People’s Millions – Applications now open

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Many community groups will be interested to learn that applications for community funding from ‘The People’s Millions’ is now open and will run until noon on Friday 16th May.

The competition has been running since 2005 and is a great way to inspire your local community.  The People’s Millions is run by the Big Lottery Fund and ITV and was set up to award National Lottery funding to community projects up and down the UK that will improve the lives of local people.

This year there are four awards of up to £50,000 on offer in each of the 19 ITV and STV regional news areas across the UK.  The competition is open to voluntary and community groups, schools, statutory health bodies and local organisations or partnerships.  Your submission can cover a wide range of topics from youth and environmental projects to local schemes that help improve employment prospects or just ideas to help local people make their community a better place to live.

The projects that are successfully shortlisted will feature on STV regional news in November 2014 over three nights competing for viewers’ voters.  To enter please go to:

www.peoplesmillions.org.uk/

And to find out more, please visit:

http://bigblogscotland.org.uk/2014/03/11/what-could-50000-do-for-your-community/

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have an idea that can inspire people to make our local community a better place, I would be very happy to support your submission.

Question to the Cabinet Office on Trade Unions

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Yesterday, I raised the issue of trade union subscriptions during Questions to the Cabinet Office.

Many employers, including the Government, deduct the subscription fees of their employees who are trade union members directly from that employee’s salary.  The system, known as “check-off”, is well established and is an inexpensive way for employers, trade union members and trade unions to work together effectively.

However, there are now concerns that the Government are now trying to end the system of “check-off” for government departments, an attempt which is politically motivated.  This would have a significant impact on trade union members as they could be forced to pay for subscriptions from the bank accounts and therefore incur bank charges etc.

This government fail to recognise the importance of trade unions generating growth and wealth in our country and there approach to this shows just that.  Trade unions are an important voice for people at work and in wider society, and have a central role to play in boosting training, pay and conditions for their members and helping Britain win the race to the top.

Click here to watch my question and the Minister’s response. (http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14990&st=11:34:21)

Minimum Wage – Warm Words but Cold Reality from the Government

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Last Thursday saw the monthly departmental questions for Business, Innovation and Skills.  On this occasion I asked Vince Cable about the recent announcements on the National Minimum Wage.

resize.axdWe’ve heard warm words from the Chancellor George Osborne about an increase to £7, but these words have failed to materialise into reality.  It’s clear to me that it was all for political posturing, and was confirmed recently when it was revealed that the Conservatives published a memo for its MPs telling them how to avoid having to pay the minimum wage.

You can watch my question and the Business Secretary’s response by clicking this link.

Consumers should be at the Heart of the Economy

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At the end of January, I closed the Second Reading debate for the Opposition on the Government’s Consumer Rights Bill.

The British public is paying the price for a Government whose economic policy depends on balancing the books out of the pockets of consumers. With millions of families struggling with the cost of living, I believes it’s time to put the power back into the pound in your pocket.  The Government’s Consumer Rights Bill will doing nothing to help that.

The Coalition is offering little offering through this legislation and should go much further. Instead of giving real powers to consumers to help prevent these problems, the best it can do is 30 days to get your money back.

The Bill will now go through it’s parliamentary process, where Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Stella Creasy MP, on behalf of Labour, will try to amend it to truly put consumers at the heart of the future of the British economy.

You can read my speech here.

Clean Up Cruelty

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I recently attended the BUAV reception in Parliament and discussed with their staff, the challenges that they face in fighting against animal experiments.

Ian Murray 2Since 2010, I have used only BUAV certified products to clean my constituency office.  I was delighted to reaffirm that commitment and was presented with a certificate.  I believe it’s now time to end animal testing for all household products.

Ian Murray 3BUAV are running a campaign to end experiments on cats and dogs.  Home Office statistics report that 3,214 dogs and 202 cats were used in experiments in Great Britain in 2012.  This represents a 6% increase for dogs and a 32% increase for cats on the previous year.  I know that many of my constituents share their homes and lives with cats and dogs and they will join me in calling for an end to their use in experiments.

For further information, visit the BUAV website by clicking here

We are ‘Beer Champions’…

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I was delighted to receive a special ‘Beer Champion’ award for my work in helping to secure last year’s historic cut in beer duty in the Budget.

CAMRA reception 25 Feb 14 IMurrayThe special award is a joint initiative from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), all of whom wanted to recognize my role in supporting Britain’s national drink during 2013.

Brewing and pubs are vital to the local economy in every part of the country.  All three bodies have joined forces again this year, and are campaigning for a freeze in duty in this year’s Budget on 19th March.

Mike Benner, Chief Executive of CAMRA, comments:

This reward recognises Ian for his invaluable support for local publicans.  Ian really helped in drawing attention to the harm caused by tax increases totaling 42 per cent over four years.”

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, comments:

I want to thank Ian for making a huge difference in achieving the historic duty cut in 2013. We are delighted to honour this achievement in the best way possible – with a great new beer.

Keith Bott, SIBA chairman, said,

The small, local brewers, who make up the bulk of SIBA’s membership, applaud the work of Ian in the campaign to scrap the Beer Duty Escalator last year.  Brewers now feel more confident about the future of the UK’s brewing industry, and able to make long term business plans.

Taken for a walk – Guide Dogs UK

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I was delighted to visit Guide Dogs UK in January for a blindfolded walk with both a dog and a cane.

Currently, the charity are working to highlight the difficulties many blind and partially-sighted pedestrians experience with street clutter.  This follows on from the fantastic stall they had at Labour Party Conference, where participants had to get their golfing shoes on to putt around various street clutter.

IMG_2840I had an absolutely fascinating morning with Inca (pictured) and the Guide Dogs UK team.  Having the opportunity to walk with a blindfold with the assistance of both Inca and a stick brought home the everyday challenges that those with visual impairments face.

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