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City MP calls on government to keep ban on asbestos post Brexit transition period and to protect Health and Safety Executive resources

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the government to make a firm commitment to maintaining the ban on asbestos  after the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020 and as the UK negotiates trade deals with other countries.

The MP for Portsmouth South is also asking the government to rule out any further cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is responsible for enforcing compliance with asbestos-related health and safety legislation. The agency received around £100 million less from the DWP in 2019-20 than it did in 2009-10 and saw its number of inspectors reduced by 25% between 2010 and 2016.

In October 2019, the HSE, which sits under the Department for Work and Pensions, reported that there are currently over 5,000 asbestos-related disease deaths per year in the UK, although this is expected to decline over the next decade and beyond.

While the government has committed in recent weeks to maintaining a “high level of protection of human health and the environment” post-Brexit, there has been widespread concern among campaign groups that this may change in the future, particularly when the UK comes to negotiate trade deals with other countries including the USA where regulations allow use of products containing asbestos – such as certain car parts like clutches and brakes, building materials like roofing felt, tiles and cement products, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings.

It was also reported earlier month that, in 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration confirmed that asbestos had been found in several cosmetic products, including make-up marketed at children, prompting campaigners to warn that a UK trade deal with the US could see the relaxation of stringent laws prohibiting the use of dangerous ingredients in imported cosmetics.    

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The significant damage that asbestos-related diseases can do and the devastation they can cause to individuals and families is all too clear.

We should not be lowering standards once we come to do trade deals with other countries that don’t have the same restrictions on asbestos that we do in the UK.

It is vital that the ban on the manufacture and supply of all asbestos products in the UK is kept in place.”

Margaret Greenwood MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“I am concerned that any reduction in standards as a result of trade deals could put more lives at risk from asbestos-related conditions and increase cost to the DWP in social security payments and also through the work of the HSE.

Promises the government has made with regard to asbestos have to be kept firmly in mind when it is negotiating trade deals with countries whose asbestos regulations are not as stringent as the UK’s.

Labour is calling on the government to maintain the ban on asbestos.”

 

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Portsmouth MP writes to PM urging urgent action to protect the ‘frontline’

Listening to concerns over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the need for regular testing for NHS and social care staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has tonight called on the Prime Minister to take urgent action.

The latest lobbying follows raising parliamentary questions to Ministers, writing to the Health Secretary last week and liaising with local care providers.

The escalation of the action comes after the MP has increasingly heard from social care workers, some of the city’s doctors and nurses, and growing numbers of worried constituents. 

Across the country the inadequate provision of PPE equipment has been hitting the headlines following deliveries this week, and the need for clear guidance around Covid-19 testing for staff to avoid high levels of staff in self-isolation.

Writing to the Prime Minister ahead of tonight’s clap for carers, Stephen Morgan MP wrote:

“NHS staff, social care workers, health associations, trade unions, media outlets and my own constituents, have all raised concerns over the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE). From supermarket workers to doctors, those delivering for our nation on the frontline are being forced to work without adequate protective equipment amidst this pandemic.

Across our country people are stepping up and putting themselves at risk for the good of the nation.  Yet as my city and our country pause to clap for our carers again tonight, government continues to fail to address these injustices affecting those working tirelessly to save lives.

I therefore urge you to take urgent action to protect all frontline workers across social care, the NHS, local government, supermarkets and all other relevant sectors.

If we are all in this together, I urge you Prime Minister, to act and urgently protect frontline workers. It is what the people of Portsmouth, and across our nation, expect of you”.

The latest action has been taken alongside launching an online petition for people to show their support for protecting frontline workers.

Launching the Portsmouth petition the city MP said:

“Ministers have talked for weeks of ‘ramping up testing’ and delivering personal protective equipment across the UK, particularly for those working on the frontline in the NHS and social care, but there is little evidence that this is happening in practice.

A distressing number of staff in our NHS and care sector are still being forced to self-isolate because they cannot access testing. We need an urgent and co-ordinated plan for the sector now.

No more promises, no more excuses. It is time for the Government to protect the frontline with more testing needed now”.

The Portsmouth South representative is backing efforts by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire Service calling for donations of personal protection equipment, and efforts locally by organisations creating supplies for the NHS and social care.

The MP is calling on the government to have a clear and co-ordinated plan to deal with supply and testing issues urgently.

You can show your support for this call by signing the petition at: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/

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City MP says ‘government must do more’ to protect front line health and social care workers

Stephen Morgan MP, also Shadow Local Government Minister, has today lobbied government over their failure to provide Covid-19 tests and protective equipment to frontline health and social care staff, writing an urgent letter to the Health Secretary calling for action

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has vehemently stated the best way to ‘attack’ Covid-19 is increase the rate of testing. Mounting evidence also suggests that ensuring healthcare professionals are tested, and removed where results are positive, can greatly impact the spread of the virus.

On testing frontline staff, the city MP said:

“Despite 4 months warning from other countries and global bodies, government is not testing frontline health and social care staff for Covid-19. Why is this important? Because evidence suggests you can get Covid-19 twice meaning health and social care staff, vulnerable patients and their families are at even greater risk.

Government is not only failing to test relevant workers; they have not yet even provided a date for when they will. I have today put pressure on the Health Secretary to provide clarity to this situation and made the case for an immediate strategy for boosting tests for these brave men and women.”

Mr Morgan also applied pressure to the Health Secretary over the apparent lack of equipment for the health and social care workforce.

This joins calls from the head of NHS Providers, the Chief Executive of Women’s Resource Centre and trade unions who have expressed ‘deep’ concern over the Health Secretary’s lack of action to provide masks, aprons, gloves and hand sanitizer to at-risk front-line staff.

On equipment issues, Mr Morgan said:

“Evidenced reports of frontline healthcare providers being told to spend £100 of their own money on safety equipment and further reports of incorrect, ineffective masks being issued is not what these heroes and heroines deserve. It also puts their often-vulnerable patients at risk.

Why don’t these vital workers have the equipment they need? When will they get this equipment? Why are they being forced to fork out fortunes on their own protective get up?

Today I have demanded answers to these questions directly from the Health Secretary. These are unacceptable conditions for healthcare workers and the British public.”

The city MP also hit home the fact that the social care system was under considerable strain prior to this pandemic and that current conditions could push it beyond breaking point.

On social care, Mr Morgan added:

It is important to look at the state of social care before the Covid-19 outbreak. It was already massively underfunded and understaffed with 120,000 vacancies across the country. With additional pressures now placed on services, this could exceed 200,000 vacancies if 20% of the workforce have to self-isolate.

This means it is a life or death situation for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable care receivers. I therefore urge you to take action to protect these life-saving workers.

This crisis follows a decade of social care cuts that have left a system on its knees. Urgent and drastic action is needed to both protect staff and vulnerable care receivers.”

Mr Morgan’s parliamentary action echoes the concerns of many who work in health social care and have contacted him since the crisis began.

He has vowed to continue working constructively with Ministers and scrutinising the government’s decision making around the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure care givers and receivers are not put at risk.

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Covid-19: Action update from Stephen Morgan MP

The Covid-19 emergency risks hitting our most vulnerable hardest. We all have a role to play in working to protect our community.

Today I have been taking action to see to it our older and more vulnerable community members are supported along with the voluntary sector that relentlessly puts others first.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Reached out to city schools – I have today contacted all headteachers in constituency schools offering a channel for them, governors, staff, and trade union representatives to share views and concerns to feed this into government planning. Tonight the education secretary has announced school closures for all those except key workers and vulnerable children.

 

  • Working to strengthen our city’s voluntary organisations – Panic buying has left some supermarket shelves bear with reports of vulnerable people crying in the aisles. A number of volunteers and local groups are working tirelessly to help people across the constituency and I will continue to link them with Portsmouth Hive. This paves the way for volunteers to access priority goods for vulnerable people.

 

  • Standing up for cultural assets – The Mary Rose museum is a cultural asset of international significance and one of Portsmouth’s most-cherished attractions. Covid-19 runs the risk of financially challenging a number of museums. Today I wrote to the Culture Secretary to urge a package of care for the Mary Rose and similar institutions.

 

  • Raising the need for tailored financial support for voluntary organisations – Voluntary organisations are stepping up amid to the Covid-19 crisis, from delivering food to vulnerable people to tackling social isolation. They are looking after our communities, but they need the tools to do that. Today I set out to the Chancellor what additional measures need to be taken to give voluntary organisations the financial tools they need to stay afloat.

 

  • Representing Portsmouth from the frontbenches – Democracy must continue despite the crisis. Today, as Shadow Communities Minister l joined colleagues to hold the government to account on their plans for social care. Local authorities are responsible for looking after some of society’s most vulnerable and they are under considerable strain already. Today I worked with others to raise this point to the Minister in the chamber.

 

  • Conducting constituent Covid-19 casework –This pandemic affects every aspect of daily life, for some more than others. My team and I are busy helping with casework inquiries as well as receiving a high volume of questions and issues. Today I spent time helping constituents access voluntary support and worked with the City Council to help resolve housing issues.

These are just some of the actions I have taken for our community today. I will continue to represent Portsmouth in parliament and be a voice for our community where it matters.

 

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Stephen Morgan MP’s action update on Covid-19

It is apparent that the economic shockwaves of this pandemic will have implications for Portsmouth.

We have a thriving independent shopping scene and a host of small businesses that our community both relies upon and is immensely proud of. Today, alongside raising public health concerns, I have been taking action to protect these small businesses.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Speaking up for Portsmouth small businesses: Today I put pressure on the Business Secretary to protect pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and other small businesses by reducing the ambiguity around banning attendance to pave the way for simpler insurance claims.
  • Being a voice for the solo self-employed: Most self-employed have no HR department to give them guidance, no sick pay to fall back on, and are facing the likelihood of less work. Today I wrote to the relevant government official to ask what they are doing to assist those who are self-employed.
  • Building a support network for Portsmouth small businesses: Today I have been liaising with Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to encourage a package of support is being offered to small businesses that have been affected by Covid-19.
  • Protecting local democracy: Today I lobbied the council to find technological solutions to maintain local democracy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Solutions have been found that will help councillors continue to represent their communities safely and effectively. It is vital that councillors are role models for residents in changing the way we work in crisis.
  • Representing our city from parliament’s frontbenches: Today during the Foreign Office and Commonwealth Department statement on Covid-19 I worked with colleagues on the frontbenches, helping opposition MPs apply scrutiny to government travel policy.
  • Making sure information is at the fingertips of Portsmouth people: Information is key at times of crisis. That is why I have been working to create a Frequently Asked Questions page based on the most common enquiries I receive. This can be found here.
  • Put measures in place to maintain support to constituents: Today I put in place protections to carry on providing casework support to constituents while keeping staff safe amid the Covid-10 outbreak.
  • Standing up for the most vulnerable in our community: Working with Cllr Cal Corkery, today I submitted parliamentary questions urging the government to take special measures to support homeless people and rough sleepers who are at greater risk due to Covid-19.

As the effects of Covid-19 progress, so will my work standing up for our community. I will endeavour to keep you up to date on my actions and what I am doing to help mitigate the effects of this pandemic.

 

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Covid-19: Your frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Last updated: 12/6/2020 14:15

New Government guidance was announced on the 10 June, with some new rules coming into play on the 13 June. 

Can I now meet people outside my household? 

Now you can see people that you do not live with while protecting yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).

How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

You are allowed to meet in groups of up to six people who you do not live with or who are not in your support bubble.

You are only allowed to meet in groups of more than six people if everyone is a member of the same household or, from 13 June, support bubble.

There is more information about the rules you should follow when meeting people you do not live with here.

Government has now rolled out a track and trace system. This helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

Evidence suggests this is a more effective tool than lockdown and Stephen is continuing to keep a watchful eye on government’s progress on this.

You can access more information here:

Should I be at work? 

On 10 May 2020 the Government began to outline its plans to enable certain sectors in England to return to work, while the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have continued the period of lockdown.

Several sets of of sector specific guidance have been issued. This sector specific guidance covers construction and other outdoor work, warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres and similar indoor environments. The remaining guidance addresses working in other people’s homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and similar environments and people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers and lorry drivers.

Guidance on the revised flexible furlough scheme applicable from 1 July can be found.

What is a criminal offence?

It is a criminal offence to:

  • meet indoors with anyone who is not a member of your household or, from 13 June, your support bubble, except for specific exceptions set out in law
  • meet outdoors in a group of more than six with people who are not in your household or support bubble, except for specific exceptions set out in law
  • incite others to break the rules by e.g. inviting people to a party threaten others with infection by coronavirus, for example by coughing or spitting in their direction

Can I visit a clinically vulnerable person?

We know that people 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women may be more clinically vulnerable, so Government have advised them to take particular care to avoid contact with others.

That means such individuals can meet people outdoors but should be especially careful. Similarly, clinically vulnerable people can form a support bubble with another household, if one of the households is an adult living alone or with children, but extra care should be taken. For example all members of the support bubble should be especially careful to socially distance from people outside of the household or bubble.

If someone is defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and being asked to shield, you should follow the guidance for a shielded person as this is different to the wider clinically vulnerable group. Shielded people are advised not to form a support bubble due to the heightened risks for this group.

Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You should avoid using public transport if you can. You should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

Government information on transport can be found here

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Stephen Morgan MP’s action update on Covid-19

As we approach the fast growth part of the virus curve and tragically the UK death toll rises to 53, I have been taking action in parliament to ensure Portsmouth people are as protected as they can be.

As measures are put in place by government there will be a number of economic, social and health implications in our community. Each day I will be working hard to see to it that voices are heard, and issues raised.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Putting pressure on government to stop evictions – I today wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government demanding an eviction ban for renters affected by Covid-19. The proposal I made would safeguard more than 20 million people – eight and a half million households – who rent their homes from private, council or housing association landlords, including three million households with children.
  • Working to secure a joined-up volunteer response – Volunteers will help deal with everything from delivering shopping to tackling social isolation. I have reached out to Hive Portsmouth, responsible for coordinating volunteers in our community, to urge them to provide information on their volunteer strategy as we progress.
  • Being a voice for older community members – Following the Health Secretary’s advice for over 70s to isolate, I have taken action to tackle potential loneliness. I have today put pressure on the Culture Secretary to delay the introduction of TV licence fees for over 75s. It is imperative that our older community members have a timely flow of information throughout this crisis.
  • Raising our communities’ issues in parliament – As an MP I have the power to raise concerns immediately through written questions. I have today submitted targeted questions seeking government funding for council tax relief for those affected by Covid-19, applied pressure on how they will combat the stockpiling crisis, what role our armed forces will play and a host of other areas.
  • Being a strong voice for our armed forces – Part of tackling the Covid-19 crisis is safeguarding issues of national importance. Today I worked to ensure that action is taken to combat growing cyber security threats. We cannot afford to have another NHS cyber attack during the Covid-19 crisis.

These are the key actions I have taken today. I will continue to stand up for Portsmouth in the face of Covid-19 and will provide a regular update on actions. We are a resilient community made of tough stuff. Side by side by side we will overcome the Covid-19 crisis.

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Portsmouth community action: Covid-19

There have been some amazing responses by communities across Portsmouth helping to support isolated or vulnerable people as a result of Covid-19.

Let’s continue to come together, as safely as possible, to maintain Portsmouth’s community strength, and support the people around us.

Please download Stephen’s poster and pop it up to help other Portsmouth people or share it on your social media to let others know that their actions matter. 

Portsmouth Covid-19 Community Action

There are five things you can do to make a positive difference in Portsmouth 

1 Think of others, consider your actions and be kind

People in every community will face the challenges of Covid-19 in some way from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell.

2 Support vulnerable people or isolated people

Different groups in our communities are at risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to food banks to help.

3 Connect and reach out to your neighbours

As self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.

4 Share accurate information and advice

Support anyone who may be anxious about Covid-19. Signpost them to the correct advice from Public Health England and encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.

5 Make the most of local online groups

Keep up to date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations.

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Stephen Morgan MP addresses constituents in letter on Covid-19

Dear constituent

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as an infectious disease, is currently experiencing a global outbreak. We have all seen the media reports from China, Iran, and Italy, and many countries are now reporting cases. Here in the UK, the number of reported cases is rising every day.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu. But it is older people and those with pre-existing health conditions to whom the risks associated with contracting Coronavirus are greater.

Understandably concern is growing, including here in Portsmouth. There have been reports of people buying essential hygiene products such as hand sanitiser, soap, and toilet paper off the shelves. Panic is understandable in the face of the unknown.

The British Retail Consortium has advised against stockpiling, especially food items. They are working hard to ensure that supply chains are maintained during the Coronavirus outbreak, meaning that people have no need to worry about item shortages if stockpiling ceases.

Public Health England has said that the best way you can keep yourself, your loved ones and everyone else around you safe is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And of course, maintenance of good general hygiene is encouraged.

Whilst it’s unclear how things are going to develop over the coming weeks and months, or the impact it could have on our freedoms, our city’s economy or on our public services, I encourage calm. Many of us are going to be absolutely fine even under the Government’s worst-case scenario.

I would, however, urge that we take care of our city’s oldest and most vulnerable; something that’s not a bad habit to get into anyway. Official advice from the NHS can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

I want constituents in Portsmouth to be reassured that measures are being put in place to prevent the spread of the virus where possible. I will keep raising our views and concerns in Parliament and work hard so that the services we all rely on, have the resources they need to keep us safe.

 

Stephen Morgan MP

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“Let’s make cycling easier and accessible to all” vows Portsmouth MP after teaming up with Brompton Bike Hire

City MP Stephen Morgan is taking action to make it cheaper and easier to get around Portsmouth by bike. He is working with others including Brompton Bike Hire to set the wheels turning.

The action follows meetings with Brompton representatives in Portsmouth in a bid to encourage the city council to do more to encourage active travel to tackle the climate crisis.

After direct discussions with the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and Brompton, the Portsmouth South MP has now written to the local authority to urge them to retain the current Brompton Cycle Hire Hub based at Portsmouth Harbour, encourage new sites for the hire scheme across the city centre and enable people on low incomes to access the bikes to get round the city.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“People have told me they want to get out on the bike more but either can’t afford it, don’t know enough about how to get involved or don’t feel safe. If we are going to tackle climate change and air pollution crisis, this needs to change.

The council working in partnership more with Brompton Bike Hire and locating additional hubs across our city’s communities will help people get moving in a greener way, and in turn make Portsmouth less polluted.

That is why I am continuing to lobby hard for a greater presence of the Brompton Hire Scheme here in Portsmouth.

I’ve long argued the council need to do more to encourage cycling and make it easier for people to get on a bike. This is an off the shelf solution ready to go”.

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire said:

“Brompton is committed to changing the way people move around cities.

We are delighted Stephen Morgan MP shares this vision and is demonstrating a real drive at both a local and national level to promote active travel”.

First installed in other parts of the country in April 2011, Brompton Bike Hire was created to address the clear need for a cycle hire scheme that is accessible to all, easy and cheap to install and run and economical to use.

 

The British company expanded rapidly across the UK including to Portsmouth, first providing a facility at the city’s park and ride station, then moving it to Portsmouth Habour station.

A focus of Mr Morgan’s action is helping people on low incomes to access a bike hire scheme. On this he added:

“Cycling should be for the many not just the privileged or brave. Following discussions with Brompton on their recent visit to Portsmouth I am delighted that they are willing to partner with housing associations and the council to offer free membership to those in social and affordable housing.

I will be continuing to work with local campaigners to lobby for more hubs to be put in areas of the city where they are most needed.

I have put this offer to the city council to help Portsmouth people. I look forward to a positive response to improve the assets available across all our communities.”