Bedroom tax – it’s not too late to scrap it

Commenting on his campaign to scrap the so-called “bedroom tax”, West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, is urging fellow opponents not to give up in the battle to scrap the tax.

Mr George took part in a Commons debate last week.  He had urged the Labour Party to use the opportunity of Parliamentary time to press the Government to bring forward a measure to help him unblock his “Axe the Bedroom Tax” Bill, which has been adjourned at Committee Stage since November.  Mr George expressed regret that Labour chose instead to use valuable Parliamentary time for an inconsequential debate which “would merely re-rehearse the now well established disagreements, but would change nothing”.

Mr George said after the debate:

“It’s not too late.  As the already strong campaign grows with thousands of supporters around the country signing the petition, we can put pressure on the Conservatives to grant my Bill the Money Resolution it needs to get it moving in time and to get through both Houses of Parliament before the General Election in May.

“In politics we should work together, where we agree, to help people; not just use Parliament to score points and help no-one.

“I have always voted against the Tory “bedroom tax” – and against the “bedroom tax” in the private rented sector which Labour presided over when they were in Government.  It is unfortunate that Labour misjudged matters last week.  They had a chance to either help people or to merely score party political points.  Unfortunately they chose the latter.  It’s not too late to retrieve this situation before the next General Election.”


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Over 70 NHS heroes are fighting Ebola this Christmas

The government extends a special thanks to the doctors, nurses and health specialists from across the UK who will spend Christmas Day in Sierra Leone helping to treat Ebola patients, Development Secretary Justine Greening said today (22 December 2014).

More than 70 NHS volunteers have travelled to the West African country directly to work in British-built treatment centres, while many more are working with local hospitals and community centres on the ground, supported by UK aid.

Video: British medics on the frontline of Ebola

Doctor Stacey Mearn’s – On the frontline of Ebola

Their efforts are part of the £230 million UK effort to contain, control and finally defeat the disease in Sierra Leone.

Nurse Donna Wood joined the first wave of NHS volunteers to work directly in the British-built treatment centres.

Since arriving in Freetown on 7 December, Wood has undergone training in the hot, oppressive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits that form the only barrier between the health workers and the disease.

With temperatures in Sierra Leone regularly topping 30°C, someone who spends just one hour in the PPE suit can lose over a litre of water due to the heat.

Since completing the training she has been treating patients in an Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town, just outside the capital Freetown. The British-built and British-funded centre, which opened last month, is being run by Save the Children.

Nurse Wood said:

Working on the Ebola response has and continues to be a huge challenge. It is often physically and emotionally draining. However on the occasions that you witness patients recover and be discharged home to their grateful families it makes it totally worthwhile.

From the day I arrived in country almost four weeks ago I have been amazed by the positive atmosphere here. The local people have been so friendly and welcoming and are truly grateful to us for being here.

Being away from my family this Christmas is just a small sacrifice that the people here in Sierra Leone are worthy of.

Doctor Stacey Mearns has been volunteering with the King’s Health Partners on the isolation ward at Connaught Hospital, Freetown since October – backed by British aid.

She was determined to help however she could and understands the commitment of her colleagues through the Christmas period.

Dr Mearns said:

I have a real love for Sierra Leone and felt devastated by what was happening here.

There is nowhere else I would rather be in the world right now. I just want to be here, doing whatever I can to contribute to the response

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

While many of us wind down over Christmas, hundreds of Brits will be carrying on the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone. The disease continues to claim the lives of men, women and children every day.

These NHS heroes, like Donna, spending Christmas on the Ebola treatment wards are an absolutely essential part of our efforts to contain, control and defeat this terrible disease. I’m sure I speak for the British public in offering them our thanks for the vital work they are doing this Christmas.

There have now been over 8,000 reported cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Nearly 2,500 people have succumbed to the disease.

The deployment of NHS volunteers is one part of the UK’s £230 million response to the Ebola response in Sierra Leone. This response includes:

  • supporting more than 700 treatment beds to help up to 8,800 patients over 6 months
  • shoring up the country’s stretched public health services to help contain the disease. This includes vital supplies such as chlorine and protective clothing for thousands of health workers
  • training over 4,000 healthcare workers, logisticians and hygienists including Sierra Leonean Army and Prison staff, led by UK military personnel who ran the UK-led Ebola Training Academy in Freetown
  • opening up to 200 Community Care Centres where people who suspect they might be suffering from the disease can seek swift and accurate diagnosis and appropriate care
  • building, running and staffing three new labs in Sierra Leone to help check the spread of the deadly Ebola virus and double the number of tests that can be carried out every day
  • supporting charities on the ground to work with people to agree practices which will allow them to honour their friends and relatives, while ensuring bodies are safely buried
  • doubling the number of burial teams in Freetown – and providing over a hundred across the country. With UK support IFRC burial teams in Sierra Leone’s western area, which accounts for approximately a third of the country’s population, are now burying 100% of reported bodies within 24 hours.

Humberside Police work with partners to tackle domestic violence this Christmas

As part of Humberside Police’s Operation Yuletide this festive period, Humberside Police and partners are continuing their work combating domestic violence this Christmas with work on-going through the festive period.

Extra resources are made available, so that officers and support agencies can act immediately to respond to calls for service which are of a domestic violence nature throughout December into early 2015.
Police staff and officers will be available to answer calls and manage investigations swiftly and effectively, and sign post all of the relevant parties to specialist support services where applicable. Please note the services are not only free and confidential, but that they can be approached without police involvement.
Detective Inspector Craig Nicholson from the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “It is vital that people contact us or one of our partner agencies if they feel they are victims of domestic abuse or domestic violence or they are questioning their behaviour towards their partner or spouse. We can offer support, and more importantly, prosecute without the victim having to go through the court process.
“Christmas is a stressful time for everyone, so we want people to realise that actions and comments which may be conceived as insignificant or someone just experiencing a ‘bad day’, could quite easily turn into something a lot more sinister, if it is left to develop over time.
“We want people to recognise that certain behaviour is just not acceptable and offenders will be brought to justice. Harming someone, either emotionally or physically, is not love. It’s abuse.”
If you, or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please contact one of the agencies below – free, confidential and approachable without police involvement.
Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership
Confidential, practical and emotional support including one to one work and group work for domestic abuse victims/survivors.
Contact: (01482) 318759
You can also access the Hull DAP

Domestic Abuse Partnership (D Div).

Website at

Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership Male Support Service
Confidential, practical and emotional support.
Contact: (01482) 613978
Strength to Change
For men who want to address their abusive behaviour in their relationships.
Contact: (01482) 613403
East Riding of Yorkshire
Domestic Violence and Abuse Partnership
Confidential, practical and emotional support
(01482) 396330
North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire
It’s My Right
Confidential, practical and emotional support
0800 197 47 87
You can also access the It’s My Right website at
For further advice on keeping yourself and property safe in the run up to Christmas visit our virtual advent calendar which was launched at the beginning of the month Behind each window of the calendar you will find useful messages, images and videos that are aimed at helping to keep you safe and sound throughout the holiday season.
We will also be talking about our campaigns and operations on Twitter and Facebook so follow us @Humberbeat and look out for the hashtag #xmascrime, like our page

85,000 troubled families have had their lives turned around

The government’s Troubled Families programme has now helped turn around the lives of over 85,000 of the hardest to help households, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced today (22 December 2014).

With over 99% of families the Prime Minister pledged to support now being actively worked with, councils have had payments-by-results made for over two-thirds of their families.

This means that in 85,303 troubled families in England:

  • children have been back in school for a year when they were previously truant or excluded
  • youth crime and anti-social behaviour has been significantly cut across the whole family
  • or an adult in the home has moved off benefits and into work for 3 months or more

Bristol has turned around all 1,355 of its troubled families and Nottingham has done the same with 1,200 of its. Liverpool has helped 1,987 of the 2,105 it promised to get back on track.

The success of the programme means that a second wave of councils are now beginning work with more families ahead of schedule, and up to 40,000 additional families can begin to be helped by dedicated workers in this financial year in the highest-performing areas.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

The Troubled Families programme demonstrates exactly what our long-term economic plan means for people.

New opportunities for families to turn their lives around and make something of themselves; more economic security for local communities blighted by worklessness; and more economic stability for taxpayers, as we reduce the bills for social failure and get this country living within its means.

It’s a triple-win; an amazing programme; and we’re going to extend its reach as far as possible.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

I helped establish the Troubled Families programme because improving the lives of society’s most vulnerable is one of the best ways to achieve our aim of a stronger economy and fairer society.

I am proud that this programme is delivering real results, having helped turn around the lives of families by putting children back into school, cutting anti-social behaviour, and moving adults into work.

It’s great news that more than 85,000 troubled families in England have seen real, tangible improvements in their lives thanks to this programme, and that 99% of eligible families are now being actively worked with.

Head of the Troubled Families programme Louise Casey CB said:

To have turned around the lives of over 85,000 troubled families – who have an average of 9 serious problems each – in 2 and a half years is a credit to the councils, the frontline staff and most of all to the families themselves.

This programme works because it is joined up and it seeks to simplify things rather than make them more complicated. It focuses on whatever it takes to do what really matters: getting kids into school, the toughest families out of trouble with the police and adults into a position where they can find a job.


Further information

The Troubled Families programme applies to England only. Local authorities are paid up to £4,000 on a payment-by-results basis for turning around troubled families. The government’s £448 million 3-year budget for 2012 to 2015 is drawn from 6 Whitehall departments who all stand to benefit from the public sector working more effectively with troubled families.

Troubled families are defined as those who:

  • are involved in youth crime or anti-social behaviour
  • have children who are excluded from school or regularly truanting
  • have an adult on out-of-work benefits
  • cost the public sector large sums in responding to their problems, an estimated average of £75,000 per year without intervention

Turning around troubled families means:

  • getting children back into school
  • cutting youth crime and anti-social behaviour across the whole family
  • getting adults into work
  • reducing the costs to the taxpayer of tackling their problems

See full details of the government’s payment by results framework for troubled families.

The figures from local authorities on progress within the government’s Troubled Families programme have been collated from the latest quarterly returns submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Troubled Families team from all 152 upper tier local authorities in England in August 2014. These do not constitute official statistics.

The Understanding Troubled Families report showed that families within the programme have an average of 9 different serious problems including health and mental health, domestic violence and debt.

At the Spending Review last year it was announced that the Troubled Families programme would be expanded to work with up to 400,000 more families. This publication explains how that figure was calculated.


Get the Facts on Free School Meals

Every five, six and seven year old in England is now receiving a free school meal everyday. This is one of the most important changes in our education system for a generation.

A hot, healthy meal at lunch time greatly improves the health, behaviour and results of schoolchildren, providing them with their best start in life, enabling every child to fulfil their potential. Have a look at the factsheet to see the benefits of school meals:



Does it work?

Early evidence shows that free school meals make a real difference in our classrooms. They were first piloted by the Department of Education and Department of Health in 2009. These pilots found clear benefits: on average children in the pilots areas were found to be ahead of their peers. These findings were then backed up by the Government’s School Food Plan – a report published in 2013.

What about other primary school children?

The Liberal Democrats have also said that it is our aspiration to expand the policy to give free school meals to every primary school pupil in England. We are putting this aspiration in our manifesto for the 2015 General Election.

Is it worth the money?

At a time where money is tight, this policy is saving families over £400 per child, every year. Free school meals help all pupils do better in English and Maths, no matter which social group they belong to, and they will help the four in ten children who live in poverty to fulfil their potential.

Have schools got the support they need?

We’ve provided £150m to upgrade school kitchens and dining rooms, on top of a billion pounds of new money to fund the meals. We’ve also made the policy law to give schools certainty that it will be a lasting change in our schools system. As of September 2014, over 98% of schools were delivering a hot meal every day to all children aged 5-7.

Benefit payment dates at Christmas and the New Year

Benefits are usually paid straight into your bank, building society or credit union current account – if you don’t have one you could get paid using a Post Office card account.

If your payment is due on a bank holiday, you’ll be paid on the last working day before the holiday.

Payment dates at Christmas and the new year

Payment due date When you’ll be paid
24, 25, 26 December 2014 24 December
1 January 2015 31 December 2014
2 January 2015 (England and Wales) 2 January 2015
2 January 2015 (Scotland only) 31 December 2014

How often you’re paid

Benefit How often it’s paid
Attendance Allowance Usually every 4 weeks
Basic State Pension Usually every 4 weeks
Carer’s Allowance Weekly in advance, or every 4 or 13 weeks
Child Benefit Usually every 4 weeks – or weekly if you’re a single parent or you or your partner get certain benefits. Bank holiday payment dates may be different.
Disability Living Allowance Usually every 4 weeks
Employment and Support Allowance Usually every 2 weeks
Jobseeker’s Allowance Usually every 2 weeks
Pension Credit Usually every 4 weeks
Personal Independence Payment Usually every 4 weeks
Tax credits, eg Working Tax Credits Every 4 weeks or weekly. Check your payment date if you’re paid every 4 weeks. Bank holiday payment dates may be different.
Universal Credit Every month

How your benefits are paid

You’ll be asked for your bank, building society or credit union current account details when you claim. You can only get paid in a different way if you have problems opening or managing an account.

Child Benefit, Guardian’s Allowance and Tax Credits

The money can’t be paid into:

  • Child Trust Fund accounts
  • children’s accounts
  • business and building society accounts that use a passbook
  • National Savings and Investments (NS&I) accounts (apart from NS&I Investment Accounts and Direct Saver Accounts)
  • some mortgage accounts
  • a Nationwide account in someone else’s name

ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) have limits on the amount of money that can be paid into them. It’s recommended you don’t use these for Child Benefit.

Post Office card account

These accounts are specifically designed for you to receive benefits, state pension and tax credits.

No other income can be paid into your Post Office card account, eg your salary.

Open a Post Office card account

To open an account you’ll need:

  • to contact the office that pays your benefit
  • proof of identity, eg a passport
  • proof of where you’re living, eg a recent bill with your name and address on it

If you don’t have a bank or Post Office card account, contact the office that pays your benefit to find out how to get your benefits paid.

Paying back benefits

You can repay benefits and allowances you get but feel you don’t need.

Write to the department that paid the benefit. Their address will be on any letter you’ve received from them.

Include a cheque made payable to the department, along with your National Insurance number and details of the payment, eg the date and the amount.

You can only repay tax credits or Child Benefit if you’ve been overpaid.

Christmas and New Year’s local transport arrangements for N E Lincs

Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes

Wednesday December 24th (Christmas Eve) – A normal Wednesday service will run until early evening.

Thursday December 25th (Christmas Day) – No buses will run.

Friday December 26th (Boxing Day) – Special buses will run hourly on routes 3, 4, 5 and 10. No other buses will run.

Saturday 27th December – Saturday Service.

Sunday December 28th – Sunday Service.

Monday December 29th – Saturday services will run on all routes except 1, 2, 20 and 25 which will run a normal Monday to Friday Service.

Tuesday December 30th – Saturday services will run on all routes except 1, 2, 20 and 25 which will run a normal Monday to Friday Service.

Wednesday December 31st (New Years Eve) – A normal Wednesday service will run until early evening.

Thursday January 1st (New Year’s Day) – No services will run.

Friday January 2nd – Saturday services will run on all routes except 1, 2, 20 and 25 which will run a normal Monday to Friday Service.

Services will be back to normal from Saturday 3 January

Phone n Ride

24th December – Operating as normal

25th December – No Service (Christmas Day)

26th December- No Service (Boxing Day)

27th December – Operating as normal

28th December – No Service (Sunday)

29th December – Operating as normal

30th December – Operating as normal

31st December – Operating as normal

1st January – No Service (New Years Day)

2nd – January – Operating as normal

Dial A Ride

24th December – Operating as normal

25th December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

26th December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

27th December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

28th December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

29th December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

30th December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

31st December – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

1st January – Limited Service – only TWO buses running

2nd – January – Operating as normal

Local Train Information

If you are planning to travel on local train services in the late afternoon or evening of Christmas Eve or New Years Eve please contact National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 or visit

North East Lincolnshire Council cannot be responsible for any problems caused by errors or changes in information given.

Contact Details

Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes – 0345 605 0605

Phone n Ride – 01472 324440

Dial A Ride – 01472 269199

Traveline – 0871 200 22 33

National Rail Enquiries – 08457 48 49 50

Citizens Advice: Four in five deterred by employment tribunal fees

According to Citizens Advice, people are being put off holding unfair employers to account by too-high fees and a lack of awareness about support.

New evidence from Citizens Advice reveals just under half of people with an employment issue would have to save for six months to afford tribunal fees of £1,200. The findings are from a Citizens Advice survey of people with employment problems.

In July 2013 the Government introduced fees to access the employment tribunal. The latest official figures released last week show a 66% reduction in applications.

The Government introduced fees in order to incentivise earlier settlements, ease the cost to taxpayers and bring the employment tribunal in line with other justice systems.

The new findings out today are based on a survey of 361 people who have been having problems at work. The Citizens Advice report, Fairer fees: Fixing the employment tribunal system, finds:

  • More than four in five (82%) said the current fee prices would make them less likely to claim or deter them from claiming altogether.
  • The income of people with employment troubles highlighted the problems with the level of fees. Over four in ten (43%) had a household income of less than £46 a week after essential bills.
  • Only three in ten (30%) were aware of eligible financial support for those on low incomes. Half who thought they weren’t eligible actually were.
  • Over half (53%) didn’t know what they could get out of making a claim and therefore whether it was financially worth their while.
  • Four in five (80%) said they raised issues with their employer before taking further action.

The research also showed that whilst people were put off by too-high fees, a clear majority would be willing to pay a fee. Nine in ten (90%) said they would not be put off by a £50 fee.

Citizens Advice  wants fees to be aligned with county court fees to widen access. This would stop people losing out to unfair employers and avoid ‘justice tourism’ where people use less appropriate more affordable county courts.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice  said:

“The employment tribunal system is imbalanced against claimants. Fees are pricing people out of basic workplace rights and a justice system that is supposed to protect them. Unfair dismissals, employers withholding wages and discrimination are problems that Citizens Advice is unfortunately hearing about all too often.

“Many claims go unheard as people simply can’t afford to pursue it and there’s a real risk that if they do employers still won’t pay up. Claims are often for amounts below the fees so this leaves some having to concede valid claims.

“It is concerning that people are often unsure on what they are entitled to claim and so find it difficult to judge whether or not to pursue a case. We know that some must save for months to afford a tribunal. People must be made aware of the help and support available to them if they are on low incomes.

“The Government needs to take an urgent look again at how the fee system benefits those workers who feel the prices are a barrier to justice.”

Citizens Advice is calling on the Government to:

Set employment tribunal fees in line with county court fees to widen access. This would stop ‘justice tourism’ which occurs when people use less appropriate county courts because the fees are more affordable. Currently people pay more to get job justice than they would to get compensation for a faulty good in the small claims court.

Promote awareness of the remissions system, and consider renaming it to make its function clearer. We found that only three in ten were aware that remissions were available. They should be renamed full and partial fee reductions and should be better promoted. should develop a web tool allow people to check whether they would be eligible for full or partial fee reductions. Claimants must read a 32 page document to check their eligibility.

Commission research to get a clear picture for the first time of claims that are really weak or spurious. Currently the system is imbalanced against claimants, and this cannot be fully restored without knowing what puts off weak and genuine claims. The research should establish what proportion of employment tribunal claims can be considered unjustified and what measures could be taken to protect employers without deterring legitimate claims.

£12m to help people with mental health issues return to work

Liberal Democrats in government have announced a further £12 million investment to help people with mental health conditions get back into work.

This ties in with the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to bringing treatment for mental health problems out of the shadows and in line with physical health.

You can back our campaign to help us stamp out the stigma attached to mental health here.

The funding will be used in four pilot areas to test whether better coordination of mental health and employment services can help people to find and stay in work, whilst improving their mental health.

The pilot areas include Blackpool, Greater Manchester, North East Combined Authority and West London Alliance. They will trial a number of approaches, including:

  • Support packages to help claimants create bespoke action plans and coordinate exisiting local support services
  • Support for new employees to make sure they can stay in work and cope with anxiety and other ongoing problems
  • Training employment advisors to identity mental health problems and for GPs to recognise the importance of work in improving mental health

Nick Clegg said:

“It is shocking to think that mental health is now the leading cause of illness in the workplace. It’s even more shocking that many of the people suffering are simply not getting the support they need.

“That’s why I’m working hard in government to bring mental health out of the shadows. I’m heading up a dedicated mental health taskforce and pushing for investment in pilots like this to help create a fairer society where people get the right support and treatment they need, when they need it.”

Going out on a work Christmas night out or reveling with Friends? Make it a night to remember for the right reasons

As part of Humberside Police’s Operation Yuletide this festive period, party goers are being urged to make sure they stay safe on their big festive nights out.

The festive period is a great time to socialise with friends and work colleagues in the run up to Christmas. Unfortunately these nights can lead to revelers drinking excessively which leave them vulnerable of becoming victims of crime and occasionally leading to serious assaults and sexual assaults.
As usual high visibility policing patrols will be working in drinking hotspots across Humberside in partnership with multi-agency partners and licensed premises in order to keep the public safe. The aim of this partnership working is to ensure we support people who may be vulnerable and positively deal with a small minority of people who misbehave. In addition we have distributed crime prevention advice to members of the public on how to stay safe on a night out.
To support us in keeping you safe we are urging you to adopt the following crime prevention advice for your Christmas nights out:
• Do not leave your drinks unattended or accept drinks from strangers as this could lead to your drink being spiked.
• Stay with your friends on nights out as there is safety in numbers and try to avoid arguments – people often say things they regret or become more aggressive while drinking
• Plan your journey home in advance by arranging to book a taxi home or making use of any night bus services. Never work home alone.
• Never use an unregistered taxi.
• Do not drink and drive or travel with anyone drinking and driving
• Remember to alternate your drinks with soft drinks as these will help you stay hydrated.
• Make sure you wrap up appropriately for a night out.
For further advice on keeping yourself and property safe in the run up to Christmas visit our virtual advent calendar which was launched at the beginning of the month Behind each window of the calendar you will find useful messages, images and videos that are aimed at helping to keep you safe and sound throughout the holiday season.
We will also be talking about our campaigns and operations on Twitter and Facebook so follow us @Humberbeat and look out for the hashtag #xmascrime, like our page