MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, Stephen Lloyd secures a debate last week on the impact Universal Credit is having on the private rental sector

MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, Stephen Lloyd secures a debate last week on the impact Universal Credit is having on the private rental sector.

This is an issue I tried to address when I was last your MP. The then Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, was insistent UC tenants should receive their housing benefit direct and, in theory, they’d then pass the housing benefit onto the landlords themselves. I saw all those years ago this would lead to major problems - particularly in the private sector where, frankly, many landlords already don’t like letting to tenants on benefit and that this stipulation could kill the market stone dead. With 1.2m tenants in the private sector on benefit across the UK many of which are on automatic payments to landlords, as part of the previous benefits regime, and all of whom over the next few years will be moved to UC. So you can understand where I’ve been coming from!

On my return to parliament I saw immediately that I’d been proved right and landlords 'were' refusing to take UC tenants as all too often either the money wasn’t being paid over or there were long delays. So I ramped up my opposition again straight away, joined by many others including a number of the landlord trade associations all of whom I met soon after the election. They told me clearly what was happening on the front-line and it wasn’t pretty. I raised these concerns in the Chamber, by letter and generally lobbied as hard as I could for the government to finally see sense. Then, credit where it is due, they finally began to acknowledge what we’d been telling them - in my case for years - and did a U-turn announcing in the recent budget that it would now be possible for landlords to receive money direct on behalf of their UC tenants if they were on automatic payments under the old benefit system. There are still too many caveats though so I aim to keep pushing to get to where I believe the policy really should be; an automatic default payment to private landlords for anyone on UC. In the debate this week I was, unusually, also supported by three conservative MPs so I am hopeful we will win this one. Not least as it’s common sense.

Click the image below to view Stephen's speech in the debate.

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STEPHEN’S NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE

Eastbourne & Willingdon's Profound Sense of Community: Your response to my request for Christmas presents for those elderly and frail people in the DGH and in the community who would be on their own and not be receiving any presents on Christmas Day, was nothing short of sensational. Over 200 gifts were donated along with well over 300 individual gifts of Xmas nibbles. The feedback since from our wonderful NHS nurses both in the hospital and in the community who delivered the gifts on the day to their patients, has been just heartwarming to hear. The sheer difference to so many individual's day that your generosity made possible. Over the last few days I've had relayed back to me lovely stories of how peoples' whole face lit up when they received their surprise present. Just magnificent. My office team had also added a handwritten card to every single gift saying 'Happy Christmas, from Eastbourne' and that's exactly what it was. Thank you all for your kind support.

And of course my initiative was just the tip of the iceberg for what our town does over the Christmas period. I know that there were dozens of other similar acts of generosity across the community, which is why I am sure our town really does get that wise old maxim, "that to keep what you have, you must first give it away." Be it Eastbourne Rotary organising Christmas lunch for their home-alone guests at Our Lady of Ransom or Don and Abby McPhee's brilliant Variety Show on behalf of the Mayors two charities, Embrace and Rebourne Corner, at the Willingdon Golf Club a day or two before Christina's Day, or on the day itself at our beautiful Bandstand where there were plenty of volunteers collecting for Eastbourne Cancer Research and St Wilfred's; all these and so much more would have been going on across the community over the last week. I am absolutely convinced it is one of our town's core strengths - the commitment and passion to serve others, to put out our hand to help someone in need. And that is my New Year's message, my friends. We live in challenging times at the minute, of course we do. We can all see that, but if we approach 2018 with optimism and a continuing desire to help others less fortunate than ourselves, along with a continuing love and appreciation for our lovely Eastbourne. You know what - I believe we'll be just fine!

Happy New Year, folks, and I hope to see you around town.

 

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Another great week in Council by-elections

Fresh off of our fantastic November, with no less than SEVEN council by-election gains, we've had a great final week of by-elections for the year - holding both of the seats we were defending and gaining another seat in Waveney from nowhere!

Those fantastic results mean that at the end of 2017, we're the ONLY major political party to make net gains in Council by-elections - racking up a tally of +15!

The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition parties.

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Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country. So, without any further ado, onto the results!

💪 A stunning win from nowhere

Godalming Central & Ockford (Waveney) result:

LDEM: 37.8% (+37.8)
CON: 35.0% (-6.5)
LAB: 21.5% (-4.6)
GRN: 5.7% (+5.7)

No 'Something New' party (-17.0) and UKIP (-15.4) as prev.

📈 Holding AND increasing our vote

Watcombe (Torbay) result:

LDEM: 57.5% (+14.4)
CON: 31.1% (+7.9)
LAB: 10.6% (-8.4)
GRN: 0.8% (-5.3)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

No UKIP (-8.6) as prev.

🌠 A brilliant hold

Handside (Welwyn Hatfield) result:

LDEM: 52.4% (+16.7)
CON: 32.8% (-9.3)
LAB: 12.3% (-3.5)
GRN: 2.4% (-3.9)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

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Helen Rujbally wins Westway By-election

On Thursday, 30/11/2017 Helen Rujbally won a decisive victory in the Westway by-election for the Liberal Democrats, called following the resignation of popular Caterham councillor Caroline Warner.
Helen won both the District and Parish council seats that she contested, winning the District Council seat with over 50% of the vote, and beating local Conservative Councillor Eithne Webster to win the Parish Council seat.


Helen Rujbally says “I would like to say thank you to everyone that has supported and voted for me. I am over the moon and ready for the next chapter for both myself and Caterham on the Hill.”
“The biggest issue I found on the doorstep was the issue we have with street lighting. People don’t understand why huge amounts of money can be given to an art gallery, but there is not enough money for streetlights, and to be honest, neither can I. People need to know that these are the choices that the Tories are making.”
George Dennis, Liberal Democrat Parish Councillor for Westway Ward says “it brilliant to have such a hard-working addition to the team. I look forward to working with Helen on the many challenges we all face together here in Westway".”

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Maidstone, North Ward By-Election Victory

Liberal Democrats Gain Maidstone's North Ward from the Conservatives.

Liberal Democrats have gained the North Ward seat on Maidstone Borough Council left vacant by the sudden resignation of a Conservative Councillor. Councillor Rob Field's return to the Town Hall seals a Liberal Democrat clean sweep of all three seats in the ward.

Leader of the Council and Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr. Fran Wilson commented: "The trust placed in Rob by the residents of North Ward is a vote of confidence in the Liberal Democrats philosophy of working all year round not just at election time. Rob's victory proves once again communities who have experienced the effectiveness of Lib Dem representation stick with it."

Newly elected Councillor Rob Field added: "I would like to thank local people for their support and pledge to work tirelessly to tackle the many challenges facing North Maidstone."

Result

💪 Gaining from the Conservatives

North (Maidstone) result:

LDEM: 51.4% (+20.0)
CON: 26.0% (-6.0)
LAB: 19.3% (+8.0)
GRN: 3.4% (-2.1)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative. 

No UKIP (-19.9) as prev.

 

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Lib Dems win clean sweep of by-elections

The Liberal Democrats won all four of the council by-elections that were held last night, gaining seats from the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP.

The sweep of victories means that the Liberal Democrats have gained seven council seats in November, significantly more than any other party.

The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition.

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Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country.

💪 Increasing our vote

Westway (Tandridge) result:

LDEM: 53.5% (+17.5)
CON: 26.5% (-2.5)
LAB: 13.1% (-2.8)
UKIP: 6.9% (-12.2)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

💪 Gaining from Labour

Bridgemary North (Gosport) result:

LDEM: 57.9% (+57.9)
LAB: 22.9% (-49.0)
CON: 19.2% (-8.9)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Labour.

💪 Gaining from the Conservatives

North (Maidstone) result:

LDEM: 51.4% (+20.0)
CON: 26.0% (-6.0)
LAB: 19.3% (+8.0)
GRN: 3.4% (-2.1)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative. 

No UKIP (-19.9) as prev.

💪 Gaining from UKIP

Torrington (Torridge) result:

LDEM: 60.2% (+60.2)
IND: 15.5% (+15.5)
CON: 13.6% (-6.0)
GRN: 6.5% (-15.9)
UKIP: 4.2% (-16.8)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from UKIP.

No (other) Ind (-24.6) and Lab (-12.4) as prev.

What's next?

With the 2018 local elections just around the corner, the Liberal Democrats have never been more up for the fight.

Your support today could make the difference in those elections. Contribute today to help us win in May, by clicking here

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Eastbourne & Willingdon MP, Stephen Lloyd speaks up for WASPI Women!

I spoke this week in Westminster during an opposition day debate brought by the SNP on the issues affecting WASPI women. These are women who were born in the 50’s and whose pension age has recently been equalised with men. Though it was only an opposition day debate and an SNP one at that, the Chamber was pretty full as it’s an issue which affects many hundreds of thousands of women across the UK.

There was a considerable amount of humbug thrown around the Chamber as all sides appeared to profess complete ignorance of their own party’s culpability. A point I made forcefully in my own contribution; we are all culpable and we all let these WASPI women down. The Tories for not properly communicating the impact years ago when they introduced the pensions act in 1995, the Labour government who agreed with the changes for their 13 years of government but singularly failed to tell the women about what was coming down the track, the coalition for speeding up the age to be impacted and, from what I gathered during the debate, the SNP because they have the powers in Scotland to do something but prefer instead to just blame everyone else. Not an edifying sight frankly.

I went on to urge the government to pay WASPI women a proper transition payment to make up for their loss. It’s the least the government can do (it’s the least all of us can do frankly) and it would also be the right thing. This generation of women, our wives, our mothers, our friends, have been treated shoddily so less humbug and more honesty from all politicians I suspect would be appreciated. I will keep actively pressing the WASPI case in parliament.

CLICK THE BELOW to watch Stephen's speech from Wednesday's debate.

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Council slams ‘completely unacceptable’ delay to rail service linking Maidstone and central London

The full introduction of new rail services from Maidstone into central London has been delayed by up to a year, the Whitehall spending watchdog has said.

A metro-style timetable linking the county town to the capital was scheduled to be in place by the end of next year, but the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed this has now been pushed back until December 2019.

The Thameslink services were set to run via London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras and on to Cambridge with journey times to London Bridge expected tp be between 53 and 55 minutes, running half-hourly all day, Monday to Saturdays.

Most of the trains would terminate at Maidstone East ensuring passengers starting their journey to the city would be assured of a seat.

However, the delay was announced this week after the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail failed to make adequate arrangements to manage the launch of the new services, the NAO said, with Maidstone Borough Council leader Fran Wilson left furious.

“This is extremely disappointing news and I will be lobbying this issue on behalf of our residents and businesses,” she said.

“Despite being the county town of Kent we appear to be the last town on the train service list.

“I am certain everyone in the borough will join me in saying this is completely unacceptable.”

The DfT approved a proposal it had requested from Govia Thameslink Railway - which operates trains on the affected routes - to increase services more gradually in order to “manage the risks of each service change”, the report stated.

There has been a £474 million increase in the total budget for Network Rail’s infrastructure works to £5.5 billion as part of the £7 billion Thameslink programme, according to the watchdog.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We welcome the NAO’s findings that the Thameslink programme will deliver significant benefits for passengers and supports the recent decision to gradually introduce new services to protect passengers from disruption.”

Chris Gibb, chairman of the Thameslink Programme Industry Readiness Board, said: “By phasing the introduction of the new timetable in this way, we have front-loaded the benefits for passengers and then spread further changes in such a way that they can be more reliably introduced.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “The Thameslink Programme is transforming north-south travel through London to provide more frequent, more reliable journeys to new destinations for passengers and upgraded stations including the landmark, entirely redeveloped London Bridge.”

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Campaigners organise protest walk to save Langney Library

The Save Langney Library Campaign is holding a protest walk from West Rise Schools, along Sandpiper Walk, Heron Walk and Kingfisher Drive on Friday (December 1)

The walk, which will be led by Stephen Lloyd MP and Langney County Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, is to demonstrate against the proposal for East Sussex County Council to close the Langney library along with six other libraries and the mobile library service.

Councillor Alan Shuttleworth said, “People of all ages will be affected, and the walkers will include local residents, including parents and children from West Rise Schools. Many have already signed the petition to Save Langney Library.

“We invite all members of the community to join the Walk, and send out a clear message that Langney Library is a vital part of the Langney community. If the library were to be closed it will hit the youngest and most elderly people the hardest.

“I have had really productive meetings with the Langney Shopping Centre management. I hope that East Sussex County Council will listen to our representations.”

To find out more and to comment on the proposals before December 14, visit: http://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/economy-transport-environment/draft-strategy/.

 

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Stephen LLoyd's Early Day Motion calling on the Treasury to reduce the VAT burden on the Hospitality industry

I submitted an Early Day Motion this week calling on the Treasury to reduce the VAT burden on the Hospitality industry. The motion calls for the Chancellor to reduce Tourism VAT to 5% across the UK. The industry lies at the heart of the British economy. But what the UK Visitor economy urgently needs is to become more competitive relative to its European counterparts. That means reducing the high rate of VAT on tourism, allowing the industry to compete on its merits with France, Germany, Ireland and Spain. This is as true in Eastbourne as it is across every seaside town in the UK.

 

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