Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

News

 

Today I’ve written to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) together with supportive MPs calling on them to take action on banks charging extortionate fees for unarranged overdrafts. Whilst these fees are part of banks’ business models, they are almost always massively out of proportion with the actual overspend and hit people already in financial difficulty very hard. The Labour Party is committed to capping these unarranged fees. This is an important step towards protecting vulnerable customers.

 

The FCA’s latest figures show that vulnerable people with financial difficulties are being treated as cash cows by the banks, getting repeatedly hit with these charges. It’s symptomatic of a banking culture that treats people as assets to exploit rather than customers to be served. Unarranged fees are just one aspect of unfair banking practice. I have led two debates in Parliament exposing the dreadful treatment of small businesses by banks and the campaign for an inquiry into unfair banking is growing. 

 

See my letter to the FCA below; 

 

Time to Stop Banks Exploiting Vulnerable Customers

  Today I’ve written to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) together with supportive MPs calling on them to take action on banks charging extortionate fees for unarranged overdrafts. Whilst these fees are part of banks’ business models, they are almost...

The Severn Tunnel will be closed between Saturday 16 June and Friday 6 July, impacting services between Bristol Parkway and Severn Tunnel Junction and between Filton Abbey Wood and Patchway.

This will mean diversions and on some journeys coaches between Bristol Parkway and Newport.  Network Rail have set up a dedicated webpage GWR.com/SouthWales2018 with information for customers.  You can also find information for specific journeys using their online journey planner tool GWR.com/Check

Network Rail recently announced that the amount of improvement work across the UK was leading to a backlog in their timetable validation department.  This is the part of Network Rail that approves revised timetables and enters them into the journey planner system, which all information and ticket sales enquiry sites (including our own website) then draw from. 

This led them to move from confirming timetables 12 weeks ahead of changes to 6 weeks ahead.  This new deadline is now also proving a challenge for Network Rail and we are working closely with them to help. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) have also announced that are investigating to support customers.

It does however mean that customers are not getting as much notice of detailed changes as they, or we, would like, and revised timetables are not always as we have expected. 

It also means that timetables on journey planners are not showing the correct timetable, sometimes not until very close to the work in question, and this applies to these works. We are therefore doing all we can to make sure customers double check train times before travel.  This includes pop ups on the website, advice at stations, and some direct customer communications.  

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact me using the details below and I will contact Network Rail.

Phone: 02921 329736

Email: jo.stevens.mp@parliament.uk 

Timetable Changes Due to Work on the Great Western Network

The Severn Tunnel will be closed between Saturday 16 June and Friday 6 July, impacting services between Bristol Parkway and Severn Tunnel Junction and between Filton Abbey Wood and Patchway....

I have joined a number of my Parliamentary colleagues in writing to the Prime Minister to ask that she stands up for the hardworking Sainsburys employees who are set to to lose out because of unfair contract changes.

Under the proposed changes, all employees will lose their paid breaks, there will be widespread cuts to premium pay including a shortening of nightshift premium hours and a scrapping of Sunday premium pay, and shop floor staff will no longer receive bonuses. However, the scrapping of the bonus scheme will not affect the CEO, Mike Coupe, or his fellow management team.

Staff describe morale at the store as at an ‘all time low’, with many concerned that they cannot afford to stay in the job that they love, despite having worked at the organisation for decades.

We are appalled that unscrupulous contract changes will see 10% of their staff lose up to a staggering £3,000 per year. Sainsbury’s is one of the high street’s most longstanding and well-respected brands. The pay rise that some of their employees will receive under these proposed changes should be welcomed. But under no condition should this be to the detriment of the estimated 13,000 employees who are set to see their wages slashed. We are completely dismayed that a company of Sainsbury’s reputation would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen for a whole array of deplorable decisions that will hit hardest their most dedicated, loyal and long-term staff.

Currently over 104,000 colleagues and customers have signed a petition against the changes, you can access the petition by clicking here.

Full Letter:

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Unfair Sainsburys Contract Changes: Joint Letter to Theresa May

I have joined a number of my Parliamentary colleagues in writing to the Prime Minister to ask that she stands up for the hardworking Sainsburys employees who are set to...

 

 

This week I called on the Government to end the practice of charging children for British citizenship. I have signed an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to end the practice of charging a fee to children for registering for British citizenship. 6 years ago it was estimated that there were 120,000 undocumented children in the UK. Tens of thousands of them will have been born in the UK and will therefore automatically be entitled to British citizenship. But, they cannot enforce their rights and obtain citizenship documentation because the government is charging extortionate fees of over £1,000 for each child registration. That is a sum that very few families can afford. The government is actually making a profit on the fees.

 

 

The recent Windrush scandal illustrates the way the government treats people without the correct documentation. To put children in this situation is unforgiveable.

 

 

 

 

 

End the Practice of Charging Children for British Citizenship

    This week I called on the Government to end the practice of charging children for British citizenship. I have signed an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to end...

My constituency, Cardiff Central, has the fifth highest proportion of private renters of any constituency in the UK. Almost 37% of Cardiff Central constituents live in private rented accommodation. So the issue of unfair letting agency fees is never far from my mind.

My constituency surgeries are frequently attended by people suffering at the hands of unscrupulous landlords and agents, who hold all the power and use it to rip off and mistreat tenants.

That is why I spoke in a debate on the Government's Tenant Fees Bill, which would ban letting agents from charging unnecessary fees to tenants. In Wales the Welsh Government is also in the process of bringing similar legislation.

Jo Stevens MP speaking in the House of Commons chamberI would like to see fees banned across the whole of the UK, and soon. This unfair practice needs to stop.

You can watch my speech here, or read the transcript below:

Banning Letting Agency Fees

My constituency, Cardiff Central, has the fifth highest proportion of private renters of any constituency in the UK. Almost 37% of Cardiff Central constituents live in private rented accommodation. So the... Read more

Each month I send out an email newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and the constituency.

Click here to read my April news.

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Would you like to receive future editions of my newsletter? Click here to sign up.

My Email Newsletter

Each month I send out an email newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and the constituency. Click here to read my April news. Would you like...

This week I have co-signed a letter by my Labour colleague Rupa Huq MP to new Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The letter asks him in his new role to continue the review which had been taking place into protests outside abortion clinics and the possible introduction of 'buffer zones' to enable women to access health care without fear of harassment.

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Letter to Home Secretary on Protests Outisde Abortion Clinics

This week I have co-signed a letter by my Labour colleague Rupa Huq MP to new Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The letter asks him in his new role to continue... Read more

I was pleased recently to visit Gassy’s bar on Salisbury Road in Cathays to see behind the scenes of the £250,000 investment five months on from its re-launch.

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We are lucky to have such a vibrant mixture of pubs and bars in Cardiff Central – and I am pleased to see Stonegate investing in them. As a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Beer, I believe it is vital that we treasure the diverse range of pubs across our city.

Gassys has a new quirky look with abstract paintings, graffiti, and neon lighting, and it has soared in popularity since the redevelopment, leading to further expansion of the bar’s team. Craft beer, tin can cocktails, sports and live entertainment aiming for a fun atmosphere, just some of lure that has attracted the city’s millennial in their droves.

During the visit, I was introduced to the front and back of house team, and took the chance to learn about Stonegate’s apprenticeships and careers in management including manager Nathan Jones who has worked his way from bar to manager under the company’s development programme.

It was great to see first-hand the success of Gassy’s since the investment. Hearing about Nathan's fantastic career story, the sourcing of beer from local breweries, and opportunities offered for local bands to play - fitting in well with the ongoing campaign to promote live music in Cardiff - really does show the huge benefits of the pub and bar sector to our local economy.

Visit to the Newly Redeveloped Gassy's Bar

I was pleased recently to visit Gassy’s bar on Salisbury Road in Cathays to see behind the scenes of the £250,000 investment five months on from its re-launch.    ...

Ahead of Christian Aid Week, I was pleased to attend an event in Parliament to find out about activities and events taking place during the charity’s annual fundraising week in Cardiff Central. Last year, an amazing £11,324 was raised in Cardiff Central during Christian Aid Week.       

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This year Christian Aid Week is encouraging the British public to stand together with the millions of displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes around the world.

More than 40 million people are internally displaced by conflict, accounting for approximately two thirds of those who find themselves forced from their homes.  A further 24 million were displaced by disasters in 2016 alone.  Yet, because they haven’t crossed a border, the general public rarely hear about them.

As you may know, I have a special interest in Myanmar and Colombia – both of these countries are current examples of places where the number of IDP’s is staggering – recent estimates show that Myanmar has 644,000 IDPs, and Colombia has 7,246,000.

Despite the huge number of people affected, situations of internal displacement receive almost no political attention, funding or support.

Christian Aid works with local partner organisations around the world to help internally displaced people. This includes working with partners in Haiti, where thousands of people have been displaced by natural disasters in recent years.

You can see the value in Christian Aid’s work when you consider the story of Vilia - she was left homeless by the earthquake in 2010 and her mother was killed.  Bereaved and homeless, for Vilia, her husband and their seven children, life became a struggle.  They didn’t even have a safe place to sleep.

Christian Aid’s local partner, KORAL, helps local people prepare for disasters.  In the aftermath of the earthquake, it reached out to Vilia and built her and her family a new home, that was safe, stable and strong enough to stand up to natural disasters. 

Ahead of Hurricane Matthew, KORAL was able to warn local communities, helping to evacuate around 5,000 families and saving many lives. In the immediate aftermath Christian Aid and KORAL distributed urgently-needed shelter materials, hygiene products such as soap, food seeds and cash, so people could buy other items that they really needed. Disaster-resistant homes were built, giving people safe, secure places to live. Of the dozens built before the hurricane hit, only one lost its roof in the disaster, and Vilia’s home was able to shelter 54 people over several days following the hurricane.

I was pleased to meet with Christian Aid this week, to hear about the great work that is being done in Cardiff Central and across the country to help people around the world who have been forced from their homes. For millions of people across the globe, Christian Aid's work provides vital support. I encourage my constituents to get involved in Christian Aid Week events in Cardiff Central where they can.

If you’d like to donate, or find out how you can get involved, please click here.

 

Supporting Christian Aid Week in Parliament

Ahead of Christian Aid Week, I was pleased to attend an event in Parliament to find out about activities and events taking place during the charity’s annual fundraising week in...

 

Today I challenged the Attorney General on whether the new Director of Public Prosecutions will receive sufficient resources to make sure that the recent problems about prosecution disclosure of evidence in criminal cases gets sorted.

 

Over the past year we have seen the very concerning impact of the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) failing to deal with disclosure of evidence properly. In 2017 over 900 cases collapsed or were withdrawn due to the failure by the CPS to disclose evidence that might have assisted the defence’s case. This is an increase of 70% on the previous year. This is leading to a greater risk that innocent people aren’t being provided with evidence that would exonerate them and trials of individuals who might be guilty are collapsing unnecessarily. The new Director of Prosecutions will need to fix this defective culture quickly but will only be able to do that if the money and resources are there. We have had 3 reviews on disclosure in the last 7 years and still the CPS are struggling to get a grip of the problem. The number of completed trials has fallen by 150,000 in the last 3 years.

 

I was disappointed that the Attorney General Minister couldn’t give a clear commitment in response. I don’t doubt his sincerity in wishing to deal with the problem, but the numerous issues in our justice system can be traced back to the government spending cuts. You can’t administer justice on the cheap.

 

You can see my question and the Attorney General’s answer below;

 

 

 

Will the new Director of Public Prosecutions get the resources to deal with disclosure problems in criminal cases?

  Today I challenged the Attorney General on whether the new Director of Public Prosecutions will receive sufficient resources to make sure that the recent problems about prosecution disclosure of evidence in...

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