Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden 4:16 pm, 25th July 2019

It is a true pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Rachael Maskell, who spoke so passionately and knowledgeably about her constituency. In my contribution, I wish to highlight two incredibly important services both for my constituency and for the wider area.

The National School Breakfast Programme provides free breakfasts to 1,775 schools in our country, feeding 280,000 children each school day. I am lucky enough to have 10 schools in my constituency in the scheme: Bond; Lonesome; Liberty; St Marks; William Morris; St Peter and Paul’s; Cricket Green: St Thomas of Canterbury; Melrose and the SMART Centre. Some 1,530 children benefit from this scheme each day in Mitcham and Morden, but thousands of others also benefit. An independent study suggests that every child in a school on the scheme gets two months’ extra learning in reading and maths. Not only are the children fed, which helps them to concentrate, but their behaviour, their punctuality and their attendance improves. Mrs Kennedy, headteacher at St Marks Primary School says:

“We cannot imagine being without this initiative, having seen the impact it has on our pupils, their energy levels and consequently their ability to access morning lessons. We often have a number of pupils in our school who have no recourse to public funds as well as those who qualify for pupil premium and having something to eat in the morning has really made a difference. We’ve also seen a significant improvement in punctuality as well as overall attendance.”

This scheme is paid for from the sugar tax. There is currently £123 million of sugar tax money at the Treasury waiting to be spent. This scheme ends in March 2020. Would it not make so much sense to allocate some of the money that is already there to extend this brilliant scheme?

Shooting Star Chase children’s hospice is a hospice for babies, children and young adults with life-limiting conditions that works throughout the county of Surrey and 15 London boroughs. A few weeks ago I received a letter suggesting that the hospice would have to halve the number of families in my constituency who received respite care. I put the letter away and woke up in the middle of the night thinking, “How? Surely this is an easy thing to raise money for.” There are brilliant local people and businesses in my constituency who raise money for this hospice, including Paul and Irene Strank at Paul Strank Roofing. Even Simon Cowell raises money for Shooting Star. However, it will still have to halve the number of families who get respite support. That is because demand has increased by 38% this year alone. Costs are also up due to good things such as Agenda for Change, so more money has to be spent on staff.

The hospice is having a problem fundraising. Businesses do not want to commit to funding due to Brexit, and personal giving is down. The hospice needs £11 million a year, with only £690,000—or 5%—coming from the NHS. Adult hospices get around 30% of their funding from the NHS. Shooting Star has been spending its reserves year on year, and this is crunch year. It has had to deny 250 families access to respite care from November, and it has had to limit the children it can care for to those with a prognosis of 12 to 18 months; and that is happening right now.