As ever in the summer just as the weather really warms up (at least I hope so) I have been contacted by energy suppliers about their schemes to help those who may struggle with energy costs during the winter. Anyone who’s worried about rising costs can – and should – contact their energy provider or a relevant charity to discuss the help available. Consumers who receive Pension Credit Guarantee or Pension Credit Guarantee and Savings, should automatically qualify for this year’s rebate of £140. The Department of Work and Pensions will send a letter to all those who qualify around September time, confirming their supplier will make the payment.
If you do think you need help and own your own home, you can contact the Health Through Warmth Scheme at www.npower.com/health_through_warmth or on 0845 070 2809. They offer assistance with funding and installation of heating and installation. British Gas customers can also consider their Warm Home Discount Scheme. Applications can be made by calling the British Gas Home Energy Care team (for credit meter customers) on 0800 072 8625 or our Here to Help team (for Pay as you Go customers) on 0800 294 8604. Alternatively, customers can apply online at www.britishgaswarmhomediscount.co.uk
As readers will probably have heard from news reports, there have been problems with passport applications recently. Over the past month I have been contacted by a number of constituents worried about passport applications for themselves and loved ones. I have been informed that over 99% of straightforward passport applications are being processed within four weeks, and the Passport Office is operating seven days a week and couriers are delivering passports within 24 hours of being produced. I would encourage anybody concerned about the status of their application to contact me well in advance of their date of travel, and I will do all I can to assist.
I have heard from a number of constituents who are concerned over reports that HMRC could sell anonymised taxpayers’ data. A public consultation last year put forward a proposal to remove the legal restrictions limiting HMRC’s ability to share anonymised individual level data for the purpose of research and analysis. The Government has been clear that HMRC would only share data where this would generate clear public benefits, and where there are robust safeguards in place. I have also received a number of emails and letters from constituents who are worried about organised crime targeting endangered wildlife. I’m pleased we have continued to back the elephant ivory trade ban, as well as making poaching and wildlife trafficking “serious crimes” under the relevant UN Convention and strengthening cross-border co-ordination. I’ll continue to support this very important work.
Finally, I was delighted that The Snooty Mehman Restaurant which sits on the A420 near Faringdon, was selected as the short-listed finalist in the Tiffin Cup – the annual Parliamentary competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in the UK. At the finals held in Parliament in July, The Snooty Mehman was only just pipped to the winner’s trophy, coming a very close second.
As ever please feel free to contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, 020 7219 6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. Surgery details can be found at www.vaizey.com.
Ed Vaizey MP