Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News from Westminster

During the 2015 – 16 Parliamentary session, the APPG for Children’s Centres decided to undergo a formal inquiry titled ‘Children’s Centres: Fit for the Families of the Future’ with a particular focus on Children’s Centres’ potential development into ‘Hubs’ for local services.

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This inquiry coincides with the Department for Education’s review into the future direction of Children’s Centres.

The inquiry is an opportunity for the APPG to engage with the consultation process set out by the Government and investigate the benefits of a Hub model and make key recommendations to the Department for Education on the future of these important local community services.

The inquiry has taken four distinct themes, which include:

  • Health and development
  • Employment support and childcare
  • Relationship support
  • Supporting families with complex needs

The APPG has now launched its call for evidence based on the APPG inquiry’s terms of reference which can be found here.

Submissions to the APPG’s consultation should be restricted to no more than 2,000 words.

Completed submissions should be emailed to [email protected] by 5.00pm on Friday 18th December.

As Vice-Chair of the Children’s Centres APPG on the launch of the call for evidence, Sharon said:

“Many families in Washington and Sunderland West, just like across the country, rely on the vital services that Sure Start Children’s Centres provide and as a key part of the last Labour Government’s legacy it is important that evidence of best practice is highlighted wherever and whenever possible to protect these services into the future.

“I hope that many Centres, professionals and users of these services will submit evidence to the APPG Children’s Centres’ inquiry so that when it comes to presenting this work to the Department for Education they will receive a fuller picture of how much families rely upon these crucial local community services.”

Please Note: The Department for Education has announced that it will be consulting on the future direction of Children’s Centres before the end of the year. Please be aware that this call for evidence does not form part of the Department’s formal consultation process, although the Group does intend to submit the overall findings of its inquiry to the consultation.

**UPDATE 14.12.15: Please note that the APPG's call for evidence deadline has now been extended to 12noon on Monday 11th January. This is to allow as many people to contribute as possible. 

Sharon supports APPG for Children's Centres' call for evidence for inquiry into 'Community Hubs'

During the 2015 – 16 Parliamentary session, the APPG for Children’s Centres decided to undergo a formal inquiry titled ‘Children’s Centres: Fit for the Families of the Future’ with a...

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

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Cancer will sadly affect us all at one point in our life, may it be ourselves directly or a family member or friend.

That is why it is important that addressing cancer and improving services should always be at the top of any government’s agenda, as well as that of local NHS commissioners.

During my time as a Member of Parliament, I have campaigned for better access to treatment, screening and awareness of different cancers through my work as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ovarian Cancer and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Breast Cancer.

That is why I was concerned when news reached me that Sunderland Royal Hospital had ceased all breast cancer treatment services in the City.

This has meant women from Sunderland battling breast cancer now must travel further afield to places like Gateshead, Newcastle or Durham to receive their on-going treatment.

The reason given for the closure of this vital service by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Hospital was down to patient safety concerns after they were left with no consultants to lead the service and two breast cancer nurses left for new jobs at other hospitals.

I know that this is an issue that women in Sunderland who are battling breast cancer, or have won their fight, feel strongly about after the ‘Save Our Service’ group was created to put pressure on Sunderland’s CCG and Hospital to reinstate this important service.

As Sunderland is the largest urban authority in the North-East, I feel it is only right that women in Sunderland should have a local breast cancer service that they can rely upon.

I wrote to both the head of Sunderland’s Clinical Commissioning Group and chief executive of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Board, and also met with the Minister for Cancer, to highlight my concerns for the future of this service.

It is now clear after pressure was put on the CCG and the Hospital, that the service will now be reinstated by April 2016.

I will work closely with the Save Our Service Group, my fellow Sunderland MPs, the Clinical Commissioning Group and Sunderland Royal Hospital, to make sure this service is reinstated when promised, so women here in Sunderland receive the best service possible when it comes to treating breast cancer.

ECHO COLUMN: Women should have local breast cancer services

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo's website. Cancer will sadly affect us all at one point in our life, may... Read more

Sharon reacts to figures that show women are hit three times harder than men in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

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Following the Autumn Statement, Sharon reacts to Government’s public expenditure savings hitting women hardest.

Despite the Chancellor’s climb down on tax credit cuts, figures compiled by the House of Commons Library have shown that women will still be hit three times harder than men by Osborne’s announced changes to welfare spending and taxation in the Autumn Statement.

Of the £16 billion of savings expected to be raised in this Parliament, £12 billion will come directly from the pockets of women through changes to universal credit, childcare support and child benefit.

In reaction these figures, Sharon commented:

“It is clear that this Tory Government is continuing to fail women when it comes to their swinging cuts to public expenditure announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement.

“Despite women making up 50 per cent of the country’s population, women still continue to be paid less than men and primarily work in lower paid sectors, yet the Chancellor’s savings have fallen mainly on the shoulders of women. More needs to be done to address this gender inequality so that women are supported with childcare costs, better employment opportunities and see pay parity with men.”

Sharon reacts to Autumn Statement's impact on women

Sharon reacts to figures that show women are hit three times harder than men in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Following the Autumn Statement, Sharon reacts to Government’s public expenditure savings...

Sharon Hodgson MP has reacted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement delivered to the House of Commons on 25.11.15

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"Cuts to tax credits should never have been brought forward in the first place, but I am pleased that the pressures applied by the Labour Party and the ordinary working people of this country have paid off. The Chancellor has proved time and again that his plans simply don’t work, so it is good to see this one being reversed before it devastated the incomes of almost 6000 working families in my constituency. The real test, however, will be making sure these announcements are not simply more smoke and mirror tricks from this Chancellor, and that people do not lose out just as badly when they are eventually transferred to Universal Credit.  

"Our campaign to secure continued funding for universal infant free school meals was also successful, with the Chancellor announcing it will not be cut. This is hugely welcomed, however I will be making sure that the Government sticks to and builds upon this policy, which does so much good for children up and down the country.

"On so many other areas, sadly, things are not so hopeful. More damaging cuts to essential services will continue to hurt the most vulnerable in our society, and with the Chancellor missing target after target nobody can be confident that his ideological austerity policies will even do what he plans.

"We need a balanced economy, built on investment, not on constant cuts, and a Chancellor who understands the needs of working people, which this one simply does not."

Sharon reacts to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement

Sharon Hodgson MP has reacted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement delivered to the House of Commons on 25.11.15 "Cuts to tax credits should never have been brought...

Sharon Hodgson MP responds to recent concerns by constituents on the changes to Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

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Electoral registration is a vital component of our democracy and it is essential that the public have confidence in the accuracy of the electoral register. It is also important that the register is as inclusive as possible so that everybody who is eligible to vote can have the opportunity to participate in elections.

I support the phased introduction of IER as I believe it can, if properly implemented, reduce electoral fraud and modernise how we carry out elections. However, I am extremely concerned at the reckless way this Government, and the previous Coalition Government, have gone about introducing IER. Both Governments have ignored repeated warnings that stripping out safeguards and speeding up the process of IER will risk millions of registered voters being disenfranchised. 

Indeed, as a number of charities have pointed out, up to 1.9 million people may fall off the register in December if the Government go ahead with their plans to end the transition period to IER a year earlier than previously proposed, and this is clearly very worrying. It is also particularly alarming that certain groups of voters - students, those living in private rented accommodation and those in sheltered housing - may be particularly likely to be disenfranchised by this timetable.

I believe the Government now urgently need to ensure that the move to IER does not leave millions unregistered or lead to constituencies that fail to take into account the people who live in them. That is why I support the block registration by universities and care homes. I would also be open to considering the idea of an automatic system of registration, and I think this should be explored further.

I hope the Government listen to these extremely serious concerns and the advice of the independent Electoral Commission, who have recently recommended that the transition period to IER should continue until December 2016.

 

Make sure that you are registered to vote. It only takes a few minutes and can be done online at the gov.uk website here.

Sharon responds to constituents' concerns over changes to voter registration

Sharon Hodgson MP responds to recent concerns by constituents on the changes to Individual Electoral Registration (IER). Electoral registration is a vital component of our democracy and it is essential...

Sharon lends her support to a campaign to help raise awareness of atrial fibrillation (AF).

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Atrial Fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular pulse and increases a person's risk of stroke by four to five times. However, AF does not always cause symptoms and some people are unaware they have the condition. 

The Government has estimated that 700,000 people in the UK may have the condition without knowing it and therefore have an increased risk of having a stroke. 

GPs and other healthcare professionals can identify AF through a simple pulse check and the risk of having a stroke can be reduced through treatment with anticoagulants that are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Within Sunderland's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), it is estimated that 7,162 people have AF. However, about 43 per cent of those are not thought to be treated with anticoagulants that would help reduce their risk of stroke. 

To help raise awareness of AF, Sharon had her pulse checked at a Parliamentary walk-in clinic hosted by the Lord Black of Brentwood on behalf of the charity AntiCoagulation Europe.  

Speaking after the event, Sharon said: 

Events like this are vital in raising awareness across the country about hidden dangers like atrial fibrillation.

It is an easy thing to check, and treatment is on hand to those who are more at risk, so I urge everybody to get checked out, so that we can prevent more strokes and enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

Eve Knight, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of AntiCoagulation Europe, said:

With stroke the largest cause of death in Europe, and a major cause of adult disability, it’s vital that more is done to detect and diagnose AF and then minimise the risk of stroke by providing appropriate medication. People with AF should be given information about anticoagulation and have access to the full range of NICE-recommended treatment options.

I’m delighted to see Ms Hodgson tackling this important health issue and raising awareness of AF and stroke prevention in Washington and Sunderland West.

You can find out more about AntiCoagulation Europe at their website here.

Find out more about Atrial Fibrillation on the NHS Choices website here

Sharon lends support to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation

Sharon lends her support to a campaign to help raise awareness of atrial fibrillation (AF).   Atrial Fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular pulse and increases a...

Sharon welcomes the launch of the APPG School Food's Holiday Hunger Task Group's 'Filling the Holiday Gap Update' Report. The update report can be read here

In the lead-up to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday 25th November, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food’s Holiday Hunger Task Group today published their ‘Filling the Holiday Gap Update’ report nearly a year after the Task Group’s creation.

The ‘Filling the Holiday Gap Update’ Report provides a snapshot into some of the best holiday provision projects and research currently seen across the UK. The update report calls on the Government to:

  • fund for the development of resources and training for organisations to deliver and support new and existing holiday provision programmes;
  • research into scale of child hunger in the UK and its effect on learning, and;
  • develop policy to support holiday provision programmes that include meals and enrichment activities.

The issue of child holiday hunger has been a concern of the APPG for School Food for many years with the publication of the APPG’s position paper ‘Filling the Hunger Gap’ in 2013 and the creation of the Holiday Hunger Task Group in December 2014.

The Holiday Hunger Task Group brings together academics, organisations and individuals who are keen to address the issue of child holiday hunger.

Since the Task Group’s inception it has hosted their first national conference in June 2015 at Sheffield Hallam University to launch their ‘Filling the Holiday Gap’ ten point guide for organisations to use when providing food during holiday periods. You can read this ten point guide here.

Speaking before the launch of the report, Sharon - pictured above with Roberta Blackman-Woods MP (City of Durham) at a local holiday provision provided by Gateshead Council who feature in the update report, said:

“The social injustice of child holiday hunger is an issue which has historically failed to be addressed by government and we know that this lack of any concerted effort to address this issue is holding the next generation back from achieving their full potential.

“That is why since the creation of the Holiday Hunger Task Group last year, it has been wonderful to see the group achieve some ground-breaking and influential work in raising awareness of the issue of child holiday hunger and bringing together best practice and research from across the country into how best we address this pertinent issue.

“I welcome the testimonies from all those involved in this report and I hope that this update will provide the necessary vehicle for my fellow Members of Parliament and Government Ministers to support the Task Group’s desire to work towards seeing no child go hungry during the school holidays.”

Lindsay Graham, who chairs the APPG’s Holiday Hunger Task Group and is the author of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s ‘170 Days’ Report, said:

“I am staggered that we are in 2015 and the UK wide issue of children going without their daily free school meal, their right to play, socialise, be safe and achieve is being denied.

“I commend the work of those individuals and organisations supporting children and their families with food and activities in a safe community environment. Christmas is looming and for many we met this summer it will not be a time of celebration.

“I hope that the policy makers will actually read the testimonies in this report and help change the way we deliver services. This issue cannot be addressed by one sector alone and that is why we are looking to government to support our call for research, funding and policy that can help close this inequality gap.” 

Launch of APPG School Food's Holiday Hunger Task Group Update Report

Sharon welcomes the launch of the APPG School Food's Holiday Hunger Task Group's 'Filling the Holiday Gap Update' Report. The update report can be read here.  In the lead-up to...

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Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Oct-Nov 2015 - number 79.

Hi, welcome to my new online version of my monthly report - News from Westminster - which details some of the highlights from Westminster and the constituency.

Sharon Hodgson MP report - Oct-Nov 2015 - no 79

 Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Oct-Nov 2015 - number 79. Hi, welcome to my new online version of my monthly report - News from Westminster... Read more

Sharon Hodgson MP responds to constituents' concerns over the Government's planned cuts to tax credits.

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During the General Election the Prime Minister told the country the Conservatives would not cut tax credits, yet in July the Chancellor announced the changes which will come into effect next April.

I am extremely concerned about these deeply regressive cuts and the disastrous effects they will have on hard working families across Britain.

Whilst it is important to make sensible savings in social security spending, and we all want to see a higher wage economy where people are less reliant on tax credits to get by, doing this on the backs of hardworking families and pushing children into poverty is definitely not the answer.  

Around 3 million families receive tax credits and almost all in-work families in receipt of tax credits will be affected by the Government's changes, losing an average of £1,300 from April. A family with one earner on average earnings and two children will lose over £2,000 in tax credits next year from the changes, and some families on middle incomes may lose entitlement to tax credits altogether.

The Government’s answer to repeated questions about tax credit cuts continues to be an insistence on their planned increases in the minimum wage. However, as the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies has stated, the claims that those increases will close the gap is ‘arithmetically impossible’. For example, a couple on the minimum wage who work full time and have two children will gain £1,500 from the change to the minimum wage but lose over £2,200 next year from the changes to tax credits.

It is also concerning that this ‘work penalty’ will increase work disincentives and that as a result of the higher tax credit taper rate, some people will only take home 7p for every additional pound they earn.

I know from the many letters and e-mails I have received that many constituents are worried about the Government’s changes. I wholeheartedly voted against the Government’s Budget in July, and against these cuts to tax credits in the House of Commons on 15th September, and I also supported the Opposition's motion on 20th October calling for the Government to drop their plans.

On Monday 26 October, Members of the House of Lords voted by a majority of 17 to halt the cuts until the Government produces a scheme to compensate low-paid workers for three years. The House of Lords also voted for a delay in the cuts until an assessment of their financial impact is carried out.

As a result of the concerted opposition from both inside and outside Parliament I hope the Government will now think again. The Government should listen to the voices of the millions of families across the country and reverse in full the cuts to tax credits in the upcoming Autumn Statement in November.

I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government on this extremely important matter and highlight the impact these cruel changes could have on low and middle income households in our constituency and across the country.

Sharon responds to constituents' concerns over Government's cuts to tax credits

Sharon Hodgson MP responds to constituents' concerns over the Government's planned cuts to tax credits. During the General Election the Prime Minister told the country the Conservatives would not cut...

Sharon Hodgson MP’s victory in securing commitment from Prime Minister to protect Universal Infant Free School Meals at PMQs.

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Image copyright BBC Parliament, 2015

Sharon Hodgson MP secures commitment from PM over UIFSM at PMQs

Sharon Hodgson MP’s victory in securing commitment from Prime Minister to protect Universal Infant Free School Meals at PMQs. Image copyright BBC Parliament, 2015 Read more

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