Nick Smith MP

Working for you in Blaenau Gwent

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Nick Smith MP has called on the Prime Minister to protect vulnerable families who rely on hire purchases to furnish their homes.

This year Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Blaenau Gwent has seen a 59% increase in cases where people are struggling to keep up with payments, with companies such as BrightHouse charging sky-high interest rates.

Mr Smith, who had previously campaigned for controls on payday loan companies, used his opportunity at Prime Ministers’ Questions to ask for a cap on interest rates for hire purchases.

A cap, which is currently being considered by the Financial Conduct Authority as part of their review into the industry, has seen a massive turnaround in payday loan problems.

Although the problem is still on the rise in Blaenau Gwent, where Mr Smith discovered Wonga had loaned more than £1m to customers in one year, nationally the figures have halved since the cap’s introduction.

Speaking after the PMQ session, Mr Smith said people’s need for basic household necessities were being exploited.

“It’s not about the family who overspends at Christmas or lives beyond their means. It’s living week-to-week and needing a fridge or cooker to feed your loved ones”, he said.

“The payments are low but the interest is staggering. People end up paying two or three times as much for the same items and far from helping those in poverty, it helps to keep them in it.

“I’m glad to see more credit checks in the industry and as with payday loans, the need for credit is an important one.

“But more needs to be done to protect people who have no other choice. We’ve seen the success of the interest rates cap with payday loans and the Government and FCA need to seriously consider this option.”

In response, Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged the problem of high-cost credit and said she would look at the issue further.

CAB in Blaenau Gwent reported 43 cases involving hire purchase problems in the first half of 2016/17, up from 27 in the same time period in 2015/16.

Up to 400,000 people use rent-to-own firms to buy household appliances, paying back high rates of interest.

For example, a Hotpoint Fridge-freezer normally costing £472 would cost £1,170 on a three year repayment plan from BrightHouse.

Sky-high rates punishing “just about managing” families need to be capped

  Nick Smith MP has called on the Prime Minister to protect vulnerable families who rely on hire purchases to furnish their homes. This year Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Blaenau...

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Nick Smith MP has warned that the Government are burying their heads in the sand as the Autumn Statement failed to address the impending food price hike.

The Blaenau Gwent MP has repeatedly pressed the Government on how the falling pound in the wake of the EU Referendum is threatening to drive up our shopping bills.

His campaigning was inspired in part by a visit to Rassau’s Zorba Foods, who are facing higher charges for their ingredients because of the change in the pound’s value.

Now the Office for Budget Responsibility, who provide forecasts following the Chancellor’s Budgets and Autumn Statement, have said they now expect food prices to climb after years of being kept down by low inflation.

It follows the Director General of the Food and Drink Federation’s comments that shoppers should expect a price hike at the tills of 5%-8%.

Speaking after the Autumn Statement, Mr Smith said people in Blaenau Gwent were being let down by a Government willing to wash their hands of the problem.

“With this Autumn statement, the Government are burying their heads in the sand about the impending price hikes set to hit our grocery bills”, he said.

“I asked the Government before this statement if they had made an assessment of how the falling value of the pound was going to hit food prices.

“They passed the buck to other offices who calculate inflation and forecasts.

“The Government must plan ahead and do all it can to restore confidence in our country’s future. It’s current shirking of this responsibility is shameful and is setting us up for long-term financial pain at the tills.”

Pain at the tills on the way – and the Government does nothing

Nick Smith MP has warned that the Government are burying their heads in the sand as the Autumn Statement failed to address the impending food price hike.

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Nick Smith MP has criticised the failures that have led to the electrification of the Cardiff-Swansea line being put under risk (click here)

Speaking after the NAO report into the project, Mr Smith said: 

“It is disgraceful that the delays and poor planning of this project have cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds and thrown parts of the line’s electrification into doubt.

“The Department’s £330m overspend could have covered a huge chunk of the £433m needed to fund the Cardiff to Swansea electrification.

“Now we are not only being told there is no firm date for that work, but also there needs to be an assessment of whether it will even now go ahead.

“The unrealistic and inaccurate planning of Network Rail has seen a vital project for some of the busiest lines in Britain spiral out of control.

“They have done a disservice to this bedrock of a service for South Wales. We need answers and assurances that they will now deliver and not abandon this important work.”

Nick Smith MP slams Great Western electrification report

Nick Smith MP has criticised the failures that have led to the electrification of the Cardiff-Swansea line being put under risk (click here)


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