, , , , , , , , ,

Stephen Morgan MP calls to abolish visa fees for Commonwealth servicemen and women

The Portsmouth South MP has joined calls from The Royal British Legion for the Government to abolish visa fees for Commonwealth servicemen and women.

Currently, Commonwealth citizens serving in the UK armed forces have the right to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after four years’ service if they choose to stay in the UK. However, application costs have risen considerably in recent years, meaning it would currently cost almost £10,000 in visa fees for a service leaver to settle in the UK with a spouse and two children.

This has created a situation where Commonwealth citizens are often forced to choose between leaving the UK, a country they have sacrificed a great deal to serve, or remaining here and splitting up their family. The Royal British Legion, which has raised awareness of this issue through their ‘Stop the Service Charge’ campaign, say they have provided £36,000 in grants for visa fees last year alone.

They also coordinated a cross-party letter which called on the Home Secretary to recognise those who have served in the UK armed forces by abolishing visa costs for them and their families. This was signed by more than 130 different MPs from 8 different parties, showing the breadth of feeling on this issue.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

 

“These men and women sign up to join the UK’s Armed Forces putting their life on the line for our country, and the current visa fees charged do not reflect the nations gratitude for their service.

 

Having served the UK, Commonwealth service personnel have the right to apply to stay here without having to pay fees so high that some veterans are being pushed into poverty”

 

Charles Byrne, Director General at The Royal British Legion, said,

 

“Charging exorbitant fees to those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country is no way to thank Commonwealth service leavers. We are pleased so many people agree with our Stop the Service Charge campaign and are joining the call to have these fees waived.  We hope the Government will listen to these serious concerns.”

 

 

, , , , , ,

“Holistic, comprehensive support for our veterans is vital – We should settle for nothing less” – City MP speaks out after visit to veterans charity 

Stephen Morgan MP has put recess time to good use and spent a day with forces charity Blind Veterans UK, a Brighton based organisation that seeks to provide holistic care and support for veterans who have suffered blindness.

The visit allowed Mr Morgan meet with veterans, or members as charity sees them, to observe first-hand the ground-breaking technology being trialled and hear feedback on the research being conducted at the centre.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The work being conducted at Blind Veterans UK is truly remarkable. It only takes a conversation with one of the many members of the charity to hear how it has touched the lives of not just them, but their families.

Organisations such as this are essential because they provide a well-rounded, comprehensive level of support. From tackling social-isolation through group-based sports activities, to providing vital skills through educational services – the centres capabilities are impressive.”

The Portsmouth South representative’s visit culminated in a demonstration of the driverless cars being tested at the facility, paving the way for potentially changing the game when it comes ensuring blind veterans remain independent.

The visit also included discussions with the centres resident doctor about the highly-advanced research being conducted at the centre, and interactive demonstrations of the way Virtual Reality is being used to support charity members.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The level of care provided to our ex-armed forces community by the Government does not go far enough, organisations such as Blind Veterans UK are pioneers when it comes to what can be achieved.

Well-being, education, fitness, medical care and support are all provided. We should strive to replicate this when it comes to how veterans are treated across the board.

For some time now, I have been calling on the Government to do more when it comes to tailored, bespoke services for our forces community. Spending time with the members at this organisation is a testament to how and why this should be achieved. “

Mr Morgan’s visit formed part of his long-running strategy for improving life for veterans. He has made repeated calls for veteran suicide to be recorded, written to the Government asking for further rights such as railcards to be extended to veterans, met with The British Legion, hosted Westminster Hall debates on veteran welfare and regularly meets local organisations such as all call signs.

City MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“Growing up in Portsmouth and having a grandfather who crossed the channel on D-Day makes it difficult to miss the immense efforts of our armed forces community.

My aim is simple, improve the services offered to ex-service and serving personnel so that the system is worthy of the men and women who use it.

Visits like this are integral to this process, if we can observe the challenges and successes faced by organisations such as Blind Veterans UK, we can use this a blueprint for change. I look forward to continuing to raise the issue of the wellbeing of our armed forces in Parliament and ensuring their voice is heard.”

 

 

, , , ,

City MP calls on new Veterans Minister to properly support our armed forces community 

Stephen Morgan MP has wasted no time in pressing the new Minister for Defence People and Veterans to extend the HM Forces Railcard to ex-service personnel. 

Currently, members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces enjoy the benefits of reduced rate rail travel with the HM Forces Railcard, a benefit recently extended to Reservists. Now the local MP has made fresh calls for this to go further.

Mr Morgan said: 

“This is a simple issue. The current HM Forces Railcard, offering discount rates to service people on UK trains, does not include veterans. I believe this is wrong.

I do not believe that we should differentiate between those who currently serve and those who have served when it comes to paying tribute or supporting our armed forces community.

It is not like the physical and mental scars subside after these individuals leave the military, why then should their support network?

I have written the Defence Minister in the hope that he shares this perception and, in the hope, that he will act decisively and rectify this current injustice.”

The HM Forces Railcard costs £21 and saves individuals 1/3 on most rail fares throughout Great Britain for a whole year. This works out at under £2 a month and if used regularly, has large-scale money saving qualities. 

Stephen Morgan MP said: 

“Across this nation, we are not properly supporting our veterans. Whether that is failing to offer bespoke, tailored mental health services or not properly implementing or improving the Armed Forces Covenant – the Government can do a lot more.

Making changes like extending the Forces Railcard to veterans is a step in the right direction and I will require serious explanation if the Government chooses to defy my recommendation.

I will continue to lobby all colleagues at the MoD until we see a system worthy of the brave men and women who have given so much to this nation.”

Stephen Morgan MP has long been a champion of causes close to the hearts of the force’s community. He has hosted a Westminster hall debate on Veteran Suicide, regularly meets with organisations such as All Call Signs in his constituency and has expressed a commitment to ensuring the forces community have a voice in Parliament.

, , , ,

City MP hits out at Government as veterans hounded over TV licences

Stephen Morgan MP has expressed disgust over news that 900,000 veterans will now have an additional bill to contend with.

As of next June, the Government has decided to betray pensioners by performing an unprecedented U-turn on their previous promise to safeguard benefits for over 75s.

The new rules mean that only those who receive pension credit will be eligible for the free TV licence. This leaves the door open to injustice, says city MP Stephen Morgan.

Mr Morgan said:

“Of the 80% of pensioners set to lose out, over 900,000 are brave veterans who have gone above and beyond to protect this great nation. How is the Government paying tribute to them? By leaving another hefty bill on their doorstep.

The fact that the Government has rescinded this vital benefit will mean that some veterans will now be hounded to pay for their TV licence.

At a time when Mr Johnson has just offered a tax cut to the highest earners, I find this morally repugnant.”

The policy U-turn has sparked outrage amongst charities such as Age UK and MP’s from across the house because the Conservatives pledged in their 2017 snap general election manifesto to maintain free TV licences for the rest of this Parliament, due to run until 2022.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“Some of those veterans affected will have fought in Korea, The Falkland Islands, Bosnia, Iraq and other areas where they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way in the name of this nation. What sort of country have we become where the Government brutally strips away vital benefits one at a time from the individuals who have given the most?

I will not stand idly by while this Government acts like some kind of Twisted Robin Hood, taking from the citizens who give the most and giving to the highest earners.

I will continue to raise this matter both in and outside parliament until the Government realises the consequences of its ill-thought actions.”

Stephen Morgan MP has already taken decisive action against the implementation of the policy.

So far, he has written out to over 10,000 Portsmouth people in his patch asking for feedback, met with Age UK, spoken out in Parliament, delivered a speech in a Westminster Hall debate, voiced concerns with the Minister responsible and met with local pensioners groups.