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Stephen Morgan backs Labour’s plan to improve education standards for all children

Labour is today announcing a plan to improve education standards for all children following the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed on Tuesday that children in the UK are worse off than those in other countries.

The total additional investment in schools over three years will amount to £25 billion compared to £14 billion promised by the Conservatives.

The extra funding will be used to raise school standards across the country, with a range of new policies aimed at improving educational outcomes.

Stephen Morgan said:

“The first stage of the battle against inequality is ensuring that every child gets access to a first-rate education. I am a firm believer that if children work hard and aim high they should be able to achieve.

Sadly, in Portsmouth our schools have lost £34.9 million since 2010 and each of the 51 schools in our patch is set to lose £4 million following recent Governments austerity measures.

I am proud to represent the only party with a comprehensive plan for tackling the crisis in our schools. I welcome today’s announcements which is another positive plan for Portsmouth.

I went to schools in Portsmouth. I want future generations to have the same, if not better, opportunities than I did. Education spending has declined a staggering 25% in seven years. I’ll keep fighting for our city’s schools. It is what our children deserve.”

From lobbying Government Ministers with Portsmouth teachers in parliament to going out and visiting every school in his patch, Stephen Morgan has a record of delivery when it comes to standing up for funding our city schools. He needs your support on the 12 December to carry on this vital work.

Stephen Morgan said:

“I went to schools in Portsmouth. I want future generations to have the same, if not better, opportunities than I did. Education spending has declined a staggering 25% in seven years. I’ll keep fighting for our city’s schools. It is what our children deserve.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Labour will transform education standards in this country for every child, capping class sizes and ensuring every child is taught by a qualified teacher in a safe school building.

“We will invest in record per pupil funding, restore the Pupil Premium and close the gap in support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, to give every child the support they need.

“The Tories cannot be trusted to do this. They have slashed school funding for the first time in a generation, leaving pupils taught by unqualified teachers, crammed in to super-sized classes, and not receiving the support they need.”

Labour will:

• Cap all class sizes at 30 by recruiting nearly 20,000 more teachers
• Guarantee that every child is taught by a qualified teacher, ensuring around 25,000 currently unqualified staff are fully trained during Labour’s first term in office
• Ensure teachers will have more time for lesson planning and professional development
• Invest in ensuring that all school buildings are safe, with a new fund of over £7bn to tackle the backlog of vital but overdue repairs and install safety measures such as sprinklers
• Close the gap in funding for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, with extra funding to reverse deficits in the High Needs Budget
• Fully reverse cuts to the Pupil Premium, and increase spending on it above inflation to support the most disadvantaged pupils.

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New charter for arts another positive plan for Portsmouth

Eddie Izzard joined Stephen Morgan on the campaign trail to back Labour’s new charter for the arts as part of its commitment to transform the country.

Labour promises support the arts at the “heart of government” with £1bn of new investment in a renewed cultural strategy.

Welcoming the proposals, 2017 winner Stephen Morgan, standing for re-election as Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, brought Eddie Izzard to the city to promote the positive plan for our city’s communities.

The Arts for All policy charter sets out a comprehensive programme of support for Britain’s arts and culture sector, promising to radically expand access and increase funding for the arts.

Labour’s new charter for the arts sets out ambitious plans to:

• Invest £1billion to transform the UK’s cultural landscape by upgrading and building new libraries, museums, galleries and arts venues across the country
• Invest £175 million a year in an arts pupil premium to give every primary school student in the country access to creative and cultural experiences
• Launch a new ‘Town of Culture’ competition
• Invest £1 billion in Youth Services
• Maintain free access to national museums and galleries
• Introduce greater transparency in lottery funding and ensure grants are shared out fairly between all our communities

Eddie Izzard said:

“The cohesive affect that the arts have on our communities could not be more needed at this time of uncertainty and division.

Only Labour have a manifesto pledge to recognise this and I sincerely hope that Portsmouth South residents back Stephen Morgan as the only candidate to carry on the vital work that he has been doing for the city.”

Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth deserves a government with a wide-ranging programme and unwavering commitment to support and fund the arts.

I want to ensure that every child in every part of our city and our country has the opportunity to learn an instrument, engage with the arts and develop their creativity.

I am really pleased proper funding for the arts will be central to Labour’s commitment in Government to enable Portsmouth people to lead more enjoyable and fulfilling lives.”

This follows local authority funding cuts meaning that national portfolio organisation funding has fallen by £14 million in the past year, according to new data from Arts Council England.

The 649 applicable organisations in ACE’s portfolio received £113.3 million in funding from local councils in 2016/17, down 11% from £127.5 million the previous year.

In Government, the party would establish a co-ordinating committee for arts and culture working across government departments to drive a national cultural renewal.

Eddie Izzard then joined Stephen Morgan and hundreds of local Labour activists at a major public event hosted at a local business.

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Stephen Morgan – “People in Portsmouth South have been denied adult education – but Labour’s going to throw open the door to lifelong learning.”

With nearly 60% per cent of people in our region not educated beyond an A-level-type qualification, Labour will today announced plans to ensure everyone has access to education and training throughout their life to end skills shortages and “allow our economy to rise to the opportunities of the future”

Stephen Morgan said:

“People in the South East have been denied adult education –so often it’s costly or difficult to access. That’s why the next Labour government’s going to throw open the door to lifelong learning.

Our economy is transforming so rapidly, and governments have got to step up and support workers in these turbulent times.

That’s why we need a government that makes it as easy as possible for us to build the skills we’ll need in the future. It’s why we need a government that’s for the many not the few.”

Britain has a severe skills shortage, particularly in higher technical skills. According to the CBI, two thirds of businesses worry they won’t be able to fill skilled posts. The Conservatives have slashed funding for further education and skills training by 47 per cent and overseen a 25 per cent decline in adults enrolling in education.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Labour will throw open the door for adults to study, whether they want to change career, are made redundant or didn’t get the qualifications they needed when they were younger.

For many, adult education is too expensive, too time-consuming or too difficult to get into.

People have been held back for too long. We will make free education a right to ensure we have the skills we need to allow our economy to rise to the opportunities of the future.

In a speech this week, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner pledged to put vocational education on a par with university degrees and deliver a radical expansion of lifelong learning to make sure “no one is shut out of education.”

The party says its plans are vital to meet the changing nature of industry – ensuring automation doesn’t leave people without work and we have the skills we need to tackle the climate emergency.

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City MP continues calls to Raise the Rate as Love our Colleges week begins

Stephen Morgan MP has renewed support and made fresh calls on Government to ‘Raise the Rate’ of funding for 6th form colleges. The campaign seeks to urgently address underfunding in further education by increasing the basic rate from £4,000 to at least £4,760 in line with inflation.

The MP’s actions come amid the Colleges Week which is taking place from Monday 14 October to Friday 18 October 2019 and is part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign. It is an opportunity to highlight the brilliant work that goes on, and the brilliant staff that tirelessly work within the sector.

Mr Morgan said:

“I went to Portsmouth college and therefore know they are transformational for people, communities, places and employers.

They help people make the most of their talents and ambitions and drive social mobility. They help businesses improve productivity and drive economic growth. They are rooted in our communities and drive cohesion and well-being.

It is essential that they are properly supported, currently the Government is failing in this capacity.

Colleges have had to deal with an average 30% funding cut in the decade from 2009 to 2019, teachers in colleges are being paid about 20% less than teachers in schools and we have seen a drastic drop in adult enrolments.”

After making great efficiencies over the last decade, there is a strong consensus amongst the Education Select Committee, HM Inspectors and other experts that colleges need major investment to put them in a position to be able to thrive and maximise the benefits they have on communities.

Mr Morgan said:

“I took part in this event last year and sadly, I find myself making fresh calls on Government to raise the rate and show colleges the respect they deserve.

We need to see anincrease to the 16-to-18 rate in stages to £5,000 and fund 18-year-olds in further education at the same level as younger sixth formers so that colleges can continue to educate future generations of skilled workers and ensure the UK economy is fully supported by a capable workforce.

I will continue to stand in solidarity with Association of Colleges and make sure that the voice of these vital educators always has a platform in Parliament.”

This is not the first time that Stephen Morgan MP has worked with Association of Colleges, he has taken part in a rally with college Head’s, met with local colleges and pledged his continued support for the campaign.

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City MP and University of Portsmouth continue actions over Stanhope House crisis

In his latest in a series of actions to assist students affected by the accommodation crisis at Stanhope House, working alongside the university the city MP is demanding more answers from Prime Student Living (PSL), the provider in question.

Today’s letter follows a string of actions taken by the MP with local ward councillor Cal Corkery, student campaigners and in consultation with the vice-chancellor of the university.  So far including demanding an urgent meeting with the Government Minister responsible, hitting out at PSL, speaking with students affected, meeting with the university and visiting the site to see the problem first hand.

On his latest action Mr Morgan said:

“While dealing with the provider in question directly is just one of many ways to address this issue, I hope that the stern letter sent to PSL asking them to outline responses to my concerns will shed light on what the provider is doing to assist students affected.

PSL have in some instances been vague about certain aspects of their response to the situation, including reimbursement mechanisms, transparency about when they knew the project would not be finished and what support was offered, if any, to the 54 students who had their contracts torn up.

I will not leave any stone left un-turned when it comes to students’ academic futures, the Portsmouth community and the tax payers’ purse.”

Mr Morgan has advocated for an encompassing approach to this issue and has suggested that the problem lies with a regulatory gap that falls short when dealing with the private sector.

This is an issue he is addressing in Parliament after submitting a series of written questions and writing to the minister by urging Government to act and close the gap.

The Portsmouth South representative said:

“While individual private accommodation providers are at the surface level of the problem, this issue is much bigger.

The problem is this. The Office for Students (OfS) regulates universities but has no regulatory power over private student accommodation providers. There is a clear gap that needs closing.

A similar, albeit less severe, problem occurred last year with Crown Place and my information is that there are over 20 similar problems around the country this year.  We need to do more to protect students.

So far, I have spoken with students affected, met with the university, written to the regulator, corresponded multiple times with PSL, written to the relevant Minister and raised the issue through parliamentary questions. I will continue to take action until a solution is found to the wider problem.”

Mr Morgan’s letter today is in response to a letter sent to the MP on 4 October 2019 and was written with the support of the University of Portsmouth.

 

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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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“Almost half of all women sent to prison are now homeless” – City MP vows to tackle female re-offending 

During questions in the House of Commons today, Stephen Morgan MP grilled a Government Minister over the lack of funding set aside for the rehabilitation of female offenders and what this means for homelessness.

The Portsmouth South representative subsequently applied further pressure to the link between the Government’s failure and the rising rate of homelessness amongst female offenders.

Mr Morgan said:

“We know that half of all women sent to prison are now homeless, an increase on the previous few years. I find this utterly shocking.

Reoffending costs the British tax payer £18 billion a year and the current system is clearly failing to get offenders back on their feet, preventing them from contributing to society.

The solution to this problem is to invest in alternatives to ineffective short-term prison sentences that are proven to increase reoffending and also to properly fund women’s centers. I am delighted that both notions are Labour party policy.

Under the current system everyone loses out, victims, offenders and the tax payer. This is counterproductive.”

Members of the Government’s own Advisory Board on Female Offenders have expressed their frustration at the limited funding, stating that at least £20m is required annually for community provision. However, the Government only provided a one-off two-year grant of £5m to fund the strategy.

Alongside, supporting Labour party policy to immediately provide funds to women’s centres, give £20 million to women’s justice campaigners and ruling out unjustified short sentences, Stephen Morgan MP been conducting his own work on this matter.

The Portsmouth South MP is hosting a parliamentary event in November alongside Gethin Jones from Unlocking Potential with senior representatives from the Ministry of Justice, private sector, Non-Government Organisations, and senior prison governors. The event seeks to change the narrative of criminal justice to focus more on rehabilitation and inclusive policy towards offenders.

On this action, Mr Morgan said:

Following discussions with offenders right’s organisation, Unlocking Potential I am delighted that next month I will be hosting an event that will help shift the narrative of criminal justice towards prevention and rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration and indifference.

The current system is failing, and we must work to rectify these inadequacies, I will not be wasting any time in engaging with people from all parties and perspectives so that we can get a criminal justice system that is better for offenders, taxpayers and reduces the number of victims.”

Mr Morgan has committed to continuing his campaign for a better-quality criminal justice system and has expressed that he will continue to urge the Government to match Labour’s commitments.

 

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Ahead of “Challenge Poverty Week”, City MP slams DWP Minister over Government’s ‘abysmal’ record on child hunger

Ahead of “Challenge Poverty Week”, City MP slams DWP Minister over Government’s ‘abysmal’ record on child hunger

During today’s Oral Questions to the Department for Work and Pensions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP hit out at Government over record highs in child poverty, specifically holiday hunger.

The city MP has cited his recent visit to Dadz Club in Buckland, Portsmouth as inspiration behind today’s action and has expressed thanks to members of the organisation whose discussions helped shape the narrative of his line of questioning.

The MP’s actions come as The Trussell Trust announced that it distributed nearly 600,000 emergency food parcels to children last year and as Government figures show child poverty figures are 500,000 higher than in 2010.

Mr Morgan said:

“To not make any progress in nearly 10 years on reducing child poverty would be an outrage, the fact the Government has actually created a country where child poverty has increased is a testament to their abysmal track record.

Despite the continued government rhetoric that work is the best route out of poverty, 70% of children in poverty now live in working families – up from 67% last year. To allow this problem to escalate shows both that they are not taking this issue seriously and their strategy needs reworking.

It is a shameful stain on our nation’s reputation that the welfare of our children in Portsmouth is being actively ignored by Government and these figures have been allowed to get so out of hand.”

The Portsmouth South representative followed up his initial question on child poverty with a targeted point holding the Minister to account over holiday hunger.

A recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger found that children were returning to school in a worse educational, health and developmental state than that in which they had left in the summer. That report found that as many as three million children face the risk of food insecurity in summer holidays.

Child poverty is the one of the most potent drivers of ill health, not just in childhood but throughout life. The fact that absolute child poverty is rising by 300,000, severe child poverty is rising by 200,000 and there are 600,000 more children in severe poverty than five years ago is putting lives at risk.

The city MP said:

“While many children from low-income families are entitled to free school meals during term time, there is currently no provision during holidays.

In Wales, the Assembly Government has taken action to ensure that all local authorities make provision for those at risk of food poverty as part of a national ‘Food and Fun’ programme. Similarly, in London, the Mayor’s Fund has launched a ‘Kitchen Social’ project this year which helps children during the holidays who would be entitled to free school meals.

It is high time that the Government takes notice of the ingenuity and leadership demonstrated by our devolved governments and local authorities and steps up to support vulnerable children. “

When hit with the question on holiday hunger, the Minister tried to shift blame on other Government departments.

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 and has made previous spirited calls on Government to tackle the child poverty.

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The Google Digital Garage picks Portsmouth as home for new digital skills training hub 

Stephen Morgan MP recently met with the Google Digital Garage team where it was agreed that a new digital skills training hub would be erected in his constituency. Mr Morgan is set to speak at the opening on Friday 11 October.

The hub, which seeks to provide local people with essential online skills is setting up on Commercial Road. Google’s Digital Garage will provide support for local small businesses and comes on the back of Mr Morgan’s long running high streets campaign.

The launch of the new Google Digital Garage hub is part of a major investment to help boost digital skills throughout the UK and will be offering free digital skills training for constituents spanning everything from introduction to coding, to social media strategy courses and even how to build a digital CV. 

The city MP has been talking to Google about coming to the city for over a year.

Mr Morgan said:

“The importance of being confident and capable online in this digital age is integral to anyone wanting to develop their business ideas or even their own profile.

The presence of the Google Digital Garage on commercial road, accompanied by the touring route master Digital Garage bus, will greatly boost access to these essential skills and I strongly encourage Portsmouth people to get involved.

Whether it is learning how to be safe online or receiving new marketing guidance from a global tech leader, there is something for everyone.

I look forward to continuing my work with the Google Digital Garage team when it comes to supplying my constituents with first rate, free-at-the-point-of-delivery training and skills.”

As well as the bricks and mortar hub located on Commercial Road, a route master bus bus will be visiting key locations around the constituency in a bid to ensure that all Portsmouth people have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

With access for all in mind, Mr Morgan is currently working closely with the Google Digital Garage team to locate the best areas for the bus to travel to.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth high streets are facing challenges, with giants like Knight & Lee and Debenhams closing their doors for the last time, now more than ever it is essential that we support local people and businesses.

Where the Government are failing, it is good to see organisations like Google stepping in and taking this proactive stance and delivering services to Portsmouth people.”

Ronan Harris, Managing Director, Google UK and Ireland commented:

“Today, the need for digital skills is becoming more obvious in all sectors including those which feel far from technology related. This latest research shows that the digital skills gap is a reality for many communities across the country and with this comes limitations of personal and professional growth and opportunity.”

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve opened a new Digital Garage training hub in Portsmouth. By supplying tailored training, we hope to provide the tools and digital skills required to grow the careers of individuals throughout the South East.”

The Digital Garage will open on 105a Commercial Road, Portsmouth PO1 1BQ. If you would like more information about courses, what’s on and who will be there, get in touch at stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk or visit: https://events.withgoogle.com/portsmouthgarage/