I have been proud of the response of our local organisations to the suffering of the Ukrainian people due to Putin’s unprovoked war. From Hull4Heroes to UNISON, people have stepped up to the plate to do whatever they can to help. It is estimated that 4 million refugees have now left Ukraine for Europe. Over 200,000 households in the UK have offered a place to Ukrainian refugees, nearly all of whom are women and children. However, the Government have admitted this week that only 1 in 100 of those offers has been taken up. This is disappointing and I will continue to push for more in Parliament.
Work Hull, Work Happy
Two years ago, very few people had heard of Zoom and Teams, much less used them. Now they are an every day part of many people’s lives. Remote working has opened up new possibilities and I want to make sure the people of Hull and its businesses benefit from them. Although we learnt during the pandemic that remote working is no barrier to productivity there were downsides. Not everyone has the space in their home or access to all the facilities of a conventional office. Isolation was also a problem for some. In response to this companies are now offering office space for individuals, and “hot desking” and “co-working” have become the new buzzwords.
I launched the Work Hull, Work Happy project this month to connect workers with local businesses offering flexible digital office space, and to promote Hull as a the remote-working capital of the UK. We have the best network of high-speed fibre broadband in the country, a relatively low cost of living and housing and a top university. The launch was a great success and was attended by representatives of key businesses from across the region along with Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor.
Whether you have lived in Hull all your life, come here to study, want to down-size, or are a business looking to recruit the talent you need, Work Hull Work Happy wants to change the way people think about what’s possible in the city. You can find out more here https://www.workhull.com/
The Spring Statement and the Poverty Premium
The cost of living crisis is on all of our minds at the moment and I was very disappointed that the Chancellor’s Spring Statement offered so little to those in work and nothing to those who aren’t.
It has brought what is known as the “Poverty Premium” to the attention of more people. When it was explained to me, I realised there were parts of it I had been aware of but hadn’t put it all together. Basically, the Poverty Premium is about how many day-to-day essentials cost more if you are hard-up. For example, if you’re income varies month to month and you can’t commit to direct debit for fuel bills you pay more. The same applies to pre-payment meter rates. If you have insecure income or a non-salaried job and need a loan or credit card, your interest rates are higher. Any time you can’t afford to pay up front – especially insurance – then instalments are always more expensive. This all adds up. A study by Fair by Design shows that some households in places like Hull face a poverty premium equivalent to 14 weeks of food shopping a year or £478. I have been supporting Fair by Design’s campaign in Parliament and as a member of the Treasury Select Committee. As the cost of living is rising quickly we need real action from Government and a fair deal for everyone.
There are estimated to be 850,000 people eligible for Pension Credit who are not claiming it. Pension Credit can be claimed alongside the State Pension and private pensions and tops up income to a guaranteed minimum. It also gives access to a range of other benefits.
Age UK has a step-by-step guide here: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements/pension-credit/
Or you can call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 (textphone: 0800 169 0133). They can fill in the application over the phone.
Please share this with anyone you think might be eligible, it could make all the difference.
Butterfly City Week
The buckthorn give-away week at the end of February I talked about in the last newsletter went ahead and all 1,500 plants were taken, with demand exceeding supply, so we shall be looking to repeat it next year. Before then, Butterfly City hope to hold more events in the summer helping people to do more to encourage butterflies to thrive in our city.
The launch event at Chiltern Primary had to be postponed because of the storms. On the day it was rescheduled, Ed Miliband, the Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero was due to be in Hull so I invited him along and he said yes. This time the sun was shining and Ed and I, along with Lynn Petrini the Mayor, had a lovely time talking to the children and helping them to plant the buckthorns in the school grounds.
Support for the Humber Rescue Boat
As a Hessle resident the foreshore is a great place to take my children for some fresh air and to enjoy the views of the bridge and the river. Occasionally, we might have the excitement of seeing the Humber Rescue Boat launched.
It is the busiest independent lifeboat in the United Kingdom, averaging 110 callouts a year and often working in co-ordination with Humberside Police and Hull Coastguard Rescue Team. Like all other lifeboats in this country, they rely on donations from the public to undertake their life-saving work. Until very recently, they had no national voice beyond that of constituency MPs.
However, the National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA) has now been founded, registered and approved by the Charity Commission and I am delighted to say that Humber Rescue has already become a member. I have written a letter to the Minister of Transport, Grant Schapps, in support of this new organisation and the work that Humber Rescue does. I also asked him to reinstate the Rescue Boat Grant Fund which was closed by Government in 2020 after running successfully for six years and providing vital funds for new equipment and estate.
As always, let me know what you think to this newsletter, particularly if you’ve got something that I should talk about in future editions. If I’m your MP and you need to talk to me at any time, you can call my office on 01482 219211.
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Have a great day everyone