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Government must listen to concerns over easements says city MP

Concerns are increasingly being raised that public bodies, including schools and councils, could be forced to make major changes to public services at short notice and without time to prepare when easements come from the current coronavirus lockdown.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan is calling on Government to ensure engagement with key groups to make sure services are fully prepared for when restrictions start to be lifted.

Listening to these concerns, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I fully supported government’s decision to extend the lockdown which is saving lives. The issue we must address now is looking towards getting Britain on the road to recovery.

The British public have made great sacrifices to make the lockdown work. They deserve to be part of a frank conversation about what comes next.

That means engaging with teachers, trade unions, businesses, local authorities and other community leaders in the coming days about how such a strategy can be put in place to serve the interests of public health, the economy and people’s jobs.

Making major announcements without engaging with key stakeholders will plunge the country into new challenges.

Other nations in the UK and countries around the world are publishing exit strategies and having honest conversations with the public about what new arrangements might look like. The UK government is behind the curve on this.”

The MP has submitted a string of parliamentary questions urging the Government to consult organisations such as Local Resilience Forums, the Local Government Association and British Retail Consortium before plans by Ministers are announced.

 

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“In looking to the past, we will find the strength to deal with the present” says city MP on VE celebrations

Shadow Armed Forces Minister and city MP Stephen Morgan has urged Portsmouth people to celebrate safely on Friday 8 May for Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

This year is particularly significant as it marks the 75th anniversary since the Allies’ formal acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Nazi forces in 1945. After the success of D-Day 75, Portsmouth was set for widespread street parties and public events.

While the major celebratory events have had to be cancelled due to social distancing measures amid Covid-19, the Portsmouth South MP has urged people across the city to celebrate and pay tribute in alternative ways.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Many of the hard fought for freedoms secured by the brave people 75 years ago are the ones we find ourselves without today due to Covid-19. That makes the recognition and celebration of their actions even more important.

In looking to the past, we will find the strength to deal with the present. The continuation of celebrations is vital. This country has overcome hardship before, and we can do it again.

The efforts we can expect this coming week will be about celebrating victory over the most tyrannical regime the world has seen and spending time thinking about those who sacrificed so much for us.

I will be spending time paying tribute to my own grandfather, who set sail from Portsmouth on D-Day and spent time fighting in the European theatre.”

While social distancing requirements have scuppered some major celebration plans, which had included a veterans’ procession and street parties, across the country people have been showing ingenuity and coming up with alternative ideas.

On this, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“In true Portsmouth fashion, people are coming together to find safe, creative ways of celebrating. Some are placing a specially designed image of a Second World War soldier in their windows, while others are planning to cut out and put up homemade bunting.

I urge people from across our city to celebrate this important landmark in not just our nation’s, but the world’s history, by getting involved in their own way.

Understanding our shared heritage of remembrance helps bring communities together. We can’t let anything get in way of recognising the sacrifice of service people.”

Official commemorations will begin at 11am on Friday with a national moment of remembrance and a two-minute silence, according to government guidelines.

A pack with ideas for homemade VE Day bunting, original recipes, games, and educational and creative activities for children has been produced by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, so families under lockdown can create their own experiences at home. This can be found here

The Royal British Legion has also launched its “Tommy in the window” campaign, producing specially designed figures of soldiers. More information and educational material can be found here

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP takes action to save Gosport Ferry

Stephen Morgan MP has today written to the Transport Secretary urging immediate government measures to support Gosport Ferry. The action follows reports that the business runs the risk of ruin due to the financial implications of Covid-19.

Mr Morgan has called on government to address the fact that their transport funding package, announced earlier this week, does not offer any tangible support to Gosport Ferry, which has lost 90% of its normal passenger volumes.

This is just the latest of the city MP’s actions, as he has already submitted a string of parliamentary written questions and raised the issue with the local authority following discussions with the ferry company’s senior management.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Gosport Ferry is vital to not just Portsmouth, but the region. Some rely on it for business and commuting, others for their employment or leisure.

Government has a responsibility to ensure it continues to serve our community. The £17 million package, announced earlier this week, offers no guidance as to what this will mean for businesses like Gosport Ferry.

I am minded to support government in this time of crisis where suitable, but it is unclear what, if anything, they have done to help this service to date. I will continue to lobby the relevant Ministers to make announcements to help this vital regional transport infrastructure.”

Gosport Ferry has been connecting Portsmouth and Gosport since 1875, it carries over 3 million passengers each year and is a vital link for commuters, businesses and leisure travel. Covid-19 social distancing measures have heavily affected their revenue which has left the future of the company hanging in the balance.

Mr Morgan added:

“What have they done to support this service so far? What steps are they taking to ensure the continuation of the service post Covid-19? Can they guarantee the security of the business?

These are the questions that Government’s funding package failed to answer so far which is why I have today put them to the Transport Secretary. Uncertainty at this time could cost jobs and livelihoods for Portsmouth people. I will continue to push for government support for all transport infrastructure struggling under the strain of Covid-19.”

The Portsmouth South MP is committed to working with the city council and neighbouring Members of Parliament which protects this vital transport link for Portsmouth and Gosport and will be taking further action next week following concerns raised by constituents.

 

 

 

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City MP continues to take action as WASPI women hit hard by Covid-19

Long running supporter of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, Stephen Morgan MP, has today written to the Work and Pensions Secretary urging swift action to help women born in the 1950s suffering at the hands of the pandemic.

The WASPI movement campaigns against the way the state pension age for men and women was equalised. Prior to the pandemic, millions of 1950s women had been made worse off, some losing up to £47,000. Reports are suggesting that these women are now being disproportionately hit by the impacts of Covid-19.

Writing directly the Secretary of State after listening to local concerns, Mr Morgan has raised that women affected are facing increased loss of earnings, trouble with Universal Credit and gaps in government support before he outlined potential solutions.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This is the generation of women that rebuilt Britain, it is unacceptable that they are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. They suffered injustice prior to the pandemic, it is not right that they continue to have support refused.

Some face a loss of earnings as cleaners and exam invigilators whose ‘top up’ income has now dried up. Others are self-employed and have fallen through gaps in government support.

That is why I have written to directly the Work and Pensions Secretary requesting government explores the early payment of Pension Credit and State Pension to those effected.”

Shelagh Simmons from Solent WASPI said:

“Government implemented legislation that has caused severe financial turmoil for millions of 1950s women. Now we are asking them to provide emergency support during this pandemic

Early access to Pension Credit and State Pension will go some way to alleviate the pressures faced, and we are grateful to Stephen Morgan MP for taking action and asking the Government to make an assessment of these requests.”

Evidence suggests that many 1950s women work in the gig economy. The sector least supported by government Covid-19 schemes. This, coupled with low incomes undermining eligibility for universal credit, is resulting in severe loss of earnings for WASPI women.

The city MP has urged the government to assess the impacts of Pension Credit, which could offer immediate financial relief to those affected. While early access to State Pension has the potential to boost disposable income, likely to give a welcome kick to the economy as Britain gets on the road to recovery.

Stephen Morgan MP added: 

“I have been working closely with WASPI women for some time. I am committed to continuing to engage with them through this pandemic and beyond.

It is important that no one is left behind, particularly in a crisis, and that government is aware of the fact that there are gaps in the support they are offering.”

 

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New job opportunity: Parliamentary Assistant

New job opportunity: Parliamentary Assistant to Stephen Morgan MP

Salary: Up to £35,308 FTE plus benefits

Part-time: 22.5 per week (occasional weekend and evenings)

Location: Westminster (occasional work at the constituency office at 72 Albert Road, Southsea)

 

Want to help make a difference to peoples’ lives? 

Interested in working at the heart of British politics to help bring about positive change? 

Then an opportunity has arisen to join Stephen Morgan MP’s small parliamentary team based at the office in the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South, the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency, and newly appointed Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces.

A small parliamentary team works alongside the constituency office to assist with Stephen’s parliamentary duties and responsibilities as a member of the shadow frontbench.

This new and exciting role will help co-ordinate key policy, research, communications and project actions generated by Stephen’s activities in the House of Commons.

Please note the post is advertised at part-time, with the possibility of extending hours to full-time.

 

What to do next…

If you have what it takes to join the team, please submit a covering letter and CV electronically to:

Julie.Minal@parliament.uk by no later than Monday 11 May 2020, 12noon.

Please note that due to the high volume of interest expected, applicants will only hear if they are called to interview.

During Covid-19, further assessments of shortlisted applicants will be undertaken via video conferencing.

For further information about Stephen’s work for Portsmouth and in Parliament go to @StephenMorganMP on social media or visit www.stephenmorgan.org.uk

 

 

 

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“Keeping people connected has never been more important” says city MP thanking posties on National Postal Workers’ Day

Wednesday 29 April marks the ninth National Postal Workers’ Day, a day dedicated to thanking postal workers for their first-class service to the country. The annual event is organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), a trade union for the communications industry with almost 200,000 members.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has commended the postal workers particularly for their work delivering essential items, looking out for the elderly and taking shopping to vulnerable people amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Postal workers are an essential cog in keeping the country connected. Whether delivering parcels containing important business equipment or keeping in touch with loved ones, we all know how well they serve our community.

The importance of paying tribute to postal workers could not be more crucial at this time of crisis. Not only are they keeping the mail moving during a pandemic which puts themselves at risk, there are widespread reports of workers going above and beyond by helping the vulnerable.

I urge people to show solidarity across the country by displaying messages of thanks in their windows and letting postal workers know how much we value their service.”

A spokesperson from the CWU said:

“Despite hugely challenging times, CWU members are keeping the country connected. From delivering essential items to checking on the elderly and taking shopping to the most vulnerable in society, we have seen thousands of examples of local postal workers stepping up.”

The city MP has also backed the CWU’s calls for Royal Mail to make their work safer amid the pandemic. The CWU has criticised the Royal Mail over the continual delivery of advertising mail and called for better provision of PPE for workers who are on the frontline.

On this, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“While paying tribute to postal workers is very important, this does not mean much unless we are prepared to stand in solidarity with them when it comes to things as important as their safety, and even their lives.

I support the CWU’s calls for an end to advertisement mail during this pandemic. Any measure that reduces risk must be taken, especially as in this case, advertising mail can be deemed as non-essential at a time of crisis.

I also vow to continue taking action on behalf of all frontline workers when it comes to the provision of PPE. The postal service is a key part of the UK’s infrastructure. They continue to deliver for us, we must now show our support for them.”

The Portsmouth MP has urged people to leave messages of support for their postal worker in their windows on the 29 April 2020 in a safe manner, and in line with government safety guidelines.

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City MP pays tribute to all those who have lost their lives at work on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. Stephen Morgan MP has joined local trade unions and others in remembering those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases by completing a minute silence.

The city MP also called for renewed efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work, commending the trade unions for their work in the ongoing battle for increased employee rights and safety.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is a shocking fact that every year more people die from work related injuries than die in wars. This is not an inevitability that we have to accept, many of these deaths are preventable. Through appropriate regulation, increased workplace safety and creating a system where all employers care about the safety of workers, we can make a difference.

This year’s commemorations are even more important considering the coronavirus pandemic. Every day we are seeing brave frontline workers risking their lives on behalf of all of us.  Already many thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or continue to go to work for the good of the community.

International Worker’s Memorial Day is a vital way to stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives, those who are still working and to highlight that much more must be done to improve safety at work.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all trade unions for their tireless efforts and campaigning to stand up for workers’ rights and protections all year round”.

The city MP is joining the minute silence, taking a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great risk.

The one minute silence is at 11am on 28 April 2020.

 

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP says we must prioritise mental health too

Data is showing over 4 in 5 adults are worried about the effect coronavirus (Cocid-19) is having on their life right now. More than half are saying it is effecting their wellbeing and nearly half are reporting high levels of anxiety.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has therefore today taken action to ensure the mental wellbeing of constituents is prioritised during the coronavirus crisis and is calling on government to do more to protect those working on the frontline.

Welcoming efforts by Solent NHS Trust to bring local services together, the MP has committed to working with local providers to help people with their mental health as services continue to respond to the crisis and at the same time make plans for our communities’ recovery.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Everyone in the country has been affected by Covid-19 in some way, be it through staying at home and being separated from friends and family, uncertainty about work or education, or knowing someone with the virus.

There is no disputing, this crisis is having an undeniable impact on all of our health and wellbeing. The threat of physical illness to all of us is clear and obvious. However, the financial and social impact is also significant. This is particularly the case for our deprived communities and most vulnerable in society.

When people are locked down in their home, and away from friends and family, there is a greater risk of a rise in domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and depression. It is only right, then, that we give equal importance and priority to protecting people’s mental health at this time of crisis”.

Mr Morgan has discussed with Solent NHS Trust senior representatives their proposals to work with other key providers to help better educate the public of signs and symptoms of mental health difficulties and promote tools and methods to better manage mood, anxiety and trauma.

An alliance is being formed to ensure rapid and easy access to emotional support through dedicated helplines and online community wide support services, which has the backing of the Portsmouth South representative.

Today’s actions follow The Institute for Public Policy Research’s Care Fit for Carers new report which has revealed the ‘catastrophic’ toll of dealing with Covid-19 on the mental health of frontline staff.

On the findings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Parallel to the physiological effects of the virus are the impacts that dealing with it will have on the mental health of both the general public and frontline staff.

Frontline staff are having to deal with increased fatalities, more pressurised conditions and the risk of infecting their own families. The general public are having to deal with unprecedentedly low human interaction, confinement and in some cases domestic abuse and financial difficulty.

The Government has a duty to offer mental health support to frontline workers as well as introducing PTSD services. Action must also be taken to ensure that mental health provision is properly resourced and equipped for dealing with the mental health element of this pandemic.

I will continue to work with health providers and local charities to protect the mental wellbeing of those working on the frontline to keep us safe, and all those in need of help and support”.

The report, published today, provides new evidence on the experience of the healthcare workforce during Covid-19 to date from IPPR/YouGov polling of healthcare workers and the general public.

It shows that without further bold action in the days, weeks and months to come by the UK government and NHS England the country’s healthcare workforce will face significant health, mental health and welfare challenges.

 

 

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City MP says issues remain over bringing Britons back home

From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, UK nationals stranded abroad have been reaching out to the Portsmouth South MP for assistance. Stephen Morgan MP has so far taken action on behalf of 35 constituents stuck in 11 countries, with 12 still remaining overseas.

In each individual case, Mr Morgan has been lobbying Government hard, submitting detailed requests for action to the Foreign Office and relaying concerns to the Shadow Foreign Secretary, who is raising cases at regular meetings with Ministers.

Further action by the city MP has included writing an open letter to the Foreign Secretary urging more comprehensive support packages and raising additional measures that government could take by submitting parliamentary questions.

The city MP received a recent update on many of the concerns he raised following a meeting between the Shadow Foreign Office team and Nigel Adams MP, Minister of State for the Foreign Office. However, concerns over the Government’s response to this crisis remain.

Mr Morgan said:

“There must be little scarier and more stressful than being stranded hundreds of miles from home and separated from family during a pandemic. As well as raising individual cases, I have been feeding key themes back to the Shadow Foreign Office team who have been raising concerns at the highest level.

At a recent meeting, the Government Minister responsible acknowledged that there is a need for more accessible information coming from embassies, increased efforts put into the repatriation of vulnerable people, and more action taken over the financial losses incurred by flight cancellations.

While these acknowledgements are encouraging, we must see this translate into practical action. There are 12 Portsmouth people who have got in touch with me, and many more who haven’t, who are still stuck overseas. Every day they are there is more anxiety and stress for them and their families.

I will continue to constructively engage with government by highlighting areas for improvement while applying scrutiny to their decisions, making sure that the interests of Portsmouth people are represented.”

Some of the cases that the Portsmouth South representative has been assisting with have included elderly people stuck in Australia with limited access to medication, an individual separated from his partner in Ghana, a performer stranded aboard a cruise liner, and a man confined to his accommodation in Goa due to a pack of wild dogs left to roam the streets.

Mr Morgan also raised the issue of spiralling, and reportedly exploitative, airline flight costs with the Foreign Office. This followed one constituent contacting him to outline they had been quoted $3000 for a one way journey.

On flight costs, Stephen Morgan MP said:         

“We cannot stand for any kind of cashing in on people’s desperation and no one should get into financial difficulty through no fault of their own.  I therefore welcome government’s commitments to subsidise flights, work with airlines to stop spiralling flight costs and increase repatriation loan repayment timetables.

While I am glad government has listened to the concerns I raised earlier this month, I will continue to work closely with stranded constituents to ensure that they see these changes on the ground.”

Mr Morgan has also been acting in his capacity as Shadow Armed Forces minister, outlining how best the government can utilise the expert skill set of military personnel. He added:

“We have the most elite armed forces in the world. Dealing with crisis is their bread and butter and they are doing outstanding working in supporting services amid Covid-19.

The RAF has already been mobilised for some flights, but it was revealed at the latest meeting there is no planned mass deployment at this time.

I will continue to apply scrutiny to government decision-making on the use of our armed forces to ensure that if necessary, Ministers are encouraged to make resources available.”

The city MP has been privy to additional commitments made by government including dual nationals who hold British passports not being treated any differently, an initial 10 flights being chartered to return British citizens from Pakistan, and better communication channels being established between the Foreign Office and constituency MPs. Stephen Morgan MP continues to help a number of constituents who are still stranded abroad.

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Make a Portsmouth rainbow!

Fun family activity by Stephen Morgan MP

All around Portsmouth’s communities we can see colourful rainbows decorated by families offering a sign of hope during this challenging time for our city and our country.

Following the popular constituency colouring competition, Stephen is now encouraging Portsmouth families to turn their minds to making a rainbow for their home window.

Teaming up with University of Portsmouth alumni and graphic design freelancer Dan Mackey, Dan has used his amazing talents to produce a template for people to make a rainbow.

Please feel free to colour it in, cut it out, fold it into shape, and display it in your window!

To download the template click here

If you want to share your completed rainbow, please email a photo to  stephen@stephenmorgan.org.uk

A selection will be put on Stephen’s social media

For more information about Dan’s work click here