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Portsmouth MP vows to ‘hold the Government to their promise and help ensure leaseholders are protected from unfair fire safety costs’ 

Labour will hold a vote on Monday (1 February 2021) in order to force the Government into action and protect millions of leaseholders from life-changing cladding costs and unsellable properties.

News of the latest intervention in the House of Commons has been welcomed by Stephen Morgan MP who has been taking action a range of actions to stand up for constituents over the remediation of unsafe cladding on residential blocks, and the impact this is having on leaseholders across the country.

Despite repeated promises from Ministers that cladding remediation costs would not be passed onto leaseholders, the Government has failed to deliver on this.

In the meantime, leaseholders across the country remain trapped in unsafe blocks during a third lockdown facing increasing interim costs and are often unable to sell or re-mortgage their property.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Three and a half years on from the tragic fire at Grenfell tower, the Government’s handling of the cladding crisis that has emerged has lacked any sense of grip or urgency.

I have deep concerns that people are being put at risk, trapped in flammable buildings for a third lockdown, and facing an unclear financial future.

Inaction has gone on too long. Labour is forcing a vote in Parliament calling on the Government to urgently establish the extent of dangerous cladding and prioritise buildings according to risk, provide upfront funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately, and protect leaseholders and taxpayers from the cost by pursuing those responsible for the cladding crisis.

I will also be supporting amendments to the Fire Safety Bill that hold the Government to their promise and help ensure leaseholders are protected from unfair fire safety costs”.

The amendment tabled by McPartland and Smith also provides welcome clarity on the specific costs that would be prevented from being passed on to leaseholders, but Labour has sought to go further.

As currently drafted, the McPartland and Smith amendment would not cover leaseholders in blocks where flammable cladding has been added at some stage following the building of the block. It only applies to defects in the original design of buildings. As an example, the Grenfell Tower was built in the 1970s, but the flammable cladding was added in 2017.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“Labour has tabled an amendment that would ensure that the cost of fire safety problems from refurbishment jobs, like the cladding on the Grenfell tower, cannot be passed on to leaseholders. 

Labour’s amendments also include new clauses so that the Bill protects leaseholders from the day it comes into law, instead of an unknown date in the future. And Labour’s amendments ensure that if the Fire Safety Order is extended in the future, the Secretary of State must publish an analysis of the financial implications for leaseholders”.

MPs will be given the opportunity to vote for these amendments when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan MP has been liaising with leaseholders at the Vista Apartments, Admiralty Quarter and Gunwharf Quays affected.

 

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister responds to newly published details of Armed Forces Bill

Stephen Morgan MP has responded to new details published today of the provisions within the government’s Armed Forces Bill.

The Bill is set focus on ‘fairness’ of treatment for Service Personnel, veterans and their families.

This comes following reports last year of apparent substandard accommodation and food facilities for those service personnel on the frontline of UK COVID-19 efforts, as well as some veterans and their families being evicted from their homes after the government cancelled a private housing contract.

Responding to the news, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

“Labour of course welcomes any legislation that seeks to enhance and protect the welfare of our service personnel and veterans – and we will look at the detail of this Bill as it emerges.

“The government’s focus of this Bill is that personnel, veterans and their families are treated with ‘fairness’, but the sad irony is the government would fall far short of its own tests in this Bill.

“With reports this year of apparent inadequate accommodation and food facilities for our service personnel on the frontline of the UK COVID-19 efforts, or the news of veterans’ families being evicted from their homes after a failed private housing contract, this must now change.

“We stand firmly behind our Armed Forces and will press the government to ensure that the Covenant delivers for every member of our service personnel and their families, regardless of their circumstances.”

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Portsmouth MP votes to protect workers’ employment protections

Stephen Morgan MP has voted to protect holiday pay entitlements and safe working limits following the Government’s admission that employment protections are being reviewed to see which to scrap and which to keep. 

Despite repeated promises from Ministers that they have no plans to rip up the rights of workers, it has now been revealed that the Government will consult on changes which could mean:

  • Ending the inclusion of overtime in how holiday pay is calculated,
  • A longer working week, with no legal cap on the number of hours employers can make their employees work
  • An end to the legal right to rest breaks at work

Analysis by the Labour Party has revealed that key workers including care workers, haulage drivers and police officers would lose out on hundreds of pounds a year under the plans being considered.

Under the current rules, workers are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of statutory leave that they take, and employers have to include regular overtime in how a week’s pay is calculated. For example, if your pay is set at £250 a week but in practice you usually earn £300 a week due to regular overtime hours, the higher figure should be used to calculate your holiday pay.

Scrapping these rules would mean the pay workers are entitled to while on holiday would be lower – calculated from a base hourly rate, without overtime. 

Analysis by Labour can reveal that removing overtime from calculations of holiday pay would mean:

  • The average full-time care worker would lose out on £239.60 a year
  • The average full-time police officer would lose out on £308 a year
  • The average full-time driver of large goods vehicles would lose out on £413.60 a year
  • The average full-time worker in food and drink processing would lose out on £500 a year

Labour’s motion on Monday (25 January 2021) called on the Government to specifically rule out any changes to the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work, or holiday pay entitlements, and to outlaw fire and rehire tactics.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“During this lockdown period, Ministers should be focused on securing our economy and protecting jobs and businesses, not removing the hard-won rights of working people.

“These changes would leave many workers in Portsmouth, including key workers, hundreds of pounds out of pocket and working longer hours in unsafe work.

That cannot be right and I will continue to call on Government to think again.”

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Protection, added:

“In the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, Ministers are considering ripping up workers’ rights. This could see people across the country worse off, losing out on holiday pay and working longer hours.

Scrapping the 48-hour working week cap could mean many key workers feel pressured to work excessive hours. The Government should be focused on securing our economy and rebuilding the country, not taking a wrecking ball to hard-won worker’s rights.  

“The Government’s true colours are on full display once again and it’s clear their priorities couldn’t be further from those of workers and their families.”

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‘Prime Minister must scrap council tax rise for families’ says Portsmouth MP

Labour has today urged Government to properly fund local authorities so that proposals for a planned 5% council tax rise can be scrapped. Under current plans drawn up by Ministers, Government would allow local authorities to increase council tax – meaning a £89 increase to annual household bills for the average Band D home in Portsmouth.

Current Government plans would make families pay for a £2 billion hole in council budgets.

The vote follows an appeal from Labour leader Keir Starmer to stop the council tax rise and provide certainty to millions of struggling families who face additional blows to their household incomes from frozen pay and a cut to Universal Credit.

Under the Government’s proposals, households living in Band D will face an average rise of over £90 next year under plans set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review. It means council tax will have risen by 33% under the Conservatives.

Portsmouth City Council faces a funding gap because of income lost during the pandemic and the additional costs of keeping communities safe from COVID-19.

Conservative Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said councils would be funded to do “whatever it takes” to support their communities but later backtracked and suggested councils should share the burden of their lost income.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on council finances. According to the Local Government Association, the latest figures from the COVID monitoring survey put the financial impact of COVID-19 on local authorities at an estimated £9.7 billion for 2020/21, with a further £2.8 billion of lost income from council tax and business rates.

“At the outset of the pandemic the government promised to do whatever was necessary to support councils in their fight against Covid-19, but Ministers have failed to do so.

“This Government should not be making families pay for their mishandling of the pandemic and their broken promises to support councils”.

On the vote today and opposition day debate, the Portsmouth South MP added:

“Families across our city are facing serious pressures currently, but instead of supporting them, the government has decided to add to their hardships.

“These next few months are going to be incredibly tough for many families, which is why Labour is calling on the government today to stop the council tax rise and properly fund councils, otherwise local authorities will be left with little choice to protect the services we all rely on.

“Government must provide certainty to millions of struggling families, following the recently announced blows to their household incomes from frozen pay and cuts to Universal Credit.

“That’s why I’m urging the Prime Minister to scrap the council tax rise.”

Mr Morgan has recently called on the government to support families through this latest lockdown period, criticising the mid-January announcement that free school meals would not be provided by the government through February half-term.

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP welcomes ‘step in the right direction’ on sewage pollution

Stephen Morgan MP backs the ‘Storm Overflow Taskforce’ proposed actions to help reduce sewage pollution but says ‘more must be done’

Ahead of a meeting with Southern Water today, the Portsmouth South representative welcomed the Storm Overflow Taskforce’s announcement that they aim to end the harm caused by Storm Overflows. The actions include a number of commitments made by water companies.

Storm overflows were designed to be used during extreme weather to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with a combination of sewage and rainwater, releasing diluted wastewater into rivers rather than letting it back up into people’s homes. However climate change has led to increased rainfall and water infrastructure has not kept pace with development growth over decades.

The task force has made the following recommendations:

  • to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year-round
  • to publish on their website how many times they have used CSOs to pump raw sewage into the environment each year

Stephen Morgan MP met with Southern Water today to call on the water company to do more to tackle constituents concerns over discharges into Langstone Harbour and the Solent.

The company have committed to taking forward the feedback from the city MP, promising a string of actions to ensure improvements.

Following the meeting, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Sewage pollution in our community is a serious concern not just for local water users, but all Portsmouth residents.

I welcome the taskforce’s announcement as a step in the right direction, but I know my constituents will demand further and faster action. That is why it was important to meet with Southern Water today to discuss this and other concerns in my postbag. It is reassuring our local water company rightly recognised there is more they can do.

I will be keeping a close eye on their plans, holding the Government and water companies to account, so we finally see much-needed action to tackle the long-term causes of sewage pollution”.

The Storm Overflows Taskforce was set up in August 2020 to bring together water companies, regulators and environmental NGOs to accelerate progress in this area, building on work already underway to improve our rivers and waterways.

Its work covers a series of short, medium and long-term actions focused on the goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows – a generational endeavour that will involve significant change and take time to achieve.

The city MP has vowed to continue campaigning on this alongside Surfers Against Sewage and other community activists.

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Shadow Minister criticises Chancellor for pay cut to Armed Forces personnel

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the Chancellor for administering a real-terms pay cut to Armed Forces personnel earning over £18,000.

This comes as new analysis from Labour has revealed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hit every key worker earning over £18,000 in England with a real-terms pay cut this year.

It is estimated there are around 8,880 Armed Forces personnel in Portsmouth, many of whom are likely to face the cut.

In November’s Spending Review on 25 November, the Chancellor announced a ‘pay freeze’ for all public sector workers earning above £24,000 in 2021-22.

NHS workers weren’t included, while those earning less than £24,000 were promised “a fixed increase of £250”.

Taking into account inflation over the next fiscal year, that means every non-NHS public sector worker earning over £18,000 will actually get a real-terms pay cut.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“It cannot be right that just at this crucial stage when our Armed Services have stepped in to support the efforts to tackle the coronavirus, many in Portsmouth and across the country will receive a real-terms pay cut.

“Our Armed Forces deserve better and should be rewarded for their efforts, not be punished in having their pay cut, particularly at this moment.”

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, added:

“Key workers have kept our country going throughout this crisis, but now Rishi Sunak wants to give over a million of them with a real-terms pay cut.

“Not only is that poor reward for their hard work, it’s economically irresponsible. If families have less money to spend, then businesses will suffer and the recovery will take longer.

“The Chancellor must think again, and cancel plans to cut Universal Credit, hike council tax and cut pay for our police officers, teachers and Armed Forces personnel. They shouldn’t have to carry the can for this Government’s mistakes.”

Mr Morgan has previously called on the Chancellor to reverse the public sector pay freeze.

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City MP backs calls for supermarkets to suspend delivery charges for most vulnerable

Stephen Morgan MP has backed charity Independent Age’s campaign supermarkets to suspend delivery charges and reduce minimum basket spends for people who are most at risk if they contract COVID-19 and have been advised to stay home.

The campaign focuses on protecting those are may be disable, people with long term health conditions, older people, unpaid carers and others.

The charity recently coordinated a joint letter signed by over 20 leading charities to the CEOs of seven large UK supermarkets who are involved in facilitating priority delivery slots for people at high risk of COVID-19.

Those who are most at risk are facing long periods of staying at home for their safety, including those who are once again shielding.

Many of these people now need to rely on online shopping. While supermarkets have expanded online deliveries for people at high risk, the extra costs to those consumers are putting many people under financial pressure.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Those most at risk need to be supported during this pandemic and charging them more for the safest way for them to get basic essentials like food should no be happening.

“We know UK supermarkets can more than afford to suspend delivery charges and reduce minimum basket spends for people who are most at risk if they contract COVID-19, so I completely support Independent Age’s campaign on this important issue.”

Last month, Mr Morgan also called for greater support for and to end discrimination against disabled people in Portsmouth.

 

 

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City MP calls on Home Secretary to give assurances after 400,000 criminal records ‘lost’

Stephen Morgan MP has written to the Home Secretary seeking urgent clarification of the impact of the reported loss of 400,000 police records has had on Portsmouth.

The letter sets out a number of key questions for the Conservative Home Secretary, including, how many people have been affected in Portsmouth what work is being done with police to identify gaps in the system and what the impact will be on vital safeguarding issues, such as domestic abuse and stalking.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“This fiasco is incredibly serious and the Conservative Government’s incompetence is putting the safety of people at risk in Portsmouth.

“Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that as a result of this mess criminals will escape punishment, victims will miss out on justice and our community will be less safe.

“I’ve raised this as an urgent matter with the Home Secretary demanding information of the full impact on Portsmouth and vitally how we can fix this very serious problem.”

Mr Morgan will be submitting a series of parliamentary questions to understand the local impact of the data loss.

 

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Portsmouth MP criticises government for refusing to back Labour plans to scrap cut to Universal Credit

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government tonight after it refused to support Labour’s proposal to scrap plans to strip £20 a week from 20,764 people in Portsmouth, after the Official Opposition forced a vote in the House of Commons demanding that the government scraps its planned cut to Universal Credit.

This will hit 16,434 families in Portsmouth with a cut equivalent to the cost of the average family’s annual electricity, gas and internet bills combined.

This follows the Prime Minister’s remarks at the Liaison Committee last week that he intends to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, or £1040 a year, for 6 million families in April.

The official opposition has repeatedly called for the Prime Minister to change course and provide certainty to millions of struggling families who face a triple blow of council tax hikes, frozen pay and a cut to Universal Credit.

Child Poverty Action Group has stated the £20 uplift is essential to ensure “low-income families with children receive the support they need”. While the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that the cut could see another 200,000 children pushed into poverty.

City MP Stephen Morgan has taken a range of actions to lobby Government to think again about the proposed cut to universal credit.

This includes writing to the Chancellor in November to urge him to reconsider the policy decision, submitting parliamentary questions to Ministers, and arranging for a motion at Portsmouth City Council to lobby Government to cancel the cut, but was not supported by local Tories.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It is unthinkable that Conservative MPs want to push families in Portsmouth into further hardship in the midst of an economic crisis.

“What’s just as worryingly is when we discussed these Government plans at the city council, local Tory councillors stayed silent, then voted against plans to stop the Chancellor cutting this lifeline for so many local families.

“The Government’s handling of the current crisis has caused Britain to suffer the worst recession of any major economy. Now Ministers are trying to make low income families pay as a result of their incompetence. 

“Families in Portsmouth deserve support during this crisis, not cuts.”

 

 

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Portsmouth MP demands answers from Education Secretary on childcare funding

Stephen Morgan MP pushed the Education Ministerial team in the House of Commons today to take action on funding for early years and childcare providers across the country.

 

It comes as many early years providers in the UK face financial uncertainty at the moment due to national Covid-19 restrictions, with the local MP writing last week to over 40 early years and childcare providers across his constituency.

 

The parliamentary representative wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP at the beginning of the month outlining his priorities for local education in Portsmouth, including his concerns about the financial pressures nurseries are currently facing.

 

According to a recent report from Coram, 58 per cent of local authorities think that local childcare providers may close for good, leading to calls for immediate investment and clarity about future funding arrangements.

 

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

 

“Nurseries are not just crucial for families; they are a vital part of our economy.

 

“The government urgently needs to set out its strategy for early years providers, as well as provide certainty on future funding.

 

“Without this, Government risks losing essential childcare places in less well-off communities as a result of the pandemic and damages the prospects of our economic recovery.

 

“Last week I wrote to over 40 local nurseries, early years and childcare providers to hear their views and ideas. This week I am putting my words into action by raising their concerns in Parliament. I will continue to push the government to act on this important sector for our community.”

Mr Morgan has submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on this issue. He is committed to continuing to liaise with the range of local childcare providers to understand and speak up for the sector.