A number of constituents have been in touch with me recently to express concern around financial fraud.
This is an issue that has also been in the news as an increasing number of older people are targeted, often for their pension savings. The Times reported last week that nearly £200 million has been stolen by investment fraudsters over the past year. Despite this being an eye-watering figure it may also be somewhat of an under-estimation, as people are sadly often too ashamed to come forward with complaints. I wanted to share this information, and some of the ways in which you can take action to try and protect against fraud.
There appears to have been a significant rise in the targeting of pensioners by fraudsters ever since pension changes came in to effect in 2015 that allowed people to access their savings from any time after becoming 55. Currently, one of the more prevalent methods of fraud is the creation of fake ‘clone’ companies that resemble well known or trusted brands. These clone companies then approach people in retirement and offer them an attractive investment proposition. Many people have been tricked into investing in companies or funds that effectively do not exist.
Towards the end of last year, the Payments Systems Regulator (PRS) published an interim report on progress made in relation to their response to a super-complaint by Which? Magazine. This complaint raised concerns over how little protection there is for people who are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster. One of the suggestions that this report included, was that of a potential reimbursement scheme. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently monitoring responses to this interim report and I will ensure to keep an eye on the final outcome, and see what further steps could be taken to help people who have fallen victim to these crimes.
When it comes to precautionary steps, the FCA has a comprehensive guide on how to avoid investment scams here. Advice includes; rejecting unexpected offers, checking whether a firm is FCA authorised, and checking a firm is not a ‘clone firm’. If you have any doubt as to whether the firm you are talking to is genuine, you should check the FCA’s online register. It is important to only access the FCA’s register via its own website, as links included in an email to you may lead you to a fake site. I personally think that the old adage "if it’s too good to be true." is truer now more than ever. It is always better to be overly cautious, rather than risk getting caught out.
If you have been a victim of a crime such as this, and you live in the constituency of Washington and Sunderland West, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
A number of constituents have been in touch with me recently to express concern around financial fraud.This is an issue that has also been in the news as an increasing...
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West is calling for nominees to enter into a special awards programme being organised to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Caption: Sharon pictured here with Ethel Armstrong, MBE
The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, sponsored by IBM, launched in Parliament last week (Feb 7th). It is part of a range of activities being organised by NHS England and NHS Improvement, working with a wide range of partners, to celebrate the achievements of the NHS and those who work for and with it.
MPs in England are searching for outstanding nominees who have innovated, impressed and made a real difference to how the health and care system provides care for patients. There are ten categories, including a Lifetime Achievement award to honour those who have devoted their lives or careers to making the NHS better, both for patients and those who work within it.
“July 2018 marks the 70th birthday of our NHS, and it is only right that we take this opportunity to celebrate not only one of the nation’s most loved institutions, but also to celebrate and thank the extraordinary people who work within it to guide, support and care for us, day in, day out.
“I am therefore calling on my constituents to share examples of the excellent care and practice they have received or witnessed, that they think deserves national recognition.”
The launch of the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards was attended by Ethel Armstrong MBE, who was working as a nurse cadet on the 5th of July 1948 – the day the NHS came into being. She worked for more than four decades at various hospitals around the country, mainly in radiography and nursing, and since then for two charities that support current and retired NHS staff.
Ethel said: “The NHS has changed a great deal since Nye Bevan launched in back in 1948, but one thing has stayed the same: the dedication, skill and compassion of those who work in it and support it in other ways. The 70th anniversary is an important opportunity to honour those people, past and present, so I welcome Sharon’s support for these awards.”
Sharon is calling for potential nominations in the following categories:
- The Excellence in Cancer Care Award: an individual or team which is going above and beyond to improve outcomes and experience for patients living with and beyond cancer.
- The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award: an individual or team which has developed new and effective services to help people living with mental health problems in the community.
- The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award: an individual or team which has made improvements to how the NHS treats people in life or death situations.
- The Excellence in Primary Care Award: a primary care practitioner or team which is working with patients to help them stay healthy in their own homes.
- The Person-Centred Care Champion Award: an individual or team which has gone furthest towards bringing together services to ensure patients with long-term and multiple conditions get the right care in the right place for them.
- The Future NHS Award: an individual or team that has successfully trialled and embedded innovative change(s) to empower and improve care for patients.
- The Healthier Communities Award: an individual or team which has brought different groups together to improve public health in their areas.
- The Care and Compassion Award: any nurse, midwife or care staff member of any discipline and in any setting who has used their skills to ensure that patients experience care and compassion .
- The Patient and Public Involvement Award: to celebrate volunteers who help shape and deliver better services in their area.
- The Lifetime Achievement Award: for an individual who has worked within a health or care setting for 40 years or more who has left a lasting legacy.
MPs have until March 23rd to submit their nominations. MPs will choose one nomination per category; these will then be judged by senior local and regional NHS experts to find a regional champion in each category, to be announced on May 21st.
These regional champions will then be judged by a high-level panel, with the winners announced at a special awards ceremony in Parliament on July 4th – the day before the NHS’s 70th birthday.
Further information on the Parliamentary Awards, including how to nominate and the criteria for each category, is available at www.nhs70awards.co.uk.
Information on the other ways in which the NHS’s 70th birthday is being marked is available at https://www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70/
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West is calling for nominees to enter into a special awards programme being organised to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS. Caption:... Read more
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Last week, I delivered the most difficult speech I have ever given in the House of Commons during my 13 years as a Member of Parliament.
I spoke about my own experiences after the birth of my daughter, Lucy, who sadly arrived into the world stillborn.
Since my speech, I have received messages of love and kindness from all over the country and my story has even reached the Netherlands and Italy.
I have also received messages from other families who, like me, have experienced the heartbreak of losing a baby and were distressed to find that they were unable to register their birth and death because they were born before the 24-week gestation threshold.
To the law, these babies did not officially exist.
But to the families who have felt the excitement of expecting a baby, have felt the baby moving and have given birth, their baby did exist.
That is why something has to change, so that no stillborn baby before 24 weeks is ever made to not officially exist.
This is something Tim Loughton MP’s Private Members Bill on Civil Partnerships (Etc.) Bill hopes to achieve, and something I have campaigned for with my cross-party colleagues on the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Baby Loss.
Losing a baby is not party political, and together members of the APPG have raised many issues in Parliament since our late night meeting back in 2015, about baby loss and is an exemplar of cross-party working at its best.
With the help of charities, such as the Lullaby Trust and SANDS, families who have lost a baby are now able to have the care and support I, and many others, never had.
Thanks to developments in healthcare, babies born too soon and before 24 weeks now survive in much greater numbers than ever before.
But babies stillborn before 24 weeks deserve recognition of their existence in the law.
20 years on, Lucy’s legacy lives on through my work as an MP. I hope that my speech persuades the Government to make this important change so that families who have experienced this tragedy know that, within the law, their baby officially did exist.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Last week, I delivered the most difficult speech I have ever given in the House...
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, joins celebrity chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver in the calls for a pooled marketing fund to advertise vegetables.
#VegPower is asking for Government, growers and retailers to contribute to a pooled marketing fund to relaunch the image of vegetables and to support a healthier food environment.
Figures show that 95% of teenagers and 80% of adults don’t eat enough vegetables and that consumption is in decline.
Most vegetables are currently unbranded and don’t have big marketing budgets, but vegetable advertising would increase consumption and a healthier lifestyle.
“We know that advertising for junk food drives up demand and consumption, so I am pleased that #VegPower is now looking to do the same for vegetables not only to encourage healthy eating and to drive up demand, but also to support our farmers.
“We are constantly bombarded with junk food advertising so I fully support this campaign which will positively promote vegetables.
“Eating a balanced diet, which includes vegetables, is key to a fit and healthy lifestyle, so it is important that healthy eating is encouraged across all ages.”
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, joins celebrity chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver in the calls for a pooled...
Sharon Hodgson, the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Public Health Minister celebrates the centenary of women’s suffrage, calling for the struggles of the past to be celebrated whilst the issues of the present must not to be forgotten.
Being the only Sharon ever elected and the 289th of the 489 women elected to the House, Sharon urges women to use their vote and become more involved in politics as when women are united they can achieve anything.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“Today I am celebrating the landmark centenary year of some women being given the right to vote.
I am proud to celebrate the tremendous courage of those brave women who fought so hard for women’s right to vote and the legacy they have left behind.
As we celebrate these women, we should also look forward to the possibilities for the next 100 years and make 2018 a year of great achievement for women and girls everywhere.
Our challenge now must be to build on past achievements and push for full equality and protection for women: financially, in the workplace, in families and homes and in public spaces.”
Sharon Hodgson, the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Public Health Minister celebrates the centenary of women’s suffrage, calling for the struggles of the past to...
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Last weekend, news broke of the collapse of Carillion and throughout the week it has dominated the news as more and more of this sorry saga unravelled.
But what was deeply concerning was the Government’s failure to recognise the warning signs in front of them.
For the last six months, alarm bells have been ringing about Carillion, who over that short period issued three profit warnings.
Despite these warnings, the Government granted three separate contracts to Carillion, worth nearly £2billion of tax payers’ money, believing that it would make this growing situation go away.
But the Government’s gamble has not paid off, and now it is the nearly 20,000-strong Carillion workforce who will bear the brunt of this Government’s recklessness, with jobs, pensions and ongoing public sector projects that are now in jeopardy.
It is crucial that jobs and pensions are protected and that shareholders and creditors do not walk away with the rewards from profitable contracts whilst the taxpayer is left to foot the bill for loss-making parts of this business.
The Government’s failure to exercise due diligence on Carillion has put services paid for and relied upon by taxpayers such as schools, prisons and hospitals at serious risk.
It is important that the Government works to ensure that these services can continue to be provided at the high standard taxpayers rightly expect.
It is now time for the Government to accept some responsibility on this matter and recognise the need to bring public sector contracts back in-house to protect public services and serve the public rather than private profit.
The Carillion workforce deserve assurances on the status of their jobs, wages and pensions, and the UK electorate deserve a Labour administration that cares about them and not private profits.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Last weekend, news broke of the collapse of Carillion and throughout the week it has...
** PLEASE NOTE: THE DEADLINE FOR THIS APPLICATION HAS PASSED **
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, is looking for the ideal candidate to join her hard-working, fast-paced and committed team in Parliament to assist in her Parliamentary work.
This would be an ideal opportunity for a candidate with at least one year’s experience as a Parliamentary Assistant who is looking to work for a frontbench spokesperson who is an active Member of Parliament.
Responsibilities will include, but not be limited to:
- Dealing with and monitoring incoming telephone and visitor enquiries, responding to emails and letters, efficient data and file management;
- Opening and dispatching mail where necessary;
- Drafting political responses to constituent correspondence and keeping records on the caseworker.mp software;
- Undertaking photocopying, scanning and formatting of documents;
- Assisting with the running of various All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs);
- Ensuring office records are kept and an efficient filing system is in place and up to date;
- Adhering to the Data Protection Act principles and respecting the confidentiality of data at all times;
- Liaising on behalf of Sharon with relevant groups/personnel within Westminster and within the Constituency, including liaison with outside organisations and the general public;
- Performing other duties as and when required.
Knowledge of caseworker.mp software as well as Microsoft Office would be an advantage. Previous experience of working for a Labour politician in Westminster is highly desirable.
Initial contract will be for one calendar year, pending a successful probationary period of 6 months and further review towards the end of the contract.
Upon appointment you will be required to comply with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard, undertaken by the Members’ Staff Verification Office (MSVO).
The deadline for applications is 6pm on Friday 26th January. Interviews will take place on Thursday 1st February. We may hold 2nd interviews on Friday 2nd February if needed. If you anticipate a problem with interview dates, please make this clear when you apply.
Candidates will be notified by email on the 29th January if they have been offered an interview with further instructions.
Please send a short covering letter (maximum 1 side of A4) detailing why you are interested in the job and your CV (maximum 2 sides of A4) to [email address removed], putting PASH18 as the subject line.
** PLEASE NOTE: THE DEADLINE FOR THIS APPLICATION HAS PASSED ** Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, is looking for the ideal...
On Thursday 11th January, Sharon joined the likes of Action Against Smoking and Health, Fresh NE and a host of NHS professionals to launch the NHS Smokefree Pledge.
NHS organisations who sign the Pledge are making a commitment to help smokers in their care to quit and create smokefree environments that support them to do so.
The commitment includes measures to:
- Treat tobacco dependency among patients and staff who smoke as set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England;
- Ensure that smokers within the NHS have access to the medication they need to quit in line with NICE guidelines on smoking in secondary care;
- Create environments that support quitting through implementing smokefree policies as recommended by NICE.
At the event, Sharon spoke alongside Bob Blackman MP (Chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health), Celia Ingham-Clark (Medical Director for Clinical Effectiveness and National Director for Reducing Premature Death at NHS England), Duncan Selbie (Chief Executive, Public Health England), Professor Sean Duffy (Clinical Director and Alliance Lead, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance), Dr Tony Branson (Co-Chair North East Smokefree NHS/Treating Tobacco Dependency Taskforce) and Steve Brine MP, Minister for Public Health and Primary Care.
In her speech at the launch event, Sharon said:
“Last year, it was welcome when the Minister finally published the delayed Tobacco Control Plan – after a little chivvying from myself at our first outing together at Health Questions. There is a lot in the Plan that we welcomed but recognised the need for the funding to be stumped up so that the vision set out in the Plan could be achieved.”
Sharon then went on to say:
“ … we have seen serious strides in the rates of smoking across the country there is still so much more we could be doing. This includes doing more work to make sure that smoking cessation becomes a central theme of healthcare staff’s engagement with patients and making every contact count to help people to quit smoking but also creating important smokefree environments where smokers can quit smoking and live healthier and happier lives.”
On Thursday 11th January, Sharon joined the likes of Action Against Smoking and Health, Fresh NE and a host of NHS professionals to launch the NHS Smokefree Pledge. Sharon with...
Sharon has pledged to tackle children going hungry during the school holidays.
Attending the launch of charity Feeding Britain’s new report, Ending Hunger in the Holidays, Sharon showed her support for the upcoming School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill, which has been put forward by Frank Field MP and has cross party support.
The Bill would give local authorities the legal duty to ensure that children can have free food and fun activities during the holidays to support their educational attainment and health. The Bill would also bring extra resources for holidays clubs funded by money recouped from the Sugary Drinks Levy.
“I have long campaigned on the issue of children’s health, well-being and education, and the importance of feeding children properly so they can achieve their full potential and believe we need to be doing more to address the issue of hunger in our society.
“For the 5th richest economy in the world, it is deeply saddening that our 21st century society harks back to one from a Dickensian-era, where children go hungry for extended periods of time without any support or action from authorities to protect children – as is their duty.
“That is why I am fully behind this Bill, as it will help take us one step closer to ending child hunger and I will make sure I am in Parliament to help see this legislation through to its next stages.”
Feeding Britain’s report reveals that in excess of 187,000 meals were provided to children in the summer and during October half term holidays this year, but stresses that this is only a drop in the ocean compared to the level of need.
The report concludes: “Holiday clubs provide an urgently needed safety net to protect children from hunger and social isolation, but an incomplete one, and one that is increasingly strained.”
The report highlights the importance of holidays clubs, which protect children and their families from hunger and social isolation in the holidays, boost children’s health and learning, and to help prevent children falling behind their more affluent peers during the holidays.
Recent research done by Northumbria University in the North East showed that children from poorer backgrounds see a stagnation or reduction in spelling skills over the summer holidays, and take several weeks to recover lost learning.
The Feeding Britain report Ending Hunger in the Holidays, can be downloaded from www.feeding-britain.org.
Sharon has pledged to tackle children going hungry during the school holidays. Attending the launch of charity Feeding Britain’s new report, Ending Hunger in the Holidays, Sharon showed her support...
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Supporting children in their formative years has always been a passion of mine and an area which I have helped push during my time as an MP.
Yet recent analysis by Labour has shown that under the Tories we have seen £500 million cut from the Early Intervention Grant since 2013, with a projected £183 million more to be cut by 2020.
This represents a total cut of 40 per cent between 2013 and 2020.
Early intervention saves society a lot more than intervening at a later stage when support can be less effective.
It can ensure that children’s lives are improved and they have the opportunity to achieve all that they can. This is not being seen under the Tories, despite their rhetoric of being champions of social mobility.
If they were serious about improving the lives of children, then they wouldn’t be cutting off the vital funding necessary to achieving it.
The Government has a track record of putting the opportunities of children at risk with no consideration for their futures.
Firstly, we have seen one in three Sure Start Centres close across the country.
Secondly, we have seen the Government determined to scrap Universal Infant Free School Meals on two occasions now (2015 and 2017), which thanks to campaigners and parents we have seen saved for now.
Or, thirdly, the current worries regarding the roll-out of Universal Credit and the impact this will have on free school meals, where under proposals on the future of free school meals currently under consultation, the Children’s Society have estimated that one million children living in poverty may miss out on this important intervention.
Labour have always championed improving services for children and families, and will continue to hold this Government to account on their actions as they cut these services to the bone and provide an alternative approach that allows all children, no matter their background or circumstances, to flourish.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Supporting children in their formative years has always been a passion of mine and an...