Major expansion for Pension Tracing Service will help people find lost pension cash

The Pension Tracing Service that helps people find lost pension cash is undergoing a major expansion.

The free government service that helps people find lost pension cash is undergoing a major expansion, ahead of April’s ground-breaking pension freedoms.

The Newcastle-based Pension Tracing Service (PTS) will triple its number of staff – taking the total headcount to 49 – ahead of a rising number of calls from people seeking help to find lost pension pots.

Last year the service was contacted a record 145,000 times – double the amount in 2010 – and in an impressive 87% of cases, staff successfully managed to put customers back in touch with their lost pension provider.

With 98% of enquiries from members of the public dealt with in just 4 days, the government is determined to continue its excellent track record and do everything it can to ensure people have access to all of their money.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

“With people having an average of 11 different jobs during the course of their working lives, it can be very easy to lose track of pensions they may have built up with previous employers.

“If you contributed to a pension in a previous job and don’t have any details any more, it would be worth contacting our free PTS to see how you can be reunited with your lost pension pot.

“Whilst we have plans to help people combine their pension pots in future when they change jobs, there are still too many scattered and lost pensions, and we are working hard to make sure people get what they are entitled to.”

Jill Scott at the Pension Tracing Service said:

“Every day we take a huge amount of satisfaction through the work that we do in helping hundreds of people to track down money that is rightfully theirs. Helping people to find their hard-earned money means they can look forward to retirement in a much better position.

“While it may sound strange, losing track of a pension is easily done, as people tend to move around the jobs market far more frequently than might have been the case in the past.”

Independent research suggests that the most common reason for losing track of a pension is when an individual leaves an employer and does not keep them informed of any future changes of address.

Estimates suggest that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pension pots by 2050.

From April the PTS will be complemented by the government’s free and impartial service Pension Wise, which will offer guidance to people over 55 about how they can make the most of the new pension freedoms once they take effect.

Around 300,000 individuals a year will be able to access their defined contribution pension savings, and Pension Wise will be their first port of call.

It is expected that many customers will be referred to the PTS to track down lost cash.

N E Lincs Council: Helping you to drive safely in the winter weather

Cold, wintry weather is forecast into the first week of February and the North East Lincolnshire Council, working in partnership with Cofely, is well prepared to keep the borough moving.

Motorists are being warned that even treated routes can remain icy and they need to drive carefully when the temperatures drop.

The region experienced a cold day on Thursday (29 January) with a mixture of sunny intervals and bands of wintry showers, some of them heavy.

Road surface temperatures dropped quickly after the snow cleared and this led to icy patches forming on many roads.

The gritter drivers began treating the roads in the evening and were out again in the early hours ahead of Friday morning’s rush hour.

Main footpaths in busy town centre areas and some secondary routes have also been treated on Friday morning.

A map of the main routes treated by the council is available on the winter service pages of our website.

Main routes are treated first –these are the defined primary routes, principal roads, important bus and commuter routes and roads and junctions leading to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, major industrial sites and shopping centres.

There is more information about how the council treats roads on the winter service pages of our website.

Since the first road frost on 5 November last year, the council has carried out 45 precautionary salting runs and used 1,123 tonnes of salt.

Throughout the winter the team monitors predicted weather conditions closely.

Cold weather is set to continue and there is likely to be ice on the roads – take care while the temperatures are low.

Lots of winter weather information and advice is available on the council’s website, www.nelincs.gov.uk/winterservice.

There you can find details of everything from our main gritting routes and how much salt we’ve used to winter driving tips and advice on clearing your own footpaths.

You can also receive updates by following the council on Twitter, www.twitter.com@nelincs.

Visit www.nelincs.gov.uk/travel for live travel information, including gritting routes, and click on the alerts tab to register for email alerts for where you live.

One million trees planted during this Parliament

Liberal Democrats are celebrating the one millionth tree being planted this Parliament through the Big Tree Plant.

The Big Tree Plant is the first government tree planting initiative since the 1970s. Liberal Democrats in government are proud to have delivered this project which will leave a living, lasting legacy in communities across England.

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The national tree planting campaign, which was launched in 2010, brings together community groups with national organisations who already plant trees.

The campaign has been delivered through the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and has been supported by a £4m grant from the Forestry Commission to help communities plant trees in urban areas.

Half of the tree planted across the country have been in the one third most deprived or least green areas.

The scheme supports communities in establishing and maintaining green spaces in their local area so that trees will continue to be maintained and cared for by the communities that planted them.

Volunteer groups, wildlife trusts, community farms and urban regeneration projects are among the 160 organisations that have been successful in winning funding for their tree planting projects.

The planting of the one millionth tree shows how Liberal Democrats in government have been working with communities to plant more trees where they are wanted and needed.

Going green isn’t a luxury extra, it’s a necessary investment in our future

Green Laws Forest EnvironmentLiberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg discusses his vision for a greener Britain and a sustainable economic future.

The countdown has started. In 10 months time, the world will gather in Paris to agree a new legally binding global climate change agreement. It’s no exaggeration to say our future, and that of our children, depends on its success.

Of course, none of this is news to you. Yet, I believe it’s a truth that bears repeating as often and widely as possible.

The evidence of the global risk we face is clear, the science exhaustive and beyond doubt and, without a strong deal in Paris, the task ahead of us to reduce the world’s emissions and tackle climate change will only become more difficult with every year that goes by.

We are already running to catch up: the more we delay, the more the world’s poorest countries are hardest hit of all. For them, denying climate change isn’t an option. Its impact is all too plain to see on their doorstep, increasingly putting their families, homes and livelihoods at risk.

For us too, as a country, going green isn’t a luxury extra, but a necessary investment in our future.

In the years ahead, the only sustainable growth will be green growth. It’s a guarantee of jobs and prosperity for generations to come.

It’s a massive opportunity for Britain. We’re a competitive place to invest, a great place to do business and have a skilled, flexible workforce.

Most importantly, without that shift to low carbon, we put at risk the huge physical and psychological benefits, as well as the sheer joy, we gain from our natural environment. Once lost, it’s gone forever.

Green Energy Wind turbine

That’s why, in government, Liberal Democrats have always fought for an approach that doesn’t just look after today, but is also mindful of tomorrow; that doesn’t just deal with the fiscal deficit we inherited, but also the imbalances in how we treat the environment around us.

This includes reforming our electricity market to boost investment in low-carbon energy. Since 2010, we’ve more than doubled the share of electricity we generate from renewable sources – reaching nearly 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity at the end of 2013.

The UK is now a world leader in offshore wind, with more installed offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world. We’re also strengthening our global lead in wave and tidal technology. According to the latest Bloomberg estimates, clean energy investment in our country rose by 3 per cent last year, to just over £10bn.

To help each of us live our lives more sustainably, we’ve committed hundreds of millions pounds to drive forward green transport. This includes half a billion pounds to sharpen the UK’s competitive edge in the development and use of electric vehicles, and I recently announced an unprecedented £214m investment to develop the UK’s cycling networks.

We’re establishing a new generation of garden cities and all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016.

We’ve created the Natural Capital Committee to help protect our natural wealth. And, step by step, we’re preserving Britain’s natural landscape: creating marine conservation zones; securing the future of our woodlands – England now has 10 per cent wood land cover, it’s highest level in 600 years; and maintaining strong protections for the Green Belt, our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We’ve secured extra funding for Kew Gardens, fought hard to ensure England’s Coastal Path will be completed by 2020 and, to halt the blight of throwaway plastic bags, we’re introducing our 5p charge.

Critically, we’ve committed £3.87bn to the International Climate Fund to help developing countries protect their biodiversity and communities from the impacts of climate change also.

But this is just the start. Whatever the result on May 7, we need a clear commitment from all of the main parties to achieve a landmark global deal in Paris and secure Britain’s low carbon future.

This isn’t a job for the fainthearted. Climate Change has no respect for borders, job titles or the political divide. It demands leadership at a local, national and international level, and we all have a role to play – in politics, business and civil society.

It’s one of the central reasons why I believe the UK’s continued membership of the EU is so important. If we’re to safeguard the future for our children and their children, then we need to stand tall in the world.

That starts with us leading in Europe, working with our partners to deliver an ambitious green agenda in Paris and beyond. Together, our voices are louder and stronger.

So let’s keep pushing across all political parties for a greener world, a better future for our children and an ambitious agreement in Paris.

David Laws: More young people are continuing in education, employment or training

Thousands more students are staying in education or going on to employment or training, according to figures published today (27 January 2015).

The data shows that between October 2012 to March 2013 91% of pupils continued down 1 of these 3 routes after key stage 4 (normally 16 years old), rising from 89% the previous year – a total of 6,500 pupils.

Ensuring more young people leave education prepared for further study or the world of work is crucial to the government’s long-term economic plan.

The latest figures come at a time when the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) is at its lowest since consistent records began in 1994.

Destination measures are increasingly being seen as key to assessing how well schools and colleges prepare their students to make a successful transition into the next stage of education or training, or employment.

Today’s annual key stage 4 and key stage 5 destination measures, which predominantly cover the post-16 age group, are being released 6 months earlier than previous cohorts, showing the government’s commitment to improving the timeliness of the data.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

“It is crucial that parents have access to the information that lets them judge how well schools and colleges are preparing young people for the future.

“Today’s data show many examples of schools – including those in the most deprived parts of the country – which are ensuring their pupils are moving on to meaningful destinations.

“The figures are hugely satisfying, with thousands more pupils going on to further education, training or employment – showing the significant progress this coalition government has made in building a fairer society.

“At the same time there are some schools which could be doing more to make sure all their pupils can get on in life, and today’s data will be extremely valuable in helping hold those school leaders to account.”

The publication was also welcomed by Ofsted, which now takes into account a school’s destination data when considering the effectiveness of its careers advice for pupils in years 8 to 13.

Marina Gaze HMI, Ofsted Deputy Director for Further Education and Skills, said:

“We welcome the earlier publication of destination measures.

“The data helps to inform conversations between inspectors and schools and colleges about the progress students make into further and higher learning or employment.

“We particularly welcome the trend data this year.”

North East Lincolnshire to receive more than £6m Government funding

North East Lincolnshire Council has secured a further £6 million government funding to support major developments in the latest round of Growth Deals announced by the Government today (Thursday 29 Jan).

The new money will go towards four key projects:

  • Two projects to support the South Humber Industrial Infrastructure Programme (SHIIP) phase 1 in North East Lincolnshire
  • Junction improvements of the A1173 and Kiln Lane roundabout at Stallingborough
  • Regeneration of two key sites in central Cleethorpes

The bids for funding were put forward through both the Humber LEP and the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

More about the projects

Stallingborough Interchange Strategic Employment Site
The project will deliver junction improvements to the junction of the A1173 and Kiln Lane Roundabout at Stallingborough to unlock the first phase (13.6 hectares) of development of the Stallingborough Interchange strategic employment site. This site will be attractive to ports, logistics and manufacturing users as a result of its strategic location in close proximity to the Port of Immingham and A180. This will unlock the development of the first, 13.6 hectare phase of development on land to the south and east of this junction. This will facilitate the development of up to 54,000 sq.m of B2/B8 floorspace and 530 gross indirect jobs.

Central Cleethorpes Regeneration Programme
This project will strengthen the role of Cleethorpes town centre as the key driver of the visitor economy in North East Lincolnshire and will support efforts to encourage urban living. It will provide gap funding to accelerate the development of two pivotal gap sites in the town centre through Local Growth Fund support, alongside complementary investment proposals by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Council to promote the restoration/re-use of historic buildings and improving the quality of the public realm. The Central Cleethorpes Regeneration Programme will attracting new private sector investment and benefit local businesses, residents and visitors.

Humber Link Road Programme
Linked to the proposed development of the Great Coates Industrial Park, this project will see Moody Lane in Grimsby extended to the west to link with Hobson Way, joining the two port complexes together and make sites along the Humber bank more accessible. The project involves land acquisition and road construction.

Strategic Ecological Mitigation Sites
Many of the sites along the Humber bank have protected status for wildlife (SSSI, RAMSAR etc). This is can be seen a barrier to industrial development as incoming companies need to set aside space for habitat protection which can represent a significant, ‘up-front’ development cost. This bid is for a programme of proactive land acquisition along the South Humber bank to create appropriate wildlife habitats, to be managed in the future by local wildlife trusts. This will de-risk the future development of major employment sites along the A180 Corridor.

Supporting female prisoners through training and education opportunities

Liberal Democrat Justice minister Simon Hughes has highlighted the importance of rehabilitating female prisoners.

Work and educational opportunities are crucial to helping rehabilitate women offenders.

Commenting, Simon said:

” I’m not prepared to accept a situation where female offenders don’t have the chance to turn their lives around and support themselves and their families.

“As part of our reforms, all women’s prisons are to become resettlement prisons to keep women as close as possible to their homes and families, as well as prepare more effectively for their release back into their local community.

“We are also supporting female offenders through training and education opportunities in custody, as well as linking up with local employers to help more women find employment on release.”

Government expands Growth Deals with £1 billion of further investment

The government is expanding Growth Deals, with a further £1 billion of investment in local economies across England.

As part of its long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, the government is investing a further £1 billion in local economies across England by expanding the successful Growth Deals.

Agreement has been reached with all 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to expand significantly the Growth Deals that were struck last July. The funding, to be devolved from central government into the hands of local authorities, businesses, colleges and universities will help to train young people, create thousands of new jobs, build thousands of new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure project, including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.

Growth Deals are a revolution in the way our economy is run. For the first time ever, infrastructure, housing and other funding has been brought together in a single pot, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to invest with their knowledge of what is needed in their area to maximise their potential economic growth.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:

A quiet revolution is underway in regions across the country and Growth Deals signal the death of the culture where Whitehall calls the shots. I’ve seen for myself the difference it makes to give local areas real power over skills, over business support, and over infrastructure spending.

The coalition government has been relentless in our efforts to sort out the public finances and set firm foundations for growth. Growth Deals help create a stronger economy and a fairer society by boosting local economies, and providing more jobs, better transport and affordable homes.

Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, said:

For Britain to fulfill its potential every part of the country must be an engine of growth. Our successful programme of City Deals and Growth Deals has put power and resources into the hands of local leaders. This billion-pound expansion of Growth Deals fuels the momentum that is now underway in our local economies.

Major projects

Some of the major projects that are being taken forward as part of the expansion of Growth Deals are:

Improving infrastructure and unlocking developments which will create thousands of new homes

These include:

  • £17 million investment in improvements to the A2300 Burgess Hill link road which will relieve congestion and enable a significant housing development and £15.8 million towards the multi-year transport project in Fareham and Gosport, which will improve access to this area and the Solent Enterprise Zone. In addition, this investment will support the proposed development of 6,000 homes at Welborne.
  • The Tolgus and Barncoose junction improvement project (£5.9 million matched with £1.7 million) will create a gateway between Redruth and Camborne in Cornwall, unlocking access for over 600 homes, 5,000 square metres of commercial space and the Kresen Kernow cultural project.
  • The first phase of the development of the Lincolnshire Lakes scheme that will ultimately deliver 6,000 new homes, delivering the first of 5 large lakes, surrounded by watercourses, sustainable drainage systems and green infrastructure corridors creating 310 new homes, 150 new jobs and £2 million leverage.
  • Around £6 million to help to bring forward sites for housing and jobs in the Black Country, including £2.3 million in Sandwell, and £0.4 million towards the development of Walsall Waterfront.

Millions of pounds for projects around the country to boost the skills that local businesses say they need

These projects include:

  • £8.7 million investment in Greater Birmingham and Solihull to create new training facilities, in Solihull and Birmingham, helping to address skills shortages in key sectors of the local economy
  • £25 million (£5 million plus £20 million local match funding) towards the development of a National Maritime Systems Centre of Excellence in Portsmouth. This centre will focus on maritime and marine capabilities, safeguard and create jobs as well as increasing exports.
  • £18.3 million for new innovation and training centres in New Anglia to allow more people to get the skills they need for jobs in growth sectors including energy, engineering, technology and advanced manufacturing. This includes £3 million for an aviation academy which brings together the public and private sectors to support young people to develop skills, including 80 apprenticeships a year to train staff in the full range of aviation skills. This not only helps businesses, but also young people who might struggle to get a job.
  • £5 million for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at Nottingham University, which has match funding from the University and industry of £95 million. This project will train more than 3,000 manufacturing engineers and deliver research and knowledge exchange worth £60 million.

Investment in innovation and new technologies to enable cities and communities to compete globally

This includes:

  • £4.5 million to establish a Very Light Rail Innovation Centre in the Black Country which will help to create new public transport technologies for the future
  • £2.6 million to support the development of a new technology to bring motorway and local road traffic systems together, using cloud based systems, to improve local journey times, by giving drivers live traffic information
  • £4 million to expand Engine Shed in Bristol, the highly successful business incubation facility. This investment will provide further incubation and grow on space for high tech companies. This investment will be matched with £5 million of local funding.

Funding for broadband networks in areas where provision is not currently available, such as remote or rural areas

This includes £6 million for the Heart of the South West that will contribute towards tackling the next 5% of premises in hard to reach areas (matched with £6 million of local funding) and £3.6 million for Cumbria to extend availability of Superfast Broadband to an additional 5,000 premises.

Lord Heseltine said:

The first round of Growth Deals proved that this model can work well, and this further set of deals demonstrates the government’s commitment to driving growth. The work that this government is doing through these deals represents the most bottom-up approach to growth that I have seen in my life time, and the opportunity that it offers to local areas to drive their own agenda is huge.

Alex Pratt, Chair of the LEP Network Management Board said:

This expansion of growth deals with another £1 billion of projects is very welcome and a further vote of confidence in LEPs and the importance local decisions setting the priorities for economic growth. The partnership of local business and local authorities continues to strengthen as more responsibilities are passed to them and LEPs remain focused on delivering these projects for the benefit of local communities.

New survey shows NHS satisfaction rates have ‘risen significantly’

According to analysis of the influential British Social Attitudes survey, public satisfaction with the NHS has “risen significantly” with 65% of  2,000 people surveyed saying they are “very” or “quite” satisfied with the NHS.

This is the second highest recorded level, and outright “dissatisfaction” is at an all-time low of 15%.

The British Social Attitudes survey which took place in the autumn, well before the widely reported problems in A&E this winter, showed the rate of satisfaction at 65% compared with 60% in 2013.

The analysis of the data, by the King’s Fund health think tank, showed:

  • GPs had the highest level of satisfaction, although the figure of 71% is the lowest recorded
  • Satisfaction in A&E stood at 58% and at 69% in out-patient services
  • Dentists were rated at 54%
  • 31% said they were happy with social care services

Overall satisfaction fell from 70% in 2010 to 58% in 2011, the fall coinciding with the reaction to reforms in England.

John Appleby, the chief economist at the King’s Fund, said:

“Public satisfaction with the NHS is high and has risen significantly, despite a year in which the service hit the headlines for financial pressures and difficulties with A&E waiting times.

“But as well as an actual increase in satisfaction, this may in part reflect a desire among the public to show support for the NHS as an institution.”

There is a wide variation in the level of satisfaction in England, Scotland and Wales.

Wales scored the lowest in terms of satisfaction with 51% reporting they were either very or quite satisfied, compared to

65% in England and 75% in Scotland, where there has been a rise over the past year.

Commenting on the findings, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“I welcome these findings, which show that public satisfaction with the NHS jumped five percentage points just last year, and levels of dissatisfaction are now at a record low.

“These results are a tribute to hardworking NHS staff, who are unstinting in their efforts to ensure patients receive a world-class service.”

Dr Mark Porter, from the British Medical Association, said:

“It is clear from this survey that patients continue to value the NHS and the hardworking contribution of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

“This survey shows that NHS staff all go the extra mile to ensure that patients are the last to suffer from the impact of the pressures on the health service.

“All parts of the NHS are struggling with ever increasing patient demand, staff shortages and insufficient resources.

“Key areas, such as an A&E and GP services, are under particular stress and in some cases are close to breaking point.”

 

Please read and share – to help prevent the elderly being taken advantage of

Over the past weeks an elderly resident in Humberside has been duped by a man who is alleged to have systematically targeted her, telling her that she need jobs doing in her home, the ‘workman’ has then alleged to have charge excessive amounts of money for these very small jobs.

Police are investigating this crime but want to try and avoid this happening to anyone else.
Humberside Police are appealing for anyone who has an elderly relative or knows a vulnerable adult to make sure they are aware of this type of crime.
HAS ANYONE ELSE BEEN TRICKED BY A BOGUS WORKMAN?  PLEASE REPORT IT TO THE POLICE BY CALLING 101.
To deliberately bully or pressure an elderly or vulnerable person into buying an over-inflated service on their own door step is a crime.
The police call unregistered tradesmen who offer poor quality services at over inflated prices as ‘rogue traders’ and are clamping down on this type of crime.
The majority of the bogus traders who have targeted East Riding victims are our older and vulnerable residents, and quiet often the victims feel ashamed or embarrassed that they were tricked into taking a service they did not need and fell for their ‘hard sale’.
Neighbourhood Policing Chief Inspector James Glansfield, said:
“Rogue Traders can often look respectful, but are deceitful, this is how so many people fall for their sales pitch. When an offer seems too good to be true it often is”
“Generally speaking it is very rare these days for genuine traders to cold call, but if you do come across this there are certain rules they have to abide by:
They must give 7 days cancellation notice
Give a written quote
Have a contact telephone number and more importantly, a contact address.
No money should be exchanged prior to the work being carried out. If the trades person offers to take you to the bank, threatens, intimidates or is aggressive towards you, you should call the police immediately.
“Please could I ask, if you have contact with elderly residents either in your profession or in your personal life, please pass on the above information. Unfortunately these people pray on the elderly and vulnerable, taking hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds off the elderly.
“It is unfair, fraudulent and against the law.”