Archives - September 2009
Tony Urges Constituents to Avoid High Interest Debt
During the current economic difficulties Tony Lloyd MP is urging the people of Manchester to avoid the high interest debt, which comes along with 'pay day loans' and doorstep lending from loan sharks. Tony said:
"Debt is a reality of life for many of us and now more than ever it is important that people know about the reputable lenders on the market. The loan sharks and pay day lenders who charge customers incredible interest rates apparently without concern about the affordability of repayments are not the only option to those on low incomes finding themselves in financial difficulties."
Credit unions have increased in popularity in recent years and offer people who may be unable to get loans from a high street bank a safe, low interest alternative to loan sharks and 'pay day loans'. Manchester is already home to several Credit Unions but because Credit Unions operate on a not for profit basis they do not have the advertising budgets enjoyed by their rivals meaning that many people are just not aware that they have options other than high interest loans.
A recent addition to Manchester's high interest loan market is The Money Shop. A payday loan of �90.01 taken out with them today is repayable within 30 days at �100, the interest payable on the loan is �9.99. The same loan amount can be offered to a member of The Manchester Credit Union with interest on the loan amounting to just 20 pence.
Les Ireland, Chair of the South Manchester Credit Union said, "In the present economic climate the Credit Union is probably the only organisation giving loans freely and at a good rate of interest to those on low rates of income."
Credit unions have traditionally offered loans to members based on the savings they hold with the union but the Department of Work and Pensions Growth Fund has given Credit Unions funds to offer 'Handy Loans' to people facing financial problems who have not previously been saving with a Credit Union. This means that there is now a real fast access alternative to high interest lenders and opens up the Credit Unions to a wider range of customers. These 'Handy Loans' are available at a low interest rate, repayments are calculated based on ability to make repayments and they offer people on low incomes a real alternative to high interest lenders.
Tony said, "The Money Shop are today quoting loans with interest rates of 260.2%, these loans appeal only to those in the most serious financial difficulties and it is these people who can least afford to meet the demands of such extreme interest rates. I want to make sure people in Manchester know about the Credit Unions operating in the city and the help that they can offer. Handy Loans are an excellent addition to the services Credit Union's can offer, the fast access available removes one of the big barriers for those in urgent need of financial assistance and I would urge anyone facing hardship to contact a Credit Union to discuss the help they can offer."
For more information, you can contact: The Manchester Credit Union - 0161 231 5222, South Manchester Credit Union - 0161 448 0200, Tony Lloyd MP - 0161 232 0872.
Ask Your MP with Student Direct
Student Direct ran its first 'Ask your MP' feature this week, below is the question from this edition and Tony's answer.
What do you think should be done to improve rape conviction rates in Manchester?
There is no circumstance when rape can be condoned. Rape is a gross criminal assault and its victims, female or male, are entitled to full support from the police and the court. Away from the newspaper headlines, victims often suffer acute trauma not just at the time but for years afterwards.
The positive news is that more women, though less so men, are prepared to report the offence of rape but conviction rates are unacceptably low at 6.1% in Manchester and 6.5% nationally.
Our government has asked Baroness Stern, an independent peer, to lead a review to report in the New Year which will examine how rape complaints are handled and seek to raise conviction rates.
Here in Manchester the Sexual Assault Referral Centre helps hundreds of people every year. It is a vital service helping victims of rape and helping to secure its evidence to secure successful prosecution of rapists.
All parts of our justice system have to raise their awareness and determination so that conviction rates are raised so that rapists see likely conviction as a real deterrent. Victims deserve this support.
Tony Visits Embassy Staff in Guatemala City
The above image was taken during Tony Lloyd's visit to the Embassy in Guatemala City. Embassy staff have made huge efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Here is their account of Tony's visit below:
"On Thursday 3rd September we had a visit from Mr. Tony Lloyd MP who came to meet our Embassy �"Green Team". We had the opportunity to present to him details of the projects that we have done in the Embassy to make it "greener".
"The FCO's mission statement is 'Better World, Better Britain' and the FCO is determined that all aspects of its operations at home and overseas are managed sustainably. We at the British Embassy in Guatemala City, recognise that our operations have an impact on the environment and we are committed to improve our environment performance in 5 areas: recycling, energy, water, transport and procurement.
"Every green team member had the chance to explain what we have done so far and our future plans:
"Rebeca said that one of the first steps to become green is to measure our impact on the environment. One of the tools we were given is the FCO carbon calculator, which is an online tool to help us identify areas in which to make potential carbon and financial savings. Another tool is to carry out an environmental audit of our operations with the aim of using the recommendations of an expert to implement key measures and start reducing our carbon footprint. We are also working on a Sustainable Operations Strategy in which we set specific targets to reduce our carbon footprint this financial year.
"Alejandra spoke about the activities we have done in the Embassy to encourage all staff to participate in our environmental practices and to change staff attitudes and behaviour. For Earth Day we showed staff videos about climate change. For World Environment Day, we had a pledge week. We are also carrying competitions among staff to lower the energy usage at everyone�s houses and to make a Green Christmas.
"Mark explained some of changes we have done in the Embassy to reduce our energy and water consumption. We fitted sensor lights in the offices and installed dual flush toilets in the Embassy and in the Residence. We are recycling paper, bottles, cans, glass and toners. With our recycling efforts to date in one year we have saved 35 trees!
"Carl spoke about procurement. We are now buying organic and biodegradable cleaning products and recycled paper made of plastic bottles. He also talked about our goal to become a Carbon-neutral Embassy by 2011 and about carbon offsetting. He also explained some of the efforts we have made externally on raising awareness on climate change.
"For the "Green Team" it was very useful and encouraging to have a visit of a person so interested and committed in this subject who has supported various initiatives in the UK to tackle climate change, Mr. Tony Lloyd."
Q&A with Douglas Alexander Event
Tony is pictured with Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, and Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Manchester Withington Lucy Powell. Tony and Lucy recently invited local party members to a discussion and question and answer session with Douglas Alexander on climate change in the developing world.
Help for Manchester Homeowners
Tony Lloyd MP is backing a new national campaign which could help more people in Manchester avoid having their home repossessed.
John Healey MP Labour's Housing Minister today launched a new national campaign to help struggling homeowners take control of their finances and make the most of the support available for them to avoid repossessions and stay in their homes.
A series of press, online and billboard advertisements will highlight the measures the Labour Government has put in place at every stage for homeowners to avoid repossession.
This is especially relevant in Manchester which has been highlighted as a repossession hotspot and will benefit from extra advertising.
Tony said: "Over 300,000 people so far have received help and advice in paying their mortgage since April 2008 which is fantastic news.
"I have often met with constituents who face losing their home and I know it is one of the most frightening experiences for people. Thankfully there is a lot of help out there and this campaign is about ensuring people in Manchester are aware of that. It is staggering that around four in five repossessions can be stopped but people just don�t know that this help is available. I would urge anyone in Manchester or from further a field facing difficulties to take advantage of the help available.
"This action stands in contrast to the lack of action taken by the Conservative Government during the last recession, who did nothing to help families facing the threat of repossession.
"Today the Conservatives have changed their words but not their actions. They are happy to advise people to take up the help that Labour has introduced - but voted against the funding to pay for key measures like our increased support for mortgage interest."
Concerned homeowners will be able to go to www.direct.gov.uk/mortgagehelp, or contact the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 for impartial advice, real life examples of people who have already benefited from support, and to develop a personal action plan tailored to their particular circumstances.
LGBT Labour at Manchester Pride 2009
Tony is pictured at Manchester Pride 2009.
Manchester Young Labour Policy Forum
On 22 August 2009 Tony took part in Manchester Young Labour's policy forum event. Young people were invited to contribute questions, thoughts and ideas to the leaders of the council as well as grill the people who run the city about the issues that matter to them in order to help develop new ideas that will be put forward to be included in the manifesto for the 2010 local elections and beyond.