• Sexual harassment: a demand for urgent change at Essex
    The recent BBC investigation into sexual harassment has put Essex has highlighted a system that is seriously failing students. It is totally unacceptable that complaints of sexual harassment can take several months to be investigated, leaving students that have been directly affected to suffer enormously. The toll this has taken on the students affected cannot be overestimated and cannot be undone. We owe it to every student that has ever been affected by sexual harassment to take this moment seriously. So on behalf of our 16,000 Students’ Union members, today we’re demanding that the University of Essex introduces the following urgent and fundamental changes: 1. INTRODUCE PROPER SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS THROUGHOUT THE 'REPORT AND SUPPORT' PROCESS Students must no longer be left unsupported or uninformed at any part of the process 2. URGENTLY UNDERTAKE A DETAILED REVIEW OF THE EXPERIENCE OF STUDENTS AFFECTED BY SEXUAL HARASSMENT As a Students’ Union we called for this action to be taken in May this year – now demand that this must be acted upon urgently 3. ALL INVESTIGATIONS INTO SEXUAL HARASSMENT MUST BE COMPLETED WITHIN 60 DAYS Currently only 80% of complaints are resolved within the timescale recommended by the Independent Adjudicator – this needs to be 100% 4. INTRODUCE TRANSPARENT REPORTING OF ACTION TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO REPORTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT The University must report regularly to students on the number of cases, the length of time these have taken and summaries of actions taken 5. INTRODUCE COMPULSORY CONSENT AND BYSTANDER TRAINING FOR ALL UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX STUDENTS Online training modules are not enough. These sessions have to be in person and must happen in the first week of the new academic year 6. INTRODUCE COMPULSORY SEXUAL HARASSMENT RESPONSE TRAINING FOR ALL FRONTLINE STAFF AND PERSONAL TUTORS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX Before the start of the new academic year, all members of staff in student-facing positions must be properly trained on how to respond to reports of sexual harassment and provide support to students in these circumstances 7. ALL OF THE SERVICES THAT OFFER REPORTING OR SUPPORT RELATING TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT MUST BE PROPERLY COMMUNICATED TO STUDENTS From the start of the new academic year, support services such as Student Support or SU Advice can no longer be hidden away or not clearly visible to students that need to access them 8. ESTABLISH A SINGLE PROCESS BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY AND THE STUDENTS' UNION FOR MANAGING INCIDENTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT Immediate changes are needed as the current two-tier system is disjointed and confused and leaves students lost and unsupported 9. PRIORITISE CASES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OVER MINOR CONDUCT OR ACADEMIC ISSUES The University owes it to those affected to prioritise cases of sexual harassment over minor conduct or academic issues 10. RECOGNISE THAT THE UNI IS GROWING QUICKLY AND SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS NEEDS TO GROW WITH IT Additional support cannot afford to be a short-term fix: it must continue to grow in order to keep pace with Essex’s growing student population It is critical that all of the above actions must be applied equally to all three University of Essex campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton – this is an issue that affects all students equally and no campus should be unfairly prioritised. HOW YOU CAN HELP: We believe strongly that we have to act now to address the issue of sexual harassment at Essex and we’re committed to working on all of the above actions. You can show your support and help us demonstrate how many of our members care about this issue by signing our petition calling for urgent action to be taken.
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    Created by University of Essex Students' Union . Picture
  • Ban online gambling ads
    It is important for the mental well being of the people of our country and the devastating consequences the addiction to these sites causes. Homes lost and lives ruined, thousands of pounds swallowed up by these sites which are designed to keep people spending.
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    Created by Marie Gabbitas
  • Raise Housing Welfare for Young Adults
    With half of all people in the United Kingdom using homelessness services being classed as a young person (Under 25), we need to take a stance and look after our youths. The welfare state has consistently penalised this age bracket solely because of their age and the result has been catastrophic. Sign our petition today and take a stance. Together lets try and raise the housing benefit and save thousands of young lives.
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    Created by Charlie Hunt
  • Age Gap Tax: Stop Pensioners in Hastings & Rye Missing Out
    From 15 May 2019 a pensioner whose partner has not reached State Pension age yet will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit. This could affect many ‘mixed age couples’ in Hastings and Rye, which has a higher than average older population and, as we know, is also one of the most deprived places in England. Some mixed age couples could lose up to £7000 a year which would push many below the poverty line. We are asking our local MP, and Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, to stand up for pensioners in her constituency and protect them from the Age Gap Tax
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    Created by David Hannam
  • Lockers for homeless people
    There has been a massive increase in homelessness with figures of people sleeping rough, in tents or on buses having risen as much as 103% since 2010. Life expectancy for a rough is 30 years shorter than the rest of the population. Having to carry and look out for all your possessions -including valuable possessions such as ID or sentimental items- around can be both physically straining and taxing on the body and mentally difficult and leaving feeling of shame and embarrassment. While getting affordable housing for all has slowed at an alarming rate at least giving a safe place with for homeless people to store stuff would help them in meantime till they get off the streets. No one wants to have their bed around all day. By providing lockers to access in safe public areas can help give them a small improvement in quality of life.
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    Created by Joseph Bethel
  • Make maternity pay fair for those with multiple jobs
    To cut a long story short, I could loose out on £1337.70 of maternity pay because I have two jobs! I am not alone in this. We need a transparent system that allows all mothers to take their full income into account when calculating maternity pay, no mater their working situation. Currently, if you are eligible for statutory maternity pay through an employer, you are not eligible for maternity allowance- even if your income from your employer is a small fraction of your total earned income. This means that many new mothers are missing out on thousands of pounds in maternity pay simply because the system does not provide an option to take your full income into account. For those on a low income already, this is the difference between eating and not eating, at a time when the health and wellbeing of new mothers and and babies are hugely vulnerable. It presents unnecessary stress for pregnant women, which can effect the health of an unborn child. After celebrating the news of my pregnancy with my employers, I was soon shocked to discover how complicated and unfair the maternity pay system is. Along the way I came across these responses from people I went to for advice (I am paraphrasing): Citizens Advice Bureau - 'Oh no, I hate maternity pay, it's so complicated. I'll have to ask my supervisor'. My employers (who have been extremely supportive)- 'I've asked for advice from other HR and finance people I know, but no one could help as they were worried about misadvising'. HMRC- 'yes, you do seem to fall into a bit of a loop hole' and 'I don't really know what to suggest' IT SHOULDN'T BE THIS HARD! Maternity pay for working mothers falls into two categories: Statutory maternity pay (for employees earning over £118/week) and Maternity allowance (for self employed people and those who do not qualify for SMP due to low earnings or not being employed for the minimum term). As far as I am aware they both pay up to £145/week for 39 weeks, and all of this money comes from the government (not your employer) through national insurance contributions. If you earn less than £145/ week you can claim 90% of your earnings. This doesn't seem too bad... However, I discovered that because I qualify for SMP through my part time job ( just £5/week over the threshold, ) I cannot apply for Maternity Allowance, which would allow me to take my other earnings into account. So I would get £110.70 /week rather than £145. To cut a long story short, I could loose out on £1337.70 of maternity pay because I have two jobs! This seems wildly unfair, but I can imagine that my circumstances are the tip of the iceberg. There will be people out there who only only just hit the threshold, in the same trap but losing more of their entitlement because the system doesn't recognise their situation. We need a system that allows all mothers to take their full income into account, no mater their working situation. This could be a system that allows SMP to be topped up with MA, or one calculation method to fit all. Here are some tips for those in my position: *I AM NOT AN EXPERT So lease check out your facts before you make any rash decisions* ACT FAST! your employer can do the maths to work out roughly what you might be entitled to before your 'qualifying period'. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and it may come down to the difference of 1p. HMRC had the most accurate advice and YOU CAN CALL THEM to ask questions, check your qualifying period etc. My employers were great, but many would not bother to do the digging that they did and it helped me understand the situation. HMRC employee help line 0300 200 3500. Your 'QUALIFYING PERIOD' is the 8 weeks/2 months from which they take your average income. It is not so easy to work out- for me it was 4 and 5 monthly pay days before my due date, approximately week 17-25 of pregnancy (before you are obliged to tell your employer) but it may depend on a few things like how you are paid and when you are due. I worked out that I either needed to have my pay cut by £50 during my qualifying period (so I don't qualify for SMP- seems bonkers, right?), or earn about £350 more (so I qualify for more)- your employer may be supportive and let you adjust your hours accordingly. If you DO NOT QUALIFY FOR STATUTORY MATERNITY PAY then you can take income from multiple jobs into account through MATERNITY ALLOWANCE including self employment. CHECK YOUR NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS online, you may need to set up an account to do this. For maternity allowance you need 13 contributions in the 66 weeks before leave- if like me you're trying to work all this out before you've done your tax return(for my self employment), you won't be able to see the current year, but you can pay at the end of the year- I also believe your can back pay some contributions, so check it out ASAP but don't fret. DON'T TAKE THE FIRST ANSWER you are offered, digging about may make your maternity leave a lot less daunting. Try not to stress out (I did not manage this one). I do not know anything about shared parental leave but I'm sure that's a whole other barrel of fun!
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  • Stop sending misleading letters to GPs
    The department for work and pensions (DWP) are sending doctors misleading letters stating that their patients do not need a “fit note” anymore because they’ve been found fit for work. This letter will leave severely ill and disabled claimants unable to obtain Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to which they are entitled pending appeal. This threatens the doctor – patient relationship and puts patients at risk of damaging their health further and leaves them in serious financial difficulties. Case Study Like thousands of others, Louis* was too ill to work and needed the vital income ESA provides – but his claim was refused. Louis was blocked from claiming ESA as he awaited his hearing, due to a misleading letter sent from the DWP to his doctor without Louis’ knowledge. Louis had to rely on food-bank vouchers, went into debt, accrued rent arrears and faced an increased risk of eviction. It took moving GPs and relying on new evidence from a clinical psychologist stating how his mental health would deteriorate further if he did not obtain the fit note, and therefore the benefits he needed to survive. Louis is not alone. These letters are sent to the GP of every person after they have been refused ESA - before they've finished the appeal process. 88% of our clients win their appeal and are entitled to ESA again. It is not for the DWP to interfere with the GP and their patient. Sign the petition today.
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    Created by Ella Abraham
  • Save St Neots (HDC) Customer Service Centre
    Many residents of St Neots will have no easy access to local benefits, council tax and housing queries. Without a local District Council Office anyone who has no transport, has mobility difficulties, no access to the internet or simple can’t afford the bus fare to Huntingdon will be unable to contact the District Council in a timely and convenient manner. Huntingdon District Council have in the past said they will keep the office open. Now they have reneged on their decision. Please sign to let them know how important this facility is to the town
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    Created by Michelle Edwards Picture
  • Stop the loan system on Universal Credit
    It puts people into debt and living on a reduced amount causing unnecessary suffering and hardship
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    Created by Bradley McAllister
  • High Beech School transport, our children's lives are worth more.
    This change in service is endangering the lives and safety of the children that are being forced to use the service. This change is also endangering the children not using the service by causing greater traffic volumes outside the school.
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    Created by Ellen COOPER
  • No more PIP assessments for people with Life long disability or conditions
    Young people and Adults with special educational needs and a lifelong disability cannot self-advocate, nor can we rely upon the system to protect them any longer. Advocates come and go and social workers are not always available for the most vulnerable people in society, this must be addressed as soon as possible. These people are not shirkers, or workshy, they are genuinely disabled and being told despite evidence to the contrary that they must work, or that they don't qualify. They cannot defend themselves and quite frankly, our government should be doing its level best to protect these people, instead poorly qualified assessors employed by an American company, whose sole aim is to earn profits is in charge of this. We are being let down and it must stop, this interrogation type of assessment whereby an assessor assumes guilt before assessing is not protection, it is intimidation.
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    Created by Mandy Bell
  • No one moving onto Universal Credit should be left worse off
    The government have said that no one should be made worse off by moving onto Universal Credit. But people, like me, who are moving onto Universal Credit due to a "change in circumstances" aren't getting any protections. And are losing hundreds of pounds a month in income. I moved onto Universal Credit two years ago when my wife sadly lost her battle with cancer. I had to quit my job to look after my two young children and I was left waiting for weeks before my payment came through. Basic rights are put in jeopardy such as food, water, and a roof over your families head. The government aren't doing enough to address this. Please will you sign my petition calling on them to make sure no one moving onto Universal Credit is left worse off?
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