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Extracurricular activities are in freefall for primary-age children, with poorest kids hit the hardest

New analysis published by the Labour Party today reveals how participation in extracurricular activities for primary-age school children is in freefall under the Tories.  

Analysis of the Government’s Taking Part Survey data shows declining participation for primary age children over the last ten years – with trends pre-dating the pandemic, including:

  • 13% decrease in competitive sports inside and outside of school
  • 36% decrease in participation in music
  • 45% decrease in dance activities
  • 47% decrease in theatre and drama
  • 16% decrease in visits to heritage sites
  • 18% decrease in visits to libraries, and
  • 13% decrease in visits to museums

Children from the poorest backgrounds are three times more likely not to take part in any extracurricular activities. 

Responding to the figures, Labour’s Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP is today announcing Labour’s ambition for all children to have the opportunity to undertake ten life-enhancing activities by the time they are ten, including playing a musical instrument, taking part in competitive sport and learning to swim and ride a bike.

Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP said:  

“Every child matters. Whatever their background – every child should have the chance to take part in activities that open their eyes to new opportunities. Whether that’s learning to swim, playing a musical instrument or visiting a gallery or museum to discover more about the culture and history of our great country.

“We only get one childhood and over the last ten years of Conservative government too many children have been denied experiences that set them up well for learning and for life.

“It’s Labour’s ambition that all children have the opportunity to take part in ten life-enhancing activities by the time they’re ten. And we offer to the Conservative government a plan to make it happen. If they won’t step up for the nation’s children, the next Labour government will.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Being born and raised in Portsmouth I have seen first-hand how extra-circular activities can enrich the learning and lives of local children.

“But the Tories in government have allowed participation to collapse, reinforcing existing disadvantage for primary-age kids in our area and slamming the door to better life chances,

“Labour’s plan offers children the opportunity to learn fundamental skills and immerse themselves in new experiences we used to take for granted. After a year like no other where our children have been among the worst affected, it is Labour taking the welfare of future generations seriously. It’s time this government did too.”

Labour has published its Children’s Recovery Plan. The Plan would deliver sport, drama, breakfast clubs, debating and a fully expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities. This would boost time for children to play and socialise after months of lost learning – and after a decade of declining participation in extracurricular activities (see table in Notes to Editors).

Labour will celebrate the role of organisations like Scouts, Girlguiding, uniformed cadets and community initiatives from across the country to highlight the role of the third sector in helping to realise our aspiration for all children.

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Stephen Morgan MP raises concerns over access to city’s healthcare following survey  

Stephen Morgan MP has once again raised concerns that a worrying number of people in Portsmouth are not getting access to GP care when they need it, following a new survey being published. 

 

Responses to the GP patient survey showed that 14.9% of patients surveyed in Portsmouth said they ‘did not find it easy to get through to their GP practice on the telephone’, and 17% of patients either ‘were not given an appointment or were unable to take up the appointment they were offered’. In addition, 6.4% in Portsmouth said it was ‘not easy to use their practice’s website’ to access information they needed.

  

The most deprived areas in the country have poorer access to healthcare and poorer health. The poorest areas have fewer GPs per head, and nationally, GPs working in the most-deprived areas of England get 7 per cent less funding per patient than those in more affluent areas. Men living in the least deprived communities can expect to live 9.4 years longer than those in the most deprived, with the gap around 7.4 years for women.

 

These figures reflect increasing concerns being raised by constituents in the city MP’s postbag which is why he has lobbied the Health Secretary to tackle the issue, written to the local decision-makers and has vowed to take further action when Parliament returns. 

 

According to latest data, 5.5 million people are currently on waiting lists for vital medical treatment – with numbers at a record high for three consecutive months.

 

Labour says the Government’s Health and Care Bill does nothing to tackle waiting times or improve access to healthcare in communities that need it, including in Portsmouth. 

 

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said: 

“It’s really concerning that patients in Portsmouth are struggling to see their GP and get the care and information that they need. 

 

“Primary care is essential to keeping people in Portsmouth healthy and patients must be put first. 

“Government need to ensure that local GP services are accessible to all in our community and are properly resourced, so that everyone is able to see a doctor when they need to. 

“I will continue to take action on our city’s concerns by raising these matters with Ministers”.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP said:

“It’s unacceptable that patients are unable to see their GP particularly in poorer areas thanks to years of Tory underfunding and cuts. 

 

“Instead of investing sufficiently in general practice, Sajid Javid is embarking on a top-down reorganisation of the NHS that imposes a tight financial straight jacket on local areas while side-lining family doctors.

 

“Ministers should put patients first, and expand access to health care to bring waiting lists down rather than a distracting NHS restructuring.”

Mr Morgan has previously demanded the government ‘cuts the rhetoric’ and supports the NHS after research from his office showed the number of people waiting for treatment in Portsmouth had continued to rise.

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‘The character of our country is defined by how we respond to these moments’ says City MP on Afghanistan debate

Today (Wednesday 18 August 2021) Parliament was recalled to allow MPs to receive an update from the Government on the shocking and worsening situation in Afghanistan.

Speaking in the debate, Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Opposition, said:

“20 years ago, the Taliban were largely in control of Afghanistan. Al Qaida were using the country as a training ground and a base for terror – including plotting the horrific 9/11 attack.

“There were widespread human rights abuses. Girls were denied an education, women could not work. Being gay was punishable by death. All imposed without democracy.

“Since then, a fragile democracy emerged.

“It was by no means perfect, but no international terrorist attacks have been mounted from Afghanistan in that period; women have gained liberty and won office; schools and clinics have been built. And Afghans have allowed themselves to dream of a better future.

“Those achievements were born of sacrifice. Sacrifice by the Afghan people who fought bravely alongside their NATO allies. And British sacrifice.

“Over 150,000 UK personnel have served in Afghanistan including Members across this House.”

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement during the emergency debate, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

I know many members of the Armed Forces Community in Portsmouth and further afield will be deeply distressed by the reports of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

“The sacrifices of British personnel, alongside the Afghan people and NATO allies, allowed for something that for many Afghans was not previously possible – to dream of a better future.

“Today the Prime Minister had the opportunity to reassure UK personnel who served in Afghanistan and worked to secure that future that their work will not be undone – but his statement offered little.

“The government’s failure is a dereliction of duty to the Afghan people, the 150,000 British personnel who served and the 457 who did not return home.

“What is happening in Afghanistan will have a profound impact on the mental health of many veterans, which we have known for some time is already in desperate need of addressing.

“This must be a wake-up call by Government to better understand, and better invest, in mental health support for our armed forces personnel and veterans.

“Keir Starmer was right today to say that mental health services for veterans must improve. The Prime Minister had little to say on the matter.

“I will be doing all I can to demand answers on what the government will be doing to address what I fear is an impending spike in mental health cases within the Armed Forces Community.

“I encourage any member of the Armed Forces Community who has been struggling with their mental health in recent days to contact Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion or All Call Signs, who will be on hand to provide the support that’s needed.

”You are not alone.”

In recent days the city MP has heard from many constituents with regards to the risks faced by UK nationals in Afghanistan, the implications of recent events on human rights and the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

The MP has already spoken with a number of local groups and the city council with regards to resettling Afghan families in the city and continues to help support this.

On the recently announced new resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees, the Portsmouth MP added:

“The latest resettlement scheme proposal by Government does not meet the scale of the challenge or complexities being faced, with the separate scheme for Afghan interpreters already far behind schedule.

“Not only does this risk leaving people in Afghanistan in deadly danger, it will also undermine the leadership role Britain must play in persuading international partners to live up to their responsibilities.

“In recent days, many of my constituents have shared with me their concerns for those fleeing the country in fear of persecution – or even death – seeking sanctuary in the UK. I will continue to help on these matters with the urgency they deserve.

“Soldiers and diplomats must be given the resources that they need and clear routes to safety must be established and expedited, both for Afghan refugees and those who have worked with Britain.”

Commenting on the Government’s lack of a plan to address the unfolding crisis, Stephen Morgan MP also said:

“The character of our country is defined by how we respond to these moments. We must now ensure our city and our country plays its part in providing a safe haven for families in need of safety. We all have a role to play and must be held to account – including the government.

“The scale of the refugee crisis will require an international response. 18.4 million people in Afghanistan already require humanitarian assistance and there is a real risk that this humanitarian disaster will get worse, particularly for women and girls.

“That response starts by the UK urgently ramping up humanitarian and development support for those who need it most and working with trusted partners who are already embedded in the country to deliver that vital support, so it reaches Afghans in need.

“With Portsmouth a proud city of sanctuary I know our communities will want to go above and beyond to help those needing support at this desperate time.”

 

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Local MP accuses Government of breaking its pledge to support veterans into work

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the Government for breaking its pledge to help personnel, veterans and their families find work after they leave the Armed Forces. 

In 2019, the Government announced plans to employ 100 specialist advisers – or ‘Armed Forces Champions’ – in job centres across the country. But Ministers now admit that just half that number will be hired.

The change means that there will be just one Armed Forces Champion to support every 14,000 working age veterans into employment. And a single specialist adviser could be set to cover all 29 job centres in the local Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.

There are 121,472 veterans of working age in the South East Region.

The unemployment rate for veterans is 7%, almost double level for the general population at 4.8%. In just Portsmouth alone, there are 5,083 veterans of working age.

Ministers have faced criticism from Labour and Service charities that their Armed Forces Bill doesn’t provide any further assistance to Forces personnel, veterans and their families to gain employment. The Government told its MPs to vote against a Labour amendment to widen the scope of the Bill at Report Stage to include provisions to support veterans into work.

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

“It is clear that Forces personnel, veterans and their families in Portsmouth need more support to find work, yet the Government has broken its pledge to provide specialist advice.

“This is yet another example of Ministers failing to match their words with action.

“That’s why I will be taking action to ensure the government is held to account for breaking its promise and will be pushing to see what it will be doing to remedy it as soon as possible.

“Labour will always honour the commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant. This government is treating it with contempt.”

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey, also said:

“Ministers are failing our Forces personnel and veterans. They have outstanding skills from their military service but many need help to get civilian employers to see their talents or to deal with problems in getting work.

“Labour want to see Ministers do more to support our veterans get work and successful civilian careers.”

 

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Stephen Morgan MP launches 2021’s search for community stars with Fratton Big Local

Stephen Morgan MP, in partnership with Fratton Big Local, has launched this year’s ‘Inspiring Fratton’ awards, which seeks to celebrate the achievements of people in Fratton.

The Portsmouth representative, who was born and raised in Fratton and attended local schools, co-created the awards with Fratton Big Local three years ago.

Fratton Big Local is a ‘Big Lottery’ funded 10-year project which aims to make lasting improvements to Fratton.

Run by a partnership of local residents, the scheme makes decisions about how to spend the funding, based on engagement and conversations with local key groups and those living in the area.

Awards categories are split between over 18s and under 18s, ranging from best community volunteer, to the best café or takeway on Fratton Road.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said:

“Born and bred in Fratton I’ve always believed the area is a strong and resilient community, but the last 18 months have tested every resident, in every part of this area.

“When, three years ago, I set up the Inspiring Fratton awards with Fratton Big Local, we never thought our community would be tested in the way it has in recent months.

“That’s why the Inspiring Fratton awards are even more important this year. They allow our community to come together and celebrate achievements, highlighting the unsung heroes in Fratton who have gone above and beyond, making a positive and lasting legacy for our community.

“I urge everyone in Fratton to nominate local people, groups and small businesses to win this year’s awards. It’s time to recognise our area’s heroes.”

If you think you know someone who makes Fratton shine a bit brighter, please nominate using the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DD67N3F

Nominations close on the 29th October 2021 and the awards will be presented on the 3rd December 2021.

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Afghanistan: Statement from Stephen Morgan MP

A number of constituents have contacted me with regards to recent events in Afghanistan which, as news reports show, are very distressing and of real concern.

The situation in Afghanistan is shocking and worsening by the hour. It is clear to me that there has been a catastrophic miscalculation of the capacity and legitimacy of the Afghan government and the resilience of Afghan forces which has led to this disaster. 

We now face the tragic rollback of those gains that UK troops, diplomats and charity workers, and their coalition and Afghan partners, have worked so hard for.  Whilst my thoughts are with the Afghan people, ahead of Parliament being recalled I believe there are very serious questions about the failed political and development strategy of the last ten years. 

In the House of Commons on Wednesday we can expect a statement from the Prime Minister, and a response from the Leader of the Opposition. I will be attending Parliament for this important debate.

The priority of the Government must now must be for the Ministers to accelerate efforts to get UK nationals and eligible Afghans out of the country. Labour strongly support the deployment of troops to Kabul to provide security and capacity to do this, and as shadow armed forces minister, I will do what I can to assist with this.

Portsmouth is making preparations to support those who helped UK Forces, and their families, settle here. This is very welcome, and I have spoken with the city council to offer my support with this and ensure our city goes above and beyond to support families in need.

However, I believe government has so far been far too slow to provide sanctuary to those Afghans who have served alongside and supported the British presence in Afghanistan. This is a shameful dereliction of duty. Even now, there are reports of Afghans facing unacceptable bureaucratic hurdles, which I have been raising with Ministers and in the media, and the Foreign Office suspending scholarships for young Afghans.

That’s why I am calling for our resettlement scheme to urgently be expanded to ensure people to whom we owe a huge debt are not abandoned. The Taliban’s return is also likely to lead to a refugee crisis. The UK Government must put in place specific safe and legal asylum routes and help support Afghans who are fleeing to neighbouring states. 

Keir Starmer has also said the government must immediately consult with our allies in NATO and key countries in the region about the implications of the collapse of the Afghan government. I agree with this approach. There needs to be a coordinated strategy from the international community to the changing situation on the ground, and a plan to try to protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights. 

Some constituents have raised with me the real risk of a humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls. It is utterly shameful that the government has slashed development support to the country by 45% just as it faces a grave crisis. The UK must show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need and prevent a humanitarian crisis. Given the advance of the Taliban and the evacuation of NGO, UN and British staff this is a complex and difficult task, and one which will require a coordinated international effort to achieve. 

The government has been silent as Afghanistan collapses, and this cannot continue which is why I welcome the call to recall Parliament and with urgency.

The government must use this important opportunity to explain to all MPs how it plans to work with allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and lay out a strategy to prevent Afghanistan becoming once again a safe haven and operational hub for international terrorism that threatens our national security.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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Portsmouth MP praises ‘fantastic creativity’ of new indoor skatepark to be converted from disused supermarket

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the ‘fantastic creativity’ of a new project that will see the old Sainsbury’s supermarket on Commercial Road converted into an indoor skatepark.

The long-term future of the Undercover Skatepark Project will be decided by Portsmouth City Council, which in the meantime has granted the project a temporary licence to use the site.

Plans include an indoor half pipe, as well as facilities for community arts and other wheeled sports.

Visiting the site, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said,

“It’s fantastic to see the creativity used here to breathe fresh life back into a large space which would have otherwise gone unused for some time.

“This will be a brilliant facility for our city which will help to support our local economic recovery from this crisis, by driving more people back to the high-street, whilst also tackling anti-social behaviour by providing a new safe haven for younger people.

“I want to see more local projects like this supported if we are to deliver Portsmouth’s cultural and economic recovery.”

Jacob Skinner, one of the organisers behind the project, added,

“It was great to have Stephen come visit our site.  Having the backing of our local MP is important to the project, it also reaffirms the importance of what we are doing. 

“We are building a wheeled sports, leisure and creative facility for the city so it’s nice to know we have it’s support.  I look forward to seeing him have a roll around when we open!”

Undercover Skatepark’s team of about 20 volunteers hope to have the indoor park operational by the end of the year.

You can donate to the project via its fundraising page here: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/undercover-skatepark-project

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Portsmouth Labour launch survey amid social care crisis

Portsmouth Labour Party has launched an online survey for local residents to provide their views on the mounting social care crisis.

Results from the short questionnaire will inform a dossier of evidence Stephen Morgan MP and the local party is preparing to lobby the Health Secretary for change.

It comes following reports that Ministers are considering a rise in national insurance to pay for an overhaul of the UK’s social care system. This would be a direct breach of the 2019 Tory election manifesto promise not to raise taxes.

According to Portsmouth Pensioners Association, £160m has been removed from the Adult Social Care budget in Portsmouth since 2015.

Over the last two years, 1,500 people in Portsmouth in the medium to lower needs group have had their social care removed to make budget savings.

The survey is the latest in a string of actions the City MP has taken locally and in Parliament.

Mr Morgan has long campaigned for Government to tackle the crisis in social care and has been sharing the concerns of his constituents, including Portsmouth Pensioners Association with Ministers.

Portsmouth Labour has also been taking action on the city council to ensure care users get the support they need.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The pandemic has brutally exposed the crisis in our social care system. The virus quickly took hold of an ill-equipped, underfunded and poorly coordinated sector, creating searing inequality for carers and devastating effects on individuals and families.

“It has been more than two years since the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and claimed he had a solution, but as ever with this government it is big on promises, low on delivery.

“I’m proud to launch this survey alongside Cllr Kirsty Mellor and look forward to working across the community to find the right solutions to one of the greatest challenges facing our society.”

Cllr Kirsty Mellor, Portsmouth Labour’s social care spokesperson added:

“While we welcome the recognition from the government that significantly more resources are needed to relieve the social care crisis, it is disappointing to see that announcement of any details have yet again been delayed! We’re campaigning locally to identify what actions can be taken by the council to respond to the urgency of the situation.”

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NEW: Caseworker job opportunity

Want to help make a difference to peoples’ lives? Interested in working at the heart of politics to help bring about change?

Then an opportunity has arisen to join Stephen Morgan MP’s Portsmouth team:

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South, the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency.

A small dedicated support team works out of the constituency office on Albert Road in Southsea to provide a public service to residents in Portsmouth South and assist with Stephen’s parliamentary duties.

Full time: Monday to Friday (occasional weekend work)

Salary: £21,529-£32,022 plus benefits

Initial fixed-term 12 month post (with option for extension/permanent contact)

What to do next…

If you have what it takes to join the team, please submit a covering letter and CV to julie.minal@parliament.uk by no later than Friday 27 August 2021, 12 noon.

Due to the high volume of applications expected please note we are only able to respond to those shortlisted for interview.

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‘Portsmouth’s GCSE students deserve huge credit, but they’ve been let down’ – local MP during results day visit

Stephen Morgan MP congratulated local GCSE students during a visit to ARK Charter Academy on Thursday for ‘overcoming huge obstacles’, despite disruption to their learning, after multiple lockdowns over the past 18 months.

The Portsmouth MP was speaking to students, parents and staff at the city school, as results were collected, to learn more about the challenges they have faced over the last year and a half and what more can be done to improve education in Portsmouth.

Children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ meagre education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just £0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.

Meanwhile, Labour’s £15 billion Child Recovery plan would invest £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

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

“GCSE students across Portsmouth deserve enormous credit for their achievements and hard work over the last year and a half, despite the challenges they faced only made worse by this government’s actions.

“From delaying a circuit breaker that led to more hours of lost learning, to a ‘catch-up plan’ that doesn’t even touch the sides, Portsmouth’s students, parents and teachers have been left by the wayside by this government.

“I’m incredibly proud of the determination and achievements of Portsmouth’s students this year, as I have heard first-hand today, but to recover from this pandemic and challenging period, this generation needs far more support from Government.”