Julie Elliott MP

Standing up for Sunderland Central

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Investment is needed NOW for Sunderland's tired old railway station - and I am campaigning for urgent action.

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This week I wrote to the Chief Executive of Network Rail, asking for a meeting to discuss the future of our station. 

So many exciting things are happening in Sunderland right now - and we need and deserve a station that is fit for purpose.

£1.3billion is to be invested in the local economy in the coming years, in ten months time we welcome the world famous Tall Ships Races and Sunderland has also been shortlisted in the prestigious UK City of Culture 2021 competition.

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By contrast, our railway station looks tired, offers a poor welcome to the city and doesn't even have a public toilet. It needs redeveloping urgently if we are to maximise both investment and the benefits of investment in Sunderland.

 

Investment needed NOW for Sunderland's railway station

Investment is needed NOW for Sunderland's tired old railway station - and I am campaigning for urgent action. This week I wrote to the Chief Executive of Network Rail, asking...

Today I met with Women Against State Pension Inequality campaigners to discuss the on-going call for fair transitional arrangements for those affected by pension changes.

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It is totally unacceptable that these WASPI women are heading for financial hardship in old age just because they were born on or after 6 April 1951.

The government must reconsider their stance on this important issue and implement fair transitional arrangements – so that these women get the retirement they deserve.

WASPI campaigner and Sunderland resident Moira Scales was one of those who joined me today. She said:

“Our generation wasn’t given enough notice of pension changes to change our financial plans. A great many women have been left without the money they were promised.

“We are determined to continue fighting until we get justice and transitional payments. We were not informed early enough of pension changes, and didn’t get time to plan for them.”

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman suggested earlier this year that WASPI women could take up apprenticeships to help tide them over until the new retirement age.

The suggestion caused outrage at the time and Moira added: “It was absolutely insulting. We shouldn’t be victimised just because we were born in the 1950s.”

Fighting on for WASPI justice

Today I met with Women Against State Pension Inequality campaigners to discuss the on-going call for fair transitional arrangements for those affected by pension changes. It is totally unacceptable that...

The Principal of Sunderland College has thrown her backing behind a Whitehall call for increased funding for further education.

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Ellen Thinnesen has added a supportive voice to a Parliamentary Debate on the current low level of funding for 16 to 19 year-olds. 

Nic Dakin MP (Labour, Scunthorpe) secured the debate to address low levels of funding for this age group despite Department of Education under spends in the last two years, and Ellen fielded a visit from Sharon Hodgson MP and Julie Elliott MP to discuss the impact it was having on the FE sector.

Colleges currently get £4,000 funding for 16 to 18-year-old students each year, which covers around 15 hours teaching time each week. 

An extra £200 per student would cost £244 million a year, but for two years there’s been an DfE under spend in 16-19 education - £135 million in 2014/15 and £312 million in 2015/16.

Ellen, principal and chief executive at Sunderland College, said a relatively small rise in investment will have a significant impact on students’ learning experience and attainment.

“This Parliamentary Debate is important for the future of education for 16-19 year olds and to build on the success we, and colleges and sixth form centres up and down the country, have achieved in recent years."

“We accomplish a great deal with relatively modest funding, but we are an unrealised asset. We want the Government to provide us with a fair deal so we can demonstrate the great things we and our learners are capable of.  It may sound clichéd but the next generation is the future and we have to invest in young people today to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits tomorrow.”

“We have an excellent relationship with our local MPs, who are vocal advocates for the college and have been incredibly supportive of our efforts to improve the overall experience for our learners, particularly with the development of our £20m City Campus in the heart of Sunderland.”

“To have their backing on this incredibly important issue is very welcome, as they provide a powerful voice for the city and wider area in Parliament.”

Nic Dakin MP tabled a number of questions in recent months, highlighting the under spend in the Department for Education (DfE) budget for 16 to 19-year-olds.

He has received backing from educational bodies, Sixth Form College Association (SFCA), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the Association of Colleges (AoC).  Each organisation has written to the Secretary of State for Education, calling for more investment in 16-19 education.

The national funding formula for this age group has been in place since 2013, but has not been adjusted to account for inflationary pressures or cost increases.

Ellen, along with Sunderland’s three MPs claim that, as a result, there’s a constantly widening gap between the funding available to educate sixth formers and the actual cost of delivering a high-quality curriculum.

Julie Elliott MP for Sunderland Central said:

“Further Education has faced unprecedented scrutiny under this Government, yet, in spite of that - continues to make a vital difference to young people’s lives, even in the context of the absolutely crippling financial limitations they face."

“Meeting with Ellen and the senior team at the college today, to discuss the impact that funding has on Sunderland College, was eye-opening to say the least, and I look forward to supporting my colleague Nic Daken MP as he continues to fight for a fair deal for this sector.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who also met with leaders from the college, said:

“Education is something I am particularly passionate about, because I truly believe that young people deserve the best opportunities in life."

“The only way to secure the best education for our young people is for Government to invest in it.  Sunderland’s young people, and those up and down the country deserve better and, in working with Sunderland College and its leadership team, alongside colleagues in Parliament, these are questions we will be asking of Government.”

 

** This story was originally published on the SunFM website.

Sunderland College backs MP call for fair student funding deal

The Principal of Sunderland College has thrown her backing behind a Whitehall call for increased funding for further education.   Ellen Thinnesen has added a supportive voice to a Parliamentary...


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