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After a ‘decade of decline’ Budget brings more disappointment for Portsmouth people

Today (Wednesday 11 March 2020) the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered this Government’s first Budget. Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the Government’s budget for not ensuring an end to austerity and no real investment for the city.

Mr Morgan unpicked the Chancellor’s fiscal plans and called out the fact Portsmouth and the South East continue to be neglected with no robust plans to redress the inequality caused by Tory austerity.

Mr Morgan said:

“Over the last ten years we have seen a decade of decline. Cuts to public services we all rely on as we pay more, but get less, and infrastructure holding our city and our region back.

In today’s budget I know Portsmouth people were hoping for real investment for the city and an end to austerity.

Instead we saw a political panto in the House of Commons, with soundbites with no serious consideration of the challenges our city faces.

We now risk another five more years of more disappointment for Portsmouth”.

The IFS have said that cuts to funding from the government have led to a 17% fall in councils spending on local services since 2010. This has pushed local government to become reliant on local taxes for revenues, in particular council tax.

The Government’s financial plans also received heavy criticism on their failure to address national issues. No real solutions have been put forward to address the climate crisis through infrastructure projects, austerity has not ended and the NHS is creaking ahead of a potential coronavirus strain.

On the national picture, Mr Morgan said:

“In recent weeks, Government has utterly failed to provide leadership in response to storms, flooding, and the coronavirus outbreak.

Is this the budget that will combat issues of international significance such as Coronavirus, the Social Emergency, and Climate Change?  Regrettably there is no evidence to suggest it will.

It seems yet again Mr Johnson has delivered on nothing but empty promises and left the people of Britain to deal with the consequences.

The city MP has long been lobbying for a fairer funding formula for Hampshire Constabulary, calling out government cuts to city schools, championing the need for proper investment in Portsmouth Naval Base, calling for a solution to the social care crisis and the need for the black hole in Ministry of Defence funding to be addressed. The Budget today made no effort to combat these issues.

 

 

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City MP takes local child poverty concerns to very top as he delivers searing question in Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP has forced the Work and Pensions Secretary to answer concerns over child poverty in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan’s line of questioning comes amid a bleak backdrop of 4.1 million children now growing up in relative poverty. A figure 500,000 larger than it was in 2010-11.

Mr Morgan said

“The Child Poverty Action Group published a study of children and food in low-income families. It detailed movingly the lives of children who go hungry and the impact on their health, education and friendships.

It showed that some children were ashamed to invite friends home because they had no food to offer them.

Under this government’s watch cases of this nature have been allowed to reach unprecedented levels. Today I put these heart wrenching accounts to the Minister responsible and demanded action over this grave injustice.”

The proportion of children in poverty who are under the age of five has risen from 51% to 53% (over 2 million children). The figures also reveal that 70% of children in poverty were living in working families in 2017-18 – up from 67% the previous year.

Mr Morgan added:

“In Portsmouth South we know that nearly 37% of children are living in poverty. In areas such as Charles Dickens, this is as high as over 50%.

Child poverty is one of the most potent drivers of ill health, not just in childhood but throughout life.

If government is letting down Portsmouth people at the beginning of their lives, this will adverse effects for decades to come. People in our city deserve better.”

Mr Morgan’s work on this issue follows a report by The Children’s Society detailing the hundreds of pounds parents are having to find for uniform costs, sometimes at the expense of food. The MP is backing a new law that would introduce statutory guidance for schools that would help to rein in the soaring costs of school uniforms and save parents money.

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has taken action over child poverty. The city MP backed a Private Members Bill tabled by a colleague, raised the issue in ‘Challenge Poverty Week’ and has highlighted the link between the benefit cap and poverty. 

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“A fairer voting system will help ensure a fairer, more progressive Britain” says Stephen Morgan MP as he hosts electoral reform event

60 people attended an event hosted by the city MP to encourage discussion around electoral reform.

National experts from the Electoral Reform Society and Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform delivered presentations before Mr Morgan chaired an open panel discussion with local Green party representative, Ian McCulloch.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We need to see a fairer, more progressive Britain. It is essential that we put aside party differences and work together for the common good.

That is why I have organised this public event tonight aimed at creating a platform for open discussion about the merits of electoral reform.

When research tells us over 70% of votes count for nothing, I can I understand why alarm bells are ringing.

Thank you to all residents who came along this evening to help shape my thinking. I will take back ideas and views on fairer voting to Westminster”.

The event comes the week the Electoral Reform Society published a report which revealed the 2019 General election left voters voiceless.  

Dr Jess Garland from the Electoral Reform Society said:

“Stephen Morgan’s work creating this open platform for debate around electoral reform is commendable.

The 2019 General Election showed once again that Westminster’s broken voting system is short-changing both voters and parties. We all need to work together to change this and Stephen’s proactive engagement with this issue is creating an atmosphere where that can happen.

I look forward to continuing to work with Stephen and other MPs and campaigners across the spectrum so that we can build a better, more just, democracy.”

Reports show that 22.6 million people had their votes ignored at the last General Election, due to the First Past the Post System. The Labour Party 2019 Manifesto committed to UK-wide Constitutional Convention, led by a citizens’ assembly to provide targeted analyses of solutions to the problem.

Mr Morgan added:

“While I find my mailbox full of matters about housing and other community concerns rather than electoral reform, I understand the need for robust debate on the current voting system.

I am not wedded to any particular model but certainly hear arguments that a more proportional system is required to redress the current imbalance.

I organised today’s meeting to give people, from across different parties, the opportunity to have their voice heard in the week of the Electoral Reform Society’s important report”.

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“Government must go further to protect coastal communities” says city MP in parliamentary debate

Stephen Morgan MP today delivered a speech to parliament outlining areas where the government needs to go further to reduce flood risks.

The city MP honed in on the particular challenges faced for Portsmouth City Council and Southsea Sea Defence Scheme; Forcing the Minister to respond to questions about heritage sites, funding and austerity.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“With record rainfall in February and the last decade the warmest on record, coastal communities are at great risk of the impacts of climate change.

Major infrastructure projects like Southsea Sea Defence Scheme are needed to protect lives, homes and livelihoods.

Government funding, lack of recognition for heritage sites, and the impacts of austerity are undermining local efforts to protect our communities.”

Portsmouth City Council have stated the city coastline’s rich heritage sites mean that additional funding is required to secure cultural assets like Southsea Castle. Currently, government funding offers no weighting to communities who harbour heritage sites, which Mr Morgan has called on them to change.

Mr Morgan also stressed the national importance of our coastal communities, he added:

“Our coastal communities are rich in leisure, tourism and heritage activities. Their loss is the nation’s loss.

They must be protected. There are gaps in the government’s current strategy which need to be addressed.

It is high time the government took notice of this fact and started properly supporting coastal communities like Portsmouth.”

Stephen Morgan MP also raised in the chamber the fact the Minister had cancelled two meetings, one with the Council, to discuss Southsea Sea Defence Scheme.

The city MP has committed to continuing to raise the risk of flooding in order to safeguard the interests and livelihoods of constituents.

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Portsmouth schools visit Parliament as part of The Girls’ Network empowering mission

For the third consecutive year, Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a delegation of over 30 girls in Parliament.

The Girls’ Network, an organisation whose mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities, focuses on mentoring to improve confidence.

The city MP orchestrated a tour of parliament and addressed the delegation before engaging in a question and answer session. The Girls’ Network then took organised a workshop focusing on female empowerment and aspiration.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Girls Network do outstanding work in combating female underrepresentation, bolstering confidence in young women, and demonstrating to a generation that they can aim high.

I am honoured to host, for the third time, a delegation of girls in parliament and make this often-inaccessible institution available to young Portsmouth people.

We need to see more women in high office and the centuries of structural sexism redressed. Girls Network are leading the charge and I remain committed to supporting to them in their work.”

93% of girls on the programme last year said it had improved their confidence, and 96% believe the programme has helped them feel more positive about the future.

Fiona Walsh, Portsmouth Network Manager from The Girls’ Network’, said:

Access to parliament and showcasing democracy in practice to young women from The Girls’ Network has the potential to inspire a generation.

We are delighted that Stephen Morgan MP has organised this visit and continues to support our vision of a world with more empowered women.

We look forward to continuing to champion greater access to opportunities for young women and working alongside Stephen Morgan in this endeavour.”

The city MP has long supported Girls’ Network via their Portsmouth branch, supporting them through organising visits, tours, meetings and securing them access to parliament.

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Portsmouth MP urges patients to tell him concerns over local GP services

Following more and more people raising with the Portsmouth South MP concerns over access to local health services such as their GP, Stephen Morgan has set up a constituency-wide survey for constituents to have their say.

Prompted by a spate of proposed closures to local GP practices, Mr Morgan is taking further action to help protect local provision and raise awareness of the Portsmouth issue in Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We’ve already lost just over 1,600 full time GPs under this Government. That’s not good for you, for your family, or for Portsmouth. We need more nurses and doctors to help give patients the care they need.

We all know how difficult it is already to get a GP appointment, trying to get through on the phone and then forced to wait weeks to see a family doctor.

Cuts and other challenges mean a number of GP practices in Portsmouth have  closed down whilst others consider merging with different surgeries, including my own.

That’s why I back calls to put investment back into our NHS, expanding GP training places by 5,000 a year, and building up the workforce so that we can have 27 million extra GP appointments there for you when you need it.

A simple online survey has been set up for constituents to have their say by answering the questions on the MP’s website. Constituents are also encouraged to make contact with Mr Morgan in the usual way with ideas and views.”

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has suggested that blame lies with government over the current emergency. GP partners taking on roles in surgeries fell from 24,521 to 21,161 and 68% of GPs in England have struggled to recruit new doctors to their practices.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“As your MP I’ve been taking action listening to views, sharing concerns with decision makers, meeting key groups and lobbying Ministers to end the GP crisis, invest in our NHS and restore local services.

To carry on this vital I need to hear from you about the challenges in accessing local NHS services. Please complete my simple survey so that I can take concerns directly to Government and help me to protect Portsmouth’s health services we all rely on”.

The survey can be found at www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/gp-survey and takes just two minutes to complete.

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Keir Starmer joins Stephen Morgan in backing Portsmouth’s green initiatives

Stephen Morgan MP hosted Labour leadership front-runner Keir Starmer in Portsmouth to broadcast the benefits of active travel in tackling climate change.

Joined by senior Brompton representatives, the two parliamentarians spent time at the Cycle Hire Hub at Portsmouth Harbour Station.

The current air pollution crisis in Portsmouth, need for more government investment in active travel infrastructure, and Labour’s plan for a greener future were discussed.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Key to tackling climate change is ensuring people have the tools to make changes to their everyday routine. Active travel is a major part of that.

In Portsmouth we face some of the worst air pollution rates in the country. Children choking on fumes is not what this city deserves.

That is why I support Brompton’s Cycle Hire Hub, which makes green commuting easier and takes polluting vehicles off our roads.

Keir’s support for this initiative coupled with his pledge to put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything Labour does, secure him as the only Labour candidate able to bring radical solutions to the climate problem.”

Keir Starmer MP said:

“The recent extreme weather is further evidence that we are living through a climate emergency.

“It is fantastic that Stephen has shown leadership in Portsmouth on this issue by backing Brompton’s bike scheme, organising community events and leading the charge to declaring a climate emergency in the city.

“If elected Labour leader, I would support a Green New Deal and also a Clean Air Act – to ensure that dangerous levels of air pollution are tackled.”

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire said:

“Brompton is committed  to changing the way people move around cities. We are delighted that both Stephen Morgan MP and Sir Kier Starmer MP share this vision and are demonstrating a real drive at both a local and national level to promote active travel”.

Stephen Morgan MP has a record of delivery when it comes to tackling climate change. From leading the Labour Group locally in declaring a climate emergency and orchestrating major Portsmouth events to voting in favour of legislation In the House of Commons, he has shown leadership from Portsmouth to parliament.

 Keir Starmer and the city MP were joined by a number of Labour councillors and campaigners for more ambitious action by the council to tackle the climate crisis.

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Hundreds flock to Keir Starmer rally hosted by Stephen Morgan MP

Over 400 attendees have travelled to Portsmouth from across the south coast to hear the Labour leadership contender Keir Starmer MP at event hosted by a Portsmouth Labour and Stephen Morgan MP.

The rally set out the leadership frontrunner’s plan for bringing the party together and forging the path back to power and retuning a Labour government. 

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is evident from today’s well attended, standing room only event that there is desire in the Labour party to unite and come together.

Keir Starmer has the skills and experience the party needs right now. His ability to keep the policy programme radical, unite our movement, and forge the path back to power is what people in our area told him today.

It was a real pleasure to have hosted Keir for the third time in our city and share the stage with inspiring Portsmouth people who share his vision for a better future for Britain.”

Keir Starmer said:

“It is fantastic to have the support of so many people here in Portsmouth. Stephen Morgan is a great local MP, fighting for the city day in day out and I am honoured to have his backing to be Labour leader.

It has been a great day visiting members here in Portsmouth, talking to them about how we can unite our party and win the next election.

Whatever the outcome of this contest, I look forward to coming back to Portsmouth in the coming months and beginning the campaign for the local elections.”

The parliamentarians shared the stage with Paula Savage and Portsmouth FC’s, Christian Burgess, who all set out why they are backing Keir.

Portsmouth FC’s Christian Burgess, said:

“Keir’s vision for a fairer, more just society combined with his ability to be formidable and provide forensic opposition to the Tories is why he has my full support.

He has a track record of being a voice for those often denied and bringing people together. This is exactly what the nation needs.”

This is the third time Mr Morgan has hosted the bookies’ favourite next Labour leader. Stephen Morgan MP declared his support for Keir Starmer’s campaign early-on and has been campaigning locally and nationally for the candidate’s election.

Former MPs city Frank Judd, Syd Rapson and Sarah McCarthy-Fry have also backed Mr Starmer.

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City MP holds Government Minister to account over environmental impacts of AQUIND

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has continued to help those objecting to the AQUIND application and taken action over environmental concerns surrounding the government backed infrastructure project in Portsmouth.

AQUIND Interconnector, an electric power transmission linking the UK to mainland Europe, has the potential to damage endangered wildlife near Milton Common and the surrounding areas of Portsmouth say constituents.

Mr Morgan said:

“In Portsmouth we are proud of the wildlife that thrives because of the wetlands and proximity to the sea. It is essential that these endangered species are safeguarded.

The Government supported initiative AQUIND could result in digging up areas near Milton Common, which hosts much of this teaming wildlife.

I share concerns about this infrastructure project and am supporting those objecting to it. I believe the proposals should have been determined by the relevant local planning authorities such as our city council but sadly the Government has decided that the proposal should be determined by the Secretary of State through the Development Consent Order process.

That is why I have today written to the Environment Secretary urging commitments to safeguard our endangered species and demanding regular and continued assessment of damage. The Government must now answer these specific questions of concern and be held to account over these proposals. I will continue to take action and be the a strong voice for Portsmouth over these plans which affect so many communities in our city and risking Portsmouth’s environment.”

The city MP has written to the Environment Secretary demanding answers. The action follows raising parliamentary questions, meetings with residents, attending open consultations and relaying concerns to AQUIND directly. The Portsmouth South representative has welcomed efforts by council officers to inform the public about the proposed plans so that resident views can be heard.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Our natural habitats are already under immense strain due to climate change. This means that we must take extra precautions to safeguard our wildlife and look at every infrastructure project through an environmental lens.

So far government has not shown leadership on the climate emergency. I will continue to apply to scrutiny to all decision making to ensure climate change is at the heart of discussion.”

This action is the first in a string of actions taken by the city MP over the AQUIND infrastructure project. Stephen Morgan has raised the issue through parliamentary questions, met with residents and spoken to the organisation over issues raised by constituents.

AQUIND Interconnector is a subsea and underground High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electric power transmission link between the South Coast of England and Normandy in France. The Planning Inspectorate will hold an independent examination into the proposals, which is a form of a public inquiry. For more information visit https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/

A copy of the letter can be seen here: GE DEFRA 25 2 NS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Labour in power: the progress made by Labour led local authorities

It has been a decade since a Labour PM occupied Number 10, it is likely to be another 5 before there is a chance to change that.

While the national picture is bleak, Labour are in power all over the country making changes where it matters. The often-unsung improvements, initiated by Labour councillors, need to be recognised to both share best practice and acknowledge the intrinsic role that local government will play in the path back to power.

Over 50% of the population in England and Wales live under a Labour Council or Labour Metro Mayor, with nearly 7,000 Labour councillors implementing innovative ideas with both hands tied behind their back. Without these community representatives willing to step up and shield our communities from the onslaught of Conservative cuts, many would be worse off.

Since 2010, the Conservatives have incessantly hacked bits of local authority services and slashed 60 pence out of every pound they previously received from central Government. What does this mean for the every day lives of British people? 900 vulnerable people a day being refused adult social care, a 165% increase in rough sleeping since 2010, and a 30% rise in the number of classrooms with 31 or more pupils.

With Tory austerity ripping apart communities and depriving councils of cash, cutting-edge Labour led councils are making a difference to people’s lives at the coalface.

While the pioneering achievements of Labour-lead councils’ number in their hundreds, which can be confirmed by a short look at LGA Labour’s 100 more innovations, the positive changes made to social care are particularly inspiring. Whether considering Kirklees Council’s housing policy that gives weight to care leavers or Blackpool’s trailblazing Health and Social Care Academy, the positive impact Labour councils are having on peoples’ lives in undeniable.

And all this in the midst of a crisis. Nearly £8bn has been taken from council budgets for social care since 2010, there are 1 million people not getting the care they need, and 87 people are dying a day waiting for care. It is not an understatement to say the changes made at local authority level can be lifesaving.

Positive strides have also been made to tackle the nation-wide housing crisis. Labour led councils have set the precedent in areas like South Tyneside through administering bespoke accommodation for ex-service personnel; and in Cambridge where Street Aid allows residents to donate to homeless people without any one being forced into a demeaning position. 

It is important that these innovations are shared with neighbouring local authorities if we are to showcase Labour’s grassroots ability. That is why, in my capacity as Shadow Communities Minister, I have been getting out to Labour run councils who are spearheading change and organising cross-regional idea sharing events. Key to building on Labour’s success at Local Government level will be demonstrating the innovation to those in non-Labour run areas.

With polls suggesting that public trust in local authority representatives is around 66% higher than their parliamentary counterparts, there are clear lessons to be learnt if we are to forge a path back to power. Truly empowered and independent local government offers the next Labour administration a meaningful, accountable, and democratic return to power. This opportunity must be seized.

Local authority provided services, often the lifelines we all rely on when most in need, touch the lives of thousands. From giving children and young people the best start in life to looking after older community members in need, they offer cradle to grave support. Labour’s initiatives, against all the odds, are fighting back against Tory austerity and winning. This innovative spirit will be key to securing the next Labour government and it would be a mistake to underestimate the significance of labour led local authorities.