Andrew Smith MP

On your side in Oxford East

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Andrew has pledged his support to the Energy Bill Revolution campaign for warm homes and lower fuel bills. Our homes are the least energy efficient in Europe and the poorest in our society are the hardest-hit by the resulting fuel poverty. On average, 25,000 people die in cold homes every year.

Andrew said, "When the Government's own figures show more families in fuel poverty than at any time for a decade and The Children Society says more than half of children in poverty cannot get the Government's Warm Home Discount to stay warm, we've got to take practical action to push down fuel bills and end fuel poverty."

Making our homes more energy efficient is a permanent solution to high energy bills and fuel poverty. Andrew is calling for carbon taxes already collected from our bills to be used to make 2 million low income homes energy efficient by 2020 and all low income homes energy efficient by 2025.

Unfortunately, the Government's recognition that making homes more fuel efficient permanently is the way to end fuel poverty is not matched with action. The Government says it will only improve homes 'where reasonably practicable'. The result has been meaningless fuel poverty targets at a time when we need the target to be met for all low income households with very few exceptions. The Government also proposes to meet the target by 2030, not 2025 as the campaign demands.

The Government's failings has pushed Oxford City Council to enact energy efficiency measures in its buildings and sheltered housing blocks. Three of the City Council's now have solar panels generating own clean, efficient electricity. A 'Warming Barton' pilot project that aims to create warmer homes in the city's most deprived area has now received extra funding to add 100 households.

With vulnerable people struggling to pay their bills, Andrew looks forward to a government that helps people on low-incomes to support themselves in warmer homes.

Andrew backs campaign for warm homes and lower fuel bills

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Oxford's campaign against carbon emissions will be weakened by a County Council proposal to axe all funding for county environmental groups.

Community Action Groups (CAG) Oxfordshire are the largest network of waste and carbon reduction groups in the UK. Their local and national award-winning expertise and experience have helped to make the low-carbon economy a greater part of our overall economy.

Andrew said, "I have written to the County Council underlining the importance of the contribution of the community-based low-carbon effort. I am very disappointed that the Conservative-led County Council are pulling the rug out from under the feet of over fifty community environmental groups. I have seen first-hand the tremendous work done by some of these groups, most recently the bike recycling workshop Broken Spoke Bike Co-Op. Cutting back on the biggest network of its kind in the country signals a total abdication of political leadership in the fight against climate change."

A recent report on the future of Oxfordshire's Low Carbon Economy, undertaken jointly by the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute and the Low Carbon Hub, forecast that 85,000 extra jobs could be great in environmental enterprises before 2030. The elimination of county support would hit the ambition to sustain a low-carbon economic change and the Council's own target of reducing carbon emissions by 50 per cent. by 2030.

Andrew calls on County Council to reconsider budget cuts to environmental groups

Andrew this Tuesday voted against the whip in favour of a motion in the House of Commons that Trident, Britain's nuclear weapons system, should not be renewed. Andrew was one of 35 MPs to vote for the motion.

Andrew said "I am completely opposed to nuclear weapons and have consistently voted against replacing Trident, irrespective of the Party whip. The current Government’s failure to engage in the current multilateral nuclear disarmament talks is very disappointing, and I have pressed them to change their policy on this.

Even Henry Kissinger has recently said that "The classical notion of deterrence was that there was some consequence before which aggressors and evildoers would recoil. In a world of suicide bombers, that calculation doesn’t operate in any comparable way.""

Andrew will continue to vote against renewing Trident at every available opportunity.

Andrew votes to not renew Trident

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Andrew has been campaigning hard to get a better deal for care workers. Up to 220,000 care workers are being illegally paid below the Minimum Wage, according to the National Audit Office.

Andrew called a debate in the House of Commons in November and secured a commitment from the Lib Dem Care Minister to get tougher on employers illegally paying staff.

In that debate, Andrew made clear his vies and those of his constituents: "The way many [carers] are treated is an utter and shameful disgrace and it's the job of this House and the Government to do something about it." Since the debate, the Government have done nothing.

Andrew has written to the Department of Business, with the cross-party support of 36 other MPs, to request a meeting with Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson MP to press for Government action in getting HMRC to enforce minimum wage law.

The Government have named and shamed other companies for illegally paying staff below the minimum wage, but have never done so with a care company, although an HMRC investigation of home care companies showed nearly half were guilty of not paying the minimum wage.

HMRC have a helpline for employees to raise issues of non-compliance with minimum wage law, but so few carers call up because they feel too intimidated by the danger of losing their jobs. It has become apparent, too, that when carers have called up HMRC, there have been long delays and insufficient action to tackle the problem.

Andrew said, "Care workers do one of the most vital jobs in the country. They go unsupervised into the homes of the frailest, make sure they take the right drugs, help them with washing and the toilet, prepare their meals and often provide the only human warmth and companionship an elderly person will have all day."

"For all this many of them are only paid only £6 or £7 an hour, with no guaranteed work, zero hours contracts even when they don't want them and zero respect from some employers."

"We are calling on Government to match their promises with action, and finally ask HMRC to proactively investigate compliance with minimum wage law in the care sector."

You can hear coverage of Andrew's letter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme here.

Andrew demands a meeting and action from Government on illegally low pay for care workers

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