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City MP reacts to biggest employment drop since 2009: ‘Government must do more for young and self-employed people’

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to provide better, targeted support for young and self-employed people in Portsmouth, in reaction to the latest UK employment figures showing its biggest fall in over a decade. The fall in employment was largely driven by young and self-employed people.

Official figures released this morning also showed the UK has now entered a technical recession, with the UK economy (April to June 2020) reaching a record fall of 20.4% – worse than any other country in Europe.

On today’s news Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“The government’s one size fits all approach is continuing to lead to job losses that simply should not be happening. The figures today outlining the biggest economic fall for any country in Europe confirms this.

“We are already experiencing the worst excess death rate in Europe. We’re now on track for the worst recession too. The government has got to do better, and I will be calling on the government for what its plans are to support the people of Portsmouth through this economic crisis.

“It must now realise the scale of this crisis and switch to a more flexible and focused approach to provide support to the people and sectors that need it most.”

The number of young people (aged 20-29) in the southern part of the City of Portsmouth is over 13% higher than the UK average, raising concerns about the local impact the coronavirus has had on younger people being able to keep their jobs.

The city MP added:

Over a quarter of the people in the south of our great city are aged 20-29, which gives me serious concerns that the government’s current approach to this job crisis is going to impact younger people in Portsmouth deeply unfairly, if it continues its single-minded approach.”

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in southern Portsmouth is also above the UK average, and the latest UK-wide figures have shown a 116.8% rise since March of this year.

“We also have an above UK average claimant count in the south of the city, which is why I am calling on the Government to adapt is financial support measures and ensure the coronavirus does not impact our fantastic city in any way that is unneeded.”

Stephen Morgan MP is continuing to lobby the Government on behalf of local residents who have fallen through the gaps of support, including calling on the Chancellor to take further action to support the self-employed and small businesses in the city.

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The South East needed a ‘New Deal, and all it got was a meal deal’

The South East is facing a looming jobs crisis, as the furlough scheme unwinds, and businesses operate with severe restrictions. In the South East there are:

  • 1,035,400 people are furloughed, equivalent to around 21.90% of the workforce
  • 352,000 people are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, around 7.45% of the workforce
  • 325,199 people are claiming UC and other out of work benefits, equivalent to 6.70% of the working age population and a rise of 178.12% since February.

This is why Labour has spent the last few weeks calling on the Chancellor to hold an emergency ‘Back to Work’ budget with one focus: jobs, jobs, jobs.

First we got rhetoric and rehashed announcements from the Prime Minister then last week we got a meal deal from the Chancellor.

Whilst the voucher scheme is welcome, customers will only return to the high street when they are confident the virus is under control. This requires a functioning track and trace system, and a clear framework for local lockdowns.

The Chancellor is also undoing any good work with the blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme, starting in just a few weeks.

He’s offered firms a £1,000 for any workers they retain until January, but this will be of little to comfort to those making painful redundancy decisions now.

The hardest hit sectors that rely on social interaction and an influx of tourists face months of uncertainty.

  • The Food and accommodation sector saw output fall by nearly 92% between February and April, whilst the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors saw output cut almost in half.
  • The food and accommodation sector supports roughly 331,120 jobs in the South East
  • An estimated 221,850 are furloughed and face an uncertain future as the scheme is withdrawn in a matter of weeks.
  • The arts and entertainment sector support roughly 158,359 jobs in the South East

An estimated 110,060 are furloughed, and again face an uncertain future as the government presses on with blanket withdrawal from August.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

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‘We needed proper plan and real investment in Portsmouth from Government today’ and instead we’ve been let down

Today the Chancellor made a financial statement to the House of Commons, responding to the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.

Labour has been calling for full and urgent ‘Back to Work Budget’ to protect UK jobs at a crucial phase of the coronavirus recovery warning that the country cannot afford for the government to make the same mistakes on the economy as during the coronavirus health crisis.

Arguing that the Government’s slow health response to coronavirus has worsened its economic damage, the Shadow Chancellor has warned that without swift action from the Treasury the UK risks falling even further behind other nations.

Other countries, including Germany, have already announced stimulus packages to support the post-Covid economic recovery. The measures announced by the Prime Minister last week fall well behind many other countries’ commitments.

Responding to the Chancellor’s Financial Statement, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Coronavirus is the biggest crisis of most our lifetimes. That is why my priorities have been protecting the health of Portsmouth people and protecting our city’s economy.

Although it is still too early to know the exact size of the economic shock caused by the crisis, initial signs show a sharp and deep recession. We also know the Government’s slow health response to coronavirus has worsened its economic damage, risking the UK falling even further behind other nations.

That is why I have been calling for a real budget to respond to the scale of the challenges our country faces, not a mere brief financial statement we got today from the Chancellor instead.

Whilst there are a number of measures in the statement today that I welcome – including support to the hospitality sector – we must ask what is in this for Portsmouth’s future? The sacrifices made by us all must be followed up with a targeted recovery plan that gets the economy back on its feet, brings real investment to our city and boosts local jobs and businesses. Instead we have been let down again.

We need a proper plan from Government not a one-size-fits-all approach dictated from Westminster. With all the challenges our communities now face, our city’s economy can ill afford to wait until the autumn for that”.

 

 

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‘We need a real budget focused on jobs, jobs, jobs’ says Portsmouth MP

Speaking ahead of the Chancellor’s summer update this afternoon Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Instead of a limited financial statement, what our city and our country needs today is a real Back to Work Budget – focused on preventing unemployment, supporting the unemployed and creating the jobs of the future.

Listening to constituents and local businesses who have fallen through the gaps in support, I have been calling for Government to abandon its one-size-fits-all approach and wind-down of the furlough and self-employed schemes.

Rather than waiting until the autumn to help those affected by this crisis and indebted small businesses, government should work out solutions for them now and present them today”.

Labour has called for a real budget focused on protecting and creating jobs. To deliver on jobs the Chancellor’s statement the official opposition has said the Government must meet four key tests:

  1. Projects must involve local firms, upskill the local workforce and lead to material improvement in the quality and availability of local employment.
  2. The Chancellor must rebuild economic resilience right across the entire country – and protect those institutions, like local authorities, that can help deliver that resilience.
  3. Every single project must be consistent with the drive to net-zero – so we can build the green jobs of the future
  4. Any benefits of investment now must not be cancelled out by poor decisions later. The Tories promised at the last election there would be no rises in income tax, National Insurance or VAT. We need the economy to bounce back from this crisis, so there’s money in the coffers to protect public finances.

 

 

 

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Ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening Portsmouth MP offers practical support to sector

Bringing together local businesses today, Stephen Morgan MP teamed up with Google with an online event to help our city’s pubs, restaurants and hospitality sector plan for reopening after challenging few months

Opening the meeting, Mr Morgan explained what he’s been doing to safeguard the sector before listening to issues and concerns.

The meeting closed with an Digital Marketing Course run by Google’s experts to help Portsmouth’s small businesses with their reopening.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The hospitality sector, particularly our pubs and restaurants, are an essential cog in the success of our city. Listening to concerns from those directly at the coalface is essential if we are to effectively plan our city’s recovery from this pandemic and economic crisis.

Findings from today’s event confirm that uncertainty remains around government’s guidance on PPE and protective measures.

I will continue to raise these concerns in parliament and push for clearer guidance and more comprehensive support for our hospitality sector here in Portsmouth.”

Once the roundtable concluded, Google Digital Garage staff led a bespoke training session on Digital Marketing designed to help Portsmouth’s hospitality sector keep up to date on the best business strategies amid Covid-19.

Google’s Open for Business programme is a new initiative which was launched last week to help one million small businesses by 2021. It has been designed with a specific focus on helping businesses who rely on in-person interaction – such as pubs, restaurants, shops and hairdressers.

Open for Business will provide support in a number of ways:

  • Through Google’s partnership with Digital Boost, they will connect small businesses and charities with Google Digital Garage coaches and Google employees, who are offering 10,000 hours of free 1:1 support and mentoring.
  • Support small businesses to update their online profiles to help them be found by customers. A recent IPSOS study showed 90% of customers are more likely to interact with a business if they have a phone number listed online, or if the business has shared images.
  • Sharing £25 million in advertising credits delivered to UK businesses, government agencies and NGOs.
  • Hosting free, live, 60-minute webinars to help local businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’. The content of these webinars varies from ‘Get Started with Live streaming’ to ‘Understanding Analytics’

Stephen’s constituents can access this package of support here.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Keeping informed on digital business skills will be an effective tool in combatting the reduced face-to-face interaction between companies and customers amid Covid-19.

While I welcome Google’s leadership in providing this free service to our city’s businesses, I am aware that there are many local organisations who are also there to help.

I encourage all of our city’s small businesses to take advantage of the support and guidance available to them at this challenging time.”

Stephen Morgan MP continues to raise the concerns of the hospitality sector amid Covid-19 in Parliament. He has submitted questions around PPE, put pressure on Ministers over social distancing guidelines and continues to hold listening exercises with local businesses.

 

 

 

 

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City MP and Google team up to support Portsmouth’s pubs and hospitality businesses

Ahead of some pubs and businesses reopening this Saturday, 4 July, Stephen Morgan MP is hosting an online event to help Portsmouth’s pubs and local traders on the road to recovery. 

The hospitality sector employs more than 3.2 million people nationally, adding up to 10% of UK employment, this amounts to 322,000 people employed in the sector in the South East making it an integral contributor to the local economy.

Local pubs and sector representatives have informed Mr Morgan that a lack of clarity over social distancing guidelines as well as concerns around PPE supply and safety equipment is threatening their futures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Portsmouth is fortunate enough to be home to a thriving pub scene that contributes greatly to the city’s culture and economy. The impacts of Covid-19 combined with unclear and problematic government guidance is putting this at risk.

The most important thing here is to listen to the people dealing with these issues. That’s why I am hosting this event with Google, seeking to give local pubs the opportunity to have their voice heard.

I urge anyone working in association with any of our city’s pubs and hospitality businesses to sign up to the call and be part of the discussion as we get our city on the road to recovery.”

The city MP’s event is part of a string of actions that he has taken to support small businesses struggling to deal with the impacts of Covid-19.

He has already liaised with representatives, lobbied Ministers in the House of Commons over guidance to businesses, encouraged residents to support local traders and continues to engage with the Federation of Small Business on remaining problems. 

Kicking off with an online event, support to businesses will continue with a free online Digital Marketing Course run by Google’s leading experts.

For businesses to register for the event, taking place on Thursday  2 July from 10:00 until 11:30 follow the registration link here: https://events.withgoogle.com/portsmouth-south-google-digital-garage/registrations/new/

 

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‘We need a back to work budget for Portsmouth’ says City MP

Analysis of new labour market data from the ONS shows the scale of the economic challenge facing the south east as claimants for Universal Credit and other unemployment benefits rose by 178.12% to 325,199.

Although an imperfect measure of unemployment, these figures show a severely strained jobs market and an urgent need for a Back to Work Budget.

The Government has reportedly postponed its next full budget until autumn, raising concerns a slow and muddled health response is now being followed by a slow and muddled response to saving jobs.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Government show 23.38 % of the workforce are furloughed in the South East whilst 352,000 of the workforce are using the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

Vacancies also fell by 60% across the UK between February and May, with steeper falls in some sectors. This includes:

  • 80% fall in construction, employing 5.3% of workers in South East
  • 94% and 70% falls in motor trades and retail, employing around 16.7% of workers in the South East
  • 94% fall in accommodation and food services, employing 7.3% of workers in South East
  • 85% in arts, entertainment and recreation, employing 2.5% of workers in the South East

Figures reveal that:

  • There were 325,199 people claiming universal credit and other unemployment benefits in the South East in May 2020, up 178.12% from February
  • This is equivalent to around 6.7% of the workforce
  • 23.38% of the workforce are furloughed, whilst 352,000 are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“These figures show the Government cannot afford to delay its next full budget until after the summer and must urgently bring forward a Back to Work Budget to protect jobs and livelihoods here in Portsmouth and across our region.

The government must also ensure the vital support provided by the JRS and SEISS are not withdrawn too soon, and that any withdrawal is tailored to the specific needs of firms and sectors in our city and for the south east.”

 

 

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP calls out failure to offer clarity to Portsmouth pubs

Representatives from local pubs have repeatedly informed the city MP that government vagueness on support and guidelines for the sector is threatening their businesses.

Today, during Business Questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP took action on local concerns by putting Ministers on the spot, demanding answers to the questions troubling Portsmouth’s pubs.

HospitalityUK, local boozers and sector representatives have said that a lack of clarity over whether 1 metre or 2 metre social distancing guidelines will be required is preventing pubs from putting in place preparations for reopening in just two weeks time.

Pubs and brewers have been working exceptionally hard to prepare for reopening in early July, however government missed its deadline yesterday for providing clarity over social distancing measures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government instructed pubs to shut. Then, it gave them a potential date for reopening. What they have failed to do is provide any of the vital information that allows them to make this transition and have missed their own deadline for providing this information.

Do pubs need to operate a 1 or 2 metre rule? Will they require PPE? What safety measures do they need to implement? These are the questions preventing Portsmouth landladies and landlords from getting their businesses back on track.

Portsmouth’s thriving hospitality and pub scene creates jobs and is crucial to our local economy. This government’s vagueness is putting our city’s future at risk.”

Industry experts say that 1 in 4 pubs do not have enough space to reopen and comply with the 2m rule, while 82 % of those that could reopen would have to operate at less than half capacity.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the BBPA said:

“Our 47,000 pubs and 2,000 brewers are now in urgent need of a definitive date on when pubs can reopen.

We have consistently and clearly asked Government for at least three weeks’ notice to ensure our pubs can bring staff out of furlough, prepare and reconfigure themselves to adhere to safety guidelines, and ensure they have fresh draught beer ready to serve customers.

The deadline for notice the Government needed to give us to be ready to reopen on 4th July, as referenced in its own roadmap, passed on Saturday. As of today we have no finalised safety guidelines and no definitive date for reopening – we need both today if pubs are to reopen on 4th July. I am delighted to see MPs like Stephen Morgan ask these tough questions and stand up for British pubs.”

Today Mr Morgan demanded answers and tried to pin the Business Secretary down on a date for when guidance would be issued. Again, he failed to provide any clarity and refused to offer a firm timeline for when social distancing information would be passed on.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“We have learnt that more than 600,000 hardworking Britons have lost their jobs amid lockdown with those claiming work related benefits jumping to 23% in May.

This is indicative of the government’s current strategy which is to announce major policy changes that lack any detail or substance with unrealistically tight time frames. We have seen it with schools, dentists, and now hospitality.

The fact that Government missed its own deadline for issuing guidance and today failed to provide me with an answer in parliament is simply not good enough.

I will continue to shine a spotlight on where government must improve and ensure that Portsmouth businesses are heard.”

Stephen Morgan MP’s parliamentary actions today are part of string of measures he has put in place to support local business. He has met with sector representatives and HospitalityUK online, written twice to the Chancellor, applied pressure through written questions and is in the process of orchestrating a webinar for local businesses struggling under the weight of Covid-19.

 

 

 

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To save our high streets ‘the hospitality sector needs clarity’ 

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has welcomed a series of demands to urge the government to save British high streets on the day that non-essential shops in England are being allowed to reopen.

Although allowed to open from today in a further easing of coronavirus lockdown, shops have been told that they must meet Covid-19 guidelines for the safety of customers and workers.

But the official opposition has expressed concern that guidance has not been specific or clear enough on sanitising, protective equipment and other areas, and it has sounded the alarm over confusing briefings to the press.

Stephen Morgan MP is particularly worried about the challenges faced by the hospitality sector after listening to local businesses urging for sector-specific support measures.

The demands made to ministers by Labour are as follows:

  • Stop anonymous speculative briefings on social distancing guidelines. Social distancing guidelines are vital information for venues to prepare to reopen safely in respect of layout of venue and capacity of venue, both of which impact on revenue and financial decision making. Businesses will require clarity and transparency. As with other aspects of Ministers’ response to the Covid-19 crisis anonymous speculative briefings to the press are deeply unhelpful, confusing business and the public with mixed messages. Any changes to the guidelines should be led by the science and come about through a transparent and clear process.
  • Give guidance on business-critical issues such as sanitising, PPE for staff, security provision, use of toilets, the use of phone apps for ordering, vertical drinking and table service. Without this information, many business operators are struggling to plan their opening and short-term business model.
  • Set out what help will be available for operators who have to remain closed because the two-metre rule prohibits them from being able to open safely and/or it is not financially viable for them to do so.
  • Ensure furlough flexibility. Business wants clarity around the part-time furlough scheme and whether this can be brought forward. If outdoor areas are open from 22 June, this will not require a full-time complement of staff. For other businesses such as theatres, nightclubs, small indoor pubs and summer festival businesses for which social distancing makes opening not viable, the furlough top up will be impossible because they have no cash coming in.
  • Consider what flexible support can be given to other operators. For many businesses that do reopen it will be at significantly reduced capacity with higher costs such as more staff, security and PPE. They too need more flexible support.
  • Work with local authorities, take innovative action to help businesses expand operations and boost trade by reducing bureaucracy including:
    • Ensuring rapid license variations, on issues such as opening hours or setting up licensed spaces, which currently require long notice periods.
    • Reforming the operation of temporary event notices so they are not subject to time limits. Reduce five working day time limit for late temporary event notices to three working days.
    • Deregulating the sale of alcohol as part of any outdoor licensed seating area for the duration of the crisis, so that there is no requirement for separate premises licence/temporary event notice, to allow outdoor bars, or allow a fast track licensing scheme for this.
    • Enabling local authorities the ability to operate licensed spaces without going through full licence process or needing temporary event notices
  • Investigate the conversion of parking spaces and other areas into outdoor seating uses.
  • Build public confidence in going to pubs and restaurants, and the high street by ensuring the track and trace and other measures are fully in place.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know nationally that one third of all hospitality businesses have not qualified for government grants, in particular larger employers, according to trade association UKHospitality.

The sector employs more than 3.2 million people, adding up to 10% of UK employment, and represents 6% of business and 5% of GDP.

Both nationally and locally the small businesses in our retail and hospitality sector have an important part to play in our economy. The government must finally give businesses long-overdue clarity”.

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Business Minister, added: 

“It’s vital that ministers turn their attention to the hospitality sector, providing clarity and guidance so that businesses can plan to reopen in the coming weeks.

That means no more backroom briefings to Tory MPs, and more public advice and guidance to companies about how they can safely reopen.

Alongside this, we urge the government to publish an action plan which maximises economic viability, whilst minimising the risk to the health of customers and staff.

If they fail to act, our communities will lose much-loved pubs, bars and restaurants, and we’ll see a wave of closures and unemployment which will damage villages, towns and cities across the country.”

Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons will have to stay closed until at least July as close contact involves a higher risk of coronavirus transmission.

 

 

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City MP urges Portsmouth businesses to have their say over coronavirus pandemic

Stephen Morgan MP has urged local businesses to take part in a survey organised by the University of Portsmouth seeking to shine a torch on some of the difficulties currently being faced.

On behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, the university launched the survey to help understand the evolving and emerging needs, challenges and aspirations faced by businesses.

The online survey will ask respondents a series of questions to collect views about the impact of coronavirus on their business, what support is needed and future business outcomes.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Many of the thriving businesses in this city have been greatly affected by this pandemic. Whether they have had to furlough workers or found themselves ineligible for government support, Covid-19 has had an effect on all.

I welcome this work being conducted by the University of Portsmouth that will help us understand more about circumstances faced by our business community. The more we know about the initial impacts of Covid-19 on business the better we can understand what additional support may be needed.

I urge those with business interests in our city to take part and help inform the discussion about what happens next.”

The survey results will be analysed and published in a freely available report for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (and its members) in order to help businesses in the whole of Hampshire & Isle of Wight region, including Portsmouth and Southampton.

Stephen Morgan MP has been continually taking action on behalf of the small business sector since the onset of the pandemic. Lobbying the Chancellor, liaising with the BEIS department, working with the Federation of Small Business, raising matters in parliament through written questions and constructively engaging with Ministers on problems are just some of the ways the city MP has been taking action.

Peter Hooley, Director of Business Development at the University of Portsmouth, said:

“The University, led by the Faculty of Business and Law, is playing its part as a member of the Solent business community to support our partners and friends during the coronavirus pandemic.

 Data on the evolving and emerging business needs of the region will be critical to ensure that the community directs its efforts where they are most needed.

It is important that there is a clear understanding of business needs, challenges and aspirations underpinned by a solid evidence base.”

You can complete the survey, which will take about 10 minutes, here https://portsmouth.fra1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_82qoj7setyXCqNv