Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News from Westminster

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...

Sharon has welcomed a letter of response from the Minister of State for Education, Edward Timpson MP, following the letter she wrote to him regarding the comments on social media by Baker Small Law Firm on SEND Tribunal cases. Parts of Sharon's letter can be read here.

In his letter to Sharon Hodgson MP, the Minister wrote that he shares the view that the actions of Baker Small were: “not a helpful action for a law firm to take, nor did it have the best interests of the child and their parents at its heart.”

This also backs up what the Minister said on the floor of the House of Commons during Education Questions on 4th July, when Sharon asked him to look into the matter of Baker Small further, and he said practices such as those of Baker Small are: “totally unacceptable” and he would “continue to watch carefully how matters develop”.

Further in his letter, the Minister mentions a research project being undertaken by the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR) at Warwick University which is looking in-depth at the new system of disagreement resolution, which includes mediation and the Tribunal.

Sharon has welcomed this research project and is calling on parents of children with SEND to engage with the project, and said:

“It is welcome to see both in writing and during the last Education Questions that the Minister agreed with me that the practices of Baker Small law firm’s involvement in SEND Tribunals was completely unacceptable. As we both said during the passing of the Children and Families Act 2014, the system needed to be less adversarial – however, Baker Small didn’t seem to get the memo.

“The minister’s letter in response to my concerns is welcome, and I am glad to see that CEDAR are undertaking research into this area to fully understand what is going on within the tribunal system. I hope as many parents who have experiences of the SEND system as possible will get involved and engage with this vitally important research by CEDAR.”

This information also comes after Sharon Hodgson MP wrote to all 153 local authorities with responsibility for children’s services and received responses from 8 saying they had suspended all activity with Baker Small law firm, including Barnet, Cambridgeshire, Dudley, Essex, Slough, Southend-on-Sea, Westminster & Croydon councils, and over a third of councils who responded said they would never use Baker Small after the comments they made on social media.

You can read the letter from the Minister of State for Education here.

For more information regarding CEDAR's research project, please follow click here.

Sharon welcomes letter from Education Minister calling on parents of children with SEND to particpate in CEDAR Research Project

Sharon has welcomed a letter of response from the Minister of State for Education, Edward Timpson MP, following the letter she wrote to him regarding the comments on social media...

Sharon, in her role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, is lending her support to the Make Rio Count National Fun Day on the 4th August 2016, the day before the start of the Rio Olympic Games.

This national fun day will highlight the good work of schools, charities, councils and others helping make provisions for children to get good food and free activities in the school holidays, and will coincide with the global nutrition summit in Rio, the day before the Olympic Games begin.

The global nutrition summit in Rio follows a similar summit held ahead of the London 2012 Olympics on nutrition and aims to build on the work being done internationally and nationally to address hunger and food insecurity.

The two specific asks from the Make Rio Count Fun Day, include:

  • A new vision for food and nutrition security in the UK which delivers healthy, affordable sustainable diets for all;
  • A targeted package to improve the life-chances of women and children most at risk of a poor diet, which includes:
    • Increase the uptake and voucher value of the Healthy Start programme.
    • Protect and improve child nutrition during the school holidays by piloting holiday provision for the UK’s most vulnerable children, and;
    • Conduct an annual national measurement of household food insecurity.

This national fun day follows on from important work done by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School’s Food Holiday Hunger Task Group, which since its inception in 2013, has held a national conference in Sheffield on child holiday hunger, launched guidelines on providing food during holiday provision, written an update report on holiday hunger which highlights best practice around the country, and most recently, worked with Northumbria University to map holiday provision, which includes food provision, to identify where more support is needed to address child holiday hunger.

Following the launch of the National Fun Day, Sharon said:

“For many years now, I have worked alongside fellow Parliamentarians and experts in the world of children’s health, nutrition and education to ensure we finally end the issue of child hunger, including during the school holidays, and that is why I welcome the Make Rio Count national fun day to help raise awareness of what more can be done by the Government.

“The Government cannot attend this vital international conference and call for hunger to be addressed across the world, and not do anything to address it on our own doorstep. With evidence continuing to show that children return to school after the summer holidays malnourished and have fallen behind their more affluent peers in terms of their education, along with the rising use of food banks during the summer holidays, then it is high-time the Government did something about this.

“The government’s rhetoric on addressing hunger globally is welcome but inaction here in the UK cannot continue as it is detrimental to the future and the life chances of our children. That is why rhetoric on hunger in other countries must be replicated here in the UK and I hope that this national fun day can take us one step closer to seeing the Government finally address this important issue.”

You can find a flyer for the National Fun Day here.

Sharon backs Make Rio Count National Fun Day ahead of the start of the Rio Olympics 2016

Sharon, in her role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, is lending her support to the Make Rio Count National Fun Day on the 4th August...

Sharon has supported a petition created on change.org calling for M&S to reconsider their plans to cut worker’s pay to fund the National Living Wage.

This follows a concerted campaign by fellow Labour MP, Siobhain McDonagh MP, who has repeatedly raised these issues in Parliament, firstly in regards to B&Q and now, M&S.

Proposed plans set out by in a consultation by M&S, include:

  • Cuts to pay for unsociable hours, including Sundays, Bank Holidays and for working after 9pm;
  • Targeting staff who have worked for a long-time within M&S with the member of staff who has created the change.org petition estimated to lose £1366 per year, and;
  • The pensions of 11,000 members of staff being affected after closing the final salary pension scheme to new contributions.

The petition calls on Marks and Spencer to ‘think again and scrap these proposals that are targeting their most loyal staff’.

In support of the petition, Sharon said:

“The Government’s version of the National Living Wage should be welcomed by all as a step in the right direction to addressing pay in this country; however, it is important that businesses are not funding this new scheme at the detriment of their workers who have contributed so much to their place of work.

“That is why I am supporting this petition which is calling for a rethink by M&S, and hope as many of my constituents as possible will get behind this petition and ensure that the National Living Wage helps to raise the standards on pay and conditions for some of the lowest paid in our society, and not impact the pay of workers who have dedicated a lot of their time and service to their employer.”

You can find the petition at this link.

Sharon supports petition calling on M&S to reverse decisions to cut worker's pay to help fund National Living Wage

Sharon has supported a petition created on change.org calling for M&S to reconsider their plans to cut worker’s pay to fund the National Living Wage. This follows a concerted campaign...

Sharon has welcomed a national petitions campaign by WASPI which will then be handed into Parliament on mass by Members of Parliament on the floor of the House of Commons at the end of the day’s business on the 11th October 2016 and is calling on WASPI women and their families to collect as many signatures as possible over the summer.

As part of this petitions campaign, Sharon has written to the many women who have written in to her over the years on this matter and asked them to go out and collect as many signatures as possible so she can hand them in with fellow MPs in October.

Sharon is asking that these signed petitions sheets (please find links below) are sent to her Parliamentary Office no later than 7th October to be collated and put together so they can be presented in one go to Parliament – signatures handed in after the petition has been submitted will not be able to be handed in, as it will have then closed.

Sharon said:

“The WASPI campaign’s momentum has been fantastic over the last year and has gained some real traction amongst Parliamentarians, and we cannot let this fight fall by the wayside. That is why I am fully behind this petitions campaign and hope as many WASPI women, along with their friends and family, will be able to collect as many signatures as possible so that come the 11th October, I can stand in Parliament and present the petitions and ensure the Government hears the voice of my constituents, especially those women who have been the most affected by these changes.’

For guidelines on the petition, please read this helpful guide.

For a copy of the petitions sheet, please find it here. If you fill this page, and want to continue, please use this continuation sheet.

Sharon calls on WASPI women and their families to sign petitions to be handed into Parliament in October

Sharon has welcomed a national petitions campaign by WASPI which will then be handed into Parliament on mass by Members of Parliament on the floor of the House of Commons...

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