Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Citizens Advice Parliamentarian of the Year Award

Yvonne is pictured with Jane Mordue of Citizens Advice
 I was very surprised to learn this morning that I was to be this year's recipient of the Citizens Advice Parliamentarian of the Year.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Yvonne was selected for her tireless championing of the Citizens Advice service and our clients in Parliament, since being elected in 2010."

“While still a relatively new MP, the sheer amount of time and determination she has put into keeping the issues Citizens Advice work with high on the political agenda, and the effective way in which she has secured the support of so many colleagues, on both sides of the House has had a huge impact on the Service and on our clients."

“Yvonne’s successful leadership is evidenced in her work as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid and the new Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Debt and Personal Finance. In these latter roles she has secured several debates on the impact of legal aid reform and on the impact other public spending cuts will have on the future of funding for free debt and welfare benefits advice."

“As a member of the Welfare Reform Bill Committee Yvonne spoke in favour of several proposed amendments to the Bill to expose and try to mitigate the negative impact some of the proposed changes will have on CAB clients and other vulnerable members of society."

“Together with other members of the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance, she has
been campaigning for more effective regulation of fee-charging debt management plans – a huge issue for our clients, and one we fully support.”

These awards acknowledge either a Peer or an MP who we have worked closely with in Westminster – and in the case of MPs, their constituency – to deliver real change for our clients. Previous winners include Yvonne's predecessor Sir Ian McCartney in 2009 and Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Business Secretary and MP for Twickenham in 2008.

For me, as a former Citizens Advice Bureau manager, receiving this award is extra special and I’m delighted to be recognised in this way by the service that I worked in for so long. My experience with St Helens CAB was the best possible grounding for my work as an MP, both in terms of dealing with constituency casework and as a legislator. I continue to meet regularly with my local Wigan & Leigh CAB. This contact, in addition to that which I have with Citizens Advice head office, is vital in helping me effectively represent my constituents, especially those struggling with debt, benefits and legal problems. The Citizens Advice service’s understanding of the issues facing individuals and communities across the country is second to none.

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