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It's a busy schedule working as the MP for Leicester South. We try to make sure we keep everyone up-to-date with important issues, topics that affect constituents. We do this with regular updates on the website, including this page, where we highlight news items.
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DECEMBER 2013

Jon Ashworth MP raises in Parliament issue of increased food bank use in Leicester

Wednesday December 18 2013


Jon Ashworth MP spoke in the Food Bank Debate in Parliament today, highlighting how Leicester has seen an increase in food bank usage.

In the last year food bank usage has gone up dramatically. According to the Trussell Trust over 500,000 people received three days’ emergency food from their food banks between April and December 2013. This is significantly more than the number helped in the entire financial year of 2012 – 2013, 346,992. One third of those helped are children.

Speaking during the debate, Jon said: “Many of my constituents will be disappointed that the Minister... showed no contrition whatever for the acceleration of food banks on the Government’s watch. The issue is not whether food banks existed four or five years ago, but the sheer explosion in the number of food banks and demand for them in the past 18 months.”

Of the 500,000 people referred to Trussell Trust food banks between April and December this year, 35% have been referred because of benefit delay. Benefit changes is the second biggest reason for referral, with this category accounting for 19% of referrals.

Jon Ashworth’s office has been instrumental in setting up a food bank in Highfields, and arranging for donations to be given to Linwood Food Bank and Open Hands Food Bank.

Jon has also been involved in the food drives organised by faith communities across Leicester. The Vaisakhi food drive, which took place on 13 April this year, saw 10,000 tonnes of food collected for the needy.

Highlighting the work that has been done locally, Jon said: “In the Saffron Lane area, there is an increase in the number of women going to food banks. Of course, it is not just the food banks.

I am proud to represent a tremendously diverse constituency, where all the Gurdwaras report an increase in uptake by non-Sikh people who go to them daily for the food that they hand out. Our Muslim organisations and Mosques are collecting food to be handed out in our food banks.”



jon

Jon speaking during the debate, raising the topic of the many food banks in Leicester

Jon spoke during the debate in Parliament on
Wednesday December 18
You can view the televised session by clicking on the Play button, and then skip to 17:58:06 for the start of Jon's contribution.

 

Jon Ashworth MP wraps presents as part of Toys on the Table day

Friday December 13 2013

Jon Ashworth MP helped to wrap and sort presents at Matrix House, Leicester.

The Toys on the Table charity works in the Leicester and Leicestershire area to provide new toys for children of all faiths who might not otherwise receive anything during the holiday season. The charity receives only new gifts from donors, or funds which can be used to purchase new gifts.

Toys on the Table started in the early 1980′s and is now run by a Board of Trustees. It has the support of the Leicester Mercury, BBC Radio Leicester, the Leicester City Council, the Leicestershire County Council, Rotary International District 1070, Sure Start, Home-Start, the Society of Leicestershire & Rutland Golf Captains, ESPO, the Salvation Army, Students and Staff of the University of Leicester and De Montfort University together with a number of other companies, schools, colleges and churches.

Jon, who this year donated a teddy bear for toddlers, said: “Since being elected as the MP for Leicester South I have always got involved with the Toys on the Table charity. Now more than ever there is a need for this amazing campaign.”


 

 

Jon prepares to wrap his donated teddy bear for toddlers

“As a father myself, I know how important it is to parents to give their children presents during the holiday season. Toys on the Table enables parents to provide those gifts at no cost, something which is particularly important for families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet in these tough economic times.”

“I encourage everybody in Leicester to get to their nearest drop-off point, donate a new gift, and make the holiday season that bit more special for families suffering from financial hardship.”


Photo above; Jon prepares to wrap his donated teddy bear for toddlers, photo right top, Jon and Terry Watts from Toys on the Table wrap the teddy bear, photo right bottom, Jon and Terry Watts with the wrapped present
Click any photo for enlargement
 
Jon and Terry Watts from Toys on the Table wrap the teddy bear
Jon and Terry Watts with the wrapped present

Jon Ashworth MP meets the winner of his annual Christmas card competition  

Friday December 13 2013

Jon visited Eyres Monsell Primary School to present a signed certificate, a framed copy of the Christmas card and a prize to the winner of this year’s competition, Michelle Campbell.

The festive picture by Michelle, who is aged 10, is on the front cover of Jon’s Christmas Card.

Jon said: “Michelle’s winning picture brings to life the joy and happiness of Christmas. Her drawing of all things to do with Christmas is perfect for my card.”

The designs by the three runners up are shown on the back of Jon’s Card. The runners up were Florence Brown, aged 10 from St John the Baptist Primary School, and from Rolleston Primary School Rhyann Elizabeth Adams, Aged 11, and Hayan Omar, Aged 5.

Jon commented: “I want to thank all the children that entered my competition his year. All the pictures were excellent and it was a hard decision to pick a winner. I hope all the staff and children at the schools in my Constituency have a very happy and Merry Christmas.”

 
Kerry Hill, Head Teacher, Jon and local Councillor Virginia Cleaver
Kerry Hill, the Head Teacher at Eyres Monsell Primary, said: “We are extremely proud of Michelle for being chosen as the overall winner and are pleased that schools are invited to take part in this festive competition, which encourages children to show their artist flair and share some Christmas spirit!”
 
Kerry Hill (Head Teacher), Samantha (Michelle’s sister), Diane (Michelle’s Mum), Michelle Campbell and Jon
Photo left, Kerry Hill, Head Teacher, Jon and local Councillor Virginia Cleaver, photo above, Kerry Hill (Head Teacher), Samantha (Michelle’s sister), Diane (Michelle’s Mum), Michelle Campbell and Jon.
Click any photo for enlargement
 

Jon Ashworth MP meets Royal Mail Posties

Friday December 13 2013

Jon Ashworth visited Royal Mail’s Leicester South delivery office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.

Speaking before the visit, Jon said: “I’m looking forward to meeting the dedicated, hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women and to see first-hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.”

“Postmen and women do such an important job at this time of year. I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.”

Joe Smeeth, local Delivery Office Manager, commented: “Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail. Our people pull out all the stops throughout the year to ensure mail is delivered quickly, but even more so over the busy festive period."


 

"We are grateful that Jon Ashworth MP will be coming along to see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”

“We’d like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings!”

The recommended last posting dates for mail are:

    Friday 20 December for 1st Class items

    Wednesday 18 December for 2nd Class items

    Monday 23 December for Special Delivery items


 
Jon in the loading bay
Photo, Jon in the loading bay
Click photo for enlargement

 

City MPs join market traders in support of Small Business Saturday

Friday December 6 2013

This weekend sees the first “Small Business Saturday” to take place in the UK. It coincides with one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

To mark the occasion, Leicester’s MPs are each getting involved in a variety of events to support local businesses.

This activity kicks off Friday 6th December, when Jon Ashworth MP and Liz Kendall MP will help sell fruit and veg as they shadow market traders on Leicester Market.

Liz Kendall MP said: “Our city has the largest and finest market of its type in Europe, with a history that stretches back over seven hundred years.

“Traders here are getting the backing they need from Labour locally with a £7m Investment Plan for Leicester Market.

”But we need national action if we’re really going to help our fantastic local businesses thrive. This means cutting business rates, freezing energy bills, creating regional business banks to boost lending and developing gold standard vocational qualifications including apprenticeships.

“You can also do your bit by remembering to buy local as we celebrate the huge contribution of Leicester firms on Small Business Saturday”

 

 
Jon talking with Vicki Chapple, the stall owner

Jon Ashworth MP said: “I’m happy to support Small Business Saturday. There are key hubs of small business in Leicester, and it’s important to recognise the value they bring to our economy. “

“I’m calling on the government to give Leicester small businesses they deserve by committing to a cut in business rates for small businesses.”

“Small businesses offer a livelihood to so many people, and that’s why it’s essential for any Government to support the work of small businesses.”


Photo above; Jon talking with Vicki Chapple, the stall owner, photo right top, Liz Kendall and Jon serving, photo right bottom, Jon serving on the fruit and veg stall.
Click any photo for enlargement
 
Liz Kendall and Jon serving
Jon serving on the fruit and veg stall.

Jon Ashworth MP pledges to support postgraduate students

Friday December 6 2013

Leicester MP Jon Ashworth and Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer have signed up to be funding champions with students from the University of Leicester.

In a special ceremony at the University’s Students’ Union building they pledged to support a National Union of Students’ checklist which calls on the government to “continue to play a key role in funding postgraduate education and ensure that the sector is not neglected in the allocation of public funds”.

The 'Postgraduate Champion' campaign follows an NUS report last year called 'Steps toward a fairer system of postgraduate taught funding', which proposed a government-backed loan scheme for postgraduate students.

Our present system of postgraduate funding means most students have to pay for their courses up front, often borrowing money from family or friends or being put off further study.

Jon Ashworth said: “Postgraduate study is integral to the UK's reputation as a research leader, and a funding model that takes this into account through the broadening of opportunity is essential.

“In addition, in terms of UK industry, postgraduate study produces highly-educated members of the workforce with the high-level skills that are central to the development of our national economy."

Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer added: “As an integral part of the student community, postgraduates make an important contribution to Leicester. It is postgraduate students undertaking pioneering research and work at our universities which will be crucial in securing future prosperity and competitiveness and ensuring we have the advanced skills needed to take forward the UK economy.

 
Jon with completed Member of Parliament’s Checklist
“Therefore, we need a fair funding settlement for postgraduate students. The government should continue to play an active role in postgraduate funding as part of a funding system that promotes fair access to postgraduate study.”

Michael Rubin, Education Officer at the University of Leicester Students’ Union said: “We are grateful for Jon and Rory’s support on postgraduate funding, an issue which is important for students right now."

“We’ve heard some heartbreaking stories from some of our students who are experiencing real hardship. Some simply can’t afford to pursue research in topics they are passionate about. We strongly believe that all levels of education should be fairly accessible to all students regardless of their financial background.”
 
Councillor Rory Palmer, Leicester City Council Deputy City Mayor, Michael Rubin, University of Leicester Students’ Union Education Officer, and Jon
Photo left, Jon with completed Member of Parliament’s Checklist, photo above,

Councillor Rory Palmer, Leicester City Council Deputy City Mayor, Michael Rubin, University of Leicester Students’ Union Education Officer, and Jon

Click any photo for enlargement

Jon Ashworth MP opens School Bank at Marriott Primary School

Friday December 6 2013

Jon Ashworth today officially opened the Clockwise School Bank at Marriott Primary.

The Clockwise School Bank has been running for three weeks and it is the only School Bank in the City.

Speaking before the event, Jon said: “The School Bank Scheme is a brilliant way for pupils to save regularly as well as helping to develop other skills such as teamwork, participatory learning and budgeting. Such skills will certainly benefit the children later in life.”

The School Bank Scheme is run by pupils from Marriott who take deposits for the School Bank on a Tuesday with pupils being able to withdraw savings on a Friday.

Catherine Stretton, Marriott’s Headteacher, commented: “The School Bank offers our children an early opportunity to learn necessary life skills in relation to financial understanding. The outreach sessions for adults are a great way to support parents who may consider going to unscrupulous lenders who may target our community.”

 

Jo Dowson, Clockwise’s General Manager, said: “We are thrilled that the Marriott has chosen Clockwise as its school bank. Not only will the children learn about the joy of saving for what they want, they will also be introduced to credit unions as a responsible and fair alternative to banking. We hope they will stay with us when they grow into adulthood and want their first Visa card, loan or ISA“

Jon Ashworth’s office runs a Clockwise outreach session at Marriott Primary School on Wednesday mornings where parents or guardians can apply for Clockwise loans.

Jon commented: “At a time when the high cost of payday lenders has finally been recognised it is essential that people can access cheaper forms of borrowing. I am pleased that my office is able to offer this facility at Marriott.”

 

Photo right top, Jon with the School Bank’s cashiers (left to right) Chantelle Mutsetse, Melissa Bell and Jaye-Leigh Mullaney, photo right bottom, Jon with the cashiers and some of the School’s savers.
 
Jon with the School Bank’s cashiers (left to right) Chantelle Mutsetse, Melissa Bell and Jaye-Leigh Mullaney
Jon with the cashiers and some of the School’s savers
Click any photo for enlargement
 

Jon Ashworth MP challenges Chancellor on rising energy bills in Autumn Statement

Thursday December 5 2013

Jon Ashworth MP pressed the Chancellor today in the House of Commons chamber during the Autumn Statement.

Jon asked Chancellor George Osborne about the rising cost of energy bills, and raised the profile of a case brought to him by one of his constituents.

Mrs Patricia Zachariah, of Leicester South, contacted Jon about her rising British Gas bills. British Gas are increasing her gas bill by 86%, and Mrs Zachariah contacted Jon for his help.

Jon commented: “Mrs Zachariah contacted my office about her rising energy bills. To have her energy bills increase by 86% seems deeply unfair, and I don’t know anyone who could afford to have their gas bill nearly double like that.”

“Quite rightly, she was outraged by this increase, and she contacted my office to see how I could help.”

Jon contacted British Gas about the case, but they insisted on increasing the bill.


 
Jon commented further: “Understandably Mrs Zachariah was very upset by this, and this is just one example of how energy companies are able to extort money from their customers year on year. There are people all over the country in Mrs Zachariah’s position. It’s not just a problem with one energy company – the problem is with the whole market.”

“This is a systemic problem, and it needs to be addressed. I raised this issue direct with the Chancellor during the Autumn Statement today, but he didn’t seem to acknowledge the issue. The Government just isn’t tackling the problem. But under Labour, people would see a price freeze on their energy bills.”

In September the Labour Party announced that it would freeze energy bills until 2017, and would reform the energy market to prevent such price increase.

Mrs Zachariah commented: “This is a really unfair price increase. The worst bit is that it’s a necessity. If the cost of alcohol or cigarettes go up then people can choose to cut back, but how am I meant to cut down on my energy when British Gas have already told me I’m a low usage customer?”
 
Jon Ashworth speaking during today's debate
Photo, Jon Ashworth speaking during today's debate
Click photo for enlargement

 

 

“I’m being forced to pay this increase, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t cut back on my energy use because I’m already using as little as I possibly can, and I just can’t afford it.”

Anyone living in Leicester South can contact Jon if they have an issue they would like him to help with.

 
 
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