Luciana Berger helps launch Liverpool City Council’s support for Credit Unions in Lodge Lane in 2012
New figures from the Money Advice Service (MAS) show that around 40 per cent of people in Liverpool are struggling with debt. This is one of the highest figures in the country.
The MAS, which co-ordinates money advice services across the country, found that just one in six adults experiencing debt difficulties are seeking help, while 40 per cent said they don’t feel able to talk to the firms and organisations they owe money to.
Getting free high-quality debt advice as early as possible is really important. The Citizens Advice Bureau offers online information here and urges people to get in touch with it for face-to-face advice and support.
The Greater Merseyside Money Advice Partnership also provides face-to-face support. You can get in touch with them on: 0151 477 6023.
Over half of the people in debt are in work, highlighting once again the depths of the cost-of-living crisis people are experiencing.
Prices are still rising faster than wages and for most people there is no feeling of recovery at all.
This week, the government will produce the Autumn Statement setting out its economic priorities. Labour has been clear about our priorities:
- an energy price freeze and proper reforms to reset our energy market;
- an extension of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week;
- action to build houses and boost our long-term housing supply;
- and a compulsory jobs guarantee for young-people and the long-term unemployed.
The government finally agreed to Labour demands to cap pay day lending charges – years after we told it to act, and just days after they claimed to do so would be a Marxist act.
We’ve yet to see the detail, but will make sure that it is real action that follows and not just more broken promises.
Liverpool City Council has offered practical help and support to Credit Unions that will help support over 20,000 families. I was proud to help launch the initiative In Lodge Lane last year.
Credit Union provide co-operative support to people in local communities, often extending support when it is hard to come by from High Street lenders, but avoiding the sky-high levels of interest rates associated with pay day loans.
The Lodge Lane and District Credit Union has over 2,500 members, with savings of £450,000. In 2010, it made £330,000 worth of loans to its members.
I am also supporting an initiative from national charity pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) to help children get talking about money in the classroom.
The more we talk about money, the easier it will become to talk about debt too.
Liverpool Council’s The Look to Die For campaign highlights the dangers underscored by the recent news that actors Vinnie Jones and Hugh Jackman are being treated for skin cancer.
Cancer Research UK found that 50 per cent of girls aged 15-17 in Liverpool have used a sun bed compared to 11 per cent nationally.
Using a sun bed once a month or more can increase the risk of skin cancer by 50 per cent.
In fact, skin cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in the UK. There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma, which is the most common and easier to treat, and melanoma, which is more serious.
More than around 250 people a week are told they have melanoma, so prevention and better treatments are urgently needed
The The Look to Die For campaign scored a major victory earlier this year when models at Liverpool fashion week went sun bed free.
We need to build on that success throughout the winter months and encourage people to look after their skin.
Computer games players are couch potatoes who get no exercise, right? Wrong!
I had the amazing experience this week of visiting one of the many games designers and developers around the country who develop games that meet people’s desire to get active and on the move.
Six to Start, an independent games developer and entertainment company based in London, gave me a preview of The Walk, funded by the Department of Health and designed with and for the NHS.
It is part of a competition funded by the Department of Health and managed by NHS London to direct technology research funding to meet health and well-being needs.
Six to Start says that its 2011 game Zombies, Run! is the world’s most successful smartphone fitness game.
It goes to show how public health in the future can harness the latest technology to fit in with how people are living and want to live their lives.
I will be out and about across the Wavertree constituency today for Small Business Saturday, celebrating the great work that our small businesses do.
This is Britain’s first Small Business Saturday – a grass-roots campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support small and independent businesses.
Dozens of councils have come together – including our own in Liverpool – to get behind the initiative.
I have got together with Liverpool Council and the Federation of Small Businesses to promote the event. The council is lifting parking charges in the city centre, while the Federation has promoted the day as part of its long-term campaign to revitalise our High Streets.
Today, I will be visiting shops and businesses across Wavertree from Kensington, through Old Swan, to Allerton Road, along Lawrence Road and throughout Lodge Lane enjoying the great service and fantastic offers available from local traders.
People tell me that they value what our local shops and businesses offer, so this is our chance to celebrate and support them.
I hope to see you there.
For all the Government’s reports that the economy is finally growing again, for millions of families there is still no recovery at all. After three damaging years of flatlining, prices are still rising much faster than wages. Prices have risen faster than wages 40 out of the 41 months.
Working people are now on average over £1,600 a year worse off since David Cameron came to office. But David Cameron and George Osborne are so out of touch they have chosen to give people earning over £150,000 a huge tax cut.
The Chancellor’s forecasts this week were all much worse than the ones he made when the Tory-led Government first came to power: our economy is smaller, the deficit is bigger and our debts are higher.
Over this Parliament, borrowing is forecast to be £198 billion more than planned at the time of George Osborne’s first spending review. His plans to ‘balance the books’ by 2015 have gone out the window and we will still be borrowing £79 billion by the time of the next election.
The truth is that the Government is now struggling to catch-up with Labour’s strong policies to help people with the cost of living. The piecemeal measures announced this week show they just don’t get it.
On soaring energy bills, ministers have only been able to propose a panicky half-measure in response to the leadership shown by Ed Miliband. The energy companies have been let off scot-free, leaving households having to pay £70 more for energy this year than last, even after the announced changes to green and social levies.
It shows why nothing less than Labour’s price freeze and action to reset the market will do.
We should be helping everyone not just some. We are not going to properly tackle the cost-of-living crisis with measures like the married-man’s tax allowance – a policy that won’t benefit two-thirds of married couples and that will leave five out of six families with children no better off.
Britain and Wavertree both deserve much better than this. What we needed this week was Labour’s long-term plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and higher living standards for all.
People across the world will be remembering Nelson Mandela today; the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
He was a shining light and an inspiration to me as I grew up and entered politics, as he was to millions of people around the world.
Ed Miliband has said: ‘From campaigner to prisoner to President to global hero, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for his dignity, integrity and his values of equality and justice … He moved the world and the world will miss him deeply.’
I am very proud to be a member of a Labour Party that stood in solidarity with the people of South Africa during the struggle against apartheid.
Today, we stand with the people of South Africa in mourning; tomorrow we will walk beside them to build on the foundations of the free South Africa laid by Nelson Mandela.
Please join me tomorrow for Small Business Saturday when I will be out and about across the constituency making sure that the great work that local, small businesses do is centre stage.
These are tough economic times. That’s why Labour’s shadow business team pushed so hard to get Britain’s first Small Business Saturday up and running. It is a grass-roots campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support small and independent businesses.
It has attracted widespread support, with dozens of councils – including our own in Liverpool – getting behind the initiative.
I have emailed around 3,000 local contacts with information, told my 24,000 Twitter followers about the day and promoted the event on this website and my facebook page. Tomorrow, I will be visiting shops and businesses across Wavertree enjoying the great service and fantastic offers available from local traders.
So much shopping is done on the internet now, that I wanted to use online and social media to promote local traders and businesses and the fantastic offers they make.
I have teamed up with the Liverpool Council and the Federation of Small Businesses to promote the event. The council has swung behind the initiative with parking charges being lifted in the city centre, while the Federation has promoted the day as part of its long-term campaign to revitalise our High Streets.
When I am speaking to people across the constituency, they tell me that they value the choice and unique flavour of our local shops and businesses. We should do all we can to celebrate and support them.
I am going to play my part in shining a spotlight on the huge contribution small businesses make and encourage people to buy local on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
I also wanted to let you know about three discount cards aimed at easing the financial strains on shoppers.
The Blue Light Card is available to all members of the Emergency Services, NHS and Armed Forces, HM Coast Guards, RNLI, HM Prison Services and St John Ambulance.
The Defence Discount Service works online, on the high street and in local companies to offer the Armed Forces Community a discount.
And in Liverpool, we have the Independent Liverpool card that for £10 offers everyone special deals at over 50 independent stores (mainly in the city centre).
If you have been inspired by Small Business Saturday to think about setting up your own enterprise, Liverpool Vision offers some excellent free support for start ups here
Please let me know about what you do to support Small Business Saturday. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently joined students from Broadgreen International School, Holly Lodge Girls’ College, and the Academy of St Francis of Assisi for an inspiring Youth Forum at the University of Liverpool to mark UK Parliament Week.
The Youth Forum saw debates with School Inclusion Staff Paul Windle, Vicky Kennedy and Angie Martin, School Police Officers PC Cruise and PC Edmund, John Halligan from the Trades Union Congress and myself.
The purpose was to look at how the skills of listening, discussion and negotiation can be used to resolve personal, local and international conflicts.
The feedback from the school students taking part has been great.
Lewis from Broadgreen International School said that he ‘learnt about how to deal with conflict without fighting and enjoyed listening to other people’s points of view.’
Aimee from the Academy of St Francis of Assisi said that the day ‘reminded me to be very careful of getting myself into situations that might end up turning violent.’
Plans are now underway to organise a city-wide forum in 2014 so that more students in Liverpool can work with local representatives in order to gain conflict resolution skills.
If you want to find out more about the Liverpool Youth Forum, please contact: email@example.com
Today is World AIDS Day and I am supporting the Halve It coalition launched in 2010 which aims to halve the proportion of people undiagnosed and diagnosed late with HIV by 2015.
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year to help us unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have sadly died from the virus.
The Halve It campaign poses a real public health challenge and it is not one we can duck.
An estimated 98,400 people were living with HIV in the UK in 2012.
There are over 22,000 people in the UK who are HIV positive but do not know it and of those who are diagnosed, more than half are diagnosed late.
Those diagnosed with HIV late have a ten-fold increased risk of death in the first year of diagnosis compared to those diagnosed early.
Halving undiagnosed HIV by 2015 would mean fewer new HIV infections, fewer early deaths and would save the NHS resources.
Many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, but despite this, many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for too many people living with HIV.
You can find out much more here.
31,000 people across England and Wales died unnecessarily last winter, in what are called ‘excess winter deaths’.
That is a 29 per cent increase on the previous year, with the North West experiencing the worst impact of the increase.
Figures I uncovered from the government, also showed that that 28,354 episodes of hypothermia were treated in 2012/13 – an increase of 25 per cent on the year before and 40 per cent up on the year before that.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already put our NHS into crisis and the government’s £1.8 billion cuts to elderly care mean vital support is being withdrawn.
A third of excess winter deaths are caused by people living in homes that are too cold, according to the World Health Organisation.
But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt didn’t want to know when I pressed him for action in Parliament. I asked him what the government was going to do about the fact that for every person who tragically dies over the winter months, eight more are admitted to hospital, putting huge strains on our crisis-ridden A&E services.
He couldn’t offer a single positive suggestion to stave off the crisis.
You can watch the exchange here.
Too many people are being forced to choose between heating and eating this winter because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies.
With high quality insulation, millions of homes could be made much warmer, but government is failing to take the action needed.
Ministers need to act and back Labour’s plans to freeze energy bills and reset the market so that it works for the millions of households who rely on it.
Age UK, has launched a Spread the Warmth campaign offering free advice and top tips to keep warm. If you are worried about yourself, a relative, friend or neighbour, Age UK Merseyside can be contacted here or by telephoning 0151 707 7020.