News

Loan Sharks Beware – Debtbusters Campaign launched by Borough MPs

A new campaign backed by the Borough’s MPs, Unify Credit Union Ltd, Citizens Advice and Wigan & Leigh Cooperative Party was launched on Saturday, 2nd March in Wigan, Leigh, and Ashton town centres. Over 500 people signed the Debtbusters petition at the event launches attended by MP’s Lisa Nandy, Andy Burnham and Yvonne Fovargue.

Wigan & Leigh Debtbusters is set to raise awareness of the detriment caused by payday lenders and others and that affordable loans, free help and advice is available through the Borough’s Credit Unions and Citizens Advice Bureau.

The campaign launch comes against a background of growing statistics that demonstrate the impact of debt on UK households. The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) sets out how Household debt is set to rise by 36.3% in the next three years. By 2015 UK households will have amassed over two trillion pounds worth of debt.

Thirty nine percent of people are concerned about the amount of debt they owe and 43% think their personal financial situation will worsen in the next six months. A staggering 45% of people now say they frequently struggle to make it to payday, up by 8% since Christmas 2010.

In November 2011, 16% of individuals had become ‘zombie debtors’ – only able to service the interest of their debt and not reduce it, whilst 27% had no savings at all.

One in three (32%) of those who took out a ‘payday loan’ couldn’t pay it off, so had to get another one (so called ‘rollovers’).

The high-cost credit sector, made up of payday lenders, home credit providers and hire purchase agreements, is growing rapidly and increasingly causing many of its customers to get into severe debt problems.

Campaigners have welcomed the news that a cap on the cost of credit is set to be introduced but they warn that this is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and that regulation of the industry is required.

Labour & Cooperative Councillor for Astley-Mosley Common Jo Platt is set to raise the issue at this week’s full council.

Debtbuster’s Cllr Jo Platt said:

“Residents of the Borough are calling for action against legal loan sharks. Over the past couple of years they have proliferated in our area and the tough financial times means more and more people are turning to them and the extortionate loans which they offer.

“This motion sends a message that Wigan Council is serious about supporting our residents who are facing financial hardship. We support the introduction of a limit to cap the amount these companies can charge for loans, and we are committing to doing what we can locally to support responsible lending and discourage the loan sharks.”

Lisa Nandy MP said:

As living costs rise, more and more people are turning to legal loan sharks who charge extortionate rates of interest. These companies are parasites who prey on the vulnerable – people with low financial skills or mental health problems and people who simply have nowhere else to turn.

Wigan’s Credit Unions, Welcome and Unify, provide an affordable alternative for people struggling with debt. I’m asking people to turn their back on these pay-day lenders and use the ethical credit unions on their doorstep.

More people struggle with debt in Wigan than elsewhere. The Government must act to cap total interest on loans and stop these companies from ruining people’s lives for a quick profit.”

Andy Burnham MP said:

“A toxic mix of the rising cost of living, unemployment and wage freezes mean many Leigh households are struggling and a lack of regulation of this market by the Government means these legal loan sharks are exploiting this to push many families further into debt.

“With one in three payday loans taken out to pay off other payday loans it is clear these high cost credit products are problematic.”

Yvonne Fovargue MP has spent her working life fighting the impact of irresponsible lending and her campaigning in Parliament led to the announcement by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that they will introduce a ‘power to suspend’ payday lenders who are causing harm to borrowers.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said:

“For many people payday loans can be a sensible option and with proper financial planning can offer a product that meets their needs. However, there are far too many cases of payday lenders acting in a manner which is wholly inappropriate and loads debt onto people with no consideration of the customer’s needs – rollovers being the obvious example of this reckless behaviour.

“There is an alternative and our local credit unions, like Unify and Welcome offer low cost affordable loans. Likewise my advice to anybody worried about debt is don’t suffer in silence. Wigan & Leigh Citizens Advice offer free and impartial advice to people in debt.”

Pictured with Wigan Debtbuster organiser Darren Burgoyne

March 5, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

FEARS FOR FAMILIES AS SURE START CUTS LOOM

Early Intervention Grant for Wigan cut by 45.5% since 2010.

Local Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has slammed the Tory-led government for slashing funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres and other early intervention programmes by £45.5% in real terms since May 2010.

The figures, compiled by the independent House of Common Library, have sparked fresh concerns that already over-stretched services for children and families will suffer further from April as the next wave of cuts hits Wigan council.

This further round of cuts have not been applied fairly, with Wigan’s cut of 45.5% being far more severe than those in affluent areas under Tory control such as Wandsworth, whose budget cut was significantly lower.

In response to these figures, Labour have launched Labour Friends of Sure Start, a new campaign network.

Lisa said: “Parents will rightly be worried about what will happen to the services they value, and in many cases rely on. Children and parents in Wigan are being made to pay the price for this Government’s economic failure.

“I have signed up to Labour Friends of Sure Start to add my voice to the national campaign to protect Children’s Centres and other important early intervention programmes, and I hope those who value them as much as I do will join me.”

“Families in Wigan have been let down badly by David Cameron’s failure to keep to his word and improve Sure Start.

“This out of touch Government are showing yet again that they have got the wrong priorities – gifting the highest earners tax cuts of £40,000, while slashing programmes which help tackle child poverty, improve educational and health outcomes, and help save the whole country money in the long run.”

Supporters can sign up to Labour Friends of Sure Start at laboursurestart.com

Note

The figures were compiled by the House of Commons Library on 18 January. Wigan’s budget in 10/11 was £17.6 million, compared to £10.3 million in 13/14, a reduction of £8.4 million or 45.5% in real terms.

February 22, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy MP Celebrates ‘Inspirational’ Wigan Scheme to Battle Addiction

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy was delighted to attend ADS’ (Addiction Dependency Solutions) award-winning ‘Bridging the Gap’ graduation ceremony in Wigan recently to celebrate the achievements of 24 local people and their families who have overcome addiction and turned their lives around.

The flagship scheme is unique to ADS, helping people to overcome substance and alcohol misuse and gain the skills they need to find work and rebuild their lives. ADS helps people develop confidence, skills and qualifications so they can move into work or further education. The award winning programme also offers support to family and friends who have often faced a harrowing journey themselves, supporting a loved one in difficult circumstances.

Such programmes are hugely important to Wigan which has a significantly greater problem with drug and alcohol misuse than the national average. In 2012 the rate of hospital stays for alcohol related harm was 50% higher than the national average and the rate of drug misuse is also significantly higher. The economic cost of addiction is also high, with alcoholism costing the NHS alone £3 billion a year.

Students who win a place on Bridging the Gap must attend for 15 hours a week, with help available to pay for transport and childcare costs. The emphasis of the course is getting people back into employment, providing opportunities for work placements and support to gain new qualifications.

Jennie Archibald, ADS Wigan’s Training Co-ordinator said: “The benefits of this scheme are immense. When students go on to secure full-time employment or into further education you get a measure of the programme’s importance to people and their families.”

Lisa said: “At a time when public money is scarce, helping people to overcome addiction is crucial to individuals, our local communities and our local economy.

“We are fortunate that Wigan has such a pioneering scheme. I was inspired by the graduates, staff and volunteers who I met today. They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome addiction and that it is never too late to rebuild your life”

February 19, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Let’s be more responsible

Lisa Nandy MP and local Cllr. Phyll Cullen have given new Government measures to underpin and strengthen responsible dog ownership a cautious welcome. Lisa and Phyll have been campaigning alongside the RSPCA for a crackdown on irresponsible dog ownership which blights communities in Wigan and across the country.

They described the measures as “a move in the right direction” but warned that the proposals fall short of the action needed to end attacks on people and animals.

The new measures mean that from April 2012 all dog owners will need to have their dog microchipped and registered on an online database. It will ensure that dogs can be traced and identified more easily, which will help to prevent repeat attacks by dangerous dogs, and ensure strays can be more easily identified.

The proposals will also toughen up the existing law which bans some types of dogs from being bred for fighting. It will ensure greater protection for the welfare of suspected prohibited dogs that have become the subject of court proceedings. The police will have discretion to release a suspected prohibited dog where they are completely satisfied that it is in the care of a responsible owner. They will be allowed to put extra restrictions on the owner, requiring the dog to be muzzled and on a lead when in public.

Lisa and Cllr. Cullen support the RSPCA’s aim to further strengthen preventative measures, such as dog control notices and the introduction of dog registration to improve dog owners’ accountability, deter casual acquirers of dogs and fund owner-education services. Early intervention with owners prevents suffering to animals, as well as protecting public safety where owners fail to control their dogs.

Lisa Nandy said: “These new proposals are welcome news. Since 2005, eight children and six adults have been killed in fatal dog attacks and concerns have been raised about attacks on postal workers, health visitors and social workers. There are many dog lovers in Wigan, who have been increasingly concerned about irresponsible dog ownership and today’s announcement is a big step forward.”

Cllr. Phyll Cullen said: “I have been contacted by countless constituents who are worried about the abuse of animals. Being a dog owner is not just about feeding your dog properly or taking it to the vet. It also means being responsible for your dog’s behaviour. This announcement will help protect local communities and protect animals.”

Pictured Lisa, Phyll and the fiesty Benji

February 11, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Launch of Sunbeams Baby and Toddler Group in Shevington

A new local group for parents and pre-schoolers was officially opened by Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan on Friday, 1st February.

Sunbeams Baby and Toddler Group will open at Shevington Youth Club and will provide a much needed playgroup for local families every Friday 1.30pm – 3pm including school holidays.

Organiser Vicky Galligan, who lives in the Shevington area and has a 16 month old daughter Kate, wanted to start a group to give parents and carers an opportunity to get together and provide quality play facilities for young children.

She says: “I started a facebook group for mums in Shevington and Standish which has really taken off and I wanted to give more local parents the chance to meet up and chat. With help from Wigan and Leigh Housing’s Better Neighbourhood Fund, we have been able to buy some fantastic brand new play equipment and hire a lovely roomy venue. We’ve also had some fantastic toys and games donated and if anyone else has some good quality toys for under 5s that they no longer need, please get in touch and we can collect.”

Neil Turner, Chair of Wigan and Leigh Housing, says: “We set aside £250 000 every year to support local community groups and activities and improve the quality of life on our estates through our Better Neighbourhood Fund. We are delighted to support Sunbeams and wish Vicky and the group every success.”

Lisa said: “I am delighted to officially open Sunbeams Baby & Toddler Group. Early years provision is critically important to a child’s future learning and development. I’m proud to support the work Shevington and Standish Mums are doing with Wigan & Leigh Housing for the good of local children and families.”

All are welcome to come along and admission is just £1 per family. The group is also looking for more volunteers to help serve refreshments. To volunteer or to donate toys, please email Vicky on vgalligan@hotmail.co.uk. You can also contact Vicky via her facebook group – find Shevington and Standish Mums.

February 1, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Labour Listens To Norley

Welfare reforms and cuts to public services dominated a public meeting in Norley organised by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and Cllr’s Jeannette and Paul Prescott. Members of the community turned up at the Labour Listens event at Norley Hall community centre despite snow and freezing weather to raise serious concerns about Government cuts.

With Wigan Council receiving one of the worst budget settlements, strain on public services was a top concern. The Council has had its grant cut by £75 million – a cut of over £100 per person, compared to West Oxfordshire which was cut by just £34 per head.

Residents also voiced their fears about forthcoming welfare reforms and benefits cuts. Lisa warned that from April families would see huge pressure on their household budgets as council tax benefit cuts, the bedroom tax and welfare capping kicked in. This will affect people in work as well as the unemployed.

Lisa told residents that the Borough’s MP’s were working closely with the local authority to protect the most vulnerable. Lisa, Paul and Jeannette also urged residents to take the message back to their friends and neighbours that they should not suffer in silence and that if they were struggling, to come forward early to seek help.

Lisa said: “the Government is creating a perfect storm – at a time of soaring energy and fuel costs, welfare reforms will cause real misery for many families. The Borough’s MP’s are fighting these proposals at every turn in Parliament. At a time when millionaires have been handed a tax cut of over £2000 a week these choices are simply immoral. The truth is that policies like the bedroom tax will probably cost Government more than it saves because of increased homelessness and families being forced into private housing where rents are higher”.

January 31, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

A new direction needed

In response to GDP growth figures published (Friday), showing that the UK economy contracted by 0.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2012,

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: ‘These latest growth figures confirm our worst fears that the Chancellor’s austerity plan has pushed the UK economy to the brink of an unprecedented triple-dip recession.

‘We are now mid-way through the coalition’s term of office and its economic strategy has been a complete disaster. The economy has grown by just one per cent, real wages have fallen, and the manufacturing and construction sectors have taken a battering. We remain evermore dependent on the City as we did before the financial crash.

‘The Chancellor now has all the evidence he needs to change course and focus instead on investment and growth. If he refuses to listen he could do even more permanent damage to our economy.’

The latest GDP figures show that in the ten quarters since the election, manufacturing has contracted by 0.4 per cent and the construction sector has shrunk by nine per cent.

 



January 29, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Local MP stands up to prejudice by signing Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment

Last week Wigan MP Lisa Nandy signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust.

Sunday January 27th marked the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today.

In signing the Book of Commitment, Lisa paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and honoured the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. This year, people will also be encouraged to honour those communities that have been destroyed by genocide and reflect on the importance of coming together to oppose prejudice and hatred.

Lisa said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join other members of the community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “We are proud that Lisa is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day this year. It is vitally important that we both remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge all forms of hatred and bigotry.”

January 28, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

WIGAN SPORTS CLUB is celebrating a major boost

Sport England today revealed that more than 1,000 local sports projects across the country have now received National Lottery funding through Inspired Facilities, which is part of the £150million Places People Play legacy programme. Every sports facility that receives funding will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark– celebrating the links to the Games.

Wigan Sports Club has secured an award of £50,000 for urgent refurbishment of the Club’s changing room facilities, which are used extensively by numerous Hockey, Cricket and Squash teams at junior and senior level – as well as many others using the Club’s full-size Astroturf pitch. The Sports Club is also contributing over£30,000 to the project.

Sport England’s Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “This National Lottery investment is helping us deliver a lasting sporting legacy in Greater Manchester from last year’s successful Olympic and Paralympic Games. “With so many clubs in the North West having benefitted from this fund already and building on the success of last summer, this is the legacy people want for their local community.”

Club President Tony Littler said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured Sport England’s support for this crucial investment in our facilities. The club operates around twenty teams across a range of sports; our facilities are also used by district and county sides and many community groups. We are an entirely not-for-profit community club and this investment is crucial so we can provide proper facilities for the local community. We want those facilities to be used to the maximum and can assure everyone a warm welcome whether they are the youngest novice or an experienced county-level player.”

Wigan MP and Shadow Children’s Minister, Lisa Nandy said: “This is great news, and will give Wigan Sports Club a much needed upgrade. It comes at just the right time, enabling the club to reach more young people at a time when they face huge challenges. This is a well-deserved award and I’m looking forward to visiting in the coming weeks to see first-hand the excellent work they do for the community.”

Wigan Sports Club is one of 310 projects across the England to receive lottery investment from the third round of the Inspired Facilities fund and one of over 1,000 to benefit overall, with the milestone being achieved one year ahead of schedule.

January 28, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Local MPs visit groundbreaking vocational pathway for young people

Local MP’s Lisa Nandy today and Yvonne Fovargue visited a ground breaking vocational training scheme operating in Wigan.

Fix It UK Ltd is a Charitable Trust operating from Spring View. Now in its 10th year, has developed a holistic and practical approach to learning, by offering a specialist training facility in the repair and maintenance of motor vehicles.

During this period, over 1000 young people have been through its doors and have been helped into employment or further training.

Both MP’s called in to see for themselves the work being undertaken at the Rosebridge Industrial Estate site; to talk to some of the young people about their progress and also pick up tips on the importance of car maintenance, particularly during the cold winter weather snap!

They were given a tour of the facility by Fix It UK Ltd’s, Ian Tomlinson and trustee Cllr Keith Cunliffe.

Fix It recognise that all young people have skills and qualities and that not all wish to pursue an academic route. The courses provided are designed to enable students to learn in a safe and secure environment, in small class sizes, thereby providing a high quality learning experience.

Fix-it works closely with 14-19 year olds to deliver vocational motor vehicle studies. All programmes are designed for students who may have faced difficulties in traditional pathways to work such as;

  • Have shown a negative behaviour pattern such as poor attainment, attendance and/or behaviour at school.
  • Have a flair for vocational or practical subjects.
  • Are academically gifted but have become de-motivated.
  • Require positive role models.
  • Have difficulty mixing or working with others.
  • Respond to a less formal approach to teaching
  • Looked after children
  • Have been identified as having learning needs (including emotional and behavioural difficulties)

Fix It UK Ltd are also celebrating and putting to good use the proceeds of a £84,000 grant from the BBC Children In Need Appeal.

At a time of uncertainty for many charities as a result of the economic downturn the grant secures the future of the charity for the next 3 years.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy MP was very keen to visit the charity given her role as Shadow Childrens’ Minister.

Lisa said:

“It was fantastic to visit Fix It to meet Ian and Keith and hear about their valuable work providing training opportunities for young people who have faced challenges in their lives.

“It is absolutely vital that young people are given opportunities to make a decent start in life. I am delighted with the work Fix It are doing, helping young people with that first step is essential.”

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said:

“This is fantastic project working with our young people. It is vital that we continue to support the opportunities provided by Fix It Uk Ltd and the grant from Children in Need secures the immediate future and will help yet more youngsters to develop their skills and receive quality vocational training.

“Equipping youngsters with practical skills and knowledge is not just an investment for today but provides a pathway into work and the benefits that this brings to individuals and wider society in the future.”

January 25, 2013 By : Category : News 0 Comment