Thursday 29 October 2015

Let the Home Heat helpline cut your energy bills this winter

With winter fast approaching, I am encouraging local residents to call a free helpline to find out what help they may be entitled to with their energy costs.

Launched ten years ago, Home Heat Helpline is a free, impartial and confidential service offering support to anyone concerned about paying their energy bills and staying warm during winter. The help available includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount schemes and rebate schemes; including the Warm Home Discount which provides eligible households with £140 off their electricity bill.

I would urge anyone who is concerned about staying warm in the run up to winter to call Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 and seek advice. I would also ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure that they are aware of the Home Heat Helpline and consider calling on their behalf."

Eligible people include vulnerable, low-income households. New figures show that over 450,000 people have used the services in the last decade to help them manage their energy bills and energy efficiency.

There are also some other simple steps people can take in reducing their energy. For example:

switch off the heating when you are out
turn appliances like TVs and phone chargers off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby
        when they're not being used
replace normal light bulbs with energy efficient ones which use up to 80% less energy
move furniture away from radiators and heaters to allow heat to circulate around the room

You can also view more information at the link.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Don't let Halloween turn into a real horror story!

I am campaigning to raise awareness of the potential fire risks of children’s fancy dress costumes.

TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter, Matilda, was seriously burned wearing a flammable witches’ outfit while trick or treating last year.

I know that children love dressing up, particularly over the Halloween period, which is why I was shocked to hear about this horrific incident.

Currently, the law classes fancy dress costumes as toys rather than clothes meaning that they undergo far less rigorous safety tests. But Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets have introduced more stringent testing.

I will certainly be taking the message about the dangers of some of these fancy dress outfits to my own constituents. Of course clothing will never be completely fire retardant, so the other thing which I am encouraging parents to do is use LED tea lights. Using battery operated candles takes away a lot of the risk associated with events like Halloween.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Keep Sunday Special

I recently attended an Usdaw lobby of Parliament to oppose the Government’s proposal to devolve Sunday trading regulations.

Usdaw members, who work in retail, met with MPs to explain how extended opening in large stores will lead to even more retail staff being pressured to work longer hours on Sundays, which is why over 90% of shopworkers oppose any extension to Sunday trading hours.

The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.

I am convinced that shops are currently open long enough for people to do their shopping and that Sunday should remain a special day, different to any other. I oppose devolving Sunday trading because it will lead to longer opening hours.

Extending Sunday trading does not mean customers have more money to spend, it would not create jobs and is likely to lead to the closure of smaller stores. So this is not a way to boost the local economy or help town centres. It would be detrimental to shopworkers and their families, as well as wider society, so I am pleased to be supporting Usdaw’s campaign.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said, “There is no great desire from shopworkers, customers, retailers or local authorities for these changes and many oppose them. We fear that devolution of Sunday trading is a solution looking for a problem."

“It is not yet clear whether the Government will seek to introduce legislation, but if they do I hope that they will abide by their promise of a proper consultation and a full parliamentary process. That would mean publication of the consultation responses and a considered reply from the Government, demonstrating that they have listened, before the introduction of any legislation to change Sunday trading.”