Victoria Groulef

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Victoria Groulef, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Reading West has called on David Cameron to be open and honest with pensioners after new figures showed 570 pensioners in Reading West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p rather than the promised £2.85.

On 4th December 2014 the government announced the state pension would rise by £2.85 a week. But in the following days ministers were forced to admit up to 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income.

People who claim the Savings Credit element of pension credit, which is being reduced, are affected.

Victoria said, "The government promised the state pension would rise by £2.85 in April next year but 570 pensioners in Reading West will receive a rise of just 87p. David Cameron's government have not been open and honest with pensioners about the state pension, saying one thing and doing another. Rather than being fair to a group of pensioners who have saved all their life to enjoy a little extra security in retirement, David Cameron's government has instead penalised these savers for their thriftiness."

New figures show 87p state pension rise hitting 570 Reading West pensioners

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Labour Candidate for Reading West, Victoria Groulef, is today calling on Conservative incumbent, Alok Sharma MP to back a vote in Parliament on Equal Pay. The vote, on 16th December would introduce pay transparency across companies which employ over 250 staff, requiring them to publish their own gender pay gap yearly in their annual report.

The campaign for pay transparency is being led by Labour in Parliament, and supported by leading employers including PricewaterhouseCoopers who are one of just 5 companies known to voluntarily publish their pay gap. Women still earn an average 81p for every pound earned by men, despite the Equal Pay Act being passed 44 years ago.

Women's magazine Grazia and Unite will be holding a rally in Parliament on the 16th calling on MPs to support the vote, and will be joined by women from the original Ford Dagenham strike and cast members from the hit film 'Made in Dagenham'.

Victoria said "It's crucial MP's support Equal Pay and vote for pay transparency in Parliament. 44 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed women should not still be earning on average 81p for every pound a man earns. By shining a light on the problem, all of us can take the action needed to finally make equal pay a reality for women and their families."

Victoria backs vote on Equal Pay

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Conservative-led West Berkshire Council has been condemned again for keeping decision-making about the future of where to build homes in the district behind closed doors.

Victoria Groulef, Labour's Parliamentary candidate in Reading West, has strongly criticised West Berkshire Council for refusing to release information about its secret Planning Policy Task Group.

Victoria submitted a Freedom of Information request for the minutes of the group was formed by the Conservative administration to draw up the document that will recommend where new homes could be built in the district, including several sites in Tilehurst, Pangbourne and Theale.

West Berkshire Council have refused to release the minutes of meetings and insist the Planning Policy Task Group should continue to be private "without the risk of public censure inhibiting debate."

Victoria said, "This is extremely worrying. People in West Berks have the right to have their say on important matters affecting their lives. With the discussions taking place behind closed doors, they will never get the chance to speak up."

"Secret meetings were designed to allow councils to deal with child protection or commercially sensitive material, not to cover up the decision-making process on other matters. Having the information public would not only make the process transparent - it would enhance the debate."

"Politics does not belong to local politicians. It belongs to the public. The MP and his Conservative Councillors have been dipping their heads in the sand and hoping this will go away. We must make sure that it doesn't."

"I'm calling on West Berkshire Council to reveal what has been discussed to date, to scrap this damaging practice and to restore transparency in our local politics. I'm challenging this decision by asking the Council to conduct a formal internal review and, if it becomes necessary after that phase, I will refer the matter up to the information commissioner."

West Berks Council branded undemocratic over secret house building meetings

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Small Business Saturday returned this weekend to encourage people to shop locally and celebrate the contribution of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Last year, Britain's first ever Small Business Saturday was a huge success, with an additional £500m ringing through the tills of small firms.

To celebrate Small Business Saturday, Victoria Groulef, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, joined with Battle Councillor Sarah Hacker to run a Small Business street surgery on the Oxford Road.

Victoria said, "This is the second year that we have run a small business street surgery on Small Business Saturday. I do a lot of work with business owners across the town and it was a great opportunity to call in on businesses to see if there are any local issues that the Labour team can help out with. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to celebrate the hugely valuable contribution that small businesses bring to our economy.

Labour's Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP said, "Building on the success of last year, this year's Small Business Saturday will be bigger and better, helping to provide a much-needed boost to our High Streets and making even more consumers aware of the fantastic products and services offered by small and independent businesses.

Small businesses have had a tough few years, and have been hit by soaring business rates. That's why the next Labour government will cut, then freeze, business rates to back Britain's wealth creators.

Victoria supports Small Business Saturday

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MPs were today debating a Bill to end retaliatory eviction. Labour's parliamentary candidate for Reading West, Victoria Groulef has pledged support for the Bill, saying she would be voting to end revenge evictions if she was in the House of Commons.

In England, nine million people are renting from a private landlord, including over a million families and over two million children.

They are now paying on average £1020 a year more in rent than in 2010. They face rip-off charges by letting agents, unpredictable jumps in their rent, and insecure tenancies.

Labour has already tabled amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill in the House of Lords on retaliatory eviction and is supporting the Private Members Bill to end retaliatory eviction in the House of Commons tomorrow.

If it forms a Government, Labour will change the law to make three-year tenancies the norm and protect against excessive rent increases to give tenants the stability they deserve. We will ban unfair letting agent fees for tenants, saving renters an average of £350 in costs.

Victoria said "I agree that it is unacceptable that anyone could be evicted from their home because they complained about poor conditions. There are currently no protections from evictions for renters who report poor conditions to their landlord. I know this is happening in Reading. Only last week I spoke to a lady who was threatened with eviction because she had complained about broken locks to her room in a shared house. Another family was evicted when they reported excessive damp and a broken boiler."

"We should go much further in reforming the private rented sector. Private renting is the norm for millions of families. But the rules on private renting havenot caught up with that fact and people are struggling with the rising cost of renting and uncertainty built into the rental market."

Councillor Richard Davies, Lead Member for Housing at Reading Borough Council added, "More than a quarter of Reading households are now living in privately rented properties and while most encounter no problems at all, everyone should feel they can complain to the Council if things are wrong, without fear of being evicted from their home. This bill together with Labour's proposed reforms will make the private rented sector fit for purpose in the 21st century."

Victoria backs an end to revenge evictions


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