At the time of writing this, the sun is belting through my office window and outside the plants and trees are bursting into leaf and flower – I hope it’s still sunny by the time you read this!
Unfortunately in some parts of the world very little is bursting into life due to massive deforestation. Trees are being cut down to be used for building or sold as fuel (sometimes in the form of charcoal or timber), while cleared land is used as pasture for livestock and plantation. The effects of deforestation can be devastating. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes.
This is why the Queen has launched The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).
This is a project to create a network of forest conservation initiatives across all 53 Commonwealth countries to mark Her Majesty’s lifetime’s service to the Commonwealth. The scheme was launched at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The QCC presents the opportunity to unite the whole Commonwealth family and save one of the world’s most important natural habitats – forests.
In my capacity as an MP I’ve been offered the opportunity to plant a tree in my constituency to celebrate The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. The tree (a Silver Birch, Rowan or Hazel) will be provided free of charge by The Woodland Trust.
If there is a suitable site in Fleetwood, Forton, Pilling, Preesall or Knott End for me to help plant one of these trees and you would like me to pursue this on behalf of your area then please do contact me. Email me on email@example.com or call my office on 01253 490 440.
The trees will be sent out in Autumn 2018 and guidance will be provided on how to plant and nurture them. I look forward to hearing from you!
To Universal Credit (UC) now. If you’re currently receiving working tax credit in Over Wyre or Fleetwood then in July you will be moved over to the new system of Universal Credit. The government claims its introduced UC to make the welfare system simpler by replacing six benefits and credits into a single monthly payment if you are on a low income or out of work. It can include support for the costs of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carers.
Universal Credit merges Income support, Income related jobseeker’s allowance, Income related employment support allowance, Housing benefit, Working tax credit and Child tax credit.
I’ve been contacted by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau who are concerned Universal Credit could risk adding to the financial instability of low-income workers – with those who are self-employed likely to come under the most pressure.
The charity has released two new reports on Universal Credit, examining the impact of work allowance cuts on people’s budgets, and why its design can leave self-employed workers at a financial disadvantage.
Citizens Advice analysis shows a self-employed worker who receives Universal Credit could be worse off by £630 a year compared to an employee on the benefit, even if their year-end earnings are identical.
The report highlights issues with the Minimum Income Floor, a rule that assumes everyone claiming Universal Credit who has been self-employed for a year or more is earning the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
If they earn less than the NMW one month, their Universal Credit payment won’t make up the difference. But if their monthly earnings go over the NMW, their benefit payment will be reduced accordingly.
The charity says this design flaw is unfair and risks causing financial hardship as self-employed workers often earn different amounts from one month to the next.
If you have any concerns or worries then please contact me. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office on 01253 490 440.