2016 Press Releases

13/09/16 'Your force, your priorities' - PCC Vera Baird launches public consultation on policing and crime
08/08/16 Dave reacts to the death of Bishop Edward Daly, Emeritus Bishop of Derry
08/08/16 Comment from Dave following the fatal shooting of John Boreland in North Belfast
30/07/16 Dave asks Virgin to tell travellers when they are using scab labour
14/06/16 Gateshead and Whickham ASC in Double Junior Championship Success
23/05/16 MP urges government to do "some real leg work" on its walking and cycling strategy
17/05/16 MP slams Post Office privatisation fiasco
31/03/16 The 'nasty pattern' of Tory steel response
18/03/16 Two cheers for Osborne's announcement on Mesothelioma Research
06/03/16 No more change in Sunday trading laws
02/03/16 Justice for military mesothelioma victims
23/02/16 MP hails positive move on Meningitis vaccine
15/02/16 Support for Cockburn family fundraiser this Friday
08/02/16 Rail security second to profit
04/02/16 20th anniversary of the privatisation of the railways
01/02/16 Blaydon MP 'deeply concerned' over future of mental health beds in Gateshead
27/01/16 Passengers carrying the cost
05/01/16 Dave Anderson slams Universal Credit cuts

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'Your force, your priorities' - PCC Vera Baird launches public consultation on policing and crime

Vera Baird 13 Sep 2016

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, is launching a force-wide consultation exercise as she looks to refresh her police and crime plan and set out the priorities for Northumbria Police to deliver on over the next four years.

Commissioner Baird was re-elected in May 2016 with one of the largest majorities and was one of only four PCCs to be elected on the first round.

When first elected as PCC for Northumbria, the commissioner invited residents to complete on-line surveys and spoke to people at metro stations, supermarkets and out on the streets to understand the priorities of local people around policing and crime.

This information was then used to set out the five priorities of the commissioner's first Police and Crime Plan which were: putting victims first; dealing with anti-social behaviour; tackling domestic and sexual abuse; reducing crime and; building community confidence.

For each of these priorities the Commissioner identified a number of actions which have resulted in improved services for local people.

Highlights include: 91% of victims are satisfied with the service provided by Northumbria Police - the highest level in England and Wales; 10,000 fewer anti-social behaviour incidents in Northumbria from April 2015 to March 2016; domestic violence patrols continue on weekend evenings with domestic abuse experts and police officers working together to support victims.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, said:

"I'm pleased with the progress we've made over the last few years but there is still more to be done. Following my re-election, I want to refresh the Police and Crime Plan and ensure it continues to reflect the policing needs of local people.

"My role has also been extended to provide support for victims of crime and to ensure an efficient criminal justice system. I very much welcome people's views and I look forward to hearing them in the coming weeks so we can bring about positive change together."

Over the next few weeks, the commissioner will be holding public meetings throughout the force area, which details available on her website.

Those unable to attend are invited to complete an on-line survey - www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/giveyourviews or contact the office directly via enquiries@northumbria-pcc.gov.uk.

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Comment from Dave Anderson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, following the death of Bishop Edward Daly, Emeritus Bishop of Derry

Edward Daly - the iconic image mamy will remember him for. 8 Aug 2016

Following the death of Bishop Edward Daly, Emeritus Bishop of Derry, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland sends his deepest condolences to the family

Dave Anderson MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland commented:

"Bishop Daly was a man of God who sought to do good for all people and an advocate for peace for which he will always be remembered and revered. Labour sends its deepest condolences to his family and friends."

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Comment from Dave Anderson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, following the fatal shooting of John Boreland in North Belfast

9 Aug 2016

Dave Anderson, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said:

"This incident is a sad reminder of a past that most of us hoped we had left behind. The community needs to come together to both condemn this act and cooperate with the PSNI to enable them to apprehend those responsible for this atrocity. And we should all send out a united message to those who want to use violence to promote their cause that we simply will not allow you to win."

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Shadow Cabinet member and North East MP asks Virgin to tell travellers when they are using scab labour so they can make alternative plans

Virgin train at Newcastle 30 Jul 2016

Dave Anderson letter to Virgin

"Can you explain what your contingency plans are in case of legal industrial action because I have no intention of travelling on trains operated by scab labour. I feel many other people will share my view so you should make these plans public ASAP. "

Supplementary Quote

"Asking Virgin to publicise when they will be using scab labour to undermine legal action so that customers have the choice to refuse to travel at those times is a reasonable request. People's safety may be jeopardised if untrained or rusty staff are drafted in. But also people should be given the info so that they can refuse to travel with staff who are undermining the workforce."

Dave Anderson MP for Blaydon

Letter from Virgin Trains

I am writing to keep you updated with proposed changes we are making to our Virgin Trains services on the East Coast Main Line. As you know, we have big plans for the east coast franchise with £140m of investment aimed squarely at making the passenger experience the best it can be.

We have already invested £21 million to completely refurbish our existing fleet of 45 trains so our customers can benefit from new seats and a great new on-board environment before our 65 brand new Azuma trains take to the tracks in 2 years time. The Azuma, with our expanded timetable, will massively increase the services we run to existing routes such as Harrogate and Lincoln whilst also bringing new direct services to destinations like Middlesbrough.

As part of this investment, we are making some changes to our on-board teams with a new dedicated Customer Experience Leader to be accountable for all aspects of the on-board journey experience. This will modernise the on-board customer service we provide to help delivery an amazing end to end onboard experience for our passengers.

Whilst we have been in discussions about our proposals with trade unions for some time, as you may have seen, the RMT union has decided to ballot their members on these changes. [The ballot will run 26 July to 9 August.]

I would like to reiterate the guarantee we have provided the RMT that any redundancies will be entirely voluntary. Indeed, there is a role at Virgin Trains for everyone who wants one.

I would also like to assure you that we have well prepared contingency plans which will allow us to run a full timetable if the RMT do indeed decide to go ahead with any strike action.

Of course we hope that this can be avoided and we welcome the RMT reopening discussions with us at any point. I shall of course keep you updated you with any further developments and will be happy to answer any questions you have about these changes and the investment we are making in our East Coast services.

David Horne Managing Director Virgin Trains East Coast

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Gateshead and Whickham ASC in Double Junior Championship Success

14 Jun 2016

Gateshead and Whickham Swimming Club has won the Northumberland and Durham Junior League title for the second year running.

Dave has said they should be proud of themselves. Over 30 members of the club, aged nine to twelve, competed in the final last Sunday against other young swimmers from across the North East.

Dave said:

"They should be very proud of themselves on a great victory. Such exercises in team building through competition do much to build their individual characters."

The competition, affectionately known as the "Diddy League", consists of 21 clubs in three leagues. The league one final was held at Tynemouth Swimming Pool and proved to be a keenly fought contest. Gateshead and Whickham triumphed with 220 points, Stockton were runners-up on 208 points, followed by Middlesbrough (3rd, 172 points), Tynemouth (4th, 153 points), Chester-le-Street (5th, 150 points) and Newcastle Swim Team (6th, 144 points).

Commenting on the victory Club Chairman, Andy Strickland said;

"To win back to back titles is fantastic. I'm very proud of what our young swimmers have achieved, but I'm even more proud of how they went about it. The camaraderie and desire to do their best for their team mates was brilliant to see."

Strickland continued,

"I'd also like to thank our coaches, Paul Armstrong and Ross Bradley, and team manager Jill Barrett, for all their hard work getting the swimmers so well prepared for the big day and our sponsors the Rotary Club of Whickham and Stevie Pattinson of Uno's Trattoria for their excellent support of the team."

The Diddy League is part of the national Arena Junior Inter-League competition. The children will now go on to represent the North East in the Northern Region final where they will compete against the best teams from Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, East Midlands and the North West. The top four teams qualify for the National final, something Gateshead and Whickham managed last year, eventually coming an excellent 6th place in the country.

Head Coach, Ken Nesworthy said

"The standard of swimming from all the clubs was very high. For the swimmers this is like their Olympics, and to see them perform so well was a joy to watch. It's events like this that demonstrate how much swimming is thriving in the North East."

Gateshead and Whickham Amateur Swimming Club has been in existence in various forms for more than 100 years. The club provides a centre for swimming across the borough that encourages enjoyment and progression within the sport.

The club is one of the foremost swimming clubs in the country and is accredited by the British Amateur Swimming Association under the Swim 21 clubmark scheme. More information about the club and how to join can be found on the club's website http://www.gawswim.org.uk

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MP urges government to do "some real leg work" on its walking and cycling strategy

Urban cyclists on  cycle path 23 May 2016

Cycling and walking in England can become the everyday norm for shorter journeys but this government ambition needs "some real leg work" to make it work, according to a leading Tyneside MP.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson, who has joined a cross-party drive in a letter to a national newspaper to boost the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, said:

"We have told Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the government should be much more ambitious."

Dave Anderson added:

"Increasing cycling and walking will help tackle congestion, save public money and reduce demand on the NHS by curbing air pollution, while increased physical activity benefits physical and mental health. Cities and towns also become more vibrant through increasing retail footfall, creating stronger communities and decreasing absenteeism through increasing workforce health of. We can empower cycling and walking for less than other forms of transport, which means it is great value for money."

Times letter text


The Government has published its ambition to make walking and cycling a normal part of everyday life and the natural choice for shorter journeys by 2040 in their draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.

For it to be successful, it must include clear interim targets for growth of both cycling and walking set to a measurable timeline, with dedicated clear investment that matches the ambition of the strategy. These targets need to be measurable and regularly assessed to ensure not just progress, but also that public funds are well spent.

To this affect, we also believe in the necessity of an independent body that will both challenge and support the Government's plans for cycling and walking.

Such milestones will set the first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy up for success, and firmly on the path to get Britain cycling.

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MP slams Post Office privatisation fiasco

Post Office sign 17 May 2016

Dave has hit out at what he describes as 'Tory ideology' which is putting the Post Office at risk.

This comes after the news that the Post Office is cutting a further 1100 jobs, comprising 600 today in its cash handling operation and a further 500 expected as a result of the privatisation of many Crown Post Offices.

Dave said,

"The news of further job losses at the Post Office proves that privatisation is a fiasco that puts this valued and valuable national asset in grave jeopardy. I wish the unions the best in their efforts to protect the public and their own members. It's yet another example of Tory ideology."

Unions call for Post Office board resignations in protest at government cuts as a further 1,100 job losses shows a service in crisis

In the wake of an announcement this morning by the Post Office of 600 job losses in its cash handling operation, Supply Chain, the CWU and Unite are calling for the Post Office management to resign in protest at the government's funding cuts to the service.

The job losses announced today come on top of an expected loss of up to 500 front-line jobs from the franchising of thirty nine of its flagship Crown post offices and the loss of over fifty dedicated financial service experts selling products in branches through a further savings programme.

The CWU and Unite believe the Post Office is in crisis and heading for extinction unless the government and company change course.

Dave Ward, General Secretary of the CWU said,

"With this latest round of job losses, the management of the Post Office has to face the facts that it is in crisis and heading for ruin. If they care about the future of the network they should resign in protest at the straight-jacket government cuts have left them in.

"The Post Office was split from Royal Mail in 2012 in the run-up to privatisation and we are yet to see a plan that will secure its future. With a cut in its funding from £210m in 2013, to zero in 2019, these job losses show that under Sajid Javid's leadership the Post Office is heading the same way as the steel industry.

"This year alone CWU members in the Post Office face 500 front-line job losses in branches, 500 job losses in its cash handling business Supply Chain and the closure of their pension scheme. There is a perfect storm in the Post Office and our members will expect us to act to defend them."

Brian Scott, Unite Officer for the Post Office, said

"The redundancies of 79 Unite members announced today, take the total number of proposed job losses to 130 in the last two weeks. These proposals tear the heart out of the Post Office and put it on the road to destruction.

"The Post Office's business plan, which was agreed with the government, has failed. Those at the top should accept the blame for that - but instead they are adopting a slash and burn approach in an effort to cover this up.

"We will not sit back and watch them destroy a public institution."

Both the CWU and Unite are now calling for the government and the Post Office to halt the programme of cuts and to sit down with unions, customers, small businesses and communities who rely on it, to put together a fresh strategy that can develop new services and safeguard it for the future.

The Post Office's cash handling operation, Supply Chain, provides collection, handling and distribution of cash across the post office network (11,500 post offices) and for external customers. The Post Office briefed staff about the job losses in Supply Chain this morning.

The Post Office is also currently in the process of franchising 39, and closing 3, of its Crown Post Office branches which are directly operated by the Post Office. This is likely to mean up to 500 front-line staff leaving the Post Office in the coming months.

Alongside this, the Post Office is consulting on a proposal to close its defined benefit pension scheme which will mean around 3,500 employees seeing a significant reduction in their pension entitlement.

The CWU (the Communication Workers Union) is the recognised union for non-management grades, and Unite is the recognised union for managerial grades, in the Post Office.

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The 'nasty pattern' of Tory steel response

Steel blast furnace 31 Mar 2016

Dave has issued a statement about the government's response to the steel crisis.

He points out the government seems to favour China over UK workers and the EU, which they prevented putting higher tariffs on Chinese steel.

Dave said,

"There's a nasty pattern running through Tory responses to problems facing the British people. Last week, an energy minister tried to wash her hands of us closing viable pits here and importing blood coal dug by child and slave labour in Colombia. This week they continue their 'nowt to do with us' approach to steel, the loss of thousands of quality jobs and a strategic industry. They say all options are open but in the same breath rule out temporary, partial or longer-term nationalisation. They stopped the European Union putting higher tariffs on Chinese steel and seem to regard China's national interest as more important than ours. Ministers are in a complete mess, fiddling while Rome burns and Parliament should be recalled to compel action in the national interest."

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Two cheers for Osborne's announcement on Mesothelioma Research

18 Mar 2016

Campaigners for those living with mesothelioma have given two cheers to a small part of George Osborne's budget.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson, who has helped lead the campaign to persuade the government to compensate military veterans who contracted the cancer, said:

"The British Lung Foundation has thanked me and many others who persuaded the government to adopt the cause of mesothelioma research. The Chancellor agreed this week to spend £5 million on a National Mesothelioma Centre to research the disease, which could find new treatments."

Dave Anderson added:

"The budget was negative overall but this is welcome although I am only giving it two cheers because the funding is one-off and should be annual so that mesothelioma research is put on a par with other comparable cancers. But from acorns come oaks and pressure will continue to do the right thing."

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  A busy supermarket

No more change in Sunday trading laws

6 Mar 2016

An appeal to keep the current laws on Sunday trading is being urged by a Tyneside MP as the Commons limbers up to a crunch vote and possible ministerial resignations within days.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said:

"The current law on Sunday trading was in my view a step too far but at least it allows us to still keep Sunday as more of a special day than the free for all advocated by the government. And low paid shopworkers can spend some time with their family. Any further change would make things worse for shopworkers."

Dave Anderson added:

"I think most people would agree that shops are currently open long enough for people to do their shopping. Anyway, much of it is done on-line. Some argue that scrapping all restrictions would boost the economy or revive town centres. But longer trading hours will not mean people have more money to spend."

John Hannett - Usdaw General Secretary says:

"Usdaw and our members are delighted to have the support of Dave Anderson MP and many others who value the special nature of Sunday and want to protect it. There is no great desire from shopworkers, customers or retailers for these changes and many oppose them. The Government are pushing through these changes in the final stages of a Bill, but without having published any up to date economic evidence to support their case, any impact assessment or a family test to weigh up the effect on the families of shopworkers, who already work long hours at weekends. We are therefore calling on all MPs to oppose this ill-thought-out measure and for the Government to concentrate on supporting retail businesses and their staff."

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with nearly 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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Justice for military mesothelioma victims

2 Mar 2016

News that previously excluded military veterans dying from asbestos-related cancer are to be offered compensation has been hailed by campaigning Blaydon MP Dave Anderson.

Dave Anderson, who has long backed the campaign and raised the issue directly with the Prime Minister in November, said:

"It is a tribute to the cross-party campaign, supported by veterans, the Royal British Legion and others that the government has been forced to make this move. It means that ex-servicemen who contracted cancer while serving their country could now receive a lump sum of £140,000 each in compensation. Before this they had fewer rights than those on civvy street."

Dave Anderson added:

"It was never just about the money and some of the veterans do not have long to live but about the principle that the state owed a duty of care to those who were exposed to asbestos and live with mesothelioma. I am pleased that my own interventions helped put pressure on the government to finally do the right thing."

Commons question

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MP hails positive move on Meningitis vaccine

23 Feb 2016

A probable parliamentary debate on extending the use of the Meningitis B vaccine has been hailed by a leading Tyneside MP.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said,

"The public has been angered by the initial decision to allow free doses only to babies under nine months. And there have been sad cases of slightly older infants being afflicted by this terrible disease. Nearly a million people have urged the reversal of the restrictions. The Commons debate can accelerate that overdue decision and I will back it."

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Support for Cockburn family fundraiser this Friday

15 Feb 2016

A Tyneside MP is urging local people to attend a major fund-raising event for the campaign seeking justice for five members of the Cockburn family killed in a car crash in 2013.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said:

"This family has suffered enough in tragically losing so many of their kin at one time. They have been badly let down by the judicial system and I'm determined to do all I can to help them in their fight for justice."

Family member Ann Walker said:

"Support from local people and businesses has been overwhelming and we're very grateful for the ongoing support in our struggle for justice."

The event, with entertainment and pie and peas, is at the Lancastrian Suite in Gateshead at 7pm this Friday. Tickets are £20 each and can be bought by ringing 07795278359.

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Rail security second to profit

8 Feb 2016

Dave has accused railway companies of placing profit ahead of passenger security and assistance.

He was responding to a report by transport watchdog Transport Focus that found passengers wanted more staff on stations and on trains.

Dave said,

"It is very clear the public want stations to be staffed for general queries as well as disability issues but they know that privatisation puts profit before security and assistance."

The passenger watchdog backs RMT concerns that passengers want properly staffed trains and stations

Today the passenger watchdog Transport Focus reinforced RMT concerns regarding cuts to passengers' rail staff

The report "Passenger Attitudes Towards Rail Staff" found that passengers want more visible staff on trains and stations, not less.

In summary it said

"Transport Focus firmly believes that there is a huge advantage in having a visible staff presence on the railway, be that at the ticket office, on the platforms or trains".

Overall, when asked whether they had cause to worry about their personal security during a rail journey in the previous six months, one in ten passengers said that they had. The main causes were due to the anti-social behaviour (ASB) of other passengers and the lack of staff

Cutting the number of staff, either at stations or on the train, runs counter to what passengers actually want and could jeopardise their confidence in their ability to get to their destination safely"

40% of staff agreed that having greater staff visibility of trains would make them feel safer, second only after not allowing drunk or rowdy people on the train

"For TVMs to be an acceptable alternative they must be able to sell all the tickets from that station, present information to passengers in a way that guides the unfamiliar to the best fare for their journey, and give passengers a means to speak to an appropriately-trained person if they need assistance with their transaction, especially for high-value or complicated journeys. The reality is that TVMS are not currently up to this task......it is clear from what passengers tell us that that they place great value on the guidance and reassurance that staff are able to offer when making a ticket selection"

"At many stations the ticket office staff are the only members of staff present. So proposals to remove ticket office staff would effectively mean de-staffing the station. This is of particular concern for those passengers with impaired mobility. While passengers with a disability can book assistance 24 hours in advance, this is often considered impractical for short and frequent journeys"

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20th anniversary of the privatisation of the railways

4 Feb 2016 East Coast train when owned by the taxpayer

Rail services are better off in public hands, says Dave.

Commenting on the RMT's statement on the 20th anniversary of the privatisation, said the experience of having East Coast in public hands proves the point.

Dave said,

"The RMT rail union rightly says twenty years of privatised railways have been a disaster for commuters and rail workers alike. The experience of the publicly owned East Coast in recent years demonstrated that the public interest is best served by public ownership and control of our rail network."

RMT statement

General Secretary Mick Cash said

"Today marks two decades of privatisation and the legalised larceny on our railways which has bled billions of pounds away in profits while passengers are condemned to travel in rammed-out, unsafe, clapped-out trains.

"Twenty years of profiteering by greedy private operators has left Britain, the nation that gave the railways to the world, jammed in the slow lane. The only answer is a reversal of the great rail rip-off and a return to public ownership."

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Blaydon MP 'deeply concerned' over future of mental health beds in Gateshead

1 Feb 2016

Specialist mental health beds in Gateshead could be moved to Sunderland and Northumberland unless local people make their voice loud and clear.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said:

"Patients with acute mental health conditions need parity of esteem with other health users. Visits from family and friends boost care and recovery but moving patients from Gateshead to distant areas could delay and undermine their recovery."

Dave Anderson added,

"I encourage people to ensure the needs of vulnerable patients and their families are heard and heeded in the public consultation."

The Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group will hold a consultation event at 1pm on 6 February at St Edmund's Chapel, Gateshead.

The on-line survey is available at http://www.decidingtogether.co.uk/

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Passengers carrying the cost

East Coast train, before being sold off. 27 Jan 2016

Dave has slammed the rushed sell-off of the East Coast Main Line

He was commenting on statistics relating to the privatisation of East Coast Rail and consequent consumer discontent.

Dave said,

"Figures from the National Rail Passenger Survey clearly demonstrate that the rushed sell-off of East Coast was a miserable mistake that failed to put passengers first. East Coast delivered record passenger satisfaction and punctuality scores when it was publicly owned and returned over £1 billion to taxpayers.

"But public satisfaction has nose-dived since the service was privatised last March and passengers say that they are now getting worse value for money. The Tories rushed the sell-off through as part of an ideological drive to end public sector involvement in the railways and passengers are paying the price for Tory folly."

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Dave Anderson slams Universal Credit cuts

5 Jan 2016

Dave Anderson MP's comment on Usdaw release about Universal Credit cuts:

"These cuts are the government's escape route from Osborne's dreadful tax credit attack on the working poor. Yet again it is those least able to afford to lose money who are being hammered by this government which stands up for the wealthy. Benefit cuts for the poorest workers. Inheritance tax bungs for the children of dead millionaires."

Usdaw welcomes Labour highlighting massive income cuts to hit working families under Universal Credit

Shopworkers trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed Labour calling a debate in the House of Commons for tomorrow to highlight the huge cuts in income that working families will face under Government plans for Universal Credit.

John Hannett - Usdaw General Secretary says:

"The Government has some very serious questions to answer about the future incomes of low-paid working families, so we welcome Labour holding them to account in a House of Commons debate.

"We were delighted to have won the argument on tax credits cuts, having forced the Government into a U-turn, but Universal Credit is a ticking time bomb that will leave many working families much worse-off when they are transferred onto Universal Credit."

"We will be watching the debate closely to see what the Government is going to do to protect the incomes of many of our members and millions of working families across the UK."

Analysis from the House of Commons Library shows the cuts will mean a single mother of two working full-time on the minimum wage will lose £2,400.

Further analysis by Liverpool Economics shows that from April cuts to the work allowance will also mean an annual reduction of £2,000 a year in support for disabled people in work.

Usdaw's own analysis reveals that a parent couple, both working in retail, earning just above the so-called National Living Wage, one working full-time and one part-time, would be £1,866 worse off on Universal Credit.

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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