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Thank you to everyone who voted for me.

It is an absolute privilege to be elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for the City of Durham constituency once again. 

The office will resume normal service on Tuesday 13th June.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who voted for me. It is an absolute privilege to be elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for the City of Durham constituency once...

A number of you have been asking me about my stance on the Teaching Assistant issue in Durham.  I hope you find the following response helpful.

 

I know how important the work of Teaching Assistants is in County Durham.  I have met with many Teaching Assistants over the past year and seen how they make a big difference, especially to SEN children.  I also saw how they frequently work beyond the hours they are paid for because of their dedication to what they do.

 

Teaching Assistants do a complex and skilled job and should be recognised for the educational professionals that they are.  They so some of the most challenging work in schools, often with children with complex behavioural and educational needs, as well as helping gifted and talented children make the most of their talent. They are often the first to hear about children’s problems, or to deal with conflict.  They sometimes take responsibility for entire classes.  Like teachers, they work many more hours than they are contracted for – but are still some of the lowest paid public sector workers. 

 

Durham Constituency Labour Party voted unanimously to support Teaching Assistants. So concerned was I about the lack of progress with the Teaching Assistant issue by the Council that I invited Teaching Assistant representatives to the November 2016 meeting of the Durham Constituency Labour Party to talk to us about what we could do to support their campaign further.  The CLP voted unanimously to support the Teaching Assistants.  I have continued to work with Unison and the Council since then to try and get a resolution to the dispute.  I had a further meeting with Unison this morning.

 

The dispute between the teaching assistants and Durham County Council has been going on far too long.  It is over 20 months since they first objected to the changes in their contracts.  I have been pressing Durham County Council to sort this out for over a year.  Fortunately some progress has been made recently and a new grading structure is being developed.  Given this, it is essential that Durham County Council now withdraws the dismissal notices which are still outstanding.

 

There is however a bigger threat on the horizon.  The Tories in charge in London have already cut Durham County Council’s funding in half and taken £180 million from local services.  It shouldn’t be teaching assistants who pay the price for these cuts, but if the Tories hadn’t cut the Council’s funding, we would not be in this situation.  Moreover, if the Tories get back into power they will press ahead with a new funding formula which will see cuts of over £400 per pupil across County Durham, and teachers and teaching assistants will lose their jobs.  We must resist this at all costs.  The result of the election on 8th June will have a decisive impact on our schools, our NHS and our other public services.  We need to unite and fight the Tories.

 

Under the last Labour government, we didn’t cut the money spent on schools; in fact spending per pupil doubled.  Labour’s policy is to end the public sector pay cap and to ensure that no school is left worse off from changes to funding. The choice in the Durham City constituency is between me and the Tories.  If I am re-elected, I will continue to argue for a fairer deal for teaching assistants and stand up for young people.

Update on the Teaching Assistant Issue

A number of you have been asking me about my stance on the Teaching Assistant issue in Durham.  I hope you find the following response helpful.   I know how...

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On Sunday, Roberta appeared on Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria, in which she discussed the economic effects of Brexit on the region and the problems Universal Credit is causing for local families.

According to DEMOS the North East is one of the most vulnerable regions in England specifically relating to economic risks post Brexit in reference to the manufacturing sector.

Roberta was very clear in highlighting that the Government must take action to ensure that businesses continue to invest in the UK, providing the North East with the jobs and industry that is needed.  

Roberta also stressed the importance of some of the biggest manufacturing firms, such as the companies Nissan and Hitachi, and the critical need for tariff free access markets if they are going to not only to compete but to continue to exist. 40% of North East exports are associated with the car factory Nissan and this must continue to be the case if we want to ensure families in the region feel secure in their jobs.

Roberta also spoke about all types of manufacturing in the region, with emphasis on smaller local firms. Roberta is committed to lobbying that these smaller manufacturing companies in Durham have tariff free access to the European markets. 

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Roberta also criticised the Conservative Government following reports of families’ struggling with the introduction of Universal Credit.

The Government have massively underfunded this whole system with an insufficient amount of time to get the proper system in place.

Roberta focused on recent statistics found by Crisis, in which they reported that 89% of English local authorities are concerned that the roll out of Universal Credit will exacerbate homelessness further. Roberta again highlighted that the reported delays to process claims of 6 weeks are turning to 3 months which leave people in debt and losing their homes if they rent in the private sector.

Roberta ultimately noted that universal credit was supposed to support the most vulnerable in society, yet is actually attacking them, with working families being up to £2,600 a year worse off as a result of this government’s changes.

The Government needs to reverse the cuts and slowing down the rate of roll out until there is an appropriate system in place. Tory cuts have significantly reduced the levels of support available through Universal Credit, undermining its original ambitions.

If you want to watch the full episode, please find the link below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08k5g5w/sunday-politics-north-east-and-cumbria-02042017

Roberta speaks up for the North East on Sunday Politics

On Sunday, Roberta appeared on Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria, in which she discussed the economic effects of Brexit on the region and the problems Universal Credit is causing...


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Press Releases

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Roberta, together with a number of her regional colleagues, has called on the Government to give the region the funds it needs to meet increasing education costs.

The MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM), tabled by Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, which calls on the Government to take action on the estimated £119m real terms cuts that North East schools face by 2020. This funding gap is due variety of factors including changes in the new funding formula, cuts outlined by in the 2015 budget and the effect of inflation on school costs.

An independent report by the National Audit Office found schools across England need to make total savings of £3bn by 2020 to cope with increasing costs. The National Union of Teachers estimate the savings needed in the North East is equivalent to losing 3,203 teachers.

It is not just Labour Members of Parliament worried about this situation, a survey found that 72% of head teachers think their budgets will be unsustainable by 2019.

Roberta met with head teachers from across her constituency about this matter and she will continue to speak out against the unfairness of the regional disparity when it comes to education funding.

North East MPs speak out against unfair school funding

Roberta, together with a number of her regional colleagues, has called on the Government to give the region the funds it needs to meet increasing education costs. The MPs have signed an Early...

Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minster for Local Government and Housing, has welcomed the news that the Government have decided to scrap the “Pay to Stay” measures in the Housing and Planning Act.

Roberta said: “Pay to Stay was one of the most pernicious parts of the Housing and Planning Act. It was nothing more than a tax on tenants and a tax on aspiration and so I am extremely pleased to see that the Government has finally listened to reason and decided not to implement it

During the passage of the Act, I met with a group of tenants from Hackney who were very concerned about the impact of the measures and that stress and worry is something that council tenants from across the entire country have been subjected to for months.

I hope this is the first of many elements of the Housing and Planning Act that the Government come to realise will not help alleviate the housing crisis and I look forward to more statements winding back similar such measures in the future”.

Roberta welcomes the scrapping of Pay to Stay

Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minster for Local Government and Housing, has welcomed the news that the Government have decided to scrap the “Pay to Stay” measures in the Housing...

Cathy_Come_Home_5.JPGTo mark the 50th anniversary of the film “Cathy Come Home”, Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Housing took part in an event to discuss the film’s impact with director Ken Loach and key stakeholders in the homelessness sector.

Of the event Roberta said:

“It was fantastic to be able to discuss Ken Loach’s seminal film on homelessness with the director himself, and to hear how much it influenced so many people who work with homeless people today.

The parallels between the film and the situation today were not lost on anybody and it shows how despite several pieces of legislation being passed regarding homelessness, more needs to be done to get to grips with the issue.

We need to be building more public sector housing so that families are not trapped on waiting lists or stuck in temporary accommodation for months on end. There needs to be more good quality, genuinely affordable housing available of all types and enabling local authorities to build is the best way to deliver that”.  

Roberta celebrates 50th anniversary of "Cathy Come Home"

To mark the 50th anniversary of the film “Cathy Come Home”, Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Housing took part in an event to discuss the...


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