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Portsmouth MP blasts government for cost-of-living crisis as £1,000 Universal Credit cut kicks in for over 10,000 local families

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government for the scale of the cost-of-living crisis impacting local families as the planned £1,000 cut to Universal Credit and working tax credits kicks in today.

In the Portsmouth representative’s constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected, including 6,907 children. Across the city, there are over 10,000 families with children in receipt of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits who could be impacted as result of the cut.

Meanwhile, working families across the country are dealing with a ‘triple whammy’ to their cost of living,

Four in ten households on Universal Credit are facing a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit is cut by £20 a week.

But according to Citizens Advice, the £20 a week uplift would cover near a whole week of energy costs for a below average income household.

In another hit to working families and businesses across the country, the government is also continuing to push through a Bill that would raise National Insurance by 1.25%.

The Portsmouth MP has paid tribute to local campaigning efforts against the cut, including a petition to ‘Cancel the Cut’ organised by local Unite Community campaigner David Gorham, who has also staged a number of events in our city’s communities with the backing of Mr Morgan in opposition to the Government’s decision.

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

“The government is pulling out the rug for working families across Portsmouth just at the moment when Tory failure has led to their cost of living going up.

“Cutting £1,000 a year for six million families across Britain, and 10,000 in Portsmouth will have real consequences for daily lives.

“As the Prime Minister stands up to deliver his speech at the champagne bubble of Tory party conference, millions of working families across the country will be weighing up the choice between eating or heating this week.

“I will always stand up for the most vulnerable in our city. I will continue to push the government to provide answers on how they will support struggling families in Portsmouth this winter.”

Unite South East Community Coordinator, Kelly Tomlinson, added,

“Families in the South East are now facing a triple whammy. The £20 cut to Universal Credit; the increase in energy bills and the steep rise in the cost of food will force Families to make the terrible choice of feeding their children or keeping the heating on. This Christmas is going to be bleak as people go without life’s essentials.

 “Unite will continue to work with the Labour Party to make the Tory Government put families first and reverse the damaging cut to Universal Credit.”

Mr Morgan has tirelessly campaigned against the cut to universal credit. He has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary, lobbied the Chancellor ahead of the Budget, helped secure a motion against the cut at the city council and asked a number of questions to Ministers to keep up the pressure.

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ENERGY PRICE CRISIS: City MP slams Government’s cost of living ‘triple whammy’ for local families

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the government’s triple whammy on millions of families who are set to be squeezed by rising energy prices, an increase in national insurance and the cut to Universal Credit. 

Four in ten households on Universal Credit are facing a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit is cut by £20 a week.

In the Portsmouth representative’s constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected by the cut, including 6,907 children.

According to Citizens Advice, the £20 a week uplift would cover near a whole week of energy costs for a below average income household.

It is also estimated that the rise in the energy price cap means half a million more families will be plunged into fuel poverty.

In addition, according to analysis by the New Economics Foundation, 2.5 million families will be hit by both the cut to Universal Credit and the increase in national insurance. On average, they will lose out by £1,290 in 2022/​23.

The Portsmouth MP has backed a call for the Government to protect family finances before it’s too late – by cancelling the cut, dropping the tax rises on working people and businesses, and urgently exploring further measures to help households alleviate the cost of rising bills, including the option of making automatic and extending the Warm Homes Discount.

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

“Portsmouth families are facing a cruel triple whammy that will hit them in their pockets: rising energy prices, rising taxes, and a £1,000 cut to universal credit.  

“This Government says it is on the side of working people and families, yet it is doubling down on decisions that will impact thousands of local families and plunge half a million more households into fuel poverty. It’s completely indefensible.

“I will continue to take action and stand up for those most at risk in our city as we head towards winter.”

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband added: 

“It is a fundamental failure of long-term Government planning over the last decade that we are so exposed and vulnerable as a country to soaring gas prices and it is families that are now paying the price.” 

In his latest intervention in a series of actions on this issue, Mr Morgan has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary urging her to cancel the cut to Universal Credit and protect vulnerable families in Portsmouth.  

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New analysis finds homeowners in Hampshire face the brunt of the Government’s new social care plan in the South East

  • New analysis shows homeowners in Hampshire could face care costs of up to one third of their assets, including the value of their home.
  • In comparison, homeowners in Surrey face costs of around just 15% of their assets.
  • This means homeowners in Hampshire, with significant care needs, are more likely to have to sell their homes and will lose more of the value of it.

New analysis of assets held by homeowners in different regions of the UK show that those in Hampshire face losing a higher proportion of their assets if they have high care needs and hit the £86k care cap.

The analysis shows that homeowners in Esher & Walton (Surrey) face costs averaging at 14% of their assets if they have high care needs and hit the cap.

Meanwhile, other constituencies in the South East, like Portsmouth South, face losing 38% of their assets.

This comes despite a guarantee in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto “that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it”.

It follows analysis by the Resolution Foundation, who found that “the cap, which does not benefit households with less than £100,000 in capital, will be of relatively more help in the more affluent areas…it will offer most protection to those living in high wealth parts of England. This is not just because of the obvious reason that a cap set in cash terms offers far more protection to those with higher-value assets to lose.”

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“It’s shocking that people in Portsmouth may end up having to pay for care costs in excess of a third of their total assets, including their own home.

“Those in leafy Surrey, by comparison, would have to just fork out 14 per cent of their estate. That’s half of what my constituents would have to cough up.

“The Tories have broken yet another of their promises to the British people – their manifesto isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

It’s time to properly fix our social care system.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Social care is in desperate need, but the Prime Minister – along with every Conservative MP – was elected on a manifesto that promised to fix the system on a plan that had been developed and would mean no one would have to sell their home.

“On both, he broke his promise.”

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Universal Credit cut: Portsmouth MP lobbies Government again as he pledges to stand up for over 5,500 local families

Stephen Morgan MP has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary on behalf of local families to urge the government to reconsider its planned cut to Universal Credit in October.

At the start of the pandemic, the Government increased the standard allowance of Universal Credit by £20 per week which is set to be removed in five weeks’ time. This cut of over £1,000 a year to millions of families is the biggest overnight cut to the social security system since World War II.

In the Portsmouth representative’s constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected, including 6,907 children.

The Government had originally planned to implement the cut in April 2021 but were forced to change course after the Official Opposition successfully won a vote in House of Commons in January.

Labour had planned to force a vote on the issue in the Commons yesterday (Wednesday 8 September) but this was cancelled by the government. The Portsmouth South representative has instead written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey urging her to cancel the cut.

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

“It is shameful that the very workers who got us through this crisis are now set to lose £1,000 from their income ever year.

The £20 that is due to be cut is currently enabling some local families to put food on the table at the end of the week. The government cannot pull the rug from under them during this precarious moment for families and the economy.

The government have cancelled Labour’s vote on this in Parliament, but I’ve written to the Work and Pensions Secretary today to press the government to cancel the cut.”

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Portsmouth MP relaunches advice centre with local charity as city steps up response to Afghan crisis 

Stephen Morgan MP has relaunched one of his regular advice centres with local charity Friends without Borders to provide a more direct route for those in his constituency seeking shelter and support.

The charity, which provides support for asylum seekers within the Portsmouth area, will host the Portsmouth representative and a member of his casework team once a month for a dedicated 90-minute surgery for local asylum seekers.

It comes as the city steps up its response to support those fleeing the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Afghanistan. Portsmouth City Council has welcomed at least three families so far, with a further six expected over the next few weeks.

Mr Morgan’s office has been dealing with dozens and dozens of cases in recent weeks, liaising with the Home Office and relevant government departments to ensure those that are eligible get the urgent support they need.

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

“I know our city will be wanting to play its part in supporting those families that have had to leave Afghanistan, as well as those fleeing many other humanitarian crises unfolding at the moment.

“In addition to the recent influx of Afghan related cases my office has been dealing with, I’m glad to be able to once again set up my monthly face-to-face advice centre at Friends without Borders, who have done tremendous work over the years.

“It’s so important those who need it most get access to the support and benefits they need from government. I will be doing all I can to support them in the weeks and months ahead.”

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Extracurricular activities are in freefall for primary-age children, with poorest kids hit the hardest

New analysis published by the Labour Party today reveals how participation in extracurricular activities for primary-age school children is in freefall under the Tories.  

Analysis of the Government’s Taking Part Survey data shows declining participation for primary age children over the last ten years – with trends pre-dating the pandemic, including:

  • 13% decrease in competitive sports inside and outside of school
  • 36% decrease in participation in music
  • 45% decrease in dance activities
  • 47% decrease in theatre and drama
  • 16% decrease in visits to heritage sites
  • 18% decrease in visits to libraries, and
  • 13% decrease in visits to museums

Children from the poorest backgrounds are three times more likely not to take part in any extracurricular activities. 

Responding to the figures, Labour’s Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP is today announcing Labour’s ambition for all children to have the opportunity to undertake ten life-enhancing activities by the time they are ten, including playing a musical instrument, taking part in competitive sport and learning to swim and ride a bike.

Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP said:  

“Every child matters. Whatever their background – every child should have the chance to take part in activities that open their eyes to new opportunities. Whether that’s learning to swim, playing a musical instrument or visiting a gallery or museum to discover more about the culture and history of our great country.

“We only get one childhood and over the last ten years of Conservative government too many children have been denied experiences that set them up well for learning and for life.

“It’s Labour’s ambition that all children have the opportunity to take part in ten life-enhancing activities by the time they’re ten. And we offer to the Conservative government a plan to make it happen. If they won’t step up for the nation’s children, the next Labour government will.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Being born and raised in Portsmouth I have seen first-hand how extra-circular activities can enrich the learning and lives of local children.

“But the Tories in government have allowed participation to collapse, reinforcing existing disadvantage for primary-age kids in our area and slamming the door to better life chances,

“Labour’s plan offers children the opportunity to learn fundamental skills and immerse themselves in new experiences we used to take for granted. After a year like no other where our children have been among the worst affected, it is Labour taking the welfare of future generations seriously. It’s time this government did too.”

Labour has published its Children’s Recovery Plan. The Plan would deliver sport, drama, breakfast clubs, debating and a fully expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities. This would boost time for children to play and socialise after months of lost learning – and after a decade of declining participation in extracurricular activities (see table in Notes to Editors).

Labour will celebrate the role of organisations like Scouts, Girlguiding, uniformed cadets and community initiatives from across the country to highlight the role of the third sector in helping to realise our aspiration for all children.

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City MP works alongside support charity helping Portsmouth families ‘achieve their potential’

Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan has spent the day working alongside frontline family support charity Home-Start to see the difference they are making to parents and children.

The independent family support charity offers trained volunteer support to parents experiencing postnatal depression, isolation, illness, bereavement or family breakdown.

Established in 1992, it has supported thousands of families across the city.

The Portsmouth South representative met parents and volunteers working with the service to hear about the support being provided and the positive impact it has had on their family life.

One family from Somerstown had benefited from the group’s ‘Big Hopes Big Future’ programme, which works with children in the year before they start school. A trained volunteer is matched with  the family and visits them for 12 week, offering support to develop the child’s key skills and routines to help children settle in to their new school.

Jo Toms, Operations Manager, Home-Start Portsmouth:

“After a year like no other, we are very grateful to Stephen Morgan who shadowed our work and met with families, volunteers, and staff of Home-Start Portsmouth, highlighting how the pandemic has had an impact on parents and young children.

“It’s good for parents to feel listened to and share their experiences and stories of the last year.

“I am incredibly proud of our service, the support we offer to Portsmouth families, the staff team but most of all our volunteers who have continued to offer face to face visits, doorstep drops, telephone calls, texts and Zoom calls throughout.

“We have been there for families and it was important to showcase what our volunteers do and the difference they make.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Home-Start have been a vital frontline service for local families during a period of unprecedented challenges for our City.  

“The pandemic has unfortunately meant isolation, bereavement and loss of income and have become increasingly common, but Home-Start helps lift up children and parents so they can achieve their potential.

“It was a privilege to work alongside their dedicated volunteers today and see first-hand the positive impact their invaluable work is making to homes in our city.”

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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.