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Portsmouth MP catches up with YMCA after challenging year for local nurseries

Stephen Morgan MP has visited the local Portsea YMCA nursery, meeting with one of the leading early-years provider’s regional directors and its local manager, to discuss ongoing concerns about the stability of the sector.

YMCA is the largest charity provider of Early Years Education across England, working with 5,398 children each year across 83 childcare settings.

The charity is particularly focused on working in low income communities where families face multiple vulnerabilities and often need the greatest support.

Back in January, the Portsmouth MP wrote out to over 40 early years and childcare providers across his constituency to hear their views and concerns and was visiting the local nursery on Friday to follow-up on this work.

Many early years providers in the UK currently face financial uncertainty due to the impact of national Covid-19 restrictions.

According to a Coram report in December, 58 per cent of local authorities think that local childcare providers may close for good, leading to calls for immediate investment and clarity about future funding arrangements.

Earlier this year, Mr Morgan demanded the Education Ministerial team take action on funding for early years and childcare providers across the country during departmental questions in the House of Commons.

He also wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP, outlining his priorities for local education in Portsmouth, including his concerns about the financial pressures nurseries are currently facing.

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

It’s great to be able to catch-up in person now with the YMCA to understand their views and concerns after what’s been an incredibly challenging period.

“It’s clear to see the fantastic work YMCA does for local families here in Portsmouth and across England, but along with many early-years providers across the country, they’ve been left behind by this government.

“The government has got to provide the support that is required for local early-years providers that has been woefully lacking this past year, to ensure young people catch-up on crucial early-life development, as well as make sure young families are able to get back to work and be part of our recovery from this crisis.”

The Portsmouth representative has vowed to continue to work on behalf of early-years education providers to secure the support and funding they need.

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City MP slams the government for pushing ahead with Universal Credit cut that will impact local families

Stephen Morgan has demanded the government ‘cancels the cut’ after the Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey MP, confirmed this week that the Government is continuing with the planned £20 Universal Credit cut in September.

Labour had consistently called on the Government not to cut Universal Credit in April 2021, culminating in the Cancel the Cut Opposition Day Debate in January 2021, where the House of Commons voted in favour of keeping the £20 uplift.

In the Budget in March, the Chancellor announced a 6-month extension to the uplift until the end of September 2021.

Labour is calling on the Government to cancel the cut and keep the uplift permanent.

This cut will impact 6 million families, including those on working tax credits. This £20 is what enables some of them to put food on the table at the end of the week.

In Portsmouth, the number of people claiming Universal Credit has risen by nearly 10,000 over the last year, from 8,262 to 18,012. An increase of 118%.

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

“Government is trying to make low income families pay for its own chronic mismanagement of the pandemic and the economic recovery.

“Universal Credit and its earlier uplift during the height of the pandemic was a lifeline for so many in our city.

“Pulling the rug from underneath struggling families just at the time when the economy begins to recover is not only morally backward, but economically too, choking off any shoots of recovery we would see if the government cancelled the cut.

“I will continue to work on behalf of the local families and secure the support they need after this incredibly difficult time.”

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Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘meagre’ catch-up proposals for local schoolchildren

Stephen Morgan MP puts pressure on ministers in the House of Commons for the ‘meagre’ catch-up for proposals for schoolchildren in Portsmouth. 

Today the city MP used departmental questions to ask the Government their plans to properly support pupils in Portsmouth, lobbying Ministers with written questions. 

It was recently revealed average achievement at the end of compulsory education is lower in Portsmouth compared to the rest of the country, especially for young men.  

Currently, 46% and 59% of boys and girls in Portsmouth achieve 5 or more good GCSEs at age 16 (i.e. grades A*-C), whereas in England this is 52% and 62% for boys and girls. 

Meanwhile, children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.  

It comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected recommendations from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins, for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation. 

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

Young people are likely to be one of the most severely impacted groups by this pandemic and a first-class education for them will be key for both their own development and our city’s recovery. 

“This government’s current catch-up plan proposals for young students, who missed so much due to this pandemic, fall far short from where they need to be and Portsmouth and the wider region can no longer be an afterthought for this government if we are to truly reset our economy for the better. 

“Young families in Portsmouth deserve so much more and I will continue to push Ministers into action to ensure our city gets the support it deserves.” 

The Portsmouth representative has welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address the entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers. 

Mr Morgan has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country. 

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City MP joins vote to force Chancellor to ‘come clean’ on blocking children’s education in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today joined Labour Party colleagues in triggering a binding vote in the House of Commons to force the government to publish all communications – including emails and text messages – between the Treasury, Department for Education and Prime Minister’s office regarding the rejection of recommendations for children’s pandemic recovery from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins.

The vote comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected Sir Kevan’s recommendation for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation.

Children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ meagre education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.

The Portsmouth representative has welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which builds on the incredible efforts of our education system during the pandemic, by giving all schools the resources to deliver a new range of activities, from sport to music, boosting wellbeing and social development while supporting every child’s learning and investing in education staff.

To build on the incredible work of teachers, school leaders, teaching assistants and support staff during the pandemic, Labour’s plan would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

The member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“We all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children’s future.

“The Conservatives have treated our children and young people as an afterthought throughout this pandemic and are now failing to deliver the investment needed to help their recovery.

“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all children in Portsmouth based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people vital for our economic recovery.”

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP, added:

“There has been nothing but silence from the Chancellor since the government’s own advisor resigned in protest at his recommendations being scrapped.

“And there has been no reassurance for parents and children as to how the government will help support their wellbeing and development after such a difficult 15 months for their education, mental health and development.

“At the very least, we all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children’s future, and unless he U-turns soon, blocking this investment could see our economy take a hit of hundreds of billions of pounds. It’s the ultimate false economy.”

Earlier this month, Mr Morgan backed Labour’s education recovery plan and has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country.

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Portsmouth MP joins 200 politicians urging Prime Minister to secure future of Covid memorial wall

Stephen Morgan MP has joined 227 MPs, Peers and Mayors to write to the Prime Minister urging him to support the campaign for the Covid Memorial Wall in London to become a permanent site.

The letter is spearheaded by Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, who lost his mum and both his parents-in-law to coronavirus and has been working with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on securing the future of the wall.

The Covid Memorial Wall, with its endless line of hand-drawn red hearts, has engulfed the wall opposite Parliament since March as bereaved families visited the site to add messages for their loved ones. It has since become a place for people to come together, to reflect on the tragedy of what has happened, and to begin to heal.

The letter states: “Given the poignancy of this site, the need to give grieving families a place to mourn their loved ones, and your previous commitment to a national Covid memorial, we, the undersigned, support calls to make this wall of hearts a, if not the, permanent memorial to the victims of the pandemic.”

Among the signatories of this letter are over 160 MPs from across the House of Commons as well as numerous members of the House of Lords. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Florence Eshalomi MP, in whose constituency the wall resides, are also signatories.

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

“This site of remembrance, developed and created by bereaved families, is a powerful reminder of human cost of the pandemic.

“Many people in Portsmouth, like thousands across the country, have suffered immense loss during this part year.

“My thoughts are with all those grieving loved ones and with our healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly to save so many lives.

“Having visited the memorial myself and seen how it has helped those grieving, I am proud to support this campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall and will continue to work with bereaved families to ensure their voices and wishes are heard.”

Afzal Khan MP, added,

“The Covid Memorial Wall is an extraordinary site and deeply moving. I had the privilege to visit the site last month where I left messages to remember my mum and both my parents-in-law whose lives were so cruelly cut short by this virus. I hope one day to be able to bring my children and grandchildren to see these messages and the wall for themselves.

“It is fantastic to see such support across Parliament and the country for this campaign, it just goes to show that while we may not always be united in our politics, we are all united in our grief for those lost to the pandemic.”

Matt Fowler, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, also said,

“The Memorial Wall has brought many thousands of bereaved families across the country together in ways that we could never have imagined, it’s been utterly overwhelming.

We’ll never get back the people we’ve lost, but having a shared space for our collective memory, to share our loss and our love, has meant so much.

It is unthinkable that the Wall would be taken down, when it is so important, to so many. Seeing this support from MPs across parliament for it to be made permanent has been heartening, and we sincerely hope the Prime Minister will join them.”

The campaign for the National Covid Memorial Wall to remain a permanent site is supported by local MP Florence Eshalomi as well as Lambeth Council.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP relives childhood memories at local Andrew Simpson centre

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the local Andrew Simpson centre for its continued provision of opportunities for young people to access sailing and other outdoor activities in Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth MP recently visited the centre, reliving some personal early memories of being able to experience similar opportunities as a boy, which has now been replaced by the local sailing group.

Based in Eastern Road, the Andrew Simpson centre offers a wide range of activities for all ages and abilities. With both water and land-based options, there is something for everyone.

The local outdoor centre is now open and running courses and activities, in line with the latest Government guidelines.

It comes as the Portsmouth representative recently launched his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign, encouraging others to support local businesses and organisations, as the city slowly unlocks from COVID-19 restrictions.

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

“I fondly remember attending the outdoor education centre on Eastern Road as a child, so it was fantastic to visit what has replaced it in the brilliant local Andrew Simpson centre.

“It’s so important people of all ages have access to outdoor activities to help improve their physical and mental wellbeing, particularly after the recent period of restrictions. I really encourage those that feel safe to do so to get outside, support local and show their ‘Pride in Portsmouth’.”

You can find out more about the full range of activities the Portsmouth Andrew Simpson centre has to offer via their website here.

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City MP pays a visit to world-class attractions to encourage Pride in Portsmouth

To mark English Tourism Week (22 to 31 May), today Stephen Morgan MP visited several of Portsmouth’s world-class attractions, including the D-Day Story, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower, to highlight the importance of the city’s tourism sector and encourage people to join the Portsmouth Champions scheme.

The scheme is designed to ensure everyone working or volunteering in customer-facing roles across the city has the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm they need to promote everything Portsmouth has to offer.

With many people planning to holiday in the UK this year, the programme will enable those in the city’s tourism sector to welcome visitors full of information and passion for Portsmouth.

In preparation for reopening, many destinations have made sure they have the right coronavirus safety measures in place to meet Visit Britain’s national ‘We’re good to go’ standard for Covid-safe tourism.

Visit Portsmouth is also working hard to make sure the city’s tourism industry bounces back after the pandemic encouraging people outside the city to plan a summer trip to Portsmouth to enjoy the attractions, seafront, shopping and events.

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

“Our city has an incredible amount to offer, with the tourism industry being a vital contributor to our local economy.

It’s why I am really keen to support the Portsmouth Champions scheme and have launched my own ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign as a call to action for our community to celebrate and visit our local businesses, key cultural and sporting assets and shine a light on the access to those hidden gems.

I hope this will help to keep the pound in Portsmouth and secure our local economic recovery.”

The Portsmouth Champions training is completely free and can be undertaken by anyone – simply visit portsmouthchampions.co.uk to sign up.

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Portsmouth MP slams government as new research reveals thousands of local children living in poverty

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government today after new analysis published by the End Child Poverty Coalition showed a sharp rise in child poverty in Britain in the last 5 years, with more than 400,000 more children living in poverty after housing costs than in 2015.

Child poverty was rising sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which is feared to have exacerbated the situation even further.

Child poverty is also rising locally and there are now 7,154 children in Portsmouth South living in poverty, an increase of 7.7% from five years ago. A staggering 37.5% of all children in the constituency are living below the poverty line, after housing costs.

Researchers combined data on child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions in May with information about local housing costs to build a detailed picture of child poverty across the country.

Mr Morgan has also signed the new “No Child Left Behind” pledge launched today by the National Education Union which says:

“As a Member of Parliament, I pledge to do everything in my power so that no child is left behind in Portsmouth.

“I call for the development of a cross-Government strategy to eradicate the poverty faced by the 4.3 million children currently growing up trapped in poverty. 

“I will use my vote and voice in Parliament to try to stop an expected 730,000 more children being plunged into poverty by 2024. 

“We must value and invest in all our children, so they are supported to learn, succeed, and go on to have bright futures.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“These figures are shocking and heart breaking. This Government has presided over a staggering increase in child poverty, and ministers should hang their heads in shame.

“Boris Johnson talks a good game about levelling up the country, but this Government’s shameful record is one of rising poverty, soaring food bank use and a widening attainment gap.

“I will keep standing up for children in Portsmouth and campaign for a Labour Government that will make tackling child poverty a top priority.

“That is why I am proud to sign the National Education Union’s pledge committing to do everything in my power to ensure no child is left behind.”

The Portsmouth MP criticised the government last year for failing for afford free school meals to children last year. For families in need of support, you can find range of local contacts for foodbanks and other organisations here.

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Portsmouth MP backs Walk to School Week campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has praised pupils in Portsmouth South this week as they celebrate the strides they have made to improve air quality and get active by walking to school, as part of Walk to School Week (17-21 May 2021).

Walk to School Week is organised by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. It encourages families to walk, wheel, cycle or scoot to school and see the big differences that come from small steps, from healthier and happier children to fewer cars outside the school gates.

A generation ago, 70 per cent of children walked to school, now it’s less than half. The Government has recognised the importance of walking to school and has set a target to get 55 per cent of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025.

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

“Walk to School Week gives children the chance to enjoy fresh air and exercise. It reduces congestion, improves road safety and means we have cleaner air and less problem parking around schools.

“I am proud to support Walk to School Week as it provides a fantastic opportunity for families in Portsmouth to give walking to school a go and see how they could make a more permanent change to their travel plans. “

Mary Creagh, Chief Executive, Living Streets added:  

“Walk to School Week is a fun, inclusive, free and simple activity, which improves the physical and mental wellbeing of children and celebrates walking for all.   

“Pupils enjoy the health and happiness that comes from walking, while schools and local communities enjoy reduced congestion and pollution.

“We’re thrilled that families nationwide are joining us this week and enjoying the fresh air, fun, freedom, and friendship that walking to school brings.”

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Pride in Portsmouth: Portsmouth MP launches local recovery campaign at Historic Dockyard

Stephen Morgan MP launches his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign following a visit to the city’s Historic Dockyard, aiming to shine a spotlight on our city’s fantastic cultural assets, ahead of restrictions set to ease on Monday.

The Portsmouth MP met the team behind the Mary Rose and the National Museum for the Royal Navy, two key cultural assets for the city, as they make their final preparations for their reopening next week.

Parts of the visit included a preview of the new £1million exhibition at the National Museum for the Royal Navy and improved visitor centre, where Mr Morgan was able to thank and pay tribute to the staff behind the scenes that have helped to put it together, after a particularly tough year for the cultural and arts sectors.

Tourism is crucial to the city, providing around £600 million in income each year and supporting around 13,000 jobs.

It comes as much of the city also prepares to reopen its doors to visitors and residents, marking the beginning of the recovery of Portsmouth’s economy, following an unprecedented year of challenges.

A survey of tourism businesses in South East England recently showed:

  • 36% estimated losing more than £100,000 revenue this year
  • 57% had furloughed staff and 5% made staff redundant
  • 15% under threat of closure and 44% unsure if they could continue.

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

“It’s great be back at two of our top cultural gems of our city in the Mary Rose and Royal Navy Museums, seeing first-hand their brilliant exhibitions, as they prepare to fully reopen on Monday.

“Our city has an incredible amount to offer, with the tourism industry being a vital contributor to our local economy.

“That’s why today I am launching my ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign, a call to action for our community to show its pride in our city by visiting local businesses and supporting our key cultural and sporting assets and shining a light on the access to those hidden gems.

I hope this will help to keep the pound in Portsmouth and secure our city’s local economic recovery.”

Part of the campaign’s focus will also be to widen participation and access in Portsmouth’s cultural offer, ensuring all residents have a stake in their city’s history and its future.

Mr Morgan is set to meet and visit a range of local groups, businesses, and cultural centres in the weeks ahead, to offer his support for the local economic recovery.