Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News from Westminster

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...

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website.

Sharon_Echo_col_header_FIN.jpg

Last Thursday, The Trussell Trust, a nationwide network of foodbanks, released its latest figures.

A shocking 1.6 million emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis by Trussell Trust foodbanks between April 2018 and March 2019. More than half a million of these went to children.

In Sunderland, 4,821 three-day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis. 1,234 of these went to children.

These figures, which do not account for every foodbank in the country, show that the number of food parcels given out across the UK has soared by 73% in the last five years.

In February this year, I raised a question in the House of Commons with the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, about the link between Universal Credit and the rise of foodbanks.

For the first time, the Government admitted that there was a link between Universal Credit and the rise in foodbanks; but it shouldn’t have taken them so long to make the connection.

For over a year, I have been Co-Chairing an Inquiry into food insecurity and hunger amongst young people, entitled “The Children’s Future Food Inquiry”, which published its report on Thursday last week.

The inquiry heard from children and young people about their own experiences of food at home and at school. We heard worrying stories of limited access to free water provision in schools; pupils spending their free school meals money on water is outrageous, especially when they are trying to stretch it far enough so they don’t go hungry. We also heard about young people rationing their own food at home, to make it stretch.

All this in the world’s fifth richest economy. The Government should be ashamed.

As the Co-Chair of the Inquiry, I am calling on the Government to establish an independent food watchdog that will consider the costings of policies that could prevent us losing a generation to hunger and its consequences in this country.

A Labour Government will end the benefits freeze, stop the rollout of Universal Credit and ensure that our social security system supports any one of us should we need it.

Hunger and high foodbank use should have no place in the 21st century.

The Government must urgently recognise these stark figures as yet another red flag that proves their welfare reforms, and particularly Universal Credit, are hurting too many people and simply not working.

Sunderland Echo website

ECHO COLUMN: Hunger and high foodbank use have no place in the 21st century

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website. Last Thursday, The Trussell Trust, a nationwide network of foodbanks, released its latest figures. A shocking 1.6...

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It has been yet another challenging and fast-moving week when it comes to Brexit. I know that many of my constituents are hugely frustrated by the ongoing deadlock in Parliament, and the way in which this process has been handled by the Conservative Government over the past few years.

I have received a significant amount of correspondence over the past few weeks and as such there is currently a short delay in responses to queries regarding Brexit. I hope this update provides some information in the meantime, but please note all constituents will receive a full reply.

At the bottom of this post you will find a breakdown of my voting record for the recent indicative Brexit votes that took place in Parliament. I approached the indicative votes process in the spirit of compromise and therefore supported all options that were in line with Labour Party Policy, even if they did not fully align with our position.

It is no exaggeration to say that we are now in the middle of a full-blown political crisis, with time running out. I am therefore open to supporting a range of options that would break the deadlock and allow us to move forward as a country.

As many people will know, I have consistently opposed the idea of leaving the EU without a deal as I believe it would be a disastrous outcome for our country, and particularly the manufacturing industry in our region of the North East.

With that in mind I supported Yvette Cooper MP & Sir Oliver Letwin MP’s Bill this week, which aims to avoid a No Deal Brexit on the 12th April 2019. It is now being considered by the Lords and this process will continue Monday of next week.

The Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit has been chaotic. She has stuck to unnecessary red lines and refused to pursue a cross-party approach until such a time when she had no other options left. This process is now, finally, taking place with talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn (and their teams).

Jeremy and his negotiating team have discussed customs arrangements, single market alignment including rights and protections, agencies and programmes, internal security, legal underpinning to any agreements and a confirmatory vote. They are now expecting to hear more from the Government, who have also requested a further extension of Article 50 from the EU.

It is more important now than ever that we work together in order to find a path through this complicated period for our country that works for everyone and brings people together. I will continue to update constituents as this process moves forward.

Indicative Votes

Due to the Government’s failure to secure a Brexit deal that could secure a majority, MPs took control of the order paper and organised two rounds of indicative votes to see if there were any options that could find majority support.

First Round – 27th March 2019

Voted For

Motion D - Common Market 2.0
Proposed membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It allows for continued participation in the single market and a ‘comprehensive customs arrangement’.

Motion J – Customs Union
Required a commitment to negotiate a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide Customs Union with the EU in any Brexit deal.

Motion K – Labour Plan
Our plan for a close economic relationship with the EU including a comprehensive customs union and close alignment with the single market in order to secure rights and protections.

Motion M – Confirmatory Public Vote
Would require a public vote to confirm any Brexit deal passed by Parliament before its ratification.

Voted Against

Motion B – Leaving the EU without a deal
Proposed leaving the EU without a deal on the 12th April 2019.

Motion H – EEA / EFTA without a Customs Unions
Proposed remaining within the EEA and re-joining EFTA, but remaining outside a customs union with the European Union (EU).

Motion O – Contingent preferential arrangements
Called on the Government to try and secure preferential trade arrangements with the EU in case we are unable to implement a withdrawal agreement.

Abstained

Motion L – Revoke article 50
Proposal in which if the Government failed to pass its Withdrawal agreement it would have to then hold a vote on No Deal, two sitting days before the date of departure. If No Deal was voted down by MPs, the Prime Minister would need to revoking article 50.

Second Round – 1st April 2019

Voted For

Motion C – Customs Union
Required any Brexit deal to include a commitment to negotiate a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU”. No major change from the first round (Motion J).

Motion D – Common Market 2.0 / Norway
Very similar to the Motion tabled previously (Motion D) with some minor changes relating to the UK having a say on future EU trade deals and protocols relating to frictionless agri-food trade.

Motion E – Confirmatory Public Vote
Same as in first round (Motion M).

Abstained

Motion G – Parliamentary Supremacy
Very similar to Motion tabled in the first round (Motion L) with some changes. Namely that if Article 50 was revoked as a result, a public inquiry would then be set up to find a Brexit option that could secure public support.

Brexit update - 5th April 2019

It has been yet another challenging and fast-moving week when it comes to Brexit. I know that many of my constituents are hugely frustrated by the ongoing deadlock in Parliament,... Read more

 

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Photo Credit: NK-Photography, 2017

Nominations for the NHS Parliamentary Awards are now open.

I was thrilled to be able to showcase some of the brilliant NHS staff and their achievements in my constituency and across the North East last year, and hope to do so again for 2019.

For the last 70 years, NHS staff have been there for us all. This includes doctors, pharmacists, nurses, scientists, clerical staff, cleaners and porters. Without their contributions, the NHS wouldn’t exist.

All our NHS staff, volunteers and society’s carers deserve recognition, but there are many that go above and beyond the call of duty to make the NHS a better service - with hard graft, exciting new ideas and simply by putting patients first.

The NHS Parliamentary Awards give us an opportunity to say thank you for those NHS staff who go above and beyond for their local community, and to recognise the talent, creativity and dedication of NHS staff in Washington and Sunderland West.

If you know anyone working with and for health and care organisations in Washington and Sunderland West who deserves national recognition please send me your nominations. You can download the nomination form here.

Nominations close at midnight on April 26th, so please get them to me as soon as possible by filling in the form and sending it to sharon.hodgson.mp@parliament.uk

There are ten categories, covering key areas such as mental health and primary care, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award for someone who has contributed to the success of the NHS for 40 years or more.

More information on how to nominate is available at http://www.nhsparliamentaryawards.co.uk/how-nominate-0

Sharon puts forward local health and care heroes for special NHS awards celebration

  Photo Credit: NK-Photography, 2017 Nominations for the NHS Parliamentary Awards are now open. I was thrilled to be able to showcase some of the brilliant NHS staff and their achievements...

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

 

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On Wednesday last week, the Prime Minister addressed the nation about Brexit.

After two years, the Prime Minister has failed to negotiate a deal with the EU that protects workers’ rights, environmental regulations or our economy.

The Prime Minister’s deal has been overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament more than once.

During her Downing Street Statement, the Prime Minister tried to place the blame for this on MPs.

But it is not MPs who are to blame. She is.

The national debate on Brexit at the moment is very tense.

My colleagues and I have received many abusive and threatening messages, just for doing our job.

That the Prime Minister should fan the flames of this hatred against elected politicians is extremely dangerous, and demeans the office of the Prime Minister.

Following the speech, the Government then spent tens of thousands of pounds promoting clips of the Prime Minister’s speech on Facebook, alongside the caption “I am on your side”.

If the Prime Minister was on your side, her Government wouldn’t have cut funding for our schools so much that teachers have to use their own money to pay for essentials such as books and pencils; our NHS wouldn’t be in crisis, with 2.8 million people waiting for 4 hours or longer in A&E in 2017/18, compared to just over 350,000 in 2009/10; and our country wouldn’t be facing a knife crime crisis, with police numbers slashed by 21,000.

Instead of attempting to bully and blackmail MPs, the Prime Minister should listen to the thoughts, opinions and concerns of MPs, so that we can effectively represent our constituents.

The North East is my home, I was born here, I brought my children up here, I lived through the dark days of Thatcherism and its impact on our region, and I consider myself lucky every day to represent such a fantastic constituency and people.

I respect the result of the referendum, and welcome hearing from all of my constituents on this.

However, I do not accept that anyone has the right to be abusive or threatening to my parliamentary colleagues and I.

Whatever you think about what is going on in Westminster, I would ask you to appreciate that I only ever do what I think is in the best interests of my constituents on this and all matters.

Whilst the Brexit debate rages on, we must all respect one another and ensure the tone is kept amicable.

The Prime Minister would do well to remember that in the days and weeks to come.

Sunderland Echo Website

ECHO COLUMN: Whilst the Brexit debate rages on, we must all respect one another

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.   On Wednesday last week, the Prime Minister addressed the nation about Brexit. After two...

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

Sharon_Echo_col_header_FIN.jpg

This week, I opened a Westminster Hall debate on the effect a No Deal Brexit could have on public sector catering. Public sector catering includes schools, universities, hospitals, care homes and prisons; and therefore caters for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

It is estimated that 10.5 million people in the UK rely on public sector catering for some of their food, of which some are completely reliant for all of their meals. Away from all the Brexit arguing, are people, young and old, who will suffer in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

I was therefore clear to the Government that no deal should not mean no meal for millions of people up and down the country who rely upon public sector catering for their meals. Meals in our schools, hospitals and care homes provide important nutritional value to children, patients and the elderly and are catered to their specific needs, such as dietary requirements and health needs.

Any rise in food prices, delays in food deliveries or decrease in nutritional standards or safety of food, in the event of a No Deal Brexit will be detrimental to service users. For example, it could slow down recovery time for a hospital patient.

That is why I called on the Government to ensure that institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes are given priority in the event of food shortages, and asked the Government to support Local Authorities and public sector caterers in absorbing any increase in food prices in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

When we talk about the impact of a No Deal Brexit on our health and wellbeing, we must also consider the availability of food to the most vulnerable in our society. Brexit shouldn’t be the reason that millions of the most vulnerable in our society can’t eat.

That is why I was proud to stand up in Parliament and speak on behalf of public sector catering services, users and campaigners.

Sunderland Echo website

ECHO COLUMN: No Deal Brexit will impact on catering in schools, hospitals and care homes

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. This week, I opened a Westminster Hall debate on the effect a No Deal Brexit...

As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food (APPG), Sharon has today written to Sean Harford, National Director of Schools at Ofsted about healthy eating in schools.

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Click the above picture to see the entire letter

In 2015, Sean wrote to Sharon to say that Ofsted was committed to giving wellbeing, health and healthy eating a more prominent place in inspections. However, four years on, the new draft Ofsted inspection framework and handbooks do not mention healthy eating, school food or food education.

 

Sharon writes to Sean Harford, National Director of Schools at Ofsted about healthy eating in schools

As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food (APPG), Sharon has today written to Sean Harford, National Director of Schools at Ofsted about healthy eating in schools.... Read more

Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, participated in the British Obesity Society's podcast "Fat Chat".

IMGL5903.JPGPhoto Credit: NK-Photography, 2017

During the podcast, Sharon spoke about her personal experiences with her weight and health, and also explained how her own experiences have influenced her in her role as Shadow Minister for Public Health.

You can listen on iTunes here

You can listen on SoundCloud here

The podcast is 28 minutes.

Link to British Obesity Society website >

Sharon joins the British Obesity Society in their Fat Chat podcast

Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, participated in the British Obesity Society's podcast "Fat Chat". Photo Credit: NK-Photography, 2017 During the podcast, Sharon spoke about her... Read more

Local Labour MP, and Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon Hodgson has announced she will be giving up fizzy drinks for the whole of February as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the negative health consequences of drinking sugary fizzy drinks which can lead to obesity and other sugar related illnesses.

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Sharon is also encouraging local schools and constituents to take up the challenge of “Fizz Free February”, to raise awareness of the negative health consequences of drinking sugary fizzy drinks which can lead to obesity and other sugar related illnesses.

Participants will give up fizzy drinks for the 28 days of February.

Sugary soft drinks, mainly fizzy drinks, make up an average of 29 per cent of free sugar intake for 11-18 year olds, the single largest source of sugar in their diet. Studies have also suggested that fizzy drinks can affect the appearance of young people’s skin, cause brittle bones and rotten teeth, as well as causing weight gain and affecting pupils’ ability to concentrate in school.

The initiative is part of a wider campaign to tackle the obesity crisis in Britain. 61% of adults in England are either overweight or obese and 34% of children in year 6 are overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes, a disease linked to obesity and sugar intake, costs the NHS 10% of its entire budget to treat.

In the local area 46% of year 6 children are overweight or obese and 28% of five-year olds are suffering from dental decay.

Public Health England dietary advice says that adults should consume no more than 30g free sugars per day, children aged 7-10 should have no more than 24g and children aged 4-6 should have no more than 19g.

Examples of sugar content in popular fizzy drinks:
• A can of Original Coca Cola – 35g of sugar = 145% of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake
• A can of IRN BRU – 34g of sugar = 142% of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake
• A can of Fanta Orange – 15g of sugar = 63% of a child’s recommended sugar intake
• A can of Original Pepsi – 41g of sugar = 171% of a child’s recommended sugar intake

In 2018 the campaign was started by Southwark Council in London. In 2019 Sharon Hodgson is encouraging councils and schools across the country to take part and help people in the local community to do #FizzFreeFeb

Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“As Shadow Minister for Public Health, I am committed to promoting a healthier nation, and working towards reducing child obesity, which includes raising awareness of how excess sugar consumption can have terrible effects on health.

“That is why I am taking part in Fizz Free February, and encouraging constituents to take up the challenge too, in order to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks, and the impact this has on our health.

“Obesity is a growing problem in Sunderland, and across the country, so it is important to take steps to help reverse this trend. Of course, Government has a big part to play in this, which is why I am urging them to reverse cuts to public health budgets so that people can be supported in losing weight.”


ENDS

 

Sharon commits to 'Fizz Free February'

Local Labour MP, and Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon Hodgson has announced she will be giving up fizzy drinks for the whole of February as part of a national...

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

Sharon_Echo_col_header_FIN.jpg

This week, January 21 to 27, 2019, is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a campaign spearheaded by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and supported by other charities, such as The Eve Appeal.

As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, I work closely with charities, health professionals and the public to raise awareness of cancer symptoms, so that cancers can be diagnosed early, in order to improve the effectiveness of treatment.

Cervical cancer is currently one of three cancers that are screened for nationally, along with bowel and breast cancer.

However, cervical cancer screening rates are at their lowest rate for two decades.

Three million women across England have not had a smear test for at least three and a half years.

A survey, published this week by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, found that eight out of ten women said they had delayed a smear test or never gone for a screening because they felt embarrassed.

In November 2018, it was found that more than 40,000 women in England have not received information regarding cervical cancer screening.

We must do better.

Each day, nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and two women lose their lives to the disease.

Seventy-five per cent of cervical cancers can be prevented by smear tests.

It is therefore crucial that women, aged between 25 and 64, firstly know that they are eligible for a smear test, and secondly take up the opportunity to attend.

Most women receive a normal screening test result; but for those that don’t, the results from the screening will provide a gateway to treatment and care.

This is not something women, or men either, should be embarrassed talking about to their families and friends, after all it could save lives.

This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, I encourage all of my constituents to talk about cervical cancer and smear tests, and the lifesaving benefits of attending appointments.

If you have been invited for a test, don’t delay your booking any longer.

The number of cervical cancer deaths has fallen in recent years, but it remains the most common cancer in women under 35.

If we want to prevent more cancers, we must be open to talking about symptoms and concerns about screening tests.

If you are concerned about cervical cancer, please contact your local GP.

 

Sunderland Echo website

ECHO COLUMN: Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. This week, January 21 to 27, 2019, is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a campaign spearheaded...

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