Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley MP Ian Austin was in Parliament this week to support the campaign to lower the voting age to 16.  

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Fair.Vote is a campaign which aims to equal the voting age across the UK to 16. Launched by Association of Colleges (AoC) and National Union of Students (NUS), it looks to bring together individuals and organisations from across the UK and politicians of all parties to allow 16 & 17 year old’s the vote. 

A Private Members Bill introduced by Labour MP Peter Kyle is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 11 May 2018.

With Scotland already having a voting age of 16, and Wales potentially about to follow suit, the bill aims to stop England lagging behind other parts of the country.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:

“Lowering the voting age to 16- and 17-year-olds is something that should be welcomed by politicians from across the political spectrum given the rise in young people’s participation in politics.

“With young people’s turnout astonishingly rising in the last General Election, it’s time to think boldly about enhancing Britain’s democracy and the future of our country. In this country you can marry at 16, you can pay taxes at 16, so what’s stopping you from having the right to vote?”

Ian Austin said:

“16 and 17-year-olds hold many responsibilities in our society, and extending the vote to them would engage them in the political affairs, current events, and democratic processes that impact their lives.

“Lots of young people in Dudley have got in touch to ask me to support this campaign so I’ll be backing this bill as it goes through Parliament.”

MP supports votes for 16 year old's

Dudley MP Ian Austin was in Parliament this week to support the campaign to lower the voting age to 16.  

Dudley MP Ian Austin is backing a campaign by Citizens Advice’s to tackle the excess profits energy companies are making at the expense of hard working families in the Black Country.   

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Statistics obtained by Citizens Advice show that energy companies are making excess profits of £305 per household in the West Midlands – the third highest in the country.

Under the current price control, energy networks are set to make £7.5 billion in excess profits. As there are only one set of pipes and wires supplying energy to households there is a lack of competition to get lower prices.

With the regulator Ofgem currently consulting on the next price control Ian Austin is backing five pledges from Citizens Advice to make sure consumers aren’t left out of pocket.

Ian Austin said:

“Lots of families in the Black Country are struggling to make ends meet.  Wages here are below the national average and bills keep going up, with energy bills rocketing in recent years.

“Citizens advice help 4,000 energy consumers per day with their bills – over the winter there were many stories about people having to choose between eating and heating.

“It’s terrible that families are paying an average of £350 straight on to the profits of energy companies.

“That’s why I am backing this campaign to make sure hard working people in the Black Country aren’t footing the bill for these energy companies.”

Notes:

Citizens Advice pledges:

1. Profits are lower than the previous price control, to more accurately reflect the relative low risk for investors in this sector.
2. The value of any unspent funding for infrastructure projects is returned to consumers promptly and in full.
3. Industry business plans and regulatory decisions are directly informed by consumer (including future consumer) feedback and research.
4. Companies are required to publish complete information on their performance, financial structures, gearing and ownership.
5. Innovation funding and incentives support consumers in the transition to a low-carbon future, particularly those consumers in vulnerable circumstances.

Regional profit statistics: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LbI45KmS1cPNG3BYQe1zOOK_cXsAr9LL/view

Citizens Advice Regional Update: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vxvYXlqVsNHDavKPK2vzdBF-rVeeit05/view

MP tells energy companies: stop putting profits before people

Dudley MP Ian Austin is backing a campaign by Citizens Advice’s to tackle the excess profits energy companies are making at the expense of hard working families in the Black...

Dudley North MP Ian Austin will visit the Citizens Advice Dudley Borough in Stone Street, Dudley this Friday to meet Laura Thomas, the Chief Executive, as part of their pre-opening event and see the new service they are offering people across the Borough.

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Laura and her team of staff and volunteers helped 17,000 people in Dudley last year. Their work directly prevented 600 people losing their homes and they brought a huge amount of money into Dudley last year, helping local people claim £15 million in benefits they were entitled to. They deal with lots of advice issues including debt, housing, employment and welfare problems when local people have nowhere else to turn.

Currently the team is spread out over four offices, some of which are completely unsuitable for disabled people and do not have the resources to provide the amount of support people require. People have to queue for hours for an appointment and some are turned away because there just isn’t the capacity to see everyone.

The new Super Service on Stone Street, when at full capacity will have 20 contact centre assessors on the phones, so most straight forward enquiries can be dealt with over the phone instead of needing a longer face-to-face meeting.

There will also be ten interview rooms where fully trained advisors and caseworkers will offer face to face advice, an information hub where people can be supported to use computers to have their advice questions answered online, and a crisis line for people who can’t pay for a call. The new service has full disabled access via a wheelchair accessible stair lift and lift to the second floor.

For people with very complex support needs, a generalist casework team will be working across a variety of existing and new venues Borough wide to help those that need this specialist service.

In addition, although the staff have not be recruited yet, Citizens Advice have set up a webchat and email room where 10 advisors will be on line for people who would like to access the service in this way. This new part of the service will be developed over the coming months.

Laura Thomas said:

“We have spent the last 18 months restructuring and remodelling our organisation and listening to the feedback of people who use our services to ensure we are fit for purpose now and in the future. 

“For a long time, we have not been able to meet the demand across the Borough and have not been able to provide the best support to everyone who needs us.  We look forward to being able to be person centred in how we deliver advice and guidance across the Borough.”

Ian Austin said:

“Laura and her team do fantastic work across the Borough and I am delighted to go and see the new office which will enable them to help even more people.

“I think these changes will improve the service local people need. They will be able to help more people and you’ll be able to get help over the phone or online which should be much easier and more convenient for most people. Those that can’t will still be able to see someone for a longer, more detailed help.”

MP to visit new Citizens Advice super service in Dudley

Dudley North MP Ian Austin will visit the Citizens Advice Dudley Borough in Stone Street, Dudley this Friday to meet Laura Thomas, the Chief Executive, as part of their pre-opening...


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