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Urgent action is needed to protect nurseries and childminders says Portsmouth MP

Responding to a survey by the Early Years Alliance revealing that one in six nurseries may not survive the winter due to continued impact of Covid-19, Stephen Morgan MP has said ‘government must take urgent action to protect nurseries and childminders’

The survey has revealed that now is a critical moment for the early years sector. With demand for places still significantly below what would typically be expected, and no sign of things returning to normal any time soon, many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are reaching the point of no return.

On the findings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Today we learn that the collapse of this important sector is imminent in many parts of the country at a time when families enter the toughest winter for a generation. As ever, this will hit the most deprived communities hardest.

Urgent action is needed by the government to save the nurseries and childminders that working parents and children rely on, including those here in Portsmouth.

It is now or never to save the childcare sector, and it has to be now for the sake of our city’s economy.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said:

“Our survey shows that it is those early years settings providing vital care and education to families in the most deprived areas – who are already bearing the brunt of the impact of the pandemic – that are most at risk.

There is absolutely no excuse for the government’s continued indifference towards the early years sector. It claims that children’s access to education during the pandemic is a top priority, and yet it is apparently perfectly happy to see thousands of early education providers fall by the wayside.

It argues that safeguarding the economy is critical to the country’s recovery, but chooses to ignore the fact that there can be no recovery without a functioning early years sector providing the quality care that parents and families need”. 

Quality early years provision is a central part of our social infrastructure. Labour agrees that it is not too late for the government to show that it recognises the value of the sector – both to the young children who benefit from quality early education, and the parents, and particularly mothers, who benefit from accessible care.

The Portsmouth South MP has vowed to continue to lobby for investment in the sector to safeguard the many thousands of providers in desperate need of support.

 

 

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Portsmouth support to feed children over the school holiday

In the UK today, 4.2 million children live in poverty. 2.5 million children live in “food insecure” households – without access to the food they need to learn, play and grow.

On Wednesday, Conservative MPs blocked a Labour plan to provide Free School Meals over the school holidays, that would have ensured the poorest children in our society have at least one healthy and nutritious meal a day.

Stephen voted for this plan for the most vulnerable in Portsmouth, sadly the Government did not.

Since then, there has been an outpouring of people in our city looking for ways they can help children who don’t have enough food, and from parents struggling to make sure that their children have enough.

Stephen Morgan MP said: 

“I want to thank all those who are helping Portsmouth families at this challenging time for our city.

With the number of free school meals rising again, sharply to over 7,000 in Portsmouth alone, this has been a growing issue for some time. The steep rise will only get worse.

With Government failing, we will work together here in Portsmouth to ensure everyone has the support they need”.

Below are just some initiatives and charities based in Portsmouth, that help provide the basics to those who need it, and are always looking for volunteers or donations to keep their vital work going.

No food bank voucher needed:

The Life House
Address: 153 Albert Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO4 0JW
Services: Serves Breakfast / Brunch each Wednesday from 9am / Serves Hot Dinner each Thursday from 6pm
Food parcel if available
Opening times: Every Thursday 8pm-6pm Wednesday morning 9am-11am

Free My Meal – Portsmouth
Address: Private Facebook group set up by residents https://www.face book.com/groups /freemymealports mouth/
Services: Group intends to connect free meals with recipients. Recipients looking for a meal to feed their family during this time of hardship.
Opening times: Ongoing

The Lord John Russell – Food Bank
Address: 12 Albert Road, Southsea, PO5 2SH
Service: Food bank drive on Monday (26/10/20) to support the Life House and those who haven’t got enough on their plates
Opening times: Monday (26/10/20)

St Margaret’s Community Church
Address: Highland Road, PO4 9DD
Service: 2 day food parcel
Food needed: Cereals, tinned & packet soup, pasta and pasta sauce, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, crisps, biscuits, UHT milk, long life juice
Opening times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday (8am-11am for donations, 10am-11am for people needing food

Haven Community Centre
Address: Lake Road, PO1 4HA
Service: No voucher needed for first 3 visits 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Tuesday 1-3pm and Friday 10am-12pm

Food bank voucher needed:

From PCC website (https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/services/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-residents-coronavirus-infor mation/work-and-money-coronavirus-information/):

Advice Portsmouth – the drop-in centre is closed. For advice, ring 023 92794 340, text 07789 550593, email ​advice.portsmouth@theyoutrust.org.uk​ or contact via ​Facebook
Citizens Advice Help To Claim (for advice on new Universal Credit claims) – there is currently no face to face advice, so for advice ring 0800 144 8 444 or use the ​online webchat
City council tenants – ​ring your housing office​ for money advice
Housing association tenants – contact your customer service team for money advice

Harbour Church

Address: St. George’s Square, PO1 3AT
Service: Food bank voucher or email referral required, 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Monday 11am-12pm, Tuesday 11am-12pm, Wednesday 11am-12pm and Thursday 11am-12pm and 4-6pm

King’s Church Hall
Address: Fraser Road Southsea PO5 1EE
Service: Food bank voucher or email referral required 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Monday 12-2pm Wednesday 12-2pm Friday 12-2pm

North End Baptist Church
Address: Powerscourt Road Portsmouth, PO2 7JH
Service: Food bank voucher or email referral required, 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Tuesday 5-6pm and Thursday 1-3pm

Paulsgrove Baptist Church
Address: 1 Woofferton Road Portsmouth, PO6 4DW
Service: Food bank voucher required, 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Thursday 12-2pm

Family Church Caring Hands
Address: Empower Centre, 83-87 Kingston Road, PO2 7DX
Service: Caring Hands food bank voucher or email referral required, 3-day food parcel, Home delivery preferred
Opening times: Thursday 10.30am-12.30pm

If you can please make a donation to Portsmouth Foodbanks at the following supermarkets: 

  • Tesco Extra (Pompey Centre Fratton) – Front of store near exit
  • Tesco Extra (North Harbour) – Front of store near exit
  • Waitrose, Southsea – End of tills

 

 

 

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Stephen Morgan votes to end holiday hunger whilst neighbouring MPs vote against

Responding to the Government voting down Labour’s motion in the House of Commons to extend free school meals during holidays for children in need, Stephen Morgan MP has called for Tory MPs to ‘reflect again’ after they voted against the measure to support the most vulnerable in society, unlike the city MP who voted in support of the plan.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“For me, politics is about making sure people have a roof over their head, families have food on the table and that they know support for their children is there when they need it.
Yesterday, those who voted with the government, denied families and their children of that. Here in Portsmouth, that’s over seven thousand children, and rising.
I will continue to hold the government to account on this, but I really urge other MPs in our region who voted otherwise to seriously reflect again on what the most vulnerable in our communities need”.
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City MP backs ‘Walk to School Week’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed national campaign ‘Walk to School Week’, organised by UK charity Living Streets. 

The campaign aims to encourage families to try healthier and greener ways to travel to school. Starting today, school children across the UK will be taking part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school with other students and parents.

According to the charity, 70 per cent of children walked to school a generation ago, now it is less than half.

The government has set a target in its Cycling to Walking Investment Strategy to get 55% of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025, to tackle this issue.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“I’m delighted to support this fantastic initiative to encourage children and parents to take part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school, and I urge our local schools to take part in this too.”

Many of us have spent more time indoors recently, so I’m really proud to support this campaign that offers both a greener option, and a way for both students and parents to get the fresh air and exercise they need to support their mental wellbeing through this difficult period.”

The Chief Executive of Living Streets, Mary Creagh, added,

“Walking to school is a fun and easy way for to get active. We need safer streets so more families have confidence to walk to school.”

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City MP reacts to ‘disappointing’ new court ruling stating pension age changes are not discriminatory

News has broken that the three senior judge’s ruling on the Court of Appeal challenge have found that despite feeling sympathy for WASPI campaigners, the state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination under EU or human rights law.

Committed WASPI supporter, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is highly disappointing that millions of women born in the 1950s have lost the Court of Appeal Challenge today, ruling that raising the state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination.

This is yet another kick in the teeth for a grassroots movement of inspiring women who have been fighting tooth and nail for justice.

The ruling is deeply disheartening, but we must not lose sight of who is responsible for the origins of this severe injustice. The way in which the Conservative Government has implemented the 1995 State Pension Act has caused turmoil for hundreds of thousands of people, hitting the most vulnerable hardest.

I have had the privilege of working with Portsmouth’s campaigners on this important issue for some time and will continue to support them in their fight for justice.”

Stephen Morgan MP has been a long-time supporter of the WASPI campaign. He has hosted local rallies, held meetings up in parliament, raised the issue through parliamentary questions, and regularly meets with local Solent WASPI organisers.

 

 

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City MP marks first generation’s access to Child Benefit Fund and demands Government continues access for every young person

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to continue access for young people to the Child Benefit Fund (CTF), as people turning 18 today will for the first time be able to access their Child Trust Fund accounts.

The innovative government-funded savings scheme was introduced by the last Labour Government but was abolished by the current government in 2011.

The scheme was introduced with the aim that every young person had access to savings which could then be used to build on for later in life, such as: putting down a deposit on a flat, buying a car, starting a business or whatever else they chose. 

Before its abolishment, the Labour Government invested at least £250 in a fund that only the beneficiary can access, and only when they turn 18.  The money went into an account their parents could open with a financial services provider, using a voucher sent out by the government – and for children whose parents didn’t use their voucher, the Government set up an account for them.

Parents and others could pay more money into the account too, subject to an annual cap. Children with disabilities were entitled to extra annual payments into their Trust Fund from the Government, because of the extra needs young adults with disabilities face.

Around 55,000 children every month will come of age and benefit from the scheme, from now until January 2029, but only if they know about the scheme and know where their account is.

Stephen Morgan MP commented:

“Child Trust Funds were an innovative and bold policy introduced by the last Labour government to ensure every child could have the best possible start to their adult life.

This scheme will prove incredibly vital for young people both across Portsmouth and the country over the next decade, and the government must now continue to keep this in place as we navigate our way through the economic recovery, to ensure a generation is not left behind.”

According to HMRC, around 6 million children hold a CTF with an estimated value of ‘over £7.4 billion’ in 2015-16. Meanwhile consumer group Which? has estimated that this could apply to as many as 3 million children and young people for accounts containing as much as £2.5 billion.

However, with the scheme effectively dormant for the best part of a decade, many children (and their parents) may be either unaware that their account exists, unsure how to access their account, or have lost the details of their account.

Mr Morgan added:

“We know this is an incredibly difficult period for both young people and their families, so schemes like CTF are a real lifeline for young people both now and in the long-term, with many setting off to university later this month.

It’s why it incredibly important the government provides all the support and guidance it can for young people who are eligible for the scheme, as many will understandably be unaware of this vital initiative.”

 

 

 

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City MP continues to fight for renters as government’s last minute U-turn on eviction ban causes confusion for tenants

Stephen Morgan MP has made renewed calls on government to protect renters from eviction as Ministers extend the ban on evictions by just one month

The Portsmouth South representative had originally called on Government back in March to ban evictions during the coronavirus crisis. Whilst Ministers caved following pressure, they are now threatening to take away this safety net in just one month.

In a cutting letter directly to the Housing Secretary, the city MP demanded an extension to the eviction ban along with a package of support for struggling tenants. This came as a survey by Generation Rent is released revealing that 45% of renters have lost income since March, and two thirds of renters who have lost income (68%) are struggling to pay their rent.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Housing Secretary promised that no one would be forced to leave their homes amid this pandemic. Now, five months later, we see no package of support offered to tenants yet plans remain to reinstall evictions in one month.

We know that many hardworking Portsmouth families have been hit hard by the pandemic and, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in arrears. While I welcome government’s U-turn on the evictions ban extension today, the fact they have only extended it by a month just gives tenants longer to pack their bags.

The solution to this problem is more comprehensive support offered to struggling families at risk of homelessness and scrapping Section 21 Evictions.”

Mr Morgan’s demands, backed by frontbench colleagues, urge government to remove the benefits cap, administer Universal Credit more promptly and make more Local Housing Allowance available. The city MP has also raised with Ministers the impact on landlords after listening to concerns from the National Residential Landlords Association.

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Portsmouth MP backs children’s road safety campaign

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has backed the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ (APIL) ‘Injury Prevention Week’ campaign, encouraging parents to discuss the importance of road safety with their children.

APIL, the not-for-profit campaign group, has underlined the importance of road safety for children as they prepare to head back to school next month.

According to a YouGov survey, two-thirds of parents do not think their children have a good understanding of the dangers on our roads, while one in eight are very concerned about their children’s safety when navigating our roads.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“As many young students and families in Portsmouth prepare to head back to school next month, it’s vital we ensure children are fully aware of the dangers of the roads and have a good understanding of the highway code.

“Neither parent nor child should be concerned about a young student’s journey to school, and any initiative to help make it that much safer I fully endorse. It is why I am proud to support APIL’s campaign on this important issue.”

Children aged fifteen and under account for around a quarter of pedestrian injuries and deaths in the UK (according to APIL), whilst similar pedestrian traffic collisions for the same age group amount to a fifth in Portsmouth South.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“In the past few years, there have been too many avoidable pedestrian traffic collisions in our city involving young people, and I am committed to doing all I can to ensure this does not continue to happen.

It’s been a particularly difficult period for both students and parents over the last few months, and I’m keen that the last thing children and parents alike are worrying about is a young student’s ability to travel to and from school safely.”

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs Southsea Dinosaur community project

This summer Aspex in Gunwharf Quays is celebrating ten years since Luna Park towered over Southsea Common.

As a response to the national lockdown caused by Covid-19, and to mark the tenth anniversary since the Ultrasaurus sculpture astounded thousands of visitors to Portsmouth, the art gallery has commissioned Heather and Ivan Morison to rebuild their 2010 artwork in Virtual Reality.

Aspex is also launching a crowdfunding campaign to ‘Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur’, raising public support for a permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed next year.

If successful the campaign will fund a permanent piece of public art which combines a bronze sculpture and integrated augmented reality archive.

Backing the community project, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Known affectionately by fellow Portsmouth residents as ‘The Southsea Dinosaur’ the sculpture was visited, photographed, climbed on and enjoyed by thousands of people until it unexpectedly burnt down in October 2010.

 I welcome Aspex’s latest venture with our city’s communities ten years on, from cake competitions, to the trail, to commissioning new work, this is a great way to connect Portsmouth residents with art during this challenging time for our communities”.

To find out more about fundraising for the permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed on Southsea Common next year visit the Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur page here.

As well as the crowdfunding initiative, Aspex have organised for fifty Ultrasaurus dinosaurs on posters and in windows of local businesses and organisations across the city, which can be spotted throughout August and shared on social media at #SouthseaDinosaur.

 

 

 

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City MP takes action for those excluded from government support 

Stephen Morgan MP has written to the Chancellor on behalf of struggling Portsmouth residents who have fallen through gaps in Government’s patchy support.

In conjunction with the ExcludedUK campaign, a campaign for individuals and businesses entirely or largely excluded from the Government’s Covid-19 financial support measures, the city MP is demanding that the chancellor urgently meet with campaign organisers.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Treasury Select Committee identified well over a million people who have lost livelihoods through no fault of their own. With a great deal of small businesses and freelancers, this has hit Portsmouth people hard.

If we are to avoid unnecessary spikes in poverty, unemployment and rising levels of debt and a mental health pandemic, government must take urgent action to address the patchy support offered.”

There are many people currently excluded from government support. This includes those in between jobs or due to start new jobs after 19 March, the newly self-employed and new businesses, some self-employed, those in less than 50% self-employment, those on parental leave, those on PAYE freelance short-term contracts, low investment start-ups, small limited company owner-directors, businesses ineligible for grants and more.

The Portsmouth South MP has joined a cross party group committed to working with Government to find a solution. This latest action follows a series of steps to help those affected. He added:

Powerful testimonies delivered by those affected combined with my inbox bursting with individuals facing financial turmoil is a testament to the fact government must do better.

The Chancellor must listen to those directly affected so that Government can understand where support is lacking and the what this is doing to people’s lives.

That’s why I demanded the Chancellor meet with the ExcludedUK campaign representatives, so that we can help all of those suffering from lack of support, and really make a change.”

Stephen Morgan MP has been in regular communication with local residents and this is not the first time he has taken action on their behalf over failing government support.

Already he has written to the Chancellor on behalf of the self-employed and small businesses as well as submitted questions to the Business Secretary and grilled Ministers in parliament. He has vowed to continue supporting the ExcludedUK campaign, and Portsmouth people and who have been effected by the government’s lacking support schemes.