You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
There is no doubt that Brexit has divided some families, our communities and the nation.
The tension has been made all the more worse by the harmful language used by Prime Ministers May and Johnson, whose rhetoric has normalised words such as “betrayal”, “traitor” and “saboteurs”, directed at elected Members of Parliament and the judiciary; crucial pillars upholding our constitution and holding the Government to account on a host of issues, not just Brexit.
Such language has made it into my own inbox, and the inboxes of, mostly female, colleagues.
I am pleased to say that the majority of emails and messages I receive containing harmful language don’t pose a serious threat. Any that do are immediately reported to the police and Parliament’s security team.
However, when trying to work for the best of all of my constituents, whether that is speaking in debates, responding to letters, emails and calls or meeting with ministers, receiving such messages can be daunting, not only for me but for my family, friends and staff too.
No one should feel unsafe in their job, but I know that many MPs do.
The tragic murder of Jo Cox MP and the foiled plot by a neo-Nazi to murder Rosie Cooper MP serve as a reminder that words have serious consequences.
More locally, Billy Charlton - who appeared on the well circulated photograph from the Sunderland count of the EU referendum celebrating the leave result - was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and given a 21-month jail sentence.
It is this kind of behaviour and language that is making our society toxic.
Instead of encouraging debate, hostile language pushes people away from engaging in issues that affect them, leaving only the bullies standing tall.
If we want more women, young, working-class and BME people to engage in politics and current affairs, we must all take a moment to reflect on the consequences of our language.
Is it harmful and intimidating? Is it disenfranchising people from the debate? Could this encourage or influence others to act physically?
We all have a role to play in bridging the divide.
We are all human and our words have consequences.
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website There is no doubt that Brexit has divided some families, our communities and the nation. The...
Sharon Hodgson MP raised concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenged the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy to protect our industrial towns.
Sharon's Question can be viewed on Twitter here
Sharon's Question can be viewed on Parliament TV here
Sharon's Question can be read here
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health used the new Prime Minister’s first statement in the House of Commons to raise concerns around Nissan’s announcement this morning that 12,500 jobs will be lost worldwide.
She also challenged Boris Johnson to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy to protect our industrial towns.
The Automotive Industry in the UK is undoubtedly going through a challenging period, and by far the greatest threat to its continued competitiveness is a No Deal exit from the European Union (EU).
‘Like many people I was hugely worried by Nissan’s announcement this morning. At this stage there is little indication that any job cuts will be made at the Sunderland plant, but I will be monitoring the situation extremely closely and maintaining contact with both Unite Officials, and Nissan.
I’m glad Boris committed to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy and I look forward to seeing that in practice.
When it comes to Brexit, a No Deal exit from the European Union poses an existential threat to the continued success of the automotive industry in the UK.
It is frightening that we now have a Prime Minister who believes he knows more than the industry itself when it comes to the challenges that a No Deal would present. I will continue to challenge No Deal at every available opportunity, and hold this new Prime Minister to account.’
Sharon Hodgson MP raises concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenges the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP
Sharon Hodgson MP raised concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenged the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of...
Sharon has this week received a response from the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Mrs Heather Wheeler MP, in reply to her letter dated 26th of June regarding the leasehold property market which can be found here.
In her letter to the Minister, Sharon outlined the problems and injustices felt by constituents of Washington and Sunderland West regarding leasehold properties, and made the case for urgent policies to stop leasehold injustices.
The response from the Minister outlines developments relevant to the leasehold sector, and offers advice and comment for leaseholders who may want to take action personally.
“I thank the Minister for responding to my letter and for her advice to my constituents. However, I fear that this will provide little comfort to my constituents who continue to feel trapped in their leasehold home, and subject to this feudal and exploitative market.
The Government’s current proposals to change the market overlook existing leaseholders, and its attitude towards this crisis has been lacklustre.
Only Labour is committed to truly reforming the market in a way that will deliver justice for all homeowners with our New Deal for Leaseholders.”
Sharon has this week received a response from the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Mrs Heather Wheeler MP, in reply to her letter dated 26th of June regarding the leasehold...
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Yesterday, I had an adjournment debate in the House of Commons which I secured on behalf of one of my constituents.
In 2017, it was estimated that one in eight children, aged between five and nineteen, had a mental disorder in England. That is around 1.25 million children and young people suffering.
My constituent is just one of those people, and their experience is no different to thousands of other children and young people up and down the country.
Mental health services, which many of the most vulnerable in our society rely upon, is in crisis because of historic underfunding by the Conservative Government. This has led both adults and children struggling to access the treatment and support they need.
According to research from the Children’s Society, over 110,000 children were unable to access mental health support from a Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS), despite being referred for support.
My constituent has faced similar problems: lost referrals, cases being closed, and lack of NHS mental health counsellors means that my constituent had to wait months to be seen and has not had another appointment for seven months.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Yet, if an A&E stopped treating patients there would be uproar. When the same happens for mental health services, there is silence.
After years of inaction, the Prime Minister said that she wanted to make mental health a priority. But these warm words mean nothing for children and young people, like my constituent, who are currently suffering with their own mental health and unable to get access to treatment and support they need and deserve.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, mental health trusts have less money to spend on patient care in real terms than they did in 2012.
Funding cuts mean that mental health services are buckling under the strain.
This is having an impact on recruitment and retention; something that affected my constituent’s treatment.
Research by the Labour Party found in January that the total number of mental health nurses has fallen each month this year. The Government is on track to miss its mental health workforce target by 15,000 staff.
As mental health awareness increases so too should the funding and support services provided to those suffering.
That is why a Labour Government will prevent any further raiding of mental health budgets by ring-fencing NHS mental health budgets; increase the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people and ensure every secondary school in England is able to offer a school-based counselling service to its pupils.
Young people, like my constituent, have their whole future ahead of them. When they need support, they must have access to it and not be turned away at the door. Parity of esteem needs to be a reality not just warm words.
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Yesterday, I had an adjournment debate in the House of Commons which I...
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, has welcomed Government proposals to prevent future injustices within the leasehold market, but is calling for more action to help current owners of leasehold properties.
In a recent letter to Housing Minister Heather Wheeler, Sharon outlined the problems and injustices felt by constituents of Washington and Sunderland West regarding leasehold properties.
The Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire MP, last week announced plans to abolish the selling of new build houses as leasehold and reduce ground rents for new leases to zero.
However, properties built before these proposals are put into legislation will still be sold as leasehold.
Despite welcoming the proposals as a step in the right direction to prevent future injustices, Sharon is concerned that the proposals overlook existing leaseholders.
“I welcome the commitments from the Government to protect future homebuyers, and I believe that this is the start of the end for this outdated and unfair market. However, they do nothing to help those already subject to the injustices of the exploitative leasehold market, who feel ripped off, trapped, or like their home is not their own.
“There is a real threat that this will further leave leaseholders behind in the property market, with their properties becoming even more unattractive to buyers.
“The Government’s evident lethargy in committing to solutions for the leasehold market means that millions already living in leasehold properties continue to feel insecure, so I would urge the Government to go further than the steps outlined, and commit to immediate measures to right these existing wrongs.”
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, has welcomed Government proposals to prevent future injustices within the leasehold market, but is calling for more action to help...
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 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.
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...
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."
Notes to editor
- The relevant article can be found here
- Sharon is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse.
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, 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.
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.”
Notes to editors:
• Public Health England’s statistics can be found 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...
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.”
Sharon received a response from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 18th June. You can view the response here.
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.
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.
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...