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Posted by Dawn Primarolo, MP for Bristol South, at 11:21, Wed 25 January 2012:

BIG ENERGY WEEK

Last week was ‘Big Energy Week’, an awareness raising opportunity for consumer organisations, energy suppliers and other agencies to promote ways in which we can all save money on our fuel bills. I know that many local residents worry about the cost of turning on the heat at home, and I believe the Government should be doing more to keep the cost of energy down, but in the meantime it’s important to know that there are many ways to reduce energy use or find a better deal. The major energy suppliers are offering free or discounted loft or cavity wall insulation so it’s worth checking if you are eligible, and you can also find out if you are on the cheapest tariff. As well as taking small steps at home to save energy, for example by using draught excluders or turning off electrical items when not in use, ‘switching’ websites are available to help you discover if you could be getting a cheaper deal from a different supplier. For more information, visit the Big Energy Week website: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/aboutus/bigenergyweek.htm

SUPPORTING OUTSET BRISTOL

On Friday I welcomed Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umanna MP, to Bristol South during his visit to the successful café at The Mede Community Centre in Inns Court. Sonja, who runs the café, set it up with the support of Outset Bristol after a lengthy period of unemployment. Outset Bristol provides a range of support for people setting up their own businesses, working particularly with under-represented groups. More information on the support and advice that Outset Bristol can offer is available at www.outsetbristol.co.uk.

GREEN INVESTMENT BANK

Last week I met with Giles Clarke and Colin Skellet, who are helping to lead Bristol’s bid to host the Green Investment Bank. Giles Clarke is Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board and has strong links with Bristol, and Colin Skellet chairs the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. Both are campaigning for Bristol to be chosen by the Government as the location for the new institution which will accelerate private sector investment in the UK’s transition to a green economy by providing finance for projects such as offshore wind and non-domestic energy efficiency schemes. During the meeting I expressed my full support for Bristol’s bid. I believe our city’s history of innovation, strong green credentials and successful financial services sector makes us the best contender to host the Green Investment Bank and I will be working with others to promote Bristol’s case.

MEETINGS ROUND-UP

I was pleased to meet the new Chief Executive of the Southville Community Development Association, Simon Hankins. I was very interested to hear about the current projects and future plans of the successful community organisation and I look forward to continuing to support its valuable work. In Parliament, I attended a meeting hosted by the National Housing Federation regarding the potential threat to housing related support services in the current climate of public service cuts.

WELFARE REFORM

I was very pleased that the members of the House of Lords were able to defeat some of the worst aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill. In the words of one of my Labour colleagues the government was “defeated because quite simply it tried to cross the basic line of British decency“. It is my understanding that not a single one of the independent “Cross-bench” members of the House of Lords supported the Government on the key votes. However on Tuesday further Labour amendments were defeated, although some modest concessions were made on rules regarding the new Personal Independence Payments, which are intended to replace Disability Living Allowance. It was interesting to note that only two Liberal Democrat Peers voted against the Government, with 62 voting alongside the Tories.

ANY QUESTIONS? If you have any queries about these issues, or have a question you would like to ask about anything else, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Just email me at dawn.primarolo.mp@parliament.uk, phone 0117 909 0063 or write to me at PO Box 1002, Bristol, BS99 1WH.

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