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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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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.

 

 

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Shadow Minister demands ‘clear and credible’ plan to protect and vaccinate armed forces

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan has called on the government to set out how and when armed forces personnel will receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

It comes as the number of troops deployed to support the Covid-19 response hit 5,000 and new analysis of Ministry of Defence Statistics revealed that the average weekly number of Coronavirus tests administered to defence staff per week is just 1,901.

The Opposition has called for a ‘clear and credible plan’ to protect troops on the ground, who are providing practical support to roll out the vaccine and community testing.

Government figures suggest that the number of confirmed cases in defence personnel jumped to an all-time high of 3,291 in December, up by more than 1,000 on the previous month.

Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace raised hopes when he appeared to suggest that troops helping with Coronavirus response would be prioritised in some way.

But no further clarity has been forthcoming, prompting concerns over the welfare of troops on the ground.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces, said:

“The armed forces are doing vital work to support frontline staff at this critical juncture in our work to vaccinate Britain. Our world-renowned troops should be utilised as much as possible to speed up vaccinations.

“In the immediacy, government must rapidly ramp up testing for our armed forces, who are putting themselves at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“The Defence Secretary must also set out a clear and credible plan to vaccinate our troops, particularly for those who are to be deployed for longer periods of time.

“We must protect those who are protecting us.”

 

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Government must do the decent thing and ‘Cancel the Cut’ says City MP after hearing from local Citizens Advice

Stephen Morgan MP has today renewed his call for the Government’s plans to cut Universal Credit (UC) by £20 per week to be scrapped and called on others to get Ministers to ‘Cancel the Cut’

The latest intervention comes after hearing from Portsmouth Citizens Advice on the importance of the campaign and ahead of a debate on Monday in Parliament where the official opposition will force a vote by Government to justify its decision.

Contacting the city MP this week, Portsmouth Citizens Advice said:

“Every day our advisers speak to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic. Our local office is proud to have support 1207 people with Universal Credit during the crisis.  

However, the new national lockdown will further impact local people’s lives, and many will struggle if the uplift expires.

The uplift has been a vital lifeline for local people, safeguarding quality of life and helping to prevent permanent economic scarring. Citizens Advice and organisations across the country will be working together to encourage the Chancellor to keep the lifeline, as well as extend the uplift to legacy benefits”.

The total Universal Credit caseload in Portsmouth South, Morgan’s constituency, has risen to 11693 – a 108% increase since March. The changes to Universal Credit could take around £10,900,000 out of the local economy, or more if the caseload increases. 

The Portsmouth South MP has taken a range of actions in recent months to urge the Government to cancel the cut to universal credit including 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:

“Universal Credit is a lifeline to many people in Portsmouth and across the country. Right now people are relying on it more than ever.

“Cuts to Universal Credit, especially during this time of crisis, is not only morally bankrupt, but would cause serious economic damage to our economy and its and our city’s ability to recover from this crisis.

“That’s why I am calling on the government to cancel the cut and will continue to push Ministers to make sure claimants get the support they so desperately need”.

Mr Morgan has called on the Chancellor last week to set out his wider strategy on economic support for Portsmouth as he prepares to announce his budget in March.

On Monday, during an opposition day debate, Labour will force a vote on the proposed cut to universal credit to urge the Government to think again over their plans.

On this, the city MP added:

“The Government must do the right thing on Monday, and stop the planned £20 a week, or £1000 a year, cut to Universal Credit due for April 2021, which will hit Britain’s poorest households.

“I’ll be doing the decent thing on Monday when MPs come to vote. I hope the Government do too”.

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Portsmouth MP backs The News’ campaign to vaccinate city’s communities with support of pharmacies

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed the campaign by The News calling on the government to utilise pharmacies as part of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme, and has today taken action by calling on the Minister to make it happen

Lobbying the Minister for the COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Portsmouth South MP has highlighted that approximately 90% of the population are within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, whilst nearly 70% of people have been to a community pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“We will beat this virus by getting our city and Britain vaccinated as quickly possible. That requires us to use every resource we have, including pharmacies. We need to ensure that it is possible to get vaccinated round the clock, and round the corner.

“By Government adding community pharmacies to the programme it would add thousands of new settings across the country in which vaccinations can be safely administered, dramatically cut the time it takes to vaccinate everyone who needs it and allow the lifting of the national lockdown faster.

“I’ll continue to do all I can to urge the Government to deliver on this not only for the people of Portsmouth, but for our country.

“The first step in that process was to write to the Minister responsible today calling on him to make it happen”.

Leader of the Opposition and party leader, Keir Starmer added:

“Every high street has a pharmacy and I want to see every possible pharmacy deployed to help.

“Across those communities, pharmacists stand ready to play their part too. Let’s use them, and let’s vaccinate Britain.”

Earlier this week, Stephen Morgan MP used the opportunity during Health questions to ask Government when the new vaccination centre at St James’ hospital will receive the doses and equipment to hit the ground running on the vaccine roll-out. The city MP awaits a reply from Government.

 

 

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Inaction risks ‘generational damage to patient care’ if issues over NHS dentistry not addressed warns Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP stood up for Portsmouth people struggling to access NHS dentistry or get the care they need in a debate in Parliament today on the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on dental services

Speaking in a debate in order for the relevant Government Minister to respond and take action, the Portsmouth South MP underlined he is ‘particularly concerned about the recently imposed NHS activity targets’ and the impact this is having on local dental services.

The latest intervention in the House of Commons follows Mr Morgan’s long-running efforts on concerns from constituents and came after hosting a summit earlier this week with representatives from Healthwatch Portsmouth, the British Dental Association (BDA), and the local dental committee.

New targets set by Government could lead to some practices facing steep financial penalties if they fail to hit 45% of their pre-pandemic NHS activity during the current quarter.

According to figures from the BDA, only 43% of adults in Portsmouth have seen an NHS dentist in the 2 years up to June 2020, compared to 48% across England.

During his speech, the Portsmouth South representative spoke of one of his constituents that attempted a DIY tooth extraction, using pliers to relieve their pain, joining the 7.6% of English households who have done similar.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“Dental services in our city were already under huge pressure even before the impacts of Covid-19, but the government is exacerbating the situation.

The recently imposed NHS activity targets are particularly illogical. The targets effectively force practices to prioritise volume over need – leaving them with little choice but to conduct routine check-ups instead of clearing the backlog of more time-consuming treatments.

This creates the unsustainable situation where patients in our city are unable to access the treatment they need, while practitioners are in a race against time to maintain their financial viability”.

Mr Morgan has previously raised concerns on the impacts the pandemic has had on dentistry and called on Government to act. The MP is now calling on Ministers to intervene to reach agreement with the profession and alleviate concerns being raised.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Though Ministers have committed to reforming the system we have seen no action and little appetite to do so.

It is essential we fundamentally reform the way NHS dentistry is commissioned and incentivised. 

Without urgent change, NHS dentistry in Portsmouth and across the country could be decimated, permanently damaging patient care for decades to come”.

In support of the call to action, Ian Mills, Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK, added:

“Many patients have been unable to access dental care for over a year, with their dental problems getting steadily worse, and oral health inequalities exacerbated by coronavirus restrictions. The dental profession is acutely aware of the present backlog of unmet dental need, which requires treatment as soon as possible.

However, the recent imposition of UDA (Units of Dental Activity)-based targets in England to remedy this, just as the pandemic becomes worse than it has ever been, is at odds with the Government’s message to ‘stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives’.

The dental profession has worked assiduously to create a safe environment for dental treatment to be delivered, but there are justifiable concerns that significant increases in patient throughput, in order to meet UDA targets, could potentially compromise staff and patient safety. 

The UDA was an ineffective measure of activity before the COVID pandemic, and we consider it even less appropriate now. Circumstances will vary by practice and by patient, but the priority should be on safety, the treatment of those with acute needs, and essential maintenance of oral health.”

 

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City MP demands answers from Health Secretary on local vaccination centre

Stephen Morgan MP questioned the Health Secretary this morning on when the local vaccination centre in Portsmouth will get the equipment it needs from central government to become fully operational.

The parliamentary representative for the city demanded further clarity from Matt Hancock MP in the House of Commons today, following the recent announcement that St James’ Hospital has been selected as a vaccination centre for the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

This comes following a significant local uptake in applications for voluntary roles to support the vaccine rollout programme, with Mr Morgan also signing up to volunteer with local organisation HIVE Portsmouth.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“We all want to see the St James’ hospital vaccination centre in our city open as soon as possible.

“It’s frustrating that the Health Secretary wasn’t able to provide the clarity hard-working staff and volunteers on the ground need at this crucial juncture in our efforts to vaccinate Britain.

“I will continue to hold the Secretary of State to his promise to write to me to provide this information as soon as possible.

“Our local NHS is ready. The government must now deliver”.

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

 

 

 

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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

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City MP lobbies Health Secretary on concerns over NHS dentistry

Stephen Morgan MP is lobbying Government on the recently introduced NHS activity targets for dental practices, raising concerns they may present a clear and unnecessary risk to patient safety and the viability of already stretched dental practices in Portsmouth.

The parliamentary representative has urged Matt Hancock MP to abandon the targets and work with NHS practices and the British Dental Association to find a sustainable solution to benefit patients in Portsmouth struggling to be seen by a dentist.

In addition to a letter to Government, the Portsmouth MP has committed to:

  • Take part in a debate in Parliament next Thursday on the effect of Covid-19 on dental services, to raise concerns of dentists and patients.
  • Call a summit discuss these issues further, inviting local dentists, the Chair of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Dental Committee and Portsmouth Healthwatch.

Stephen Morgan MP commented:

“I am hearing targets set by Government are risking dental care across the country, not just here in Portsmouth.

“Due to the pandemic, there has understandably been an extensive backlog created, but prioritising routine check-ups over clearing it poses an unacceptable danger to ongoing patient care.

I will continue to take further action in the coming months to hold ministers to account on this and to push for greater access to local NHS dentistry for local people.”

Mr Morgan backed Labour’s pledge last year to offer free dental check-ups for all, following long running action over patient access in Portsmouth and has fought the closure of local dentistry practices.