but cuts could be huge in other regions. This would create a postcode lottery and driving investment away from areas like Bolton. 

Riverside have provided examples: 3% of their tenants in London would be negatively affected. Whilst 58% living in the North East would be negatively affected. 

Labour have been holding the Government to account on this issue and forced them to push back their plans. There is still uncertainty about what will happen and we will be asking the Government to listen to the concerns of housing providers and provide some stability for the future of supported housing.

Supported Housing - My visit to Bolton House

Supported housing schemes can be very valuable to communities. They come in many forms – homeless hostels, sheltered housing for older residents, refuge for victims of domestic violence, specialist accommodation...

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If you go out to a bar or restaurant and receive good service you may choose to leave a tip. You’d expect that the person serving you would get to keep the tip as a bonus on top of their wages, or perhaps that staff would share the tips between them. However, in many workplaces this is no longer the case.

Some employers have started to take a proportion or even all of their employees’ tips as part of the business’s profits. This is particularly prevalent in companies which accept tips via card payments.

People often wonder about the mysterious ‘service charge’ that appears on some bills and what it is for, but I think people would be uncomfortable at the thought that this isn’t being passed on to hardworking waiting staff.

We should be able to confidently reward good service with thanks and know that this is going to the right people. I think these companies need to be open and honest with their customers.

The Government’s Business Department launched a very welcome consultation into these practices. However that consultation ended more than a year ago and they have not published the results or come forward with any proposals.

I am backing an Early Day Motion in Parliament urging Government Ministers to publish this consultation and give assurance to hospitality workers that their concerns will be addressed. 

Watch workers talk about their experiences in this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYcqLYbKrsw 

Facts on unfair tips

Employers hold onto staff tips in all kinds of ways, often without customers’ knowledge including:

1. Charging a fee - employers taking a cut from customer tips paid on a credit or debit card as an administration fee. Typically between 8%-15%.

2. Charging waiters to work - deducting a percentage of between 2%-3% from waiting staff table sales. If staff don't make enough money in tips to cover the levy, then it comes out of their wages.

3. Employers pocketing entire or hefty chunk of the 'optional' service charge that increasing numbers of restaurants are automatically adding to customer bills, instead of giving it to staff. Typically between 10%-15%.

4. Using tips and service charge payments to cover the cost of breakages, till shortages, customers doing a runner, paying credit card transaction fees or quite simply to boost their own profits. They could even be used to boost senior managers' wages.

5. Bogus tronc schemes - a properly run tronc scheme - a pooling system used by employers to distribute non-cash tips to employees -should be genuinely independent, free from employer interference and involve staff. But many aren't - too often staff get no say in how non-cash tips and service charge are shared out or who get a share.

 

Fair Tips

  If you go out to a bar or restaurant and receive good service you may choose to leave a tip. You’d expect that the person serving you would get...

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When speaking to local residents about access to mental health services I’m often told that the quality of care in Bolton is very good, but waiting times are a big issue.

This was highlighted again when I recently submitted a written question to the Government about waiting times, which showed that Bolton is a long way behind the average across the North West.

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I wrote to NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (who determine local spending priorities and monitor outcomes) about this issue and I thought that local residents may be interested in the information provided. 

Bolton have set a target to ensure every patient receives an appointment within 28 days of being referred for Psychological Therapies by March 2019. An extra £800,000 will be spent on increasing capacity in these services over the next two years.

The anecdotal evidence about the quality of these services was also supported by local figures which show that Bolton patients using Psychological Therapies have a recovery rate 10% above the national target and 9% above the national average.

I hope that services in Bolton continue to improve and I am always happy to raise any concerns that local residents may have about this.

Mental health services in Bolton

  When speaking to local residents about access to mental health services I’m often told that the quality of care in Bolton is very good, but waiting times are a...

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During the General Election I expressed my concern about the Conservative plans for school funding.

Schools are facing the biggest cut to their budgets since the 1950s. Independent website www.schoolcuts.org.uk found that every single school in Bolton North East would see their budgets cut by the Tories new school funding formula.

Our community was rightly concerned about the potential loss of teachers and the long lasting effects this would have on the next generation.

In the face of huge pressure from the Labour Party, teachers and parents, the Conservatives announced a schools bailout plan last week.

However there is still huge uncertainty for local schools. The Government say they’re giving £1.3bn to core school funding in the next two years, but there’s no detail about how that will be distributed.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that even with this bailout school funds will be facing a real terms cut of nearly 5 per cent over the four years to 2019.

There’s no new money either, it’s just being moved around within the Department for Education, so what is it that’s no longer being funded?

We’ve also seen no announcement of changes to the shoddy funding formula that caused so much concern. If the bailout is intended to just put this on hold for two years then carry on as planned this is no solution at all.

I don’t want local schools to be pushed into difficult decisions with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over them. It may be the start of summer but the Government can’t put off doing their homework, they have serious questions to answer on school funding.

Bolton’s schools are still under threat

  During the General Election I expressed my concern about the Conservative plans for school funding. Schools are facing the biggest cut to their budgets since the 1950s. Independent website...

 

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I recently met with Network Rail to discuss the ongoing works to improve the Bolton-Manchester line.

The next phase delivers long awaited upgrades to Bolton station. Work taking place includes: modifying existing platforms and canopies, remodelling tracks, upgrading signalling, installing overhead line equipment and building a new footbridge. The biggest change for passengers will be the revival of platform 5, which will improve the stations capacity and flexibility.

Unfortunately the scale of this work means that the station will have to be partially closed for a long time this summer.

I have received assurances that my constituents who use the Blackburn train line via Bromley Cross will still be able to travel in and out of Bolton.

However services onwards to Manchester/Preston ect will be replaced by buses.

This will be in effect on Sundays 23rd July, 30th July & 6th August and then every day from 12th-27th August while these improvement works are undertaken.

I appreciate that this will be inconvenient for people. If you experience any difficulty during this time regarding the information available to passengers or the effectiveness of the arrangements then please let me know. I will raise any concerns with Network Rail.

This work will bring us one step closer to the long over-due electrification of the train line and, hopefully, towards a better service.

Bolton train station closed this summer

  I recently met with Network Rail to discuss the ongoing works to improve the Bolton-Manchester line. The next phase delivers long awaited upgrades to Bolton station. Work taking place...

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I’d like to thank NHS England, who have taken the time to write to GPs with advice on how best to assist any local residents who may still be struggling to cope following the Manchester Arena attack.

I thought that I would share the content of their letter with you. The information may prove useful for anyone wondering if they should seek help from their doctor.

This NHS leaflet “Coping with stress following a major incident” is also available for those seeking further information.

The full letter is below:

 

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Mental health support following the Manchester Arena attack

  I’d like to thank NHS England, who have taken the time to write to GPs with advice on how best to assist any local residents who may still be...

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New figures show how English regions including Greater Manchester are being short-changed by Theresa May’s £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). 

Northern Ireland residents are getting 22 times as much funding as Greater Manchester will through devolution, according to analysis by the House of Commons library.

Northern Ireland is to get an extra £244 per person every year, to be spent on services such as schools, hospitals and major transport schemes.

Meanwhile, the Government’s devolution deal with Greater Manchester provides the region with just an extra £11 per person each year.

The analysis, undertaken at the request of Labour MPs, shows how money for English regions is dwarfed by the cash pouring into Northern Ireland. This is in return for 10 DUP MPs pledging to support the Tories in the House of Commons.

This funding arrangement is simply unfair. Our infrastructure needs to be improved, our public services need to be protected. We should not be short changed just because the Tories need to have their Government propped up.

Our region could thrive with the right investment but the Conservatives have repeatedly shown that they refuse to deliver for us.

 

 

DUP deal compared to additional investment funding in devolution deals

 

         

 

DUP deal = additional £244 per capita

     

 

         

 

Devolution Deal

Annual amount (£m)

Population (m)

Per capita annual amount (£)

Per capita extra given to Northern Ireland (£)

 

West Midlands

36.5

2.8

13

231

 

Greater Manchester

30.0

2.7

11

233

 

East Anglia*

30.0

2.3

13

231

 

North East*

30.0

2.0

15

229

 

Liverpool City Region

30.0

1.5

20

224

 

Sheffield City Region

30.0

1.4

22

222

 

Greater Lincolnshire*

15.0

1.1

14

230

 

West of England

30.0

1.1

27

217

 

Tees Valley

15.0

0.7

23

221

 

Total

246.5

15.6

16

 

 

         

 

Sources: National Audit Office; Offi ce for National Statistics; Department for Communities and Local Government

Theresa May's DUP deal gives Northern Ireland 22 times as much funding as Greater Manchester

  New figures show how English regions including Greater Manchester are being short-changed by Theresa May’s £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).  Northern Ireland residents are getting...

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The latest unemployment figures released today show that the Government is failing my constituents and that much greater investment is needed in Bolton.

There are now 2415 unemployed claimants in Bolton North East, 225 more than there were at the same time last year. 

Shockingly, Bolton North East now has the 31st highest number of unemployed claimants out of all 650 constituencies. For comparison, when the last Labour Government left office in 2010 the constituency was 113th

On the Tories watch we are falling further behind the rest of the country.

The Government are failing to support towns like Bolton to deliver more employment opportunities. We need to see investment into our transport network so that my constituents can access jobs across the region, and we need more good jobs here in Bolton.

Theresa May found £1bn to invest in Northern Ireland, I want to know where our investment is? Bolton residents shouldn’t be left to fall behind and I will be raising this with Government Ministers.
 

Key facts

  • The total number of unemployed claimants in Bolton North East constituency in June 2017 was 2,415. 

  • This represents a rate of 5.5% of the economically active population aged 16-64, the 31st highest of the 650 UK constituencies. (1st = highest claimant rate, 650th = lowest claimant rate.) 

  • The equivalent UK claimant rate was 2.5%. The UK unemployment rate, which includes people not claiming benefits and is estimated from survey data, was 4.5% between March and May 2017. 

  • The number of claimants in Bolton North East constituency is 225 higher than June 2016 and 20 lower than May 2017.

  • When the last Labour Government left office in May 2010 Bolton North East had the 113th highest JSA claimant rate.

Government neglect leaves Bolton behind on unemployment

The latest unemployment figures released today show that the Government is failing my constituents and that much greater investment is needed in Bolton. There are now 2415 unemployed claimants in...

I'm standing for re-election on 8th June. These are my pledges to you.

 

A high quality local NHS

I will continue to campaign for a fair funding deal for Bolton's NHS services. We need to cut waiting times at A&E and improve standards in social care and mental health.

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Secure and valuable employment

Bolton deserves a pay rise. I will push the Government to introduce a Real Living Wage for everyone that meets the cost of living and ban exploitative zero hours contracts.

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Let's get back on track

I will continue my campaign to end overcrowding on Bolton's trains.

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Investing in our future

Help for children and young families is the best investment we can make. I will work to protect Sure Start centres and local school budgets.

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Bolton comes first

I will always put the interests of the people of Bolton first. I have a proven record of voting in your interest even in conflict with my own political party.

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My Pledges - David Crausby

I'm standing for re-election on 8th June. These are my pledges to you.   A high quality local NHS I will continue to campaign for a fair funding deal for...

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Wages in Britain today simply do not match the cost of living. The gap between the richest and the poorest continues to increase and in-work poverty is becoming a major problem all across the country.

The Conservatives simply have no interest in helping those affected. Theresa May likes to talk about helping those who are “just about managing” but takes no meaningful action to address poverty pay.

£7.50 an hour is not a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living in Britain today. Those under 25 are entitled to less, even when doing the exact same job as an older worker at the same company. It is simply unfair.

I am delighted to see that Labour have committed to take on these challenges and provide much needed help for low-paid workers.

The introduction of a real Living Wage for all adults, increasing over time to match the recommendations of the Living Wage Foundation, would be a huge step forward. This should be at least £10 an hour by 2020.

Labour’s real Living Wage would give a pay rise to the 5.6 million workers who currently don’t earn enough to meet the cost of living.

Workers over the age of 25 would get a pay rise worth £2,500 a year. Workers aged 21-24 currently on the minimum wage will also see their wages rise by over £4,500 a year.

This is a bold but realistic plan to help working people in Britain.

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A real Living Wage

  Wages in Britain today simply do not match the cost of living. The gap between the richest and the poorest continues to increase and in-work poverty is becoming a...

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