Matt Rodda for Reading East

Standing up for Reading

Matt Rodda for Reading East

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A chronic and debilitating condition which, to the untrained eye, renders the sufferer as looking 'normal' has been the subject of a real battle between one of Matt Rodda's constituents and the Government benefits agencies. Sadly, however, cases like this are not uncommon.


Myalgic Encephalomyelitis sufferer Charis contacted Matt's office following a benefits assessment which ruled her fit for work, in spite of conclusive medical and clinical evidence to the contrary from her GP and other specialists. She has not received any benefit payments for over a year, though counts herself as fortunate as she lives at home with her parents. Other sufferers, living alone, may not be so fortunate and these measures could push them deeper into poverty, depression and debt. Charis now fears that due to her benefits being stopped and whilst her appeal for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is still ongoing, she could likely face transferral to the Universal Credit system where she would lose out significantly on the financial help she should receive.


Charis' condition affects an estimated quarter of a million people in the UK, with an estimated 17 million sufferers worldwide. People with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis experience severe, persistent fatigue associated with post-exertional malaise; the body’s inability to recover after expending even small amounts of energy, leading to a flare-up in symptoms which can include chronic pain, twitching or muscle cramps, migraines, sleep disturbances and a wide range of digestive and sensitivity problems.


Charis agreed to share her experience and be filmed for a BBC documentary 'Inside Out', which is due for transmission in early Spring.


Matt said:
“It was extremely brave of Charis to agree to speak about her experiences with the Government benefit assessment system and her tribunal experience with such openness, resilience and determination in spite of what she has endured. I find it appalling that people are often assessed by Government agencies employing so-called 'healthcare professionals' who are not even qualified in the medical area in which they are conducting these fitness to work assessments.”


“Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a chronic condition which prevents Charis from being able to work, although the cruel and prescriptive way in which she has been assessed has meant that she has been deemed as fit to seek employment. As her MP I shall be supporting her throughout this ongoing process to help ensure that she receives the support and financial assistance through the correct benefits which she is rightly entitled to.”

MATT MEETS BRAVE CONSTITUENT PENALISED BY GOVERNMENT ASSESSMENT SYSTEM

A chronic and debilitating condition which, to the untrained eye, renders the sufferer as looking 'normal' has been the subject of a real battle between one of Matt Rodda's constituents...

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The first duty of any Government is to protect the public, whether that is protection from crime, illness or other threats.


I am concerned about the rising level of violent crime and the effects of the Government’s deepening cuts to the police, which have left hard working officers with fewer resources to respond.

The situation is serious, and in my view the Government needs to think again about its priorities. I’m concerned about the effects of austerity across a wide range of public services, and I have particular concerns about the effect of this policy on the police and the quality of policing our hard pressed local officers are able to provide in Reading and Woodley.


The evidence about the increased pressure on the police is mounting, and there have also been cuts in the number of police officers; Thames Valley Police has 357 less Police Officers than in 2010, and there are also 99 fewer Police Community Support Officers out and about in our neighbourhoods and streets. This seems to have had a noticeable effect on residents. I have talked to a number of people who are concerned about violent crime and anti-social behaviour, both in and around the town centre and in suburban areas.


Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn mentioned at Prime Ministers Questions last week (Wednesday 7 February) that there is mounting evidence that local crime issues are part of a deepening crisis affecting the whole country. He challenged the Prime Minister and gave examples of a number of senior officers in a range of police forces who have raised serious concerns about Government cuts which are reducing the number of police on the beat. Nationally, we now have 21,000 less Police Officers than in 2010.


Further worrying evidence appeared later last week, when the independent Office for National Statistics issued a report which showed that the rate of homicide has increased, (this included both murder and manslaughter). The police are now dealing with more than a million violent crimes a year.


Instead of making excuses, the Government should stop cutting police budgets and give our police forces the resources they need to keep people safe. Labour in Government will restore 10,000 police officers and face up to the issue of rising crime.


Rising crime and rising fear of crime are a very serious issue and I would urge the Government to reconsider its position.

Opinion: Violent crime is rising, the police are under pressure - It is time for the Government to end police cuts

The first duty of any Government is to protect the public, whether that is protection from crime, illness or other threats. I am concerned about the rising level of violent...

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Innovative ways of introducing schoolchildren into the world of technology and engineering from a young age were amongst the topics recently discussed at an educational seminar held at UTC Reading.

The event, which was attended by a variety of industry experts, ambassadors and educators sought the input from members of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, Hackspace amongst others, in addition to teaching staff from Schools across the Reading area.


Reports claim that 75% of the UK's engineering employers agree tackling the skills problem is fundamental to making the Government's strategy viable. 61% of Engineering and Technical companies see recruiting staff with the right skills as a barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next 3 years, and there is a shortage of skills across all sectors of Engineering and Technology and at all levels.


Of particular concern were the reported figures of only 11% of the UK's engineering and technical workforce being female, and only 15% of the country's engineering employers making any efforts to attract and retain women. Black, ethnic minorities and the LGBT+ community fare worse still, with 87% of engineering employers having no specific BAME or LGBT+ initiatives in place to aid the recruitment or retention of talent.


UTC Reading is a rapidly-growing University Technical College, with rising numbers year-on-year. Their number on roll figures are 450 for 2018, rising to 500 in 2019, and they expect to hit their maximum capacity of 550 students by 2020. UTC Reading has 20 committed employer partners and provides a comprehensive blend of both broad and specialist academic and technology based courses. The specialist courses delivered at UTC Reading equips students for University study, an Apprenticeship or Degree Apprenticeship, as well as enabling them to be industry-ready for the workplace.


Matt said:
“It was good to meet staff from the UTC and other teachers, together with industry experts at the seminar. UTC Reading is doing an outstanding job of offering opportunities to young people so that they can get good jobs in the engineering and technology sector, and it is helping local employers by encouraging more young people to join the industry.”

MATT MEETS WITH TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING LEADERS AND EDUCATORS AT UTC READING

Innovative ways of introducing schoolchildren into the world of technology and engineering from a young age were amongst the topics recently discussed at an educational seminar held at UTC Reading....


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