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‘March Budget fails Portsmouth families and the Excluded’, says city MP

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government’s recently announced budget during a parliamentary debate today for failing to deliver for local families, those in the creative sectors and the Excluded.

During the debate, Mr Morgan argued the budget was a ‘missed opportunity’ to support local businesses, particularly those in the cultural and creative industries, highlighting Victorious festival as just one example for Portsmouth.

It comes as in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.

Meanwhile, the number of local people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rising by 135%, according to the latest figures.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“Local families and those in the creative sectors have been let down by this government and left forgotten – a running theme of successive Tory governments for our city.

“This budget was a chance to correct the mistakes of past and inequalities that exist in our community that this pandemic has both exposed and sadly made even worse. Instead, we got a budget of more of the same.”

“I will continue to speak up for our city and ensure the local fears of the damages this economic plan will cause are heard up in Westminster.”

Ahead last week’s budget announcement, Mr Morgan backed the Official Opposition’s ‘Jobs Promise’ call for young people in Portsmouth and across the country.

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Our NHS heroes deserve a pay rise 

It is beyond belief that this government claps for our NHS heroes one minute then hands them a real-terms pay cut the next.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body should recommend a real pay rise for our city’s healthcare heroes and the government must honour it.

I want to add my name to this petition on a Real Pay Rise for our Healthcare Heroes*

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Budget 2021: City MP accuses government of ‘failing to deliver levelling up agenda’

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for failing to deliver for Portsmouth in the government’s annual budget announced earlier today.

The Portsmouth MP has accused the government of failing to deliver for the city over a number of years, as well as do enough to support and protect it during the COVID-19 crisis.

The budget includes:

  • An extension to the furlough scheme until the end of September, despite the Official Opposition’s and Mr Morgan’s calls to do this months ago, when in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.
  • A demand for local families to pay for gaps in council budgets, rather than fulfilling the Chancellor’s prior pledge to back them, which could amount to as much as £89 extra on annual household council tax bills for the average Band D home in Portsmouth.
  • A freeze to some key workers’ pay, including at least 13,900 key workers in Portsmouth – the teachers, police officers and Armed Forces personnel on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

It comes as earlier this week Mr Morgan called for a ‘Jobs Promise’ for young people in Portsmouth, with the number of people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support more than doubling in the last year, rising from 780 at the start of 2020 to now 1830 (an increase of 135%), according to the latest figures.

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

“This budget fails to deliver for Portsmouth and the government’s own ‘levelling-up agenda. It barely mentioned inequality, let alone tried to address it. This is not levelling up, but giving up.

“It fails our families, young people, key workers and those left ignored by the government both during this and successive Tory governments.

From the local cabbie on our high street, to the NHS nurse at our own QA Hospital, they did not get what they needed today.

“I promise to do all I can to ensure Portsmouth gets the support it needs to recover from this crisis, and what it deserves, to become the future city we all know it can be.”

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Budget 2021: City MP calls for ‘jobs promise’ as out of work support for under 25s more than doubles in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has called for a ‘jobs promise’ for young people in Portsmouth after new figures show that, without immediate action to secure the economy, the crisis threatens to create a lost generation of young people scarred by the effects of long-term unemployment.

In Portsmouth alone, the number of people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rocketing from 780 at the start of 2020 to now 1830 (an increase of 135%), according to the latest figures.

It comes as the Official Opposition has outlined its plans for a ‘Jobs Promise’ that any young person away from work for six months will be offered a quality education, training, or employment opportunity.

Under the plans, Labour will also support job creation across the country including 400,000 green jobs, filling the 127,000 vacancies currently in health and social care and 43,000 vacancies in education through improved training offers.

Labour continues to challenge the Government on a range of its job schemes. Currently 300 young people are losing their jobs every day – but the Government’s flagship Kickstart scheme has created just 2,000 jobs in six months.

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

“For too long young people in Portsmouth have been let down and left forgotten by this government. The Chancellor talks about ‘levelling up’, but it is clear these issues have only been exacerbated by this crisis with his Kickstart scheme clearly too slow and not matching the scale of challenge many young people in Portsmouth face.

“Labour’s Jobs Promise would deliver the urgent action needed to prevent a lost generation and to build a secure economy that spreads prosperity across the country. 

“Successive Conservative governments have weakened Britain’s foundations and robbed too many people of the opportunity to achieve their potential. Going back to business as usual is not an option for our city on the road to recovery from this pandemic.”

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Portsmouth MP: Wedding industry ‘needs clarity and support’

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to give the wedding industry the clarity and support it needs for its related businesses to reopen again post-lockdown.

The Portsmouth representative has written to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP sharing concerns on behalf of his constituents and the wider sector.

It comes as 60,000 businesses and 400,000 workers are currently reliant on the weddings sector, which is worth an average of £14.7 billion to the UK economy each year, according to the letter.

Yet, despite the importance to the economy and the regional employment the sector provides in every part of the UK, the picture is extremely stark for the wedding industry, as businesses across the entire supply chain are reportedly on the brink of collapse.

Mr Morgan has highlighted that Portsmouth businesses need sector specific clarity in the upcoming roadmap out of lockdown announcement on 22 February, as well as urging Government consider tailored financial support for the sector, such as inclusion in the temporary VAT reduction to 5% and business rates exemption.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The weddings sector provides a great deal of revenue for businesses and employment for many across our city and the wider country.

“However, without the certainty and support the sector requires, the industry we knew before the first lockdown may not be the same one we see when we emerge from the third.

“Ahead of the government announcement on Monday, it is critical Government ensures these businesses will get the clarity and support they need to get back on their feet.”

Last week the parliamentary representative warned 15,000 jobs in Portsmouth could be at risk unless business tax relief, as well as other measures, are introduced in the forthcoming March budget.

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Portsmouth MP gets behind new COVID debt plan to boost business recovery

Stephen Morgan MP has backed the Official Opposition’s new plans to back British businesses, as it calls on the Government to help ease the Covid-debt burden faced by firms across the country.

Calling for the establishment of a British Business Recovery Agency, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds says Labour’s priority is to “help businesses get back on their feet, secure our economy and get Britain on the road to recovery.”

British business is currently weighed down by £71 billion of Covid debt through Government-backed loans during the crisis – with the Chancellor encouraging banks to begin asking for repayments in March.

New analysis by Labour reveals that 850,000 business are at risk of closure in the next three months, putting 2.4 million jobs at risk.

Labour’s plan would ease the debt burden on business, secure the economy and help British business to rebuild by:

  • Converting the Bounce Back Loans (BBLs) scheme into a ‘student-loan style’ arrangement, so that businesses only have to start repayments when they are making money.
  • Creating a new British Business Recovery Agency that would manage the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILs) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILs) in order to create terms that secure the future of businesses, including employee ownership, preference shares and subordinated debt

It comes following the Portsmouth representative’s warning last week that 15,000 jobs could be at risk in Portsmouth unless the Chancellor acts.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

Businesses across our city have worked incredibly hard to keep going during this crisis and I know how much many have sacrificed to just adapt.

“That’s why many businesses in Portsmouth will need the breathing room when we exit lockdown to be allowed to be able to grow again before they are asked to repay their debts.

“It is economically illiterate to demand Covid loan repayments next month when it would risk crushing businesses and our recovery, which is why I fully support these plans to allow businesses to start repayments when they are able to.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned in December that the debt overhang could lead to tens if not hundreds of thousands of corporate failures in the first quarter of this year, with 40 per cent of businesses reporting their debt as unmanageable.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has also said that as much as £30 billion of public money will have to be written off if the Chancellor presses ahead with his current plans.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

“Labour would rebuild Britain by backing businesses and supporting families through the crisis and then putting Britain on the path to growth.

“Instead of pushing business to the brink, Labour’s plans would protect small firms and give larger ones flexible options to manage debt. We would help businesses get back on their feet, secure our economy and get Britain on the road to recovery.”

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs National Apprenticeship Week 2021

Stephen Morgan MP has offered his support for National Apprenticeship Week, recognising the contribution made by apprentices and their employers in Portsmouth.

Apprenticeships provide people with the chance to learn a trade and earn a wage whilst they progress, with the Official Opposition arguing investing in training opportunities will be central to rebuilding our economy after the pandemic.

However, there continues to be a downward trend in apprentice numbers, with figures showing the number of apprenticeships in Portsmouth has fallen by nearly 50% since 2015/16.

In July, the Government announced a cash incentive of either £2,000 or £1,500 for employers to take on a new apprentice. The ‘Plan for Jobs’ budgeted for 100,000 incentive payments, but new data shows just 18,670 apprentices had been taken on under the scheme by 8 January 2021 which runs to March 2021.

Labour is calling upon the Government to act now to create more apprenticeship opportunities by creating a wage subsidy from the underspend in the apprenticeships levy.

Backed by the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP), this would create 85,000 new apprenticeships for 16-24-year olds this year.

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

“I’m pleased to back National Apprenticeship Week, recognising the enormous contribution made by apprentices to our economy and wider society.

“The Government is failing to create the opportunities young people in Portsmouth need. I am calling on the Government to adopt Labour’s wage subsidy policy to boost opportunities for young people as we rebuild our country.”

Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong learning, Toby Perkins MP, said:

“Young people are being let down by the Government’s irresponsible handling of this crisis which has led to soaring unemployment rates and the worst recession of any major economy.

“The Government should adopt Labour’s proposal for a structured wage subsidy instead of their failing cash incentives and create the apprenticeship opportunities young people need to gain productive skills and long-term employment.”

Mr Morgan previously criticised the Chancellor for the government’s failure on apprentice numbers post-spending review and will now be looking to see how he may address the growing problem in his forthcoming budget.

 

 

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City MP: 15,000 local jobs at risk unless “smart” furlough scheme and business tax relief introduced

Stephen Morgan MP has warned 15,000 jobs could be at risk in Portsmouth unless the Chancellor delivers a “smart” furlough scheme to tackle Britain’s jobs crisis and for the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, tourism and culture sectors to continue by as much as another six months.

It comes following new analysis by the Official Opposition estimates that over 15,000 people were still furloughed by their employer in late January in Portsmouth.

According to the new analysis revealed today, seven months after Sunak launched his ‘Plan for Jobs’ last July, nearly 10,000 people are also currently claiming out of work benefits in Portsmouth.

However, Labour is now calling for Sunak to immediately announce an extension to the furlough scheme that is set to expire at the end of April, to remove uncertainty for local businesses and workers.

Meanwhile, the Shadow Chancellor is also calling for the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, tourism and culture sectors to continue for another six months or until three months after the lifting of health restrictions – whichever comes later. The reduced rate is set to expire on 31st March, when it will return to 20%.

Labour is also calling on the Chancellor to set the fourth grant of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) at 80% of pre-crisis profits before the forthcoming Budget announcement.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“The Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs is clearly not working. We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs to help those on furlough to get back into work, as well as to help those claiming out of work benefits to find new employment.

“Extending the furlough scheme and providing tax relief to the hardest hit businesses will give workers and SMEs in Portsmouth the certainty they need to support their recovery.

“People need emergency action today, not more dither and delay until the Budget.”

Mr Morgan previously called for greater support for the hardest hit businesses and self-employed after last year’s Spending Review.

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City MP joins calls for “smart” furlough scheme as part of emergency action to tackle Britain’s jobs crisis

Stephen Morgan MP has joined the Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds today on calling on the Chancellor to introduce a “smart” extension of the furlough scheme to protect jobs as long as health restrictions remain in place, as part of an immediate, emergency Jobs Recovery Package to tackle Britain’s ballooning unemployment crisis.

The Chancellor initially triggered a one-size-fits-all wind down of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in his Plan for Jobs last July. After several last-minute changes over the autumn and winter, the scheme is now set to expire at the end of April.

With 4.6 million people still on furlough, the Official Opposition is calling for the Chancellor not to repeat the mistakes of last year by winding down the scheme while public health restrictions are in place and demand is still severely impacted.

In addition, the Shadow Frontbench is calling for Sunak to immediately announce an extension to the furlough scheme alongside urgent reform to make it smarter, with new training to help furloughed workers improve their skills and tough conditions on employers to stop abuse.

Dodds is also demanding immediate action to recover jobs by overhauling the failing Kickstart scheme and to help create clean new jobs by reforming the shambolic Green Homes Grant.

Seven months after Sunak launched his Plan for Jobs last July, redundancies are at record highs, 1.7 million people are out of work and 4.6 million people are still on furlough.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The government’s plan for jobs just is not working. Seven months after its launch, we’ve got record redundancies, rising unemployment and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.

“We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs. This must include a smarter furlough scheme, an overhaul of the failing Kickstart youth programme, and reform of the shambolic Green Homes Grant as part of wider action to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 clean, new jobs.

“I know many people in Portsmouth have been left behind by this government in terms of financial support, particularly the self-employed and creative industries, so I will continue to do all I can to push the government to deliver the support they deserve.”

Mr Morgan has consistently demanded further support for the ‘excluded’ and recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to set out a ‘roadmap to recovery’ for creative industries.

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‘Fire and rehire must be outlawed’ says Portsmouth MP in latest call to protect British Gas workers

Stephen Morgan MP has said that ‘fire and rehire’ tactics must be outlawed, and Government must push for ‘real negotiations’ between Centrica and local British Gas workers to take place.

This comes as British Gas engineers across the country are currently striking over its parent company’s use of ‘fire and rehire’ tactics to force changes to workers’ contracts.

The new terms would mean workers could have to work 156 extra hours per year with no additional pay. It would also put shifts on an uncertain six-week roster and extend the period during which engineers could be asked to work each day. Built into these new contracts is also the ability for British Gas to change the terms with 28 days’ notice, with no negotiation.

In a letter sent this week to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP, calling for Government action, the Portsmouth South MP urged for ‘real negotiations’ to be conducted and disclosed that he had met with engineers in Portsmouth who have been affected by the renegotiation tactics.

According to the letter, the contract dispute has led to ‘stress and anxiety caused by the uncertainty and potential changes to working conditions’.

The letter also described that one British Gas worker said he would find it impossible to balance the extra hours, whilst caring for his partner and home-schooling his 14-year-old while schools are closed.

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

“Our essential workers deserve to be treated far better than this and they should not be having to face this level of uncertainty during this incredibly difficult period.

“Centrica can more than afford to treat and pay their workers fairly and these draconian ‘fire and rehire’ tactics must stop now and be outlawed.

“I will continue to push the government on this to ensure British Gas workers get the fair deal they so richly deserve.”

The parliamentary representative recently met with local British Gas engineers, and members of the GMB union, whose members are currently striking, due to the dispute with Centrica on pay and conditions.