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City MP calls for additional support and measures for UK areas facing localised restrictions

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to recognise the ‘cliff edge’ faced by those most at risk in Portsmouth and across the country who are both on the furlough scheme, which is set to expire at the end of the month, and in areas facing additional local Covid-19 restrictions.

According to HMRC, 3.5m employments have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in local areas now under local restrictions, or on the amber watch-list.

The Government’s furlough scheme is due to expire at the end of the month. However, the official opposition has highlighted that where there have been bespoke packages of financial support – in Leicester, Liverpool, Hartlepool, Warrington and Middlesbrough – these have come after local restrictions have been put in place.

Leicester was given £3 million, meanwhile Liverpool City Region, Hartlepool, Warrington and Middlesbrough are set to receive £7 million.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented,

“The opposition and I have been calling for months to ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and target the areas and sectors that are most at risk.

“It is common sense if an area is going to be locked down it needs greater support, especially areas where many workers are still enrolled on the furlough scheme, which is set to expire at the end of the month.”

Following the Chancellor’s speech at Conservative Party Conference on Monday, the Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds MP, said,

“The Chancellor just spoke for ten minutes, but he had nothing new to say. He just blew his chance to get a grip on Britain’s jobs crisis.”

Mr Morgan has consistently called for targeted support from the government for the sectors and people that are most at risk.

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP calls for greater support for pubs as new figures show over 5,500 closures in last decade

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to ramp up national support for pubs, as new figures reveal over 5,500 pubs have closed in the past decade. The equivalent of one pub or bar every 14 hours.

This comes during a particularly difficult period for the hospitality sector, following the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of pubs and bars has fallen in every region and nation of the UK. The opposition is today warning that the government risk further closures of pubs and bars, accelerating job losses and damaging high streets and night life across the country, if they press ahead with their blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP said,

“Public houses and bars both in Portsmouth and across the country are incredibly important support hubs for local high street businesses, as well as being the social fabric of communities.

“The government’s negligence to support pubs and the wider hospitality sector over the last decade has been made clear by its stubbornness to not move to a more sensible, targeted furlough scheme for the hardest hit sectors.”

From 2010 to 2019, the number of pubs and bars in the UK has fallen from 44,680 to 39,145, a drop over 5,500 (12%). Meanwhile in the South East, the number of pubs and bars has fallen by a higher rate of 14%, from 6,195 to 5,340, an overall drop of around 855 closures.

Mr Morgan added,

“Here in the South East we have seen a higher than national average of closures of pubs and bars in the past decade, and I am determined to do everything I can to support the hospitality sector through this crisis and beyond, including ensuring the government sticks to its promise in ‘levelling up’.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for greater support for the hospitality sector of Portsmouth, following the impacts on local businesses due to Covid-19.

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The climate emergency: Government must act with far greater urgency and ambition

Portsmouth people know that I very much agree that we need urgent action on the climate and ecological emergency. That is why it is a priority for me in the work I do locally for Portsmouth and in Parliament. And with the challenges we face and with the climate emergency we have declared in our city, we need more than words, but deeds.

The flash floods, deadly landslides, and wildfires we have seen over recent years make clear that climate breakdown is not a distant threat but something that is happening here and now. Yet while Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency in May last year, our government are simply not responding as the situation requires.

The Government maintains that it intends to decarbonise the UK economy and that it is taking steps to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But as the Committee on Climate Change’s most recent progress report makes clear, the gulf between the government’s rhetoric on climate action and the reality is vast. Not only are Ministers set to miss the 2050 target that Parliament legislated for just over a year ago, they are not even on track to meet the less ambitious one that preceded it.

Confronted by this unfolding emergency, I am clear that 2050 is too late for the UK to end its contribution to climate breakdown and runaway global heating. According to the UN, we have less than ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. The government must act with far greater urgency and ambition.

Labour is determined that the UK must show global leadership on this issue, and that means starting with ambitious action at home. I believe we should aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 and that we need to do so through a world-leading Green New Deal.

As such, I support many of the aims set out in the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which, as you may know, is a Presentation Bill (one that does not involve a debate or a vote in parliament, but is a way of drawing attention to an issue that requires a change in the law).

Labour will also be developing our own parliamentary agenda on the climate emergency, in consultation with our members, the climate movement, trade unions, businesses, and communities across the country, which will include many of the principles laid out in this Bill.

More immediately, my focus is on ensuring that the government seizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the need to rebuild in the aftermath of the pandemic to rapidly decarbonise our economy through a green recovery. Seizing that opportunity, as other advanced economies are doing, requires more than rhetoric from Ministers. It requires a plan.

We need that plan now so that we can invest in the green industries of the future, put people back to work in good, green jobs across the country, and support workers and communities as we make the transition to a low-carbon and socially-just economy. With a plan like that, we can raise our domestic climate ambition with a significantly enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target and demonstrate real leadership as the host of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.

Whilst Labour will be outlining a vision for a Green Recovery in the coming months, I can assure you that I will continue to push for the above, and more widely for bold action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity.

It is what the people of Portsmouth, and future generations, expect me to do. If you have views or ideas to help make this a reality, as always, please get in touch.

Stephen Morgan MP

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Stephen Morgan MP calls for local fishing communities’ interests to be placed at the heart of Fisheries Bill

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the government to ensure that it delivers on its promises to UK fishing communities in making the UK fishing industry economically & environmentally sustainable. This comes ahead of the Fisheries Bill debate scheduled in the House of Commons today.

The Fisheries Bill establishes the legal framework for managing UK fisheries as an independent coastal state under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, after leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy at the end of the Brexit Transition (11pm on 31 December 2020).

In the UK, we export most of what we catch and import most of what we eat (80% of UK fish landings are exported).

The Government has always had the power to redistribute share of UK’s quota but has chosen not to, despite small vessel owners facing severe financial hardship over the years.

For example, 50% of the English quota is held by companies based overseas; the small scale fleet holds only 6%; and the five largest quota-holders control more than a 1/3 of the UK fishing quota, with four owned by families on the Sunday Times Rich List.

Mr Morgan said:

“This government has left our coastal communities – like ours here in Portsmouth – suffering for too long from poor transport infrastructure and lack of economic opportunities.

It’s high time these treasured communities see a coastal renaissance and get the deal they richly deserve.”

Reportedly, Covid-19 hit seafood export markets hard. The price of fish fell through the floor, in some cases by 85%, leaving fishing businesses facing huge financial hardship.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“With the impact of Covid-19 having a particular heavy impact on fishers, it is now more important than ever the government get this right and ensures the industry is economically and environmentally sustainable.”

 

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister demands new naval support ships are built in British shipyards

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed defence ministers for ‘selling Britain short’ during five years of delay over vital new naval support ships. The Portsmouth South representative is pressing for a new ‘Built in Britain’ test for defence and security spending.

In the lead up to a major Defence and Security Review (Integrated Review), the Government is reportedly considering tendering the contract for The Fleet Solid Support Ship programme, worth up to £1.5 billion, to foreign companies. Placing the bid with UK yards would secure the future of shipbuilding in the UK. Research by Oxford Economics has found that for every £1 million spent in UK manufacturing there is a further £1.5 million benefit for the wider economy. For every job created in manufacturing a further 1.8 jobs are created in the wider economy – an argument that Mr Morgan has been making for some time as seen in the Defence Journal.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Building British not only helps us maintain our sovereign capability and strengthens national security, it sustains jobs and could be the winning ticket for safeguarding the future of our shipbuilders for years to come.

I know from speaking to British companies that they are ready and willing to build in the UK, the question is, why are Ministers selling Britain short and forcing two British bidders to pitch against foreign firms?

I will continue to work as Shadow Armed Forces Minister to put pressure on Ministers to back Britain and ensure their ill-thought out strategy does not hinder sovereign capability, national security and the future of British defence industry.”

For national security reasons, Royal Navy warships can only be built in the UK but because the supply ships will be part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, they are not classed as warships. The fact Government has not committed to building these ships in Britain has caused concern in the Shadow Defence team, prompting the launch of the Built in Britain test – a set of criteria that seeks to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:

“For five years, Defence ministers have dithered over this decision when it’s a no-brainer to build these vital new ships in Britain. They are selling Britain short by not putting the work into UK shipyards. No other major military nation has ordered naval support ships from foreign yards.

“What can be built in Britain now, must be built in Britain. And long-term defence and security procurement, must also involve plans to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain. This is one test by which we will judge the Government’s new Integrated Review of defence and security.”

Following the announcement, Labour have launched an online petition – Tell the Prime Minister: Royal Navy ships should be built in Britain.

Sign here: https://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/royalnavyships

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Stephen Morgan MP backs crowdfund for local start-up ‘Squidmoo’ to make Portsmouth plastic free

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Squidmoo, a local start-up that is running a crowdfunding campaign to create sustainable everyday products, in its mission to help make Portsmouth plastic free.

Squidmoo’s long-term vision is to be able to provide grants to support local businesses, charities and organisations to become plastic free and be part of the ‘plastic free employer scheme’. However, this is reliant on the stretch fund being successful to be able to invest into this part of the project.

Squidmoo has also been working in close partnership with Portsmouth City Council in supporting its plans and future project ideas.

The Portsmouth business currently manufactures bamboo and stainless-steel water bottles and lunch containers, as well as yoga mats, knives and sunglasses. In addition, the sustainable business is also looking to provide local businesses and organisations with plastic free consultations and workshops.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

The work that both Thomas and Alex are doing is simply fantastic. What they and Squidmoo are doing is an important reminder that whilst we are facing a new global challenge, it does not mean the others have simply disappeared.

“It is why I’m more than happy to back their campaign to reduce the use of single use plastic to zero in the UK by 2030, and their crowdfund to help achieve this here in our great city of Portsmouth.”

According to a government report, in the UK it is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used every year, nearly half of which is packaging. The government had planned to bring in a ban on single use plastic earlier this April, including single-use plastic and plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, but has now delayed the ban until October due to the pandemic.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Sustainability and tackling climate change are now more important than ever, and Portsmouth South is neither insulated to the effects of climate change, nor has less of a responsibility to tackle its causes than anywhere else.

“Instead of delaying, the government should be seeing this period as an opportunity to hit the reset button and quite simply: build back better.”

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has been an advocate of tackling climate change initiatives, including previously hosting online climate change event Time is Now, and backed the local Pompey Street Space campaign.

You can find out more about Squidmoo’s work and their crowdfunder here.

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Portsmouth MP fights for local jobs and businesses

Across Portsmouth our communities face a jobs crisis, with as many as 27,000 jobs at risk in the region. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their job and many more are now at risk.

The government’s one-size-fits-all approach isn’t targeted at the businesses and the people most in need. The government were too slow into lockdown, too slow on testing, and too slow to protect jobs.

Portsmouth residents cannot afford Boris Johnson to continue making the same mistakes with the economy. That’s why Stephen Morgan MP and your local Labour action team are working hard and calling on the Government to:

  • Fight for jobs: by reforming the furlough scheme so that it supports jobs in the worst-hit sectors and targets funding to struggling industries
  • Back businesses: by setting up a fightback fund to prevent firms going under and to save our high streets
  • Leave no-one behind: by providing additional support to areas forced into local lockdowns, supporting the self-employed and helping those left out of existing schemes
  • Keep workers safe: by protecting workers’ rights, boosting sick pay, making workplaces safe and giving our NHS and care services the resources to avoid a second wave
  • Drive job creation: by investing in infrastructure, accelerating progress towards a zero carbon economy and increasing access to skills and training opportunities

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Local residents are right to be worried about the Tory jobs crisis. The local Labour team are doing everything we can save jobs, protect incomes and fight for our high street. The government needs to step in now before it’s too late.”

If you are worried about jobs in your community share your thoughts at www.labour.org.uk/jobssurvey

 

 

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New job opportunity: Casework Intern

Want to help make a difference to peoples’ lives? 

Interested in working at the heart of politics to help bring about change? 

Then a new intern opportunity has arisen to join Stephen Morgan MP’s constituency team.

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South, the first ever Labour MP for the constituency.

A small support team works out of the constituency office on Albert Road in Southsea to provide a public service to residents in Portsmouth South and assist with Stephen’s parliamentary duties.

This is a new post in response to the public health pandemic to help respond to an increase in casework from constituents on a range of issues impacted by coronavirus.

The role is full time working alongside other caseworkers and is fixed term with the length of contract until 31 March 2021. The salary is £18,135 pro rata for the length of the contract.

What to do next…

If you have what it takes to join the team in this role, please submit a covering letter and CV to the Head of Office at Julie.Minal@parliament.uk by no later than 12 noon on Monday 24 August 2020.

Please note due to the volume of applicants expected we are only able to notify candidates called to interview.

 

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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