• 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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    Created by molly Barrett Picture
  • 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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    Created by Carl Johnson Picture
  • Manchester Demands a Winter Homelessness Plan
    When Andy Burnham was elected Mayor of Manchester, he promised to end homelessness in the city by 2020. But, there is still no concrete commitment or plan in place that says exactly how this is going to happen, nor that this commitment will continue following his first term. Hundreds of people across Greater Manchester are living on the streets in temperatures that are unbearable. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority have released an article stating official figure has fallen, due to the A Bed Every Night scheme, however this alone isn’t enough. Without a proactive and preventative Winter Plan, this crisis will not end by 2020. As the GMCA continue to develop the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, the 10 boroughs should set a long term sustainable strategy that addresses the cause of homelessness, as well as offers solutions to those who are at risk and in need of housing.
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  • Disabled Parking at Hospitals in England
    England is the only part of the UK where hospitals routinely charge patients and visitors for parking at all. Guidance by the Department of Health & Social Care is that concessions should be available for disabled people.* Free parking should be allowed for disabled people because they: > Are commonly forced to visit hospital more frequently, precisely because of their disabilities > Generally have much lower incomes, often less than half the national average > Are much more likely to live in poverty** > Often have to meet extra costs directly caused by their disabilities * https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-patient-visitor-and-staff-car-parking-principles/nhs-patient-visitor-and-staff-car-parking-principles#fn:2 ** https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-facts-and-figures/disability-facts-and-figures#living-standards
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    Created by Roger C
  • Help To Abolish Bedroom Tax
    We are expected to pay the Spare Room Subsidy (Bedroom Tax) if we have a spare bedroom in the property that we rent. This means that people renting social housing, who often have the lowest incomes, are expected to live in a property which has only one bedroom per occupant, with children of the same birth sex being forced to share a bedroom until they are 16 years old. I am a transsexual man. I pay bedroom tax so my two daughters can have separate bedrooms and personal space as they go through the awkward teenage years. It is a huge insult to me that I am given equal human rights as a transsexual but that I have to pay a tax because of my children's sex. We initially had to move out of a three bedroom property when the tax was introduced, which caused us great distress and placed me into debt. The smaller property that we moved into suffered rising damp and we lost many possessions and furniture due to the poor quality of this cheap housing. Once some of my debt was paid, I changed the way our income was spent and we were able to move to a much better property but are paying bedroom tax again and I am in financial debt again. If this petition gains enough signatures, I risk loosing my privacy as a trans man. However, as my children get older, as they move out and start their adult lives- I still have to pay the bedroom tax, which means that I'll have to move house yet again. I find myself in debt every time this happens. It stops me from having any security with housing. If I have a job in one place and have to move again because I can't afford the bedroom tax, I can potentially loose my job. Any consistency I could create with a solid, long-term address is destroyed. I have been unable to maintain strong social connections because of changing address and since I have to focus my low income on our basic needs, I cannot support local business as much as I'd like to. Every time I move I need to refurnish our home, meaning that our situation never upgrades. It's a fight for some people to maintain basic needs at all. Moving home can force children into attending a different school. With children of different ages, as the eldest moves out, the younger siblings may have to move house so the family can avoid bedroom tax, which could damage their education. My children deserve a good solid foundation in life so they can have a great start as young adults, and adults like myself have the right to a secure lifestyle. Please sign this petition, the end of Bedroom Tax can only be beneficial to all of us. Window Tax was repealed in Britain in 1851. To this day we see old properties with bricked up windows, as a result of residents avoiding tax. It is a cruelty to force us into moving home to avoid this current Bedroom Tax. Please sign this petition and make the British Government see what a mistake they are making by continuing to enforce the Spare Room Subsidy.
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    Created by Volk Bowie Picture
  • Drive UC back to legacy benefits
    So many people are being scrutinised by this government and as a result, are suffering. Many stories have been shared in the media since this cruel system rolled out. It’s time for this government to be held to account. Enough is enough. Only the rich can survive in the UK today.
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    Created by Cindy Vanstone
  • ‘Weekly Payment Now’ on Universal Credit
    The current design of Universal Credit is one of the evils of our age. The design of Universal Credit was supposed to make it easier for people on benefits to move into employment. A key feature is that it is paid monthly and wraps all benefits into one payment including rent. There is a huge problem with paying benefits monthly. Because of the often chaotic nature of the finances of people on benefits, most poor people run out of money long before the month end. The result is that children go hungry for days, even weeks at a time and food banks proliferate. Moreover paying claimants the money needed for their rent, which they are supposed to pass on is folly. 73% of Universal Credit claimants are now in arrears on their rent, this is causing real strain on housing associations. Basically housing associations and landlords have become the lender of last resort to those on Universal Credit. But there is a sensible quick fix that will make Universal Credit work. It is repackaging an old idea. Pass a law that anyone in employment paid under £20,000 pa has the right to be paid weekly. Admittedly that will cause a short term cash flow issue for many employers. But that could easily be overcome if the Government lent every employer the right amount of money to move people to weekly pay. They already know all this information due to the HMRC real time submissions that employers are obliged to make to HMRC any time any payment is made to any employee. It would be dead simple to work out exactly the cash flow shortfall an employer would face, this could be advanced as a Tax and NI Credit and it could be repaid over an agreed period again by an adjustment to the amount of Tax and NI an employer has to make. Then simply, pay Universal Credit weekly and pay any rent element direct to the housing association or landlord. Then insist that ATMs and point of sale equipment in the supermarkets use fingerprint recognition technology and give access to benefit accounts using the ID God has given us all. At a stoke of legislation this would reduce the problem of running out of money for too long. Basically claimants are likely to be able to budget better on a weekly basis and if they make a mistake like drinking too much it only impacts their family for a week and not a whole month. So join me in asking Parliament to pass legislation to achieve this. It is so simple and sensible that it is quite remarkable that it has never been suggested. Adrian Hill
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    Created by Adrian Hill