Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo's website.
PLEASE NOTE: This piece was also submitted before the tragic scenes seen at Grenfell Tower in West London.
Firstly, it was an honour to be re-elected to continue as the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West last Thursday.
This General Election was one that nobody wanted - apart from Theresa May – or needed, yet I feel she may have wished she had said no for an eighth time when she came down from Snowdonia back in April.
Whilst Labour lost the election nationally, it can be said that Labour presented a manifesto of hope and opportunity, which was well received by the general public, compared to the dire manifesto by Theresa May – which one Tory MP described as poisonous - and was clearly rejected by the public.
We cannot be complacent following this election result, and it is important that we recognise we have a long way yet to go before we can form a Labour Government again.
What was clear is that the Prime Minister’s empty slogans failed to engage with the general public who rejected the Tories on polling day thus scuppering May’s plans to have a thumping majority to do whatever she liked.
Election night was one of shocks. From Labour holding its traditional heartlands, to snatching a seat from the former Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, and even taking seats such as Kensington and Chelsea and Canterbury; seats we have never held before.
Yet, the main thing that has come out of this election is the omnishambles of Theresa May.
At the time of writing this column, the Prime Minister is failing to negotiate a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party – a hard-right political party in Northern Ireland – and has delayed the Queen’s Speech as she cannot form a majority to pass it. And this is the woman who asked the public to trust her with the Brexit negotiations.
It’s the typical troupe after a General Election to say we are in interesting times, but right now it couldn’t be more true. Whatever the case or outcomes of the next few weeks, I will be working hard every day to represent the people of Washington and Sunderland West to my fullest.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo's website. PLEASE NOTE: This piece was also submitted before the tragic scenes seen at Grenfell Tower in West...
Sharon has again backed the Royal Life Saving Society’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign in a bid to prevent summer tragedies.
Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children in the UK, with the latest stats showing that in the last five years, 48 children aged nine and under had drowned, with 147 young people aged 10 – 19 having lost their life due to drowning.
Annually, around 400 people accidentally drown and summer months pose a particularly high-risk as people escape the warmer weather to cool off. Last year, 85 people drowned in July and August alone.
Drowning Prevention Week, run by the Royal Life Saving Society, aims to ensure everyone knows how to have fun and stay safe near water. This year’s campaign runs from 16 – 26 June and will see leisure centres, schools, businesses and youth groups utilising RLSS’s UK’s water safety resources in their communities.
To find out how to stay safe around water this summer, contact your local leisure centre to see if they are running an event, or visit the RLSS UK’s website www.rlss.org.uk to access their water safety advice.
“Here in our local area, we have all too often heard about young people drowning, especially during the summer months. That’s why it is important to back national campaigns like the RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week and encourage activity in our local area.
“Raising awareness of the dangers of drowning is crucial to reducing the numbers of deaths we see every year, but also it is just as important to be pushing for an improvement in life-saving skills for everyone, especially children and young people during their school years.
“I hope as many people as possible will get involved in RLSS UK’s campaign this year and get involved locally at events across our area, and remember to stay safe as the weather heats up.”
Drowning Prevention Week also aims to raise money for the RLSS UK’s wider drowning prevention work, which includes providing support for families affected by drowning or near drowning. Donate now by texting DPRW17 and an amount to 70070.
Sharon has again backed the Royal Life Saving Society’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign in a bid to prevent summer tragedies. Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children...
Read Sharon's latest column for the Sunderland Echo - published on the Echo's website before Parliament was dissolved.
This will be my last Echo column before the General Election campaign begins.
Since the last General Election, my columns have ranged from issues that have concerned my constituents when they have contacted me, including animal welfare and the future of our schools, to the more obscure like recycling unwanted electronics and electrical goods.
It has been wonderful to engage with you through my columns, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
One issue that often comes up often in my columns is Brexit – especially now that the Prime Minister has made Brexit the issue of this General Election.
Here in Sunderland we voted to leave, and that must be respected. I have done that by voting to trigger Article 50 in Parliament, but also engaging with my constituents through my public consultation meetings and questionnaires from earlier this year.
Brexit is one of the biggest economic, diplomatic and political issues facing our country. That is why it has been important to listen to you and ensure I can push for the best Brexit deal possible for our area. This has included working to ensure that our economy is as robust as possible as we leave the EU.
We can’t predict what will happen when we leave the EU – it is too unpredictable – but I have worked hard in Parliament to guarantee that our economic potential here in the North East, especially here in Sunderland, is unlocked, and we see much-needed economic growth in our region; something we have been long awaiting.
During the debates on the last Budget, I pushed the Government to direct innovation funding to the North East through a materials funding pot, which would boost production of steel, plastics, ceramics and other materials used in manufacturing in our region. This would have a direct benefit for our automotive sector.
This investment would have the potential to boost jobs and growth in our region by supporting Nissan’s supply chain with a much-needed investment injection.
This funding would not only allow the creation of new engineering and manufacturing jobs here in the North East, but also space to develop new products, the capacity to build products here in our country currently built in other countries and most importantly drive economic growth as we leave the EU.
Brexit has given us the capacity to look at things differently, especially our economy, and it is important we do this to ensure that we get a good deal for our area. We must ensure Brexit works for us all.
Read Sharon's latest column for the Sunderland Echo - published on the Echo's website before Parliament was dissolved. This will be my last Echo column before the General Election campaign...
Now that Theresa May has called a snap General Election and Parliament has approved its dissolution, there will now be an election on 8th June, therefore it is important to register to vote.
It only takes a few minutes to register to vote, and all you need is the details of where you are currently living and your National Insurance Number to complete the application form.
To register to vote, you can follow this link here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
The deadline for registering to vote is 22nd May – so don’t miss out on the chance to have your voice heard about how the country will be governed for the next five years!
If you won’t be around on Election Day to go to the polling station, you can register for a postal ballot, by checking the box marked: “Yes, send me a postal ballot application” during the application process. A form will be sent out to you, via post or email, and you must return it by the 23rd May.
Sharon Hodgson, Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Washington and Sunderland West, said:
“Theresa May has called a snap General Election, and this has the potential to catch many people out from denying them the chance to have their voices heard, because they are not registered to vote or will be away on Election Day so can’t make it along to the polling station.
“That is why it is important to register to vote as soon as possible, so that your voice can be heard and you can contribute to shaping how the country is governed for the next five years.
“It is a quick and easy process which can be done in a matter of minutes, so I hope as many people in Washington and Sunderland West will register to vote as soon as they can so that they don’t miss out on what will be a crucial General Election for them and their families.”
Now that Theresa May has called a snap General Election and Parliament has approved its dissolution, there will now be an election on 8th June, therefore it is important to register to vote....
Following her long campaign on the issue of ticket touting, Sharon spoke in the Digital Economy Bill: Consideration of Lord's Amendments debate on the need for the Government to accept the amendment on banning the misuse of bots and to continue to to address the abuses in the secondary ticketing market.
You can read the full debate on Hansard here.
Read Sharon's contribution to the debate below.
Sharon Hodgson MP (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Gentleman, who I have got to know very well in our time campaigning on this issue during this and the last Parliament. It is a real delight that we have reached this stage and I rise to speak in favour of Lords amendments 246 and 247 on the resale of tickets. It is with great delight that I welcome the news that the Government accept those Lords amendments and that they will make it on to the statute book before this Parliament dissolves.
It goes without saying that we would not be in this position without the concerted cross-party campaigning to put fans first in this broken market. None of that would have happened without the campaigning by me and others over the years. The list is very long, so I hope that the House will indulge me. It includes the steadfast support received from my own party’s Front Benchers, especially in recent years. The shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), made an excellent speech today; I sincerely hope that she will be returned so that she can continue in that vein.
Conservative Members have also given support, including, most notably in the last Parliament, Mike Weatherley, the former Member for Hove and Portslade, who I know is a friend of the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams). Mike Weatherley and I founded and co-chaired the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse. In recent years, the hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) and other members of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, including the hon. Member for Mid Worcestershire (Nigel Huddleston)—I was going to say the gentleman sitting over there wearing a red tie, but that would have made me sound like David Dimbleby—have worked tirelessly on its investigation into the secondary ticketing market. I sincerely hope that the Committee will pick up on the issue again in the next Parliament, so that all of the inquiry’s hard work is not lost. I am sure that that will happen.
I also acknowledge the Minister’s customary good humour and willingness to listen, which, along with the work of shadow Front Benchers in the Lords and those who tabled the amendments, has ensured that we have reached a satisfactory conclusion. I also thank the Secretary of State, who I am pleased to see in the Chamber. More than three years ago, when she was a Home Office Minister, she met me and the former Member for Hove and Portslade to discuss the fraud aspect of this issue. That proves that Ministers have long memories, so such meetings are worth it.
In response to a point raised by the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), we are clear that section 93 of the Consumer Rights Act requires secondary sellers to provide information on ticket restrictions on resale.
Excellent. I was going to come on to that issue, following on from the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty. I will have to remember not to press the Minister on it, because he has already addressed it. That is welcome and I am pleased that he has put it on the record.
I also commend the sterling work over many years by colleagues on both sides of the House of Lords. Way back in 1997, the Labour peer Lord Pendry, the then shadow Sports Minister, was the first to coin the phrase, “put fans first”, so I cannot claim credit for that, as I did not invent it. He campaigned on the issue way back then, but sadly for him and, indeed, for us, he was not made a Minister in the Government that followed, so he was not able to ensure that this happened 20 years ago. That shows that this day has been a very long time coming.
More recent contributions have been made by Lord Stevenson and Baroness Hayter from the Labour Front Bench, Lord Clement-Jones of the Liberal Democrats and the amazingly talented late Baroness Heyhoe Flint of the Conservatives, who tabled the first relevant amendments in the Lords and who sadly passed away a few months ago. She was a joy to work with. Without this campaign I would never have had the chance to know her and I wish I could have had that privilege for longer.
I also want to give a special mention to the former Sports Minister and Conservative peer, Lord Moynihan, whose renowned tenacity during debates on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the wash-up at the end of the last Parliament ensured that we got certain measures on to the statute book. Without him, we would not have progressed to where we are now, as we would still be at base camp waiting for the weather to shift. He has been the most amazing ally and expert in this crusade, and all fans across the country who are not ripped off in the future should know his name and thank him.
Having finished the thank yous, I turn to the business at hand. Lords amendments 246 and 247 will take us one step closer to ensuring that fans are finally put first in the secondary market, something has been sorely lacking for years. At this point, I was going to press the Minister on the point that he has clarified, so I thank him again for doing so. Accepting the Lords amendments is a fitting way to end this Parliament, and I am confident that any residual issues will be picked up quickly once Parliament returns following the general election.
None of us know or can predict what will happen come polling day, but if the good people of Washington and Sunderland West re-elect me, and if other Members present are re-elected by their constituents, I will definitely get right back to businesses and pick up where we leave off today, because there are plenty more issues to continue to campaign on. We have taken one step closer, granted, but we are still far from our cross-party vision of a fair market that ensures that fans are not ripped off.
We need to consider the enforcement of current legislation, such as that which is being investigated by the Consumer Markets Authority, as the Chair of the Select Committee mentioned. We need to support the victims of viagogo, who, as the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty mentioned, have been unfairly and ripped off by one of the worst players in this market, which, disgracefully, did not attend the Select Committee when called to do so. We should definitely revisit that question to see whether there are ways to force companies that have their head office overseas to come and give evidence in this place. It seems wrong that they can evade that by saying that they are not based in the UK when all their customers are based in the UK. We should also ensure that the Waterson review’s recommendations are implemented fully and effectively. The list of things that we need to put right could go on, but those are just a few of the many issues that must be picked up in the next Parliament.
Finally, I want to again thank the Minister, the Secretary of State, my Front-Bench colleagues, Members from across the House and our colleagues in the other place for committing so much time to this campaign. For the early part of the past eight years, I felt like a lone warrior, but I have welcomed the momentum and support from Members of both Houses that have built up around the campaign. That momentum cannot slow when the newly elected House returns in June. Fans deserve for us to campaign for them at every opportunity and to put them first. Let us all commit to continue to fight for them until this market is cleaned up, then our work will be done.
Following her long campaign on the issue of ticket touting, Sharon spoke in the Digital Economy Bill: Consideration of Lord's Amendments debate on the need for the Government to accept...
Following concerns raised by parents, headteachers and school governors, Sharon secured a Westminster Hall debate on school funding in the North East and the Government's inaction to support schools in the region.
Read the full debate on Hansard here.
You can read Sharon's opening speech below.
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
I beg to move,
That this House has considered school funding in the north-east of England.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this morning, Mr Betts. I am very pleased to have secured this important debate, albeit on the second last day that Parliament is sitting in this Session. I know the subject of the debate has made many of my constituents very concerned, as well as those of my fellow MPs from across the north-east who, I am pleased to say, are in attendance today in some numbers and those who unfortunately could not be here. They include my fellow Sunderland MPs, my hon. Friends the Members for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) and for Houghton and Sunderland South (Bridget Phillipson). My right hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr Campbell), who has raised concerns with the Minister following a meeting he had with headteachers in his area, is also concerned about the effect on his constituency. He asked me to convey his apologies, as he really wanted to be here but had to be elsewhere.
I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop), who has done a lot of work over recent months to raise awareness of our collective concerns about the Government’s negligent approach to schools in our region. I have to add, Mr Betts, that he will be sorely missed when he steps down from this place next week, both by us, his regional colleagues, and, I know, his constituents. I am thrilled to see him in his place today.
Labour Members are passionate advocates for the education of children and young people. It is safe to say that “Education, education, education” is a mantra that we still believe in, yet sadly we have seen this Government ride roughshod over our education system and our local schools, by putting them in an unprecedented position. The Government have not only failed to support our schools; they have made cuts that are fundamentally detrimental to the very viability of some schools.
In my contribution this morning, I will set out why that approach to education is so damaging and why there must be an urgent rethink by Ministers. To do this, I will look at three areas: the national situation; how it is affecting schools in my constituency and the north-east; and, finally, how that approach to our education system is affecting the very nature of our schools, whose purpose is to educate our children and address societal issues, such as child poverty and social mobility.
Before I even get to the crux of why I called this debate, perhaps I can already predict what the Minister will say in response. He will probably say, as the Prime Minister said just a few weeks ago, that this Government have protected the schools budget. However, he knows as well as I do that that is not actually the case, because the real issue is the failure to recognise that our schools are facing real-terms cuts, not cash cuts. It is deeply disingenuous of the Government to say that they have protected school budgets. I suppose it is like the Government paying public sector workers the same as they paid them seven years ago and then saying that they have protected their salaries. Oh, hang on a minute—they have done that as well.
These real-terms cuts are mainly down to inflation, but also four other things: the increases in the cost of employers’ contribution to national insurance and pensions; the abolition of the education services grant to local authorities and academies, which has reduced funding by £600 million; the cost of annual pay awards to teachers, which is set to increase by 4.4% by 2020; and, finally, the impact that the apprenticeship levy will have on maintained schools that take on apprentices. Much of this would not be a problem if the Government were not overseeing static funding for our schools, whereby these real-terms cuts now range from between 6.5% and 8%.
On top of all this, there are growing concerns about what the new schools funding formula will do to schools’ budgets and to staff retention and the schools estate, which is in dire need of an uplift. We might easily come to the conclusion that what we are seeing is the complete mismanagement and neglect of our education system—a perfect storm, if you like.
Instead of coming to terms with those issues, we have seen this Government shove their heads in the sand and carry on regardless, ignoring what many in society—from MPs across the House to teachers and parents themselves—are calling for, which is support for our education system to ensure that our children succeed in life. As the Public Accounts Committee recently stated in its report on school cuts,
“the Government does not seem to understand the pressures that schools are already under.”
I completely agree with that, and I feel frustrated that Ministers are continually ignoring the concerns of a wide cross-section of society on this matter.
School leaders, who know their budgets the most, were surveyed by the National Association of Head Teachers, with 72% saying that their budgets will be untenable by 2019-20. That is not surprising when the National Audit Office has set out that the Department for Education expects schools to make £3 billion of savings a year by 2019-20. It is safe to say that this £3 billion cut—which is what it is, rather than a saving—as well as the funding pressures that schools face and the lack of action to support them through all these difficulties, is leading to headteachers having to make impossible decisions, some of which will ultimately impact negatively on pupils and their education, and all because of what the Minister is doing, or not doing, as the case may be.
This sorry state of affairs that our schools find themselves in is nothing to do with efficiencies; it is all about impoverishing our schools. Shamefully, this approach will hit children living in the poorest areas the most, such as in parts of my constituency and those of my fellow north-east MPs from across the House. We all have deprived communities in our constituencies. That means that more and more children will be held back in life, when we should be supporting them to achieve social mobility and to achieve their full potential.
As I stated at the beginning of my contribution, I know that this is an issue that many of my constituents and teachers in my constituency are concerned about. That is not surprising, when the total budget cuts by 2019 across the city of Sunderland are expected to be over £16 million, which means an average cut of £470 in per-pupil spend and a loss of 439 teachers across the borough of Sunderland.
In my constituency, the worst hit school is Rickleton Primary School, which will see a budget cut of nearly £150,000. That is well above the average cut for primary schools nationally, which is estimated at around £103,000, which is still a huge cut. The headteacher of Rickleton Primary School, Mr Lofthouse, set out clearly in an email to me, which I have sent on to the Secretary of State for Education, what those funding pressures will mean for his school, from potential staff redundancies to the impact on his pupils’ education, and it is not only Mr Lofthouse. Many other headteachers across Sunderland have expressed similarly grave concerns. Those concerns were reflected in a meeting I held in Sunderland recently with around 30 headteachers and school governors, who all agreed that our schools were at a crisis point. That led me to securing this debate today.
The worries of those headteachers and school governors are genuine and showed just how concerned they were for the education of the next generation. In all my 12 years as an MP, I have never been in such a meeting, with headteachers expressing concerns of such gravity. If the Minister had been at that meeting, he would have had his eyes truly opened to the extent of his actions and the gravity of the situation. One headteacher from Sunderland said that if they did not see any support from the Government for their school, it would mean losing five teachers, which would not be legal under the 30:1 pupil-to-teacher ratio. The true scale of this issue was described extremely well by another headteacher at the meeting, who said that balancing their budget had always been hard under successive Governments—they had always had to deal with cuts—but that these cuts will be impossible to achieve. She ended by saying:
“This can’t be done—no joke, not kidding or exaggerating”.
Following that meeting, a joint letter from headteachers in different parts of our region, some of which are represented by MPs who are here today, appealed to parents to make their voices heard by the Government regarding these plans. I for one am proud to stand with my local headteachers, school governors and parents who are deeply concerned about this issue and urge the Minister to rethink his disastrous plans, which will negatively affect the lives of children and young people not only in my constituency, but across the north-east and in other parts of England.
To help the Minister along, I will read an extract from that letter to parents. It will help him understand what is happening on the ground and the plight facing our schools right now. It is unprecedented for teachers from three boroughs to get together and write to parents in this way. The letter states:
“School leaders in our region have endeavoured to make every conceivable cut to our spending, but are now faced with reducing basic services still further, all to the disadvantage of your child.”
Teachers do not go into this profession to make life harder for children and to make cuts. They do it because they want to help transform the lives of all children, especially those who need extra support the most. What we are currently seeing is the exact opposite, and it is all due to this Government’s shocking failures. As someone who has campaigned during my 12 years as a Member of Parliament to improve the lives of children and young people, especially those living in poverty, I fail to see how the Government’s current actions with our education system will help to alleviate any issues of child poverty and disadvantage in our society.
Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
I thank my hon. Friend for calling this debate and the critical point she is making about education in deprived communities and social mobility. The school I went to, Kenton Comprehensive School, has announced that it will cut 24 staff posts, including three teacher posts. The head says that she is making every effort to ensure that that does not impact on the learning experience, but does my hon. Friend agree that at a time when we need to enhance our skills, when the future of every child depends on the education they receive, and when social mobility and social equality are such an issue, it cannot be acceptable to cut education and staff in this way?
I totally agree. As my hon. Friend knows, education is a critical way of reducing poverty in society, as it equips children and young people with the knowledge and tools to get on in life, but the best schools also inspire them to go on and achieve their dreams. That is crucial in the north-east, where an estimated 132,000 children are living in entrenched generational poverty. That is why the cuts are deeply worrying to those of us representing seats in the north-east. The children we represent do not deserve that.
It is a well known fact that poverty impacts on the attainment of children in our society. That was clearly documented in 2015, when GCSE results were analysed. It showed that 36.7% of disadvantaged pupils received five A* to C grades, compared with 64.7% of all pupils. In this country, there is a strong correlation between parental social background and children’s test scores, particularly when compared with other developed countries, where it is less so. This is compounded by the fact that children in some of England’s most disadvantaged areas are 27 times more likely to go to an inadequate school than children living in the least deprived areas. That is why it is important that schools are used as a conduit to alleviate some of the issues that children in poverty face and to ensure that they get the best possible start in life.
Poverty is not inevitable. We do not need to see poverty in our society. What poverty tells us is that, due to a lack of political will, innovative thinking and a drive to act, we have failed as a society to address the social and economic issues that cause poverty. We have seen none of those things when it comes to school budget cuts. Instead we are seeing further social separation and division. That is seen quite plainly in the Government’s pet project, where they plan to pump millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into grammar schools and the rolling out of more free schools and academies, instead of supporting what parents and teachers are calling for, which is for their child’s current school to be funded properly. That was brought to light just today with the publication this morning of the Public Account Committee report. It called the Government’s free school policy “incoherent” and wasteful, with the Department for Education spending over the odds for schools and new free school places in areas where they were not needed, because there was not demand. Why can we not take some of this wasteful spending—the Public Account Committee is cross-party and it knows what it is talking about—and use it to mitigate the terrible funding cuts that our schools are facing?
In conclusion, for the sake of the children who live in my constituency, but also those of other MPs across the north-east, the Minister must rethink his and his Department’s approach to education without delay. Our education system should be funded fully and fairly, so that it can not only educate our children, but use its power to help improve our society. I hope the Minister will truly listen to this debate and take all our concerns into consideration, especially those of teachers and parents. Investing in education is investing in our children’s and Britain’s future. Those children in the classroom today are our future workforce. They will take our country on to greater things if we only give them the chance. Failing to support them now will be disastrous for our nation’s future and will only store up problems in later years for society as a whole. I hope the Minister understands the scale of what this all means and will go back to his officials following this debate and seriously reconsider his approach to funding our schools. Our children deserve no less.
Following concerns raised by parents, headteachers and school governors, Sharon secured a Westminster Hall debate on school funding in the North East and the Government's inaction to support schools in...
Dear voters of Washington and Sunderland West,
During my 12 years as a Member of Parliament, I have stood up for local people in our area by holding firstly the last Labour Government and more recently the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition and the current Tory Government to account, as both a backbencher and a Shadow Minister. I travel down to Westminster every week to do this and to push for changes that will benefit our community and the North East as a whole.
I hope to continue doing so and hope that I can count on your support in my re-election to continue to represent Washington and Sunderland West in Parliament.
Theresa May has laid down the gauntlet and has made this General Election about Brexit and about weakening scrutiny of her and her Party in Parliament, by wrongly claiming other political parties are trying to block Brexit from happening, when in actual fact, what we are doing is simply our democratic duty in holding this Government to account. This is a completely false accusation, as three-quarters of MPs and two-thirds of the House of Lords voted in favour of triggering Article 50 back in March and respected the will of the people.
This is all about her wanting a bigger majority to push through her right-wing ideological agenda of austerity for the UK.
Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has a plan when it comes to Brexit and we will be making our case clear in the coming weeks about what our future relationship with the European Union will look like, but this General Election must also be about not letting the Tories go unchallenged on other important issues.
Our alternative case set out by Jeremy over the last few days and weeks shows a clear difference in our vision for Britain. We don’t have to endure continued Tory rule, which has seen a combination of failed economic growth for regions such as our own and deep and damaging cuts to our welfare state and public services, such as schools, our NHS and local government.
Labour have always been about standing up for working people, and Labour will use this General Election to prove this to be true and ensure we see a Labour Government elected on 8th June, that will put the people of Washington and Sunderland West first.
I hope I can count on your vote on the 8th June.
Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Washington and Sunderland West
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Dear voters of Washington and Sunderland West, During my 12 years as a Member of Parliament, I have stood up for local people in our area by holding firstly the...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2017 number 94
Click on picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Mar-Apr 2017 number 94
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On Friday 7th April, Labour women MPs wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society commemorating the 101 Labour women elected to Parliament in Labour’s 1997 election landslide – which happened 20 years ago this year.
The pamphlet was borne out of the idea of commemorating the 1997 Labour landslide election, and looking at an array of policy issues that Labour women worked on, at the time, and since, that helped transform the country for the better.
As part of this pamphlet, Sharon Hodgson MP co-wrote a chapter with Caroline Flint MP on childcare and early years education: which has always been an area of interest for Sharon as a Member of Parliament.
During her time as a Member of Parliament, Sharon has taken a great interest in childcare and early years issues and the need to ensure this area of policy was greatly improved to support families and address child poverty in the UK, which follows on from the work started by the Labour Government elected in 1997. This includes Sharon’s work as Shadow Minister for Children and Families in the last Parliament where she helped develop Labour’s offer to the country on 25 hours of free childcare, her involvement as an officer of the Children’s Centres APPG and as a Patron of Labour Friends of Sure Start.
In the chapter, Sharon and Caroline Flint MP write about the work of the 1997 Labour Government to radically transform early years and childcare provision in the UK after years of neglect by the previous Tory Governments under Thatcher and Major, how improved childcare is important for equality and the what the challenges are for the future when it comes to childcare provision and what we can learn from the last Labour Government’s approach to this policy issue.
Sharon Hodgson MP, said:
“It was an honour to be asked to contribute to this pamphlet on what is an important policy issue for me as a Member of Parliament, which I know is something that affects many of my constituent’s lives.
“It is not a lost on many that at the last General Election, childcare was a crucial election issue for the main political parties, and this can easily be put down to Labour’s concerted and successful plans to modernise children and family policy over the last 20 years; from the introduction of universal early years education entitlement, the introduction and roll-out of Sure Start Children’s Centres and the expansion of childcare places.
“Labour’s many achievements in Government, especially on childcare and early years cannot be forgotten or left to fail with the Tories holding the levers of power, that is why this pamphlet is an important contribution to the necessary debates on where Labour goes with our offer to ensure no child is denied the best start in life to help develop our offer to families ahead of the next General Election.”
You can read 'This Woman Can' be following this link here.
On Friday 7th April, Labour women MPs wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society commemorating the 101 Labour women elected to Parliament in Labour’s 1997 election landslide – which happened...
In her capacity as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, Sharon has welcomed Labour's announcement on free school meals for all primary school children, and said:
“Lunchtime can often be an overlooked part of the school day; which can continue to ignore the growing problem in society where more and more children are going to school hungry and are unprepared to learn because they do not have the nutrients in them to fuel their bodies and minds.
“Many of those children must wait until lunchtime to get their free school meal, whilst some will not at all and will instead pay for their meals or opt for packed lunches which have been proven to lack any nutritional value to support a child’s learning. This policy allows for all children to reap the educational, behavioural and health benefits which come from having a hot and healthy school meal.
“Universalism is a proud tradition of the Labour Party and it is welcome that school food provision will now be a part of that important approach, continuing the important work the last Labour Government did when we introduced the universal free school meal pilots in Durham and Newham and had a fully-costed plan to roll this out to other areas post-2010, which was sadly scrapped by the incoming Tory-led Coalition Government.
“This policy will not only allow those children who are already on free school meals to see the stigma associated with these meals eradicated, but also the two thirds of children living in poverty who are actually in working households, known as the working poor, who will benefit from free school meals when they couldn’t before because they were just above the thresholds, and all other children who will benefit from access to a healthy meal that will aid their learning and help complement the whole school approach to food that has been pushed for since the publication of the School Food Plan.
“This policy announcement provides us with the space to continue our concerted campaigning for other improvements including access to breakfast clubs which have been shown to be the most beneficial intervention to support a child’s education, child holiday hunger which was first identified 111 years ago and unmet can reverse the many positive interventions seen throughout the school year, and wider household food insecurity which is a growing issue in society. This policy announcement is to be strongly welcomed.”
Notes to Editors:
Sharon has been the Chair of the School Food APPG for 7 years, and has campaigned on universal free school meals for over 10 years.
This has included being an integral part in pushing for the universal free school meal pilots in Durham and Newham in 2009, playing a key role in influencing the School Food Plan which recommended universal free school meals when the funding could be found in 2013, and then in 2015, to save Universal Infant Free School Meals when they were under-threat by the then Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan MP, in the lead-up to the 2015 Autumn Statement and Comprehensive Spending Review, when Sharon got the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, to commit at the Despatch Box to protect this policy for the duration of the Parliament.
You can read more about Sharon’s campaigning journey and some of the work she has been doing on this issue, by reading these two speeches from 2010 and 2015:
Recent research by St Mary's University showed that using free school meals as a poverty indicator may not be the most accurate measure of children in poverty, as two-thirds of children living in poverty come from families with at least one parent working; therefore they are not eligible for free school meals however, this policy would be most helpful to the children of the working poor in particular as it would allow those children who do not meet the current eligibility to take advantage of free school meals. Further info available here.
In her capacity as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, Sharon has welcomed Labour's announcement on free school meals for all primary school children, and said: “Lunchtime...