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City MP continues to take action as WASPI women hit hard by Covid-19

Long running supporter of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, Stephen Morgan MP, has today written to the Work and Pensions Secretary urging swift action to help women born in the 1950s suffering at the hands of the pandemic.

The WASPI movement campaigns against the way the state pension age for men and women was equalised. Prior to the pandemic, millions of 1950s women had been made worse off, some losing up to £47,000. Reports are suggesting that these women are now being disproportionately hit by the impacts of Covid-19.

Writing directly the Secretary of State after listening to local concerns, Mr Morgan has raised that women affected are facing increased loss of earnings, trouble with Universal Credit and gaps in government support before he outlined potential solutions.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This is the generation of women that rebuilt Britain, it is unacceptable that they are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. They suffered injustice prior to the pandemic, it is not right that they continue to have support refused.

Some face a loss of earnings as cleaners and exam invigilators whose ‘top up’ income has now dried up. Others are self-employed and have fallen through gaps in government support.

That is why I have written to directly the Work and Pensions Secretary requesting government explores the early payment of Pension Credit and State Pension to those effected.”

Shelagh Simmons from Solent WASPI said:

“Government implemented legislation that has caused severe financial turmoil for millions of 1950s women. Now we are asking them to provide emergency support during this pandemic

Early access to Pension Credit and State Pension will go some way to alleviate the pressures faced, and we are grateful to Stephen Morgan MP for taking action and asking the Government to make an assessment of these requests.”

Evidence suggests that many 1950s women work in the gig economy. The sector least supported by government Covid-19 schemes. This, coupled with low incomes undermining eligibility for universal credit, is resulting in severe loss of earnings for WASPI women.

The city MP has urged the government to assess the impacts of Pension Credit, which could offer immediate financial relief to those affected. While early access to State Pension has the potential to boost disposable income, likely to give a welcome kick to the economy as Britain gets on the road to recovery.

Stephen Morgan MP added: 

“I have been working closely with WASPI women for some time. I am committed to continuing to engage with them through this pandemic and beyond.

It is important that no one is left behind, particularly in a crisis, and that government is aware of the fact that there are gaps in the support they are offering.”

 

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New job opportunity: Parliamentary Assistant

New job opportunity: Parliamentary Assistant to Stephen Morgan MP

Salary: Up to £35,308 FTE plus benefits

Part-time: 22.5 per week (occasional weekend and evenings)

Location: Westminster (occasional work at the constituency office at 72 Albert Road, Southsea)

 

Want to help make a difference to peoples’ lives? 

Interested in working at the heart of British politics to help bring about positive change? 

Then an opportunity has arisen to join Stephen Morgan MP’s small parliamentary team based at the office in the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South, the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency, and newly appointed Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces.

A small parliamentary team works alongside the constituency office to assist with Stephen’s parliamentary duties and responsibilities as a member of the shadow frontbench.

This new and exciting role will help co-ordinate key policy, research, communications and project actions generated by Stephen’s activities in the House of Commons.

Please note the post is advertised at part-time, with the possibility of extending hours to full-time.

 

What to do next…

If you have what it takes to join the team, please submit a covering letter and CV electronically to:

Julie.Minal@parliament.uk by no later than Monday 11 May 2020, 12noon.

Please note that due to the high volume of interest expected, applicants will only hear if they are called to interview.

During Covid-19, further assessments of shortlisted applicants will be undertaken via video conferencing.

For further information about Stephen’s work for Portsmouth and in Parliament go to @StephenMorganMP on social media or visit www.stephenmorgan.org.uk

 

 

 

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“Keeping people connected has never been more important” says city MP thanking posties on National Postal Workers’ Day

Wednesday 29 April marks the ninth National Postal Workers’ Day, a day dedicated to thanking postal workers for their first-class service to the country. The annual event is organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), a trade union for the communications industry with almost 200,000 members.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has commended the postal workers particularly for their work delivering essential items, looking out for the elderly and taking shopping to vulnerable people amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Postal workers are an essential cog in keeping the country connected. Whether delivering parcels containing important business equipment or keeping in touch with loved ones, we all know how well they serve our community.

The importance of paying tribute to postal workers could not be more crucial at this time of crisis. Not only are they keeping the mail moving during a pandemic which puts themselves at risk, there are widespread reports of workers going above and beyond by helping the vulnerable.

I urge people to show solidarity across the country by displaying messages of thanks in their windows and letting postal workers know how much we value their service.”

A spokesperson from the CWU said:

“Despite hugely challenging times, CWU members are keeping the country connected. From delivering essential items to checking on the elderly and taking shopping to the most vulnerable in society, we have seen thousands of examples of local postal workers stepping up.”

The city MP has also backed the CWU’s calls for Royal Mail to make their work safer amid the pandemic. The CWU has criticised the Royal Mail over the continual delivery of advertising mail and called for better provision of PPE for workers who are on the frontline.

On this, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“While paying tribute to postal workers is very important, this does not mean much unless we are prepared to stand in solidarity with them when it comes to things as important as their safety, and even their lives.

I support the CWU’s calls for an end to advertisement mail during this pandemic. Any measure that reduces risk must be taken, especially as in this case, advertising mail can be deemed as non-essential at a time of crisis.

I also vow to continue taking action on behalf of all frontline workers when it comes to the provision of PPE. The postal service is a key part of the UK’s infrastructure. They continue to deliver for us, we must now show our support for them.”

The Portsmouth MP has urged people to leave messages of support for their postal worker in their windows on the 29 April 2020 in a safe manner, and in line with government safety guidelines.

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City MP pays tribute to all those who have lost their lives at work on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. Stephen Morgan MP has joined local trade unions and others in remembering those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases by completing a minute silence.

The city MP also called for renewed efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work, commending the trade unions for their work in the ongoing battle for increased employee rights and safety.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is a shocking fact that every year more people die from work related injuries than die in wars. This is not an inevitability that we have to accept, many of these deaths are preventable. Through appropriate regulation, increased workplace safety and creating a system where all employers care about the safety of workers, we can make a difference.

This year’s commemorations are even more important considering the coronavirus pandemic. Every day we are seeing brave frontline workers risking their lives on behalf of all of us.  Already many thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or continue to go to work for the good of the community.

International Worker’s Memorial Day is a vital way to stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives, those who are still working and to highlight that much more must be done to improve safety at work.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all trade unions for their tireless efforts and campaigning to stand up for workers’ rights and protections all year round”.

The city MP is joining the minute silence, taking a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great risk.

The one minute silence is at 11am on 28 April 2020.

 

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP says we must prioritise mental health too

Data is showing over 4 in 5 adults are worried about the effect coronavirus (Cocid-19) is having on their life right now. More than half are saying it is effecting their wellbeing and nearly half are reporting high levels of anxiety.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has therefore today taken action to ensure the mental wellbeing of constituents is prioritised during the coronavirus crisis and is calling on government to do more to protect those working on the frontline.

Welcoming efforts by Solent NHS Trust to bring local services together, the MP has committed to working with local providers to help people with their mental health as services continue to respond to the crisis and at the same time make plans for our communities’ recovery.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Everyone in the country has been affected by Covid-19 in some way, be it through staying at home and being separated from friends and family, uncertainty about work or education, or knowing someone with the virus.

There is no disputing, this crisis is having an undeniable impact on all of our health and wellbeing. The threat of physical illness to all of us is clear and obvious. However, the financial and social impact is also significant. This is particularly the case for our deprived communities and most vulnerable in society.

When people are locked down in their home, and away from friends and family, there is a greater risk of a rise in domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and depression. It is only right, then, that we give equal importance and priority to protecting people’s mental health at this time of crisis”.

Mr Morgan has discussed with Solent NHS Trust senior representatives their proposals to work with other key providers to help better educate the public of signs and symptoms of mental health difficulties and promote tools and methods to better manage mood, anxiety and trauma.

An alliance is being formed to ensure rapid and easy access to emotional support through dedicated helplines and online community wide support services, which has the backing of the Portsmouth South representative.

Today’s actions follow The Institute for Public Policy Research’s Care Fit for Carers new report which has revealed the ‘catastrophic’ toll of dealing with Covid-19 on the mental health of frontline staff.

On the findings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Parallel to the physiological effects of the virus are the impacts that dealing with it will have on the mental health of both the general public and frontline staff.

Frontline staff are having to deal with increased fatalities, more pressurised conditions and the risk of infecting their own families. The general public are having to deal with unprecedentedly low human interaction, confinement and in some cases domestic abuse and financial difficulty.

The Government has a duty to offer mental health support to frontline workers as well as introducing PTSD services. Action must also be taken to ensure that mental health provision is properly resourced and equipped for dealing with the mental health element of this pandemic.

I will continue to work with health providers and local charities to protect the mental wellbeing of those working on the frontline to keep us safe, and all those in need of help and support”.

The report, published today, provides new evidence on the experience of the healthcare workforce during Covid-19 to date from IPPR/YouGov polling of healthcare workers and the general public.

It shows that without further bold action in the days, weeks and months to come by the UK government and NHS England the country’s healthcare workforce will face significant health, mental health and welfare challenges.

 

 

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City MP says issues remain over bringing Britons back home

From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, UK nationals stranded abroad have been reaching out to the Portsmouth South MP for assistance. Stephen Morgan MP has so far taken action on behalf of 35 constituents stuck in 11 countries, with 12 still remaining overseas.

In each individual case, Mr Morgan has been lobbying Government hard, submitting detailed requests for action to the Foreign Office and relaying concerns to the Shadow Foreign Secretary, who is raising cases at regular meetings with Ministers.

Further action by the city MP has included writing an open letter to the Foreign Secretary urging more comprehensive support packages and raising additional measures that government could take by submitting parliamentary questions.

The city MP received a recent update on many of the concerns he raised following a meeting between the Shadow Foreign Office team and Nigel Adams MP, Minister of State for the Foreign Office. However, concerns over the Government’s response to this crisis remain.

Mr Morgan said:

“There must be little scarier and more stressful than being stranded hundreds of miles from home and separated from family during a pandemic. As well as raising individual cases, I have been feeding key themes back to the Shadow Foreign Office team who have been raising concerns at the highest level.

At a recent meeting, the Government Minister responsible acknowledged that there is a need for more accessible information coming from embassies, increased efforts put into the repatriation of vulnerable people, and more action taken over the financial losses incurred by flight cancellations.

While these acknowledgements are encouraging, we must see this translate into practical action. There are 12 Portsmouth people who have got in touch with me, and many more who haven’t, who are still stuck overseas. Every day they are there is more anxiety and stress for them and their families.

I will continue to constructively engage with government by highlighting areas for improvement while applying scrutiny to their decisions, making sure that the interests of Portsmouth people are represented.”

Some of the cases that the Portsmouth South representative has been assisting with have included elderly people stuck in Australia with limited access to medication, an individual separated from his partner in Ghana, a performer stranded aboard a cruise liner, and a man confined to his accommodation in Goa due to a pack of wild dogs left to roam the streets.

Mr Morgan also raised the issue of spiralling, and reportedly exploitative, airline flight costs with the Foreign Office. This followed one constituent contacting him to outline they had been quoted $3000 for a one way journey.

On flight costs, Stephen Morgan MP said:         

“We cannot stand for any kind of cashing in on people’s desperation and no one should get into financial difficulty through no fault of their own.  I therefore welcome government’s commitments to subsidise flights, work with airlines to stop spiralling flight costs and increase repatriation loan repayment timetables.

While I am glad government has listened to the concerns I raised earlier this month, I will continue to work closely with stranded constituents to ensure that they see these changes on the ground.”

Mr Morgan has also been acting in his capacity as Shadow Armed Forces minister, outlining how best the government can utilise the expert skill set of military personnel. He added:

“We have the most elite armed forces in the world. Dealing with crisis is their bread and butter and they are doing outstanding working in supporting services amid Covid-19.

The RAF has already been mobilised for some flights, but it was revealed at the latest meeting there is no planned mass deployment at this time.

I will continue to apply scrutiny to government decision-making on the use of our armed forces to ensure that if necessary, Ministers are encouraged to make resources available.”

The city MP has been privy to additional commitments made by government including dual nationals who hold British passports not being treated any differently, an initial 10 flights being chartered to return British citizens from Pakistan, and better communication channels being established between the Foreign Office and constituency MPs. Stephen Morgan MP continues to help a number of constituents who are still stranded abroad.

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Make a Portsmouth rainbow!

Fun family activity by Stephen Morgan MP

All around Portsmouth’s communities we can see colourful rainbows decorated by families offering a sign of hope during this challenging time for our city and our country.

Following the popular constituency colouring competition, Stephen is now encouraging Portsmouth families to turn their minds to making a rainbow for their home window.

Teaming up with University of Portsmouth alumni and graphic design freelancer Dan Mackey, Dan has used his amazing talents to produce a template for people to make a rainbow.

Please feel free to colour it in, cut it out, fold it into shape, and display it in your window!

To download the template click here

If you want to share your completed rainbow, please email a photo to  stephen@stephenmorgan.org.uk

A selection will be put on Stephen’s social media

For more information about Dan’s work click here

 

 

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City MP encourages Portsmouth’s small business community to engage with government’s Covid-19 support packages  

With the city council processing 82% of all business grant applications there is concern that over 1,000 businesses are yet to apply for support during the coronavirus crisis

As a result, city MP Stephen Morgan is backing calls by the council to encourage businesses to check if they are eligible for the support in this way.

The Portsmouth South representative said:

“It is vitally important that the coronavirus economic schemes are effective so that we can protect people’s incomes, jobs and businesses and prevent a deeper and longer-lasting recession. That is why I have been working constructively with Ministers to ensure the best possible package to protect businesses in Portsmouth.

The Government has announced two schemes to provide grants to small businesses, these are the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

These grants are being provided via local authorities such as Portsmouth City Council who are liaising with businesses eligible to administer the funds.

Small businesses in Portsmouth can be supported through this crisis and can be offered hope and a future for themselves, their families and their staff. I urge any city business who have not looked at these grant opportunities to do so”.

£20m has so far been paid out to Portsmouth’s businesses according to the city council, who are administering the local grants scheme.  

The city MP has vowed to continue the pressure on the Government to close any gaps in support and will be lobbying the Chancellor again this week on behalf of businesses in Portsmouth.

For more information about business support from the city council call 023 9284 1641 or for details of how to apply visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk/businessfunding

 

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Portsmouth MP urges people to ‘Support Local’ to help city’s small businesses get through crisis

Many small businesses across the country have been devastated by the coronavirus crisis. Whilst recognising efforts of Government and the council to offer assistance, Stephen Morgan MP is urging everyone in Portsmouth to play their part and to ‘support local’. 

In late March, the Prime Minister ordered all pubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues across the country to close their doors for the foreseeable future, leaving many business owners and their employees at risk in Portsmouth.

While measures such as social distancing and self-isolation are vital in helping to curb the spread of the deadly disease, they have also threatened to devastate the city’s local businesses.

Despite loans, grants and practical support being available via local authorities and other bodies, many businesses have not reached out at all.

City MP Stephen Morgan has been working constructively with Ministers to ensure a package of support for companies, whilst challenging the Government to do better and act faster to protect small businesses in Portsmouth.

Lobbying the Chancellor to ensure a wide-ranging programme of help, liaising with the city council over local support, and backing campaigns to urging residents to shop and trade locally, the Portsmouth South MP has welcomed efforts by Strong Island, based in Southsea, encouraging local people to ‘Support Local and Independents’.

Throwing his weight behind this local campaign, and teaming up with ‘Small Business Britain’ the UK’s leading champion of small businesses, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy in Portsmouth. Helping to protect them during the coronavirus crisis protects livelihoods, protects jobs and protects our communities.

While the government and local bodies are doing their part to protect the economy, there are also plenty of ways that people can support their favourite local businesses, whether they are shops, music venues or local online stores.

Many businesses can be supported through this crisis and can be offered hope and a future for themselves, their families and their staff if we all do our bit and help them”.

There are over 5.8 million small businesses in the UK. According to Small Business Britain’s Big Support campaign, research shows that more than half (55%) of businesses have not got any advice or support for their business so far. A third (66%) are not confident in their business, and nearly 70% expect their revenues to fall by over 50%.

The city MP added:

“Businesses are at risk of running low on hope. There is support out there from financial and coaching, to advice and guidance. We all need to make sure small businesses are taking it up.

It’s undeniably tough right now and I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure small businesses can and will get through this.

As Parliament returns from recess this week, I will continue to lobby Ministers over their plans to make sure there are no gaps in provision and the package of support for Portsmouth is as comprehensive as it needs to be.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities. Let’s all do what we can to support local and independent so that small businesses get all the support they need to survive and thrive”.

 

Sources of support as examples:

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP welcomes new offer of transport funding but says more must come

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed news that Portsmouth and the surrounding area could receive a share of the Transforming Cities Fund.  This will help to improve the city’s transport infrastructure and opens doors to greener travel. But the Mr Morgan has said if Government wants to be serious about tackling climate change, more must come  the city’s way.

In September 2018, Portsmouth City Council working alongside neighbouring local authorities, were shortlisted alongside 12 other regions to bid for a share of the Department for Transport’s £1.28 billion Transforming Cities Fund. This money was allocated by Government in March’s budget public transport improvements across the country, but the Chancellor’s announcements lacked detail on the proposals worked on for south east Hampshire.

Mr Morgan has long supported Portsmouth’s bid for the Transforming Cities Fund, writing letters to Ministers to back up proposals. He has also batted for Portsmouth’s application by raising the issue in parliamentary questions, lobbied the Department for Transport, and last month wrote again to the Transport Secretary following the Budget, making the case for the city again.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome the latest development that Government recognises the need for transport investment across our region.

The unique travel challenges faced by our city mean that comparatively, our area does not perform as well as it could in terms of productivity and competitiveness.

The Transport Secretary’s letter to me offering to invest in connectivity will help to redress this issue, working to tackle poverty, poor health, and reduced productivity in the area. But if we are to make our plans a reality, more support from Government Ministers must come”.

Government opened up two waves of funding. The first for ‘quick win’ financial assistance, and the second where regions have the opportunity to bid for funding to support longer term programmes. Portsmouth was successful in securing £4m of the first wave. March’s Budget announced further funding to local authorities with some outstanding decisions still remaining.

Expressing particular support for the way in which the funding can be used to improve cycling and walking infrastructure, in turn taking forward the city’s declaration of a climate emergency, Mr Morgan added:

“Whilst this funding offer will help bring economic benefits, more must be done to tackle the city’s air pollution crisis and climate emergency. That means the Government stepping up and setting out a plan to guarantee more investment to come in our city’s infrastructure.

Our environment must be at the heart of everything we do. So when Britain starts on the road to recovery after this current coronavirus crisis, we must ensure proper funding in Portsmouth to tackle the climate emergency. More people using sustainable travel will mean improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions.

I welcome the hard work of the local authority on this important agenda and will continue to liaise with the city council and all interested partners. Together we must lobby for further investment in public transport and active travel along with commitments to industry-leading low-emission vehicles, and call on the Government to do much more”.

In a letter sent this week by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP to the Stephen Morgan MP, the Government has confirmed that a request has been made for a revised plan from bidders around a ‘nominal per capita award of around £56m’. It is expected this would support the delivery of a package of public transport and active travel enhancements for the area.