On Monday 8 September I spoke at a meeting at TUC Congress on a new deal for older workers organised by Unions21.
One of the biggest challenges facing many older employees is juggling work with caring for elderly or disabled relatives. There are more than 6 million unpaid family carers in Britain. 60% are women, many of whom feel really stretched because they’re looking after a frail or sick parent – and helping out with the grandchildren, too. For working carers, this often becomes too much, and they have to give up work or reduce their hours.
Labour’s Older Women’s Commission has called for more flexible working arrangements for family carers, including new ‘adjustment leave’: a short-term period of leave or flexibility to help employees deal with an immediate crisis in care and to allow time to adjust to a new caring role. A future Labour Government will consult with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexibility for working carers, including through measures like adjustment leave.
On Friday 5 September, I voted in the House of Commons to support the Affordable Homes Bill – a proposed change in the law which would exempt some people from having to pay the bedroom tax. The Bill passed its Second Reading, despite the opposition of Conservative MPs.
Whilst this Bill doesn’t fully abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour has been calling for since September 2013, Labour MPs will seek to amend and strengthen it.
I’ve seen firsthand the huge distress and financial hardship caused by this tax, which hits some of the most vulnerable people in our city. Many of the 2,400 people currently affected in Leicester are genuinely sick and disabled. Moving is not an option for them as they need a room for their partner or children who provide vital care. Hitting these families with an average bill of £720 a year whilst handing millionaires an average tax cut of £100,000 is completely wrong.
We’ve been clear and consistent in our opposition to the bedroom tax. Even if this Bill doesn’t make it into law, the next Labour Government will abolish the bedroom tax immediately.
“Style your Space” is a free, nine week course run by Soft touch with the support of Big Lottery, Leicester Skills Council and the Arts Council. The course helps people who are out of work to gain new skills, by doing improvements to their homes.
I was really impressed with the creativity shown by all the participants. A new course will be beginning later this month – for more details on how to join please contact Kieran on 0116 2702706.
Parks Pantry is a lovely lunch club based at New Parks Library, I was delighted to be able to visit again last week: beef and vegetarian masala were on the menu, all created by chef Andy Duffin. The Lunch Club runs every Wednesday between 12-1pm. It costs only 75p for a meal, so do pop along if you can.