Dear Newcastle

MP’s Report:     

I am sorry it has been a couple of months since my last constituency report but it has been an extremely busy time what with the budget, the end of the financial year  – which brought in many  benefit changes including the Bedroom Tax –  and the county council elections as well as recesses too numerous to recall, a forced recall for the death of Mrs Thatcher and the South Shields by election.  This is all against a background of continued economic difficulties whilst Government spends most of its time squabbling over Europe.

When any individual dies, the impact on their friends and family is hard and I did not want to intrude in private grief. But given my strong memories of growing up in Newcastle under Thatcherite policies, and the strong views of many constituents, I felt obliged to speak out when the forced recall of Parliament turned into an attempt by Conservative MPs to justify her legacy. My speech is here

I was particularly moved to speak because I could see the ongoing impact of this Governments ideological policy implementation. Ever since I was elected, the number one issue in Newcastle has been housing. That is why I launched a campaign to improve affordable housing within Newcastle.

In March and April, however, benefits overtook housing as the issue most constituents came to me about. And some of the stories constituents had to tell were absolutely heartbreaking. The Government bedroom tax makes no allowance for whether there are smaller flats and houses available for people to move into – and in Newcastle there aren’t! As well as the bedroom tax the Government cut council tax support so that some people saw big increases in what they had to pay. At the same time the Government is piloting changes to disability payments in the North East, whilst increasingly people are being declared fit to work by Atos even though they clearly are too ill.

For all these reasons I am receiving more and more visits by people in truly dire situation, left with only a few pounds a week to live on as a result of changes to benefits so complex my office is spending hours talking to officials across the country.  I hope this Government realises that the best way to get people into work is to create the jobs that people in Newcastle are so desperate to find.

Shadow Ministerial Role

Spoke from the front bench on 20th March spoke on Public Services (Digitisation)for Cabinet Office Questions and on 22nd April spoke for front bench on changes to Statistics legislation..

Continue to meet stakeholders on Cabinet Office brief particularly social enterprise, open government and cyber security helping develop thinking and policy options, I held two social enterprise roundtables in Newcastle. I also gave a keynote speech on Cyber Security in London and am  preparing keynotes on open government and social enterprise.

Backbench and Constituency Role

I poke at questions in the House from the back benches  on 15th April on Mental Health for Veterans, 16th April aHUS sufferers,  18th April Broadband,  Margaret Thatcher ‘Tribute’ Debate,  25 March 20 on measuring and reporting of cybercrime and on 20 March 2013 had question to the Prime Minister which focused on Jordan’s bedroom tax letter which gleaned quite a lot of coverage, on  12 March 2013 on Inflation and Average Earnings . I also held Parliamentary End of day Adjournment debate on ‘Attracting girls to ICT’ which received extensive coverage.

With Newcastle City Council, I invited  Peter Ingram, ex CTO Ofcom and BT,  to Newcastle for  a very useful Superfast Broadband seminar. Unfortunately the Government keeps on changing the rules but the team are determined to enable inclusive broadband service in Newcastle.

The benefits changes have significantly increased the workload. My constituency report shows that for the first time since I became an MP, benefits have replaced housing as the number one constituent issue.


Media: Quoted extensively  in local press. Interviewed by  Capital FM and Journal on PMQ. Interviewed by Guardian on social enterprise.  Computer World Article Cyber confusion at the heart of Government, Radio Newcastle and 5Live  on Margaret Thatcher’s death, Computer World Article Girls, gaming and growth, extensive gaming industry coverage of  gaming speech


The office moved to a  larger room in the same building.   I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2000  per week and the changes to benefits have significantly increased the workload.

Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:

  • Meetings & Visits : UnLtd, Joe Jervis, North East Housing Federation Apprentices, PRCA, Labour Friends of France, , National housing federation community impact awards, John Lewis, Malaria No More, Usdaw, Institute of Civil Engineers, Liam Maxwell, Virgin Trains, Irish in Britain, APPG Communications Children on line, Big Bang Fair, Miller Homes Development, Broadband Team at Newcastle Council, Street Pastor Commissioning at St Nicholas’s Church, Consultation about St James and St Basils church grounds development, Three Newcastle winners at SET for Britain, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Tourism Alliance Parliamentary Reception, Labour Party Irish Society, Labour Friends of Palestine, Chemical Industry All Party Parliamentary Breakfast Meeting, Get Stats Lunch, Jack Dromey and Leazes Homes on Housing Funding, The Carbon Capture & Storage Association, Commons People Launch, launch of EEF’s ‘FTSE 100-Women in Manufacturing’ Report, Cyber Security in a Digital Age discussion, Africa Infrastucture Investment Networking Forum, How do we create a good society? Labour Policy Review, Energy UK Reception, Patient Group Dinner, The Man Who Thought the Moon Would Fall out of the Sky at Northern Stage with new Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, shadowed Royal Mail Postie and visited Delivery Office, Gorman Hamilton Solicitors, Accenture, St Stephen’s Court, IPPR North, Northumberland NHS  Foundation Trust Shining Light on Excellence Staff Awards, Pictfor Co chairs, Capsticks, David Floyd of Social Spider, Mondelez, Unity Trust Bank, Social Investment One Year On from Big Society Capital, British Museum, Joao Meneses Lisbon City Council, 3Store Eldon Square, Tony Sargisson, Ignite 100, St John the Baptist, Edward Twiddy, St James Heritage Centre, Cruddas Park Bingo Club, Northumbria Police Chief Superintendent, Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, Arena North Play, Baroness Thornton, Keeley Stevenson, Chris Tyler, Paul Martin, Renewable UK, Huawei, Frank Domoney, BWB, Orji Uzor Kalu, Vera Baird, National Association of Voluntary & Community Action, Senegal Parliamentary Delegation, Royal African Society Africa Rising: Opportunities for Investors Event, UKPIA, Mobile Operators Association, BBC North East, Northumbria Police Federation, New Economics Foundation, Ascertiva, Peter Ingram, Newcastle City Council Superfast Broadband team, Nick Forbes, Seven Stories,  Maker Faire Centre for Life, Jon Elkington Volans, Royal Academy of Engineering Launch of Enterprise Hub, Imperial College Institute for Security Science and Technology, School for Social Enterprise, Campaign for Freedom of Informatio, Frank Domoney and Splunk, Newcastle University, Keyfund, Coperatives North East, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria Probation Trust, National Landlords Association, Patrick Reeve, Carole Stone, Sporta, Personal Finance Education, SES (Sustainable Enterprise Strategies) Newcastle University Court, WES, 82nd Newcastle Scout Group, Labour MEP candidates
  • Speaking engagements: Intellect Board Meeting, Launch of Trailblazers Conference and Exhibition at Discovery, Launch of West End Stories Exhibition, Social Media Foundation Employee Ownership event, Bridgewater Primary School in Westminster, Real Change for Britain: what should Labour’s priorities for government be, Thomas Walling School, North Regional Policy Forum, Bee Prepared Building the Buzz, Populus Interview on Premier League, Innovation Roundtable, Bedroom Tax Protest, CVS Social Enterprise Roundtable, Fostering Network mock interviews, CIBSE Diversity Panel Launch Event, FSB Social Enterprise Roundtable, Newcastle Gurdwara Opening, Pictfor Cyber Security Breakfast Briefing, Monkseaton Middle School Primary Engineer Visit, Royal Academy of Engineering Role Model session, Game Horizon Conference, , Newcastle College Politics Students


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