Standing up for you by investing in a better future

This week lower than expected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures were published, revealing a threat to the living standards for families across our country.
Growth for the first three months of 2017 was only half of what was expected by the current government. It comes on the back of new forecasts last week from leading independent forecasters showing growth and earnings expectations slashed and inflation revised up.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader said:
“It is clear to me the government’s economic plan has undermined the UK economy and is a threat to working people’s living standards.
Under current government proposals there will be cuts to in-work support which will leave working families with children an average of £2,500 a year worse off.  
At the same time, average earnings are falling by £1,400 per year meaning working families will be worse off whilst those at the top get a tax break. This is another example of the Tories taking our great city and country backwards”.
Labour have announced they will introduce a real Living Wage of £10 per hour and bolster the economy by establishing a new National Investment Bank and Regional Development Banks to unlock £500 billion of investment and lending across the country.
Responding to the party’s proposals, Cllr Morgan added:
“Labour will stand up for the many by investing in a better future for our city”.

City's cycling plan backed

Portsmouth Labour is backing plans by the Portsmouth Cycle Forum to encourage more cycle-friendly initiatives in our city and showed its support for plans by inviting along representatives of the Forum to one of its recent meetings.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, is a keen cyclist and has signed up to the pledges contained within the ‘City to Share’ plan developed by the Forum in consultation with the city council.
The City to Share contains a vision for Portsmouth to:
“Become the pre-eminent cycling city of the UK. A city fit for the future: a healthy, safe, sustainable, prosperous city that people want to live in, to work in and to visit. A city where we share spaces, co-operate with each other and treat one another with courtesy and respect”.
Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“As a keen cyclist in our city, I know only too well how great cycling is to get around Portsmouth, help avoid congestion and keep active.
In fact, it has become the third most popular participatory sport in the country so it has huge potential to make an impact on the health and wellbeing of our communities.
Currently Portsmouth is one of the most dangerous places to cycle in the country. That is completely unacceptable. We must make our roads safer, encourage more considerate road behaviour and commit to other actions as set out in the City to Share plan.
It was great to catch up with the forum’s team at a recent meeting and I welcome their continued efforts and lobbying on this important issue. Encouraging safe cycling for all must be a priority for the city’s future”.
The City to Share plan is backed up with a number of themed priorities including:
A safer city
People of all ages will feel protected and respected on the roads and safe to travel independently within the city
Improved health outcomes
People will be healthier for longer with reduced obesity levels and reduced strain on local health services. The number and severity of accidents on the road will be substantially reduced bringing further benefits.
A stronger local economy
Cycling will favour the use of local businesses rather than large out of town centres. Less congestion with increased transport capacity will benefit businesses across the city.
A better environment
A reduction in the volume of traffic will reduce the primary source of air pollution in the city. This will bring further benefits to the health of all and prevent many early deaths. There will also be benefits from the reduced carbon footprint of our low-lying city.
A fairer, more liveable city
A shift in transport away from the dominance of the road infrastructure by the private motor vehicle to cycling and walking will deliver benefits to the whole city, not just to those who cycle.
To view the plan click here


NHS workers are the pride of Britain

Hardworking NHS workers would be given a pay rise if Labour wins the general election the party has announced.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said NHS staff had been undervalued, overworked and underpaid under the Tories, after years of pay freezes for nurses, midwives and other key workers.
Whilst the party will be providing further information about this plan in its forthcoming manifesto, the policy would be funded by raising corporation tax which has been repeatedly cut by former chancellor George Osborne in recent years. Independent low-pay advisers would specify the levels of pay for NHS staff and rates would take into account the cost of living.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, paid a visit to QA Hospital in Cosham today. Welcoming the policy announcement he said:
“Doctors, nurses, and every single member of NHS staff do their bit to help make our NHS the pride of Britain.
I know only too well from people like my own mum, a hospital cleaner in our city, what a brilliant job NHS staff do day in, day out and we see this across the health service in our city, day in, day out.
It was good to visit QA today and see some of the services the hospital provides directly.

This Labour plan is in recognition of the effort, hard work and determination of staff to deliver vital health services for all in our country. The plan has my full support for Portsmouth’s NHS workers”.
IMG_0127In March, the government announced that about 1.3 million NHS staff would receive a 1% pay rise. This amounts to a drop in real wages. Adjusting for inflation, a nurse, for example, would have earned £30,929 in 2010, but only £28,462 last year.
The settlement for 2017-18 is the sixth year in a row in which NHS staff’s annual pay rise has been lower than the cost of living – inflation is running at 3.2% and affecting recruitment and retention of staff.
Latest research suggests that there are currently 24,000 nursing vacancies, according to the Royal College of Nursing as roles become harder to fill.


Show support for a better deal for your schools

Funding for schools is being substantially reduced because of budget cuts by the Tory Government.
The National Audit Office has recently calculated that on average, schools in England and Wales face an 8% cut in their funding between 2017 and 2020. This means that schools will have to make savings totalling £3 billion over the next three years.
This means that:

  • class sizes will increase
  • staffing will be reduced
  • equipment will not be replaced
  • non-essential subjects will be dropped

What does this mean for schools in our city?img_8930
For primary schools in Portsmouth this means an average reduction for each pupil of around £240. For secondary schools in the city, the average cut will be around £320 per pupil. These reductions will apply to every child or teenager attending school in Portsmouth.
For a primary school with 300 children, it will mean an overall budget reduction of around £72,000. For a secondary school with 1,000 young people in attendance, the cut will be in around £320,000.
Show your support for our campaign
Already schools are having to make hard choices in order to balance their budgets. Portsmouth Labour want to lobby central government to get a better deal for Portsmouth’s schools, and we need your help by signing our petition.
To join Portsmouth Labour on this campaign sign our petition by clicking here

The government is failing to act on air pollution

Air pollution levels are now a public health emergency as millions of people in our country are living in areas with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
The extent of the air pollution crisis nationally is exposed in recently released data which shows 59% of the population are living in towns and cities where nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution breaches the lawful level of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre of air.
What’s more, outdoor air pollution contributes to some 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK according to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health. NO2 comes from sources including factories and vehicles, particularly diesel engines.
Labour have vowed to bring in a new Clean Air Act, including a network of ‘clean air zones’ if it is elected to finally tackle this serious issue affecting communities across our country.
The proposals come after government ministers sought to delay the release of a key report on its plans to meet EU air pollution standards – regularly broken in many parts of the UK – which it had been ordered to publish by today.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs went to court last Friday seeking leave to delay it until after the 8 June general election, saying it was necessary to comply with pre-election propriety rules.
Raising concerns over the government’s inability to tackle this pressing concern, Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman accused the government of attempting to use the general election as cover for their failure to act on air quality.
She added it was “unacceptable” for the government to apply for the delay “less than one working day before it is due”.
Portsmouth is one of the cities and towns across the country where breaches are made on pollution levels.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, said:
“The UK air pollution crisis by this government is a national scandal and public health emergency. Poor air quality is a major cause of disease and death.
Whilst efforts may be underway locally to tackle this important issue, this helpful data shows us that air pollution is also a national problem which requires a national solution.
The government’s response has been shameful. Swift action must be taken to reduce pollution levels in the UK to protect our health. Only Labour will take this issue in our communities seriously”.

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More British bank holiday breaks planned

Britain’s workers will be given the break they deserve under Labour plans to bring our four nations together with four new national holidays for the whole of the UK. With eight public holidays, our country currently has the fewest of any G20 or EU member state.
Labour has announced on St. George’s Day UK-wide public holidays will be held on St. David’s Day (1 March), St Patrick’s Day (17 March), St. George’s Day (23 April) and St. Andrew’s Day (30 November).
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XORe1CkfANg&w=560&h=315]
Welcoming the proposals here in Portsmouth, Cllr Stephen Morgan, the city’s Labour Leader, said:
“Under the Tories, average earnings are set to fall by £1,200 as a result of rising inflation and lower wage growth.
And more and more people are working longer hours or taking on second jobs to make ends meet. I know how difficult things are for people in our city. Britain’s workers deserve a break.
That’s why I’m backing plans for workers to have the opportunity of four more days off a year.
Not only will they will they provide the chance to celebrate the national cultures of our proud nation – and bring our country together – these holidays will be a great chance for spending time with families, in communities and with friends”.
The UK has the lowest number of public holidays of the major economies – 8 compared with a G20 average of 12. Four extra holidays would take the UK to the G20 average.

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Concern over future of our city centre grows

Portsmouth’s Labour Leader has raised concerns at the potential loss of another high street brand from the city centre following a major announcement by an international retailer.
M&S has confirmed today that it is considering closing its store in the Cascades Shopping Centre, Commercial Road, and is now consulting with 100 staff members at the store about the move.
If the proposal goes ahead, staff would be redeployed at nearby stores, with closure early next year.
Whilst news that the company plan to open a new food hall at Ocean Retail Park in Burrfields Road early in 2018 is welcomed, there is concern over the impact of this potential decision by the store on the rest of the city centre’s important shopping area.
Portsmouth Labour has been calling for a better deal to regenerate our city centre, and create something for future generations to be proud of. 
Earlier this year, Cllr Stephen Morgan, who represents the city centre on the council, called for more action to be taken to make Commercial Road a destination once more.
He said:
“These latest proposals from M&S are a real concern to local people. More must be done to keep international retailers and well-known brands on our high streets.
I’m committed to securing a prosperous future for our city. And to do that, Portsmouth needs to retain businesses and attract more private sector investment to help create the good quality jobs that local people need.  
It’s time the heart of our city gets its beat back and is a destination once again”.


Failure on living standards sees real earning fall

Average real earnings are set to fall by £1,200 as a result of rising inflation and lower wage growth new analysis of the House of Common’s Library has shown.
At the Budget last month we saw inflation forecast up this year and average earnings forecasts lowered next year and for the next two years.
The combination of higher prices and lower wages is that living standards are set to be squeezed.
This time last year, at the Budget 2016, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was forecasting real average earnings growth of 9 per cent between 2015 and 2020 (average earnings adjusted for CPI inflation). However, at this year’s Budget, this was revised down to growth of 5 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
Converting this to income values, Budget 2016 was forecasting that real average earnings would be almost £2,500 higher in 2020 than in 2015. However, at Budget 2017 this was revised down to £1,300. This is a difference of £1,200.
This latest analysis comes on the back of IFS research last year which showed that the “outlook for living standards has deteriorated rather sharply”, describing the prospects for real earnings growth as “dreadful”.
Tax and benefit changes, as well as previous OBR forecasts will impact on living standards; however, this analysis focuses just on inflation and earnings outlook.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, said:
“Too often in this great city of ours I meet families who are struggling to make ends meet. Living standards are being squeezed and working people are being hit hard.
This is despite the Tories promising at the last General Election that they would raise living standards. The truth is that the current government has failed working people.
We need a real living wage. We need a better deal for our city from government to support our region’s growth and our support local communities.”

Concern over closure of the Co-op Bank

Following news that yet another bank branch in our city will be closed in June, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, has backed plans to tackle bank closures.
The Co-operative Bank, in Commercial Road in Charles Dickens ward, Portsmouth, has announced it will shut its doors on June 27, meaning the nearest branch will be in High Street, Chichester.
Cllr Morgan is concerned by the impact of this closure in the heart of Portsmouth on the city’s communities and loss of important local jobs.
A plan has been announced by Labour to rejuvenate the high street and protect local communities. The party has announced it will make major changes to the banking law that will prevent banks closing their vital high-street branches and damaging local communities and small businesses. It would do this by giving the “Access to Banking Protocol” more teeth.


Stephen outside the Co-op Bank in Charles Dickens ward

Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, said:
“We’ve seen too many banks branches close in our city over the years.
Now we learn of the Co-op going from our city centre in June.
I am hugely concerned for our communities and local businesses.
That’s why Portsmouth Labour are backing plans to put in place the legal obligations to bring banks into line and stand up for our high streets, communities and small businesses.”
Banks receive considerable financial support from the public and in return should be required to provide financial infrastructure that meets the needs of individuals and businesses.


Rhetoric on social mobility has not been matched by results

Children from poorer homes are nearly half as likely to attend an outstanding primary school as richer children, research finds.
Only 15% of children from the poorest 30% of families currently go to outstanding primary schools, a study by education charity Teach First suggests. This compares to 27% of children from the richest 30% of families who attend a school rated highly by inspectors.
The research is published as parents across England prepare to hear on Tuesday which primary school their child has been allocated.
The study, by education charity Teach First, analysed official data on income deprivation, known as IDACI, and information from Ofsted inspections. The results suggest the lowest-income families were also twice as likely to have a child at a primary school rated by Ofsted inspectors as “requires improvement” or “inadequate”.
In total, 11% of children in these families currently attend a struggling primary school, compared to just 6% of the richest ones.
Teach First noted that this situation continued into secondary school, with the percentage of the lowest-income children going on to a secondary school rated “as requires improvement” or “inadequate” by Ofsted standing at 24%. This compares to 10% of children from the wealthiest families.
These figures show that social mobility remains a serious issue in our country.
Responding to the findings, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader, said:
“This is just another example of the government’s rhetoric on social mobility not being matched by results. 
I want to see every single child get the best possible education in our city and to succeed in life. Current government plans do nothing to ensure all children go to a good primary school.
There is a crisis in recruitment and retention of teachers. Class sizes are going up and up. There is an unprecedented squeeze in school funding. It is clear that this government do not have the answers to the serious issues facing our schools”.