Monthly Archives: December 2012

55 week wait for ESA appeals to be heard in Coventry

Bob Ainsworth has been informed by HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) that there is currently an average wait of 55 weeks for an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) appeal to be heard in Coventry. 

In a letter sent to Bob, HMCTS confirmed that “it takes an average of 55 weeks from when an appeal was made ready to list before it is heard before a tribunal judge”.  They went on to confirm that they were only just “listing” appeals from October 2011.

The Government had previously provided assurances that they were taking action to reduce appeal waiting times in Coventry, but these figures show that ESA appeal times are increasing rather than decreasing.  In June 2012 the average ESA appeal time stood at 37.8 weeks, it is now 55 weeks; an increase of 17 weeks since June.

Bob said:

“These timescales are completely and utterly unreasonable, particularly when you are dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“In spite of all the Ministerial assurances I have received that action is being taken to reduce waiting times in Coventry, it seems the opposite is true and appeal waiting times are increasing rather than decreasing. 

“This is an extremely worrying situation and I have therefore written to Helen Grant MP, Justice Minister, to ask what additional steps the Government will take to tackle appeal waiting times in Coventry that are persistently higher than the national average and remain an intractable problem. 

“It is clear that the Government need to do more to resolve the problems of an appeals system that appears to have reached breaking point”.   

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Bob Ainsworth to stand down at the next election

Bob Ainsworth MP has announced that it is not his intention to seek nomination to stand at the next General Election.  Bob has been the MP for Coventry North East for over twenty years. During that time he has held many positions in the Labour Government, becoming Secretary of State for Defence in 2009-2010.

Bob said:

“It has been an enormous privilege to represent a seat in Coventry, the City where I was born and raised, and I want to thank my constituents and the very many people who have supported me over time.   

 “We are now past the half way point in this Parliament and I believe it is time to let my Local Party know my decision to allow them to look for a new candidate. I wish them well and promise to help whoever they choose in any way that I can.

 “I will continue to work for my constituents and represent them to the best of my ability for the remainder of this Parliament.

“I am particularly proud to have represented our Armed Forces in Government and to have produced the “Service Personnel Command Paper” that raised the level of compensation for those injured on operations. I am also proud of the many equipment improvements we introduced, including Vallon mine detection, increasing the number of armoured vehicles and introducing the Warthog protected patrol vehicle.”

Bob Ainsworth grew up on the Woodend council estate in Coventry. He went to Foxford School but left at 15. He worked at Jaguar for 20 years where he became involved in the Union and then the Labour Party. He became a senior shop steward and Union Branch President. He went on to be a Councillor and then Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council.

He was elected to Parliament in 1992. He became a Whip in 1995. He was made a minister in 2001 first for aviation and then with responsibility for drugs and organised crime. While at the Home Office he moved drug policy in the direction of more treatment and harm minimisation.

In 2003 Tony Blair made him Deputy Chief Whip. In 2005 he was appointed to the Privy Council. When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007 he became Minister for the Armed Forces and then in 2009 he was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Defence. He wrote the Service Personnel Command Paper which made improvements to the healthcare, education provision and compensation payments for the Armed Forces. He ordered improved mine detection equipment and commissioned work on what was to become the Warthog protected patrol vehicle.

He became Shadow Defence Secretary when Labour lost in 2010, but stood down from the front bench 5 months later. He currently serves on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and recently Chaired the Joint Committee on the Draft Enhanced Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill.

Locally he led the campaign for a new hospital and the redevelopment of the contaminated old gas works, now the site of the Ricoh Arena, home to Coventry City Football Club. He also secured £50million New Deal money for Woodend, Henley Green and Manor Farm.

Bob intends to stay active in the local community. He will continue speaking to students at schools and Universities, and supporting local environment groups.

He is married to Gloria. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.

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The Work Programme: Worse than doing nothing

Last week we learnt that the Government’s flagship Work Programme, which is supposed to be getting people into jobs, is just not working.

In fact, it’s a miserable failure.

In its first year, just over two in every hundred people have been getting a job. In Coventry North East constituency, just 2.1 percent of participants in the Programme have found work.

It’s a shocking statistic – but what’s just as shocking is the Government’s own estimate that, if the Work Programme didn’t even exist, five in every hundred people would be getting a job.

So the Government’s flagship policy on getting people back into work is actually worse than doing nothing.

Why isn’t the Work Programme working? Because to reform welfare, which is what everyone wants to see, you’ve got to have government and people playing their respective roles, shouldering their responsibilities. A One Nation approach.

We shouldn’t be letting young people languish out of work – we should be getting them jobs. We should be working with employers and saying government will pay the wages, if you pay the training and mobilise business across this country to get our young people working again. That’s the way we can really reform welfare. Pulling together as One Nation and each taking and delivering on our responsibilities.

What we’ve seen from this Tory-led Government is a failure to reform welfare. Welfare bills are going up not down – they’re now over £20 billion higher than expected – because the Tories’ plans aren’t working.

When it comes to the Autumn Statement this week, we need to finally hear from George Osborne how he’s going to create the jobs and growth that are vital to get people off benefits and back into work, so that we can make up all the lost ground of the last two years.

Labour has suggested using funds from the 4G auction to build 100,000 affordable homes; bringing forward infrastructure investment; a temporary VAT cut; and a bank bonus tax to fund a jobs guarantee for young people. Business groups have been calling for action this week, so it’s time this Government listened and stopped being so complacent.

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The Joint Committee Publishes its Report on ETPIMs

The Joint Committee on the Draft Enhanced Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill, under Bob’s Chairmanship, was appointed to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny into the draft Bill and the policies it seeks to implement. 

The Joint Committee has now concluded this work and published its Report on 27 November 2012.

Upon publication of the Report, Bob said:

“The draft ETPIMs Bill, if introduced by the Government and approved by Parliament, would bring in very stringent measures against suspected terrorists. The granting of these powers to the Government can only be justified in the most extreme circumstances.

“However, my Committee accepted that there may be circumstances in which such stringent measures are necessary and justifiable; it is therefore disappointing that the Government is vague about the types of circumstances that would lead to the introduction of this Bill. “Emergency legislation” like this Bill is difficult for Parliament to scrutinise properly and this Bill in particular does not lend itself to close questioning of the Government’s decisions. I therefore call on the Government to be more open about the situations in which it would introduce this Bill.”

You can view the full report here

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