Sep 18

Keeping online debate free from hate

Luciana Berger with (l-r) Ian Murray and Peter Cole from the Society of Editors,  Stephen Williams MP, John Mann MP and  Eric Ollerenshaw MP at the code launch

Luciana Berger with (l-r) Ian Murray and Peter Cole from the Society of Editors, Stephen Williams MP, John Mann MP and Eric Ollerenshaw MP at the code launch

The rise in digital technologies, social networking and media convergence has meant that more and more people are viewing content online.

A rise in the reporting of internet trolls, spamming and online hate crime has meant that media sites have found themselves forced to take a tighter control of what users publish on their websites.

With an increasing number of newspapers using a digital platform to increase their readership alongside maximising the power of social networking, effective moderation of online comment has never been as important.

The Society of Editors has produced a useful new code to help people judge what is and is not acceptable comment online. It will help news outlets make the fine judgments between strong comment and abuse. It may also help organisations running websites that allow user comments and assist users themselves to better understand the issues.

As a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, I know how important it is to encourage debate which prevents racist bile and hate crime that closes down discussion of important issues.

I was pleased to support the launch of the guide and hope that editors learn from the best practice contained within it. I look forward to continuing to work with the Society of Editors and others to ensure our public debate is civilised and free from hate.

The All-Party Group is now challenging civil society to step-up to the mark set by the Society of Editors so that we can all enjoy sharing views and opinions online.

Sep 15

Stepping out for health and wellbeing

Walk for health (800x595)We live in a beautiful, vibrant city, and I was lucky enough to be reminded of that yet again when I joined a Walk for Health session organised by the city council and Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust.

The proven health benefits of building some gentle regular physical exercise like walking into a daily routine are enormous and include getting a better night’s sleep, reducing stress and improving mental well-being and reducing the risk of obesity.

When you are able to do that with some lovely people on a walk that includes the World Museum, the city centre and the Pier Head and Waterfront, even the rain can’t dampen the spirits.

Walk for Health offers a total of 14 different walks each week around Liverpool parks and open spaces with something to suit everyone.

You can find out about locations and times and book a walk on 0151 295 3256.

Sep 12

I am heading back Down Your Street

Politicians are out of step with people’s real concerns – right? I say wrong.Luciana-Logo-1

I have begun the latest round in my bid to meet as many people as possible face-to-face across the Wavertree constituency.

I write to residents in advance and people can put a poster in the window inviting me to knock on their door and talk directly to them.

I’m accompanied by local Councillors so that we can take up issues there and then, and listen to your views and concerns about the issues that are important to you.

Here is where I will be in the coming weeks:

Friday September 12

Church, 4.30pm-6pm

Friday September 19

Childwall, 4.30pm-6pm

Friday October 10

Kensington, 4pm-5.30pm

Friday October 24

Old Swan, 4pm-5.30pm

Friday October 31

Wavertree, 4.15pm-5.30pm

Of course, Down Your Street is only one way of contacting me.

If any constituent wants to get in touch in the meantime, then please call 0151 228 1628 or email luciana4wavertree@hotmail.co.uk and I will do all I can to help. You can also make an appointment at my weekly surgeries.

You can follow me on twitter @lucianaberger and read all my news on my facebook page here.

Sep 09

Sign up for adventure and development

Princes trust logoThe next Prince’s Trust Team programme for young people looking for adventure and personal development starts on September 15 – so if you are interested, think about signing up now.

The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service scheme is run out of Toxteth Firefit Hub and lasts for 12 weeks. It is aimed at people aged 16-25 who are unemployed and will not affect your Jobseeker’s Allowance.

It is ideal for those who want to improve their confidence and for those whose qualifications are holding them back.

People who have been on the scheme in the past say that it offered them practical skills, a nationally recognised qualification and a real sense of achievement through making a difference in their community

Up to 15 people will be recruited to the scheme, take on community projects, attend an action-packed residential week and get two weeks’ work experience.

You can sign up or find out more by popping into Toxteth Firefit Hub, 115 Upper Warwick Street, Toxteth L8 8HD and asking for Mark or Jade, telephone 07968 527 980 or 07837 476 406 or email the team at: jadecotter@merseyfire.gov.uk or MarkWilson@merseyfire.gov.uk.

Sep 08

Mental health at the heart of our vision

Huffington postLabour leader Ed Miliband has committed to making mental health a priority for the next Labour government.

I know that as the shadow minister responsible for mental health we are putting it at the heart of Labour’s vision for an integrated health and social care system.

This is to make sure that mental health gets the focus and attention it so desperately needs.

The Tory-led government has well and truly broken its promise to value mental and physical health equally.

Under the Tories, according to the experts, our mental health services are in crisis.

Funding has been squeezed, the number of specialist doctors and nurses has dropped and more and more vulnerable people are not getting the help that they need. We are also seeing more and more children being treated on adult wards

It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the right services are in place for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Rather than watching from the sidelines, Ministers must urgently get to grips with this crisis in our mental health services.

Sep 05

Voting against the bedroom tax

Luciana Berger with Rachel Reeves and Bedroom tax poster (800x584)Today, I, along with my Labour MPs, will be trying – again – to vote down the hated bedroom tax which was introduced by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

We are committed to getting rid of the unfair tax if elected at the General Election in May 2015, but are determined to use every possible opportunity to make the Tory-led government abolish it before then.

Today, we will support a backbench attempt by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George’s to exempt certain categories of household from the bedroom tax.

His Private Members Bill does not go as far as the full abolition we want to see, but we will take any opportunity to limit the impact of the tax. That is why I will be supporting his Bill so that it has the best chance of progressing through to its next stage.

We will do what we can to strengthen and extend the Bill’s scope.

In November last year, we forced a vote in the House of Commons to abolish the Bedroom Tax and in February this year, we supported a Bill to abolish the tax put forward by Ian Lavery MP in February this year.

We will not give up until the bedroom tax is abolished.

The tax penalises people who rent from a housing association and have a spare bedroom, even if it is used regularly for visiting family. The government said that people should move to smaller homes, but the truth is that there is a shortage of suitable accommodation.

People have been stuck and forced to pay, hitting vulnerable people through no fault of their own. The average family will lose £720 a year.

It is a cruel and unfair policy. The government has admitted that two thirds of those affected have disabilities, and another 60,000 are carers.

The government’s independent evaluation of the policy revealed that just 4.5 per cent of affected claimants had been able to move to smaller accommodation within the social sector, that 60 per cent had fallen behind with their rent after just six months, and that there was ‘widespread concern that those who were paying were making cuts to other household essentials or incurring other debts.’

The Liberal Democrat leadership – despite voting for the bedroom tax to be introduced as part of the Coalition government – now claim that they recognise it is having an unfair impact on people.

They should join us now in voting to get rid of the tax altogether.

Sep 01

Unleashing the talent of the young

Young people wanting to get on and make something of their lives are getting next to no help from this Tory-led government.Young people generic

Since 2010, 18-21 year olds have experienced a 10.3 per cent real terms drop in their weekly earnings, and 22-29 year olds’ weekly income has suffered a similar 9.4 per cent fall.

There are 15 million people under the age of 35 in this country who have the talent and energy to drive the country forward, if they are given the chance.

Labour will provide the opportunity of education right up to the age of 18, the choice of traditional academic study or a new technical baccalaureate that can lead on to quality apprenticeships and good quality jobs

There will also be a compulsory jobs guarantee and help with training for those under 25 year olds who find themselves out of a job for a year or more.

We will tackle the barriers that prevent young people getting a decent, affordable home. We will build 200,000 homes a year by 2020 and stop lettings agents who charge rip off fees not just for the landlord but for the tenants too.

Under Labour, work will pay for the under 35s as we introduce a lower 10p starting rate of income tax and we will end the abuse that is exploitative zero-hours contracts.

We will expand free childcare for those in work, funding an increase from 15 hours of nursery care for three and four year olds to 25 hours each week by collecting a further £800 million a year from the bank levy.

We will also set up a UK Advisory Forum on the under 35s to assess the impact of policy on Generation Rent and improve co-ordination and accountability across government.

Labour in government will be determined to make Britain the best place in the world to start a career, start a family and fulfil personal ambitions.

Sep 01

Supporting victims of crime

If you have been a victim of crime, our Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy wants to hear from you.

Together with her deputy Ann O’Byrne, the Commissioner is drawing up plans on how best to support people who have been victims of crime and wants them to reflect people’s own experiences.

The consultation results will also be used to make decisions on funding support services.

You can complete an online survey by clicking here or take part in one of the focus groups being organised. To find out about these, please click here or telephone: 0151 777 5186.

Aug 30

Labour will act to protect rail passengers

Rail pricesOur rail fares are among the highest in Europe. I know from constituents who contact me, that there is real concern about the future of our railways under this Tory led government.

Commuter season tickets have risen on average a painful 20 per cent since 2010, fuelling the cost of living crisis.

It is almost impossible to work out if you have paid the lowest fare available for the service you are on.

That is why, if Labour wins the General Election next year, we will create a legal right to the cheapest ticket for your journey, ending the confusion so many passengers experience.

We will introduce a strict cap on rail fares, removing the ‘flex’ arrangement that allows train companies to raise fares more on some routes, and we will create a new organisation – a single guiding mind – to plan investment and services.

This new body will bring Network Rail together with a representative passenger rail organisation.

It will contract routes, coordinate services, oversee stations, fares and ticketing, plan new rolling stock, raise skills and be accountable for customer satisfaction.

We will also review the franchising process and put in place a system that is fit for purpose.

The franchising fiasco on the West Coast Maniline that runs in to Liverpool cost taxpayers over £50 million in direct costs and hundreds of millions more in investment delays and franchising extensions. That is all money that should have been spent on improving our passenger services.

Instead of fiasco, Labour will legislate to allow a public sector operator to take on new lines and challenge the train operators on a level playing field.

This is a rail reform package that will ensure better value for money for both passengers and taxpayers.

Aug 29

Labour will act to curb rip-off energy market

It is shocking to realise that household energy bills have risen twice as fast as inflation since 2010 and they have risen four times as fast as wages since 2010.Energy freeze

In fact, household energy prices in the UK have risen faster than almost anywhere else in the developed world since 2010.

This Tory led government has simply failed to tackle the rip-off energy companies.

With the General Election due in May 2015, this could the last winter that people struggle to pay rip-off prices, before Labour takes office and freezes gas and electricity prices while we reset the energy market and make the Big Six energy companies serve their customers and not just their shareholders.

There will be a real choice in May 2015 between another five years of rocketing energy bills, rip-off tactics and poor customer service under the Tories – or Labour’s plans to freeze energy bills until 2017, saving the average household £120, and reform the energy market for the future.

Under Labour, no company will be allowed to mistreat its customers and get away with it.

We will introduce a simple new tariff structure so people can compare prices easily and create a tough new energy watchdog with new powers to police the market, including the
power to force energy companies to cut prices when there is evidence of overcharging.

The next Labour government will also give the regulator the power to revoke energy companies’ licences where there are repeated instances of the most serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions which harm the interests of consumers.

Labour will ensure a fair, transparent and competitive energy market that serves the interests of households and businesses.

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