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South East misses out on nearly 15,000 jobs for young people under Tory job scheme

Stephen Morgan MP has said the government’s flagship employment support scheme, Kickstart, is lacking ambition for young people, after its failure to support as many jobseekers in the South East as was previously promised.

The latest figures on performance of the programme show that by December 2021, only 12,030 had been started in the South East, 14,866 fewer than should had been started in the region had the scheme been successful.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, set a target of 250,00 jobs created through Kickstart, which would have meant around 26,896 new jobs in the South East. This would have made a big difference to young local job seekers.

However, as the scheme closes to new applicants, the Tories are set to miss their national 250,000 target by 55 per cent. Across the regions and nations of Britain, an average of over 12,500 more jobs would have been created had the Government met its target.

Meanwhile, the number of young people on Universal Credit has nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic, up from 450,000 in January 2020 to nearly 840,000.

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

“I am eager to see good local jobs created for talented young people in Portsmouth providing a boost for our local economy.

I have seen and heard first-hand some of the positive successes from the Kickstart scheme in our city, but the Government’s plan for jobs does not go far enough and young people in Portsmouth are losing out as a result.

“Labour’s jobs promise and plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain would make a difference to young people in Portsmouth who deserve the opportunities that a good job and fair pay provides.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“The government’s employment policies are failing to rebalance the economy, tackle economic insecurity and their Kickstart work programme has created nowhere near the 250,000 opportunities promised even though employers are desperate to get help finding staff. The Tories are doing nothing for young people in need of urgent jobs support.

“Eleven years of Tory economic failure has led to an explosion of in-work poverty and now families face a punishing triple-whammy of rising heating bills, rising prices in the shops and higher taxes. Yet again, it’s working people being hammered under the Tories.

“Labour would help ease the burden by scrapping VAT on household heating bills over winter. And with our jobs promise and plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain, we will boost jobs and growth across all parts of our country.”

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Rail Fare Hike: Portsmouth families will pay the price again

In recent days we’ve seen the announcement that rail fares will go up by another 3.8%, meaning average fares will rise to an eye watering 48.9% more than they were in 2010.

In Mr Johnson’s own Uxbridge constituency the cost of an annual season ticket from West Drayton to London Paddington has risen by £715 since 2010.

I’m clear that this announcement piles more misery onto our city’s commuters and families and will do nothing to stimulate demand once we come out of this pandemic.

Continuous fare rises undermine urgent action to tackle the climate emergency by pricing people off the railway.

Portsmouth’s passengers are paying more and more each year to travel on increasingly overcrowded and unreliable trains with average fares have risen twice as fast as wages.

This is just the latest example of the Government rail betrayal.

Labour recently forced a vote in the House of Commons demanding Boris Johnson reverses the North’s rail betrayal however Tory MPs including those in the red wall seats voted against plans to force the PM to stick to his promises.

The scaling back of Northern Powerhouse Rail, coupled with the scrapping of the Eastern leg of HS2 is a double blow for our regions.

A once-in-a-generation chance to transform opportunity across the whole country, rebalancing the economy and making it work for working people looks set to be lost.

The worst part is that the communities who will feel the brunt of years of broken promises, empty words and no action are at the same time being squeezed by the Conservatives’ tax hikes and rising bills, as those with the broadest shoulders remain largely untouched.

The Prime Minister was elected on a promise to level the playing field, to make things better for households across the country.  The reality is, he has pocketed that support in the knowledge he would go back on his word. There is another way.

Labour would reform our transport networks, so they work for the people and communities who rely on them and ensure they are fit-for-purpose for the economy of the future – with investment spread more evenly across the country and young people no longer having to leave the places they grew up in to find work.

Most importantly, Labour would put working people first, using the power of government and the skill of business to ensure good quality jobs are created here in Britain – in every region.

Stephen Morgan MP

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‘Rail Betrayal’ – Fares rise twice as fast as wages as local MP criticises government

Stephen Morgan MP has condemned Tory Ministers after a brutal 3.8% train fares hike was announced recently.

Labour has compared the costs on over 180 train routes between when the Conservatives came to power and the projected new prices that will be implemented this January 2020.

The average commuter nationwide faces paying a staggering £3,263 for their season ticket – £1069, or 49% more, than in 2010.

New figures released today by Labour show:

  • Average fares will rise to 48.9% more than they were in 2010.
  • That some commuters will be paying over £3,900 more to travel to work than in 2010.
  • Average fares have risen twice as fast as wages.

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

“Many families in Portsmouth are already struggling to make ends meet this Christmas, and rather than give them a helping hand the Tories have piled on more misery.

“With train times to London not dissimilar to what they were in the Victorian era, this is hardly value for money.

“The worst part is that the communities who will feel the brunt of years of broken promises, empty words and no action are at the same time being squeezed by the Conservatives’ tax hikes and rising bills, as those with the broadest shoulders remain largely untouched”.

Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, also said:

“This brutal Tory fare hike will be a nightmare before Christmas for millions of passengers.

“Families already facing soaring taxes and bills will now be clobbered with an eyewatering rise in the cost of the commute.

“Many will wonder what planet Ministers are on if they think people can afford this?

“People up and down this country are paying the price for a cost-of-living crisis made in Downing Street.”

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Christmas 2021: Message from Stephen Morgan MP

Last Christmas was incredibly difficult for communities across our city.

Lockdown and tighter restrictions meant many of us had to spend most of the festive season at home, leaving many feeling cut off and isolated.

This year, despite the emergence of omicron variant and ‘plan B’, many will be trying to be together safely with loved ones again this Christmas.

That is in no small part down to our city working together to tackle the worst of the pandemic. Whether that’s volunteering at local vaccine centres to get jabs in arms, donating to local foodbanks, or our local frontline workers helping to keep Portsmouth and the country moving.

But whilst we hope this Christmas will be an opportunity to catch up with each other after another tough year, it’s so important we all play our part to make sure no one is left lonely this festive season.

Whether that’s a chat over a cup of tea, a knock on the door, or sending a card to a neighbour just up the road, there’s something we can all do to bring people together this Christmas.

I hope you’ll join me in helping to tackle loneliness this winter, as we look to ring in a new year.

Until then though, I wish you all a very happy, and safe, Christmas.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

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Local Afghan evacuees presented with ‘Hug in a Bag’ at welcome event hosted by Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP joined local Labour councillors on Saturday to present evacuated Afghan families living in Portsmouth with a ‘Hug in a Bag’ to welcome them to the city.

Local Afghan evacuees were given Portsmouth themed goods donated by local people as a small gesture to help them settle into the community.

Organised by the Portsmouth Labour Party, local residents were invited to donate a range of welcome gifts to ‘Hug in a Bag’ to support Afghan families seeking sanctuary in the city. Donations included handmade quilts and other household items.

Local shops Pigeon books, Southsea Bathing Hut, Herbies Health Food Store also supported the scheme, acting as community hubs for those wishing to donate their welcome presents, or cash towards gifts handpicked by the high-street business owners.

Together the three stores received a total of £570 in donations from the community, including cash they donated themselves.

Labour member, Laura Watford, said:

“We felt the 3 shops involved in ‘Hug in a Bag’ all sold luxury Portsmouth themed items that we could add to the bag. They have been super supportive and have helped us pick some beautiful items for the bags. 

“If this model works then there’s no reason why we couldn’t replicate it in the future for more refugee families in Portsmouth. 

“As a group we are very proud of the money we have raised – over £570.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, added:

I am grateful to local people for their generosity in supporting Afghan families seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth. Once again I would like to thank those settling in our city for their work in supporting the British armed forces, and it has been a pleasure to welcome them as new constituents.

“Community-led projects like ‘Hug in a Bag’ are a shining example of the strength of our city coming together to support each other.

“These families have gone through an incredibly difficult time, and after supporting our servicemen and women, it’s only right we welcome them with open arms and help them settle in as best we can.”

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Reflections on outcomes of COP26 – Stephen Morgan MP

We all needed the government to succeed in Glasgow, but I’m afraid to say that despite some modest progress, we are miles from where we need to be to secure the emissions reductions necessary to keep 1.5C alive.

That aim is on life support after this summit. We needed transformational change, and we got little more than more of the same. Despite the inclusion of coal in the final agreement, and some side deals on issues like methane, deforestation and finance, Glasgow did not achieve what we needed it to.

The respected Climate Action Tracker, and the UN Emissions Gap report update, both show that there was not enough progress to halve global emissions to 2030, and that we are 20-25 per-cent of the way to this goal at most.

Whilst COP26 took place in the context of difficult global geopolitics, Boris Johnson and his government bear some of the responsibility for the failure of this summit to do more. We have long argued that he should have treated it with the seriousness it deserves, and had a proper plan for success.

The government undermined its own negotiating position by facing both ways in many cases. They called on countries to phase out fossil fuels and power past coal, whilst licensing a huge oilfield at Combo and flirting with a new coal mine in Cumbria. They called for finance for developing countries whilst cutting our aid budget – the only G7 country to do so. They even let big emitters off the hook, like Australia, by removing temperature commitments in our trade deal with them.

The government must now do better. We remain the COP President until Egypt next year, and it is vital government learns the lessons of their failure and finally delivers climate action and justice at home and abroad. I will continue to press government to tackle the climate emergency, and make the right choices for Portsmouth, Britain and the world.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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Portsmouth families ‘left by the wayside’ as one in ten across UK now facing financial crisis

Stephen Morgan MP has accused the government of leaving Portsmouth families ‘by the wayside’ after new data reveals one in ten families across the UK are facing a financial crisis this winter.

According to recent analysis from Citizens Advice, 10 per cent of families in the UK – equivalent to 3.2 million households – could be facing a financial crisis this Christmas and beyond.

National polling by the charity has also shown that one in five people have already cut back on their food shop (19%), or used less heating (20%) to save money, demonstrating how recent changes have left many households in a vulnerable position.

The organisation has also estimated that the energy price cap could rise by as much as £500 in April – adding an extra £40 a month to default tariffs. This will come as inflation is set to peak at around 5% and working families see a hike to their National Insurance.

It comes as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, with the Bank of England recently forecasting that salaries will fall by 1.25% this year, with inflation expected to reach to as high as 5% in 2022 and the highest sustained tax burden in peace time.

In October, four in ten households on Universal Credit faced a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit was cut by £20 a week.

Last month, the Portsmouth MP underlined that 21% of working age families in his constituency of Portsmouth South – nearly half of which with children – will be affected by the government’s cut to Universal Credit, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

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

“This government is lurching from one crisis to the next, leaving Portsmouth families by the wayside and offering little support to help them get through this winter.

“Energy bills, inflation and taxes on the lowest earners are all up, but support for working families is far below what is required to keep them secure this winter.

“I will continue to hold ministers to account to provide those most at risk this winter with the help they need, as government continues to struggle with getting to grips with the cost-of-living crisis.”

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City MP backs calls to address ‘decade of decline’ for local swimming pool access

Stephen Morgan MP has backed calls to address growing concerns about the number of decent swimming pools available to use for Portsmouth residents.

The city currently only has just a few options that are available to the public, while Swim England has also forecasted a wider 40% reduction in the number of available swimming facilities in the country by the end of the decade.

It has also warned this would leave 73% of local authorities short of the equivalent of at least one swimming pool.
Swimming remains one of the most popular activities in England, but almost 4 million people could be shut out of the activities they love because of these closures.

The Portsmouth MP recently met Portsmouth Northsea Swimming Club, on training at the Mountbatten Centre, which since 1927 has been delivering swimming courses and training for all abilities, from beginners to national level competitive swimmers.

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

“Swimming is an ideal activity for people of all ages with huge benefits for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so I’m particularly concerned about the reduction of access to local pools we are seeing in Portsmouth and across the country.”

“The city council’s decision to close facilities in Eastney and the Pyramids will have real impacts for local people, but I welcome the university’s efforts to open their new facilities to the public, alongside student and staff access.

“The next generation shouldn’t have fewer opportunities than the last and Government has got to get serious about the level of support that is needed to address this growing problem.

“Our city has helped to develop some top athletes over the years. It’s vital we don’t lose this valuable tradition. I will continue to push the government on this to ensure that happens and end this decade of decline.”

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City MP calls for immediate support package as local businesses face perfect storm

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has called for the immediate introduction of a business support package as local firms face a perfect storm as the Omicron variant spreads.

With the public having been told to ‘de-prioritise social contact’, many businesses in Portsmouth and across the country face a perfect storm of cancelled bookings, rising costs and staff shortages.

Mr Morgan called on Government to “properly engage” with business leaders and major trade bodies, as many businesses feel left in the dark by Ministers on how additional restrictions and advice resulting from Omicron would affect them.

Many workers are also worried that their livelihoods have been put at risk by the government’s inaction at a challenging time of the year.

The intervention from the City MP came as it was revealed that the Chancellor is on a trip to California.

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

“More and more businesses in our city tell me they need certainty and a clear plan for what comes next.

“We have a serious health emergency, businesses are worried and employees are anxious. That is why I have always called for economic support to remain in step with public health measures.

“Business leaders and trade bodies weren’t consulted on Plan B and it’s essential that Ministers engage with the sector to protect our economy and secure jobs.

“Yet we find the Chancellor is hanging out in Hollywood. The government’s failure to plan has once again left businesses owners and employees in limbo.

“The government must announce an immediate package of support the culture, hospitality and leisure sectors that matches the situation Portsmouth’s businesses are now facing”.

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City MP announces winners of his annual Christmas card competition that aims to bring people ‘Together at Christmas’

Stephen Morgan MP has announced the winners of his 2021 Christmas card competition for school-aged children. 

Students across the Portsmouth representative’s constituency of Portsmouth South were asked to send in their designs to his office for judging.

The theme of the popular competition for this year was ‘Together at Christmas’, which received over 400 entries.

The city MP this week visited the winner and runner up of his Christmas card competition at their respective schools of Southsea Infant School and Meon Junior.

The winner, Grayson (age 6), won first place for his drawing of winter owls. Amelia (age 10) claimed runner-up for her picture of a Christmas scene in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan hopes, after such a tough year, the competition will help spread some much-needed cheer across the local community as well as help young people understand the contribution made to Portsmouth of those working on the frontline in 2021.

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

“I’m delighted to announce this year’s winner and runner-up for their fantastic entries to my annual Christmas card competition. It was a really strong selection with so many entries, but the work of Grayson and Amelia really stood out.

“The past 18 months have been particularly difficult for so many people, both in our city and across the country, so I hope this year’s competition will be a chance to spread some much-needed cheer across our city and help bring communities back together once again.

“Whilst many of us are hoping to see each other over Christmas, it’s important we all play our part to make sure no one is lonely over the festive period. Whether that’s a chat over a cup of tea, a knock on the door, or sending a card to a neighbour just up the road, there’s something we can all do to bring people together this Christmas.”

The winning entry is to feature as the design for Stephen’s official Christmas card. The card will be sent to hundreds of individuals and organisations across the constituency and country later this month, with a copy sent to Her Majesty the Queen.