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Portsmouth MP urges Government to support charities at time of crisis

Taking action after hearing concerns from Portsmouth’s voluntary and community sector, city MP Stephen Morgan is calling on the Government to support charities as they help the most vulnerable through the public health emergency and economic crisis

The Portsmouth South representative, formerly a charity chief executive himself, has already this week written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer raising concerns from the city’s voluntary and community sector.

A number of local groups and charities across Portsmouth have been reaching out to older people, vulnerable and high risk groups, whilst residents have been setting up online support groups to share advice and information.

Now working with NCVO, an umbrella group for the charities, he is calling on the government to do more to support.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We are in unprecedented times, but history has shown us what the charitable sector is capable of. I see for myself day in, day out, the difference voluntary and community groups make to people’s lives in Portsmouth.

They are already stepping up to protect the most vulnerable during this national crisis, and with Government support, they can do even more”.

A number of charities help alleviate the pressure on our NHS and social care services and provide support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, as well as helping with everything from mental health impacts to support for vulnerable families.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), and the Charity Finance Group have issued their own urgent calls to protect the charity sector.

Joining other MPs and these national associations calling on the Government to act Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Without an immediate injection of money, many charities of all sizes will soon close. Charity funds are running out, and some are already considering redundancies.

The NCVO predicts that charities will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks. The figure could be far higher”.

The NCVO are requesting Government to:

  • Provide immediate emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis
  • Provide a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic
  • Establish an emergency grant fund
  • Confirm that charities are eligible for similar business interruption measures announced for business.
  • Urgently clarify the situation for the differing governance models of charities
  • Work with the UK’s largest philanthropic organisations and foundations, the National Lottery and others to identify grant funding which can be drawn down early over the coming days, or in addition from their reserves and existing grant programmes to help fill the growing gaps in the sector.

As well as this national lobbying the Portsmouth South MP is working with HIVE Portsmouth to ensure local voluntary and community efforts to help residents during this difficult time, are co-ordinated and helping the most vulnerable.

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Covid-19: Action update from Stephen Morgan MP

The Covid-19 emergency risks hitting our most vulnerable hardest. We all have a role to play in working to protect our community.

Today I have been taking action to see to it our older and more vulnerable community members are supported along with the voluntary sector that relentlessly puts others first.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Reached out to city schools – I have today contacted all headteachers in constituency schools offering a channel for them, governors, staff, and trade union representatives to share views and concerns to feed this into government planning. Tonight the education secretary has announced school closures for all those except key workers and vulnerable children.

 

  • Working to strengthen our city’s voluntary organisations – Panic buying has left some supermarket shelves bear with reports of vulnerable people crying in the aisles. A number of volunteers and local groups are working tirelessly to help people across the constituency and I will continue to link them with Portsmouth Hive. This paves the way for volunteers to access priority goods for vulnerable people.

 

  • Standing up for cultural assets – The Mary Rose museum is a cultural asset of international significance and one of Portsmouth’s most-cherished attractions. Covid-19 runs the risk of financially challenging a number of museums. Today I wrote to the Culture Secretary to urge a package of care for the Mary Rose and similar institutions.

 

  • Raising the need for tailored financial support for voluntary organisations – Voluntary organisations are stepping up amid to the Covid-19 crisis, from delivering food to vulnerable people to tackling social isolation. They are looking after our communities, but they need the tools to do that. Today I set out to the Chancellor what additional measures need to be taken to give voluntary organisations the financial tools they need to stay afloat.

 

  • Representing Portsmouth from the frontbenches – Democracy must continue despite the crisis. Today, as Shadow Communities Minister l joined colleagues to hold the government to account on their plans for social care. Local authorities are responsible for looking after some of society’s most vulnerable and they are under considerable strain already. Today I worked with others to raise this point to the Minister in the chamber.

 

  • Conducting constituent Covid-19 casework –This pandemic affects every aspect of daily life, for some more than others. My team and I are busy helping with casework inquiries as well as receiving a high volume of questions and issues. Today I spent time helping constituents access voluntary support and worked with the City Council to help resolve housing issues.

These are just some of the actions I have taken for our community today. I will continue to represent Portsmouth in parliament and be a voice for our community where it matters.

 

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Stephen Morgan MP addresses constituents in letter on Covid-19

Dear constituent

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as an infectious disease, is currently experiencing a global outbreak. We have all seen the media reports from China, Iran, and Italy, and many countries are now reporting cases. Here in the UK, the number of reported cases is rising every day.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu. But it is older people and those with pre-existing health conditions to whom the risks associated with contracting Coronavirus are greater.

Understandably concern is growing, including here in Portsmouth. There have been reports of people buying essential hygiene products such as hand sanitiser, soap, and toilet paper off the shelves. Panic is understandable in the face of the unknown.

The British Retail Consortium has advised against stockpiling, especially food items. They are working hard to ensure that supply chains are maintained during the Coronavirus outbreak, meaning that people have no need to worry about item shortages if stockpiling ceases.

Public Health England has said that the best way you can keep yourself, your loved ones and everyone else around you safe is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And of course, maintenance of good general hygiene is encouraged.

Whilst it’s unclear how things are going to develop over the coming weeks and months, or the impact it could have on our freedoms, our city’s economy or on our public services, I encourage calm. Many of us are going to be absolutely fine even under the Government’s worst-case scenario.

I would, however, urge that we take care of our city’s oldest and most vulnerable; something that’s not a bad habit to get into anyway. Official advice from the NHS can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

I want constituents in Portsmouth to be reassured that measures are being put in place to prevent the spread of the virus where possible. I will keep raising our views and concerns in Parliament and work hard so that the services we all rely on, have the resources they need to keep us safe.

 

Stephen Morgan MP

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City MP to take part in housing panel discussion

Stephen Morgan MP will take part in an open discussion, hosted by Portsmouth University, on the past, present and future of housing.

Joining social and design historians, the Shadow Communities Minister will discuss topics such as social housing and homeownership.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“There is a major shortage of over 100,000 homes in the UK. There are also around 8.5 million people who are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable housing.

Portsmouth is one of the most densely populated cities in the country meaning people in our community bear the brunt of the crisis.

This is an issue that affects people of all ages and demographics. It is essential that the reasons for the housing emergency are discussed so that solutions can be formulated.”

In Portsmouth over the past 5 years, more than 3000 households have made a homeless application, the number of rough sleepers was over 8 times greater in 2017 than it was in 2013 and there is a shortfall of over 3,500 affordable homes.

Mr Morgan said:

“Everyone has the right to a roof over their head and to live free from the worry of homelessness. Debate needs to take place in our communities about how to address the housing crisis.

I encourage Portsmouth people who want to see change in their community to come along and take part in this discussion.

This is a rare chance to hear from field experts and engage in meaningful debate. I urge residents not to miss the opportunity”.

The event is set to take place on Friday 6 March from 19:00 until 20:30 at Eldon Building University of Portsmouth, Winston Churchill Avenue Portsmouth.

This is an opportunity to join authors John Broughton, Professor Sugg Ryan and Stephen Morgan MP for a discussion on the past, present and future of housing.

John Broughton is a social housing historian who has documented the history of public housing through books, blogs and public talks. Professor Sugg Ryan is a design historian, author and media presenter specialising in the history of the home and domestic technology.

Ideal Homes: The past, present and future of housing can be reserved: here

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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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“Education is key to tackling climate change” says city MP as he joins students in Parliament for Teach the Future

Stephen Morgan MP joined a parliamentary climate change event alongside students from across the country, including Portsmouth.

The city MP today attended Teach the Future, a parliamentary campaign seeking to urgently reform the education system to focus further on climate change.

Mr Morgan said:

“I believe that we need to ensure that the education system is at the heart of the Government’s plan to tackle climate change, so the next generation can lead society to safety.

That is why for some time I have been campaigning alongside local activists, XR, Friends of the Earth and youth movements to put pressure on government to act.

We have already seen leadership from youth movements across the nation and it is now time government matched this commitment. As we draw nearer to the UK hosted COP26, the need could not be greater for government action.”

This is not the first time Stephen Morgan MP has taken action to promote the need for educational reform. In 2019, the city MP wrote a targeted letter to the Education Secretary demanding climate change be considered a core subject. A request refused by the Conservative government.

The city MP said:

“If we do not undertake a major structural overhaul of our education system, we are clipping the wings of future generations ability to tackle the world’s greatest issue.

75% of teachers surveyed by teach the future say they feel they have not received adequate climate change training. 4% of students say they feel they know enough about the issue. Cleary government needs to make changes.

That is why I remain committed to applying pressure and scrutiny to all government decision making on this matter and will continue to fight for increased education on our environment in schools.”

The city MP has been a climate ambassador both in Portsmouth and parliament. He has worked alongside XR and Friends of the Earth, played a crucial role in the declaration of a climate change emergency locally and nationally, has applied scrutiny to government decision making and continues to organise major community. 

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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.

 

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“I will continue to stand up for Charles Dickens residents from the green benches of Westminster” vows city MP as it’s announced he’s not re-standing as a councillor

Portsmouth Labour has today announced that Charles Dickens ward councillor and group leader Stephen Morgan MP will not be re-standing as a councillor at the next local elections.

After winning the Charles Dickens seat, Cllr Morgan became the party’s group leader on the council in September of that year. Under his watch, the group has jumped from 2 to 6 councillors winning in wards the party has never secured before.

The inner city ward is one of the most deprived in the community with high levels of child poverty, a significant student population, and the city centre and Naval Base. Cllr Morgan beat a Lib Dem of 12 years standing on the council to take the seat for Labour in May 2016. 

With Morgan’s leadership, the group has been opposing Tory and Lib Dem cuts to local services, encouraging investment in neighbourhoods and our high streets and led the charge to declare a climate emergency.

 

 

Confirming the news today Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Having the huge opportunity to serve as a councillor for Charles Dickens ward, in the city I love, with some great characters, inspirational residents and fantastic community spirit, has been one of the greatest honours of my life. There are many moments over the four years I will always cherish.

If you go into public service I believe you should always see it through. That is why I wanted to serve the full term as a ward councillor and do my best for all residents, at all times, even with the privilege of being elected as their MP.

As my term of office ends, I have not sought re-selection on the council as a local councillor. I am delighted that Kirsty Mellor has been chosen as Labour’s candidate in the forthcoming elections this May. 

As a local resident, Kirsty’s passionate defence of domestic abuse services and dedication to fighting welfare cuts, means she’s well placed to carry on the campaign work I’ve been doing to improve life chances for all residents in this special part of Portsmouth.

With all the challenges the area faces – the lack of affordable housing, our city centre neglected and families struggling to make ends meet – I look forward to working alongside Kirsty, Cllr Cal Corkery and other local residents to continue to stand up for Charles Dickens residents from the green benches of Westminster”.

This May a third of council seats are up for election. Portsmouth Labour hope to make further council gains following the General Election result which saw Portsmouth South securing the largest increase in Labour’s share of the vote in the country, more than tripling Stephen Morgan’s majority and the Lib Dems recording their worst election result since 1918.

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City MP backs constituent unfairly dismissed while pregnant

Following correspondence with constituent Helen Larkin, Stephen Morgan MP has taken firm action to highlight the unfair treatment of pregnant women in the workplace.

Ms. Larkin raised her case with Mr Morgan in January 2020 following her unfair dismissal from The Liz Earle Beauty Company while she was eight months pregnant.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ms Larkin’s case highlights gaps in the support network offered to pregnant women undergoing an employment tribunal. It is imperative that structures are in place that prevent discrimination of any kind and take into account the personal situations of employees, especially when pregnant or during maternity periods.

It is Government’s responsibility to look after its citizens, if this is the way that pregnant women are being treated, it is clear that improvements must be made.”

Upon hearing about the case and with the support of women’s rights group, Pregnant then Screwed, Mr Morgan took immediate action in parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“In order to highlight Government’s failings and urge action, I have submitted parliamentary questions and written directly to the Secretary of State responsible.

Government must change the law to give pregnant women extended time for employment tribunals, urgently reassess the law when it comes to making pregnant women redundant and come up with a strategy for urgent reform of current processes.

I will continue to apply pressure until justice for Helen and others is seen.”

Olga Fitzroy from Pregnant then Screwed said:

“We have long campaigned against pregnancy and maternity discrimination and strived to support women like Helen who have been treated badly by exploitative employers.

The government must step up and extend the time limits that new mums and pregnant women have to bring a tribunal claim, as the current rule of 3 months is inhumane and can damage mothers and babies mental and physical health.

We are delighted to have the support of Stephen Morgan MP and look forward to continuing to work with him in highlighting where change needs to occur.”

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Portsmouth MP continues call on Government to act following latest city high street casualty

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed Government inaction following yet another high street closure planned for Portsmouth’s high streets, this time Halifax bank on Palmerston Road.

Mr Morgan has raised specific concerns about the effect that this closure will have on older community members and small businesses.

Mr Morgan said:

“This Government is failing the nation’s high streets and with it, the people of Portsmouth. Already we have seen Knight & Lee put down its shutters for the last time and Debenhams disappear from Palmerston Road.

Now the imminent closure of Halifax bank will be to the detriment of our older community members who may prefer face to face transactions and small businesses, who are already under considerable strain.

I am in discussion with Lloyds Banking Group, who are the decision makers when it comes to the Halifax closure. I will be urging them to think very carefully about their proposals which is yet another decision putting our high streets at risk”.

Mr Morgan has long been taking action to support the high streets. He has created a support local campaign backing small business, hosted roundtable meetings with SMEs and is lobbying for business rate reform.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Hampshire has already seen 1,600 shop closures in recent years affecting hundreds of local jobs and leaving high streets bare and neglected.

Experts warn that with closures of high street banks comes damaging consequences for independent shops due to decreased footfall.

The issue we are seeing is indicative of a bleak national picture born out of Government’s failure to address challenges faced by the high street. I will continue to make the case for action to bring our shopping areas back from the brink”