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Stephen Morgan MP reacts to Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal

“Working people. The NHS. Low income families. These will be hit hardest by the negative effects of Mr Johnson’s failure of a Brexit deal with the EU.

It runs riot over centuries of progress made towards workers’ rights, places profit over people and leaves the door open for our cherished NHS services to be pillaged by privatisation. With the Tory track record of eroding workers’ rights and selling of bits of the NHS to the highest bidder, is this any wonder?

I did not think that it would be feasible to see a deal worse for Portsmouth people than the one put forward by the Mrs. May, however, Mr Johnson seems to have surpassed even that.

It is nothing more than a race to the bottom on rights and protections.

There is nothing in the deal that has the ability to heal the current divide. I am not willing to vote for a deal that will make Portsmouth poorer and insult people to such a degree.

There is only one way out of this mess. The PM must be brave and put it to the people and let them have the final say”.

 

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“The closure of Lynx House will be a disaster for Portsmouth” – City MP grills Government over implications of HMRC closures under no-deal

Today, during questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP continued to apply pressure to Government over the proposed plans to close the HMRC centre, Lynx House in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan’s chief concern raised today was that if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, the HMRC workload is set to increase from 55 million customs declarations to 270 million according the National Audit Office.

Mr Morgan said:

“The fact that Government is planning to shut Lynx House, which provides vital employment to nearly 1000 members of the community, at a time when the HMRC workload is set to increase by nearly five times demonstrates their poor foresight and lack of planning.

A no-deal Brexit will be disastrous for Portsmouth and this nation anyway, the added implications of Government cuts to HMRC and staffing and resource levels down 17 per cent since 2010, is a recipe for disaster”.

Mr Morgan has been fighting alongside the trade unions to retain Lynx House since becoming MP in 2017 and has already brought the Shadow Treasury Minister responsible to the site to see for herself the issues faced by staff as part of a long-running campaign against closure.

Mr Morgan said:

“Anyone who watches the International Trade Secretary’s response to my serious question about Portsmouth will see that it is both vague and lacking in substance. No robust plans are offered in response to how HMRC will deal with the increased workload and I am deeply concerned that adequate planning is not taking place.

Portsmouth needs urgent action from this Government. That is why I have written to the Chief Secretary in a bid to get the Government to take notice of the people at the coal-face raising alarms about HMRC closures at Lynx House.

I have urged the Chief Secretary to rapidly respond by paying a visit to Portsmouth and to see for himself the issues faced here.”

Stephen Morgan MP has so far met with local HMRC staff, spoken with the unions, raised the issue in parliament, supported council motions and brought frontbench colleagues to visit the site and written to the Minister responsible.

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Rallying cries of ‘’the fight will go on” resonate from standing room only WASPI event hosted by city MP

Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a heavily oversubscribed event in Portsmouth offering a platform for discussion to women affected by state pension inequality.

The greatly successful event came in the wake of news that the High Court would not rule in favour of WASPI women and consisted of the MP’s renewed declaration of support for the cause, an open discussion and a Q&A session.

Mr Morgan said:

The resilience and determination demonstrated by WASPI women is an inspiration to grass roots movements across the nation.

The high attendance, passionate discussion and innovative ideas coming from the event that I was proud to host on Saturday is a testament to the fight left in this movement.

I consider it a privilege to have hosted numerous events and parliamentary activities alongside WASPI women and will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with members until we see a positive solution to this injustice.

Some women have been forced into homelessness and destitution, others have lost up to £47,000. They have all been grossly mistreated by Government and I will continue to act as a strong voice for them in Parliament.”

The event allowed WASPI women direct access to their MP and subsequently resulted in Mr Morgan taking a number of immediate actions.

One action that arose was that many women had written to the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to complain about the issue, however, they had been told they must wait for the High Court ruling before getting a response. Many of the women are still awaiting feedback.

In response to this, Mr Morgan has written out to the PHSO urging swift response and requesting a time frame for response.

In his letter, the Mr Morgan wrote:

Now that the High Court has ruled their decision, I am writing to request a date by which women affected by these state pension changes will receive a response to their letters of complaint. Please, could you (PHSO) provide this information as a matter of urgency?”

Other actions taken by the MP following the open consultation include lobbying his frontbench Labour colleagues to include clear manifesto pledges in favour of WASPI women.

Mr Morgan’s support for the WASPI cause predate his premiership as an MP and over the years has seen him speak at events, host members in parliament, meet people affected in Portsmouth and submit written questions to the Minister responsible. Mr Morgan is set to host WASPI women again on Wednesday 16 October. 

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“Let’s work together to ensure today’s generation have the digital skills for the future” says City MP at launch of Google Digital Garage

Today, Google opened a training hub in Portsmouth South. Delivering a speech to local community and business leaders, the city MP helped declare the hub open.

The Google Digital Garage is a multi-million-pound initiative that helps people, small businesses, and charities in Britain learn crucial skills for the digital age and is supported by the council and other local agencies. The city MP has been lobbying for this to come to his city for well over year.

Google Digital Garage offers free workshops and 1:1 mentoring sessions, enabling everyone to harness the power of the internet. Stephen Morgan has spent a great deal of time lobbying for its presence in Portsmouth.

Addressing attendees at the opening, Mr Morgan said:

“While businesses in Portsmouth are thriving and do justice to the ingenuity and resilience the city is famed for, the importance of developing digital prowess cannot be overestimated, we must continue to make our mark.

Digital technology has revolutionised the way we work – but many smaller businesses that lack digital skills are being left behind.

The fact that 55% of small business owners reported growth after just 14 weeks of receiving Google Hub training means that these issues will be tackled head on.”

The city MP stressed the importance of digital training in relation to social inequality. This is in line with the State of the Nation report which found that 49 percent of the poorest adults had received no digital training after leaving school, while 20 percent of the richest adults had. 

Mr Morgan said:

“Not only are digital skills essential to business progression, they are also a vital tool in the fight against inequality and help with self-liberation.

Through closing the digital divide, we will be able to make it easier for those at the bottom of the ladder to climb up.

We know that in Portsmouth, deprivation is higher than average at over 25% and 9,000 children live in poverty. Improving digital literacy is one tool we can use in the fight against deprivation and injustice.”

Since 2015, Google Garage has visited more than 500 locations across the UK and trained more than 400,000 people. Statistics show that 75% of small business owners changed the way they use digital marketing to advertise or sell online and 90% of learners took action after Google Digital Garage training. 43% said they had used more digital tools at work, and 77% said Google Digital Garage had helped improve their professional profile.

Mr Morgan said:

“The reason I have lobbied so hard for the Garage to come to my patch is because of the proven track record it has in up-skilling local communities and fostering an atmosphere of progression.

In my maiden speech, I said this is a city of makers and doers. With the likes of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Dickens emerging form this city, this is undeniable. I want to see this continue and believe that if we are to continue to leave our mark, ensuring equal access to digital skills for all will play a crucial role.”

Mr Morgan has not stopped at bringing the hub to his constituency, he is now in discussions with Google about a string of events at the hub and the touring of a Google Skills Bus around the constituency to reach marginalised communities.

 

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City MP demands meeting with Minister over Stanhope House student accommodation crisis

On 9 September, Prime Student Living (PSL), who are managing a new student development named Stanhope House on Commercial Road, failed to provide accommodation for over 250 students at the start of term. 

Since then, Stephen Morgan MP has submitted written questions to the Department for Education, written to PSL directly, written to the regulator, visited the site, met with the university, spoken out in the media, spoken directly with students affected and worked alongside Cllr Cal Corkery.

In Mr Morgan’s latest bid to bridge the gap in regulation and help affected local students, the city MP has written to the Government Minister responsible demanding an urgent meeting.

Mr Morgan Said:

“I have spoken to students impacted by this issue and I am deeply concerned about the effect that the PSL failure is having on them.

Some have been rehoused miles away from lectures and friends, others in places with no wi-fi. The opening weeks of university play a crucial role in academic life and career path, I will not allow private accommodation providers to recklessly gamble with Portsmouth students’ futures.

When I submitted parliamentary written questions to the Minister, he regrettably said that this was not a Government matter. I refuse to accept this and have written demanding a meeting so that we can work together to stop this from happening again

I look forward to continuing to work alongside Cllr Cal Corkery in standing up for Portsmouth students and ensuring they have a platform to be heard on”.

There have been widespread reports of students affected are feeling anxious about their living conditions. Many have outlined deep-set disappointment with the £150 that they have been issued which does not even cover one week’s rent.

In response to Mr Morgan’s written questions, the Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation replied:

“Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous bodies, independent from government; government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation” (full response in public domain).

Another key point raised by the Portsmouth South MP is that the taxpayer is essentially bankrolling these developments and therefore it is in the public interest to ensure they are of an acceptable standard.

Mr Morgan said:

“No matter which city you enter in the UK, you will notice an everchanging skyline continually infiltrated by new blocks of student flats.

While these are often private investments, make no mistake this funding comes from the tax payers’ purse via student maintenance loans.

Transparency, honesty, and continuity. This is not too much to ask of Government when it comes to regulating student accommodation.”

Mr Morgan and the University of Portsmouth are both in consensus that there is a clear regulatory gap exists. The Office for Students (OfS) regulates universities but has no regulatory power over private student accommodation providers. This clear gap in regulation is leaving students open to exploitation

On how he wants to see this resolved, Mr Morgan said:

“A similar problem occurred last year with Crown Place and I have seen that there have been 20 alike cases around the country this year alone.

The Government has a responsibility to our students, and it is not good enough to simply shift blame to private companies.

This is not the first time that this has happened. I want to make sure it is the last.

There is essentially inadequate regulation of purpose build student accommodation and we need to see more inclusive legislation that gives students more protection.

I look forward to the Minister responding to my meeting request so that we can get on with taking action over this matter.”

Stephen Morgan MP is in regular and constant communication with the University of Portsmouth over this matter and has vowed to submit a Westminster Hall debate on the topic if the Government Minister refuses to accommodate a meeting.

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WASPI fight goes on, vows Portsmouth MP

Responding to the judgement from the High Court today over the raising of the state pension age and the impact this had on women born in the 1950s, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This is a terrible blow for the millions of women across our country and the 9,000 women affected in Portsmouth who will have been hoping for a very different outcome today.

The decision to hike the state pension age with next to no notice didn’t just throw their retirement plans up in the air, it also left many women on lower incomes really struggling to make ends meet.

I support the equalisation of the state pension age so that men and women retire at the same age, but believe any changes should be carried out in a fair way. Portsmouth people have told me their concerns over the Government’s decision to speed up the rise in the age for women and how this has affected them. Some are now facing real hardship as a result.

Justice and the state pension that was so cruelly snatched away from so many women remains disappointingly out of reach.

Despite today’s decision women born in the 1950s will not give up their campaign to get back what they are rightly owed and nor will I. Our fight goes on to end this injustice.

Since becoming a City MP, Mr Morgan has been taking action over the Government’s unfair changes to the State Pension Age imposed on women born in the 1950s. 

The Portsmouth South MP has now called a public meeting to hear views of women affected and continue to take action:

The ‘Have your say on pensions fairness’ event is taking place on Saturday 12 October 2019, 12-1.30pm at the John Pounds Centre,23 Queen Street, Portsmouth PO1 3HN. This is a public event for the Portsmouth South constituency with Solent WASPI. To confirm your place visit www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/waspi

Encouraging women affected to attend his public meeting, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“For the sake of my own Mother, and over 9,000 women affected in Portsmouth, I will continue to work hard to end this injustice.

Please come along to this important public meeting, bring a friend and tell a neighbour. Make sure your voice is heard. Together let’s get the Government to finally act”.

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Labour to end universal credit misery

Universal Credit is causing misery and hardship wherever it is rolled out. Today Labour confirmed that when in Government they will scrap it and replace it with a social security system dedicated to dignity, universalism and ending poverty.

The party has announced they will implement an emergency package of reforms to mitigate some of the worst features of UC while they develop a replacement system.

The plan will also lift up to 300,000 children out of poverty by scrapping the two child limit and benefit cap. It will reduce hardship by ending the five week wait, introducing fortnightly payments, suspending sanctions and ending the digital only approach. The party will also protect women by making split payments the default and reduce homelessness by paying the housing element direct to landlords.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Universal Credit is a vehicle for cuts and is causing severe hardship wherever it has been rolled out across our country.

Our social security system has lost its way; we need to rebuild it up from the principles on which it was founded – supporting people rather than policing them, alleviating poverty rather than driving people into it.

Social security should lift people out of poverty but Universal Credit is leaving people in debt and rent arrears, and forcing people to turn to food banks to survive.

Despite mounting evidence of its failure, the Tories are pressing ahead with the roll-out, rather than scrapping and replacing it. I’m pleased Labour has said when in Government that is what they will do”.

The city MP has been listening to views and concerns over the future of social security, visited the local job centre, met with charities which support people on benefits and hosted a consultation to hear people’s views.

Today Labour has announced they will:

  • Change the culture of the DWP so that treats people with dignity and respect, and supports them in finding work and accessing the benefits they are entitled to instead of punishing and policing people.
  • This cultural change will take time but we will start on day one by replacing the DWP with a Department for Social Security.
  • Scrap UC and develop a new social security system.

 

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“It rests on all of our shoulders to speak up for Portsmouth Port” – City MP joins Port representatives in Westminster 

Stephen Morgan MP has joined local representatives from Portsmouth in a bid to promote the interests of one of the city’s most valued assets – Portsmouth International Port.

The local-born MP met with key figures at the event in Westminster and where discussions took place about value of the port for the city’s economy, importance of keeping it at the forefront of the Government agenda and the positive effect it has on local services as well as highlighting no-deal concerns.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth international Port is a vital employer, an essential financial asset to our local economy and a gateway where products needed by our nation first land in the UK.

But it also so much more. It is part of our identity and the namesake of our city.

From 2017-18, the Port’s total gross value-added contribution to the local economy is nearly £190 million and for every £1 million the Port contributed in the region, this generated another £400,000”.

Following the event, Mr Morgan stressed the need to adequately fund the port at this time of uncertainty and the need for the Government to take heed of warnings in the case of a ‘catastrophic’ no-deal.

Mr Morgan said:

“No-deal would be utterly catastrophic for Portsmouth and the Government has done nowhere near enough when it comes to offering support to the Port.

No-deal likely to turn our city into a congested lorry park and could see supermarket shelves in the Channel Islands stripped bear of fresh produce in just days.

No-deal preparations are costing the city council around £4 m and no indication of how and when this funding will be reimbursed has been offered by the Government.

That is why I have written countless letters to the Department for Transport, MHCLG and Brexit Department asking for detailed analysis on no-deal preparations and information about when funding can be allocated.”

The Port, which is owned by Portsmouth City Council, brings in finances which are then used to fund vital local services. Something that Mr Morgan praised during his speech.

The city MP said:

“From helping our schools get the resources they need to providing funding for adult social care – the money generated by the Port for council coffers is intrinsic to our community’s wellbeing.

At a time when local authorities have lost 60 pence out of every pound they previously received from Government – these funds could not be more integral to the running of our city.”

Experts have warned that municipal ports such as the one in Portsmouth have not received the correct levels of funding and planning due to problems with Government calculations. This has given rise to claims that ports such as Dover are receiving disproportionate amounts of government attention. 

In relation to municipal Ports, Mr Morgan said:

“In 2017, the Port handled a staggering 3.9 million tonnes of goods, making it the 25th largest UK port in terms of cargo volume. Solidifying our city on the map as a regional power house and a formidable trading post.

As it stands, we see a conversation saturated by talks about Dover, while these talks are essential, we must all work together to ensure that Portsmouth International Port and others have their voice heard.

So far I have written to three Government departments countless times to raise this point and I will ensure that I continue to act as a voice for the city’s Port in Parliament.”