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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.

 

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Stephen Morgan MP warns that childcare sector is at “risk of collapse without targeted Government support”

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the Government to target its financial support at nurseries, childminders and other childcare providers at risk of closure.

This follows action undertaken by the city MP in April that saw him write to the Chancellor outlining the pressures on the sector and demanding better coverage for the childcare sector in terms of the Job Retention Scheme.

The city MP has warned about the devastating impact that mass childcare closures would have on working parents, disadvantaged children and our economic recovery. In Portsmouth the number of childcare providers has reduced by 11 in the last five years, and research by the Early Years Alliance suggests that a quarter may not survive nationally. 

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Childcare providers were struggling before this crisis, with thousands closing every year, but without targeted government support the sector is at risk of collapse. The UK Government has consistently ignored the needs of nurseries, childminders and other early years providers in this crisis, and now a quarter fear they may be forced to close nationally with 11 in our community.

This would be devastating for Portsmouth families that rely on childcare, and it would be a huge setback for our economic recovery from Covid-19 which relies on parents being able to go back to work. It’s time the Government recognised the importance of childcare and early education for our economic recovery and brought forward a proper plan to save the early years sector.”

There are concerns that mass childcare closures and a reduction in the availability of vital early years education would hit hardest the poorest families and most disadvantaged children in our society. This in turn would be a huge setback for our economic recovery, which will be reliant on parents being able to get back to work rather than being forced to stay at home because there isn’t sufficient childcare available.

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Sign: Letter to the Prime Minister to stop holiday hunger

Many constituents have got in touch after reading Marcus Rashford’s open letter to all Members of Parliament. Stephen welcomes this letter and supports calls for Government to make sure no child goes hungry this summer by funding Free School Meals.

Please add your name to Stephen’s letter to the Prime Minister to lobby Government to stop kids going hungry:

 

 

Thank you for signing the letter. Stephen Morgan and the Labour Party will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Holiday Hunger campaign. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please click here

 

 

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City MP responds to SAGE verdict that it is unsafe to reopen schools on 1 June

On 28 May 2020, the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies stated that it there was not evidence suggesting that it would be safe for schools to reopen. Despite this, Government remains committed to opening early next month.

Alongside teachers’ unions, and after listening to constituents’ concerns, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has taken a number of important actions to hold the government to account for this decision-making.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government continues to repeat that we must be led by science but continues to ignore the advice of Independent SAGE when it comes to school reopening.

Returning to school is a priority for the sake of pupils’ education and well-being however I believe schools should only open when it is safe to do so.

Teachers do a fantastic job in educating our children and young people and have been working throughout this pandemic to support the families they work with.

Whilst I welcome efforts made by the city council in engaging schools and teaching unions, I remain concerned that the Government has failed to provide assurances to parents, school staff, and pupils, only publishing their plans a few days before the end of half term”.

On 28 May 2020 the Prime Minister said the Government will move forward with its plan for some pupils to return to schools in England from 1 June 2020.

On the same day, the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies stated that “decisions on school opening should be guided by evidence that there are low levels of Covid-19 infections in the local community in which the school is situated and the ability to rapidly respond to new infections through a well-functioning, coordinated, local test, track and isolate strategy.”

SAGE argued that it has “seen no compelling evidence that these conditions have so far been met across the country”. They continued to say, “Until they are, it is not safe to open schools everywhere on June 1.”

The city MP added:

“The Government has repeatedly been asked to set up a taskforce of education unions, parents’ organisations and health experts to agree upon a series of practical safety measures that must be met before any date for reopening was confirmed.

It is vital that the Government carries the confidence of trade unions, school staff and parents. It must work closely with them to ensure safety concerns are addressed.

I will continue to hold government to account for, what has been so far, deeply misguided decision-making.

The need to get this right could not be more important, all choices must be informed by evidence and fact. Pupil and teacher safety must come first”.

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking a variety of actions on schools returning for some time, concerns over the safety and well-being of pupils and school staff.

Already he has written out to all schools in the constituency during this crisis, hosted a ‘School Call’ open consultation with parents; liaised with teaching unions and city council; written to the Education Secretary with local concerns; and continues to raise the matter in Parliament.

He continues to join frontbench colleagues in calling for government to set up taskforce. A copy of the report from Stephen’s School Call and the concerns raised by participants can be found on his website.

 

 

 

 

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City MP hosts ‘School Call’ bringing together parents, teachers and unions over concerns on school reopenings

Last night, Stephen Morgan MP teamed up with NEU President Amanda Martin and brought together parents and teachers for an open consultation.

The constituency-wide conversation – which took place via zoom – follows Government’s controversial proposals to send some pupils back on the 1 June, a decision slammed by unions and parents alike.

The conference call included addresses from the National Education Union  President and the city MP about the national lobbying effort to make sure that when schools reopen, they are safe for both pupils and staff.

City MP Stephen Morgan set out his parliamentary actions before opening up for questions and agreeing to take forward a set of actions in support of concerned parents and schools’ staff.

Amanda Martin, the President of Europe’s largest teaching union, spoke on the NEU’s 5 tests, current gaps in evidence and the problems with comparing the UK with nations such as Denmark and the Netherlands.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government’s current proposals for reopening schools put pupils and teaching staff at risk. The consensus among teachers, unions and parents in the consultation revealed deep set and justified concerns.

We all want pupils back at school, but everyone loses if the proper preparations are not made. Lack of accurate guidance on workplace safety, unsubstantial scientific evidence supporting the proposed return date and the non-existent national testing strategy need to be addressed before dates are set.

There is a lot at risk if this is not done properly. I have already taken action alongside teaching groups in holding government to account for this decision. I will continue to work on the set of actions agreed through our discussions yesterday.”

Prior to the meeting, Stephen Morgan MP had already written to the Education Secretary, submitted a string of written questions and established communication with every school in the constituency.

NEU President, Amanda Martin said:

“Lack of published scientific evidence, patchy workplace safety guidelines and an absence of a testing process mean that reopening schools in early June runs the risk of harm coming to teachers and pupils.

I will continue work alongside Stephen to apply pressure on government to meet the NEU’s 5 tests, which have been backed by the British Medical Association and Parentkind.”

Over 40 attendees took part in the consultation. The main concerns raised included transparency in government decision making, the need for science-based evidence, importance of ongoing communication, and the lack of planning for the looming mental health crisis.

Mr Morgan added:

“This is not about making government’s job harder. It is about highlighting the areas they must address to keep pupils and teaching staff safe.  

The agreed set of actions yesterday will build upon the work that we have already done to hold government to account.”

Actions agreed yesterday included lobbying government to meet the NEU’s 5 tests through parliamentary questions and ministerial engagement, maintaining regular communication, applying pressure to government to implement a strategy for dealing with mental health implications, and continued use of parliamentary process to access scientific data.

 

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“In looking to the past, we will find the strength to deal with the present” says city MP on VE celebrations

Shadow Armed Forces Minister and city MP Stephen Morgan has urged Portsmouth people to celebrate safely on Friday 8 May for Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

This year is particularly significant as it marks the 75th anniversary since the Allies’ formal acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Nazi forces in 1945. After the success of D-Day 75, Portsmouth was set for widespread street parties and public events.

While the major celebratory events have had to be cancelled due to social distancing measures amid Covid-19, the Portsmouth South MP has urged people across the city to celebrate and pay tribute in alternative ways.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Many of the hard fought for freedoms secured by the brave people 75 years ago are the ones we find ourselves without today due to Covid-19. That makes the recognition and celebration of their actions even more important.

In looking to the past, we will find the strength to deal with the present. The continuation of celebrations is vital. This country has overcome hardship before, and we can do it again.

The efforts we can expect this coming week will be about celebrating victory over the most tyrannical regime the world has seen and spending time thinking about those who sacrificed so much for us.

I will be spending time paying tribute to my own grandfather, who set sail from Portsmouth on D-Day and spent time fighting in the European theatre.”

While social distancing requirements have scuppered some major celebration plans, which had included a veterans’ procession and street parties, across the country people have been showing ingenuity and coming up with alternative ideas.

On this, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“In true Portsmouth fashion, people are coming together to find safe, creative ways of celebrating. Some are placing a specially designed image of a Second World War soldier in their windows, while others are planning to cut out and put up homemade bunting.

I urge people from across our city to celebrate this important landmark in not just our nation’s, but the world’s history, by getting involved in their own way.

Understanding our shared heritage of remembrance helps bring communities together. We can’t let anything get in way of recognising the sacrifice of service people.”

Official commemorations will begin at 11am on Friday with a national moment of remembrance and a two-minute silence, according to government guidelines.

A pack with ideas for homemade VE Day bunting, original recipes, games, and educational and creative activities for children has been produced by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, so families under lockdown can create their own experiences at home. This can be found here

The Royal British Legion has also launched its “Tommy in the window” campaign, producing specially designed figures of soldiers. More information and educational material can be found here

 

 

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Make a Portsmouth rainbow!

Fun family activity by Stephen Morgan MP

All around Portsmouth’s communities we can see colourful rainbows decorated by families offering a sign of hope during this challenging time for our city and our country.

Following the popular constituency colouring competition, Stephen is now encouraging Portsmouth families to turn their minds to making a rainbow for their home window.

Teaming up with University of Portsmouth alumni and graphic design freelancer Dan Mackey, Dan has used his amazing talents to produce a template for people to make a rainbow.

Please feel free to colour it in, cut it out, fold it into shape, and display it in your window!

To download the template click here

If you want to share your completed rainbow, please email a photo to  stephen@stephenmorgan.org.uk

A selection will be put on Stephen’s social media

For more information about Dan’s work click here

 

 

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Looking for something to do this weekend? Then enter my constituency colouring competition!

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Then enter my constituency colouring competition!

All around Portsmouth we can see colourful rainbows decorated by families offering a sign of hope during this challenging time for our city and our country. Teaming up with local graphic designer and friend Sarah Houghton she has used her amazing talents to produce a Portsmouth poster for people’s windows.

Please feel free to colour it in, then scan it or send me a photo of it in your window and prizes will be awarded to the best!

To download the poster click here: Final colouring competition

Open to all. Entries should be submitted to stephen@stephenmorgan.org.uk by no later than Friday 17 April

 

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Government now need a ‘comprehensive plan’ to return home stranded Britons

Responding to the Government announcement tonight on Britain’s trapped abroad due to the coronavirus crisis, Stephen Morgan MP has said the government now needs to produce a comprehensive plan to help return home desperate British nationals.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Foreign Secretary’s statement tonight was welcome, but long overdue. Hundreds of thousands of Britons are stranded abroad. They are in desperate need of urgent action by Government.

We were promised a detailed plan today. Instead we got more of the same.

My constituents stuck abroad are telling me they feel abandoned by Government. Worried families are at their wit’s end. I am hearing from vulnerable people needing to get back to loved ones, and other travellers running out of essential medical supplies.

Earlier today I wrote to the Foreign Secretary, continuing to take action for Portsmouth families affected, offering practical ideas to help address the issues British nationals are facing abroad.

Rather than vague promises, we now need Government to set out a comprehensive, fully funded plan to bring our British nationals home. That’s what Britons stuck abroad deserve, and their loved ones back home expect”.

 

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs Bill to reduce cost of school uniform

A proposed new law that will reduce the cost of school uniforms for hard-pressed families has won the backing of Stephen Morgan MP.

The MP for Portsmouth South has pledged his support for the Bill, introduced by fellow Labour MP Mike Amesbury, that would aim to strengthen existing guidance encouraging schools to keep down costs.

The Bill is gaining cross-party support and has won the backing of the government.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“According to research by the Children’s Society, families are spending an average of around £337 per year on uniform for each child at secondary school, while parents of primary school children spent £315 on average.

This is having a hugely detrimental impact on many of my constituents and I really hope that we can get this bill passed into law and alleviate what has become a financial burden for so many families.”

Mike Amesbury MP added:

“I’m delighted to receive the support of Stephen Morgan MP.

His backing is crucial if this bill is to become law and I firmly believe it will have a hugely beneficial impact not only to those people in both of our constituencies, but to families right across the country too.”

Mr Morgan was present in the House of Commons today as the bill had its second reading. It now must gain the support of MPs if it is to become law.

The Bill is progressing as the Children’s Society today launched the latest in their ‘The Wrong Blazer’  series of reports, making the case for action to tackle the cost of school uniform.  The organisation supports the Bill.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“School is a place where young people should be able to aim high, work hard and achieve. They should be able to pursue their goals free from any additional pressure around uniform.

I know many Portsmouth families work relentlessly to support their children in their academic endeavours but when 1 in 8 families get into debt trying to keep up with uniform costs, change needs to happen.

I will continue to support legislation that works to this end.”