‘Let’s Get Our House In Order’ campaign for paid internships





“Things are changing dramatically. A few years ago, many unpaid jobs with Members of Parliament were advertised on w4mp; now it is just the odd job. Usually when I contact a Member to explain what is going on, the adverts come down. There are still one or two outliers in Parliament, and we encourage everyone to do the right thing.”

So said Hazel Blears MP in the debate she initiated last Tuesday 18 June on “the scandal of long-term unpaid internships”.

You can read the whole debate starting here:



W4MP asked three MPs closely involved in the ‘Let’s Get Our House In Order’ campaign for their views and here they are.

Hazel Blears MP (Salford and Eccles):

“I was delighted that so many MPs showed their support for my campaign against unpaid internships by taking part in my Adjournment Debate and signing up to pledge to pay their interns.Internships can be a valuable way for young people to get their foot on the career ladder, be it in the world of politics, journalism, PR or fashion. A short work experience placement can be a valuable introduction to the world of work, but a long-term unpaid internships lasting for several months is just exploitation. Recruitment sites such as Monster and Total Jobs are doing the right thing by banning adverts of this nature, but we need to send out a clear message – starting here in Parliament – that unpaid internships have no place in Britain in the 21st century.”

Julian Huppert MP (Cambridge):

“We need to send a strong message that long-term unpaid internships should be a thing of the past if we are to give everyone the same opportunity. If we are not setting an example how can we call on businesses and other organisations to pay their young people? Many politicians began their careers working as unpaid interns before going on to get a permanent jobs; but these internships are largely restricted to young people who can afford to live and work for free supported by their parents. It is simply unfair that those people who are not in this position don’t have the same opportunities and we need to change that.”

Eric Ollerenshaw MP (Lancaster and Fleetwood):

“As a Northern MP, I understand how difficult it is for students without any money or connections behind them to even consider internships in London, or any work at all where they would not be paid. Unless we get a proper system of paid internships we will continue to lose out on this excellent  talent. This campaign is to ensure that merit not family circumstances is the means to gain that vital first step on the professional, commercial and political ladder.”


Here are some useful websites with views on this topic:

If you can add to this list please email editor@w4mp.org.

What does the Legal Ombudsman do?


W4MP recently had a request from the Legal Ombudsman to tell you more about what they do.  Here it is.


The Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales was set up by the Office for Legal Complaints (our Board) under the Legal Services Act 2007.

Our service is open to all members of the public, very small businesses, charities, clubs and trusts.

• Our service is free to these consumers.

• We can get involved in different types of complaints about legal services. Some examples are wills, family issues such as divorce, personal injury and buying or selling a house. There are many others.

• We are independent and impartial. This means that when we start to receive complaints, we will look at the facts in each case and weigh both sides of the story.

• Most complaints can be resolved informally. If needed, we will carry out a formal investigation. As this could involve us getting more information from you and your lawyer, it could take longer to deal with.

• Once an Ombudsman decision is accepted, we can make sure that the lawyer does do what we say is needed.

We can only deal with complaints about lawyers who are regulated, for example we can take complaints about Barristers – regulated by the Bar Standards Board or Licensed conveyancers – regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. For a full list of the lawyers we can deal with and types of complaints we receive visit our website www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

If you have any questions or would like to know any further information contact Rhiannon Walpole Stakeholder and Public Affairs Officer at Legal Ombudsman Rhiannon.walpole@ legal ombudsman.org.uk

The Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme – read all about it.


W4MP recently met Ellen Wright who is currently coming to the end of her year on the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme (SPPS).  She’s about to move back into the ‘real world’ but, before she does, she agreed to tell us about her experience.  Here it is below.

We get a certain amount of flack at W4MP about taking some unpaid internships on our Jobs page so it’s good to be singing the praises of a scheme which provides paid internships for exactly those people who would otherwise not have the opportunity or not be able to afford to work in Parliament.

Ellen also said some nice things about W4MP which we can’t resist adding, too; it’s at the end of her piece below.

For those interested, applications for the 2013/2014 SPPS cohort closed on 22nd April 2013. No date has been set for the 2014/15 applications yet, but we understand that they are most likely to open again early spring 2014.  You can, though, read more about the scheme:


By Ellen Wright, 2012/2013 SPPS Cohort

The Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, set up by the Speaker and the Rt. Hon Hazel Blears MP along with Jo Swinson MP and Eric Ollerenshaw MP, is approaching the end of its second year. The Scheme offers a nine-month paid internship working with an MP in Parliament. Administered by the Social Mobility Foundation and funded through sponsorship from the private sector, it enables talented people, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, to get a foot in the door of the world of politics. I was one of nine successful candidates selected from a field of over 500 to participate in this year’s Scheme.

Previously I worked at a start-up streetwear clothing label – our brand was positive and all about making people feel not only proud about where they had come from, but positive about where they could get to. As part of this I did a lot of community engagement work – trying to affect a positive change and build confidence in young people. This was what really sparked a deeper interest in politics and ultimately was what led me to apply to the Scheme.

I was keen to gain further experience in the world of politics, but found it difficult to get a break – I didn’t know anyone who worked in Parliament and definitely couldn’t afford to do an unpaid internship. I saw the Scheme advertised on the Jobcentre plus website – and it was the opportunity for which I had been waiting – I didn’t hesitate in going for it.

Initially, I felt that someone like me wouldn’t fit in at Parliament. I viewed it as a world of privilege, and thought people would assume I would be a hindrance rather than a help. However, with drive and commitment there is scope to achieve a lot in Parliament regardless of your background. People were welcoming and for the most part do respect hard work and aspiration. I have already secured a fantastic new role in a private sector organisation with global brand recognition and could not have done this without the experience gained on my placement.

I would encourage MPs to think seriously about whether to offer long-term unpaid internships – unpaid placements will limit your field of candidates and as Alan Milburn’s 2012 report on fair access to professional careers found ‘clearly disadvantage those from less affluent backgrounds who cannot afford to work for free for any length of time – they are a barrier to fair access and indeed, to better social mobility.’ Parliament should reflect society as a whole – opening up opportunities to all is vital in ensuring that people from all backgrounds have fair access to a career in politics.

My advice to others that want to work in Parliament would be to be confident, if you don’t know how to do something, don’t shy away from it, ask a lot of questions, seek advice and give it a go. If you want something enough, go for it – do not let anything hold you back.


….and here’s what Ellen said about W4MP:

“W4MP is an incredibly useful resource and I found it invaluable when applying for my placement. For those of us who do not already have friends or relatives working at Parliament, it helps to level the playing field somewhat – so thank you.”

Thanks Ellen and Good Luck in your new job!


Getting access to the parliamentary network – email and intranet


W4MP have been asked to remind Members’ staff about the procedure
for getting access, when you first arrive, to an email account and to the Parliamentary Intranet
as well as what you need to do when you leave.

Our advice: don’t delay!
The intranet is a great resource you cannot afford to ignore,
whether you work at Westminster or in a constituency office.


1.  Obtaining a Parliamentary network account

Staff working for a Member must be security cleared before being allowed to use the Parliamentary network. The Member will organise this with the pass office.

Once security clearance has been obtained, a Parliamentary network request form will need to be completed, signed by the member and sent to PICT. A network account will be created within two working days, for your use, giving you access to:

  • a secure network account with an email address and 1Gb of email storage.
  • access to the internet and Parliamentary Intranet.
  • secure personal network storage space.
  • network storage space shared between you, the Member and their existing staff.

2.  Leaving a Member’s employment

It is important that PICT are informed when a you cease to work for the Member for whatever reason, in order to keep data secure. Parliamentary ICT will work with the Member to make sure the account is closed down.

If you are transferring to work for another member, you must obtain a new Parliamentary network account by following the Obtaining a Parliamentary network account process.

Interns – looking for an affordable room in London this summer?


Affordable rooms in London this summer

Room for Tea is a social enterprise which connects interns looking for an affordable place to stay with hosts who have a spare room in their homes.

Our motivation is to help aspiring interns and apprentices access affordable accommodation in London during their work experience, and offer young people a fair chance at starting their dream career.

Looking for a room this summer? Room for Tea has new hosts available now! Rooms available in KentishTown, Clapham, Hackney and Wimbledon. Rent varying starting at £85 per week.

Visit our website www.roomfortea.com to access specific information about each of our hosts and register interest.

‘Sorting Out Separation’ – app from DWP


W4MP had the following request from the DWP this week and we are happy to publicise this useful new app.


We launched the Sorting Out Separation web app in November 2012. It’s had 1000’s of visitors so far and some really positive feedback which we are really proud of.

We’re embedding the Sorting Out Separation web app on websites that parents already use to make the service as easy as possible for parents to access. Many MPs already have the app on their websites and we’re keen to get the app on as many more MP websites as possible as we know that constituents often go to their local MP’s website for support during the difficult time of separation.

The Sorting Out Separation web app is part of the Government’s Help and Support for Separated Families initiative, designed to coordinate expert support services to help parents work together to achieve what’s best for their children. It also incorporates the online hub outlined in the Family Justice Review. See more information on the app attached.

Alongside this we have also this week launched a video which signposts people to the Sorting Out Separation web app. The minute-long video follows a boy’s journey from childhood through to adolescence and adulthood, showing the positive parenting of both mum and dad at every step of the way. The video aims to raise awareness of how working together benefits children and where to find support and advice through the Sorting Out Separation web app.

Here is a link to the video so you can find out more: tinyurl.com/vidSOS

Visit www.SortingoutSeparation.org.uk today


Introducing the Sorting out Separation web app

…a quick and easy way for you to:

• help your clients access support on separation

• show your commitment to helping parents work together through separation

• help parents collaborate for the benefit of their children

How can I support parents in one simple step?

***Embed the Sorting out Separation web app TODAY!***

• It’s easy and only takes minutes

• It works on any website

• Visit www.SortingoutSeparation.org.uk and click on “EMBED” in the bottom left corner

• Follow the simple step-by-step instructions

• You can easily change the colour, size and location to suit your website

• OR you can insert a link to the web address above.

NEED HELP? Contact sortingout.separation@dwp.gsi.gov.uk and we can talk you through or provide technical support.

What is the web app?

• The first place to look for anyone needing help and support after separation.

• An interactive tool that signposts bespoke help and support.

• Includes helpful videos and information on:

   – Children and parenting – Housing

   – Relationships – Work and benefits

   – Health – Legal and money

Who else is on board?

• Over 150 organisations are already signposting parents to the great support on offer, including:  Money Saving Expert; BBC Eastenders;  Mumsnet; Wikivorce; DAD.info; Bounty; 4Children; Gransnet; Marks & Spencer; Relate; Family Lives and many more…

Join them and show your support today.


Latest version of DWP reforms communications toolkit now available


W4MP has previously publicised the DWP reform communications toolkit, which explains the context behind welfare reforms and provides an overview of all the changes that DWP will be delivering over the next few years.

The latest, updated version (dated 10 June 2013) of the toolkit is now available on the DWP website.

More detailed packs, such as the Personal Independence Payment toolkit and the Universal Credit toolkit for partner organisations are also available online to support you in your work.

Please contact the DWP stakeholder team if you have any questions or feedback on the reform communications toolkit


Commons Library Subject Specialsts


The Commons Library produces loads of research papers, many of which are available for all to see on the public parliamentary website here.

If you work for a Member and have a detailed enquiry, it may help to speak with a Commons Library subject specialist. There is a comprehensive list on the intranet here.