Catherine speaking to a woman on her doorstep

Thank you to everyone who has responded to me with their priorities for the new Newcastle North constituency as we head into the next General Election. I am grateful to all who took the time to express their views.  

I received a large number of responses that covered many different topics, which I have responded to individually. However, here are my reflections on the main issues concerning residents.

Child poverty 

You share my concern about the rising levels of child poverty in our region. We have seen the steepest rise in the North East of anywhere in the UK, with almost 190,000 babies, children and young people living below the poverty line in our region. 

 As Shadow Schools Minister, I am committed to giving every child the best start in life. Labour is committed to eradicating child poverty and to combat it, we will reform Universal Credit, ensuring that it offers a proper safety net and makes it pay to work, as well as bring about reforms to job support.

 Labour in Government will also introduce free breakfast clubs in every primary school, to ensure that each child has a healthy meal to start the day. We will also cut the cost of school uniforms by updating the law to limit the number of branded items, saving families money and ensuring school is accessible to all. And for childcare to be more accessible, Labour will make it easier for councils to expand nurseries and childcare provision where necessary. This will enable more parents to get into work and boost our economy. 

Private renting 

You share my concerns around the lack of certainty and security and the high costs that are now part and parcel of renting privately.

Like many of you, I am bitterly disappointed that the Conservatives have backtracked on the Renters Reform Bill and significantly watered down its contents with no plan to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, where landlords can remove tenants despite them having not broken the terms of the tenancy.  

 Only Labour will immediately abolish Section 21 and reform the private rented sector, overhauling its regulation to markedly drive-up standards and conditions, as well as providing tenants with long-term security and better rights. 

More widely, I also want to see bold measures introduced to fix the housing crisis to help families and first-time buyers across the country into home ownership by building more high-quality, genuinely affordable homes.


With school buildings crumbling, a crisis in the retention and recruitment of expert teachers and the scourge of persistent absence, it is no wonder that schools reform is high on your list of concerns as it’s desperately needed to give children and young people the best start in life.  

As Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, I am committed to this. This includes reforming Ofsted, introducing funded breakfast clubs in every primary school, putting mental health professionals in schools, recruiting 6,500 new teachers and conducting a Curriculum and Assessment Review to create a broad and rich education. These plans will be funded by an end to the tax breaks that private schools enjoy so we can break down the barriers to opportunity to every child. 

Labour will also work to improve the inclusivity and expertise in mainstream schools, alongside ensuring that special schools are able to support children with the most complex needs. 

Children’s mental health 

The mental health crisis that our children and young people are facing is a serious cause of concern that many of us share. We must act to end the mental health epidemic, with a focus on prevention. That is why Labour has committed to introducing specialist mental health support for children and young people in every school.

We would also deliver an open access children and young people’s mental health hub for every community, paid for by abolishing tax loopholes for private equity fund managers and tax breaks for private schools.

For more information on Labour’s plans for breaking down the barriers to opportunity, please see here


 Due to 14 years of Conservative mismanagement, the NHS is on its knees. Despite the incredible efforts of staff, cancer targets are repeatedly missed and NHS waiting lists have risen to 7.8 million – the highest ever on record. Public satisfaction with the NHS is at the lowest on record.

Labour is committed to addressing this damage and has an ambitious 10-year plan for reforming and modernising our health and care services, which would speed up treatment, harness life sciences and technology to reduce preventable illness and cut health inequalities. This also includes improving cancer survival rates by hitting NHS cancer waiting time and early diagnosis targets within five years to ensure that we cut deaths from the biggest killers and make the NHS accessible when it is needed. 

Local transport  

I recognise that there are serious issues with transport capability and provision in our region and I have spoken about issues of local transport many times in Parliament. You can read more about my latest intervention here

The next Labour government would put the public back in control of the public transport they rely on. Our plan, allowing authorities to franchise their local services, will give the public the power to set bus routes and fares, ensuring there is accountability for the management of services.  

The Tyne and Wear Metro is a key example of local transport that has been failed by successive Conservative governments. It clearly demonstrates the need to shift away power from Westminster and give more control back to communities, which Labour’s plans would make happen.  

Great Park Academy 

 I am aware of how many constituents have been personally impacted by the delay to the building of Great Park Academy, which was scheduled to be open by September 2023 but will now not be open until September 2025 at the earliest. 

 These delays have resulted in children being accommodated in temporary classrooms on the site of Gosforth Academy and a large oversubscription to Gosforth Academy itself, with children at Great Park being given a place at Gosforth Academy and vice versa. Gosforth Group MAT were placed in a difficult position as a result of this oversubscription and lack of facilities, but the resulting allocation process is unsustainable. 

I have written to Gosforth Trust to raise parents’ concerns about the allocation process and have called on the Education Secretary to intervene and help resolve this situation that they helped create through a lack of join-up between local authorities and government. 

Thanks to everyone who shared their views. Please follow my social media pages for regular updates and please do get in touch if there is anything I can help with.