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Shadow Armed Forces Minister demands Government’s plans for overseas troop safety

New Shadow Armed Forces Minister speaks up for troops and their families over Covid-19 cases from despatch box during defence questions today

Probing Ministers over any support offered to overseas troops and the figures relating to personnel infection rates, Stephen Morgan MP today demanded contingency planning from Ministers setting out how they would support personnel and their families stationed in areas likely to see outbreaks of Covid-19.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

Our troops have rightly continued their duties overseas for the duration of this pandemic, keeping our citizens safe and helping to maintain international peace.

With personnel operating in countries such as Iraq, where there has been a spike in Covid-19 deaths and where there is a lack of infrastructure capable of effectively managing the pandemic, we need to see firm contingency plans that prioritise troop safety.

That is why today I put pressure on Ministers to outline their plans to protect troops along with their families while they serve our nation abroad. They are continuing to deliver for the nation. It is important government delivers for them.”

The city MP’s action over overseas troop Covid-19 data comes on the same day that government has abandoned its commitment to a daily figure for the number of people in the UK who have been tested for the virus.

Today’s action holding Minister to account over troop welfare is part of a wider piece of work being conducted by the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, and the Shadow Defence team.

Already Labour’s Defence teams’ efforts helped lead to the testing of all 800 crew on board HMS Queen Elizabeth following 2 confirmed Covid cases, lobbying efforts have been carried out to allow families of service people more comprehensive support networks, and work is being conducted to shine a light on dwindling morale and satisfaction.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Whether considering the efforts of our forces community at home helping combat Covid-19 or personnel continuing to protect national security overseas, the fact remains that our troops are of great value to our society.

With the Tories downgrading defence over the last 10 years with shrinking numbers, reduced capability and offering unfair pay, it is vital that opposition ask the tough questions that have our troops interests in mind.

The Shadow Defence team will continue to take action on the concerns of our forces community and work as the checks and balances to government decision making that for too long has neglected our troops interests.”

 

 

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Have your say on anti-social behaviour in our city’s open spaces

In recent weeks we have seen a number of incidents at Southsea Common, seafront, Hotwalls and at other open spaces across the constituency. This is a chance to have your say on how anti-social behaviour and recent crimes are affecting our community and being dealt with by the council and police.

By filling out this short survey, you will help Stephen continue to take action and make sure authorities take our concerns seriously.

Quick survey

 

How would you rate the best way of dealing with anti-social behaviour? (1 being a poor way and 5 being an excellent way)

Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1

Thank you for filling in this survey!

 

 

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Ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening Portsmouth MP offers practical support to sector

Bringing together local businesses today, Stephen Morgan MP teamed up with Google with an online event to help our city’s pubs, restaurants and hospitality sector plan for reopening after challenging few months

Opening the meeting, Mr Morgan explained what he’s been doing to safeguard the sector before listening to issues and concerns.

The meeting closed with an Digital Marketing Course run by Google’s experts to help Portsmouth’s small businesses with their reopening.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The hospitality sector, particularly our pubs and restaurants, are an essential cog in the success of our city. Listening to concerns from those directly at the coalface is essential if we are to effectively plan our city’s recovery from this pandemic and economic crisis.

Findings from today’s event confirm that uncertainty remains around government’s guidance on PPE and protective measures.

I will continue to raise these concerns in parliament and push for clearer guidance and more comprehensive support for our hospitality sector here in Portsmouth.”

Once the roundtable concluded, Google Digital Garage staff led a bespoke training session on Digital Marketing designed to help Portsmouth’s hospitality sector keep up to date on the best business strategies amid Covid-19.

Google’s Open for Business programme is a new initiative which was launched last week to help one million small businesses by 2021. It has been designed with a specific focus on helping businesses who rely on in-person interaction – such as pubs, restaurants, shops and hairdressers.

Open for Business will provide support in a number of ways:

  • Through Google’s partnership with Digital Boost, they will connect small businesses and charities with Google Digital Garage coaches and Google employees, who are offering 10,000 hours of free 1:1 support and mentoring.
  • Support small businesses to update their online profiles to help them be found by customers. A recent IPSOS study showed 90% of customers are more likely to interact with a business if they have a phone number listed online, or if the business has shared images.
  • Sharing £25 million in advertising credits delivered to UK businesses, government agencies and NGOs.
  • Hosting free, live, 60-minute webinars to help local businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’. The content of these webinars varies from ‘Get Started with Live streaming’ to ‘Understanding Analytics’

Stephen’s constituents can access this package of support here.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Keeping informed on digital business skills will be an effective tool in combatting the reduced face-to-face interaction between companies and customers amid Covid-19.

While I welcome Google’s leadership in providing this free service to our city’s businesses, I am aware that there are many local organisations who are also there to help.

I encourage all of our city’s small businesses to take advantage of the support and guidance available to them at this challenging time.”

Stephen Morgan MP continues to raise the concerns of the hospitality sector amid Covid-19 in Parliament. He has submitted questions around PPE, put pressure on Ministers over social distancing guidelines and continues to hold listening exercises with local businesses.

 

 

 

 

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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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Bringing down crime at Southsea Common, seafront and Hotwalls

Following concerns raised with Stephen Morgan MP over recent weeks about anti-social behaviour and crime at Southsea Common, the Hotwalls, other public spaces including parks in Milton, Fratton, and across the whole constituency, Stephen continues to take action on behalf of constituents to ensure the police, council and other bodies are doing all they can to address issues.

As result of further conversations, lobbying and liaison with senior officers today, the following is an update on efforts by key public services and what we can expect over the coming days to manage the situation:

Hampshire Constabulary efforts

Stephen is in regular contact with the District Commander and his senior leadership team and receives a full briefing on the police’s response to the coronavirus crisis weekly.

The police locally have dedicated Covid patrol teams, who will be resourced for Portsmouth this weekend. They also have response and patrol teams with a patrol plan to focus upon locations, where the community have guided the force to consider in relation to groups gathering and breaches of Covid-19 guidance compliance taking place.

Community Wardens will also be patrolling across the city including supporting the Hotwalls area and Southsea Common.

Working with the city council additional security will be provided in some locations and a community advisers foot team will be pro-active in engaging with the public again on social distancing.

Street Pastors will also be providing support engaging with members of the public, and the Ministry of Defence police will be on duty assisting across the constituency.

Hampshire Constabulary – update for 26 June 2020

  • Two more people have been arrested following incidents in the area, one for failure to comply with a S35 dispersal notice and another for obstructing / resisting a police officer in execution of duty, assaulting an emergency worker (police officer) and possession of a class B drug.
  • The local police are implementing a dispersal order for the zone identified and will extend the order for another 48 hours.
  • This means the order will be in place from midday today (Friday 26 June) and it will remain in place until midday on Sunday 28 June and could be extended further.
  • The order gives us the power to order someone to leave the designated area and not return for 24 hours to prevent crime and disorder. Failure to comply with this is a criminal offence.
  • Additional police patrols are taking place in Southsea and Old Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council – update for 26 June 2020

  • Community Advisors will continue to be on patrol across the seafront both Saturday and Sunday they will be pro-actively supporting safe social distancing, handing out bio-degradable bags to encourage people to take their litter home with them and supporting safe use of BBQs in the correct areas.
  • Open Spaces Mitigation measures work remains on-going to reinforce and reduce the risk of further traveller incursion onto the public open spaces.  A new delivery of larger boulders is expected very soon which will be used to reinforce the common and provide more of a barrier for ingress.  Further additional posts are also due to be put in place to prevent vehicle movement across public footpaths where practical.
  • Grounds Maintenance Team have been extremely busy despite the heat.  All the summer bedding in now in including a dedicated ‘NHS thank you’ bed at the end of Avenue de Caen.  The team are also working hard to manage the increased levels of rubbish being left in the area.  The council has increased both the number and the capacity of the bins right across the seafront and are also currently in a trial with staff volunteering to work expanded hours to be able to provide a litter clearing operation until 7pm in the evening.  They are also encouraging the public to dispose of BBQs in the designated bins so the hot coals are safely managed.
  • Deploying additional security in the Hotwalls area to have a presence and to positively engage with young people. The council is aware that the more regular youth services will be stepping up to have some deployment in areas such as the Hotwalls and Ferry Road areas.

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP highlights need for Government action on children’s mental health

With schools not expected to open fully until September at the earliest, educational psychologists are issuing stark warnings about the impacts on children’s mental health.

During today’s education questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP pushed the Secretary of State to clarify the Government’s strategy for meeting children’s mental health needs amid Covid-19.

Mr Morgan’s actions follow data revealing calls to Childline are rising and YoungMinds has found that around 4 in 5 children with pre-existing mental health problems have had these problems worsened in this crisis, while referrals for CAMHS have been down by as much as 50% in some areas.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Lack of social interaction, increased risk to vulnerable children, reduced learning and a diminished peer contact is having severe mental health implications for children across the nation.

While demand has increased drastically, statistics show that provision has dropped by up to 50% in some areas. There are two pandemics at play here, Covid-19 and also the impacts it is having on mental health. Both are equally important and potentially dangerous.

I will continue to ask government the tough questions about when and how they will put measures in place to secure mental health provision.”

88% of school staff surveyed by Barnardo’s said that Covid-19 would have a negative impact on their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. While 78% of respondents to the YoungMinds survey reported that additional pastoral support, such as in-school counselling, would be helpful, in order to support children as they return to school.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“The looming crisis in children’s mental health comes at a time when provision is already under heavy strain.

Data exposed by The Children’s Society in 2019 found that around 60 per cent of those referred, approximately 110,000 children, were not treated that year for mental health needs.

While I welcome government allocating long-overdue funding to CAHMS services, we need a strategy now that details exactly how Minister’s plan to safeguard the nation’s children from the threat of the mental health emergency.”

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Covid-19: Government must act now on impact on BAME communities

This week’s report by Public Health England (PHE) looking into coronavirus inequalities, ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups’ provides even more evidence of the structural and racial inequalities which have led to the Covid-19 pandemic hitting black, Asian and minority ethnic communities across the UK so very hard.

These recommendations should never have been blocked by Government in the first place.

Thousands of people and organisations across the country have made it clear that urgent, collaborative and decisive action is needed. I heard that view too listening to concerns amongst community leaders from across Portsmouth in a zoom call arranged by the social care team at the city council last week.

We now know that whilst people from ethnic minority backgrounds constitute 14% of the UK population, they worryingly account for 34% of critically ill Covid-19 patients and a similar percentage of all Covid-19 cases.

The PHE report makes seven recommendations to address inequalities:

  • Better data collection about ethnicity and religion, including having this recorded on death certificates to accurately monitor the impact on these communities
  • Supporting further research with the participation of ethnic minority communities to understand the increased risk and develop programmes to reduce it
  • Improving BAME groups’ access to, experiences of and outcomes from NHS and other services – using audits, health impact assessments and better representation of black and minority ethnic communities among staff
  • Developing risk assessments for black, Asian and minority ethnic workers in roles where they are exposed to a large section of the general public or those infected with the virus
  • Producing culturally sensitive education and prevention campaigns to rebuild trust and help communities access services such as contact tracing, antibody testing and a future vaccine
  • Targeting ethnic minority groups with culturally sensitive health messages to address conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma
  • Ensuring that Covid-19 recovery strategies actively address inequalities to create long-term change

Why are these recommendations so important? We know the health and care workforce in England are significantly over-represented by people from BAME groups. Often, BAME workers are in lower paid roles within the NHS, which means that these roles cannot be done remotely. Over 90% of the doctors who have died during the pandemic have been BAME, more than double the proportion in the medical workforce as a whole.

We also know that individuals from the most deprived communities are nearly twice as likely to be admitted to intensive care as the least deprived. The most recent research from the UK suggests that both ethnicity and income inequality are independently associated with COVID-19 mortality.

Most worryingly of all, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is over 2.5 times that of the white population. The deaths of people from a black Caribbean background are 1.7 times higher than the white population.

The Government cannot make the same mistakes again if there is a second wave of coronavirus this Autumn. When PHE’s second report states that ‘historic racism’ may have been a factor which prevented individuals from speaking up about risk in the workplace, this must act as a wake-up call for decision-makers.

That’s why I want Ministers to act now and produce a detailed action plan on how the recommendations from the PHE report will be implemented.

I will continue to listen to local voices and Portsmouth’s BAME groups to make sure our views are heard in Westminster, and commit to holding the Government to account when mistakes are made.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

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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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Government U-turn to fund free school meals is the ‘decent thing to do’ says Portsmouth MP

Government have a committed a major U-turn and today agreed to fund free school meals during the summer holidays. A move welcomed by Stephen Morgan MP, who has been lobbying the Prime Minister to reverse his original decision.

In Portsmouth, over 5,000 children were at risk of going hungry this summer if government were to withdraw support for the provision of free school meals. This prompted action from the city MP who wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister which gathered just shy of 600 hundred signatures in less than 24 hours.

With the added financial strain of coronavirus and social distancing measures, many Portsmouth families were deeply concerned by the prospect of losing holiday lunch schemes. It is expected that an additional 200,000 children will fall below the poverty line due to the pandemic, making this food provision a vital lifeline for families across Portsmouth and the UK.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

‘’Children were at a heightened risk of going hungry this summer as the Covid-19 crisis hits family incomes while charities and food banks struggle to provide the same level of holiday support.

There was always a simple solution to this, and that was for the government to continue funding free school meals throughout the summer holidays. Their refusal to do so until today was a deeply callous move. It is encouraging that they have taken heed of warnings from MPs, public figures, charities and the Labour Party. However, we should not be at a point where we have to fight to feed the children of struggling families.

That is why I launched a campaign, with local people, to help force the reversal of the Government’s decision and will continue to speak out in favour of maintaining support for all those struggling amid this pandemic.”

The Government today caved in on their decision to stop free school meals over the summer after a passionate plea from Manchester United footballer Marcus Rushford, pressure from a number of MPs and ahead of an opposition day debate in Parliament headed up by Labour. The Government were planning to vote against the motion to restore the scheme for the holidays.

On the Prime Minister’s U-turn, the city MP added:

“Some are calling this a major U-turn by Government. I’m calling this a victory for common sense and decency.

The untold hardship faced by families at this time of uncertainty requires government to be looking at increasing support, not stripping it away. What really matters is no one should ever go hungry over the holidays. While the immediate threat of holiday hunger may be in hand, we now need to look at the root causes.

Holiday hunger is not new. Longer term, the Government must address the underlying cause of holiday hunger: child poverty, low wages and insecure work.”

Ahead of the government’s decision reversal, the city MP had written an open letter garnering hundreds of public signatures, backed Labour’s “Holidays without Hunger” campaign, and supported the Opposition Day Debate on the issue. He has vowed to continue taking action to combat child poverty throughout Covid-19 and beyond.

 

 

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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.