Labour offers new pledge to tackle rough sleeping

In a fresh policy to tackle the scandal of soaring rough sleeping, Labour has announced today it will make 8,000 affordable homes available for people with a history of sleeping on the streets – double the number previously promised. This new measure is part of Labour’s plan to end rough sleeping within their first term in office.
Under the plans, the next Labour government will strike a deal with housing associations – similar to that done by the Conservative over the right-to-buy – to make the homes available immediately as they fall vacant, and fund the replacements via Labour’s national housing programme. In this way, the homes for rough sleepers will become available much more quickly than if they were built from scratch.
This announcement comes as figures this week have revealed that rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010.
Stephen Morgan Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, welcomed this refresh of Labour’s policy, following news that rough sleeping in our city continues to rise.
Stephen said:
“The rising number of people sleeping on the streets and on park benches shames us all. There can be no excuses – we can end it and we must.
As someone who used to run a day service for rough sleepers, I know the challenges people who are living on our streets face and the need to see more homes for local people. You just can’t help the homeless if you don’t provide the homes.
The Government could start this helpful policy now and fund replacements using some of the £2bn set aside for social housing by the Prime Minister at Conservative Party conference last year.
I’m backing Labour’s plan to stop this local and national scandal and provide those who need it most with a place to call home”.
The new homes would be a mix of ‘move-on’ housing for people leaving homelessness hostels and ‘housing first’ – a relatively new type of programme established in the US and northern Europe, where rough sleepers with complex needs are moved into permanent accommodation quickly to give them a fresh start.
This ambitious programme contrasts with the government’s approach:

  • A target only to halve rough sleeping by 2022, which even if successful would still leave it above levels the Conservatives inherited in 2010
  • No plan to tackle homelessness, as recently exposed by the National Audit Office
  • A Budget commitment to only pilot ‘housing first’ schemes, despite overwhelming evidence that they work

Homelessness has rapidly risen since 2010. Rough sleeping has more than doubled and is up 73% in the last three years alone. The number of children stuck in hostels and other temporary accommodation has risen by 70% to over 120,000.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey MP added:
“The rising number of people sleeping on the streets and on park benches shames us all. There can be no excuses – we can end it and we must.
Homelessness shames us all but should shame Conservative Ministers most. It is direct consequence of decisions made by the Tories on housing, and on funding for charities and councils.
Under the last Labour government, years of sustained action cut rough sleeping by three-quarters, but it has more than doubled since 2010.
If Theresa May is serious about fixing our rough sleeping crisis, she should back Labour’s plans to make more homes available for the homeless.”

Portsmouth MP signs Holocaust book of commitment

This week Stephen Morgan MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.
Saturday 27 January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.
In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘The power of words’.
After signing the Book of Commitment, Stephen Morgan MP commented:
“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Portsmouth and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust.

As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors.

I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.”
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:
The Holocaust did not start in the gas chambers but with hate filled words. Our mission is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance.

We are very grateful to Stephen Morgan for signing the Book of Commitment, signalling a continued commitment to remembering the victims of the Holocaust as well as challenging antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry in all its forms.”
Information about Holocaust Memorial Day is currently on display at Stephen’s constituency office at 72 Albert Road, Southsea.


Third of children in Portsmouth South living in poverty

Newly released statistics from Child Poverty Action Group reveal devastating extent of child poverty in the city.
The End Child Poverty coalition today released new statistics showing the extent of child poverty across the UK broken down by constituency, local authority and ward.
The latest statistics show that 36.04% of children in Portsmouth South are living in poverty. In Charles Dickens Ward, the percentage is even higher at 50.31%.
Sonia, a local mother interviewed by the CPAG, said:
“I struggle with the day-to-day-costs (of living) – with prices going up and up, the money coming in doesn’t reflect my outgoings. If the children need a new school uniform or if the washing machine breaks down – I can’t afford it. I make sure my children get what they need first. I cut back on myself”.
The figures also show that some of the most deprived areas of the UK have seen the biggest increases in child poverty since the coalition’s local child poverty figures for December 2015. Increases of 10 percentage points in some areas demonstrate the growing crisis of child poverty in the UK.
As price rises risk pushing ever larger numbers of children below the poverty line, the coalition is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits.
Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, a long-standing campaigner on child poverty in the city said:
“These statistics are appalling, and further evidence that the Tories are failing to support those most in need. What’s truly shocking is that, under this Government, child poverty is not just failing to reduce, it is rising.
The Prime Minister must urgently address the fact that work is not paying. Real wages are still lower than they were in 2010 and working families are set to be £1,400 a year worse off by 2020.
I completely agree with the Child Poverty Action Group that it is crucial that ministers take the simple step of ending the freeze on child benefits.
I will continue to put pressure on the Government to do more to tackle the poverty we see in Portsmouth. I’ll continue to visit services that do so much to support families in need in our city”.

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Chris Boardman's cycling and walking vision backed

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Chris Boardman’s £ 1.5bn cycling and walking vision an ambitious £1.5 billion plan to transform Greater Manchester into a world-class region for cycling and walking.
Stephen’s support comes after Greater Manchester’s first Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman MBE, appointed by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, presented his ‘Made to Move’ report outlining his vision at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group in Westminster today.
Made to Move sets out how Greater Manchester intends to lead the way nationally  in increasing levels of cycling and walking. The report, which was initially presented to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) by Chris in December, outlines how cycling and walking can help improve air quality, tackle congestion and boost public health and wellbeing across the region.
The 15-point plan includes proposals to establish a ring-fenced, 10-year, £1.5 billion infrastructure fund for walking and cycling and to publish a detailed 2018 Greater Manchester-wide walking and cycling infrastructure plan. This would bring Greater Manchester’s spend on cycling and walking in line with other major conurbations, including London and Oslo.
Chris’s proposals – which he suggests would take Greater Manchester to 2050 – build on research indicating that a significant majority of Greater Manchester residents (77%) are in favour of more protected cycle lanes, even if it means less road space for other road traffic.
‘Bike Life Greater Manchester 2017’, published in November 2017 by sustainable travel charity Sustrans and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), also identified that almost seven in 10 people say Greater Manchester would be a better place to live and work if more people cycled.
Stephen Morgan MP, Honorary Secretary of the Cycling APPG said:
“I’ve been impressed with Chris Boardman’s ambitious plans as set out in his Made to Move report today.
I hope other regions across our nation will be inspired by this plan, which will help reduce pollution, ease congestion and improve health and wellbeing for all.”
Chris Boardman said:
“There’s no doubt that Made to Move is an incredibly ambitious but wholly deliverable plan to get Greater Manchester moving by bike and walking, and I’m really pleased that Stephen Morgan MP is supporting it.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester tasked me with thinking creatively, challenging assumptions and pushing the boundaries of what should be possible. My proposals, the product of many months of work, will ease congestion on our overcrowded roads, improve our general health and wellbeing and help us breathe cleaner air in a greener region.
It will require significant support, but the decades of improved living that we, our children and grandchildren will be able enjoy will make it worthwhile.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said:
“This is a bold and ambitious plan to get people cycling and walking.
Investing in cycling and walking will not only improve the air that we breathe, it will help tackle our crippling congestion problem and improve our health, wellbeing and environment.”
To read and download the Made to Move report, visit the GMCA website.

City MP on Police Cuts: ‘Enough is Enough’

Stephen Morgan MP calls on Government to fund cash-strapped forces as 160 jobs slashed in latest round of cuts.
The Member of Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, has slammed the Government for repeated cuts to police forces. Hampshire Constabulary have announced that 160 jobs are to be axed as part of the latest round of cuts to the force.
Officers will be lost in the dogs, traffic, and intelligence and surveillance units as the police are forced to save £25 million over the next four years. Hampshire has already seen the policing budget fall by £80 million and 1,000 officers lost since 2011.
Commenting on fresh cuts, Stephen Morgan, said:
I met with the Chief Constable only last week about my concerns over the levels of crime in our great city and action being taken. Relentless cuts to policing continue to hit Portsmouth’s hard working officers and the communities they serve.
Under the Tories, officer numbers have fallen to their lowest level in 30 years, it is little wonder the police have also recorded the highest crime rises in a decade.
Yet, Hampshire Constabulary are still being asked to save a further £25 million over the next four years. This just isn’t good enough.
The Government must urgently provide our police with the resources they so desperately need to do their job safely and effectively. I’ll continue to press the Government to do just this”.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, also announced that his office’s budget is set to increase by £440,000, roughly the cost of 10 police officers, for ‘essential staff’, drawing criticism from Hampshire Police Federation Chairman, John Apter.
John Apter has said:
“At a time when we’re fighting for our officers to be equipped with more Taser to keep them safe, when our colleagues are going out single-crewed to violent jobs because there are not enough police, I know many officers will look at this with contempt”.
Stephen Morgan MP added:
“In my regular conversations with local businesses affected by crime, meetings with police chiefs, and out on night patrol with community officers, I can’t say that more money for the PCC’s office has been raised as a priority.
At a time when we’ve seen such huge cuts to police budgets, I want to see more money spent on frontline and neighbourhood policing in Portsmouth to bring down crime in our city’s communities”.


City MP shows the DWP how it's done for WASPI women

Stephen Morgan MP has hand delivered a letter to Esther McVey, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on behalf of women in his constituency, and across the country, who have been affected by the change in state pension age (SPA).
The Portsmouth South MP personally hand delivered the letter to ensure that it was received as many women in his constituency have still not received a letter notifying them that the pension age for women has been changed from 60 to 65, and then 66.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Many women born in the 1950s in my constituency and across the country did not receive proper notice of changes to their retirement age.
This has caused serious financial and emotional hardship for many of them, which is unacceptable, this is a generation known for its work ethic and financial prudence which makes this situation all the more unjust.”
The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) action group has been campaigning to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born in the 1950s affected by the changes to the state pension law. Stephen has been working with the local Solent WASPI group to campaign for change and raise awareness of the injustice for women.
Joint Co-ordinators Shelagh Simmons and Carolyne Jacobs, from Solent WASPI said:
“We are not asking for the pension age to revert back to 60, we are simply fighting for a basic right, the fair implementation and communication of the changes to state pension age.”
Stephen goes on to say:
“Labour is the only party bringing forward options that the Government has no reason to refuse. The pension credit and an early retirement option are first steps towards justice for these women that the Government could action now.
“As well as writing to the Secretary of State, I will continue to be an active local campaigner with WASPI women and a strong national voice to stand up for those affected. Together we will right the wrong.”

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City MP calls for Portsmouth to host Bayeux Tapestry

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has joined other city officials in calling for Portsmouth to play host to the Bayeux Tapestry when it comes to the UK in 2022.
He has written to Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ask that he consider holding the exhibit in Portsmouth, as the city is the perfect place to host such a historically significant piece.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“I have written to Mr. Hancock to ask that he considers our great city as the host to the Bayeux Tapestry.
Portsmouth has a rich historical heritage and the perfect facility to display the tapestry at the D-Day Museum which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment.
At the moment the museum is playing host to the Overlord Tapestry, and so already has the infrastructure in place to display an exhibit of this kind.
It would be truly fantastic for a city, which has such a strong foothold in English history to be given this opportunity.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has agreed to lend the 11th Century Tapestry to the UK, which will see it leave France for the first time in 950 years.

Carrier Strike must be delivered on budget warns PAC

Latest report from Parliament’s oldest select committee warns of continued uncertainty over deployment, costs and value for money of Carrier Strike programme
A new report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which counts Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan amongst its members, has warned the MoD about the dangers of cost inflation in relation to the Carrier Strike Project.
The PAC report cautions: ‘The defence budget is very strained in the light of commitments made in the last Strategic Defence and Security Review. Carrier Strike is expensive, and despite the Department assuring us that it will manage costs, there is a threat to the future of other programmes if it goes over budget.’
‘For the Department to secure value for money from its significant investment in this long-term capability, it will need to ensure that the carriers and jets can be fully and flexibly used alongside other military equipment, and can be upgraded to keep pace with technological advances.’
Stephen Morgan MP, added:
“We in Portsmouth know only too well how strategically important Carrier Strike is to our nation and local economy.
With our armed forces threatened with unprecedented cuts, it is more important than ever that the MoD achieves maximum value for money.
It is imperative that cost does not increase exponentially to the extent that it impinges on the other key strategic capabilities.
I and the rest of the Committee will continue to seek assurances from the MoD that the necessary steps are being taken to ensure cost is properly calculated and contained, and that technical issues are addressed for the avoidance of further schedule slippage”.
Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hiller MP, said:
“There is a lot at stake with Carrier Strike – a hugely complex, costly programme intended to be at the heart of national defence for years to come.
The project continues to leave the MoD exposed financially. Government must bring Carrier Strike in on budget or risk jeopardising the funds available for other defence programmes.
Uncertainty over some costs and the potentially negative impact of foreign exchange rates mean this will be no easy task.
There are also questions over the Lightning II jets and the eventual deployment of Carrier Strike, which could threaten the programme’s value for money.
All this is taking place as the MoD awaits clarity on the future size of the defence budget.
We will be keeping a close eye on this programme and will expect the Department to keep us abreast of developments”.


We must bring an end to the Tory NHS crisis

This winter thousands of operations have been cancelled, patients are waiting for hours in overcrowded A&Es, waiting lists are rising and the NHS is facing huge financial problems. Under the Tories the NHS is in crisis.
December’s A&E performance was the worst on record. Across England over 300,000 patients waited longer than four hours in A&E, almost 70,000 had to wait longer than four hours on a trolley for a hospital bed and so far this winter more than 92,000 patients were stuck in the back of ambulances outside hospitals.
The latest figures also show 1 in 4 people wait a week or more to speak to a GP or nurse, or don’t get an appointment at all.
The Tory NHS crisis has rightly caused concern amongst Portsmouth residents says local Labour MP Stephen Morgan.
“Thousands of people here in Portsmouth rely on the NHS. I’m worried that despite the heroic efforts of our fantastic NHS staff, we are seeing QA and our other local health services over stretched, ambulances backed up, cancelled operations and patients waiting for hours on trolleys”.
In recent weeks Stephen has spent time meeting with Portsmouth Hospitals Trust’s chief executive, touring A&E services at QA, visiting the St Mary’s Walk-In clinic and spending the night with the GP out of hours service, to understand the local challenges our health services and their staff face.
Stephen added:
“It’s clear the Tories have pushed the NHS into crisis and have no plan to address the challenges it faces.
But, it doesn’t have to be like this, Labour will stand up for the NHS and give the NHS the money it needs.
Labour will give the NHS over £37 billion of extra investment, cut waiting lists by guaranteeing treatment within 18 weeks, put safe staffing levels into law and halt the Tory hospital closure plans.”
Show your support by visiting labour.org.uk/NHS

More MPs speak out over capabilities review

The delayed national security capability review was raised again in the House of Commons this week, with Members of Parliament on all sides concerned about the uncertainty the delay is causing and the potential for further cuts to the already stretched armed forces.
The questions were raised after another former defence chief spoke out over the Government’s plans.
General Lord Dannatt’s comments made national headlines as he reacted to reports that elite units of paratroopers and Royal Marines could be combined to save money as part of major cuts to Britain’s military. The proposals – which included a suggestion that would see a cut in the armed forces’ strength by more than 14,000 – were published in The Times.
In a letter to the paper, the Lord General Dannatt said: ‘The reported cuts to our defence capability represent an appalling reduction in our national ability to defend our sovereignty, protect our citizens at home and abroad and uphold our values. The Ministry of Defence may dismiss The Times reports as merely options under consideration, but options can quickly become decisions – in this case disastrous ones. Mr Hammond, as a previous defence secretary, oversaw a catastrophic reduction in defence capability during his tenure at the MoD – he must not be allowed to do it a second time. History would not judge him kindly.’
The capabilities review is meant to be examining the policy and plans which support implementation of the national security strategy, to ensure the UK’s investment in national security capabilities is as joined-up, effective and efficient as possible, and address current national security challenges.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Reporting over the weekend revealed a number of options put to the Defence Secretary to make cuts to get the MoD budget. Some of the proposals included a significant reduction to the Army, merging the Paras with the Marines and reducing our amphibious capability.
Whilst I understand the need to modernise our Armed Forces and update structures to reflect changing circumstances and threats, the driving factor for changes should not be cost alone and must start from a strategic position of what we want our Armed Forces to do”.
Reports also suggest that the review may be delayed in favour of a fuller review in 2019 or that the “security” elements of the review will be separated from the “defence” elements.
Stephen added:
“The MoD and our Armed Forces cannot be left in limbo because the Government can’t get their act together. There needs to be a clear strategy for the security of our nation and it would be reductive to separate the security and defence aspects which support and reinforce each other”.
Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, responding to the Urgent Question on the National Security Capability Review in the House of Commons on Monday, said:
“It is completely unacceptable that the Defence Secretary cannot answer the most basic questions about the Government’s defence review, which many fear is just a thinly veiled attempt to force more cuts on Britain’s Armed Forces.
Under this Government, we have seen a dramatic fall in the size of the Army and there is a gaping black hole of £20bn in the defence equipment plan.
The simple fact is that you cannot do security on the cheap and the British public expects the Government to ensure that defence and the Armed Forces get the funding that they deserve.”