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Budget 2021: Portsmouth MP blasts government’s ‘failure to deliver for working people’

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government today for ‘failing to deliver for working people’ in its autumn budget, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier this afternoon.

The Portsmouth MP underlined that working people have ‘never paid so much for so little’.

It comes as the cost of living for people in Portsmouth continues to spiral, with a cut to universal credit in October, rising fuel costs, inflation expected to reach as high as 4% in 2022 and the highest sustained tax burden in peace time.

Four in ten households on Universal Credit are facing a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit is cut by £20 a week.

The Official Opposition has said the government has ‘got its priorities wrong’ and said they would focus on easing pressure on households and businesses. Their plan includes abolishing VAT on domestic energy bills for six months to help people get through the winter months and cutting Business Rates next year.

It comes as the Portsmouth MP’s office revealed earlier this month, based on a breakdown of data from the Office for National Statistics, that up to 174 of businesses are at risk in the local representative’s constituency of Portsmouth South alone.

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

“This budget is yet another example of the government’s failure to improve the daily lives of working people in Portsmouth. Never have they paid so much, for so little.

“Families across our city will be feeling the pinch this winter as the government continues to struggle to get to grips with rising fuel prices and the cost of living.

“Today we saw nothing to reduce the burden on working people with no VAT reduction on their energy bills. Little comfort for those on NHS waiting lists. Nothing to be seen on community policing and no real action to tackle the climate emergency.

“Where the Chancellor has failed, Labour will tax fairly, spend wisely, and get our economy firing on all cylinders.

In response to today’s budget announcement, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves MP, said:

“Families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, businesses hit by a supply chain crisis, those who rely on our schools and our hospitals and our police – they won’t recognise the world that the Chancellor is describing. They will think that he is living in a parallel universe.

“Time and again today, the Chancellor compared the investments that he is making to the last decade. But who was in charge in this lost decade? They were.”

Labour’s offer:

  • We’ll Buy, Make and Sell More in Britain by bringing jobs back to this country and awarding public contracts to British businesses, and create hundreds of thousands of secure jobs in low-carbon industries that tackle the challenge of climate change.
  • We’ll bring in a New Deal for Working People so people earn a proper wage, have job security, and can balance work with their lives with a right to flexible working. And we’ll always make sure work pays.
  • We’ll deliver efficient, modern public services that drive up standards in schools, hospitals, transport and the places we live and work.
  • We’ll always be on the side of British business, which is where wealth is created and where the jobs are created. We will work together with industry in a national endeavour to remake Britain and to seize the opportunities of the future.
  • And we will get real value for money for the taxpayer and stop the waste that is prolific under this government, with a new Office for Value for Money and strong fiscal rules. We will say how every commitment we make will be paid for.
  • In contrast to this Conservative government, Labour will tax fairly, spend wisely, and get our economy firing on all cylinders.
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Local MP calls for nominations for best Curry House in his constituency

Stephen Morgan MP has called for local nominations for the best South Asian restaurant in his constituency of Portsmouth South, as part of this year’s Tiffin Cup.

The Tiffin Cup, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, seeks to promote the importance of South Asian restaurants throughout the UK. There are at present 9,000 restaurants and takeaways in the country and they contribute over £2 billion to the British economy. Each year the competition has attracted over 100 nominees from MPs and Peers.

The restaurant with the most nominations from constituents will be nominated by Stephen Morgan MP to the Tiffin Cup judges. Following Stephen’s local nomination there will be a Regional Final from which 12 Finalists are chosen.

At the final, each restaurant will be asked to prepare a signature dish which will be marked by a panel of expert Judges, chaired by the Celebrity Chef Ainsley Harriott MBE. The winner is crowned Tiffin Cup winner for the year.

Local residents can share their nominations to Stephen’s office via the form on his website here.

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

Local businesses have really struggled to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, particularly those in hospitality.

“It’s so important that we support our highstreets and Portsmouth businesses, so I urge residents to visit local, get in touch and nominate their favourite South Asian restaurant for this year’s Tiffin Cup awards.

“We have a fantastic set of restaurants in our community that need our support, so it’s vital that we champion them and secure the wider recognition they richly deserve.”

The deadline for local nominations is November 19.

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Tiffin Cup Nomination

Please vote for your favourite South Asian restaurant in Portsmouth South. The restaurant with the most nominations from constituents will be nominated by Stephen Morgan MP to the Tiffin Cup judges.

Following Stephen’s local nomination there will be a Regional Final from which 12 Finalists are chosen. At the final each restaurant will be asked to prepare a signature dish which will be marked by a panel of expert Judges which is chaired by the Celebratory Chef Ainsley Harriott MBE. The winner is crowned Tiffin Cup winner for the year. The Tiffin Cup celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Established in 2007 it seeks to promote the importance of South Asian restaurants throughout the UK. Nominations need to be made by Monday 22 November. The Regional Final stage will be completed by 27th January 2022. The Grand Final with the live judging will take place in March 2022

Thank you for nominating. Stephen Morgan MP will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Tiffin Cup awards. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please visit here

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Budget 2021: City MP calls for immediate VAT cut on energy bills in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today called on the government to immediately remove VAT from domestic energy bills, as the cost of living crisis hits working people across the country.

The call comes ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday, and as rising inflation and energy bills leave many feeling the pinch.

Labour say a VAT cut on domestic energy bills – which would change the charge from 5% to zero – could come into place from 1st November. It should last for six months, seeing people through the winter months and would be automatically deducted from their bills.

This tax cut would be funded for by the higher-than-expected VAT receipts accrued since the start of the financial year.

To further tackle higher energy bills and the climate emergency, Labour recently announced how they would ramp up the ambition on retrofitting homes for sustainable, long-term reductions in energy bills – a major policy announced in Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s party conference speech – as well as building a more secure energy supply chain including new nuclear and improved gas storage, all pointed towards achieving Net Zero.

The Labour party have said the VAT cut would offer a helping hand when people need it most, and alongside not cancelling the Universal Credit uplift, and not hitting working people and businesses with a new jobs tax, this VAT reduction is part of Labour’s plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

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

“Right now in people across Portsmouth are being hit by a cost-of-living crisis which has seen energy bills soar, food costs increase and the weekly budget stretched.

“That’s why Labour is calling on government to immediately remove VAT on domestic energy bills for six months.

“With the Budget this Wednesday, the Chancellor has choices to make. He can choose to let online giants dodge tax, and ignore the cost of living crisis – or he can give working people in Portsmouth a helping hand by providing an immediate cut to their energy bills.” 

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Budget 2021: City MP pledges support for local pubs in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today pledged his support for the ‘Long Live the Local’ campaign to help pubs and breweries in Portsmouth South recover and thrive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on brewers and pubs throughout the UK and continues to do so as the sector tries to kickstart its recovery.

The sector needs an immediate boost and the fact that a local pub adds £100,000 to its local economy, creates jobs and acts as a social hub, underlines how directly investment in the form of lower VAT, Business Rates and an overall cut to beer duty can help pubs and their communities to recover.

It will also boost Britain’s world class brewing sector, a homegrown manufacturing success story that brews over 80% of the beer we drink.

Brewing and pubs in Portsmouth South supports 2478 jobs and contributes £60m to the local economy. With £1 in every £3 pounds spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers and pub goers are overtaxed and this is hampering the recovery of our cherished locals and Britain’s brewers.

The city MP has spoken up for our city’s pubs since being elected as part of his ‘Support Local’ initiative.

Lobbying Government again over the challenges the sector faces ahead of this year’s Budget from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Pubs are at the heart of communities across Portsmouth, but with pubs bearing a disproportionate burden as a result of the pandemic the Government should consider cutting unfair taxes on pubs that are hampering their recovery.

“I’m supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to support the recovery of our pubs.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, also said:

“85% of pubs are based in community and rural areas, bringing jobs to the parts of the UK that need them most. They employ over 600,000 people, of which 43% are under 25. Cutting Business Rates, VAT and an overall reduction in Beer Duty would go a long way to helping pubs and brewers across Portsmouth South that are desperately trying to recover.

“We are very grateful to Stephen Morgan MP for his support for the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT and Business Rates for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall.”

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP calls on government to reassess plans to scrap the vast majority of BTEC qualifications

Stephen Morgan MP has joined calls urging the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi to make an “early reassessment” of the Department for Education’s plan to remove funding for the vast majority of applied general qualifications such as BTECs.

It comes as the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign continues to grow, a coalition of 21 organisations that represent and support students and staff in schools, colleges and universities.

In July, the Department confirmed plans to introduce a twin-track system of A levels and T levels (a new suite of technical qualifications), where most young people pursue one of these qualifications at the age of 16. As a result, funding for most BTEC qualifications will be removed.

Under current proposals, larger BTEC qualifications (equivalent in size to 2 or 3 A levels) will be scrapped if the government deems they “overlap” with A levels or T levels. But the MPs and peers call for the option to study BTECs to be retained as they “are a different type of qualification that provide a different type of educational experience – one that combines the development of skills with academic learning”.

Recent data for participation in education, training and employment in England (end of 2019) shows that 864,304 16 to 18 year olds are studying at Level 3. The majority (55%) are studying A levels only, 19% are studying applied general qualifications such as BTECs (in some cases alongside A levels) and 4% are studying technical qualifications. Because of recent changes to Department for Education performance tables, 22% of students are categorised as studying an ‘Other Level 3’ course

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

“The removal of BTECs represents a hammer blow for social mobility, the skills gap and the economy. BTECs serve a different purpose and should co-exist in the qualifications landscape.”

During Love our Colleges Week, it’s really important we underline the importance of and value BTECs bring to education.

“Speaking to constituents, I know how critical these qualifications can be to ensure students have the knowledge and skills they need for the future.

Government must look again and Protect Student Choice.”

 

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Fire and rehire: Portsmouth MP votes to end ‘cruel and unacceptable’ practice

Stephen Morgan MP has backed legislation to stop employers being able to sack staff and rehire them on worse pay and conditions.

Despite it not being possible in UK law to outright ban fire and rehire, the Bill will enshrine good practice into law and will penalise bad practice.

The new legislation will require employers to provide all relevant information to workforce representatives or a recognised union and consult with them at the very earliest stage, with the intention of reaching agreement on the least disagreeable way forward.

The Bill also gives a right to claim automatic unfair dismissal if the steps are not taken or if a worker is dismissed for refusing a reduction in terms and conditions.

Fire and rehire is not a new phenomenon. However, it has gained prominence because of the high-profile controversy generated by its use by major employers such as British Airways, Heathrow Airport and British Gas in circumstances they claim to be justified by the COVID pandemic to force their staff onto lower wages and longer hours and cut benefits such as pensions.

A poll published by the TUC revealed that nearly one in 10 (9%) workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown in March.

In the same poll nearly a fifth of 18-24 year-olds say their employer has tried to rehire them on inferior terms during the pandemic. And twice as many black and minority ethnic (BME) workers (15%) have been faced with fire and rehire as white workers (8%).

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

Fire and rehire is a backward and unacceptable practice that must end. No one in Portsmouth should be subjected to this cowardly negotiation tactic.

“It is not just bad for working people, it’s bad for our economy too, with the loss of productivity meaning less public money to support our vital local services.

“We have an opportunity to emerge from this crisis and move on to something better, not go back to the broken measures we had before. Government must do the right thing and vote with Labour to end fire and rehire.”

Earlier this year, the Portsmouth MP met with local British Gas engineers, and members of the GMB union, whose members were striking, due to a dispute with Centrica on pay and conditions.

Mr Morgan also wrote a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP back in March, calling for Government action and demanded that ‘real negotiations’ be conducted. He disclosed in the letter that he had met with engineers in Portsmouth who have been affected by the renegotiation tactics.

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Portsmouth MP will vote to cut business rates, as new figures show over 300,000 businesses at risk across the country

Stephen Morgan MP will today urge the government to cut business rates, and support struggling high street businesses in Portsmouth.

 

It comes as the Portsmouth MP’s office revealed new figures, based on a breakdown of data from the Office for National Statistics, that up to 174 of businesses are at risk in the local representative’s constituency of Portsmouth South alone.

 

With business organisations including the CBI, FSB, British Chamber of Commerce and over 40 trade associations calling for an urgent reform of the tax, the cost to businesses from rising inflation and increasing shortages is making the change more urgent.

 

Labour committed at their party conference to cutting and eventually entirely scrapping business rates and replace them with a new form of business taxation fit for the 21st Century. 

 

Labour has proposed freezing Business Rates until the next revaluation, and then increasing the threshold for small business rates relief (from the current threshold of £15,000 to £25,000), to give SMEs a discount on their business rates bill for 2022/23, ahead of more fundamental reform, where the party say they will scrap business rates entirely and replace them with a new form of business taxation.

 

Labour would pay for easing this burden on businesses by raising the UK Digital Services Tax to 12 per cent for 2022/23, raising £2.1bn which would be spent on cutting business rates for small businesses and the high street. In the long term, Labour would fund the replacement for business rates by shifting the burden of business taxation away from the high street towards large online tech giants.

 

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

“Our high street businesses do so much to enrich our lives and our communities, facing huge adversity in the past year.

 

“But I know that many local businesses, particularly those in the city centre, are struggling right now, with a cliff-edge in rates relief coming up in March, and increasing shortages and supply chain issues increasing pressure and costs.

 

“I want Portsmouth’s high streets to thrive, and that’s why Labour will scrap business rates. We will carry out the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, so our businesses can lead the pack, not watch opportunities go elsewhere.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes World Bookshop Day and urges constituents to ‘support local’

Stephen Morgan MP has urged city residents to support their local bookshops, as he underlined their importance in education and development whilst shopping at his local bookstore for World Bookshop Day.

As one of the busiest times for the book trade, the coming weeks are when publishers launch their biggest books ahead of the festive shopping period. Booksellers, publishers, authors, illustrators and poets work collaboratively on the campaign to encourage consumers to shop in their local bookshop and ensure their high street is thriving.

Recent data from the Institute of Place Management demonstrated that UK and Irish booksellers play a crucial role in the recovery and regeneration of our high streets, with over 80% of bookshops surveyed contributing to at least 20 of the 25 factors for a thriving town centre.

Growth of websites such as Bookshop.org and Hive over the past few years has allowed online retailers to support independent bookshops offering an alternative to online multinationals.

Purchasing a book from Pigeon Books, a stone’s throw from the city MP’s constituency office on Albert Road, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“It’s so important that we recognise and support the role independent bookshops play in our community, both as contributors to our local economy and as route of access to learning.

“I was really pleased to be able to support local by purchasing a book from Pigeon Books that have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to serve our city. I thank them and all local stores for the crucial part they play in getting Portsmouth reading.

“If you’re out and about this weekend, stop by at a bookstore and support our city’s local businesses.”

You can find your local bookshops at www.booksaremybag.com/HomeSearch.

The city MP hosted an event to promote the work of independent bookstores before Pigeon Books found their home on Albert Road, and regularly showcases the work of local authors.

He settled on Stuart Maconie’s ‘The Nanny State Made Me’ as his Bookshop Day purchase!

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Pubs ‘vital’ to local economy, but being chronically let down by government – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has underlined that the pub and brewing sector has been chronically let down by government, despite its considerable contribution to the economy and the challenges it’s faced this year.

According to the latest research by the British Beer and Pub Association, in the Portsmouth MP’s constituency alone, brewing companies and pubs contribute 2,478 jobs and £60m to the local economy.

Nationally, before the pandemic, the sector was supporting 900,000 jobs, generating £23 billion in economic value and providing £13 billion in tax revenues.

However, even before Covid-19 took hold, pubs were under severe threat, with a 15% fall in their number from 2010 to 2020.

A review of business rates has been delayed by the government until the autumn, leaving many businesses working in the hospitality and related sectors feeling uncertain.

Meanwhile, the city MP has backed a call to scrap business rates and reforming business taxation, so it is fairer, more efficient and shifts the burden of business tax.

It comes as a number of industry bodies have got behind this year’s ‘Long Live Local’ campaign, calling on the Government to invest in pubs and breweries through the reform of the unfair tax burden – specifically lower VAT & Business Rates for pubs and lower Beer Duty.

After listening to concerns of constituents and the local hospitality sector, the city MP will be meeting industry in Parliament later this month to continue his efforts in lobbying Government for support to the sector.

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

“Pubs are at the heart of the UK’s communities and play an important role not only in our in our local and national economy but also in our social lives and neighbourhoods.

“But with inflation on the rise, gas prices up and an acute HGV driver shortage, many pub and brewing businesses will be worrying how long they can keep on going and need to be given assurances by government.

“That’s why I believe the business rate review must not be delayed any longer and must lead to wholesale reform. An overhaul of business rates is long overdue, and Labour’s alternative will offer a real plan to help our hospitality industry to thrive.”