Nick Smith

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Nick Smith MP called for a fairer deal for retired miners and their families at a rally in Westminster.

The Blaenau Gwent MP joined other Valleys MPs in welcoming a South Wales NUM delegation to Parliament, who were part of a demonstration calling for a change to the current Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.

The current arrangement sees the Government and pensioners share any profits made by pension investments on a 50/50 split.

The Treasury has banked about £3.4bn from this arrangement since 1994 without having ever to pay in a penny as guarantor.

In a speech to former mineworkers Mr Smith said it was time for the Government to revisit the deal and ensure the legacy of mining in Britain was properly recognised.

“Certainly in South Wales we were the crucible of the industrial revolution. Steel and coal propelled our economy and employed hundreds of thousands of people”, he said.

“Whilst the British Mining Industry has almost gone, what’s left is mining communities like Blaenau Gwent and pensioners like my uncles.

“In 2006 there were nearly 300,000 members of the miner’s pension scheme. In the next 10 years it’ll go down to about 130,000. Those who are left deserve a financial duty of care from our Government.”

Nick has previously campaigned on this issue in Parliament in December, when he secured a debate calling for a review into the arrangements. He also joined Labour colleagues in a meeting with NUM chiefs in April to discuss the latest report on the scheme.

Speaking at the rally, South Wales NUM’s Wayne Thomas said it was vital that MPs like Nick were keeping the pressure on the Government to do the right thing.

“It’s great to see Nick and other Valley MPs standing by the NUM and their families”, he said.

“A Government review of the 50/50 scheme is crucial for our families.”

Ex-miners deserve a “financial duty of care” says MP

Nick Smith MP called for a fairer deal for retired miners and their families at a rally in Westminster.

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Nick Smith MP has welcomed reports that the Government is considering a junk food ad clampdown as a “watershed moment for public health”.

The Blaenau Gwent MP used his Parliamentary debate on the NHS’s 70th birthday and public health last month to call on the Government to tackle TV programmes being “bookended by burgers and packaged with pizzas”.

Now reports are circulating that a 9pm television watershed like the one imposed on sex and violence will be introduced from 2020 by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt for foods high in sugar and salt.

It comes after the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed that about half of television food and drink adverts seen by children were for products high in salt, fat or sugar or fast food restaurants.

Speaking about the rumoured child obesity campaign by the Government, Mr Smith said it could have a momentous impact on the nation’s health if followed through.

“I’m glad to hear that the Government may be listening here and taking real steps after their first child obesity plan didn’t tackle this problem,” he said.

“Advertising has a powerful effect on our lives, whether we like to admit it or not.

“Anything that can reduce the pressure on parents to give in to ‘pester power’ and skip a balanced diet for their children is a step change in the right direction.

“I hope the Government continues to take this expert advice seriously, do the right thing and build an obesity plan that’s fit for purpose.

The latest figures from the Child Measurement Programme revealed 15.1% of four-to-five year olds in Blaenau Gwent are in the obese category.

While current advertising laws have clamped down on advertising during childrens’ programming, prime time programmes and top sporting events– likely to be viewed by the whole family – have escaped regulation.

In addition, organisations such as Cancer Research UK and the head of the NHS Simon Stevens have called for updated rules so junk food adverts do not just saturate the internet and social media instead.

Rumoured junk food ad clampdown key to reducing ‘pester power’

Nick Smith MP has welcomed reports that the Government is considering a junk food ad clampdown as a “watershed moment for public health”.

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Nick Smith MP has welcomed a watchdog’s plan to cap sky-high interest rates from rent-to-own retailers – but called on them to now ensure hard-pressed families get the relief they deserve.

The Blaenau Gwent MP challenged the Prime Minister to consider a cap on the charges from companies such as BrightHouse back in December 2016 and has since been putting pressure on the Financial Conducts Authority to replicate their successful capping of payday loans.

Now an FCA report released today accepts the problems with the sector are “sufficient in principle to consider a cap on rent-to-own prices”.

They will be consulting on this proposal, including the impact of the cap and how it would work, and if the assessment supports a cap they’ll aim to introduce it by next April.

However, the report also says they are “open to other options” and doesn’t extend the cap to the doorstep lending market, which the Citizens Advice Bureau says is where a lot of the damage of rent-to-own agreements and refinancing occurs.

Speaking after the report release, Mr Smith said it was welcome news that after long-standing reservations about a cap, the FCA are taking the proposal seriously – but they must now follow through and clamp down on eye-watering interest rates.

“This is a big step forward after a long wait for action and a lot of campaigning from myself and others to almost drag the FCA kicking and screaming to this conclusion,” he said.

“We’ve seen debt slashed from payday loans after a cap was introduced and the FCA must now be diligent and produce a solution that’s fit for purpose.

“I don’t want people in Blaenau Gwent caught in a debt trap because they can only afford small weekly payments. There’s room in society for a service that helps people without punishing them with ridiculous mark ups.

“For many, next April is a long time away. Families up and down the country who have to wait nearly a year longer, accumulating more debt every day, deserve a solution that is comprehensive and loophole free.”

Mr Smith has previously campaigned for ethical credit options such as credit unions when he revealed the payday loan company Wonga was lending people in Blaenau Gwent more than £1m a year.

He has been putting pressure on the Government to give the FCA the powers needed to regulate the sector after a BrightHouse shop in Ebbw Vale was found to be charging a total of £780 for a £280 cot.

Editor’s note: the full report can be found at https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-publishes-outcome-high-cost-credit-review

FCA must follow through on rent-to-own cap

Nick Smith MP has welcomed a watchdog’s plan to cap sky-high interest rates from rent-to-own retailers – but called on them to now ensure hard-pressed families get the relief they...


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