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A decade of letting Britain down: Stephen Morgan MP and the Shadow Chancellor condemn Spending Review as “missed opportunity”

Stephen Morgan MP and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP have condemned the Government’s Spending Review as a “missed opportunity” for our city and accused the Chancellor of failing to take responsible choices to get the economy back on its feet.

Labour has called for a relentless focus on jobs and growth. But instead of setting Britain on the path to recovery, the Chancellor has let the country down again by hitting people in Portsmouth three hammer blows to their personal finances:

  • a pay freeze for our community health workers, teachers, police officers and firefighters – an insult to our frontline workers, forcing them to tighten their belts and damaging our economic recovery
  • a hidden council tax bombshell, with the fine print of the Chancellor’s announcement showing he’s planning for council tax rises of 5% next year
  • ploughing ahead with the plan to cut Universal Credit, taking £1,000 a year out of the pockets of our poorest families

Even where the Chancellor promised new investment, the Conservative party’s track record over the last ten years casts real doubt over their ability to deliver. The Chancellor has also failed to address the key challenges we face as a country:

  • Child poverty is set to hit five million by 2023. Childcare costs in the UK are among the highest in the developed world. Here in Portsmouth part time childcare for a child under two costs £38.90 more than it did a decade ago.
  • Over one million jobs have gone since this crisis started – and younger workers have been hit hard. 2018-2019 saw the lowest number of young apprenticeships for a decade.  Trade apprenticeships have been falling in every part of our country, down 100 since 2010 in Portsmouth South alone.
  • Over the last decade, pay for working people in Britain has stagnated while average real weekly earnings have barely changed – average real weekly wages went up just 1% in the last decade.
  • The country is getting less safe and less healthy – police numbers across Hampshire have dropped by 1,050 in a decade and we have fewer GPs and many residents unable to access a dentist.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The people of Portsmouth know that the Tories have let this area down. After ten, long years in government, we’ve still seen no action on ensuring proper investment in our city.

Instead they hit local people hard with a triple whammy of key worker pay freezes, Universal Credit cuts and a hidden council tax bombshell. Yet again we face another year of paying more, but getting less”.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“This week the Chancellor took irresponsible choices that won’t get Britain on the road to recovery.

The Conservatives have spent the last ten years wasting billions on pet projects and delayed developments while the things that matter to people’s lives have got worse. 

What Portsmouth needed was swift action to recover jobs, retrain workers, and rebuild business, not the triple whammy of key worker pay freezes, cuts to Universal Credit and a hidden council tax rise.”

 

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Covid-19: What you can and can’t do in Tier Two

Today (26 November) Government announced that Portsmouth will move into a new tier of restrictions following the ending of the second national lockdown on 2 December.

Below is a list of what this means for residents and businesses in our city.

‘High Alert’ tier two restrictions:

  • You must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘rule of 6’
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
  • Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals
  • Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to:
  • Provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol
  • Close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt)
  • Stop taking orders after 10pm
  • Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm
  • Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
  • Public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
  • Places of worship remain open but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings.
  • Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue
  • Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
  • You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • If you live in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through a tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey

Information correct as at 26 November 2020.

 

 

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Portsmouth to move to Tier 2: City MP responds

This morning the Government has announced that Portsmouth will move into Tier Two of restrictions following the second national lockdown due to finish on 2 December.

This tier is higher than the tier Portsmouth was in prior to lockdown, in light of the volume of cases still prevalent in the city.

Responding to the announcement from Government following the statement in the House of Commons by the Health Secretary, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I know recent news about vaccines is really encouraging for so many in Portsmouth, but we need to be honest: the threat from this virus is still very real and the Government is therefore not releasing restrictions too quickly.

Ministers must make sure additional restrictions to protect public health come side by side with economic support. There are so many pubs, restaurants and small businesses in Portsmouth which are particularly worried what today’s announcement means for them as we enter the crucial Christmas period. That’s why I’ve been calling for an expansion of the business support package to help those local businesses affected.

After so much confusion over previous tiers we need total clarity this time. Ministers must explain why areas have been put into tiers and the criteria for moving between tiers.

To ensure the confidence of the public, communication is crucial over the next few weeks. The tiers will only be successful if Government provides far better communication with decisions based on scientific evidence for Portsmouth people”.

Tier 2 is classified as ‘High Alert’. This is for areas with a higher or rapidly rising level of  infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place.

The Portsmouth South representative has been taking a range of actions to ensure constituents’ views are heard on the restrictions, including lobbying Ministers, raising concerns on the impact of specific measures with Government and submitting parliamentary questions.

To find out what the Government’s decision means for our area visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know

 

 

 

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City MP laments spending plans that ‘do little for Portsmouth’

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government’s spending review that was announced earlier today in Westminster, arguing Government plans do little to deliver for Portsmouth.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer statement in the House of Commons this afternoon included the government’s review of the UK economy, as well as its plans for an economic recovery in response to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government’s plans included a pay freeze for a large number of public sector workers, many of which would have worked on the frontline during this crisis, as well as a new infrastructure bank based in the north of England and a cut to overseas aid to 0.5% of national income next year.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the Member of Parliament’s constituency of Portsmouth South is 0.6% higher compared to the rest of the UK and 1.7% higher compared with the rest of South East England, according to the latest figures.1

Responding to the Government’s statement Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This spending review will not deliver on the government’s promises of levelling up and reducing the inequality that our city has sadly faced the consequences of. Some say Ministerstalk a good game, but it is clear that for Portsmouth people what we get from Government is consistent over-promise and under-delivery for our great city.

“The ‘Levelling Up Fund’ will see money doled out to favoured MPs, not invested strategically in the communities that need it – more pork-barrel politics from a Government that’s learned none of the lessons of the scandal-ridden Towns Fund.

On news that many frontline workers will have a pay freeze, which in reality means a real-terms pay cut the MP added:

“We cannot be clapping for our frontline workers one week, then freezing their pay the next, when so many have made incredible sacrifices to keep us safe and secure during this crisis.

This freeze will hit people’s pockets and pull spending out of our city’s small businesses and high streets, when many are already on their knees, choking off the recovery.

The Chancellor’s statement failed to mention the end of the Brexit transition period as public services continue to prepare for a no-deal scenario. The Portsmouth South representative said on this:

“It was also incredibly shocking to note not a single mention of of how prepared his Government is for Brexit – just 40 days before the end of the transition period – that will have a huge impact on Portsmouth and other coastal communities in the UK.

Portsmouth needs a relentless focus on jobs and growth to get our local economy back on its feet. The Government must act to recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild business, as part of a longer-term plan to make our country the best place in the world to grow up in and to grow old in.

The Portsmouth South MP has regularly called for the government to address the issues of rising regional inequality affecting Portsmouth and its impact on jobs and unemployment.

 

 

 

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‘Our frontline workers deserve more than clapping’

Our key workers have kept Portsmouth going during this pandemic. The reality of the Chancellor’s spending statement this week means a real terms cut for those dedicated to the services we all rely on. 

The Government is turning its back on them once again by freezing the pay of many frontline workers in the middle of a deadly second wave.

We cannot be praising the extraordinary efforts of our frontline workers one week, and the next make them pay the economic cost of this crisis the next. This is simply not acceptable behaviour from the government.

This is another short-sighted and irresponsible decision by a Chancellor who is constantly one step behind. Our frontline workers perform a wide variety of roles, including local police officers, classroom assistants, cleaners and kitchen porters, many of whom will now be worried about making ends meet this Christmas.

In turn, it will mean a cut back on spending in local businesses and high streets in Portsmouth and our economy won’t recover as quickly. These are just some of the concerns I have heard consistently raised when listening to those who serve our communities and engaging with local unions.

Freezing pay has also been disastrous for our public services, leaving them unable to recruit the staff they need during this time of unprecedented pressure on them.

But the Chancellor is trying to pass the buck for his own mistakes. He’s had to come back week in week out to change his plans, he blocked a circuit breaker leading to a longer, more painful lockdown, and he still hasn’t acted to fix Britain’s broken safety net. And all this is taking place as billions of pounds have been wasted on outsourced contracts which haven’t delivered.

We heard again this week our country has had the worst downturn in the G7. Sadly, this government is making yet another economically illiterate decision, with the Chancellor’s name is all over it.

As the official opposition, we would make responsible choices to protect all key workers, secure the economy and recover jobs in every part of the country.

The government should be doing all it can to build up confidence in the economy, not choking off the recovery at the worst possible time.

Now is the time to support and protect all our frontline workers in Portsmouth and city’s economy, not leave them by the wayside.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP urges Chancellor to not cut universal credit funding

Stephen Morgan MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, urging him to not cut Universal Credit by £20 per week, or £1,000 a year. The cut is understood to begin in April, 2021.

This comes ahead of the government announcement of its spending review, with £2.1 billion of public money wasted on Covid-related procurement and outsourced contracts and almost £700 million on coveralls that were never used.

The government has been asked 40 times to rule of the change to Universal Credit, but Government representatives have refused to commit to ruling out the cut.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“This crisis has put families both here in Portsmouth and across the country under immense financial pressure.

For a lot of families, Universal Credit has been a lifeline and many of which are reliant on this money to get them through this crisis. It is why a cut to it by as much as £20 a week, or £1,000 a year, is simply is unthinkable and I urge the Chancellor to reconsider.”

In Portsmouth South alone, there are 11457 on Universal Credit, including 9273 households in the area dependent on the welfare support system.

Mr Morgan, added:

“Sadly, we have many families in our community who are reliant on Universal Credit and it’s vital the Government does not once again resort to austerity cuts at a time when families need this support more than ever.”

The Portsmouth South MP has frequently urged the Chancellor to provide greater support for the most vulnerable in the community during this period, including on providing a government settlement which works for Portsmouth.

 

 

 

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Government plans post lockdown must bring certainty and confidence urges City MP

With only a week until this second national lockdown ends, this week the Government is planning to set out in more detail its plans post 2 December. Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has said he will judge proposals on whether they bring certainty for the city and carry the confidence of the public.

The government have said that more areas will be placed in the higher tiers to safeguard gains made during the national restrictions, and an announcement on which areas will be in which tier is expected on Thursday.

It is expected that non-essential retail, places of worship and gyms and outdoor sports will be open in all three tiers. Hospitality will be closed in tier three areas, and food will be required alongside alcohol in tier 2 areas. The 10pm curfew will be amended. We also expect an announcement on slight easing of the eligibility for support bubbles to include new parents and other groups.

Stephen Morgan MP has been calling on Ministers to use this period of lockdown to finally get a grip on the falling test, trace and isolate. Sadly it has failed to do so.

The government are also expected to announce greater use of mass testing capability in tier three areas, and plans to use daily rapid testing in place of isolation for those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of the virus. This scheme is being trialled in Liverpool this week.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ministers needs to be honest. We are at a very difficult point and whilst people’s actions are having an effect, the prevalence of the virus is really high, including here in Portsmouth.

After months of extraordinary sacrifices, the news of possible vaccines gives the British people hope that there could finally be light at the end of the tunnel. But there is still a long way to go.

I will judge proposals by Government this week on whether they bring certainty for Portsmouth businesses, carry the confidence of the public and local leaders, and are backed by the scientific evidence”.

Labour has set out how it will judge proposals by Government on whether they bring certainty for business, carry the confidence of the public and local leaders, and are backed by the scientific evidence. These five tests are:

  1. Evidence: Decisions must be taken based on published scientific evidence and the government must be clear that they are doing enough to keep transmission down
  2. Clarity: The tier system was confusing and the government must make sure people are clear about the measures they are following
  3. Certainty: Chopping and changing at short notice is bad for business and the government must make sure businesses have as much certainty as possible about the restrictions they will be operating under over the coming months
  4. Support: Financial support must go hand-in-hand with the restrictions, and this support must be fair across the whole country
  5. Transparency: There needs to be clear, transparent and evidenced criteria for any tiers and the restrictions within them, including how an area enters and exits a particular tier

 

 

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Portsmouth MP encourages over-50s to take up free Government flu-jab

Stephen Morgan MP has called for over-50s in Portsmouth to enrol on the government’s recently announced free flu-jab scheme starting on 1 December, following his recent visit to a Portsdown Group Practice surgery in Portsmouth.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that people aged 50-64 will be added to a list of people who are already eligible for a flu jab in England under an expanded winter vaccine scheme, which aims to combat the “twin threats” of flu and Covid-19.

Over 30 million people will be eligible for jabs making it the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in UK history.

NHS hospitals in England during the winter period face typically higher levels of pressure compared to the rest of the year, but this year will face the added challenge of pressures on ICU beds and treatment for Covid-19 patients.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“This year health clinics and hospitals face the additional pressure of an already difficult period of the year for public health in treatment for Covid-19 patients.

That is why it is incredibly important we do all that we can to help reduce this pressure on our NHS and health workers, and getting vaccinated for flu will go along in achieving that.”

Whilst added pressures will be particularly focused on hospitals this year, local NHS GP surgeries and clinics will play a significant role in the rollout of the government’s over-50s flu-jab programme.

Stephen Morgan MP, added:

“Local NHS practices provide an incredibly important role in local public health, and I’m really proud of the work of the Portsdown Group has done for Portsmouth on this, including Kingston Crescent Surgery.”

You can find out more about the government’s free winter flu-jab programme by visiting its website

 

 

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City MP backs USDAW’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’

Stephen Morgan MP has backed USDAW’s campaign ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ and called for greater protections for shop and retail workers following a visit to a Portsmouth Co-op today.

This comes as violence, threats and abuse against retail workers doubled during the height of the Covid-19 crisis earlier this year.

The shop and retail workers union will not be running the campaign in its usual way this year, but has called for shop and retail workers to share their real-life experiences during this period via a survey.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Shop and retail workers both here in Portsmouth and across the country have been the backbone of local communities during this pandemic.

During this crisis our key workers have been there to support us when we needed it most and it is only right we now do the same for them.

That’s why I am proud to support USDAW’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ to give shop and retail workers the protections they need during this crisis and beyond”.

During his visit, Co-op employees demonstrated the new body-cameras that the supermarket’s shop workers are now wearing to protect both its customers and employees.

In recent months, some supermarkets and have faced challenges, both in shoplifting and some customers not following government Covid-19 guidelines.

Mr Morgan, added:

“Any further support for our key workers that have helped to feed the nation through this difficult period I of course welcome.

This new measure will no doubt help to protect Co-op shops, its customers and crucially its workers from future challenges and I am glad to see its introduction here in Portsmouth.”

USDAW has also set up a petition that has called on the government to legislate to make it specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker.

 

 

 

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City MP hosts Labour’s Shadow Housing and Planning Minister

Stephen Morgan MP will be hosting the Shadow Housing and Planning Minister Mike Amesbury MP for a public online question and answer session on Monday 23 November at 7pm.

The online public meeting will focus on the Aquind plans, HMOs, proposed planning changes and the housing crisis, with a chance for attendees to share their ideas on topical issues and ask questions.

Members of the public are invited to register for the event online here.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“I’m really pleased to be able to be able to welcome the Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning to join this public meeting, addressing local concerns relating to planning and housing locally, as well the wider region and country.

“This will serve as a great opportunity for Portsmouth residents to share their concerns about both local and wider housing and planning issues.

“Government proposals will take decisions out of local hands while doing little to solve the housing crisis our city faces.”