MP’s Money Entitlement One-Stop Shop proves popular again

Nearly 100 people dropped in to The Withywood Centre to get face-to-face help from Bristol money experts on claiming their money entitlements at the latest of MP Karin’s Smyth’s regular one-stop shop events.

The Labour MP brought together staff and volunteers from organisations including Bristol Citizens Advice, South Bristol Advice Services, Department for Work and Pensions, Royal British Legion, Bristol City Council and WE Care and Repair at the 15 September event.

Karin Smyth said: ““It’s clear that people are often unaware of what they are entitled to receive, and that changes to rules and regulations make it hard to keep on top of things.

“I’m extremely grateful to all the organisations attending this latest one-stop shop event. There was lots of really positive feedback from people who attended, who consider this is exactly the type of thing their MP should be doing – bringing residents and experts together to improve the quality of people’s lives.”

Warmer Homes Advice and Money, a partnership between WE Care and Repair, Talking Money and the Centre for Sustainable Energy also attended.

Temporary Office Manager vacancy

Job Title: Temporary Office Manager (3 months with the possibility of extension)

2½ days (opportunity to work flexibly)

Salary: Circa £27,815 pro rata

Location: South Bristol

Immediate Start

A vacancy has arisen in my busy constituency office for an enthusiastic, efficient office manager.

Key responsibilities:

  • Ensure a range of efficient secretarial and administrative support
  • Ensure the office is fully equipped
  • Liaise with groups / personnel at Westminster, within the constituency and the general public on the MP’s behalf as necessary
  • Manage the small office team, ensuring accurate personnel records are kept and notifying the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority of contractual changes as necessary
  • Overall management of the MP’s diary commitments, delegating tasks to others as appropriate
  • Responsibility for managing all aspects of the budget, keeping the MP informed of all relevant financial matters

If you are interested in applying please send a CV and covering letter to Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk

Closing date: Noon, 13th September 2017

Interview date: 18th September 2017

If you would like to discuss the role with Karin please call 0117 953 3575.

This proposed NHS merger matters to Bristol people

Karin Smyth MP says the proposed merger of three NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – NHS Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset – risks deflecting time and money away from improving local healthcare services.MP Karin Smyth says the proposed merger of three NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – NHS Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset – risks deflecting time and money away from improving local healthcare services.

In a new article for Huffington Post the Bristol South MP says the proposal would see the fifth NHS reorganisation Bristol residents have experienced in the last 15 years. She outlines concerns relating to:

• The threat of funding being diverted away from further improvements to services at South Bristol Community Hospital, Hengrove

• Lack of transparency and democracy relating to the merger process to date

• Long standing financial problems of this cluster of CCGs are in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire – not in Bristol. “Should that really mean Bristol taxpayers have to cover the tab?” as a result of a budget merger, she asks.

The article can be read in full here

One-stop-shop money experts for Bristol south residents

People in south Bristol will have another opportunity to meet local money experts to check they are receiving all their financial entitlements when MP Karin Smyth organises the latest of her free one-stop-shop community events.

The Money Entitlement One Stop Shop event, at The Withywood Centre, Queens Road, Withywood, takes place on Friday 15 September from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm.

The Labour MP’s research has highlighted how £16 million per year in Pension Credit, and upwards of £20 million in Income Support, goes unclaimed by Bristol residents each year.

Karin Smyth said: “Too many people miss out on money that is rightly theirs, so I am again bringing together a number of Bristol’s finance experts to give practical first-hand advice and information to local people. It’s only fair that if you work hard and contribute to society, through taxes and other means, the system is then there for you when you need it.”

Organisations including Bristol Citizens Advice, South Bristol Advice Services, the Department for Work and PensionsCare and Repair and Bristol City Council’s Welfare Rights & Money Advice Service will be present. They will help guide people through the processes necessary to claim what’s theirs.

The charity Age UK calculates that nationally up to £3.7 billion goes unclaimed by older people each year and whilst the primary focus of the event will be older people, all will be welcome. Attending organisations will have separate tables in a market-style layout in the main hall.

“Staggering amounts are involved, and what makes this even more striking is that it’s money that people are eligible to receive,” Karin Smyth added. “If this was rightly claimed, just think what it could do to help the lives of those who are entitled to it. Think too of the positive impact on the local economy when people spend it.

“Sometimes people are not fully aware of what they should be able to receive, and when the rules and regulations change it can be really difficult to keep on top of things. When you are having a hard time with money it feels so much harder to navigate the paperwork. Similar previous events I’ve organised have highlighted the need so I’m pleased to give yet another free opportunity to people I represent.”

 

Update on neonicotinoids and bee welfare

Karin Smyth MP is often asked about the main issues raised by her constituents in Bristol South. One of the issues which continues to be of major importance is the use of neonicotinoid insecticides and their impact on the bee population.

She has recently written to the constituents who have contacted her in the past about the issue with the following update:

The Government has so far been unclear on its position with regard to restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids on crops after the UK leaves the European Union.

Shortly before the Parliamentary summer recess, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove stated that UK government policy on neonicotinoid pesticides would “follow both existing EU protections” and be “enhanced in line with the science”.

He said that he had paid “close attention” to the large-scale scientific study published in June by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which found evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides may indeed harm bee populations. He went on to say that the Government aims “to ensure that our bee population and our pollinators are protected”.

This is certainly a positive step in helping promote the welfare of our bee population, but we must equally all guard against complacency and I will therefore continue to support calls for the Government to introduce or maintain a full and permanent ban on neonicotinoids after Brexit.

To read the House of Commons exchange in full click here

If constituents have any more concerns about bee-harming neonicotinoids or any other issues, they are always welcome to contact Karin.

Bristol-based technology offers affordable access to Braille

Ed Rodgers, MD of Bristol Braille Technology (left), Karin Smyth MP, Paul Sullivan and his dog Elsie

Karin Smyth MP joined blind and partially-sighted people in Bedminster to see ground-breaking technology that promises access to Braille at a fraction of the cost of conventional means.

Bristol Braille Technology (BBT), a not-for-profit company based at Bristol Hackspace, Bedminster, has developed the world’s first multiline digital Braille eBook reader, Canute. Managing Director Ed Rodgers joined the Bristol South MP and a group of local blind and partially sighted people who demonstrated the new technology.

Ed Rodgers said: “Canute offers potential Braille users a better chance of education and employment in their life by learning and using Braille in a radically affordable way. We have been working with a community of Braille users who have been instrumental in the design process.

“We are starting a quiet evolution in Braille literacy here in Bristol and we look forward to working with our MP Karin Smyth and others, to make sure its spreads around the country and abroad.”

Karin Smyth MP said: “I was delighted to see this exciting innovation being developed and used in my constituency, and to hear from local people how much they value Canute’s potential. It promises to make Braille more accessible to people who can’t currently afford access, and I look forward to following its progress in the months ahead.”

Canute has been co-developed for five years by BBT and a group of Braille enthusiasts called the Braillists, which has a national membership of over 250 Braille readers. With this positive and useful feedback from the Braille community, Canute is expected to be in the market in late 2017/ early 2018. This link shows the current process reported by different media.

Electrification announcement doesn’t augur well for Bristol passengers

Commenting on news that plans for electrification of the mainline from Cardiff to Swansea have been dropped, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said: “I have been asking Ministers for clarification over the delayed electrification of lines into Bristol: will it happen or not? I haven’t been given a straight answer but the ditching of electrification between Cardiff and Swansea doesn’t augur well for passengers in Bristol and the south west.”

Karin Smyth appointed Shadow Deputy Leader of the House

Karin Smyth MP has been appointed to a new Parliamentary post as Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

As Deputy to Valerie Vaz MP (Shadow Leader of the House of Commons) Karin Smyth will be central to the Labour front bench team’s input to the arrangement of Commons business.

“I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into this new role, playing a key part in holding the government to account. We need to ensure we have a modern, open Parliament and that the focus of MPs’ work in the Chamber reflects the priorities of the many not the few,” said Karin Smyth.

The new post means the Bristol South MP has stepped down from her role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sir Keir Starmer MP.

Relaunch of Bedminster-inspired government trailer safety campaign

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has welcomed the relaunch of a road safety campaign led by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in honour of three year-old Bedminster boy Freddie Hussey, killed by a trailer in 2014.

The #TowSafe4Freddie campaign is re-launched by the DVSA from today, 17 July.

Karin Smyth, who has been campaigning on trailer safety after she was approached for support by Freddie’s parents Donna and Scott, said: “I’m pleased the #TowSafe4Freddie is being relaunched to coincide with a busy summer of motoring on the UK’s roads.

“Towed caravans and other trailers are a common sight on our highways during the summer months, as people head off for a break. It’s vital that drivers know how to fix them safely and securely before they set off.

“This campaign, in memory of Freddie Hussey, helps drivers learn how to make a few simple checks to help them tow safely.”

The relaunch follows an exchange in the House of Commons last week (14 July) when the Labour MP secured backing from new Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman MP for another initiative – this one from the National Trailer and Towing Association (NTTA) – which allows members of the public a free trailer safety check from its participating members.

The headline advice to drivers towing trailers is:

• make sure the brakes are working correctly

• check that the lights are undamaged and working correctly

• check that the coupling height is correct

• use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling

check online here

More about the NTTA scheme can be found here

‘Important’ trailer safety scheme backed by Bristol MP and road safety Minister

A new initiative aimed at improving the safety of towed trailers on roads has received government backing, after a Bristol MP highlighted it in Parliament.

Karin Smyth, who has been campaigning on trailer safety following a constituency tragedy, drew attention in the Commons to a new being scheme run by the National Trailer and Towing Association (NTTA) which allows members of the public a free trailer safety check from its participating members.

To watch: Scroll to foot of page

At Transport Questions (13 July) the Labour MP drew attention to the scheme, as part of a discussion she initiated about trailer safety on UK roads: “Will he offer his support to a new road safety initiative from the National Trailer and Towing Association which will see member organisations across the country offering free towing safety inspections to members of the public?”

Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman MP paid tribute to the Labour MP’s work on the issue, and praised what he called an ‘important’ initiative from the NTTA.

He said: “I am delighted the National Trailer and Towing Association has established the scheme so that people can go to one of their participating service centres and get a visual inspection and report on their trailers.

“This should make a difference in assisting trailer owners to identify and have any defects rectified. And not only do I welcome this initiative, I welcome the fact that they and other organisations are working closely with government in order to improve the safety of towed trailers.”

Karin Smyth has campaigned for better trailer safety since being approached by constituents Donna and Scott Hussey whose three year old son, Freddie, was killed when a trailer came loose in Bedminster, Bristol in 2014.

He also told the Commons that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency publicity campaign #TowSafe4Freddie named in honour of Freddie Hussey, aiming to improve driver education on the issue, is to be relaunched this summer, and reminded MPs that the government has recently been consulting on laws relating to causing death by careless and dangerous driving.

Karin Smyth will meet Jesse Norman next week in a bid to make further progress.