Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News from Westminster

Following analysis of Government data, Sharon raised the impact that the Government’s decision to scrap funding to small schools to help pay for Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) and the impact this would have on small schools across the country, especially in seats held by Tories who have been silent on this issue.

Sharon_at_Education_Questions_10.10.16.jpg

This all followed the leaking of the Small Schools Taskforce report – which was commissioned to look into how small schools would continue to fund UIFSM – and concluded that if further funding was not allocated to small schools to help pay for UIFSM then schools would face a loss of nearly £4000 a year.

Analysis of the data by Sharon found that the worst region to be affected by this cut was the South West, where 520 schools would lose out on a total of £1,196,000 in funding which would affect 17,577 children. Based on the number of schools affected by this cut, all of the schools were based in Conservative constituencies, such as Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary and Patrick McLoughlin, Chairman of the Conservative Party, whilst based on the number of children impacted by this cut, both the Health Secretary and the former Prime Minister’s constituencies were top of the league.

During her exchange with the Schools Minister, Sharon highlighted that 566 children from across the constituencies of Education Ministers have been impacted by this cut, yet was met with a lack of understanding or knowledge by the Schools Minister who reiterated that the Government was looking at the funding for rural schools.

Following Education Questions, Sharon said:

“It was clear that the Minister had not fully understood my question and the impact of the cuts his Department have made to such vital funding that ensures children are eating a hot and healthy free school meal at lunchtimes.

“He may have said that they are looking into the funding of rural schools, however, in a report that his own Department commissioned and subsequently sat on to save themselves some grief, it shows that this cut to UIFSM small school’s subsidies will greatly impact the budgets of schools. It might be an idea that the minister goes back to his officials and asks them to pull off the Small Schools Taskforce report from the shelf and let him have a good read of it.

“Providing children with a hot and healthy school meal, especially a one that is free, is an important way of addressing many issues, including educational attainment, behavioural issues and as evidence shows, feeding a child a healthy meal can have many benefits on their health. Let’s hope that the Government will finally reconsider this decision to cut such important funding and make sure that children and these small schools are not worse off because of such a short-sighted cut.”

You can read Sharon’s exchange with the Schools Minister here.

Sharon raises cut to UIFSM Small School Subsidy at Education Questions 10.10.16

Following analysis of Government data, Sharon raised the impact that the Government’s decision to scrap funding to small schools to help pay for Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) and...

Following the publication of the initial proposals from the Boundary Commission on redrawing the map of Parliamentary constituency, Sharon has reacted to the initial proposals:

“The constituency changes, set out in the Boundary Commission’s initial proposals, are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable. The data used to create the new constituencies is grossly out-of-date, missing off almost 2 million people who fell through the gaps from the Government’s botched job of introducing individual voter registration as well as all of those from the registration drive ahead of the EU Referendum.

“The omission of this crucial data has distorted the whole review and we now see a constitutional process based upon unfairness. The new constituencies that have been created don’t provide people with improved representation, this is seen specifically in Washington and Sunderland, where there are clear issues for future representation.

“It is extremely disappointing to see that Sunderland will now be split between five constituencies and Washington will be split amongst three, after it was rightly unified into one constituency at the last boundary review. It is also concerning to see that one of Sunderland’s biggest employers, Nissan, will not be in a Sunderland constituency. There has always been a strong parliamentary connection between Sunderland and Nissan, a connection set to be undermined by this boundary change.

Sunderland and Washington both have strong identities within our region and this should be reflected within their representation in Parliament, that is why it is deeply saddening to see it diminished within these initial proposals. I will work alongside my Labour colleagues in Parliament to oppose these plans and make sure that the Tories pause and look again at this process and ensure that our electors and democracy are not undermined.”

For more information about the boundary commission's report and the subsequent consultation, follow this link.

Sharon reacts to Boundary Commission proposals

Following the publication of the initial proposals from the Boundary Commission on redrawing the map of Parliamentary constituency, Sharon has reacted to the initial proposals: “The constituency changes, set out...

At Culture, Media and Sport Questions on 8th September, Sharon raised the issue of arts funding disparity for the North East compared to places like London and secured a commitment for the new Culture Minister, Matt Hancock MP, to visit Sunderland ahead of the City’s bid for City of Culture 2021.

Sharon_at_DCMS_Questions_7th_Sept.jpg

Sharon speaking at Culture, Media and Sport Questions on 8th September 2016

Copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit

Analysis of National Lottery funding found that Arts Council England has distributed almost £3.5 billion of Lottery cash across England since 1995, of which London has received £1.34billion (approximately 39.1%) which is equivalent to £165 per head in London compared with £46.77 per head in the rest of England.

This also links with the disproportionate private sector funding into the arts in London, which received 82% of private sector funding for the arts.

Sadly, none of this was addressed in the most recent Budget where London arts and cultural organisations received more money in the Budget (around £54 million) than those outside of London, which in total received (£42.5million).

Following her Culture, Media and Sport Question, Sharon, said:

“It is clear that the North South divide has seeped down into funding for the arts and culture, despite there being many important cultural venues outside of London, especially in the North East, including here in the Sunderland, such as the National Glass Centre in Sunderland and the community-based Washington Arts Centre in my own constituency.

“More must be done to reverse these trends in order that culture in our region is not negatively impacted by lack of funding support. One way to do this is for Sunderland to successfully win the bid for City of Culture 2021 to showcase what we have to offer to the rest of the country and also the world.

“I will be taking up the new Culture Minister on his offer to come visit Sunderland ahead of our bid for City of Culture 2021 and will be writing to him to secure a date in his diary so he can see first-hand exactly what is offer on Wearside.”

Sharon secures visit of new Culture Minister to Sunderland ahead of City’s bid for City of Culture 2021

At Culture, Media and Sport Questions on 8th September, Sharon raised the issue of arts funding disparity for the North East compared to places like London and secured a commitment for...

Following the AGM of the Dyslexia and SpLD APPG, Sharon has been elected as the new Chair of this influential cross-party group of MPs and Peers after the out-going Chair, Kelvin Hopkins MP, decided to step down.

Following her election, Sharon, said:

“Following my own personal experiences as a mother of a child with severe dyslexia and campaigning through-out my time as a Member of Parliament on special educational needs and disability issues, both from the backbenches and on the frontbench, I am honoured that my fellow Parliamentarians have put their trust in me to continue the excellent work of the out-going Chair, Kelvin Hopkins and chair this cross-party group.

“Supporting children, young people and adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties has always been a cause close to my heart. Whilst there have been some important steps forward in provision in recent years, especially for children and young people with the roll-out of reforms in the Children and Families Act 2014, there is still a need to make sure that these reforms are ensuring that children and young people are getting the best deal possible to ensure they can grow up to be successful adults, and I hope to push forward on this agenda as Chair of this important APPG.”

Sharon becomes the new Chair of APPG for Dyslexia and SpLD

Following the AGM of the Dyslexia and SpLD APPG, Sharon has been elected as the new Chair of this influential cross-party group of MPs and Peers after the out-going Chair,...

Sharon has written a blog post for the Huffington Post regarding the Save Our Early Years Campaign and the need for action from the Government so that families don't suffer due to the Government's mismanagement of early's year provision, especially staffing of early year's settings and entry requirements to early years courses in the pipeline.

In her blog, Sharon sites about the issue of minimum entry requirements for access to Level 3 Early Years Education courses and how this is causing problems within the sector, especially in regards to the Government's plans on increasing free childcare for working parents, which will be hard to implement if the Government do not addressing staffing.

Sharon also calls on the new Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP, and new Childcare and Early Years Minister, Caroline Dinenage MP, to address the problems left over in the early years by their predecessors, and ensure the childcare and early years is properly staffed to deliver on important childcare support for parents.

You can read the blog here.

Sharon writes for Huffington Post supporting the Save Our Early Years Campaign

Sharon has written a blog post for the Huffington Post regarding the Save Our Early Years Campaign and the need for action from the Government so that families don't suffer...

Sharon has written to Martin Bain, Chief Executive of Sunderland A.F.C., following the recent announcement of a sponsorship deal between the football club and Satsuma Loans, a branch of umbrella financial services company of Provident Financial.

In her letter, Sharon Hodgson MP asks for further explanation and rationale behind this sponsorship deal, citing that such a deal could undermine the positive community engagement work of S.A.F.C. by working with a payday lender company which as a representative APR of 1575% and on investigation of Satsuma’s website found that a £1000 short-term loan would mean paying back £431.04 in interest over 13 weeks which sky-rockets to £990.04 if borrowed for 52 weeks.

Speaking after writing her letter, Sharon said:

“When the announcement of S.A.F.C and Satsuma Loans was brought to my attention and further investigation of Satsuma Loans repayment schemes, it was clear that I needed to write to the Chief Executive of S.A.F.C. to get further clarification and rationale for this decision.

“Payday lenders can be a dangerous way of pushing people already financially squeezed into debt, and sometimes even further into debt, when they advertised such quick loans with the sting in their tail of high interest repayments. Personal debt is a problem here in Sunderland and for our top sports team to be working with them needs further explanation about why this decision was come to, and what Satsuma Loans will be doing to work with our local communities.”

You can read a copy of Sharon Hodgson MP’s letter to Martin Bain, Chief Executive of Sunderland A.F.C. here

You can read the sponsorship deal announcement on S.A.F.C.’s website here.

Sharon writes to SAFC Chief Executive on sponsorship deal with Satsuma Loans

Sharon has written to Martin Bain, Chief Executive of Sunderland A.F.C., following the recent announcement of a sponsorship deal between the football club and Satsuma Loans, a branch of umbrella...

Following the publication of the Childhood Obesity Strategy, Sharon Hodgson MP has written a HuffPost blog on the need for the Government to introduce a plan to address child holiday hunger.

In the blog, Sharon Hodgson MP highlights research by SCHOOLS North East which showed that 14% of children in England rely upon a free school meal, which rises to 18% in the North East and the need to offer support to these children, as many will not have access to healthy food over the holidays.

In the blog, Sharon Hodgson MP calls on the Government to commission research into child holiday hunger, which would follow on from work done by the Healthy Living Lab at Northumbria and the APPG School Food’s Holiday Hunger Task Group, to help develop a child holiday hunger policy and to help create resources and training for providers of holiday provision, which includes a meal and enrichment activities.

 

The blog can be read here

 

You can also read Sharon Hodgson MP’s statement on the Childhood Obesity Strategy here.

You can read a speech by Sharon Hodgson MP on the need for child holiday hunger to be included in the Childhood Obesity Strategy, from back in January 2016 here.

Sharon writes on Huffington Post on the need for a plan for child holiday hunger following the failed Childhood Obesity Strategy

Following the publication of the Childhood Obesity Strategy, Sharon Hodgson MP has written a HuffPost blog on the need for the Government to introduce a plan to address child holiday...

Read a statement from Sharon regarding the Government's recent decision to accept all the recommendations of the Learning Disability and Apprenticeships Task Force last month:

“The recent news that the Government has accepted all the recommendations from the Learning Disability and Apprenticeships task force is a welcome step in the right direction to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, need or background, have access to high-quality apprenticeships – a career route that can do so much to change a person’s life.

“The task force, which was chaired by Paul Maynard MP, made some important recommendations including adjusting the minimum requirements for English and maths to enter a level 3 course for defined groups of apprentices with learning difficulties and disabilities. Whilst we should be working towards improving the skills of our workforce, to deny someone the chance to make something of themselves because they haven’t reach an arbitrary level but can prove the functional skills required for the job is deeply damaging to supporting different people into their chosen career path.

“The Government have said that they will be implementing all of these recommendations, at varying time-frames, however, I will continue to keep a close eye on the work of the Government and ensure that they do not delay in the progress needed to ensure that all young people have the chance to make something of themselves.”

You can read a speech Sharon delivered in the North East on apprenticeships and social value, where she touched upon the issue of access to apprenticeships for those with SEND and those who may not be able to reach the minimum requirements despite proving their functional skills, here.

Sharon responds to Government's decision to accept all recommendations from the Learning Disability and Apprenticeships Taskforce

Read a statement from Sharon regarding the Government's recent decision to accept all the recommendations of the Learning Disability and Apprenticeships Task Force last month: “The recent news that the...

In her capacity as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, read Sharon's reaction to the publication of the Childhood Obesity Strategy:

"After many delays and stumbles along the way, the Government has finally published their Childhood Obesity Strategy, sadly at a time when Parliament is not sitting and Members of Parliament are unable to scrutinise the document fully. It is clear why this is: the Government have failed to develop a 'game-changing' comprehensive strategy that we were all promised would help address the burgeoning crisis of childhood obesity in this country, and instead have received a 13-page plan which could have been a lot stronger and gone further to tackle this issue.

"Whilst this is a downgraded plan, there is still some measures, such as a re-commitment to the sugary drinks levy and the pledge that £10 million a year fund of that levy will be for breakfast clubs, which should be welcomed. It is also welcome to see that the Government have finally recognised the inequality seen in their fragmented school system where certain schools must abide by the new School Food Standards, however, they could have gone further with this and ensured that all schools had to adhere to school food standards. I will await with bated breath for the detail of how the Education Secretary will campaign to encourage all schools to commit to the standards.

"It is also welcome after the lobbying by the APPG on School Food, to see that the Government will be working to develop a new voluntary healthy rating scheme that will be taken into account as part of Ofsted inspections into healthy eating and lifestyles in our schools, along with the consultation with schools and experts on the new rating criterion. This will need close monitoring to see how the new scheme is developed and implemented. It is seven years since the last thematic review of school food by Ofsted, so I welcome the 2017 planned review on obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in schools, which I hope will be the start of closer monitoring of school food.

"It will also be interesting to see what advice Public Health England will be giving to schools for those at the front-line of tackling childhood obesity, such as our school nurses, health centres, healthy weight teams in local authorities, not forgetting the vital role of our school catering teams.

"One significant omission from this plan is the Government's failure to address the double burden of malnutrition and children's access to good healthy food in our communities all year round. This summer has seen almost daily press reports on holiday hunger and with tens of thousands of children reliant on food banks in the country, Ministers have failed to make any commitments to address child holiday hunger.

"This childhood obesity plan could have gone a lot further in regards to the food our children are eating in school and in our communities. It could have made serious inroads into addressing an issue which is costing our nation's health, and to ensure that we finally tackle this issue. They have stated 'this plan represents the start of a conversation, rather than the final word', I, for one, will continue to hold the Government's feet to the fire and ensure that they deliver not only on what they have outlined but also ensure they think wider than this on how best we reverse the obesity trends in our country."

You can also read a speech Sharon delivered in the House of Commons on the Childhood Obesity Strategy in January 2016 here.

Sharon reacts to the publication of the Childhood Obesity Strategy

In her capacity as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, read Sharon's reaction to the publication of the Childhood Obesity Strategy: "After many delays and stumbles along...

In her capacity as Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, Sharon has today written to the new Culture Secretary calling on her to put fans first after a Wembley fact-finding mission where a group of Members of Parliament saw first-hand the activities of ticket touts at the International Championship match between Liverpool and Barcelona on 6th August.

Key findings from the fact-finding mission include:

  • An example where a teenage Barcelona fan paid £170 for a ticket to the match, after a tout had told him the face-value of the ticket was £100, when in fact, it was £26.
  • There were also reports after the match that a family from Spain, who had purchased tickets outside the venue, were subsequently turned away as their tickets were invalid for entry.
  • A well-known name in the resale of tickets who was in operation on the day was Roger Leigh, business partner to David Spanton, who was responsible for the failure to deliver on 38,000 tickets and convicted in 2012. Other well-known touts in operation on the day, included Leonard Scott & Les Hawkins.
  • Touts were in operation from the steps of Wembley Park Tube Station all the way down Olympic Way, and specifically in the area in front of Wembley Park Tube Station where there were up to 30 touts in operation.

In her letter to the Culture Secretary, Sharon writes about what was uncovered on the fact-finding mission, along with calling for the Culture Secretary to begin the process of implementing the recommendations set out in the Waterson Review with her ministerial colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and back campaigns such as Fan Fair Alliance.

You can read the letter here

Following her letter to the new Culture Secretary, Sharon said:

"Following our fact-finding mission to Wembley, we uncovered the scope and scale of ticket touts operating on the ground and fleecing fans desperate to get tickets to a hotly anticipated football match at our national stadium. The fact-finding clearly reaffirmed the need for action to be taken by the Government.

"This is why I have written to the new Culture Secretary asking her to support our campaign by working with her colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and begin to implement the recommendations in the Waterson Review and with campaign groups, like FanFair Alliance, and finally ensure fans are put first is this unfair market."

  • The Wembley fact-finding mission on the 6th August was organised by the Office of Sharon Hodgson MP and Reg Walker of Iridium Consultancy, and on the day was attended by Sharon Hodgson MP, Kerry McCarthy MP, Nigel Adams MP and Reg Walker.
  • You can find out more about the APPG and their recent activity by going to their website here.

Sharon writes to Culture Secretary calling for her to put fans first following Wembley fact-finding mission

In her capacity as Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, Sharon has today written to the new Culture Secretary calling on her to put fans first after a Wembley...

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