, , , , , , , ,

‘Government must deliver on its promise to creative workers’

I know from my postbag that many constituents are concerned by the issue of work permits for creative workers now that the Brexit transition period has ended.

The work musicians, performers, technicians and writers do in bringing creativity to our lives is important in and of itself, but it is also a hugely important part of our city’s economy and has to be part of the recovery plan for Portsmouth as we emerge from the pandemic.

The industry was one of the fastest growing sectors before the pandemic and a real example of Britain shining on the world stage as we are a net exporter of music worldwide.

I believe it is not acceptable that UK-based creative workers miss out. These opportunities are even more essential in the context of how hard-hit creatives have been in the pandemic. Incomes have been lost and so many people have fallen through the gaps in government support.

The current situation will prevent many younger, newer artists from touring and progressing their careers. It will also prevent European acts from touring here – hitting our music venues when they need it most.

Labour wants the Government to deliver on its promise to creative workers that they won’t be subject to unnecessary bureaucracy in the post-Brexit world. UK-based creative workers should not be disadvantaged by the Government’s failures to stand up for their jobs and nor should our venues miss out on EU-based talent.

Ministers need to put this situation right. I will continue to push the Government on this important issue of concern for Portsmouth people.

Stephen Morgan MP

, , , , , ,

‘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.

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

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.

 

 

, , , , , , , ,

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.”

 

 

, , , , , , ,

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.

 

 

, , , , ,

City MP welcomes free legal advice available to Portsmouth residents

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed the University of Portsmouth’s law school continuing to offer free legal advice to anyone in the city on all areas of the law, except criminal and immigration matters.

The Legal Advice Clinic has been running since 2013, and is run by student legal advisers and supervised practising solicitors. Every year the team helps over 250 local people, staff and students with legal issues.

Typically, you’ll receive advice on the day, but the team may follow up by email, or write a letter where the matter is more complex.

The pandemic is highlighting a range of legal issues including with tenants such as university students and their rental properties, employees who are being made redundant, and more.

Common enquiries the team help with include:

  • Tenant issues – problems with the condition of your rental property, return of your deposit, and whether you can leave before the tenancy finishes
  • Family – breakdown of relationship/contact with children
  • Employment – issues with colleagues at work, an employer not paying wages, or unfair dismissal
  • Small claims – returning a defective product, paid for work to your property that was not completed, or received court proceedings due to a disagreement over payment of an item or service
  • Private client – how to make a lasting power of attorney, issues over a will, do you need to obtain probate and how to apply for it?

Appointments are available over phone and email, every Monday and Wednesday, for University students, staff and the public.

To book an appointment, call 07711 389 522 or email advice@port.ac.uk. These lines are staffed Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4pm.

 

 

, , , ,

Stephen Morgan MP calls for the Government to reverse lifting ban on bee-killing pesticides

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has today called for the Government to reverse its decision to lift the ban on bee-killing pesticides, known as neonicotinoids. This pesticide is seriously harmful to Britain’s dwindling bee populations and will further damage biodiversity.

Stephen Morgan MP also accuses the Government of rolling back on commitments made to uphold the ban by previous Environment Secretary, Michael Gove. He pledged to uphold the ban on neonicotinoids in 2017.

At the time Michael Gove, said: “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood … We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”

He also said: “Unless the evidence base changes again, the Government will keep these restrictions in place after we have left the EU.”

The city MP is concerned that this is a worrying indication of the Government rolling back other hard-won environmental gains after Britain has left the EU, which would be a breaking their manifesto commitment on environmental protections which states that during trade negotiations they will “not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”

Furthermore, just only yesterday there were reports that Britain will continue to allow plastic waste to be exported to developing countries. This would be breaking another Conservative manifesto commitment on banning the practice.

Luke Pollard, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has written to the government to urge him to reverse lifting the ban and for this to be scrutinised by MPs with a vote in Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I’m concerned about bee populations in our community. I know from constituents that protecting biodiversity is a top priority for people in Portsmouth.

“We have lost too many bees and if bee-killing chemicals are allowed to be used again I worry that we will lose even more.

“I was elected on a manifesto to protect bees that is why I am calling for a vote on the Government’s plans to permit bee-killing chemicals to be used.

“I will be strongly opposing this plan to protect our local bee population.”

Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary added:

“Bee health is non-negotiable. The ban on bee-killing pesticides must remain in place to protect our natural environment. Labour is demanding a vote in Parliament on the Government’s plan to allow bee-killing pesticides.

“Labour supports our farmers but ending this ban is not the solution to tackle crop blight.”

 

, , , , ,

‘Back local councils with proper funding to prevent the planned council tax rise’ urges Portsmouth MP  

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has called out the Government’s hike to council tax – a £1.9bn planned bombshell costing the average family £90 each.

Today in a major speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, Labour pointed out that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are hitting workers in their pockets by “permitting” councils and Mayors to increase council tax by up to 5% next year.

The government’s finance settlement assumes that councils will do this in how it calculates spending power will change. The settlement indicates that core spending on local services has the potential to increase by £2.2 billion in 2021/22, an increase of 4.5 per cent.

However, more than 85 per cent of the potential core funding increase next year is dependent on councils increasing council tax by up to 5 per cent next year.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Councils up and down our country, including our own here in Portsmouth, are facing the tough choice about whether to increase bills to bring in desperately needed funding to protect services.

“This comes at a time when we are acutely aware of the significant burden that could place on some households and many across our communities are struggling to make ends meet”.

Government proposals mean this would be a £2bn bombshell to households in England. For the average Band D property in England, where the average council tax for 2020-21 was £1,818, a 5% increase would be £91. 

Labour is calling on the Government to put families first during this latest lockdown by backing local councils with funding to prevent the planned council tax rise; stopping the planned cut to universal credit; extending the ban on evictions and repossessions; and giving key workers the pay rise they deserve.

On this, the city MP added:

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor should stand by their pledge to do whatever is necessary to help councils get their communities through the crisis by funding the shortfall that they are trying to pass onto families, rather than force councils to raise taxes. Otherwise we risk Portsmouth people paying more and getting less, yet again.

“This crisis has exposed the insecurity felt by many families over the last ten years. Insecurity of work, insecurity at home and insecurity of health.

“Government must now put families first during this lockdown, supporting parents and protecting household incomes and properly fund councils”.

 

, , , , ,

Stephen Morgan MP volunteers with PiTC to deliver meals to local residents

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP used parliamentary recess to volunteer to deliver food to local residents as part of his wider work with local charity Pompey in the Community (PiTC).

Time was also spent by the city MP reading poems online for use by local schools, and helping the Blue Kitchen project which aims to encourage Portsmouth families cook fresh food affordably.

The charity has provided a range of support and services for local residents throughout the pandemic. In partnership with others, PiTC were able to get 60 meals a day to be delivered to those who needed it most during the summer lockdown of 2020.

This comes as the country entered a third period of lockdown this week as Covid-19 infections levels continue to rise throughout the UK.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It is critically important that those who are unable to access basic essentials such as food are continued to be supported by our local community, just in the way they have in previous lockdowns.

“PiTC have done an incredible job over the last twelve months in providing support to our local community and we are incredibly grateful for their efforts.

“It was a pleasure to use parliamentary recess to find out more about their invaluable work for our city and offer a helping hand”.

For more information about the work of Pompey in the Community visit https://pompeyitc.co.uk

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP urges local people volunteer with city’s vaccination programme

Stephen Morgan MP is calling for members of the city’s community to come forward to take part in supporting the city’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, via charity, HIVE Portsmouth.

From 18 January, HIVE Portsmouth is aiming to provide volunteers to support Solent NHS Trust and the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme.

Volunteers will be needed 7 days a week, working in shifts, to help guide patients arriving and departing from the vaccination centre in a timely and safe manner.

Members of the public can register via HIVE Portsmouth’s website.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“This is a fantastic opportunity, for those that feel safe to do so, to support our city’s and the country’s historic effort in the fight against coronavirus.

“The vaccine is our way out of this and it is now so important that we all do our bit, where we can, to roll it out and vaccinate Britain.

“HIVE Portsmouth has been a central pillar to our city’s efforts throughout this pandemic and I want to thank them for this and their wider efforts over the past year.”

The Portsmouth South MP has previously underlined the importance of the government scaling up its Covid-19 Vaccination Programme as fast as possible.