City MP pays tribute to ‘Friends Without Borders’

Writing personally about Portsmouth charity ‘Friends Without Botders’ city MP Stephen Morgan praises work they do to support some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“The people who come to my constituency office with immigration or asylum issues are some of the most ostracised in society. They’ve often fled horrific conflicts in their home countries and are simply seeking a safer, more prosperous future for their families.
By the time they come to me for help, they’ve regularly spent an extended period waiting for Home Office decisions, many have begun to form a life here in the UK, personal relationships, friendships, and have the desire to support themselves, integrate, and enhance our society.

Sadly, many of them find themselves in debt to friends or family, relying on charities or food banks with no access to public services, right to work and live, freedom to travel, or even something as simple as a form of recognised ID.
Friends Without Borders consistently demonstrates the compassion and generosity that our country and city’s reputation is built upon, frequently filling the gaps left by the state.
At Christmas time last year, I shadowed a Friends Without Borders volunteer offering advice to people and more recently visited the centre again to witness first-hand what the team is faced with on a day-to-day basis. I saw a busy, welcoming, and supportive environment, achieved by the inimitable hard work and empathy of all those at the charity.
I’m working hard to support those seeking asylum in our great city in my capacity as an MP, it is a subject I feel passionately about. However, so impressed by the excellent work Friends Without Borders are doing, I was also delighted to be able to donate a portion of my Councillor’s allowance to this brilliant charity.
It is so important that agencies, charities, and organisations work together to help people coming to our city in search of safety and support. Many of the people who come to me for help are at their wits end and are desperate for help with complex applications or even just getting a decision from the Home Office, simply exhausted by ‘living in limbo’.
The UK has a proud history of helping people fleeing violence and persecution and we have both a moral and legal obligation to vulnerable people seeking asylum. However, more needs to be done to reunite families and I am concerned about the efficiency of the processes in place for those who are entitled to join family in the UK, particularly children.
As we know, unaccompanied migrant children are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. On this matter, I’ll be working to ensure FWOB’s efforts are supported by equally compassionate and effective action in Westminster.
Thank you to Michael and the team for showing me around; I look forward to working closely with you all in the future”.

Portsmouth MP’s concern as report warns 700,000 more pensioners risk poverty

Getting rid of the lock will reduce pension pots for the poorest and the young, say TUC, Age UK and Centre for Ageing Better.
Stephen Morgan MP has called for the Government to protect the triple lock for state pensions after a new report warned the number of pensioners living in poverty in 2050 could be 700,000 higher if it is scrapped.
Approximately one third of pensioners in Portsmouth rely on the state pension.
The research – carried out by the Pensions Policy Institute – estimates that getting rid of the triple lock could lead to nearly 3.5 million older people facing poverty in 2050, compared to 2.8 million if it remains in place.
The report says that scrapping the triple lock would force low earners to put an extra £540 a year into their pension to avoid hardship in retirement.
Young people would bear the brunt of this change. Getting rid of the triple lock would double the amount a low-paid young worker needs to save to avoid poverty in old age.
Women would also be hard hit. They currently account for nearly two-thirds of those in poverty over the age 65. The weekly retirement income of a low-paid woman would drop by 7%, on average, if the triple lock was abolished.
The report also reveals:
• Getting rid of the triple lock would reduce the income of a mid-earner pensioner by £1,000 (5%) a year.
• Reduce the income of the poorest pensioners by £800 (7%) a year.
The triple lock guarantees that the basic state pension will rise annually by either a minimum of 2.5%, the rate of inflation, or average earnings growth – whichever one of the three is the largest.
MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:
The financial security of our city’s pensioners is an absolute priority for me. That’s why I’m calling for the Government to guarantee the triple lock beyond this Parliament and ensure the dignity of older people in Portsmouth.
This report should act as a wake-up call for the Tories. Pensioner poverty is already too high, and particularly concerning to me is the disproportionate impact pension inequality has on women, who shockingly account for nearly two-thirds of those in poverty over the age of 65.
As MP, I’ll continue to fight for economic justice for our city’s elderly.’
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
‘The UK already has the least generous state pension in the developed world. Getting rid of the triple lock would increase pensioner poverty and hit the poorest hardest.
“Today’s report shows that scrapping the lock will hurt young and old alike. A race to the bottom on pensions helps no-one.’
Age UK’s Charity Director Caroline Abrahams added:
‘Many people are surprised to learn that the average state pension is only just over £7,000 per year – less than half the annual salary of a full time working adult on the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour. Yet millions of older people are heavily reliant on this relatively modest sum, a situation that is set to continue for the foreseeable future.
“Considering the UK’s high poverty levels, the triple lock looks to be an increasingly important mechanism to provide a degree of financial security for current and future generations of older people.’

NHS ‘stuck in survival mode’ says select committee

PAC reports that DHSC must set out plans to secure a long-term funding settlement that reflects real need; Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, is a member of the committee.
Despite a rescue fund worth £1.8 billion in 2016-17, the financial position of the NHS remains in a perilous state, a report from the Public Accounts Committee, of which Stephen Morgan MP is a member, has said.
According to the report, the NHS is still very much in survival mode, with budgets unable to keep pace with demand.
The PAC has criticised an overreliance on short-term fixes and raised concerns that the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement are too focused on propping up the system and have not paid enough attention on transforming and improving patient services in the long term.
This short-term view was apparent over the winter when, despite early warning of a looming crisis, the Chancellor only announced additional funding in November.
With trusts forecasting a deficit of over £900 million in 2017-18, the NHS still has a long way to go before it is financially sustainable.
Despite earlier warnings from the Select Committee, the Department has not yet assessed the impact on patients or services of repeatedly raiding its capital budget to fund the short-term needs of the NHS.
Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, said:
‘The National Health Service continues to scrape by on emergency hand-outs and funds that were intended for essential investment.
“We have said it before and we will say it again: rescue packages and budget transfers are no substitute for a coherent, properly funded strategy that enables NHS trusts to plan, focus on patient care and lay the groundwork for long-term financial sustainability.
“Government’s last-minute response to what were entirely predictable winter pressures is just the latest vivid demonstration of why fresh thinking is so desperately needed.’
Portsmouth South MP and member of the PAC, Stephen Morgan, added:
‘I was pleased to hear this week that QA will receive further capital investment from Government, and I’ll always welcome any extra money for our local hospitals with open arms. 
But at the same time, we must be realistic about the fundamental challenges surrounding not just funding, but also recruitment and retention, that face our NHS. 
The Government should read our report very carefully. So far, despite repeated warnings from the committee, they’ve failed to secure the long-term financial future of the NHS.
Previously, Government funding has come too little, too late. They must do better, Portsmouth can simply not afford a repeat of this year’s winter crisis.’


Portsmouth South MP votes to end ‘reckless’ police cuts

Local MP Stephen Morgan has warned the Tories are ‘failing to protect the public’ after new figures revealed Tory funding to Hampshire Constabulary is to be cut for an eighth consecutive year as police officer numbers nationwide fall to the lowest level in three decades.
Opposition MPs today attempted force the Government to back Labour’s plan to increase police officer numbers by 10,000. However, the Tories abstained on the vote.
Crime has increased in Portsmouth by 10%. However, since 2010, Hampshire Constabulary has lost almost 1,000 officers.
Stephen Morgan, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:
‘People in our city are sick and tired of cuts to local police. Tonight, I voted to put an end to this short-sightedness.
The Tories had the chance to back Labour’s plan to put 10,000 officers back on our streets. Disappointingly, they refused to even vote on the matter. It’s high time they put the safety of our communities first.’
Stephen has met repeatedly with senior officers, gone out on patrol with local police, held a summit at Westminster with crime-hit businesses and the Policing Minister, and, most recently, written to the Police and Crime Commissioner to demand the release of further funding for frontline officers.
He is continuing to fight for a fairer funding deal for Hampshire Constabulary and working with others across the community to bring down crime.
Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister added:
‘While hard-pressed local taxpayers are being asked to pay more, the Conservatives want to force through another year of real-terms cuts to police from Westminster.
With officer numbers at record lows, it’s time the Tories called time on their reckless cuts and backed Labour’s plan to put 10,000 officers back on our streets.’

City MP visits local hostel to discuss action on homelessness

Stephen Morgan MP visits Salvation Army’s Catherine Booth House Lifehouse to talk with staff and residents
Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, has visited Catherine Booth Lifehouse, run by the Salvation Army, to see the work they’re doing to support families in the city.
The centre offers a unique facility by providing temporary; furnished accommodation and housing support for couples with children, male and female single parent families and pregnant mothers. Staff work closely with Portsmouth City Council Social Care and are able to cater for a wide range of support needs, equipping families with life skills to enable them to maintain a tenancy.
The service offers a safe, secure and supportive environment that allows Portsmouth City Council Housing to meet its statutory obligations in assessing the housing and support needs of vulnerable families, while ensuring that service users retain dignity, independence, control and choice over their own lives, within their own capabilities.
TSA provides specific homelessness services across all regions of England and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; with over 8,000 people accessing these services per year. Each of their services operate a person-centred approach with a strong emphasis on resident engagement and involvement in the running of the Lifehouse. These centres are a lifeline where people can address the issues around their homelessness and make positive decisions about their futures.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
‘I’d like to thank the brilliant team at Catherine Booth Lifehouse for showing me around today. The work they are doing to support local families is not just commendable but crucial.
Far too many people have been left without a home, or even a safe place to spend the night. Housebuilding recently fell to its lowest rate since the 1920s and homelessness is rising.
At a time of failure from this Government, charities such as the Salvation Army have stepped up to act with the compassion and generosity on which our city prides itself.’

Independent report highlights cracks in policing due to budget cuts

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has published a report this week stating ongoing financial pressures are leading to cracks in policing across the nation.
The independent report is the latest in a series of evidence highlighting the impact government cuts are having and says financial pressures are stretching forces, putting people at risk and means officers unable to keep people safe in some very important areas of policing.
The report states: ‘About a quarter of forces are all too often overwhelmed by the demand they face, resulting in worrying backlogs of emergency jobs, with officers not attending incidents promptly, including those involving vulnerable people’.
Stephen Morgan MP has been campaigning for a better funding deal for Hampshire Constabulary and has called on the police and crime commissioner to do more to protect policing in Portsmouth.
Stephen said:
“Our police officers are working day in, day out, to keep us all safe in the face of substantial pressures, dramatic increases in demand and rising numbers of complex crimes. I thank officers and police staff on the way they have tried to maintain services for our communities despite dwindling resources.
It remains clear from this independent report and from the discussions I have with officers that policing in our communities is under significant stress.
Whilst officers, staff and PCSOs rise to significant challenges every single day, it is now time the police and crime commissioner listens and ensures effective action to address the problems we face here in Portsmouth”.
Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Policing and Crime Minister, commenting on this police effectiveness report also said:
“We’ve had all the Tory spin on police funding but this week we are finally getting to the truth.

First the stats watchdog raps the Prime Minister for misleading claims and now the independent inspector is sounding the alarm – warning that some forces are so stretched that the lives of vulnerable people are being put at risk.
It’s time the Tories owned up to the public because their cuts have left our police at breaking point and our communities at risk.”
HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire and rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire & rescue services.
It reviews all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.

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New D-Day Story is another jewel in Portsmouth’s crown

City MP Stephen Morgan today was invited in by council staff to visit the transformed D-Day Story following major redevelopment at Southsea seafront.
The museum, which has seen £5m of investment including a huge grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, tells the story of the Allied forces’ invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 during the Second World War, which led to the liberation of large parts of Europe from Nazi control – and ultimately Allied victory.
To coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019, the museum has had a massive revamp of its exhibition spaces, as well as improve its activities and events programme.
Stephen Morgan MP received a tour round the new museum today by council staff, before the attraction reopens to the public for the Easter weekend.

Stephen said:
“Our city’s huge contribution to D-Day was not only hugely important to our nation and the ultimate victory bringing an end to World War Two, but of personal significance to my family.
My grandfather left Southsea Seafront on his 17th birthday, serving his country, as part of Operation Overlord, and returned to Portsmouth to help establish the Normandy Veterans Association in our city.
This new museum is absolutely tremendous and brought back so many proud memories and stories my grandfather passed on to me.
My huge congratulations and thanks to the team and volunteers who have transformed this museum into an international attraction. It’s another jewel to add to Portsmouth’s crown, and I’ll be encouraging everyone who comes to our great city to pay it a visit”.

City MP visits sister city in France to discuss Brexit trade impact

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has attended a conference hosted by sister city Caen in Normandy this week. 
The MP was the keynote speaker at a conference event on Brexit organised by ‘Jeunes Europeens’ held at Campus Caen, Sciences Po Rennes. Caen and Portsmouth are this year celebrating thirty years of twinning marking decades of exchanges and close collaboration across the English Channel for mutual benefit.
As well as the speech, Mr Morgan also took the opportunity to use the visit to meet with a number of businesses and authorities which rely on trade with Portsmouth and south-east of England.
Stephen received the tour of businesses today with local councillors representing the Mayor of Caen taking in a multi-lingual nursery for UK nationals and other nationalities, a port authority, freight and transit companies and a meeting at Caen regional airport which now offers flights to our nation’s capital.
Certainty over border controls, tariff concerns, immigration and visa arrangements were all hot topics in the discussions raised by businesses leaders and community representatives on the visits and at last night’s conference.

Speaking at the event Stephen said:
“Our geographical and cultural proximity results in shared interests and values, generating deep international bonds not easily unravelled, regardless of political climates. 
We not only share a history, but the busiest seaway in the world, we cooperate intimately on defence to keep our citizens, and all of Europe, safe; we are leading trading partners; hugely significant foreign direct investment flows both ways across the channel; and the economic links between our nations is vital”.
The MP gave an update on Britain’s negotiations with the EU on Brexit so far, the progress of the EU Withdrawal Bill and answered a range of questions from a packed room of students and UK nationals.
He added:
Britain needs a future with jobs and living standards secured, an economy upgraded and investment in every community and region. That’s why the Government must end the uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations effecting our businesses and communities both in the UK and abroad. 
And to do this, we must have a close future relationship with Europe based on values I, and my country, hold dear – internationalism, solidarity and equality”.
I will be following up the helpful visit with discussions with port and customs authorities in the UK, as well as in the House of Commons”.


Education cuts don’t heal – Portsmouth MP tells PM

Stephen Morgan MP used PMQs to raise the issue of school budget cuts and infant hunger in Portsmouth.
Today at Prime Minister’s Question Time, MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, raised serious concerns over school cuts and the number of children using food banks in his city.
Portsmouth’s schools will have lost over £3million under this Government by 2019 as class sizes continue to grow. Local teachers and parents have had to provide basic resources such as pencils and glue-sticks in the face of a growing funding gap.
According to the latest available data from the Trussell Trust, there are also approximately 40,000 children in the South East reliant on food banks.
Mr Morgan asked the PM: ‘If the Prime Minister was a teacher who’d been under a pay cap for 8 years, what would she buy a struggling child in one of my city’s classrooms – a text book or a square meal?’ The PM responded by saying that the amount of money in schools was greater than ever before, a claim refuted by the NEU, NAC, and NUT.
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Commenting, Stephen Morgan MP said:
Portsmouth continues to be left behind by this Government. Class sizes are up, but schools have had their budgets repeatedly cut. Yet, the Prime Minister continues to recycle her line claiming the opposite.
Her Education Secretary has already been reprimanded by the statistics watchdog for saying school spending is going up – just because you repeat something doesn’t make it true.
But Portsmouth’s teachers and parents know the reality of the Tories failure to invest in our children’s futures, and they deserve better.’
Amanda Martin, NUT Executive Member for Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth & Southampton, added:
‘Mr Morgan is quite right to stand up for teachers and their students. The Government’s real-terms cuts to education funding have seen £2.8 billion cut from school budgets since 2015.
The Prime Minister is wrong on the facts. She must address the funding crisis urgently and not continue to ignore these very real problems.’

Everyone ‘Can Do’ Volunteering

Can Do meeting S Morgan
City MP Stephen Morgan has hosted a meeting for a group of young volunteers with a disability at his office in Albert Road.
The Can Do project, run by Charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, offers opportunities for 16- to 35‑year-old people with a disability to volunteer in their community. Through volunteering they are able to learn and develop new skills, build self-confidence and independence, meet new people and make new friends, raise awareness on issues that are important to them and be more socially active in their communities. With the aim of increasing their employment opportunities.
Mr Morgan hosted the event, where he spoke to the group of volunteers about the work of an MP and held a Q and A session, then each member of the steering group gave an update on what volunteering opportunities they have been involved in and what they are hoping to do next.
Can Do 2
Stephen Morgan MP said:
 “It was an absolute pleasure to host the Can Do project steering group at my office, it was so inspiring to hear what the volunteers have been busy doing across the city.
 “Employment rates in people with disabilities are considerably lower than in those without disabilities, often because they simply aren’t able to get the work experience. 
 “This project is vital to giving those who need it the opportunity to gain that experience.”
The steering groups allow volunteers to shape the project themselves, choose what kind of placements they do and take ownership of what they take away from each placement.