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Portsmouth MP welcomes ‘exciting’ new partnership between Subsea Craft and UoP to develop cutting-edge maritime technology

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed a new partnership between Portsmouth-based Subsea Craft and the University of Portsmouth to develop cutting-edge maritime technology.

The partnership, funded by Subsea and by £220,000 made available by Innovate UK through the ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ programme, will run for two years and see two new researchers (KTP Associates) join Subsea, with the company also gaining access to knowledge from the School of Energy and Electronic Engineering in the Faculty of Technology at the university.

The resultant technology will form part of the wider digital offer Subsea Craft are preparing alongside their flagship product, VICTA – the world’s most advanced diver-delivery unit that is capable of travelling at up to 40kts above surface, before rapidly moving sub-surface. The partnership will deliver vital digital capabilities that will further enhance those already embedded in VICTA.

The team at the University of Portsmouth, led by Professor Victor Becerra – who will be supported by Dr Edward Smart, Dr Hongjie Ma, and two researchers – has extensive experience in the industry.

The new agreement is expected to improve the university’s already expert knowledge in the sector, and provide them with another strategic business link in their region. For the associates being hired, it will provide the opportunity to work in a high-skilled advanced role, bringing more high-quality jobs to Portsmouth.

Visiting Subsea Craft’s facility in Portsmouth Harbour today, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan, said:

“I am delighted to see an innovative local SME partnering with the University to develop world-leading new technology here in our city.

“This partnership will not only deliver the next generation of marine technology for commercial and navy ships, it also drives the creation of the high skilled jobs that are crucial for our city’s economic success.

“I can think of no better place to begin this ground-breaking work than in the home and heart of the Royal Navy and I wish the project team every success.”

Scott Verney, CEO at Subsea, added:

“This partnership is not only a great one for Subsea as we continue to develop cutting edge maritime technology, but a good one for Portsmouth as a whole.

“Our ambition is to create a centre of maritime technology excellence at our HQ in the Camber, and this work with the University is a huge part of that.”

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Cost of living crisis: Portsmouth MP grills ministers on plans to protect local families this winter

Stephen Morgan MP raised concerns in the House of Commons today on how government will protect vulnerable local families this winter.

The Portsmouth MP underlined that 21% of working age families in his constituency of Portsmouth South – nearly half of which with children – will be affected by the government’s cut to Universal Credit, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It comes as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, with the Bank of England recently forecasting that salaries will fall by 1.25% this year, with inflation expected to reach to as high as 4% in 2022 and the highest sustained tax burden in peace time.

In October, four in ten households on Universal Credit faced a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit was cut by £20 a week.

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

“The government had a clear opportunity in last month’s Budget to protect vulnerable families in Portsmouth this winter, but instead it’s pulled the rug out from underneath them.

“Energy bills, inflation and taxes on the lowest earners are all up, but support for working families is far below what is required to keep them secure this winter.

“I will continue to hold ministers to account to provide those most at risk this winter with the help they need, as government continues to struggle with getting to grips with the cost-of-living crisis.”

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Tiffin Cup Nomination

Please vote for your favourite South Asian restaurant in Portsmouth South. The restaurant with the most nominations from constituents will be nominated by Stephen Morgan MP to the Tiffin Cup judges.

Following Stephen’s local nomination there will be a Regional Final from which 12 Finalists are chosen. At the final each restaurant will be asked to prepare a signature dish which will be marked by a panel of expert Judges which is chaired by the Celebratory Chef Ainsley Harriott MBE. The winner is crowned Tiffin Cup winner for the year. The Tiffin Cup celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Established in 2007 it seeks to promote the importance of South Asian restaurants throughout the UK. Nominations need to be made by Monday 22 November. The Regional Final stage will be completed by 27th January 2022. The Grand Final with the live judging will take place in March 2022

Thank you for nominating. Stephen Morgan MP will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Tiffin Cup awards. 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 visit here

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Budget 2021: City MP pledges support for local pubs in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today pledged his support for the ‘Long Live the Local’ campaign to help pubs and breweries in Portsmouth South recover and thrive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on brewers and pubs throughout the UK and continues to do so as the sector tries to kickstart its recovery.

The sector needs an immediate boost and the fact that a local pub adds £100,000 to its local economy, creates jobs and acts as a social hub, underlines how directly investment in the form of lower VAT, Business Rates and an overall cut to beer duty can help pubs and their communities to recover.

It will also boost Britain’s world class brewing sector, a homegrown manufacturing success story that brews over 80% of the beer we drink.

Brewing and pubs in Portsmouth South supports 2478 jobs and contributes £60m to the local economy. With £1 in every £3 pounds spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers and pub goers are overtaxed and this is hampering the recovery of our cherished locals and Britain’s brewers.

The city MP has spoken up for our city’s pubs since being elected as part of his ‘Support Local’ initiative.

Lobbying Government again over the challenges the sector faces ahead of this year’s Budget from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Pubs are at the heart of communities across Portsmouth, but with pubs bearing a disproportionate burden as a result of the pandemic the Government should consider cutting unfair taxes on pubs that are hampering their recovery.

“I’m supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to support the recovery of our pubs.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, also said:

“85% of pubs are based in community and rural areas, bringing jobs to the parts of the UK that need them most. They employ over 600,000 people, of which 43% are under 25. Cutting Business Rates, VAT and an overall reduction in Beer Duty would go a long way to helping pubs and brewers across Portsmouth South that are desperately trying to recover.

“We are very grateful to Stephen Morgan MP for his support for the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT and Business Rates for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall.”

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP calls on government to reassess plans to scrap the vast majority of BTEC qualifications

Stephen Morgan MP has joined calls urging the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi to make an “early reassessment” of the Department for Education’s plan to remove funding for the vast majority of applied general qualifications such as BTECs.

It comes as the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign continues to grow, a coalition of 21 organisations that represent and support students and staff in schools, colleges and universities.

In July, the Department confirmed plans to introduce a twin-track system of A levels and T levels (a new suite of technical qualifications), where most young people pursue one of these qualifications at the age of 16. As a result, funding for most BTEC qualifications will be removed.

Under current proposals, larger BTEC qualifications (equivalent in size to 2 or 3 A levels) will be scrapped if the government deems they “overlap” with A levels or T levels. But the MPs and peers call for the option to study BTECs to be retained as they “are a different type of qualification that provide a different type of educational experience – one that combines the development of skills with academic learning”.

Recent data for participation in education, training and employment in England (end of 2019) shows that 864,304 16 to 18 year olds are studying at Level 3. The majority (55%) are studying A levels only, 19% are studying applied general qualifications such as BTECs (in some cases alongside A levels) and 4% are studying technical qualifications. Because of recent changes to Department for Education performance tables, 22% of students are categorised as studying an ‘Other Level 3’ course

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

“The removal of BTECs represents a hammer blow for social mobility, the skills gap and the economy. BTECs serve a different purpose and should co-exist in the qualifications landscape.”

During Love our Colleges Week, it’s really important we underline the importance of and value BTECs bring to education.

“Speaking to constituents, I know how critical these qualifications can be to ensure students have the knowledge and skills they need for the future.

Government must look again and Protect Student Choice.”

 

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Fire and rehire: Portsmouth MP votes to end ‘cruel and unacceptable’ practice

Stephen Morgan MP has backed legislation to stop employers being able to sack staff and rehire them on worse pay and conditions.

Despite it not being possible in UK law to outright ban fire and rehire, the Bill will enshrine good practice into law and will penalise bad practice.

The new legislation will require employers to provide all relevant information to workforce representatives or a recognised union and consult with them at the very earliest stage, with the intention of reaching agreement on the least disagreeable way forward.

The Bill also gives a right to claim automatic unfair dismissal if the steps are not taken or if a worker is dismissed for refusing a reduction in terms and conditions.

Fire and rehire is not a new phenomenon. However, it has gained prominence because of the high-profile controversy generated by its use by major employers such as British Airways, Heathrow Airport and British Gas in circumstances they claim to be justified by the COVID pandemic to force their staff onto lower wages and longer hours and cut benefits such as pensions.

A poll published by the TUC revealed that nearly one in 10 (9%) workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown in March.

In the same poll nearly a fifth of 18-24 year-olds say their employer has tried to rehire them on inferior terms during the pandemic. And twice as many black and minority ethnic (BME) workers (15%) have been faced with fire and rehire as white workers (8%).

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

Fire and rehire is a backward and unacceptable practice that must end. No one in Portsmouth should be subjected to this cowardly negotiation tactic.

“It is not just bad for working people, it’s bad for our economy too, with the loss of productivity meaning less public money to support our vital local services.

“We have an opportunity to emerge from this crisis and move on to something better, not go back to the broken measures we had before. Government must do the right thing and vote with Labour to end fire and rehire.”

Earlier this year, the Portsmouth MP met with local British Gas engineers, and members of the GMB union, whose members were striking, due to a dispute with Centrica on pay and conditions.

Mr Morgan also wrote a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP back in March, calling for Government action and demanded that ‘real negotiations’ be conducted. He disclosed in the letter that he had met with engineers in Portsmouth who have been affected by the renegotiation tactics.

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Portsmouth MP will vote to cut business rates, as new figures show over 300,000 businesses at risk across the country

Stephen Morgan MP will today urge the government to cut business rates, and support struggling high street businesses in Portsmouth.

 

It comes as the Portsmouth MP’s office revealed new figures, based on a breakdown of data from the Office for National Statistics, that up to 174 of businesses are at risk in the local representative’s constituency of Portsmouth South alone.

 

With business organisations including the CBI, FSB, British Chamber of Commerce and over 40 trade associations calling for an urgent reform of the tax, the cost to businesses from rising inflation and increasing shortages is making the change more urgent.

 

Labour committed at their party conference to cutting and eventually entirely scrapping business rates and replace them with a new form of business taxation fit for the 21st Century. 

 

Labour has proposed freezing Business Rates until the next revaluation, and then increasing the threshold for small business rates relief (from the current threshold of £15,000 to £25,000), to give SMEs a discount on their business rates bill for 2022/23, ahead of more fundamental reform, where the party say they will scrap business rates entirely and replace them with a new form of business taxation.

 

Labour would pay for easing this burden on businesses by raising the UK Digital Services Tax to 12 per cent for 2022/23, raising £2.1bn which would be spent on cutting business rates for small businesses and the high street. In the long term, Labour would fund the replacement for business rates by shifting the burden of business taxation away from the high street towards large online tech giants.

 

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

“Our high street businesses do so much to enrich our lives and our communities, facing huge adversity in the past year.

 

“But I know that many local businesses, particularly those in the city centre, are struggling right now, with a cliff-edge in rates relief coming up in March, and increasing shortages and supply chain issues increasing pressure and costs.

 

“I want Portsmouth’s high streets to thrive, and that’s why Labour will scrap business rates. We will carry out the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, so our businesses can lead the pack, not watch opportunities go elsewhere.”

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‘New data shows Portsmouth South needs levelling up’ says City MP

A new survey has revealed that the Portsmouth South constituency is officially in need of levelling up.

The research, conducted by consultants WPI Strategy, ranked 573 parliamentary constituencies in England and Wales based on key indicators of wealth, health and deprivation, with Portsmouth coming in at 160.

Spending power, gauging employment and wage data, and financial dependency, including those on jobseekers and Universal Credit, were roughly in line with national averages, but Portsmouth South was 30% higher than the England and Wales average on crime and deprivation.

Perhaps most concerningly, Portsmouth South ranked in the bottom 20 constituencies in all of England and Wales on health, based on the number of GPs and the average life expectancy for the area.

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“That our community needs levelling up is a surprise only to government ministers. These figures are exactly why I have made crime, deprivation, and health my priorities as the city’s MP.

“I’ve consistently raised concerns about access to GPs and dentists, called for fairer funding for our police service and continue to point out that Tory tax rises are clobbering working people in Portsmouth.

“It’s clear that the government’s approach to levelling up is based only on their political ambitions, not a genuine desire to support our city.

“In the coming weeks Ministers will have the chance to put their money where their mouths are. Government should back Portsmouth’s Levelling Up bid and invest in our city if they want to start making a real difference in people’s day-to-day lives.”

The city MP has been lobbying Government not to forget Portsmouth and invest in the city’s infrastructure as communities recover from the pandemic.

This has included writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about a range of regeneration projects in the constituency needing government support, and has recently put pressure on Ministers to finally announce future funding for local communities.

 

 

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Emergency action must be taken by the Prime Minister to tackle ongoing food and fuel shortages say Labour

The Government must take “emergency action” to get a grip on the HGV driver shortage that is causing chaos for families across the UK, Labour has warned.

Keir Starmer has challenged the Prime Minister to:

  • Get petrol to stations in areas of the country most in need now by using the military they’ve got on standby as an emergency measure
  • Ask stations where there is supply to extend opening hours to help NHS shift workers and other key workers
  • Recall parliament so we can issue the visas we need now for short-term capacity and make sure there is a plan to secure supply chains for the Winter
  • Hold an emergency summit of the road haulage industry, training providers, affected business groups, Government ministers and transport unions to focus on the immediate crisis and on finally addressing the pay, terms, training, licensing and conditions of drivers which has led to such serious labour shortages.

The Government has been criticised by many sectors for failing to plan for, and deal with, supply chain issues.

Ministers announced on 26 September a policy to provide 5,000 new visas for HGV drivers through the Temporary Workers’ Scheme. But nothing has happened.

Advice received from parliamentary clerks on the Government’s suggested legislative solution that would give themselves the legal powers needed – via a “statement of change” to the Immigration Rules – are only able to be issued whilst the House is sitting.

Keir Starmer MP, said:

“We’re going to see this driver shortage problem coming back again in different sectors. And I don’t want people in this country to have another Christmas ruined by this Prime Minister’s lack of planning.

“By the Government’s own admission, their scheme won’t be up and running for weeks with the first HGV drivers not on the roads until November. This simply isn’t good enough.

“Every day wasted is prolonging this crisis. The Government has been talking about issuing visas but still hasn’t done anything. Meanwhile our essential workers are struggling to get to work and families face a cost of living crisis.

“The Prime Minister should be taking emergency action today but yet again he’s failed to grasp the seriousness of the crisis. If it needs legislation, then let’s recall Parliament to get these emergency measures through urgently.

“The Prime Minister promised to save Christmas last year and we all know that went disastrously wrong. Now he’s making the same empty promises again. Boris Johnson was warned about this crisis and he did nothing about it. He had the chance to make a plan but ignored it. The Prime Minister needs to get a grip.”

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

“The country is in desperate need of leadership to contain this chaos, yet it is Tory complacency that has led to the fuel crisis, energy costs crisis, and supply chain crisis.

 “Ministers have been ignoring warnings from businesses and failing to plan ahead and government  decision-making is now making the situation worse for our city.

“The Prime Minister must get a grip and address the huge shortfall of HGV drivers that is causing mayhem in our supply chains.”

The Portsmouth MP is calling for government to urgently address the HGV driver shortfall, including referring the issue of adding HGV drivers to the Shortage Occupation List to the Migration Advisory Committee to provide advice to government to help address the crisis in the short-term, and to set up a taskforce to work sector by sector to identify gaps and recruit into key roles.

This should include rapidly expanding testing for HGV drivers, and part or wholly funding HGV training drawing on available funding for targeted sectors and recruiting. The Government should also support 100,000 new apprentices this financial year to help boost employment in key sectors. 

 

 

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‘Britain will be remade’ – Portsmouth MP reacts to Labour leader’s vision for the country

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his weight behind the vision for the country outlined in Keir Starmer’s leader’s speech at Labour Party conference today.

The Labour leader underlined that a government led by him as Prime Minister will be focused on “Work. Care. Equality. Security.”

During his speech, Mr Starmer set out what he sees are the major challenges Britain faces for the future, including “how we emerge from the biggest pandemic in a century. How we make our living in a competitive world. The climate crisis. Our relationship with Europe. The future of our union.”

He also announced that with Labour in power, his government would deliver Labour’s ‘National Excellence Programme,’ an ambitious school improvement plan, putting state education at the heart of his vision for Britain.

It marks Labour’s shift to focus on improving the prospects of the 40 per cent of young people who leave compulsory education without essential qualifications.

The National Excellence Programme will include:

  • recruiting thousands of new teachers to address vacancies and skills gaps across the profession;
  • reforming Ofsted to focus on supporting struggling schools;
  • providing teachers and headteachers with continuing professional development and leadership skills training.

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

“Keir’s speech marks a radical departure from what people have heard from Labour in recent years. A Labour government, under his leadership, will retool Britain for the future and make this nation anew.

“The Conservatives are responsible for short-term failures and long-term neglect. Their political response of the moment has been lamentable failure to meet the scale of the challenge.

“Keir’s principles of security, work, care and equality will be the guiding light for a Labour government to deliver a better future for Portsmouth and a Britain that will be remade.”

In addition, Keir Starmer announced in his speech that:

  • Labour will undertake a national mission for greener homes and lower bills. Labour will upgrade the 19 million homes that fall below energy efficiency standards (EPC C).
  • Provide grants to low-income households and low interest loans to those able to pay to cover the cost of retrofitting. Households will pay no upfront costs, and see their bills fall immediately. Support up to 500,000 good, unionised jobs in a range of industries by the mid-decade.
  • Work with local and combined authorities, and the private sector, to recruit and train staff to coordinate and deliver a decade-long upgrade to Britain’s housing stock.

During 2021 Labour Party conference, it was also announced that Labour will:

  • Guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it, setting a new NHS target, ensuring that patients start receiving appropriate treatment – not simply an initial assessment of needs – within a month of referral.
  • Recruit 8,500 new staff so that one million additional people can  every year by the end of Labour’s first term in office.
  • Put an open access mental health hub for children and young people in every community, providing early intervention, drop-in services.

A number of other announcements were also made at this conference previously reported on Stephen’s website.