It’s time for a Jobs Guarantee for the Long Term Unemployed

Following an Opposition Day Debate in the House of Commons, Dame Anne Begg, has called for the introduction of a compulsory jobs guarantee creating a real, paid job for every 18 to 24 year old who has been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than a year and for every adult aged 25 and over who has been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than 2 years.

With the oil crisis starting to bite in Aberdeen, it’s time we ensured that people have real opportunities and are not left claiming unemployment benefits for years. It scars their lives, weakens our economy and costs billions.

It’s time we got the benefit bill down by getting people into work, instead of unfairly cutting benefits for the most vulnerable.

This Jobs Guarantee will be paid for by a banker’s bonus tax, and restricting pensions tax relief on those who earn over £150,000.

This will provide over 13,890 people in Scotland with a job, training, and the opportunity to succeed in life.

There are over 1,445 people across Aberdeen currently on job seekers allowance, including 230 young people and 235 people who have been on benefits for over a year.

It is unfair that in one of the richest cities in the UK people still can’t find work. It’s time we act, get the benefits bill down, get people into work, and create a successful economy where all can succeed and not just the few.

The full motion of Labour’s opposition day debate is

That this House calls on the Government to put a strict limit on the amount of time that people can be left on Jobseekers’ Allowance without being offered, and required to take up, paid work, by introducing a compulsory jobs guarantee that would ensure that anyone under 25 who has been receiving Jobseekers Allowance for a year, and anyone over 25 who has been receiving Jobseekers Allowance for two years, would be offered a paid job, with training, that they will have to take up or face losing benefits; and further calls on the Government to ensure this compulsory jobs guarantee is fully funded by a one-off repeat of the tax on bankers’ bonuses and restricting pension tax relief on incomes over £150,000.
Policy
Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will guarantee a real, paid job, preferably in the private sector, to every 18 to 24 year old who has been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than a year and for every adult aged 25 and over who has been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than 2 years.

The Government will pay full wages and national insurance costs (at National Minimum Wage levels) directly to the business to cover 25 hours of work per week at the minimum wage.  In addition we will provide an extra £500 per employee to help businesses with set-up and admin costs.

In return, the employer will be expected to provide training and development for participants for a minimum of 10 hours a week.  In bidding for the money employers would also have to explain how the jobs are additional and would not exist without the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee investment.  They will not be able to replace existing jobs or vacancies and must not lead to someone else losing their job or seeing a reduction in hours.

Participants will be required to undergo training provided by the employer as well as intensive job-search activity for a permanent opportunity at the end of the six months. Those jobseekers who refuse to take up the offer of a job would risk losing their benefits, in line with the existing sanctions regime.

By bringing together government, employers and workers to tackle the issue of long-term unemployment Labour will ensure that this is a recovery for the many.

Lets get Fairness for the Scottish Emergency Service

MP Seeks fairness for Scottish Emergency Service

In a letter written to the Chancellor George Osborne, Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South asked that the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service be allowed to reclaim VAT on the goods and services they need to provide a service to the public.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service came into being on 1st April last year combining the 8 former local authority services across Scotland. The previous eligibility for VAT refunds through local authorities was therefore lost. This loss in eligibility has created an additional financial burden of £10million per year for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Dame Anne Said

 I was appalled to learn that the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Police Scotland are the only two blue light organisations in the United Kingdom who are unable to reclaim the VAT on the goods and services they purchase in order to carry out their duties to the public.
The money they pay in VAT could provide 40 new fire appliances and over 300 firefighters and it is shocking that we are being treated in this way.  I want the anomaly to end.  The Chancellor has already indicated he is to carry out a review, Scottish services should be a priority in that review. It’s time that fairness was given to the Scottish Emergency Service so that more money is available to keep people safe

Dame Anne calls on the UK Government to “Get on with” building a new runway at Heathrow

In a submission to the Airport Commission, Dame Anne backed submissions from Aberdeen Airport and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce to support the proposal to expand Heathrow Airport.

Airport capacity in the South East of England is not just an issue for the immediate catchment area of the respective airports; it affects the economy of every area of the United Kingdom. The recommendation that the Airports Commission makes to the next government must therefore take into account the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Dame Anne said,

As a UK city, Aberdeen is unique in that there are no realistic alternatives to access it from London or other European cities apart from air travel, particularly for business travellers. The strength of its air connectivity underpins much of the economy of North-East Scotland, and with that, the jobs and livelihoods of my constituents.

Aberdeen Airport has grown its direct connections in recent years, with the ability to connect directly with European cities such as Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo and Copenhagen. However, Aberdeen – because of the nature of the employment clusters that flourish here – will always require connections beyond European cities. Therefore, for global connectivity purposes, Aberdeen will always rely on a frequent and convenient connection to a hub airport.

Only the link to Heathrow provides the frequency that enables convenient travel, with 11 flights a day and almost 800,000 passengers travelling every year. Crucially, one third of those passengers are not ending (or beginning) their journeys at Heathrow but are transferring to or from a flight from cities in every continent of the globe. With the global economic growth shifting away from Europe and towards Asia and the Americas, the connection to Heathrow is currently Aberdeen’s gateway to global connections.

Yet, the connection to Heathrow is under threat. As long as Heathrow is full, airlines will prioritise their slots for more lucrative long haul routes over their domestic connections. Over the past decade, this process has seen the number of flights leaving Scottish airports to Heathrow decline from 50 to 35 today. If the Virgin Little Red slots are not filled, this number will reduce further to 26, with Aberdeen left with just 8 departures per day

This is not because the routes are not profitable but because airlines are making the false choice between their domestic and long-haul networks. With expansion, they would not need to make this choice. Expanding Heathrow is the best way of reversing the erosion of air connectivity from Aberdeen

It is clear to me, the future of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland’s Economy depends on Heathrow Expansion. It’s time the UK Government gets on with it and support’s Aberdeen’s economy in connecting it to the world

Dame Anne urges more action to stop consumers bring ripped off by Copy Cat websites.

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, today urged the Government to take action to stop consumers being conned by Copy Cat websites.

In Business Questions in the House of Commons Chamber, Dame Anne urged the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP, to work with search companies to ensure consumers aren’t misled.

Using her own experience when applying for a European Health Insurance Card Dame Anne said

The top options offered when I searched for the correct website to apply for my EHIC card were not the genuine website for the Department for Health. A number of these were charging for this service, which is of course free. It was really quite difficult to work out which the genuine website was. It’s particularly worrying as consumers don’t know these services are free so they don’t necessarily know they are being ripped off and left out of pocket.

“This kind of Copy Cat website seems to be becoming more and more popular, not just with government services but with a whole range of goods and services. It seems too easy for rip off merchants to mislead consumers and more must be done.

Let’s Scrap the Bedroom Tax by Christmas

Dame Anne Begg has urged MPs from all parties to back Labour’s attempt to scrap the Bedroom Tax by Christmas. Labour has forced a debate and vote in parliament on Wednesday 17th December on the Bedroom Tax.

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 Aberdeen South, 419 were caught by this charge and over 1600 in Aberdeen have been hit by the Bedroom Tax.

Dame Anne Begg said;

‘Scottish Labour dragged the SNP kicking and screaming to mitigate the bedroom tax in Scotland but it still harms others elsewhere. David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s government introduced the tax in April 2013 and it’s time for it to go. I hope all MPs from right across the United Kingdom join together and vote to abolish this pernicious tax from these islands’

MP urges local residents to have a ‘Safe Xmas’ when donating to charity

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is urging residents to give safely to charities this Christmas by remembering the ‘Safe Xmas’ acronym developed by the Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, and the Fundraising Standards Board, the self-regulatory body for UK fundraising.

Both regulators will also be issuing the advice on social media, which can be found by following #SafeXmas.

Christmas is a traditional time for giving and charities work hard to raise money during this time to fund their work throughout the year. The general public give generously to charity and in a survey of people’s giving habits last Christmas, 85% of people said they give directly to charity at Christmas, donating an average of around £40 to the good causes they care about.

Almost all collections are genuine, but some people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. With some charities and supporters having experienced fraud, it is vital that the public know that their donations are going to the right place. The Charity Commission and FRSB have come together to issue a few simple tips for giving with confidence this Christmas.

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, calls on local residents to give safely this Christmas, saying:

“People here in Aberdeen South are incredibly generous in giving both time and money to good causes at Christmas. Many charities will be relying on these donations to fund vital services that continue throughout the year and nobody can afford for those donations to go astray.

“If you are asked to give money to charity and something doesn’t feel quite right or you just want to be completely sure, take a good look at the fundraising materials, follow the ‘Safe Xmas’ tips and, if in doubt, get in touch with the charity you want to support directly.”

#SafeXmas

  • Search for a charity’s name, registration number and landline on fundraising materials
  • Ask to see a collector’s ID badge and don’t be afraid to ask questions
    Find the FRSB tick logo, showing that the charity’s fundraising is regulated
    Ensure the collection device is sealed
  • Extra information about charities can be found at gov.uk/charity-commission
    Make sure clothing collection bags are clearly branded with a charity’s details
    Always check email and web links are genuine before donating
    Still unsure? Contact your favourite charity direct and donate

For more information on fundraising regulation, go to the FRSB website, to the Charity Commission’s guidance on GOV.UK or to the Commission’s newly published fundraising statement which signposts readers to the correct regulator for any issues they wish to raise.

MP Calls for Resolution to ‘Torry Pong’

MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne, has called on Scottish Water to find a resolution to the longstanding odour problems in Torry.

Dame Anne Begg has written to Scottish Water’s Chief Executive Douglas Millican supporting the request from Torry Community Council to commission Professor Robert Jackson, a leading expert in waste water management, to find a lasting solution to eliminate the odour.

Dame Anne Begg said: “I have been aware of the odour problem associated with the Waste Water Treatment Works for many years and, despite the many reassurances that the issue will be resolved, to date nothing has achieved a lasting solution.

“The residents of Torry have been extremely patient while Scottish Water investigate the cause of the odour. I think they’re patience should now be rewarded by a clear commitment from Scottish Water to ensure that this issue is solved once and for all.”

MP Backs Campaign for Sight Loss Advisers

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is backing a campaign by sight loss charity RNIB to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss gets emotional support to come to terms with their condition.

Dame Anne attended the launch of The Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB)  new report ‘Being There When it Matters’, which is calling for every eye department in the UK to have access to a qualified sight loss adviser so that people are properly supported as they adapt to life with reduced or no vision. The current picture is bleak; only 30% of eye departments in the UK have access to a qualified sight loss adviser.

Sight loss advisers offer dedicated practical and emotional support. They can offer advice on everything from remaining in employment, to being more independent around the home and reducing the risk of falls whilst out and about. Recent research has revealed that sight loss advisers create significant financial savings for health and social care budgets with every £1 invested in the service delivering a return of £10.57.

The move comes as a new survey, commissioned by RNIB, reveals that 44% of UK adults said they feared losing their sight more than any other long-term health condition.

Adults in the UK are more afraid of losing their sight than they are of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease or having to use a wheelchair.

More than half of the 2,000 adults surveyed (53%) also said that they believed losing their sight would have a bigger impact on their life than other long-term health conditions, with nine in 10 saying they would lose their independence and eight in 10 concerned they would lose their job.

Dame Anne said: “I think that it is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality and timely support to help them to adapt to their sight loss.

“Sight loss can have a profound impact upon a person’s life. Without the right support people can become unnecessarily isolated and can struggle to adapt. I support RNIB’s campaign for every eye department to have access to sight loss adviser.”