Many of you will know first-hand what a great school Hall Park Academy is, but I was delighted to hear recently that it is now getting the wider recognition it deserves.
The academy has been ranked as the second highest performing school in the whole of Nottinghamshire– an outstanding achievement.
I have visited the school many times and know how hard headteacher Stephanie Dyce, her staff and all the students work. Exam results are improving all the time and the progress made by students is excellent. I am extremely proud of Hall Park and know that it will only continue to get better.
Problems with benefit claims make up a large amount of the casework that constituents come to me with and cause them a lot of unnecessary stress.
A vulnerable lady from Eastwood got in touch recently when she realised that the Department for Work and Pensions was taking money from her disability living allowance to repay over £300 of overpaid employment support allowance they said she owed.
After her husband was made redundant, the lady had followed the DWP’s instructions for submitting an ESA claim but its handling of the case meant she ended up in debt. This caused a lot of stress to somebody who suffers from severe mental health problems.
I contacted the DWP on her behalf and after re-examining her case, they have written off the debt and admitted they were wrong to pursue the matter.
It is the sad truth that in 21st century England, homelessness is an increasing problem. A number of heartless Tory cuts to housing benefits and services that help homeless people, plus an undersupply of affordable housing and rental properties, are all contributing to this rise.
In my constituency there were eight official rough sleepers in 2015, compared with just one in 2010, while the number of statutory homeless – when a household has nowhere to stay and their council has to find them accommodation - rose from 42 to 93 over the same period.
I am backing the new Homelessness Reduction law which will place stronger duties on councils to help homeless people. But to make it a success, these new rules need to be properly funded and the government must do more to address the root causes of homelessness.
As Christmas shopping season comes upon us, I want to draw your attention to the Respect for Shopworkers Week campaign by trade union USDAW. This week aims to remind customers that retail staff do not deserve to be abused, threatened or assaulted and I am pleased to be supporting it.