Government neglect of Portsmouth SMEs shocking missed opportunity

FOI request reveals local Growth Hub receives lowest level of funding in England despite serving highest number of businesses
MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, has criticised the Government for failing small businesses in the area after a freedom of information request revealed Solent Local Enterprise Partnership receives the lowest level of per business funding in the country for its Growth Hub.
The Solent LEP’s engagement with the local business community is primarily driven by its Growth Hub service which, through a variety of channels, has undertaken more than 29,000 engagements with business during the last year alone. The Solent is home to over 50,000 businesses, the vast majority of which are SMEs.
However, it was recently discovered that Solent LEP are one of only 12 LEPs to receive the lowest total level of funding (£205,000 per annum) to provide a Growth Hub service in the current period. Of these 12 LEPs, the Solent’s % share of VAT/PAYE registered businesses in England 2016 (including SMEs) is listed as the highest and, per business, this effectively positions the Solent’s settlement as the lowest.
This means SMEs in the Solent are receiving the lowest level of Growth Hub resource in England.
Stephen Morgan MP, said:
‘It’s hugely disappointing to see yet another nonsensical Tory funding formula that means Portsmouth loses out. People here are fed up of the Government treating us an afterthought.
Our city has some of the most exciting and dynamic small businesses in the country, our potential is huge, and yet we receive the lowest growth hub funding in England. This isn’t just a blow to the local economy, it’s a massive missed opportunity.
Portsmouth’s SMEs deserve far better and I’ll be seeking assurances from the Department for BEIS that our allocation of growth support will be reviewed as a matter of urgency.’
Since his election last year, Stephen has been supporting local businesses with a variety of campaigns and actions, from tackling high-street break-ins, to holding a number of summits for SMEs up in Westminster.
He will also shortly be launching a new scheme encouraging people to shop locally.
 

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Portsmouth MP joins campaign to fix dementia care

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, joined an Alzheimer’s Society event to launch their new report, Dementia – the true cost as part of their Fix Dementia Care campaign.
This Dementia Action Week (21-27 May) Alzheimer’s Society is asking the general public to take small actions that can have a big impact on the lives of people with dementia. MPs were asked to take action by attending an event in Westminster to learn more about how they can support Alzheimer’s Society’s work to fix dementia care.
With no drugs to cure or slow down dementia, it’s social care not the NHS that people with dementia rely on every day. In the UK, three fifths of people using homecare and 70% of people in care homes live with dementia.
Dementia is among the most complex conditions that the social care system has to support, yet too many people with the condition are struggling to access good quality care at a fair price.
Alzheimer’s Society has been campaigning to fix dementia care to ensure that everyone with dementia receives good quality care when they need it. Their new report, Dementia – the true cost, highlights the far-reaching impact of the broken social care system on people with dementia.
The report, based on testimony and evidence from people affected by dementia, social care professionals and dementia lead nurses, also outlines urgent areas for Government to address in its upcoming Green Paper on social care reform.

Stephen Morgan MP commented:
‘I am proud to have united with people in our city to fix dementia care. As someone whose Nan had Alzheimer’s, this is an issue close to my heart and I know what a difference good quality care can make.
The number of people aged 75 and over is expected to increase by 70% in Portsmouth South between 2015-23. It is essential the Government wake up, put social care on a sustainable footing, and end the crisis that has already seen £6 billion cut from services.
The Tories are spending less money on social care now than Labour was spending in 2010, despite the demand for social care having increased significantly. One million people will have dementia by 2021. They and their families deserve urgent action, I’m pleased to work with Alzheimer’s Society to press for this.’
Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society said:
‘This Dementia Action Week, as we’re asking everyone across the UK to take actions big or small to help people with dementia, it’s brilliant to see positive action from people and we’re looking forward to working with Stephen to respond to the public demand for change.
Our Fix Dementia Care campaign has exposed the poor quality care that people with dementia are currently receiving, and this must end now.’
Dementia is the biggest health and social challenge we face. With one person diagnosed with dementia every three minutes in the UK, almost everyone knows someone affected but too many people face the condition alone, without adequate support.
While much progress has been made to becoming a dementia friendly UK, including 2.4 million Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends trained globally and over 350 dementia friendly communities across the UK, people with dementia tell us that more urgently needs to be done.
People affected by dementia highlighted the small actions that would have a big impact on their lives and enabling them to live the lives they choose, such as continuing to invite people with dementia out and making sure you listen and include them in conversations.
Alzheimer’s Society is asking everyone to take these this week:
• Talk to me. Don’t be worried about talking to me. I’m still me.
• Listen to me. Take time to listen and involve me in the conversation. I can still teach you a thing or two.
• Include me. Keep on inviting me out. Friends still mean the world to me.
• Ask if I need help. If I seem confused, ask if I need help. These little things help me stay independent.
• Be patient. Be patient with me and I’ll show you how I can still do things. It just might take me longer than it used to.
• Ask me about my dementia. Don’t be afraid to ask me questions. When you take the time to understand my dementia, I know there’s someone on my side.
• Help my carer too. Support my partner and others who care for me. My dementia affects them too.
Alzheimer’s Society is here for anyone affected by dementia. For information and support, call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or visit alzheimers.org.uk
 

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Southsea restaurant receives award from City MP

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, today presented Haldi restaurant in Southsea with a prestigious award.
The South Asian restaurant on Albert Road won ‘highly commended’ recognition in the prestigious Tiffin Cup 2018 as part of the Festival of Curry at the House of Commons.
The Tiffin Cup is awarded annually by the Tiffin Club of MPs and has been running since 2006. The aim is to not only applaud the quality of South Asian food in this country but also to raise money for charity. This year the competition was in aid of the charity ‘World Vision’.

Stephen Morgan MP said: 
“I was pleased Haldi in the heart of my constituency took part in this year’s Tiffin Cup competition and absolutely delighted they have won a highly commended award. 

Our city has a rich array of excellent restaurants and this prestigious recognition is very well deserved for a Portsmouth great.

It was a pleasure to visit the restaurant and present the team with their certificate and celebrate their fantastic achievement.

Haldi is a must visit on Albert Road”.

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City MP welcomes Policing Minister to Portsmouth

Policing Minister Nick Hurd visits city at invitation of Stephen Morgan MP in latest development in campaign to cut crime in city
Stephen Morgan MP today met with Policing and Fire Minister, Rt Hon Nick Hurd, alongside local business owners and police officers in Southsea as he seeks a fairer funding deal for Portsmouth.
The meeting at Southsea Coffee on Osborne Road, a business directly affected by rising crime in the city, comes after Stephen invited the Minister down to Portsmouth to see and hear first-hand the challenges police and those they serve are facing as a result of government cuts.
Topics of discussion included the importance of diversionary activities for young people and continuing concerns about the short-staffing of local police. Local businesses demanded more transparency from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, as he implements unprecedented Government cuts to the force.
Portsmouth has seen crime rise by 10% at the same time Hampshire has lost 1,000 police officers. Local businesses suffered over 200 break-ins in the last year at huge cost to both themselves and the local economy.
A delegation of Portsmouth businesses affected by crime in the city last met with Minister Hurd in early March, after the Portsmouth South MP raised the issue directly with the Prime Minister at Question Time.
Thanks to the teamwork of Stephen Morgan, local businesses, and police, business break-ins have seen a reduction in recent months.
Stephen has recently written to the new Home Secretary to ask for cuts to frontline policing to be reversed and for Hampshire Constabulary to be granted a fairer share of shrinking Government funding. Regrettably, he has yet to receive a reply.
Stephen Morgan MP, said:
‘It’s really important that, as MP for our great city, I get Ministers to come down and see for themselves the impact their decisions have. I’m grateful to the Minister for taking the time to join me and local businesses and officers here in Portsmouth.
Our city’s small businesses and police officers continue to be put under immense pressure from the Tories. You can’t cut 1,000 officers at a time when crime is rising and expect local people to suffer no consequences. The Government must realise that you can’t do safety on the cheap – the business owners I’ve met know this all too well.
Portsmouth works best when we work together. Local businesses and police in our city have now established a partnership that I hope can provide a sustainable framework for community safety in the future.’
Stephen has called on the Police and Crime Commissioner, who recently lost a landslide vote of no confidence undertaken by the Police Federation, to use reserves to invest in frontline policing in Portsmouth to tackle local priorities. 
 
 

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City MP backs Plastics Bill but says all need to join the fight against plastic

Stephen Morgan MP was among dozens of MPs to support the new Plastics Bill presented by Geraint Davies MP which will ensure all plastic is recyclable by 2025 and would make producers pay for the cost of recycling.
The development follows Plastic Free Portsmouth leading a successful effort in helping the city council pass a motion earlier this year in support of their community campaign.
The Portsmouth South MP said:
“It’s a crucial time to get serious about cutting out plastic in our communities and reduce its production and use.
By making the Plastics Bill into law we will ensure that plastic producers instead of local council tax payers pay for the cost of recycling plastic. The UK needs to take a world leading position having awoken the world to the plastics crisis with David Attenborough’s Blue Planet.
Locally we are already setting an example to others across our nation in passing a motion at the city council, and I thank Plastic Free Portsmouth for all they are doing. Yet we now need to set an example by reducing our own plastic consumption in schools, at work and in all local services and I’ll be lending a hand here as well as speaking up in Parliament.
Currently 90% of the cost of plastic recycling is paid by our local council taxpayers so I’m supporting the Plastics Bill so the producer pays instead. This will encourage producers to innovate and reduce plastic pollution.”
Geraint Davies, Swansea West MP, who has presented the Plastics Bill said:
More than 200 groups and schools across the UK have already signed up to the Plastic Free Schools programme run by Surfers Against Sewage so it’s great that Stephen Morgan is helping to lead the charge in Portsmouth.
MPs from all parties across the UK support the Plastics Bill. We now know from the UN that as things stand there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. I also know, living in Swansea, how important it is to protect our beautiful coastlines
Unless we agree the Plastics Bill, if the UK leaves the EU we risk falling behind Europe where all plastic will be recyclable by 2030. Instead, the Bill would give the UK global leadership to help save our marine environment and ecosystems by requiring that all plastics in UK are recyclable by 2025 instead of 2042 as currently proposed by the UK government.”
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Cybercrime and business rates on agenda as MP invites Solent businesses to Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP joined local business owners for discussions in Westminster
 
MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, today welcomed 12 Portsmouth businesses up to the House of Commons.
The group, which included representatives from Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Spinnaker Tower, Dunham Bush, and the Ferry Port, enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation on topics including cybercrime, business rates and infrastructure.
In his first year in office, Stephen has focused on engaging small businesses across Portsmouth, meeting owners and understanding how he and others can best create conditions for them to flourish.
He has raised the issue of crime affecting small businesses directly with the Prime Minister and Home Office Ministers, held summits in Westminster, and will shortly be launching his campaign encouraging people to ‘shop local’.
Stephen Morgan MP, said:
 
‘Portsmouth and the Solent area’s small businesses are the key to driving our local economy forward.
 
It was great to welcome Hampshire Chamber of Commerce to Parliament today and get stuck into the issues affecting business owners in our city.
 
As MP, local businesses are an absolute priority for me. That means our police having the resources they need to protect our highstreets, investment which is so desperately needed for infrastructure, and reform of business rates to ease the burden on entrepreneurs.’

City MP leads grilling of DWP over huge ESA error

Department of Work and Pensions mistakenly underpaid £1.7 billion to vulnerable people
Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan today jointly lead the Public Accounts Committee’s hearing on the DWP’s error-strewn administration of Employment Support Allowance payments.
Since 2011, the Department for Work & Pensions has underpaid an estimated 70,000 people who transferred to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from other benefits, according to a National Audit Office investigation. The Department estimates it will need to pay a total of between £570 million to £830 million more ESA than it previously expected by the end of the 2022-23 financial year.
The error related to people who may have been entitled to income-related ESA but were instead only awarded contribution-based ESA, and therefore may have missed out on premium payments.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to people who have limited capability to work because they are disabled or ill.
The average underpayment is likely to be around £5,000 but some people will be owed significantly more. A review of a sample of 1,000 cases suggests that 45,000 claimants entitled to the enhanced disability premium only may be owed around £2,500 and that around 20,000 claimants who are entitled to the severe disability premium may be owed around £11,500 each. A small number could be owed around £20,000. 
Stephen Morgan MP, said:
‘It was helpful to join colleagues in leading this really important session for taxpayers and vulnerable people across the UK.
The DWP made a big mistake, then they made it worse by taking four years before even starting to put things right, despite warnings from frontline staff. If the department is to avoid a repeat of these hugely costly errors, we must find out what exactly went wrong and why.
What is especially concerning about this case is the fact that countless people on the poverty line who were denied the financial support they’re entitled to under the law still haven’t been properly reimbursed, I welcome the opportunity to press officials on their behalf.’
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:
‘The facts of this case are that tens of thousands of people, most of whom have severely limiting disabilities and illnesses, have been underpaid by thousands of pounds each, while the Department for several years failed to get a proper grip on the problem.
The Department has now committed to fixing this error by April 2019, but not everyone will be repaid all the money they have missed out on.’
 
 

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Street parties showed Portsmouth at its best

“Today was Portsmouth at its best. It was great to see so many Royal Wedding street parties across our city, bringing residents together and encouraging community spirit on our doorsteps. 

It was a pleasure to pop in to events from Landport to Eastney to Southsea. 
There’s no better way to get together with neighbours via a street party in a nationwide act of community and friendship. 

My huge thanks to all those who gave up their time for free to plan events, provide activities for families, bake cakes and to help our city have so fun as we marked Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day”. 
Stephen Morgan MP

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More must be done to ensure armed forces mental health says Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan uses Mental Health Awareness Week to raise profile of issue amongst armed forces
The mental health of defence personnel will continue to be put at risk unless Government urgently addresses the issue, MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan has warned.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Stephen has joined Help for Heroes in reiterating the points about military mental health which were made to the Defence Select Committee last month.
The vast majority of service personnel do not experience problems with their mental health either during or after service. However, it has been emphasised how important it is that those who do feel able to seek support when they need it.
Almost 500 men and women were medically discharged with mental health problems in 2016/17. This is an increase of 135% compared to 2010/11.
The first step to ensuring they receive appropriate support – in a timely fashion – is improving our understanding of the scale of the need, improving waiting times, and making sure those with the most complex mental health issues are getting the most appropriate level of care.
Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
“It is vital our armed forces personnel get appropriate mental health care.
 I’ve no doubt people in Portsmouth expect their government to take care of the brave men and women who serve our country. I’ve already asked the Minister about what more his Government can do to ensure veterans seeking mental health support are seen within the 18 week NHS target.
But this problem isn’t going away, indeed, these figures show it’s getting worse.
I’ll keep up the fight, alongside Help for Heroes and other similar charities, to make sure the Government take this issue seriously and take action to get service personnel timely, appropriate treatment.”
 
 

City MP reviews progress on second carrier

Today Stephen Morgan MP visited Rosyth in Scotland to review progress made on the building of the second carrier in the Queen Elizabeth class carriers.
The visit, hosted by the Royal Navy and the Carrier Alliance, saw Members of Parliament from the Public Accounts Committee receive presentations on the programme and a tour of the carrier as fit out continues.
HMS Prince of Wales and the Queen Elizabeth before her, continue a long tradition of British aircraft carrier innovation.
They are the first carriers to be designed specifically for fifth-generation fast jets, and they are the first to pioneer the twin island concept that facilitates safe and efficient air operations with an enviable sortie rate.
When HMS Prince of Wales enters service, she will join an existing fleet of some of the world’s most modern and advanced warships – Asute submarines, Daring-class destroyers, Tide-class tankers – and she will await the introduction of the City-class Type 26 frigates and the Dreadnought ballistic missile submarines.
Together, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will ensure the Royal Navy has one carrier available for operations at all times.
On the Public Accounts Committee Stephen has been focusing on holding the government to account to ensure carrier strike is delivered on budget, on time, and achieves value for money. A number of hearings in the House of Commons have taken place with members quizzing the Government’s top civil servants and military personnel.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
As a maritime nation, carrier strike and particularly the new aircraft carriers are not only essential for the UK’s future security but also our great city’s prosperity.
I congratulate all those in Portsmouth, Rosyth and across our country for their part in developing this strategic asset for our nation.
Through skill and expertise, the Queen Elizabeth class carriers represent the very best of the UK’s industrial and engineering ability.
It was hugely helpful to head up to Rosyth today to see progress being made ahead of first entry into Portsmouth Harbour late next year”.