Sarah Newton Appointed as New Chair of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)
The Department for Work and Pensions has appointed Sarah Newton as Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Board. The appointment commenced on 1 August 2020 and is a five year posting. She will replace Martin Temple at the conclusion of his term.
Sarah Louise Newton (59), FRSA is a former British Conservative Party politician. She was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth in 2010 and re-elected in 2015 and 2017. In November 2017, she became the Minister of State for Disabled People. Prior to that, Newton was a Minister in the Home Office and a Minister at the Department of Work and Pensions, where she worked with the HSE and led the Health and Work Unit. Amongst other responsibilities while at the Home Office she was involved in work on tackling modern slavery, human trafficking and human exploitation. Newton stood down as an MP in November 2019.
Before entering the House of Commons, she was Director of the International Longevity Centre (UK), Age Concern England and American Express Europe. She also served as a Councillor in the London Borough of Merton. She was educated at Falmouth Comprehensive School and Kings College London. She won a Rotary International postgraduate scholarship in the USA. She is married with 3 children.
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Re: Royal Mail Group – 2020 Free Flu Voucher Offer
Initial discussions have taken place on this subject and Royal Mail Group has agreed that there will be a 2020 ‘Free Flu Voucher Offer’ this year to all employees.
This year, redeemable Lloyds Pharmacy Flu Vouchers together with a covering letter sent directly to all employees’ homes will be issued, along with guidance which will be backed up by re-printable vouchers available in the workplace if needed.
Agency staff will again be included this year.
The Flu Vouchers will be redeemable from 1stOctober 2020 to 31st December 2020 and a Lloyds Pharmacy appointment booking portal will be available (details to be confirmed).
There will be a multi-media communication and promotion campaign launched promoting the ‘Free Flu Voucher’ scheme through Royal Mail and the Trade Unions raising awareness of the scheme and encouraging take-up.
The communications campaign is planned to begin in early September with the Flu Vouchers arriving around the 1st October.
Communications will be aligned to the Government Flu Jab scheme for this year and include information for additional ‘at risk’ members of the population and age groups who will receive the vaccination free via the NHS.
So a further improvement has been made in the scheme this year and hopefully this will encourage a greater take-up especially following the Coronavirus pandemic.
Further details will be issued in due course.
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
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Reporting Workplace Safety Concerns Related to Coronavirus/COVID-19 to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Following an outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) identified in parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire, the government and relevant local authorities are acting together to control the spread of the virus. Social distancing is a key public health measure introduced by Public Health England to reduce the spread of infection. Most employers and managers are following the guidance to ensure social distancing wherever possible.
The HSE has reiterated the message that if it comes to the HSE’s attention that employers/managers are not complying with the relevant Public Health England guidance (including enabling social distancing), the HSE will consider a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices, including prohibition notices.
Where workers or trade union safety reps have genuine concerns about health and safety which cannot be resolved through speaking with their employer/manager or trade union, using established escalation processes, they can contact the relevant enforcement agency – either their local authority, or the HSE through this link: https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm
The HSE advises concerned workers and safety reps to report using an online form at the above link. It also says that they don’t have to fill in their name and contact details. Alternatively, they can call 0300 003 1647 and a HSE officer will take them through the form over the phone – but again they do not have to disclose their name and contact details. Lines are open Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5pm.
The HSE has said it will respect the anonymity of those reporting issues.
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Tories’ TV licence betrayal of over-75s could backfire in bill for £855million.
Pension Credit costs will hit the Treasury but the Government thought that forcing the BBC to fund the lifeline would save them £745m a year – Age UK are encouraging an estimated 590,000 eligible over-75s to claim the benefit.
The Tories’ free TV licence betrayal of over-75s could backfire and cost the Treasury £855million more every year as campaigners encourage OAPs to sign up for Pension Credits.
From today only those over 75 and receiving the credit will get the benefit, which will leave an estimated 3.7 million OAPs £157.50 out of pocket every year.
The Government thought that forcing the BBC to fund the lifeline would save them £745m a year, but Office for Budget Responsibility figures show the amount of unclaimed pension credits stands at £1.6billion annually.
The increased costs from more claims could mean the Government pays out an extra £855m every year.
National Pensioners Convention General Secretary Jan Shortt with a ripped up TV licence during a protest outside BBC Newcastle.
Age UK are encouraging an estimated 590,000 eligible over-75s to claim the Pension Credit, which is means-tested, they are due.
The BBC says keeping licences free for all over-75s would mean closing BBC2, BBC4, the BBC News Channel, BBC Scotland and Radio 5 Live.
Caroline Abrahams, of charity Age UK said successful claimants “could find themselves £2,000 better off a year”.
National Pensioners’ Convention carried out a series of protests.
These are people who have worked hard all their lives. They are among the most likely to feel lonely or isolated. Some are vulnerable. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted just how much many rely on TV and radio for day-to-day companionship.
Some say that the BBC has somehow gone back on what was agreed. But there was never any agreement that the BBC would keep the Government scheme going. Both Government ministers and the BBC recognised at the time that change was likely.
Partly that’s because copying the Government’s scheme would have cost us £745 million a year. That’s equivalent to the combined budget of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live, plus some of our local radio stations and more. And the cost would rise to £1 billion a year by the end of the decade.
That would mean substantial cuts to our services. It would mean a BBC very different from the one we know our oldest audiences in particular depend on.
Some say we could afford to do more if we stopped employing our biggest stars. In fact, even if we employed no presenters paid over £150,000, we would only save £10 million per year. The figures simply don’t add up. And 4 out of 5 members of the public tell us they want the BBC to feature the highest quality presenters, actors and reporters.
So this was a tough decision for us to have to take. But we believe it’s the fairest possible. Our focus now is on two priorities.
First, safety. In this health crisis, we have spent the past few months making sure no one will need to leave their home to claim for a free TV licence or to pay for one.
Second, care. We’ve set up special contact centres to help people during this time. We know many will need specific support, so we’ve been working with organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society and RNIB to make sure the needs of vulnerable people are taken into account.
Already we’ve received over 450,000 applications for a free licence. Around 1 million more are eligible.
No one needs to do anything immediately. Everyone will receive guidance in the weeks ahead. Everyone will have the time and support they need to make the transition to the new scheme.
Thousands of senior citizens have also vowed to press ahead with a campaign of direct action against bill collectors. Leading campaigner Lord Foulkes warned there is just 24 hours to save the perk for the over-75s and called on the government to stage a last-minute intervention. BBC bosses are imposing the £157.50 on the over-75s from Saturday for the first time in 20 years.
Members of the National Pensioners’ Convention will take to the streets in London, Newcastle, Oxford, Norwich, Liverpool, Irvine and Belfast in protest.
General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “The free TV licence for all over 75s is a universal entitlement to supplement our poor state pension.
“To force people to find the money to pay for it now, particularly during the pandemic when they rely on their TV’s for information, is just cruel.
“That is why the fittest and healthiest of our older members will put on their masks and gloves – and pop sanitiser in their pockets – to join static, and socially distanced demonstrations around the country.”
BBC TV licence fee protest: Thousands will protest on Thursday (30th July).
BBC headquarters in London.
Older people’s group Silver Voices said its members will begin their plan to “gum up the works” of TV Licensing.
The group is urging everyone over 60 to cancel direct debits and pay by cheque instead to cause chaos for the organisation that will collect the bill.
Director Dennis Reed said the BBC willingly took over responsibility for the free TV licence and had five years to plan and budget for it.
He accused the corporation of being “lazy and cynical” in agreeing to exemptions for people on pension credit knowing that many eligible pensioners do not realise they are entitled to it.
BBC protest: Angry scenes over alleged Brexit bias in 2017.
Mr Reed said: “The BBC has had years to budget so that it could continue to provide free licences for the over 75s but now it is pleading poverty.
“The only real poverty from this decision is for millions of older people who will struggle to pay the licence fee of £157-50, which is approximately equivalent to one week’s state pension.
“Scrapping the free licence during a pandemic which has hammered the physical and mental health of the over 75s is beyond belief.
“From Saturday our direct action against TV Licensing will reflect the fury of older people about this decision”.
Early this month the BBC announced it will impose the annual fee on most over-75s from August 1 despite campaigners warning it will leave some pensioners choosing between food and heating or television.
Lord Foulkes, who chairs the All-Party Group for Ageing and Older People, said there was just 24 hours to save the licence and called on the government to take urgent action.
“The clock is ticking down to midnight on Friday when hundreds of thousands of older people will be faced with the possibility of increasing loneliness or increasing poverty,” he said.
British pensioners have every right to be angry at TV licence betrayal.
A lifeline not a perk.
On Saturday the much-loved benefit of the free TV licence comes to an end for over 75s despite the Conservatives pledging that they would be retained. They are not a perk. They are a lifeline.
31ST JULY 2020
Ricky Tomlinson joins protesters outside BBC Media City in Salford, Greater Manchester, at the broadcaster’s decision to axe free TV licences for 3.7 million pensioners.
If Britain’s pensioners are angry it is with good reason.
In their 2017 manifesto the Conservatives pledged that free TV licences for the over 75s would be retained. But on Saturday this much-loved benefit comes to an end.
The Tories are trying to pin the blame on the BBC but the responsibility lies entirely with them. They made a promise and now they are refusing to abide by their word.
No wonder so many people feel betrayed.
Free TV licences are not a perk.
They are a lifeline for millions of pensioners for whom the telly is a source of companionship and a window into the outside world.
National Pensioners’ Convention doing a series of protests about the reimposition of the TV licence fee on the over 75s.