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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 3 December 2007

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NEW research from the London School of Economics, for the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership’s winter deaths campaign, reveals individual pensioners could be losing up to £50,000 in benefits over a lifetime by not claiming their entitlements.  These benefits currently sit in the Government’s pot of £4.5 billion unclaimed benefits for older people, but 1 in 3 pensioners are not aware of who to turn to for help and advice on how to access these entitlements which could amount to between £5,000 and £50,000 per individual over a lifetime.

While the Government sits on this unclaimed jackpot of benefits, it is set to fail its duty in law to eradicate fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010, with over 1 million pensioner households living in fuel poverty – a major cause of preventable winter deaths.

The new research supports the Partnership’s call for the Government to end fuel poverty and save lives in winter by introducing the automatic payment of benefits and investing more in face-to-face benefits advice programmes. It finds that around 50% of those eligible for additional benefits could receive enough financial support to cover all their heating costs which would lift them out of fuel poverty.  The research also shows that for older people face-to-face advice services are most effective. Evidence from the face-to-face British Gas Help the Aged Benefits Advice Programme shows that 1 in 5 older people who accessed the projects were found to be eligible for around £50 per week in additional benefits – around 66% more in cash than a similar benefits service that provides advice over the phone. Additionally, as 80% of the benefits identified through the British Gas Help the Aged Benefits Advice Programme are disability entitlements, the study strongly suggests that face-to-face benefits advice is needed to ensure older people with disabilities are receiving the benefits they are entitled to.

In response, as part of the Partnership’s campaign, older campaigners throughout the country will kick-start a winter long effort to help other older people claim the vital benefits needed to keep warm and well in the winter on Friday the 30 of November.  Around 10,000 older people are expected to write, send or hand deliver free Partnership greeting cards to older family members or friends. The card includes a voucher for a free Department of Work and Pensions benefits check that gives the recipient access to 3 main benefits: Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

British Gas Help the Aged Partnership spokesperson Anna Pearson explains:- “Recent research by the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership revealed that over one million older people cut back on food to cover their heating costs.* If the Government is serious about meeting its fuel poverty commitment it must stop gambling with the lives of older people in winter and recognise its current strategy for delivering benefits is completely off the mark.  Last Friday, older campaigners throughout the country will join the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership’s campaign in its greeting cards day to encourage older people to make a claim and beat the Government at its own benefits game. With individual pensioners possibly eligible for up to £50,000, our message to older people is: you’ve got to claim it to gain it!”

The Partnership is encouraging all older people to get a benefit check this winter, even if entitlements are already being received, as benefits and schemes constantly change along with an individual’s eligibility. Older people should also check which assistance is offered by their energy supplier. For example, just one benefit such as Pension Credit will now make an older person eligible for the British Gas social energy tariff, Essentials, which allows eligible customers to benefit from the lowest available standard tariff and helps them cut down on gas and electricity bills.  In addition, the British Gas Energy Trust can provide grants to help individuals and families in need to meet arrears of energy charges – whoever their supplier.

To download a free greeting card for yourself or an older person you know visit

Report Backs Movement Strategy

AN INDEPENDENT review of Liverpool’s City Centre Movement Strategy has found that schemes completed to date have met their objectives.  However, the study by Professor Peter Bonsall of Leeds University Institute of Transport, has recommended changes which can further improve the performance of the transport network.

The City Centre Movement Strategy is a £73 million project by Liverpool City Council, Merseytravel, and Liverpool Vision to improve the roads and public areas of Liverpool city centre and which has a number of strategic objectives.

Professor Bonsall, who was asked to review the strategy, concluded:- “I see no reason to challenge the objectives of the CCMS or to disagree with its aim to remove extraneous traffic from the city centre or to improve accessibility by bus and on foot.”

He added that it would be advisable to look again at the question of the likely performance of the city’s road network because of additional traffic generated by new developments in the current absence of Merseytram. He also said a detailed study of public transport demand should be carried out.  And he expressed concerns that bus congestion and on-street bus layovers are having an adverse affect on the city centre environment and suggests that a bus circulation plan should be developed.

Professor Bonsall was also asked to look at specific CCMS schemes. His findings were
· At Chapel Street/Tithebarn Street he endorsed the design approach but acknowledged that there was a problem of congestion for traffic heading east along Chapel Street. Among the options he recommends is the removal of the traffic signal junction with Bixteth Street and adjusting traffic light phasing.

· At the Adelphi Interchange he recommended retaining the pedestrian apron outside the hotel and calls for more enforcement of traffic illegally using the junction to access the bus lane on Lime Street

· At Seymour Street he suggested there should be changes to the traffic signal phasing which should be taken into account when the junction is reexamined as part of a bus priority route.

The report will be considered by the Council’s Executive Board on 7 December 2007.

Cllr Mike Storey, Executive Member for Regeneration, said;- “We asked Professor Bonsall to review CCMS as a critical friend and he has produced some very interesting observations.  Overall he is very supportive of the approach that has been made but has pointed to where improvements can be achieved.  We asked him to look particularly at areas where motorists have complained about congestion and we will be taking on board his recommendations.  What has to be remembered about CCMS is that it is a work in progress and its results – such as persuading traffic that does not need to travel through the city centre to use alternative routes – can only be fully seen when it has been completed.”


SEFTON has in various areas seen cars that have been left on the street have been vandalised, sometimes a number of cars have been targeted in one street. This is pure vandalism. If car owners have a drive in, it is suggested vehicles are parked off the road whenever possible.

Also cars are being targeted yet again because owners are leaving goods of value on display. The police are appealing to drivers to take valuable items out of their vehicles before leaving them unattended.

If you have any information, please call Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111.
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