Archive | June, 2018

Toby speaking in last night

Government’s flagship disability benefit failing thousands of claimants with autism

New figures released following a Parliamentary Question by Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, have shown thousands of autistic people claiming Personal Independence Payments have wrongly been denied benefits.

Mr Perkins raised the Parliamentary Questions after a stream of constituents brought cases to him regarding loved ones with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who had been assessed by Atos and then denied Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The reply from the Department for Work & Pensions has revealed that from April 2013 to December 2018, 4060 claimants with ASD were denied PIP, but 67% had the decisions overturned upon appeal.

Mr Perkins said, “The parents and carers approaching me for support were all telling me very similar stories about the assessment process. There was false or misleading information included in the reports by Atos assessors, and no points awarded when there clearly should have been. Many of these claimants are people who struggle with communication and interacting with others, but then score no points for communication on the assessor’s report. This cannot be right. There is clearly either a deep misunderstanding of autism and the way it affects claimants, or there is deliberate attempt to deny people the benefits they need to live as independent a life as possible.”

Mr Perkins expects a significant increase in successful appeals for claimants with ASD this year, following the news that the number of people winning PIP benefit appeals has hits an all-time high in the first three months of 2018.

Mr Perkins added, “The large number of successful appeals shows that the system isn’t working and is leaving many people without the benefit payments they need for over 6 months. It is also clogging up our courts and needlessly wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxpayers’ money. This simply isn’t good enough and the Government need to get a grip on this now.”

Toby speaking in last night's debate

Figures obtained by Toby following a Parliamentary Question he asked of the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions have highlighted the scale of the problem

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Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with Toby and Lucy at the Chesterfield Labour Party gala dinner

GUEST BLOG: Outwood Academy Newbold student, Lucy Parker, asks the question ‘Should people automatically get paid more just because they’re older?’

Earlier this year, the national living wage was raised to £7.83 an hour while the rate for people aged 21 to 24 trailed behind at just £7.38 per hour. My question is; should the national living wage be applicable to everybody and not just people in the over 25 age bracket?

From a survey conducted by The Telegraph, research disclosed that the average person expects to move out of their parents’ house by the tender age of 22. This makes it apparent that people around the age of 22 will need an enhanced income to remain solvent, while paying a mortgage. The national minimum wage is the minimum pay per hour that workers are entitled to by the law. The national living wage is the minimum pay per hour workers aged over 25 are entitled to by law.  I would like to raise the argument as to whether pay should be determined by age, experience or work conducted. One issue that I’ve focussed on is whether the current minimum pay system discriminates against age and doesn’t considerer the capabilities and experience of the employee to determine the pay that they receive.

Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with Toby and Lucy at the Chesterfield Labour Party gala dinner

Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with Toby and Lucy at the Chesterfield Labour Party gala dinner

Some possible factors that could affect the wage that a person receives include; education, industry, company, location and age. The prevalent theme in these factors is that they are all able to be altered by us. We can enhance what level of education we have and whether we want to pursue higher education. We also get the choice regarding which industry we would like to enter, along with the instilled hard work to get work experience. The only factor that we cannot change is age. We can’t morph ourselves to be two years older just so that we receive a better wage, so why should this restrict the earnings a person receives? In addition, the pay system also doesn’t delegate pay in proportion to the need of the employee.  An employee aged 22 may have a mortgage as well as two young children, yet still earn less that a 25 year old who lives in their parents’ house. As a society we encourage young people to begin building their own lives from a young age yet where is the support in the minimum wage system to do this?

It is also apparent that when an individual becomes an adult on their 18th birthday they are given adult responsibilities. They can now vote in political matters, get married on their own accord, join the army and stand for parliament. Surely their entitlement to these adult responsibilities ought to entitle them to an adult wage? The low pay commission justifies the low wage by claiming “young workers are most at risk of being priced out of jobs”, meaning that working for less helps us get into employment.  But shouldn’t we employ people based on their experience and hard work rather than how much they cost the company? Young people can work for poverty inducing wages yet still give the exact same to the company. For example, two waitresses can both work the same number of hours, at the same workplace, doing exactly the same job with the identical responsibilities, yet receive enormous differences in pay. In addition, people with no experience automatically get paid more than their experienced colleagues. Why? Because they’re 18 and you’re not. Personally, I have worked in pubs and restaurants since I was 15 and therefore have two years of catering experience, however an 18 year old who is just starting their first job automatically gets paid more. Younger people earning lower wages also makes university seem more financially strenuous and adds to the concerns of the impending student debt. That’s why I believe that two people who conduct identical jobs should be paid the same amount of money. Under the equality act of 2010, a woman can challenge her boss if she is getting less than her colleague who conducts the same job role, yet with the factor of age, a pay gap is encouraged.

Good wages can encourage students not to pursue higher education as they may think that the short term buzz in each pay packet will be enough for them to get a mortgage and fund a household in the future. Additionally, younger people generally have less experience than their older peers. This would give the employer a reason to pay younger workers a lesser wage that their older colleagues as the workplace may have higher training costs and therefore will need compensating. In partial agreeance with the low pay commission, a lower wage does give the employer a bigger incentive to take on younger staff.  Young workers also do generally work in lower paying sectors such as retail and catering. But nevertheless, they still ought to be entitled to an equal wage that their colleagues are earning. Businesses also argue that they can’t afford to pay their staff a fair and equal wage, but then should a business be allowed to morally operate if it can’t afford to pay their staff fairly? Arguably, people aged under 25 and under 18 typically have less financial needs than their older colleagues. For instance, an under 18 year old probably won’t have learnt how to drive and therefore won’t have to fund a car, along with the dreaded first-year car insurance. Similarly, an over 25 year old is more probable to have moved out, and therefore will be more likely to need a bigger wage to fund their lifestyle. I understand that the pay brackets have got to be general to suit the majority of the population, but employers could easily notice the hard work that young people contribute and pay them an equal wage. Understandably, younger people can’t always expand their job roles while acting legally. For example, an older colleague may be able to work both on the bar and in the kitchen in a pub, meaning they can give more to the company and therefore are entitled to a better wage.

People who conduct the same job should be entitled to the same wage without regard to their age. If younger people were to earn equal wages, it would encourage them to save for bigger life events such as their first car or their university costs, along with their virtually impossible deposit on a house.  It would also provide them with the transferrable skills of budgeting and managing their money. Pay should be proportional to the quality of the work that is conducted, not an employee’s age. Society wants to give us adult responsibilities yet we are not entitled to an adult wage. The media claims that young people are being priced out of jobs, but the concept of being employed ought to be based on your contribution to the company and not the wage that you get paid. I think that they current minimum wage system is based on the traditional and stereotypical belief that older people work better than younger people whereas, younger people are freshly out of education and can bring new and innovative ideas to a workplace

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PUB

Pubs are at the heart of our community – as we have seen during England’s brilliant World Cup run

The power of sport to galvanise a nation and bring communities together has been demonstrated once again this year- as has the role of our pubs in providing a focal point for that collective excitement.

As a Football fan for the last 40 years, I can count the number of major Football tournaments that live long in the nation’s memory on the fingers of one hand.

The aspect of this year’s thrilling run that stands apart from previous exciting events is how little expectation this year’s squad took with them into the tournament. We English are great ones for building up false hopes and then seeing them dashed, so it has been a pleasant surprise that the team that so little was expected of have performed so well.

I write this before England’s semi-final so I have no idea of how the story ends, but what is beyond question is that the run through the tournament has captured the public imagination hugely. The game with Sweden attracted the biggest television audience for an England match for 22 years, and the words ‘it’s coming home’ have assumed a meaning all on their own.

But what is also indisputable is that the focal point of much of this collective merriment has centred around Britain’s pubs. Our pubs have been through tough times in recent years for a myriad of reasons. Changing social habits, tax and cost of alcohol, the numerous alternatives on offer, the smoking ban and the drink drive clampdown have all for different reasons reduced the pull of pubs. Those that have survived have had to develop an attractive offer to thrive when there is such competition for our social spend.

The renaissance in Real ales, a lively pub music scene, sports bars, hugely creative pub menus and more attractive spaces are amongst the benefits that successful pub operators have now brought about in order to attracts us behind their doors.

And whilst it is extremely welcome that there is so much innovation in this traditional sector, the value of having a place to be together and watch events like this summer’s world cup with friends cannot be overstated. Nor can the wider community value of Britain’s pubs.

Pubs are also an economic necessity. Over 1 million people are employed in pubs, which pay over £8Billion in tax revenues every year. In Chesterfield we have around 90 different pubs, and videos on social media have been showing Chesterfield’s pubs leading the way in providing scenes of collective ecstasy during this summer’s Football.

It is because of a desire to salute and celebrate Britain’s pubs that I have created the inaugural Parliamentary Pub of the Year competition in my role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs. The competition, which will give every MP from across Britain’s 650 constituencies the opportunity to nominate a great pub, was launched in Westminster’s famous Red Lion. Appropriately enough, the competition was launched just minutes before England took the field to play Colombia. Already dozens of MPs have signed up and selecting the ten finalists will be devilishly difficult, but as a pub enthusiast, it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to taking up!

If you would like to choose the pub you think I should nominate, email your suggestion with a description of not more than 100 words as to why it is a winner to toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk and let’s tell all of Britain about Chesterfield’s great pubs.

Cheers!

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Toby with volunteers at the Air Ambulance charity shop on Burlington Street

Chesterfield MP celebrates National Volunteer Week by visiting the local Air Ambulance shop

National Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place annually between 1st-7th June and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering across the UK. During this week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK.

Toby visited the local Air Ambulance Shop in Chesterfield, which turns over in excess of £110, 000 per annum and contributed almost £35, 000 to the Air Ambulance service after last year which allows two air ambulances to be operated, covering over 3850 square miles. On average they have a 13 minute response time, responding to an average of 6 missions per day. Every product sold within the shop costs only £1 and their stock ranges from clothing to DVDs.

Toby said, “I think that it’s important that we acknowledge the time and effort that the volunteers devote to such important causes that may not be able to operate without their crucial help. It was great to learn more about the Air Ambulance Shop and to see how quickly volunteers turn new donations into shop ready goods.”

In 2015, volunteering inputted more than £22.bn to the UK economy. This is about 1.2% of GDP, showing the tremendous contribution volunteers make to society.

Toby with volunteers at the Air Ambulance charity shop on Burlington Street

Toby with volunteers at the Air Ambulance charity shop on Burlington Street

There are currently 22.6 million active volunteers that regularly help UK charities.

If you would like to find out more about the Air Ambulance you can visit their website at www.dlraa.co.uk or you can visit their shop at 20 Burlington St, Chesterfield S40 1RR.

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Dementia Action Week pic for website

Chesterfield MP marks Dementia Action Week

There are over 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, and this figure is set to rise to over 1 million by 2021. Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins is calling for greater awareness of those issues that affect people with dementia and the need for social care.

Toby attended the Alzheimer’s Society ‘Fix Dementia Care’ Event, which highlighted the work that the Alzheimer’s Society has been doing ahead of the upcoming Green Paper on adult social care.

Mr Perkins said, “I was pleased to learn that in North Derbyshire CCG, the diagnosis rate is 68.1% higher than the national average, whilst 20.47% of the Chesterfield’s constituency population are over 65.”

Toby met with people affected by dementia, who explained how dementia had affected their lives and the struggles they have faced in attempting to obtain funding for their mothers care.

If you would like to find out more about the Alzheimer’s Society and the support they can provide, please visit https://www.alzheimers.org.uk

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20180420_171451

Toby Perkins MP backs new support group for parents of children with Autism and other mental health needs

Local Mum, Nicola Gilbert is looking to set up a support group for parents, like her, whose children have mental health needs, but do not currently fit the criteria for support from organisations like Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Nicola has recently been through the process of having her child referred to CAMHS and has found the process extremely frustrating, only to find at the end that her child does not meet the criteria for support. In addition to this, there is very little support available from elsewhere for Nicola, her child or her family. During this process, Nicola came into contact with many other parents, whose children also did not quite meet the criteria for support but also had mental health needs. This gave Nicola the idea to create a support group for parents who are in a similar situation to her so that advice and best practice can be shared between them.

For further information regarding the support group Nicola can be contacted by emailing SpaceEmpowers@gmail.com or by joining the Facebook Page SPACE – supporting parents of Anxious Children Empower.

Nicola said “The most valuable part of my journey has been meeting parents with the same frustrations and hearing their experiences. This has been hugely beneficial and the support group will give other parents the confidence to share their story. Together we will empower each other.”

Toby added “I have been in contact with CAMHS on Nicola’s behalf and I was disappointed to see that there was very little support available. During this challenging time for Children’s Mental Health services I think it is important that support is available for parents and I support Nicola in providing further support for other parents”

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

Surgeries

I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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