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Portsmouth MP votes to protect workers’ employment protections

Stephen Morgan MP has voted to protect holiday pay entitlements and safe working limits following the Government’s admission that employment protections are being reviewed to see which to scrap and which to keep. 

Despite repeated promises from Ministers that they have no plans to rip up the rights of workers, it has now been revealed that the Government will consult on changes which could mean:

  • Ending the inclusion of overtime in how holiday pay is calculated,
  • A longer working week, with no legal cap on the number of hours employers can make their employees work
  • An end to the legal right to rest breaks at work

Analysis by the Labour Party has revealed that key workers including care workers, haulage drivers and police officers would lose out on hundreds of pounds a year under the plans being considered.

Under the current rules, workers are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of statutory leave that they take, and employers have to include regular overtime in how a week’s pay is calculated. For example, if your pay is set at £250 a week but in practice you usually earn £300 a week due to regular overtime hours, the higher figure should be used to calculate your holiday pay.

Scrapping these rules would mean the pay workers are entitled to while on holiday would be lower – calculated from a base hourly rate, without overtime. 

Analysis by Labour can reveal that removing overtime from calculations of holiday pay would mean:

  • The average full-time care worker would lose out on £239.60 a year
  • The average full-time police officer would lose out on £308 a year
  • The average full-time driver of large goods vehicles would lose out on £413.60 a year
  • The average full-time worker in food and drink processing would lose out on £500 a year

Labour’s motion on Monday (25 January 2021) called on the Government to specifically rule out any changes to the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work, or holiday pay entitlements, and to outlaw fire and rehire tactics.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“During this lockdown period, Ministers should be focused on securing our economy and protecting jobs and businesses, not removing the hard-won rights of working people.

“These changes would leave many workers in Portsmouth, including key workers, hundreds of pounds out of pocket and working longer hours in unsafe work.

That cannot be right and I will continue to call on Government to think again.”

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Protection, added:

“In the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, Ministers are considering ripping up workers’ rights. This could see people across the country worse off, losing out on holiday pay and working longer hours.

Scrapping the 48-hour working week cap could mean many key workers feel pressured to work excessive hours. The Government should be focused on securing our economy and rebuilding the country, not taking a wrecking ball to hard-won worker’s rights.  

“The Government’s true colours are on full display once again and it’s clear their priorities couldn’t be further from those of workers and their families.”

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Portsmouth MP demands “clear and comprehensive” economic plan as Chancellor announces “last-minute” support for businesses

Responding the Chancellor’s announcement of new lockdown grants for leisure and hospitality businesses, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Businesses in Portsmouth and across the country continue to struggle against lost revenue and a constantly shifting raft of restrictions.

“While extra financial support will be welcomed by some, this is yet another last-minute, one-off cash bung from a Chancellor with no long term plan.

“We’ve seen time and time again how this government’s economic response to the pandemic has lagged behind what businesses are experiencing on the ground. Portsmouth needs a clear and comprehensive plan from the Chancellor that addresses coming cliff-edges for businesses on evictions and protects jobs, not another video on Twitter.”

Throughout the pandemic, Stephen Morgan MP has consistently taken action to support the struggling hospitality sector and those excluded from government support. 

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Lockdown: your questions answered

Stephen Morgan’s responses to lockdown FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions on the new national lockdown coming into force this Wednesday (6 January) and some Stephen’s views:

National lockdown

What is the justification for a national lockdown?

It is clear that the virus is out of control, more and more people are getting infected by the disease and this is putting immense pressure on our NHS.  The tiers established by Government put Portsmouth in the toughest of tiers, yet this has not been working well to contain the virus.

Stephen has said that the Government should have acted on the scientific advice it had before Christmas that a lockdown similar to March was needed to get control of the virus. He also believes Ministers must not keep making the same mistakes again, which is why a national lockdown is now necessary.

‘We need a step change in our response from Government to the virus and a national effort to get control of the virus, protect the NHS, vaccinate Britain’ Stephen has said.

What should be included in a national lockdown?

It is right that the Government has set out that the national lockdown is for all of England comparable to the restrictions introduced in March.

Schools are part of the national lockdown but Stephen believes measures need to be put in place to protect working parents, for children to learn at home, and for schools to reopen safely as soon as possible.

Vaccine

What does Stephen want to see happen with the vaccine roll out?

Our country was the first in the world to get the vaccine, we should now aim to be the first in the world to get vaccinated.

Stephen wants to see the Government delivering a vaccination programme with the very least two million people a week getting the jab, with the aim of doubling that figure by the end of February.

Government should recruit an army of volunteers to help and cut the red tape that is making it difficult for retired NHS staff to help out. Ministers should also ensure we have vaccination centres in every local community and provide GPs with the resources they need.

Stephen is calling for Portsmouth to have a vaccination hub as soon as possible, and alongside this, has been calling for mass testing in the community.

The government must also be clear with the public about the number of vaccines we have available every day and getting on with delivering them.

‘The NHS says it is ready – the Government must now deliver’ says Stephen.

The local economy

What financial support should be in place?

Introducing a national lockdown now is the best way to support the economy. If the PM had continued to dither and delay he would have caused greater damage to businesses, jobs and livelihoods in our city.

Stephen has been taken action to ensure the economic package from Government supports businesses through this crisis and reflects the severity of restrictions.

In particular the government should immediately:

  • Use the £2 billion handed back to the Treasury by supermarkets and other large shops to help hard-hit businesses, including those in hospitality, and those who have been excluded from support.
  • Reform the one-off £20-a-head business support payment so that areas that have been in tougher restrictions for longer get more support.
  • Amend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme so people who have got new jobs since October 31st and are now at risk of losing them can be placed on furlough.
  • Find a solution to help those excluded from financial support so far from Government.

Stephen is calling for greater support for Portsmouth in light of the city entering national lockdown after being in the toughest conditions in tier 4.

Schools

Should schools be shut?  

Yes. Stephen has said the closure of schools for most pupils is a huge failure because the Government has lost control of the virus and been too slow.

Education has been Labour’s priority throughout the pandemic and have always said that schools must be the last thing to close.

The switch to remote learning for most pupils now looks inevitable and sadly necessary as part of a national lockdown.

The government need a plan for school closures to ensure that pupils don’t fall behind, that working parents and staff are supported, and that schools are reopened safely as soon as possible.

What provision should be in place for children missing out on school?

We must get children back in school safely as soon as possible, with a clear timeframe for reopening.

During the lockdown, all vulnerable and key worker children who can be in school should be. Stephen is calling on the government to work with schools and councils to ensure that vulnerable children are identified and supported to attend school throughout a national lockdown.

All pupils who are learning remotely must have the resources they need to do so. That means devices and connectivity for all pupils, particularly the most disadvantaged, and a plan to ensure that nobody is priced out of the education they are entitled to.

What support should there be for working parents?

Working parents face huge challenges in balancing work, childcare, and supporting children’s education. They must have the support they need to do this.

Government and employers must clearly promote the use of the job retention scheme for those who cannot work because of childcare commitments and emphasise the fact that this can be used on a flexible and part-time basis. Nobody should have to choose between their job and support their children.

Stephen believes that we cannot return to the confusion of the first lockdown, when parents did not know if their child could attend school when most pupils learned remotely. The list of critical workers must be clearly communicated to schools and families.

What would need to happen for schools to reopen?

We cannot enter a period in which schools are closed indefinitely – the consequences for children’s education and wellbeing would be devastating and last for years to come.

While school closures were inevitable to reduce the spread of the virus, we must act to ensure that children are not out of school for months.

That is why Stephen is calling on government to set out a clear plan for getting schools open again and any period of school closures must be used to get control of the virus and make schools safer.

The government should look at using a rota system after any period of closures, to ensure that children can begin getting back in the classroom safely as soon as possible.

 

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With no option of renegotiating left, Labour votes in the national interest to reject a no-deal

Labour votes today (30 December) “in the national interest” to implement the legislation on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, therefore avoiding a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

While the deal struck with the European Commission and 27 Member States has many shortcomings, Labour made it clear in the House of Commons that it was still preferable to the severe damage of a no deal scenario and that it brought stability and some certainty for businesses already under huge strain from the pandemic.

In the debate today, MPs were not given an opportunity to vote on the deal itself, but merely the implementation legislation, just hours before the transition period comes to an end tomorrow night.

Opening the debate for the official opposition, Labour Leader Keir Starmer also criticised the late delivery of the deal, and how it falls far short of the government’s promises on services, security and cutting red tape for British businesses and producers.

Labour have made clear they will build on the foundations of the deal to make the UK the best place to grow up in and grow old in.

Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who closed the debate said:

“For some stability, in the national interest, and up against the only other choice of a disastrous no deal scenario, Labour has voted for the trade deal agreed between the UK government and the 27 member states of the EU.

“But not only does this unambitious deal fall far short of what this government promised – months of dither, delay and theatrics mean it has come far too late for many businesses and caused unnecessary damage to the economy.

“This government must now deliver on its promises, and plug the gaps in their preparations for our businesses and borders – and fast. A Labour government will build on the foundations of this deal to change the UK for better.”

Stephen Morgan MP has a strong record of proudly speaking out in support of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

He has called in Parliament for a public vote on any deal. He has worked across the House and across party to prevent a no-deal Brexit and to protect workers’ rights and safeguard our environment. He has fought hard to secure investment in Portsmouth Port at risk of disruption and traffic chaos under a no-deal scenario.

Stephen Morgan MP commenting on the debate today said:

“Whilst it is a relief that a deal has been secured it falls vastly short of what the Prime Minister promised was oven-ready back in December last year, and it allows the country to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

“This is a thin deal and I have huge misgivings about it. Voting for or against it wasn’t an option before MPs today. The tough, but necessary decision to accept the implementation legislation is one that reflects a long-term effort to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit. It also allows the country to focus once again on the day-to-day priorities that matter to people: fighting the pandemic and rebuilding the economy.

“Portsmouth people will know only too well that after all the dither and delay the consequences of this deal and its weaknesses are this government’s to own”.

Commenting on Keir Starmer’s remarks that Labour will build on the deal, the Portsmouth South MP added:

 “A Labour government will hold Ministers to account on this deal, and will forge a new future for our country, leading the way globally, but working with our neighbours and those with shared values on crucial issues like tax justice, tackling climate change and workers’ rights.

“The deal falls far short of what the government promised. It neglects services which makes up 80% of our economy and weakens our security measures. I will hold Ministers to account on the promises they make and break to the British people.

“That’s why in the coming days I will be setting out a series of demands on what government must deliver for Portsmouth. I will be listening to constituents, local businesses and trade unions in the coming days to shape these priorities for our city.”

 

 

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UK-EU trade deal: Have your say

The Government has now published the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement following news on Christmas Eve that a deal had been struck. The deal sets out the relationship the UK will have at the end of the Brexit transition period. 

Since being elected MP, Stephen Morgan has had thousands of letters, messages and conversations with constituents to hear views on Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. He has also been meeting with local businesses to understand and address the uncertainty of a no-deal and liaising with the area’s branch of the European Movement.

In this latest survey, in order for Stephen to continue to represent your views in Parliament, he is keen to hear your ideas.

 Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Let me be clear: I campaigned to remain in the EU, and wanted people to have a final say. Sadly after the result of the General Election last year that is no longer possible.

There are two paths for the country now. A no-deal or a deal.

I want to hear from you with your views on what should happen next as I continue to hold the Government to account”.

To complete the short survey and tell Stephen what you think click here.

 

 

 

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“If Ministers are serious about turning around the misfortune of nation’s shopping areas, they need to commit to further investment in cities like our own”

Responding to news that Portsmouth has secured funding from the Future High Streets Fund, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I have long argued that Government needs to do better, the council do more, to bring our city’s high streets back from the brink which have been neglected for too long. That is why I have repeatedly lobbied Government over the challenges our shopping areas face and backed a bid to Ministers for much-needed funds.

Covid has made the crisis on our city’s high streets even worse, with more store closures, further job losses and shopping areas looking unloved. Whilst this investment is welcome, and a step in the right direction, yet again Portsmouth’s communities are short-changed by this Government. 

If Ministers are serious about turning around the misfortune of nation’s shopping areas, they need to commit to further investment in cities like our own”.

Portsmouth submitted a bid for £10.5m to Government with proposals for projects to the value of £4.9m for Commercial Road and £5.6m for Fratton Road.

The Minister responsible regrettably confirmed today (26 December 2020) to Stephen Morgan MP that figures fall short of what was requested.

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‘Glass half empty’ approach to support fails our pubs warn Labour

Labour warns of ‘last orders’ for pubs as government ‘glass half empty’ approach fails to provide adequate support to closed businesses on the high street

  • New analysis shows cash crisis facing pubs with an estimated £3.8 billion of lost income in crucial Christmas period
  • 36,000 pubs in England have been forced to close – or 9 out of 10 pubs in England
  • Labour is calling for a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund that would boost cash support to pubs and hospitality sector saving jobs and livelihoods
  • New analysis by the Labour party has revealed that 93 per cent, or 9 out of 10 pubs in England, have been forced to shut and are set to lose out on thousands of pounds in trade over the critical Christmas period.
  • 85 per-cent of pubs in England were closed in the run up to Christmas. This number will jump to 93 per-cent – with over 3,000 more pubs closed from (today) Boxing Day after new restrictions came into force across large parts of the country.

In November and December last year, pubs and bars across the UK made £3.8 billion in sales to tide them through the first quarter of 2020.

The Official Opposition is warning that thousands of pubs could go bust as they have seen takings tumble, debt mount up, and cash reserves reduced during the coronavirus crisis. The turnover for pubs and bars to August 2020 was less than half of what it was in 2019.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The failure of government to properly support pubs means that three quarters of pubs are receiving up to half the amount of cash support that they received in the first national lockdown.

“This comes after months of reduced sales and the cost of making themselves Covid-safe pushing many to the brink of bankruptcy. This latest analysis confirms what I am hearing from many Portsmouth publicans and is a stark reminder of the extent to which our much-loved local pubs are struggling. Government must act to protect our nation’s pubs”.

The Portsmouth South MP is urging the government to use a portion of the £2 billion in business rate relief that supermarkets have pledged to return to HM Treasury to establish a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund targeted at those firms that have been hardest hit throughout the crisis. 

Labour is calling for the remainder to be used to immediately support self-employed people excluded from support throughout this crisis.

The party is also calling for reform of the unfair Additional Restrictions Grant so that funding is allocated to supply chain businesses based on which Tier a local area is in and how long they have been in it, to reflect business need.

Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, added: 

“Pubs are a vital part of Britain’s high streets. They bring people together and help communities thrive. They’ve had the toughest of years as a result of the pandemic and, if the government doesn’t step up and put a proper support plan in place to secure their future, it will be last orders for many.

“Boris Johnson is failing our pubs. His glass half empty approach is a real threat to their future. Labour is calling on the government to use part of the £2 billion supermarkets are returning to set up a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund to save businesses and jobs now.”

 

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“There are two paths for our country right now” Portsmouth MP responds to UK-EU deal

Responding to news the UK Government has finally struck a trade deal with the EU, Stephen Morgan MP has said that whilst a better deal could have been negotiated, there are just two paths now left for our country: to move forward with this negotiated deal, or without one and the trading on WTO terms.

Following the Government’s press conference this afternoon and initial briefings on the deal, the Portsmouth South MP said:

The Prime Minister said he would deliver the British people an ‘oven ready deal’ but what he has announced today is not what his Government promised the country.

It is appalling that we got so close to the end of the transition period causing huge uncertainty for our economy and for British business with little over a week to prepare.

This deal is the bare minimum that Portsmouth people and our local businesses could have expected from this unnecessarily fraught process. What’s worse, it comes with a backdrop of the worst recession in three centuries and in the middle of a global pandemic. 

There are two paths for our country right now. A no-deal, which I’ve long argued would cause unimaginable damage for our city, or this thin agreement, with responsibility for it squarely at the steps of Number 10. I will therefore be looking very closely at the detail of the deal in the coming days ahead of Parliament’s return.

Whilst Labour accepts this deal is better for the national interest than a no-deal, the consequences are well and truly this government’s to own.

For the sake of the future of our city and Portsmouth people’s prosperity, I will continue to hold Ministers to account over their promises every step of the way”.

This is the deal Labour would inherit if elected in 2024 and it will be the job of the party in Government to build on it to make it succeed. That is why Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer MP has confirmed Labour will accept this deal and vote for its implementation in the national interest when it comes to Parliament next week.

MPs will be recalled to Parliament on 30 December following the Prime Minister’s press conference today. It is expected MPs will have a vote on the implementation of legislation for the deal.

 

 

 

 

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City MP demands Health Secretary acts to protect Portsmouth as new Coronavirus variant spreads

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock with four practical steps to tackle the more virulent strain of coronavirus in the city.

The call came as Portsmouth was placed into the new Tier 4 measures on Sunday, just hours after stronger Tier 3 measures had taken effect. This was done without prior consultation with local stakeholders.

The Portsmouth South representative outlined a series of measures the city now needs, to combat the new strain of the virus, prevent frontline NHS services from being overwhelmed and support struggling local firms.

They are:

Data transparency and testing

The letter reads:

“Government must urgently publish any data it has about the threat posed to Portsmouth by the new variant of Coronavirus and undertake more sophisticated testing to track its spread within the community.”

Currently, just 5% of testing swabs undergo the genomic sequencing needed to identify the new strain.

“What are plans for mass testing in Portsmouth?” Mr Morgan writes.

Support for frontline healthcare settings

The letter reads:

“Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital in Cosham is seeing a fresh spike of cases in recent weeks. Please urgently consider what further targeted support can be provided to frontline healthcare services in Portsmouth to prevent them becoming overwhelmed in the coming weeks, and ensure that supplies are not rationed.”

Vaccine rollout

The letter reads:

“I am proud to say QA was one of the first hospitals to begin inoculating patients, but that will not be enough. I understand there are plans to establish a regional hub to serve Portsmouth, but that the commencement date has been pushed back. I strongly urge you to keep the original date of 4 January and ensure that all Tier 4 areas are prioritised for vaccine hubs.”

Support to struggling small businesses

The letter reads:

“Many shops, leisure and beauty businesses in my constituency just getting back on their feet have had the rug pulled from under them, joining struggling restaurants and pubs already shut. Portsmouth businesses are doing the right thing and closing to keep people safe, but Government cannot keep leaving businesses in the lurch.”

This continues the local MP’s efforts to lobby the Treasury for improved support for local businesses.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“With infections rising and our city in Tier 4, we are at an important moment in our battle against Coronavirus. It’s essential that we have the data and vaccination infrastructure necessary to combat the spread, as well as further financial support for our local traders, who will now miss out on vital Christmas revenue.

“Time is of the essence and we cannot be caught on the backfoot again. I am urging the Health Secretary to act with the speed demanded by the scale of the challenge we now face”.

The latest intervention follows a series of parliamentary questions, briefings and meetings since the Government’s announcement of Portsmouth moving up the tiered system.

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Almost 175,000 businesses hit by Christmas closures under last minute Tier 4 restrictions

Labour is today calling on the Government to stand up for businesses and ensure those hit by unexpected Tier 4 restrictions have access to the economic support they need to survive through a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund.

Almost 175,000 businesses in Tier 4 areas across London, the South East and the East of England have been rocked by last-minute instructions to close, including more than 13,000 hairdressers and beauty salons, more than 8,600 gyms and leisure centres, and more than 45,000 retail businesses including clothes shops, homeware and book shops.

Yet the vast majority of businesses are only able to access an emergency cash grant worth around half or a third of the support on offer during the national lockdown in March, including 99% of hairdressers and beauty salons and 92% of gyms.

Calling for better support from Government for small businesses in Portsmouth, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Last week I called for the £2bn recently returned to HM Treasury by supermarkets in unneeded business rates relief to be urgently redeployed into a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund to help struggling small businesses on our high streets and those excluded from support.

“Now at the last minute Portsmouth has entered Tier 4, the Government can’t keep leaving businesses in our city in the lurch. Ministers must urgently boost support for closed traders through a Hospitality and High Street Fund to protect Portsmouth’s small businesses and local jobs now.”

Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary added:

“Businesses are facing a Christmas nightmare on the high street, forced to close at the last minute by Tier 4 restrictions.

“Many shops, leisure and beauty businesses just getting back on their feet have had the rug pulled from under them, joining struggling restaurants and pubs already shut.

“Businesses are doing the right thing and closing to keep people safe, but Ministers are not doing the right thing by them. We need these businesses on the other side of the crisis but the support is hopelessly inadequate, and the Business Secretary seems to be asleep at the wheel”.