Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News Highlights

Today, Sharon submitted a letter to Heather Wheeler MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to pass on evidence received from constituents who are owners of leasehold properties as part of a constituency-wide consultation.

Leasehold_letter.pngYou can read Sharon's letter by clicking the picture above

In November 2018, Sharon launched a consultation in the constituency and received 58 detailed responses highlighting the frustrations and problems that residents of Washington and Sunderland West have experienced.

It is estimated that 19% of sales in 2017 in Washington and Sunderland West involved leasehold property.

The letter provides and outline of numerous injustices surrounding the leasehold market that constituents detailed:

  • Lack of consumer knowledge about leaseholds and lack of information provided by estate agents and solicitors on the implications of buying leasehold properties;
  • A lack of transparency from the freeholder on the use of service charges;
  • Constituents feeling stuck, being left without the option or financially unable to purchase the lease, at the point of sale or later when wanting to move homes, or extend the lease so that they can sell;
  • Leases being sold on by the freeholder to third party companies without giving any notice given to the leaseholder

Sharon said:

"I’m grateful to my constituents who got in touch with me about their experiences and concerns about leasehold properties.

“From the responses that I have received it is clear that more steps should be taken towards preventing further injustices with leasehold properties, and that the Government should commit to immediate measures to right these wrongs.

“I look forward to the Government’s response to this letter, and will share this with my constituents who have written to me about leasehold too.”

ENDS

Sharon writes to Minister about leaseholds in Washington and Sunderland West

Today, Sharon submitted a letter to Heather Wheeler MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to pass on evidence received from constituents... Read more

You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website.

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The Free TV Licence for over-75s was something the Labour Government in 2000 proudly introduced as a package of social welfare policies for the elderly.

But it was a Conservative Government who, in 2015, callously outsourced this treasured benefit to the BBC, as part of a “Hobson’s Choice” Charter renewal.

The 2017 Conservative Party manifesto itself committed to protecting “all pensioner benefits including… TV licences for the duration of this Parliament” Which would take us to 2022, not 2020 when these changes will come into effect.

So, whilst a Conservative Party manifesto has been broken without any consideration, it is the elderly and most vulnerable in our society who will suffer.

The changes to the free TV licence for over-75s, which will see only those receiving Pension Credit acquiring a free TV licence, means that approximately 3,150 households in Washington and Sunderland West will now miss out on a free TV licence.

Many of my constituents have contacted me about this issue, and I share their concerns about the impact this could have on those affected by these changes.

Age UK estimate that for over a million of the oldest people in our country, television is their main form of company. Further analysis shows that scrapping the free TV licence could push 50,000 pensioners below the poverty line.

I am therefore concerned about the isolation and loneliness this could cause, as well as the financial implications on some of the oldest and most vulnerable in our community.

The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of this Conservative Government. Public broadcasters should not be responsible for social policy.

I contributed to the BBC’s consultation on the free TV licence back in February, spoke in a recent debate on the proposed changes and hosted the National Pensioners Convention’s parliamentary lobby in March protesting the changes.

Since the consultation began, I have argued that the Government should take back responsibility for funding the free TV licence for over-75s.

Lets not forget, amongst all the noise around Brexit and the leadership contest to be the next Prime Minister, the Government can change all of this and I will continue to urge them to do so.

In the meantime, any constituents who are concerned about the impact these changes will have on them, their friends or family, please ensure that you are claiming all the benefits that you are entitled to, particularly Pension Credit. Visit www.entitledto.co.uk to check this out.

Sunderland Echo website

ECHO COLUMN: Threat to TV licence could lead to loneliness

You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website. The Free TV Licence for over-75s was something the Labour Government in 2000 proudly introduced as...

During a debate on a Statutory Instrument - Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Enforcement) (Amendment) Order 2019 - Sharon called for further funding for enforcement agencies with a particular focus on the secondary ticket market.

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You can read the debate here

You can watch Sharon's speech here

You can read Sharon's speech below:

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West):

I am going to speak about something slightly different, which is what I think should be in the statutory instrument. As Members probably know—if they do not, it is probably because I have not banged on about it enough—I chair the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse, in which capacity I wish to speak today. I feel strongly that with this SI the Government have missed a great opportunity to address some concerns that have been expressed to me over the years.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 refers explicitly to secondary ticketing. Despite that important legislation, fans continue to be ripped off by secondary ticket touts ​who sell tickets for huge profits to genuine fans. Some touts do this regardless of whether the ticket actually exists, and without any regard for existing legislation. This leaves people out of pocket, frustrated, disappointed and unable to attend an event that they have saved for and looked forward to. The 2015 Act exists to protect consumers, which is what we are discussing, but it is failing to do so because of insufficient enforcement. Without sufficient enforcement, it becomes a moot Act, if there can be such a thing. That is why I wish to make the case today for more funding for our enforcement agencies, as I believe that enforcement is a significant aspect of the 2015 Act that is missing from this SI. I hope the Government will consider rectifying that.

National trading standards

“delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement…Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised criminality and by providing a ‘safety net’ to limit unsafe consumer goods entering the UK”.

To perform this huge task, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy provides national trading standards and Trading Standards Scotland with just £14 million. With that small amount of funding, trading standards is expected to protect consumers from scams and cyber-crime and to protect UK borders and public safety. Does the Minister agree that £14 million per year for this huge responsibility, which requires investigation, prevention, safeguarding and enforcement, is really not enough to fulfil the task to any acceptable level, and that it must—I know it does—leave NTS officers continually frustrated and overworked? Has the Minister made any assessment of how much funding NTS needs to fulfil its role to the highest standard?

The 2015 Act makes it clear that sellers must provide seat, row and block numbers, as well as the unique ticket ID number, if the event organisers insist on it, yet there are still examples of secondary ticketing sites that do not supply this information. Touts are therefore still able to operate illegally and rip off genuine fans without any serious implications. The legislation exists—we are talking about it—but despite a long-running Competition and Markets Authority investigation, enforcement is still lacking. That means it is up to organisers, venues and promoters to monitor secondary ticket touts, cancel tickets when necessary, and respond to disappointed fans who are denied access with invalid tickets. Such expectations are unreasonable for organisers, venues and promoters. At a recent meeting of the all-party group, an event organiser said:

“We don’t want to be the enforcers, but if agencies aren’t there then we have to step in.”

Does the Minister agree that this is not an acceptable expectation for organisers, venues and promoters?

As the House knows, I have been working on this issue for a long time now, and I am convinced that ticket touts will continue to operate outside the law until there is a sustainably funded agency to ensure that the existing legislation—this legislation—is enforced. That is why the SI is deficient. Recently, we saw two English teams fly to Madrid for the champions league final. I have to admit that I am not a fan of either team—I do not know whether you are, Madam Deputy Speaker—but many fans flew over, too, paying out for their flights, transfers and accommodation, on top of as much as £5,000 per ticket, going up in some cases to £10,000 per ticket, only ​to be told, just hours before the game, that the tickets they had purchased from secondary ticket sites did not exist and were cancelled. I can only imagine the sheer disappointment, anger and frustration that those fans went through, even though the 2015 Act should have made it impossible for that to happen. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence: it is something I hear about all too often from the excellent campaign groups Victim of Viagogo and the FanFair Alliance.

If the Government want to protect consumers—which is what we are here to do—they must invest in our enforcement agencies to ensure that the existing legislation is totally adhered to. I know that what I have talked about is slightly outwith the scope of the SI, and I am so grateful for the House’s indulgence and to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to talk about the funding of national trading standards, but I hope the Minister has heard what I have had to say, even though I have sneaked it in as I have done, and will look into the issue as soon as possible.

 

Consumer Protection 11.06.19

During a debate on a Statutory Instrument - Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Enforcement) (Amendment) Order 2019 - Sharon called for further funding for enforcement agencies with a particular focus on the...

Responding to Managing Director of Viagogo, Cris Miller's claims that Viagogo will comply with current legislation 'as soon as possible', Sharon Hodgson MP said:

"Viagogo should have complied with UK legislation, the Consumer Rights Act, when it was enacted four years ago. Instead, they have ripped off thousands of genuine fans over the years and taken little responsibility for their actions.

"While Viagogo’s competitors agreed undertakings to follow the law in April 2018, Viagogo resisted change and were eventually served with a court order in November 2018. They were duty bound to comply fully with this order by Mid-January, almost five months ago. This begs the question what 'as soon as possible' means to Cris Miller of Viagogo?

“Four years ago, the Consumer Rights Act was enacted in order to protect consumers. Viagogo have therefore had four years to comply with the law. Why did Viagogo not comply immediately, when other secondary ticket sites did?

"Viagogo is not a new businesses, as Miller states, but is in fact thirteen years old. Regardless, that should not grant a business that lies to and manipulates consumers into spending huge amounts of money for tickets, that may not be valid or may not even exist, immunity from the law.

"I don’t agree that Viagogo are being asked to do 'more than their competitors' and if they feel they are perhaps it’s because they are the worst site in the secondary ticket industry and refused to comply with the CMA's original enforcement action.

"The Minister and the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee have warned consumers: do not buy from Viagogo. As Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, I echo this warning and will not stop until all resale sites are compliant with UK legislation."

ENDS

Notes to editor

  • The relevant article can be found here
  • Sharon is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse.

Sharon responds to Viagogo's claim that they will comply with the law 'as soon as possible'

Responding to Managing Director of Viagogo, Cris Miller's claims that Viagogo will comply with current legislation 'as soon as possible', Sharon Hodgson MP said: "Viagogo should have complied with UK...

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - May-Jun 2019 number 118


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Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2019 number 118

News from Westminster - May-Jun 2019 number 118

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - May-Jun 2019 number 118 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2019 number 118 Read more

On behalf of the Opposition, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate entitled Invisible Disabilities and Accessibility Challenges.

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You can watch Sharon's speech here

You can read the debate here

You can read Sharon's speech below

Mrs Sharon Hodgson MP:

This has been a fantastic, high-quality debate. It is a shame that the attendance was a bit—[Interruption.] Yes, it is quality over quantity, which is what we tend to find at the moment. Perhaps other things are going on and focusing minds elsewhere. I would like to begin by thanking my hon. Friends the Members for East Lothian (Martin Whitfield) and for Newport West (Ruth Jones) for securing the debate and for their excellent and passionate opening speeches. They both mentioned Grace and her “have a heart” campaign. That is a fantastic example of a lived experience-led campaign, and they are often the most powerful and successful. I join my hon. Friends in commending Grace and her campaign, which I wish widespread success.

At this juncture, I also want to mention the Changing Places campaign, which I have been involved with in my constituency on behalf of a constituent whose son has spina bifida. I was shocked to find out how few facilities there are across my constituency; no doubt the same applies to all constituencies.

I thank all hon. Members who have taken part today, including the hon. Members for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) and for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Bill Grant)—[Interruption.] I am going to crucify all these constituency names with my Geordie accent. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders)—I just about managed that one—and the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson), as well as the hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Angela Crawley), who spoke for the SNP. I thank them all for their excellent speeches.

Members may have noticed that I am not a Department for Work and Pensions shadow Minister—I am shadow Public Health Minister—but I am happy to be closing this debate on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova). I do chair the all-party parliamentary group on dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. Those are also, of course, invisible disabilities; I shall come back to that aspect later.

As we have heard, in the last census, one in five people in the UK reported having a disability or limiting long-term health condition. The vast majority of disabled people have hidden impairments not immediately obvious to others—neurodiversity, Crohn’s disease, colitis, dementia, arthritis, or mental distress and energy impairment conditions such as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME, and chronic fatigue syndrome, to name but a few.

According to Scope, nearly half the British public are not aware that they even know someone who has a disability. People with invisible impairments face attitudinal ​barriers in every part of their lives, from accessing public toilets to using disabled parking bays, but I will concentrate mainly on education, access to social security and employment.

People with invisible disabilities often face significant exclusion and stigma in education. For example, the lack of awareness of autism in schools affects autistic students at every level. As a result, fewer than half of children and young people on the autism spectrum say that they are happy in education. SEND provisions are woefully inadequate and have been devastated by brutal cuts to our schools and sixth forms, worth £2 billion per year.

What assessment has the Minister made of the impact funding cuts have on children with autism and their ability to stay in mainstream schools? The issue is about accessibility and access to the curriculum. Autistic children are sometimes forced to wait for more than a year for the SEND support that they need, and just one in 10 parents is satisfied by the education, health and care plan for their child. As I know, children with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties experience that, too: my son is severely dyslexic, and as I mentioned earlier, I am the chair of the APPG on dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties.

Earlier this year, our group released a report entitled “The Human Cost of Dyslexia—the emotional and psychological impact of poorly supported dyslexia”. It outlined the ways in which missed or poorly supported dyslexia during education has made such children feel stupid, unvalued by society, guilty—as if the problem was their fault—and disinterested in education. The implications can lead to under-achievement at every level of education, in careers and work life thereafter and, at the extreme end, to disengagement from society. That is reflected in the fact that there are proportionately more people with dyslexia in the criminal justice system than among the general population. The same can be said for a number of SEND conditions.

Unfortunately, the issues faced by people with invisible disabilities during childhood do not disappear but actually worsen in adulthood. The employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people is 30.1 percentage points and has remained just above 30 percentage points for the past decade. This is something that the last Labour Government were trying to tackle. We had the Valuing People Now partnership boards—before he had to dash to a meeting, my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns) told me that he chaired the successful board in Gateshead—but, sadly, the coalition Government scrapped them in 2012. Three years later, in 2015, the Government pledged to halve the disability employment gap to 15 percentage points. [Interruption.] The Minister is getting frustrated.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Justin Tomlinson):

Does the hon. Lady not welcome the fact that just short of 1 million more disabled people were in work in the past five years alone and that for the first time ever, which I emphasise, more than half of disabled people are now in work? We have made significant progress. There is much, much more to do, but we are in a significantly better position than we were in 2010.

Mrs Hodgson:

I am sure the Minister will be making all those points in his contribution.

The Government pledged to halve the disabled employment gap to 15 percentage points in 2015, but the 2017 Conservative manifesto set a new target to get an extra 1 million disabled people into work by 2027, which is a much downgraded commitment. If that is not the case, will the Minister please clarify the Government’s target and update us on the progress on closing the employment gap? The National Audit Office released a damning report concluding that the DWP lacks any clear measures to support disabled people into work. [Interruption.] It is about accessibility. I cannot see how it is not about this debate.

What will the Government do to ensure that clear measures are put in place to support disabled people, including those with invisible disabilities, into work? A recent TUC survey found that more than two thirds of respondents say there is more stigma for disabled people when their impairment cannot be seen by others in the workplace.

For example, people with autism often face significant stigma and difficulty in work. According to the National Autistic Society, just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment, compared with 80% of non-disabled people who are in work in the UK. The vast majority of autistic people face a hostile environment in the labour market, and there is an appalling lack of understanding of autism among jobcentre staff, disability employment advisers and some employers. The same goes for the police and the criminal justice system, which can lead to autistic people being wrongfully arrested when their only crime is being autistic. What will the Government do to ensure better understanding of autism across society?

The Government’s Disability Confident scheme lacks any credible performance measures to ensure that employers support disabled people into work, and it is possible to reach level 3 accreditation without actually employing a single disabled person. Is that something the Government will review?

People with fibromyalgia, which as we have heard is an invisible disability affecting up to 1 million people in the UK, also fall victim to barriers in the labour market. Under this Government, fibromyalgia sufferers face a lack of proper understanding of their condition, as we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston, as well as a lack of vital in-work support. Only 63% of people with musculoskeletal conditions are in work, with many forced out of work by the difficulties of daily life due to their invisible disability.

The Access to Work scheme could play a vital part in ensuring that employers provide valuable reasonable adjustments in the workplace for people with invisible disabilities. However, a survey conducted by Versus Arthritis found that just 59% of respondents with conditions such as fibromyalgia and only 41% of employers are aware of the scheme. What steps can the Minister take to ensure that employers are aware of the scheme and to encourage take-up?

As we have heard during the debate, assessments for PIP, employment and support allowance and universal credit are failing people with invisible impairments such as mental health problems and mental distress. The Time to Change campaign has reported that 90% of people with mental distress have experienced stigma, ​including in employment and in accessing social security support. The current assessment framework fundamentally discriminates against people with mental distress, and I am sure that we will all have constituents who have experienced this and felt overwhelmed by the process. The process begins with an arduous written assessment, which is 34 pages long in the case of PIP. That is followed by the collation of medical evidence, which can involve travelling extensively, liaising with different health services and facing huge expense. Finally, there is an often invalidating and often humiliating face-to-face assessment.

In 2013, an upper tribunal panel said that the design of the work capability assessment substantially disadvantaged mental health claimants, as it relied upon the self-reporting of a disability. In 2017, the Government changed the eligibility criteria for the PIP mobility component, to exclude certain people undertaking journeys who are facing “overwhelming psychological distress”. These changes, which were ruled to be unlawfully discriminatory by a High Court and which will take years to complete, prove, once again, the DWP’s shocking disregard for people with mental distress. Some 220,000 people are owed back payments by the DWP, but thus far the Government have only reviewed 10% of cases. When does the Minister expect to have reviewed all these cases?

It is clear from this debate that people with invisible disabilities face stigma in all areas of their lives. That is due not only to the chronic lack of knowledge and awareness of invisible disabilities across society, but to the Government’s cruel loopholes that discriminate against people with invisible disabilities. I hope that the Minister will take on board everything he has heard today. I know he probably is not happy with what he has heard from me, but there we are.

 

Invisible Disabilities and Accessibility Challenges 05.06.2019

On behalf of the Opposition, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate entitled Invisible Disabilities and Accessibility Challenges. You can watch Sharon's speech here You can read the debate here...

Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, has today slammed the Government’s inaction on the sexual health service crisis and called on the Government to ensure that local sexual health services are sufficiently funded.

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The call comes as Public Health England figures published today show:
• A 5% rise in overall STI diagnoses between 2017 and 2018;
• A 26% increase in gonorrhoea diagnoses between 2017 and 2018. This is the highest level of gonorrhoea diagnosis in 40 years;
• A 5% rise in syphilis diagnoses between 2017 and 2018. This is the highest rate of syphilis in 70 years.

Since 2013, the Government have cut the Public Health Grant to local authorities by £700m up to 2020/21. This includes a cut to sexual health services of £55.7m.

Commenting on the statistics, Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health said:
“The shocking statistics today show that the Government’s funding cuts have consequences.

“Time and time again I hear from local authorities, sexual health services and charities that these vital services are struggling to keep up with demand and are buckling under the Government’s funding cuts.

“That fact that STI diagnoses are continuing to increase, with Gonorrhoea and Syphilis diagnoses at the highest rate on record, should be a serious red light to the Government that their cuts to public health services are having a serious impact on the health of this country.

“I urge the Government, once again, to reverse the cuts to the Public Health Grant and establish a funding settlement post-2020/21 for our vital public health services to ensure that service provision can be provided for all that need it.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:
• Public Health England’s statistics can be found here

Sharon Hodgson MP: Gonorrhoea and Syphilis Diagnoses at highest rate on record

Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, has today slammed the Government’s inaction on the sexual health service crisis and...

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Today, Friday 24th May, MPs, Peers and representatives of the sporting industry have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP, to raise their concerns about secondary ticket touts for sporting events and call on the Government to ensure that the relevant agencies are sustainably funded to enforce current consumer legislation.

The letter highlights concerns raised by members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse at a recent meeting in Parliament, including secondary ticket touts operating outside of the law and unofficial resale websites being legitimised by their position on Google Ads.

The letter calls for the Government to fund agencies, such as National Trading Standards and the Competition and Markets Authority, to ensure that current consumer legislation is enforced. It also calls for a consumer education programme, to ensure that customers are aware of what ticket information secondary websites should provide (including the block, seat and row number, the original face value price of each ticket and, if the event organiser demands it, the unique ticket ID number) as well as advising consumers not to make a purchase if the site does not provide those details.

The Government Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James MP, and Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Damian Collins MP have both warned consumers against using Viagogo to buy tickets, but fans are still falling victim to the website and pay way above face value for invalid tickets.

The letter highlights several examples of ticket touts, including a case for a Cricket World Cup match when India play Pakistan at Old Trafford on 16th June. The face value for the tickets are £70, but are being sold, in breach of the Consumer Rights Act, for £264 on Viagogo.

Several Royal Ascot tickets for this year are being advertised with the incorrect face value and misleading information about the availability while the lack of a unique ticket ID number makes it extremely difficult to identify the ticket sellers disregarding the law.

You can read a copy of the letter here

Sharon Hodgson MP, who Co-Chairs the APPG on Ticket Abuse said:

“The APPG has been predominantly focussed on the music industry, but as the summer sporting events approached we turned our focus to sports and found that much of the issues are the same as in music.

“The legislation to protect consumers exists, but what is seriously lacking is enforcement. Touts are getting the message that they can break the law without any repercussions. That is why the Government must ensure that enforcement agencies are sufficiently funded so that consumers can be protected.”

Dr Philip Lee MP, who Chairs the APPG on Sport said:

"There is clearly more that can be done to protect sports fans from being ripped off in this way.

"Two ways we can tackle this are more effective enforcement of the current rules and greater awareness of the potential pitfalls of buying tickets on the secondary market.

That is why consumer education is vital to ensure that sports fans know what to look for when buying tickets from these websites."

Adam Webb, Campaign Manager of FanFair Alliance and secretariat to the APPG on Ticket Abuse said:

“If consumer protection legislation is not adequately enforced, then sports and music fans will continue to be scammed by unscrupulous secondary ticketing sites and large-scale ticket touts. This Government has helped support some major reforms of this market, particularly for live music events, but there is clearly more to be done.”

Lisa Wainwright, Chief Executive Officer of the Sport and Recreation Alliance and secretariat to the APPG on Sport said:

“It is simply unfair that those wanting to watch sporting events are being scammed in this way by secondary ticketing sales. It is not only unfair to them but unfair also on individual sports themselves. It should not be for sports bodies themselves to police these ticket organisations and we think it is vital to strengthen enforcement. Watching sport is an important way of inspiring participation particularly among children and young people and those selling tickets in this way are not only damaging people’s enjoyment of sport but are increasing barriers to participation as well.

“It is also important that entire communities benefit from being able to watch sporting events, this includes those from low socio-economic backgrounds. These touted tickets - often being sold at well above face value - are continuing to make watching sport the preserve of those who can afford to pay these exorbitant costs.”

Claire Turnham MBE, Victim of Viagogo said:

“For the love of music, sport and the arts fans deserve more. Despite improvements, we still see British consumers ripped off on a daily basis. The laws are in place but they mean nothing unless put into action through education and enforcement. This is imperative to seeing a positive change within the secondary ticketing market.“

Juliet Slot, Chief Commercial Officer, Ascot Racecourse said:

“Secondary market websites and touts are routinely exploiting customers with tickets on sale above face value and without the required information as listed by the Consumer Rights Act. In the run up to Royal Ascot, we are fighting against Google ads which often give prominence to these websites that claim the event is sold out when it is not so they can charge significantly above the face value.

“It is not just customers who suffer, but the racing industry as a whole with lost revenue that could be invested in prize money for the sport’s participants, alongside welfare and integrity measures. We will be working closely with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Thames Valley Police again this year to minimise the impact of touts during Royal Ascot, ensuring that all our customers have a safe and enjoyable experience.

“We welcome the work of the APPG for Ticket Abuse and are pleased to be taking a stand with our colleagues from other sports. Ascot enforces the right to refuse entry to any person purchasing a ticket from an unofficial source and urges all customers to be aware of the risks. Anybody looking to buy tickets should do so through our official channels.”

ENDS

 

Sharon received a response from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 18th June. You can view the response here.

MPs and sporting industry unite against ticket touts

Today, Friday 24th May, MPs, Peers and representatives of the sporting industry have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Jeremy Wright...

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.

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Today, the UK goes to the polls to vote in the European Parliamentary elections.

After the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum, no one envisaged we would be voting in an EU election ever again.

The blame for this lies squarely with the Conservative Government for failing to secure an agreement that Parliament can support.

Their botched Brexit deal fails to: protect jobs, secure workers’ rights, environmental protections, and guarantee the frictionless trade that our manufacturing industry relies upon.

But whilst the Conservative Party has been failing to secure a deal that works for everyone and the country has been arguing over remain and leave or hard and soft Brexit, we have been guilty of missing something much more important and problematic for future generations: child poverty.

Last week, the End Child Poverty coalition released new statistics which found that half a million more children are having their lives blighted by poverty today than at the start of the decade; two thirds of which are growing up in working households.

In some constituencies across the UK, more than 50% of children are living in poverty.

In my constituency, Washington and Sunderland West, 39% of children are growing up in poverty.

That is almost 9,000 of our local children going to school hungry, being poorly clothed and suffering in the cold during winter.

Poverty instantly disadvantages children from their more affluent peers in every aspect of their life: health and wellbeing, education and future employment.

That so many children throughout the UK are growing up in poverty should shame this Government into action.

Yet, when confronted with the issue that millions of households across the country face, the Conservative Government are quick to dismiss it as an anomaly.

But this is a reality for far too many.

We have a duty to ensure that every child has the same opportunity to grow up into a healthy adult.

But we risk losing a generation to poverty, fuelled by the Conservative Government’s callous austerity policies and ignorance to the real issues families face.

As the UK goes to the polls today, we must remember what really matters.

Brexit may be important, but sadly it is proving to be a huge distraction from national scandals such as child poverty.

These children deserve better.

 

You can visit the Sunderland echo website here.

ECHO COLUMN: Child poverty in UK is a national scandal

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Today, the UK goes to the polls to vote in the European Parliamentary elections. After...

Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, today (Wednesday 15th May) raised food insecurity with Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Question Time and asked her to meet with young food ambassadors who have experienced food insecurity themselves.

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Sharon, who Co-Chaired the Children’s Future Food Inquiry, used the opportunity to raise figures published today by the End Poverty Coalition showing that 500,000 more children are having their lives blighted by poverty today than at the start of the decade.

The Children’s Future Food Inquiry was the first inquiry about food insecurity amongst young people that included children and young people in the discussions and recommendations.

The young food ambassadors published a #Right2Food Charter which outlines what they believe should be done to tackle food poverty and insecurity.

The Inquiry’s Committee, made up of cross-party politicians and charities, recommended that the Government set up an Independent Children’s Food Watchdog to cost some of the policies that could help tackle food insecurity and hunger.

Sharon asked the Prime Minister:
“Three weeks ago, the Prime Minister received a copy of the Children’s Future Food Inquiry report, delivered to No.10 by Dame Emma Thompson and six young food ambassadors who have all experienced food poverty.

“On her Government’s watch, the End Child Poverty Coalition have found that half a million more children are having their lives blighted by poverty today than at the start of this decade.

Will the Prime Minister meet with these young food ambassadors to discuss their #Right2Food Children’s Charter as soon as possible?”

In her response, the Prime Minister said:
“I haven’t actually seen the Charter yet, so I will look very carefully at that Charter.

“But as I have said in response to a number of questions on this issue: what is important is that we have in this country an economy that enables people to get into good jobs.

“That is what we are delivering as a Conservative Party in Government. That is what enables people to have that stability in their income. That is what enables people to be able to care for their children.”

Following PMQs, Sharon said:
“I am disappointed that the Prime Minister would not commit to meeting with the young food ambassadors, who have been so brave in sharing their experiences of food insecurity with politicians.

“At a time when we see poverty increasing, the Government must take food insecurity seriously or we risk losing an entire generation of young people to hunger. But it is clear that the Government is not able to grasp the nuances of poverty and food insecurity.

“I will continue to bring this issue to the Government’s attention until they take meaningful action to tackle this problem.”

ENDS

Notes to editor:

  • You can watch Sharon’s question and the Prime Minister’s response here.
  • The Children’s Future Food Inquiry report can be found here.
  • The #Right2Food Charter can be found here.
  • More information about the Children’s Future Food Inquiry can be found here.
  • You can read the End Child Poverty Coalition’s press release here.

Sharon raises food insecurity at Prime Minister's Questions

Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, today (Wednesday 15th May) raised food insecurity with Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Question Time and asked her to meet...

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