People’s Postcode Lottery funding available

Applications are open from Tuesday 4th August until Wednesday 19th August. Organisations can apply for grants between £500 and £20,000.

Interested organisations can apply to one of four trusts, which each support projects focussed on different themes:

  • Postcode Neighbourhood Trust will help good causes affected by COVID-19. Groups looking to adapt or expand services, or to increase their resilience should apply.
  • People’s Postcode Trust funds projects aimed at promoting human rights, combatting discrimination and helping to prevent poverty.
  • Postcode Community Trust supports initiatives working to improve health and wellbeing in communities, including those that look to reduce isolation. The Trust also supports projects that increase participation in arts and physical recreation.
  • Postcode Local Trust is for groups looking to increase community access to outdoor space and improve biodiversity. Groups looking to improve sustainability or combat climate change are also encouraged to apply.

Good causes should apply to the trust that best supports the aims of their project. Short funding guides and an eligibility quiz can be found on each trust website to help applicants.

Open letter to Pension Minister in support of divestment


We are concerned and disappointed that Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has publicly discouraged pension fund trustees from divesting from fossil fuel companies (7 July 2020). The Minister’s recommendation that investors “nudge” and “cajole” oil and gas companies towards climate-friendly business models disregards the scale of the escalating climate crisis and ignores the clear moral, scientific and financial arguments for divestment.

Mr Opperman’s anti-divestment stance also contradicts Government guidance (which lists divestment as one course of action for funds “seeking to demonstrate leadership”) and his own previous communication in which he praised the “shift away from fossil fuels” in pension fund portfolios.

The Government is making welcome progress in embedding climate risk disclosure in the financial reporting of pension funds. It is therefore puzzling that the Minister dismisses divestment – which is rooted in sound financial risk management. The UN special envoy for climate action and finance Mark Carney, the G20’s Financial Stability Board and the Environmental Audit Committee have publicly warned of the exposure of UK investors, including pension funds, to the risks of overvalued carbon assets which will be left ‘stranded’ as the world transitions to renewables. The particular vulnerability of the oil and gas sector during the COVID-19 pandemic has tarnished its brand as a safe investment and provides an important warning signal to investors.

Government efforts to establish the Paris Climate Agreement as a central reference for pension funds are warmly welcome. Yet Mr Opperman now undermines these by suggesting it is not necessary for pension funds to align investments with Paris at this point in time. With the devastating impacts of the climate emergency evident across the globe, we are left to wonder when the right moment might be.

The world’s remaining carbon budget for the 1.5 degree temperature target is shrinking rapidly. Based on the principle of equity as enshrined in the Paris Agreement, Global North countries must cut carbon emissions faster, not delay and defer the necessary transformation to prolong business as usual.

Fossil fuel companies are not working towards aligning their business models with the Paris Agreement, as the Minister implies. Despite clear evidence that we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground, companies such as Shell and Exxon are planning to significantly expand fossil fuel extraction by 2030. For every £1 invested by fossil fuel majors, over 95p ends up in further expansion of oil and gas reserves that are incompatible with a Net Zero trajectory.

Astute investors know there are far better companies to invest in that are already delivering a green recovery and clean energy transition. At least 10 local authority pension funds are redirecting their investments away from fossil fuels and into clean energy solutions. Following calls from over 360 cross-party MPs for divestment, the Parliamentary Pension Fund has also begun to reduce fossil fuel holdings and shift investments into infrastructure funds dedicated to new solar and wind energy.

Mr Opperman’s assertion that collaboration through investor engagement can turn fossil fuel majors into low-carbon companies is not borne out by evidence. Investor pressure has never reshaped any company’s core business and cannot transform an entire sector of powerful multinationals. Governments must use their powers as policy makers to force fossil fuel companies to become Paris-compliant or wind down.

Divestment makes this easier: as pension holders reduce their exposure to this declining industry, they enable governments to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels without adverse effects on the wider public’s hard earned pension pots.

Divestment is a logical course of action for prudent trustees who wish to manage the risks and benefit from the opportunities of the transition to a greener economy. Its financial merits and strong ethical appeal have created a growing demand for fossil free pensions. We appeal to Mr Opperman not to discourage others from following the actions that thousands of forward-thinking institutions have already taken.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Ronnie Cowan – Scottish National Party MP for Inverclyde

https://gofossilfree.org/uk/open-letter-guy-opperman

 

Written question – Employment tribunals [24/07/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions his Department has had with relevant stakeholders on the recommencing of employment tribunals throughout the UK as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased; and if he will make a statement. (74665)

Tabled on: 15 July 2020

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken to ensure employment tribunals can take place in a timely manner during the covid-19 outbreak. (74663)
    Tabled on: 15 July 2020

Answer:
Chris Philp:

Employment Tribunals have continued to sit during the covid-19 lockdown restrictions by making use of online and remote technology to hear cases and ensure continued access to justice for users. Face to face hearings are now starting to resume where it is safe to do so in line with comprehensive and ongoing risk assessments. The details of Employment Tribunal receipts and disposals during the period of lockdown restrictions can be found here:

www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/hmcts-management-information-may-2020

Having responded effectively to the immediate crisis, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is now fully focused on recovering its operations to increase courts and tribunals capacity to deal both with normal workloads across jurisdictions and outstanding cases. HMCTS has recently published a progress update on its recovery plans.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/896779/HMCTS368_recovery_-_COVID-19-_Overview_of_HMCTS_response_A4L_v3.pdf

The Employment Tribunal Presidents have also published a document setting out how Employment Tribunals operate both now and in the months ahead.

www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/FAQ-edition-date-1-June-2020.pdf

The answer was submitted on 24 Jul 2020 at 14:18.

Trade Bill

It is beyond belief that at a time when the economy is being hit hard by coronavirus the UK Government is preparing to inflict further job losses by walking out of talks with the EU in less than six months – even if no trade deal has been agreed.

This week, the UK Government queued up to block an attempt to protect our NHS from a post Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump. I have been contacted by dozens of Inverclyde constituents, this past few week, regarding the Trade Bill and many are deeply angry with plans to privatise the NHS, reduce food standards and attack animal welfare.

Just like his notorious Brexit referendum pledge for £350m a week for the NHS, Boris Johnson has shown that his promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

It’s never been clearer that decisions about Scotland should be taken by the people who live here – not an out of touch Tory Westminster government.

Key dates for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Please remind employers in your constituency about key dates for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and actions they might need to take, to help their businesses.

Key dates

  • Submit your CJRS claim for periods ending on or before 30 June 2020 by 31 July 2020. This is the last date you can make those claims. If you do not make a claim by this date or before, you cannot go on to make a claim for periods starting on or after 1 July.
  • From 1 August you must pay National Insurance (NI) and pensions contributions for employees, including when they are furloughed. CJRS Grants can no longer be used to cover these costs. You can submit your August claim in advance now.
  • Prepare for further changes to the scheme on 1 September (when grants will be for 70% of wages) and 1 October (when grants will be for 60% of wages).

Live webinars offering more support on changes to the scheme and how they impact your constituents are available to book online.