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MP calls for funeral costs review

Emma Lewell-Buck MP, South Shields Credit: PA

A Labour MP is calling for a review of the cost of funerals.

The MP for South Shields Emma Lewell-Buck says more than 100,000 families have gone into debt because they couldn't afford to pay for a relative's funeral service.

According to the insurers Royal London, the average cost of a funeral in the North East is £3,064.

She will raise the issue in the House of Commons later.

"I'm pleased to have the chance to raise this important issue in Parliament. People who have lost someone close to them have enough to deal with without worrying about getting into debt as well.

"Everyone has the right to a decent send-off, but funerals are becoming less and less affordable with each passing year."

– Emma Lewell-Buck MP, South Shields

Firefighters walk out for 48th time in pensions row

Firefighters in the North East are on strike again today in the latest round of industrial action in a long-running row with the government over pensions.

It's the 48th time members of the Fire Brigades Union will walk out since the dispute flared last year.

The 24-hour strike starts at 9am.

The union said that after three years of discussions, firefighters still faced a "stark" choice of being sacked or having their pension severely reduced.

Firefighters in Sunderland during a previous strike. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"Firefighters in England are reluctantly calling further strike action as a direct result of the Westminster government's failure to listen and negotiate over pensions.

"Firefighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.

"We are not going to give up or go away. Firefighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal. This dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged."

– Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary

"This strike action is completely unnecessary and we are disappointed by the FBU's decision, which does nothing but damage the good reputation of the fire and rescue service.

"The Government has worked hard to give firefighters one of the most generous pensions in the public sector.

"The scheme that is currently before Parliament provides greater ill-health and death benefits than the Fire Brigades Union's preferred approach and I believe that the approach we are using will be fairer on all, supporting those wishing to work longer - something absolutely essential if the firefighters' pension scheme is to remain sustainable."

– Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt


Blueprint to tackle hunger to be revealed

Leading church figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the former Bishop of Durham, will join politicians from across Parliament this morning to launch a blueprint to eliminate hunger

The all party parliamentary group report will set out how to eliminate hunger in Britain by 2020.

18 tonnes of food are stored at Newcastle West End Foodbank, this is only enough to last until Christmas. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The use of emergency food aid in the UK has dramatically increased over the last decade. More than 400 food banks are now in operation with around two opening every week.

Newcastle West End Foodbank helps 4000 people a month, giving out four to five tonnes of food every week. It claims to be the biggest in the country.

North East foodbank welcomes Archbishop's comments

A North East foodbank has welcomed comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has urged the Government and food industry to act to stop food poverty in Britain. The former Bishop of Durham, the Most Reverend Justin Welby was speaking the day before a parliamentary report on hunger in Britain.

Watch Julia Barthram's report with Michael Nixon of Newcastle West End Foodbank.

Former Bishop of Durham 'shocked' over hunger in UK

The Most Rev Justin Welby Credit: PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed how he was left more shocked by the plight of Britain's hunger-stricken poor than suffering in African refugee camps.

Food is being wasted at "astonishing" levels across the UK but hunger "stalks large parts" of the country, the Most Rev Justin Welby said. Families are being forced to turn to food banks to make ends despite holding down jobs, he told The Mail on Sunday.

The Archbishop supported food banks in the North East Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Families are being forced to turn to food banks to make ends despite holding down jobs, he told The Mail on Sunday.

The Archbishop's comments come ahead of the publication on Monday of a parliamentary report he has backed that sets out a blueprint to eliminate hunger in Britain by 2020 and urges ministers and the food industry to act.

In the The Mail on Sunday article , he said, although less "serious", the plight of a family who turned to a food bank in Britain had shocked him more than terrible suffering in Africa because it was so unexpected.


Teesside march over benefit cuts

Protest march against austerity measures in Middlesbrough Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Over a hundred people have marched through Middlesbrough to protest against the Government's austerity measures.

The Teesside Solidarity Movement (TSM) and their supporters also held a rally in the town centre.

The marchers claim record numbers of people are having their benefits stopped for questionable reasons.

They say this is the start of a series of protests leading up to the General Election next May.

Middlesbrough austerity march Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

York MP to stand down at next election

Hugh Bayley has represented York for more than two decades Credit: John Stilwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The York Central MP Hugh Bayley has announced he will stand down at next year's General Election.

The Labour member has represented the city in parliament for more than two decades.

He said:

"During 22 years in Parliament I have always put York first, speaking up for the city in the House of Commons.

It has been a tremendous privilege to represent York in Parliament for 22 years, which is much longer than I expected when I was first elected in 1992."

– Hugh Bayley MP

Mr Bayley paid tribute to his family, whom he described as 'tremendously supportive' and said it was now time to put them first.

He said he remained committed to the job for the next six months, when he would be tackling what he called 'unfinished business'.

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Hugh Bayley MP to stand down at General Election

Hugh Bayley, the Labour MP for York Central, has announced he's to stand down at next May's General Election. Mr Bayley, who will be 63 by then, has been in Parliament for 22 years, and says that whilst its been a tremendous privilege to represent York, it is time to pass the baton to someone else.

Last week Hugh Bayley completed his 2 year term as President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Standing down in May

"It has been a tremendous privilege to represent York in Parliament for 22 years, which is much longer than I expected when I was first elected in 1992. There is never a good time to stand down. I didn't want to announce my departure while doing the NATO job because I was pushing NATO to publish its accounts and audit reports, which they have now agreed, but they might have avoided the decision if they'd thought I was about to go. But it is now agreed and I think it is time to pass the baton to someone else."

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