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City MP and Google team up to support Portsmouth’s pubs and hospitality businesses

Ahead of some pubs and businesses reopening this Saturday, 4 July, Stephen Morgan MP is hosting an online event to help Portsmouth’s pubs and local traders on the road to recovery. 

The hospitality sector employs more than 3.2 million people nationally, adding up to 10% of UK employment, this amounts to 322,000 people employed in the sector in the South East making it an integral contributor to the local economy.

Local pubs and sector representatives have informed Mr Morgan that a lack of clarity over social distancing guidelines as well as concerns around PPE supply and safety equipment is threatening their futures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Portsmouth is fortunate enough to be home to a thriving pub scene that contributes greatly to the city’s culture and economy. The impacts of Covid-19 combined with unclear and problematic government guidance is putting this at risk.

The most important thing here is to listen to the people dealing with these issues. That’s why I am hosting this event with Google, seeking to give local pubs the opportunity to have their voice heard.

I urge anyone working in association with any of our city’s pubs and hospitality businesses to sign up to the call and be part of the discussion as we get our city on the road to recovery.”

The city MP’s event is part of a string of actions that he has taken to support small businesses struggling to deal with the impacts of Covid-19.

He has already liaised with representatives, lobbied Ministers in the House of Commons over guidance to businesses, encouraged residents to support local traders and continues to engage with the Federation of Small Business on remaining problems. 

Kicking off with an online event, support to businesses will continue with a free online Digital Marketing Course run by Google’s leading experts.

For businesses to register for the event, taking place on Thursday  2 July from 10:00 until 11:30 follow the registration link here: https://events.withgoogle.com/portsmouth-south-google-digital-garage/registrations/new/

 

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‘We need a back to work budget for Portsmouth’ says City MP

Analysis of new labour market data from the ONS shows the scale of the economic challenge facing the south east as claimants for Universal Credit and other unemployment benefits rose by 178.12% to 325,199.

Although an imperfect measure of unemployment, these figures show a severely strained jobs market and an urgent need for a Back to Work Budget.

The Government has reportedly postponed its next full budget until autumn, raising concerns a slow and muddled health response is now being followed by a slow and muddled response to saving jobs.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Government show 23.38 % of the workforce are furloughed in the South East whilst 352,000 of the workforce are using the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

Vacancies also fell by 60% across the UK between February and May, with steeper falls in some sectors. This includes:

  • 80% fall in construction, employing 5.3% of workers in South East
  • 94% and 70% falls in motor trades and retail, employing around 16.7% of workers in the South East
  • 94% fall in accommodation and food services, employing 7.3% of workers in South East
  • 85% in arts, entertainment and recreation, employing 2.5% of workers in the South East

Figures reveal that:

  • There were 325,199 people claiming universal credit and other unemployment benefits in the South East in May 2020, up 178.12% from February
  • This is equivalent to around 6.7% of the workforce
  • 23.38% of the workforce are furloughed, whilst 352,000 are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“These figures show the Government cannot afford to delay its next full budget until after the summer and must urgently bring forward a Back to Work Budget to protect jobs and livelihoods here in Portsmouth and across our region.

The government must also ensure the vital support provided by the JRS and SEISS are not withdrawn too soon, and that any withdrawal is tailored to the specific needs of firms and sectors in our city and for the south east.”

 

 

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP calls out failure to offer clarity to Portsmouth pubs

Representatives from local pubs have repeatedly informed the city MP that government vagueness on support and guidelines for the sector is threatening their businesses.

Today, during Business Questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP took action on local concerns by putting Ministers on the spot, demanding answers to the questions troubling Portsmouth’s pubs.

HospitalityUK, local boozers and sector representatives have said that a lack of clarity over whether 1 metre or 2 metre social distancing guidelines will be required is preventing pubs from putting in place preparations for reopening in just two weeks time.

Pubs and brewers have been working exceptionally hard to prepare for reopening in early July, however government missed its deadline yesterday for providing clarity over social distancing measures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government instructed pubs to shut. Then, it gave them a potential date for reopening. What they have failed to do is provide any of the vital information that allows them to make this transition and have missed their own deadline for providing this information.

Do pubs need to operate a 1 or 2 metre rule? Will they require PPE? What safety measures do they need to implement? These are the questions preventing Portsmouth landladies and landlords from getting their businesses back on track.

Portsmouth’s thriving hospitality and pub scene creates jobs and is crucial to our local economy. This government’s vagueness is putting our city’s future at risk.”

Industry experts say that 1 in 4 pubs do not have enough space to reopen and comply with the 2m rule, while 82 % of those that could reopen would have to operate at less than half capacity.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the BBPA said:

“Our 47,000 pubs and 2,000 brewers are now in urgent need of a definitive date on when pubs can reopen.

We have consistently and clearly asked Government for at least three weeks’ notice to ensure our pubs can bring staff out of furlough, prepare and reconfigure themselves to adhere to safety guidelines, and ensure they have fresh draught beer ready to serve customers.

The deadline for notice the Government needed to give us to be ready to reopen on 4th July, as referenced in its own roadmap, passed on Saturday. As of today we have no finalised safety guidelines and no definitive date for reopening – we need both today if pubs are to reopen on 4th July. I am delighted to see MPs like Stephen Morgan ask these tough questions and stand up for British pubs.”

Today Mr Morgan demanded answers and tried to pin the Business Secretary down on a date for when guidance would be issued. Again, he failed to provide any clarity and refused to offer a firm timeline for when social distancing information would be passed on.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“We have learnt that more than 600,000 hardworking Britons have lost their jobs amid lockdown with those claiming work related benefits jumping to 23% in May.

This is indicative of the government’s current strategy which is to announce major policy changes that lack any detail or substance with unrealistically tight time frames. We have seen it with schools, dentists, and now hospitality.

The fact that Government missed its own deadline for issuing guidance and today failed to provide me with an answer in parliament is simply not good enough.

I will continue to shine a spotlight on where government must improve and ensure that Portsmouth businesses are heard.”

Stephen Morgan MP’s parliamentary actions today are part of string of measures he has put in place to support local business. He has met with sector representatives and HospitalityUK online, written twice to the Chancellor, applied pressure through written questions and is in the process of orchestrating a webinar for local businesses struggling under the weight of Covid-19.

 

 

 

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To save our high streets ‘the hospitality sector needs clarity’ 

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has welcomed a series of demands to urge the government to save British high streets on the day that non-essential shops in England are being allowed to reopen.

Although allowed to open from today in a further easing of coronavirus lockdown, shops have been told that they must meet Covid-19 guidelines for the safety of customers and workers.

But the official opposition has expressed concern that guidance has not been specific or clear enough on sanitising, protective equipment and other areas, and it has sounded the alarm over confusing briefings to the press.

Stephen Morgan MP is particularly worried about the challenges faced by the hospitality sector after listening to local businesses urging for sector-specific support measures.

The demands made to ministers by Labour are as follows:

  • Stop anonymous speculative briefings on social distancing guidelines. Social distancing guidelines are vital information for venues to prepare to reopen safely in respect of layout of venue and capacity of venue, both of which impact on revenue and financial decision making. Businesses will require clarity and transparency. As with other aspects of Ministers’ response to the Covid-19 crisis anonymous speculative briefings to the press are deeply unhelpful, confusing business and the public with mixed messages. Any changes to the guidelines should be led by the science and come about through a transparent and clear process.
  • Give guidance on business-critical issues such as sanitising, PPE for staff, security provision, use of toilets, the use of phone apps for ordering, vertical drinking and table service. Without this information, many business operators are struggling to plan their opening and short-term business model.
  • Set out what help will be available for operators who have to remain closed because the two-metre rule prohibits them from being able to open safely and/or it is not financially viable for them to do so.
  • Ensure furlough flexibility. Business wants clarity around the part-time furlough scheme and whether this can be brought forward. If outdoor areas are open from 22 June, this will not require a full-time complement of staff. For other businesses such as theatres, nightclubs, small indoor pubs and summer festival businesses for which social distancing makes opening not viable, the furlough top up will be impossible because they have no cash coming in.
  • Consider what flexible support can be given to other operators. For many businesses that do reopen it will be at significantly reduced capacity with higher costs such as more staff, security and PPE. They too need more flexible support.
  • Work with local authorities, take innovative action to help businesses expand operations and boost trade by reducing bureaucracy including:
    • Ensuring rapid license variations, on issues such as opening hours or setting up licensed spaces, which currently require long notice periods.
    • Reforming the operation of temporary event notices so they are not subject to time limits. Reduce five working day time limit for late temporary event notices to three working days.
    • Deregulating the sale of alcohol as part of any outdoor licensed seating area for the duration of the crisis, so that there is no requirement for separate premises licence/temporary event notice, to allow outdoor bars, or allow a fast track licensing scheme for this.
    • Enabling local authorities the ability to operate licensed spaces without going through full licence process or needing temporary event notices
  • Investigate the conversion of parking spaces and other areas into outdoor seating uses.
  • Build public confidence in going to pubs and restaurants, and the high street by ensuring the track and trace and other measures are fully in place.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know nationally that one third of all hospitality businesses have not qualified for government grants, in particular larger employers, according to trade association UKHospitality.

The sector employs more than 3.2 million people, adding up to 10% of UK employment, and represents 6% of business and 5% of GDP.

Both nationally and locally the small businesses in our retail and hospitality sector have an important part to play in our economy. The government must finally give businesses long-overdue clarity”.

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Business Minister, added: 

“It’s vital that ministers turn their attention to the hospitality sector, providing clarity and guidance so that businesses can plan to reopen in the coming weeks.

That means no more backroom briefings to Tory MPs, and more public advice and guidance to companies about how they can safely reopen.

Alongside this, we urge the government to publish an action plan which maximises economic viability, whilst minimising the risk to the health of customers and staff.

If they fail to act, our communities will lose much-loved pubs, bars and restaurants, and we’ll see a wave of closures and unemployment which will damage villages, towns and cities across the country.”

Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons will have to stay closed until at least July as close contact involves a higher risk of coronavirus transmission.

 

 

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City MP urges Portsmouth businesses to have their say over coronavirus pandemic

Stephen Morgan MP has urged local businesses to take part in a survey organised by the University of Portsmouth seeking to shine a torch on some of the difficulties currently being faced.

On behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, the university launched the survey to help understand the evolving and emerging needs, challenges and aspirations faced by businesses.

The online survey will ask respondents a series of questions to collect views about the impact of coronavirus on their business, what support is needed and future business outcomes.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Many of the thriving businesses in this city have been greatly affected by this pandemic. Whether they have had to furlough workers or found themselves ineligible for government support, Covid-19 has had an effect on all.

I welcome this work being conducted by the University of Portsmouth that will help us understand more about circumstances faced by our business community. The more we know about the initial impacts of Covid-19 on business the better we can understand what additional support may be needed.

I urge those with business interests in our city to take part and help inform the discussion about what happens next.”

The survey results will be analysed and published in a freely available report for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (and its members) in order to help businesses in the whole of Hampshire & Isle of Wight region, including Portsmouth and Southampton.

Stephen Morgan MP has been continually taking action on behalf of the small business sector since the onset of the pandemic. Lobbying the Chancellor, liaising with the BEIS department, working with the Federation of Small Business, raising matters in parliament through written questions and constructively engaging with Ministers on problems are just some of the ways the city MP has been taking action.

Peter Hooley, Director of Business Development at the University of Portsmouth, said:

“The University, led by the Faculty of Business and Law, is playing its part as a member of the Solent business community to support our partners and friends during the coronavirus pandemic.

 Data on the evolving and emerging business needs of the region will be critical to ensure that the community directs its efforts where they are most needed.

It is important that there is a clear understanding of business needs, challenges and aspirations underpinned by a solid evidence base.”

You can complete the survey, which will take about 10 minutes, here https://portsmouth.fra1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_82qoj7setyXCqNv

 

 

 

 

 

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City MP backs call to help struggling PAYE freelancers

Acting on the behalf of local PAYE freelancers under strain, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has backed calls on government to offer more far reaching financial aid.

Holes in government support for freelancers is an issue that has been disproportionately affecting those working in the creative industry.

According to a BECTU survey, only 50% of creative industries workers have been able to access support through a Government income support scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“From international-standard museums to media start-ups, Portsmouth has a thriving creative scene. The continuation of this is in the interest of the city economically and socially.

The fact that this sector is most at risk due to gaps in government support must be redressed. There are many freelancers out there who are unable to access any support through the Government’s financial assistance schemes.

If support does not come quickly, this could result in financial ruin for hundreds of hardworking Portsmouth people and risk the loss of a highly skilled section of the workforce.”

Despite direct calls last month from Labour’s Shadow Chancellor to look to address the gaps in the support schemes, no steps have been taken, leaving many workers in crisis and a very real risk of a skills blackhole in this vital, growing sector of the UK economy.

Within the creative industries sector there are a significant number of people who are unable to access either the job retention scheme (JRS) or the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS). Creative and cultural industries significantly contribute to the 5.3 million jobs across the DCMS sector, a sector that accounts for nearly 16% of all UK jobs.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens MP:

“Creative industries have become a vital, successful part of the UK economy – outgrowing the UK economy on the whole and contributing £13 million every hour.

But many in the creative industries have been left to go through this crisis without support and their concerns and proposed solutions to the Government have so far been ignored.

The Chancellor needs to listen to these pleas. We know that many talented people are now considering their futures in the sector. If we lose these skills, it will prevent this critical sector from surviving and playing its part in our recovery once the virus is beaten for good.”

Stephen Morgan has been taking action to lobby Government over the concerns of freelancers since the onset of the pandemic. Already he has written twice to the Chancellor, submitted written questions and helped struggling individuals in the constituency with specific casework.

Information to support freelancers from BECTU can be found here

 

 

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Immigration Bill

Some constituents have been in touch with me about the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill which was debated in the House of Commons today – Monday 18 May 2020.

I deeply concerned by the Bill in its current form. This is because I believe it harms our NHS and social care sector, risking creating a shortage of nurses, carers and other key health workers in the middle of a global pandemic.

Labour believe rushing this Bill through Parliament during the current coronavirus crisis when many of those workers are saving lives and keeping the country running is unnecessary.  This legislation, which will hand over sweeping powers to the Government to create a new immigration system, without proper parliamentary scrutiny, that labels so many of the workers who are keeping our country running day by day as unskilled and unwelcome. That is unfair.

The new immigration system proposed by the Government contains a salary threshold of £25,600 that will exclude health and social care workers we desperately need from our country and will have a devastating impact on the health and social care sector. It values workers by what they earn and not what they contribute to our society.

In Portsmouth we rightly show our appreciation and gratitude for NHS staff and carers not just on Thursday evenings, but all year round. Yet this Bill will mean that care workers we need to fill vacancies would no longer be able to come to this country under the Government’s proposed immigration system – I don’t believe that is in the national interest.

For these reasons tonight I voted against the Bill at its Second Reading stage in Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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“More questions than answers” city MP reacts to PM’s statement

In an address to the nation, the Prime Minister tonight said there was “no immediate end to the lockdown” but made a number of changes to the current rules affecting a variety of businesses and impacting on peoples’ lives.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement today Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP raised concerns over the lack of clarity over the Government’s plans.

The city MP said:

“The Government’s priority must be protecting the public’s health and saving lives. That is why I supported the lockdown in the first place and again support the restrictions staying in place at this time.

Sadly tonight’s statement from the Government lacks detail causing confusion for our communities and for our businesses.

When we need maximum clarity, the Prime Minister has decided to go it alone on messaging, whilst his Ministers toured the TV studios making things worse. This exposes a serious lack of coordination from Government, when the message to the public must remain clear and simple.

Portsmouth people told me they wanted a clear plan today. Instead all we got was more questions than answers from this Government”.

Labour has set out seven core principles that it is urging the Government to adopt to ensure public services, businesses and people are supported and kept safe.

Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, added:

“This statement raises more questions than it answers, and we see the prospect of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pulling in different directions.

The Prime Minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.

What the country wanted tonight was clarity and consensus, but we haven’t got either of those.”

 

 

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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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Government now need a ‘comprehensive plan’ to return home stranded Britons

Responding to the Government announcement tonight on Britain’s trapped abroad due to the coronavirus crisis, Stephen Morgan MP has said the government now needs to produce a comprehensive plan to help return home desperate British nationals.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Foreign Secretary’s statement tonight was welcome, but long overdue. Hundreds of thousands of Britons are stranded abroad. They are in desperate need of urgent action by Government.

We were promised a detailed plan today. Instead we got more of the same.

My constituents stuck abroad are telling me they feel abandoned by Government. Worried families are at their wit’s end. I am hearing from vulnerable people needing to get back to loved ones, and other travellers running out of essential medical supplies.

Earlier today I wrote to the Foreign Secretary, continuing to take action for Portsmouth families affected, offering practical ideas to help address the issues British nationals are facing abroad.

Rather than vague promises, we now need Government to set out a comprehensive, fully funded plan to bring our British nationals home. That’s what Britons stuck abroad deserve, and their loved ones back home expect”.