Karen Buck MP

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Karen Buck MP

Recent Activity

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Advice Special


Sometimes we all need a little help...

Every year, the number of people needing help with problems goes up. In 2015, Westminster Citizens Advice alone reported a staggering 10,095 cases - and many more people struggle on in silence with money, benefits issues, housing or other worries.  Every year my staff and I also assist thousands of people with queries and problems. Sometimes this involves direct help or representation, and sometimes we refer constituents elsewhere - for legal or specialist advice (we often get the best results by working together with lawyers or other agencies.)

I am always pleased to hear from constituents and to try and help whenever I can, but given the huge amount of need for help and advice there is, I thought it would be useful to put some of the most useful info (local and national) into an e-mail for constituents to use or keep for future reference.

This doesn’t cover everything by a long way, but it’s a start and please remember it is always better to seek advice early!


Contents
 
Local agencies:
Westminster Citizens Advice
Advice Plus
Zaccheus 2000
 
Money and debt advice:
Turn2us
Stepchange Debt charity
 
Housing advice:
Shelter
LEASE
 
Heating costs and saving energy:
Energy Saving Trust
 
Immigration:
Migrant Resource Centre
Immigration Advisory Service
 
NHS:
PALS
 
Pensions:
Pension Wise
Check your state pension
 
Employment:
ACAS
 
Local environment - dumping, noise…
‘Report it’ to Westminster Council
 
Crime and anti-social behaviour:
Police on line and non-emergency numbers (but always call 999 if a crime is in progress)
 
Support for young people:
 
Councillors (and me!)


Local Advice Organisations

Westminster Citizens Advice Bureau


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We are an independent charity that provides free, confidential and impartial information and advice to the residents of the City of Westminster.

www.westminstercab.org.uk

How can we help?
 
You can call us for information on 08444 771 611 (Calls are charged at 7ppm from landlines. Mobile rates may vary.)

Drop-in Opening Times

Our drop-in sessions are run in a range of different venues across Westminster each week day, so there will be one near you! Trained volunteers will carry out a brief triage assessment to try to find the best way to help solve your problem. They might provide you with information so you can take action yourself, or help you to get in touch with an organisation that can assist you; or, if it is something we deal with and your problem is complex, they may book you for a ‘Call Back’ or ‘Face-to-face’ appointment with one of our advisers.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 1st Sat of Month*
Beethoven Community Centre
Third Avenue
London W10 4JL
13.30 - 16.00          
WECH Community Centre
Athens Gardens (entrance via Chantry Close off Elgin Avenue)
W9 2HX
  15.00 - 17.00        
Citizens Advice Westminster
21a Conduit Place
London W2 1HS
                     

17.30 - 19.00

(for employed only)

                         

4th Friday       
(women only)

14.00 - 16.00*       

09.30 - 12.00      
Church Street Library
67 Church Street
NW8 8EU
    10.30 - 12.30               
             
             

Other Services

For those people whose first language is not English and may need language support. There are special opening times when there may be someone who speaks your language.

If you are over the age of 55 there is an Older People’s Service. There is also a service for Families with a child under 5.

Advice Plus at Beethoven Centre

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This is an open-access drop-in advice shop to help people in need to access good quality advice. It takes place on Mondays at:

Beethoven Centre
Third Avenue
London 
W10 4J

www.a2dominion.co.uk/adviceplus


Telephone:
020 8825 1067

Opening Hours:
Drop-in advice sessions
Mon 2pm-4pm

(Money Matters service from 1pm)
 
Services Offered:
Benefits, Consumer, Money, Employment, Housing, Health
And on Wednesdays at:

Advice Plus at Church Street Library

Address:
Church Street Library
67 Church Street
London NW8 8EU
Opening Hours:

Drop-in sessions
Wed 10.30am-12.30pm (Doors open 10am)

Zacchaeus 2000

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Help & Advice

We provide free advice and support for vulnerable people with household debt or welfare problems.
We can help you if:
  • you are a low-income family or individual, and
  • you are eligible for means tested welfare benefits or other public funds, and
  • you live in London
We cannot help:
  • With any issue that has an element of immigration or fraud
  • With family, consumer or criminal matters
Please contact us to see if we can help or attend an advice drop in session.

Please feel free to give our team a call with any queries you may have. You can also attend on of our advice drop-in sessions.

Our telephone hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 3pm. If you contact us outside of these hours, please leave a voicemail message and we will respond to you within 48 hours.

General Enquiries, Training courses, and Volunteering Opportunities

Phone: 02072590801 – select option 3.

Council Tax, Welfare Benefits and Housing Advice

For enquiries relating to issues with your council tax, welfare benefits and housing, or for advice on how the welfare reform will affect your housing benefits.

Phone: 02072590801 – select option 1

Private Rented Sector Access Scheme

For enquiries relating to moving into rented accommodation.

Phone: 02072590801 – select option 2
 
Please feel free to give our team a call with any queries you may have. You can also attend on of our advice drop-in sessions.
Our telephone hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 3pm. If you contact us outside of these hours, please leave a voicemail message and we will respond to you within 48 hours.

Money and Benefits Advice
Turn2us

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This summer I took part in a campaign to promote Turn2us and the important work they do in helping make sure everyone claims what they are entitled to. You can see my video clip here.

Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services – online, by phone and face to face through partners and volunteersThe Turn2us website includes a Benefits Calculator to find out what welfare benefits and tax credits you could be entitled to, a Grants Search to find out if you might be eligible for support from over 3,000 charitable funds, and a range of information and resources to help people in financial hardshipTurn2us can also provide direct financial assistance through a range of specific funds that are managed directly by the charity, including the Elizabeth Finn Fund which supports people from over 120 different professions. For more information, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk


Step Change

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Debts are a source of huge worry to people, and can seriously affect mental and even physical health. This is a great website, which you can use to contact an advisor, or to do Debt Remedy, the online debt advice service.

The helplines are open 8am-9pm Monday to Friday and 8am-4pm on Saturdays 

Free advice on problem debt based on what's best for you

0800 138 1111 Freephone (including all mobiles)

Housing

Locally, my office, councillors, the CAB, Law Centre and local law firms deal with huge numbers of housing cases, from disrepair to homelessness, but the Shelter helpline is also an important way to get help, including when other services are closed.

Shelter London Advice Service

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Call us

020 3811 1683

Shelter’s London advice line offers free specialist advice on housing issues across all London boroughs. This includes advice on debt, welfare, and guidance on access to accommodation and available local services.

Face-to-face advice sessions are held, by appointment, in many boroughs. If you are eligible for legal aid, Shelter London’s legal services offer advice and court representation in cases including possession hearings, evictions and ASB injunctions. Shelter London is also able to offer telephone advice on fuel debt and energy problems, 0344 515 1212

Leaseholders

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The Lease website has just had a makeover and is a really good first stop for both private and council leaseholders:
LEASE provides FREE initial advice to members of the public on residential long leasehold and park homes law. We can help if your enquiry is about a flat or leasehold house with a lease longer than 21 years or park homes.

Initial advice is defined as the provision of outline, summary, legal advice – as much as can be fitted into a 15 minute time-slot – on residential long leasehold and park homes law, together with the recommendation as to where more detailed information can be found (should that be needed), in order that the client is aware of their options, and potential risks and is, therefore, able to make an informed decision as to what appropriate action they may need to take next.

LEASE is not able to advise on:
  • assured or assured shorthold tenancies (eg less than 21 years and where rent is paid weekly or monthly)
  • commercial leases (a shop or other business)
To help you get the advice you need as conveniently as possible, here are some tips:
  1. Use the interactive tool on our website. Start by clicking one of the links below to access helpful advice guides that may provide the answer you need:
  1. If you still can’t find the advice you need you can call our advice helpline. To make the best use of your time, make sure that before you call you:
  • write down a clear outline of your problem and any questions you have. This can help the adviser help you more easily
  • make sure you have relevant documents to hand
  • have a pen and paper, as leasehold law can be complicated and you may want to make some notes
We can provide advice by email, telephone, letter or in person at the office.
Telephone helpline: 020 7832 2500
Monday to Friday from 9:30-15:00

Heating and Saving Energy
Energy Saving Trust 

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“Independent, expert advice on saving energy in your home”Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 (all you pay for is a national rate call). Alternatively you can email energy-advice@est.org.ukHours for callingMonday to Friday, 9am to 8pm www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

Immigration/Home Office

Immigration Advisory Service

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Providing some of the most experienced immigration solicitors London has to offer, here at IAS we can help with anything and everything to do with immigration.

Situated in South East London, the Immigration Advice Service office on Borough High Street offers a professional environment for you to discuss your case with us. Our specialist team will expertly review your case and give you dedicated immigration advice and guidance to help you on your way to resolving your immigration issue, or submitting a successful application.

Having the in-depth knowledge, experience and resources to explore all the options open to you and taking the time to listen to your individual circumstance, we are able to fully analyse your immigration matters on a case by case basis and can provide you with the best advice and representation from a dedicated immigration solicitor based right here in London.

You can be assured that with the IAS immigration lawyers in London you will benefit from a professional and thorough service that will follow your needs and requirements closely, ensuring the success of your immigration case.

www.iasservices.org.uk

Tulip House
70 Borough High Street
London
SE1 1XF

Tel: 020 3740 4613

Migrant Resource Centre

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The MRC offers a range of free services to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on their journey towards integration into their host society. By supporting them to develop their skills and understand their rights and responsibilities, we enable them to fully participate in and contribute to that society.

We provide a safe place in which users are able to learn, to meet with others, to speak out for a better world and to move on feeling stronger. We also play a strong part in initiating and participating in campaigns, networks and partnerships to improve the lives of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Specifically, we aim to:• Improve the image and perception of migrants and refugees in the UK

• Promote social justice
• Enable and encourage two-way integration through dialogue, mutual acceptance and respectTo achieve this we offer:• Specialist immigration and asylum advice
• General information and advice
• Employment, education and training advice and support
• Information on accessing health services

Head Office:Migrants Resource Centre
Eurocentres
56 Eccleston Square
2nd floor
London
SW1V 1PHGeneral enquiries
(not advice):
0207 834 2505

www.migrantsresourcecentre.org.uk
info@migrants.org.uk

Health

Patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

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PALS is an independent service available to patients, relatives, carers or visitors. PALS can:
  • Listen to your concerns, suggestions or queries
  • Help sort out problems quickly on your behalf
  • Put you in touch with other sources of help
  • Feedback issues to our organisation to improve services and patient experience
  • Advise you on how to request copies of medical records
Contact PALS
  • Email pals@imperial.nhs.uk: use this email address to raise concerns and give feedback on any of our sites or services
  • Complete a PALS form: Use this form to explain your concern or give feedback, and provide contact details so we can get in touch with you. You can fill this form in yourself or one of our PALS officers can help you complete it.
  • Call or visit one of our PALS offices below:
PALS at Charing Cross, Hammersmith and Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea hospitals

Call 

020 3313 0088, Monday to Friday, 09.30-17.00. An answer phone system operates at busy times and out of hours. Please leave a message with your name and phone number and a member of staff will call you back.

Walk-in PALS office

Ground floor, main hospital entrance, Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Place Road, London W6 8RF 

Monday to Friday, 09.30-17.00

There is no walk in office at Hammersmith or Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea hospitals, however you can discuss any issues you have at the PALS office in Charing Cross Hospital.

Postal address

PALS manager, Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Place Road, London W6 8RF

PALS at St Mary’s Hospital and the Western Eye Hospital
Call

020 3312 7777, Monday to Friday, 09.00-17.00. An answer phone system operates at busy times and out of hours. Please leave a message with your name and phone number and a member of staff will call you back.

Walk-in PALS office

Ground floor of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) building, St Mary’s Hospital, South Wharf Road, London W2 1NY. See hospital map
Monday to Friday, 09.30-17.00

Postal address

PALS manager, Ground Floor, Clarence Wing, St Mary’s Hospital, South Wharf Road, London W2 1NY

Making a complaint

If, despite our best efforts, we are not able to resolve your concerns informally with the staff caring for you or via PALS, you have the choice to make a formal complaint. 
To make a complaint please email our complaints office at: complaints@imperial.nhs.uk or send a letter addressed to: 

Complaints department
4th floor
Salton House
St Mary’s Hospital
Praed Street W2

Pensions

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Pension Wise only provides guidance on defined contribution pensions.

Phone 0800 138 3944 to book a free appointment

You can find out what you can do with your pension pot, how to shop around and what to look out for with taxes and fees.

We explain how to avoid pension scams and the importance of taking your time to make sure your money lasts as long as you do.
Talk about your pension options

Pension Wise is a free and impartial government service.

Book an appointment to get guidance over the phone or face to face. You’ll talk about your pension options and what you can do next.

At the end of your appointment you’ll get a printed summary of the options and next steps you need to take.


Pension Wise won’t recommend any products or tell you what to do with your money.

Who the service is for

Pension Wise can help if:
  • you’re aged 50 or over, and
  • have a defined contribution pension. These are not final salary or career average pensions.
If you have a final salary or career average pension, you can still get information from these organisations:
 
Check your state pension entitlement
 
Gov.uk now has a page on which you can answer some questions and find out how much state pension you will be entitled you.
 
ACAS
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Acas offers a free, confidential advice service on employment rights issues.

www.acas.org.uk 0300 123 1100

Issues in the local environment

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Westminster Council’s ‘Report it’ page on their website lets you tell them immediately about a number of issues affecting the local environment.

www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it


Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour

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The Met website allows you to report a number of crimes and find out about crime in the local area.

content.met.police.uk/Home

Have you been a victim of crime?

Westminster Victim Support

02077246032


Help for Young People

Locally:

www.westminster.gov.uk/young-westminster

And also:

The Mix

For free & Confidential Help for U-25s By Phone, Email, SMS or WebChat:

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 Freephone: 0808 808 4994

 1-2-1 Chat  www.themix.org.uk

The National Youth Agency

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The National Youth Agency provides an online information source for young people and all those working with them. It has information about training, education, work, housing, money and health and more. www.nya.org.uk 0116 242 7350


And finally….

Contact me:

Karen Buck MP

House of Commons
London SW1AOAA
0208 9687999
@KarenPBuck on Twitter

Councillors

You are also represented by 3 elected councillors in each ward of Westminster City Council - some Labour, mostly Conservative.
You can find our who your local councillors are through this link.
Here are details of the councillor’s surgeries that I know about:

Maida Vale, Cllr Rita Begum – rbegum2@westminster.gov.uk 0207 641 5371 On the second Thursday of the month 6pm to 7pm at the Maida Vale Estate Office 1 Glasgow House Lanark Road London W9 1QY. On the third Saturday of each month from 11am to 12 Midday at the Paddington Recreational Ground Cafe - Randolph Avenue London W9 1PD.

 

Harrow Rd, Cllr Ruth Bush – rbush@westminster.gov.uk, Cllr Guthrie McKie – gmckie@westminster.gov.uk, Cllr Tim Roca – troca@westminster.gov.uk - 020 7641 4299 every Saturday between 11am and 12 noon at The Stowe Centre, 258 Harrow Road, W2 5ES, and the Beethoven Centre, 3rd Avenue, W10 4JL.  Every Monday from 2-4pm.

 

Westbourne, Cllr David Boothroyd, dboothroyd@westminster.gov.uk ,  Cllr Adam Hug, ahug@westminster.gov.uk,  Cllr Papya Qureshi, pqureshi1@westminster.gov.uk – 0207 219 2330 every Saturday between 11am and 12 noon at The Stowe Centre, 258 Harrow Road, W2 5ES, and the Beethoven Centre, 3rd Avenue, W10 4JL.  Every Monday from 2-4pm.

 

Church Street, Cllr Barbara Grahame, bgrahame@westminster.gov.uk, Cllr Aicha Less, aless@westminster.gov.uk, Cllr Aziz Toki, Atoki@westminster.gov.uk - 020 7641 4299 Every Tuesday between 5.30-6.30pm and every Wednesday between 10.30am - 12.30pm at Church Street Library, 67 Church Street.

 

Queen’s Park – Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, pdimoldenberg@westminster.gov.uk Cllr Patricia McAllister  pmcallister@westminster.gov.uk, Cllr Barrie Taylor btaylor@westminster.gov.uk – 0207 641 4299, very Saturday between 11am and 12 noon at The Stowe Centre, 258 Harrow Road, W2 5ES and the Beethoven Centre, 3rd Avenue, W10 4JL.  Every Monday from 2-4pm.

For details of other Councillor’s contacts/surgeries, please contact Westminster Council.


 I hope this information is helpful!


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Karen Buck MP

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Website: www.karenbuck.org.uk

Promoted by Robert Atkinson on behalf of Karen Buck MP at 4G Shirland Mews, Maida Hill, London, W9 3DY. The information used to supply this email is for the use of Karen Buck and will not be passed on to any third party organisation.

 

Advice E-Newsletter

Advice Special Sometimes we all need a little help... Every year, the number of people needing help with problems goes up. In 2015, Westminster Citizens Advice alone reported a staggering...

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Thank you very much for your e-mail.

Of course I will be there to vote in the debate, although my Human Rights Select Committee meets at the same time and I am may not actually be able to speak on this occasion. However, I can assure you that I have contributed to a number of other recent debates about the NHS, locally and nationally, and will continue to do so!

We face a massive set of overlapping problems in the NHS, the tackling of which has been hindered rather than helped by the expensive and unnecessary reorganisation contained in the 2012 Act. The NHS is now experiencing the worse financial squeeze in its history and if no action is taken faces a shortfall of £20bn by 2020-21. At the same time, local government has been forced to slash spending on social care- i.e. the home and community based services which can help patients be discharged safely from hospital or even prevent them from having to be admitted in the first place. And all the while needs are constantly rising- primarily, though not entirely, because of an ageing population.

Somewhere, now deeply buried underneath all this, lie the bones of some good ideas- the better integration and reshaping of the health and social services to increase specialisms in some areas. The concentration into fewer, better, stroke and trauma services has undoubtedly saved lives. And the building up of  primary and community care outside hospital which  was the underlying philosophy of the Darzi review under the last Labour government, and which  envisaged a big expansion of diagnostic and treatment outside of hospitals were good ideas .  And those ideas have, to some extent, fed in to the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ plans we now have before us. (‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ is the strategy for North West London’s NHS).

At one level, the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are intended to drive that agenda, not just in NW London but across the country, but (and it is a huge ‘But’) a lot has changed since the original concept was set out.

As money has drained out of both the NHS and social care, changes have to be funded by cuts elsewhere. ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ for NW London envisages the closure of a number of Accident and Emergency units  even while demand is rising, and in any event before alternative community based services are fully developed and tested. At my regular meeting with Imperial last week, for example, I learned that the 2016/7 deficit is projected to reach £52m, and, in addition, the Hospital Trust has to find £54m in ‘Cost Improvements’. Our local Clinical Commissioning Groups are deemed to be ‘over-funded’ and will see their budgets fall by 10% over the funding period. Meanwhile, the Better Care Fund, which is shifting some money from hospitals to the community, is simultaneously plugging holes made by cuts in Westminster Council support for social care. We saw all this before, when long-stay hospitals closed in the 1980s without adequate ‘care in the community’ being available- the essence of a good idea undermined in practice.

Westminster Council has been considering the STP proposals via reports to their Health and Well-Being Board, so in a sense, none of this is particularly secret or new. (Here it is, by the way)

However, there has certainly not been an honest presentation to the public of the scale of the financial pressures/cuts, nor the impact of changing patterns of demand. I am sure that the (Conservative) Council doesn’t want to publicise the plans, in order to avoid rocking the boat politically, though on the other hand Hammersmith Council has been outspoken and refused to sign them off.

The NHS does need to continue to change- developments in treatment and changes in the population make that essential. But it will struggle massively without considerable extra investment, not only in acute/hospital services but in primary, community, social and mental health care services as well.  We also need to ramp up measures to prevent illness and promote well-being- from tackling air pollution and obesity to better mental health interventions, and give urgent priority to reducing health inequalities.

In the meantime, the worry is that the hospital changes, which affect us in Westminster rather less than they do in  places like Hammersmith, (where they have been battling to save Charing Cross Hospital) have been driven more by the need to cut costs and generate receipts from land sales than by a proper plan to improve health care.

As I say, I will certainly vote for the motion later and continue to do all I can to expose the pressures on the NHS. Even under the strain it is unde , there is so much to value and be proud of in our system of healthcare, and we must fight to preserve, protect and improve it.

Kind regards

 

Karen Buck MP

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and the NHS

Thank you very much for your e-mail. Of course I will be there to vote in the debate, although my Human Rights Select Committee meets at the same time and...

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Many local residents have been in touch to ask, or express concerns about, the conditions in these blocks, and the effect of the delay in the regeneration programme.

Cllr Grahame and I attended the meeting a few weeks ago and heard complaints about

  • the state of the blocks, including issues with the lifts
  • cleaning and rubbish in the area, including some of the communal areas.
  • problems with boilers/heating and hot water.
  • lack of communication about progress of regeneration

I have been very concerned for many years about these blocks (as have your councillors), especially regarding what would happen to them if there were to be delays to the planned development of the area. These fears have been realised to some extent as the dates have slipped.

I thought it would be useful to get a clearer picture from you about what you think, and what concerns you may have, so here is a short survey to gather your views.

 

Church Street Blocks Survey

Many local residents have been in touch to ask, or express concerns about, the conditions in these blocks, and the effect of the delay in the regeneration programme. Cllr Grahame...


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