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Supermarket switch: Call to hand back cash to help city’s small businesses

City MP Stephen Morgan is urging Government to urgently use the £2 billion cash handed back by big supermarkets to help hard-hit small businesses in Portsmouth and those who’ve been left behind

The proposal would help city businesses affected by new Tier 3 restrictions and help save pubs and traders in the hospitality sector suffering due to inadequate support from the government.

Stephen said:

“Whilst I’ve been running a Support Local campaign to encourage people to shop safely locally, in Parliament I’m pushing for a hospitality and high streets fightback fund targeted at those firms in Portsmouth that have been hardest hit throughout the crisis. Without adequate business support pubs, cafes and restaurants around our city  risk going bust, taking with them jobs, suppliers and the life’s work of so many”.

Support Stephen’s call to set aside the big supermarkets’ £2 billion cash back to help those hardest-hit in Portsmouth? Let us know below.

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Portsmouth MP challenges Chancellor over hitting every key worker earning over £18,000 with a pay cut – including over 160,000 across South East

New analysis by the official opposition reveals that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hit every key worker earning over £18,000 in England with a real-terms pay cut next year.

This includes over 160,000 key workers in the South East region – the teachers, police officers and Armed Forces personnel on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

At the Spending Review on 25 November, the Chancellor announced a ‘pay freeze’ for all public sector workers earning above £24,000 in 2021-22.

NHS workers weren’t included, while those earning less than £24,000 were promised “a fixed increase of £250”.

Taking into account inflation over the next fiscal year, that means every non-NHS public sector worker earning over £18,000 will actually get a real-terms pay cut.

In the South East, this includes:

  • 15,829 police officers
  • 79,778 teachers
  • 32,365 civil servants, including tax inspectors, prison officers and probation officers
  • 38,150 members of the Armed Forces

On top of the pay freeze, the Spending Review also contained a one-billion-pound council tax bombshell hidden in the small print and a cut to Universal Credit that will hit those who can least afford it.

 The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“Just when our key workers need Government support through this challenging winter period, instead of rewarding them for their heroic efforts this year, the government chooses to give them a pay-cut.

“This is a completely unacceptable way to treat those have been there to protect and support us when we needed them most and I will be challenging the government for its justification on this.”

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP said:

“Key workers kept our country going this year, but the Chancellor has rewarded over a million of them with a real-terms pay cut.

“It’s totally irresponsible to hit workers in their pockets when the economy is so weak, but the least the Chancellor can do is be upfront about it.  

“Instead, he’s trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the police officers, teachers and Armed Forces personnel who’ve kept the country going during this pandemic.

“They shouldn’t have to carry the can for this Government’s mistakes.”

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City MP criticises Government ‘pay more: get less’ approach to council funding

Stephen Morgan MP has today criticised the government for its funding settlement for local authorities which will mean city residents paying more, but getting less. He also said Portsmouth City Council has not been allocating enough resources for local  services and to continue Covid-19 support.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, announced the annual government funding settlement for local authorities in the House of Commons today.

In his statement the Minister announced that Council Tax bills will rise by 5% next year – twice the rate of inflation. The announcement also means extra Covid-19 related cots will not be fully funded, suggesting inevitable cuts to public services in the new year.

This year, many local authorities are having to use reserves to balance their budgets this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst concerns persist on whether the funding crisis faced by local authorities will undermine the recovery of town centre economies.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South reacted to the announcement, saying,

“Year after year the government has continued to expect our local council, like many others across the country, to pick up the bill where they fail to provide enough resources to run our community’s public services effectively.

“This year of all years, local councils desperately need the funding they need to ensure they can keep people safe and support business recoveries. The people of our city deserve far better and I will continue to push the government to ensure our council gets the support it needs.

“When so many are struggling, it cannot be right that Government is expecting Portsmouth people to pay more, but get less from our local council.”

Mr Morgan raised concerns on this in 2019 and has committed to push the government for further funding measures for Portsmouth.

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City MP speaks up for ‘Excluded’ and calls on Government to give Portsmouth people the protections they need

Stephen Morgan MP intervened again in Parliament today to ensure concerns of the ‘Excluded’ on Government financial support schemes are heard.

The ‘Excluded’ are commonly understood as the 3.1 million taxpayers who have been exempt from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Job Retention Schemes.

The Portsmouth South representative has received a large number of messages from his constituents voicing their fears for the future, due to their exemption from Government support, aside from social security. Today’s action follows a string of efforts to stand up for those affected in the city.

A recent survey from the ExcludedUK group found that 57% of the 3,000 surveyed were on less than 20% of their pre-Covid income and 70% felt they had been emotionally impacted.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“People in Portsmouth and across the country have been left by the wayside by this government, as the Chancellor continues to stubbornly pursue his scattergun policy.

“The official opposition and myself have consistently argued for a targeted approach to jobs and businesses, not this one-size-fits-all approach.”

Portsmouth’s economy rebounded in Q3 of this year, but lost momentum towards the end of the quarter.

The city MP has met with campaigners, joined an all-party group to find solutions and lobbied Government with questions and correspondence with Ministers.

Today’s Westminster Hall debate continued to call on Government to finally find a solution 9 months after the pandemic.

Mr Morgan, added:

“In Portsmouth we have continuing to feel the impacts of this misguided strategy by Government to exclude so many. Ministers must find a solution to support these jobs and livelihoods.

“I have received messages from a number of my constituents sharing their serious concerns over how they will be able to support themselves and their families through this winter period and beyond.

“It is critically important the Chancellor rethinks this approach and gives the country’s people and economy the support it truly requires.”

Stephen Morgan MP has consistently called on the government to support the economy and protect local jobs, particularly those in creative and hospitality industries, or sectors with large numbers of self-employed workers.

 

 

 

 

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New analysis on Small Business Saturday is a stark reminder Government must set out a proper plan to support businesses

Labour has revealed that many of the small businesses reopening this week may not make it to Spring because of government failure to get a grip on the virus and shrinking government support.

This comes at a time when the vast majority of businesses required to close have received much smaller grants from government than they did during the first lockdown – with most receiving either just a third or half of what they received in March.

The analysis of the ONS ‘Business Impact of Coronavirus’ survey shows:

  • 15% of very small businesses and 9% of small businesses have low or no confidence of surviving the next three months.
  • 20% of very small businesses and 16% of small businesses saw turnover plunge by more than 50% over a fortnight survey period, before the second national lockdown was imposed.
  • 10% of very small businesses and 6% of small businesses had no cash reserves, and a further 28% of very small businesses and 32% of small businesses had cash reserves to last them for under 1 month to 3 months.

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

“Shops, pubs and restaurants, hotels and hairdressers, beauty salons and suppliers, breweries and bakeries, and many more small businesses of all kinds are the beating heart of communities across the country. They’ve adapted brilliantly in tough circumstances but many are struggling and facing a serious cash crisis after eight months of difficult trading conditions. 

Many small businesses reopening this week may not make it to Spring because of the Government’s irresponsible choices, as new analysis reveals an estimated 390,000 small businesses are worried they won’t survive the next three months. 

That’s why I will continue to stand up for our city’s small businesses and call on Ministers to protect businesses and save jobs, by setting out a proper plan to support businesses through the crisis”.

Labour are calling on the Government to recover jobs in every part of the country, retrain workers with an emergency programme providing help right now, and rebuild business with a support package that reflects the level of business need and severity of restrictions in different areas.

Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband added:

“Small businesses are the beating heart of towns and cities across the country – shops, pubs, manufacturers, salons, suppliers and all those that make up the vibrant fabric of our communities.

Small businesses have stepped up during this crisis, whether helping to manufacture PPE and ventilators, offering free meals for children during half term, or changing how they work to keep people safe. 

But they’re facing a cash crisis and being let down by shrinking government grants which simply won’t cover their rents and overheads. Unless Ministers change course we’ll see hardworking businesses go bust and high streets crumbling before winter is through.” 

 

 

 

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Last-minute payment for pubs will still leave many worse off says Portsmouth MP

Labour has revealed that the Prime Minister’s last-minute one-off payment announced today for pubs that are forced to close because they don’t serve food will leave the vast majority seriously struggling and well short of the emergency cash offered during the first national lockdown.

The average pub received a grant worth £6,666 a month during the lockdown in March. Even after today’s announcement of an additional one-off payment, pubs forced to close will receive just £3,000 a month – £3,666 less than they did during the first lockdown.

The payment is a one-off and there was no mention of what will happen after January.

Restaurants and cafes, also hit hard by public health restrictions, received no additional support today from Government – with the vast majority still receiving just a third or half of what they received in the March lockdown.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP who has been taking a range of actions to speak up for our city’s hospitality businesses during this challenging time for the industry, responded to this analysis, and said:

“The government’s approach to supporting areas under local restrictions is fundamentally unfair and risks a gulf in support opening up across the country. 

We all know that hospitality businesses have been hit hard by this pandemic. By engaging with a number of small businesses owners I understand the challenges a number of pubs and bars across our city are facing. Businesses are also in the dark about the future of the furlough scheme, which is up for review in January.

That’s why we must have a business support package that reflects business need and length of time under each tier and why I will continue to lobby Government for targeted support for sectors and industries in Portsmouth hit hardest by this crisis”.

Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, added:

“Pubs across the country are facing tough restrictions to help tackle the virus, with many forced to close completely during the most crucial time of year for their trade.

This last-minute emergency payment for pubs could have been a lifeline. Instead it’s small beer that won’t even reach the sides of the income gap they’re facing.

Boris Johnson’s failure to properly support them is fundamentally unfair and makes a mockery of his promise to these communities.”

Stephen Morgan MP has put pressure on Government to help the city’s hospitality sector with parliamentary questions, writing to relevant departments and lobbying Ministers directly. He has hosted a number of online meetings and visits to hear local concerns and to take them to Westminster.

 

 

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A decade of letting Britain down: Stephen Morgan MP and the Shadow Chancellor condemn Spending Review as “missed opportunity”

Stephen Morgan MP and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP have condemned the Government’s Spending Review as a “missed opportunity” for our city and accused the Chancellor of failing to take responsible choices to get the economy back on its feet.

Labour has called for a relentless focus on jobs and growth. But instead of setting Britain on the path to recovery, the Chancellor has let the country down again by hitting people in Portsmouth three hammer blows to their personal finances:

  • a pay freeze for our community health workers, teachers, police officers and firefighters – an insult to our frontline workers, forcing them to tighten their belts and damaging our economic recovery
  • a hidden council tax bombshell, with the fine print of the Chancellor’s announcement showing he’s planning for council tax rises of 5% next year
  • ploughing ahead with the plan to cut Universal Credit, taking £1,000 a year out of the pockets of our poorest families

Even where the Chancellor promised new investment, the Conservative party’s track record over the last ten years casts real doubt over their ability to deliver. The Chancellor has also failed to address the key challenges we face as a country:

  • Child poverty is set to hit five million by 2023. Childcare costs in the UK are among the highest in the developed world. Here in Portsmouth part time childcare for a child under two costs £38.90 more than it did a decade ago.
  • Over one million jobs have gone since this crisis started – and younger workers have been hit hard. 2018-2019 saw the lowest number of young apprenticeships for a decade.  Trade apprenticeships have been falling in every part of our country, down 100 since 2010 in Portsmouth South alone.
  • Over the last decade, pay for working people in Britain has stagnated while average real weekly earnings have barely changed – average real weekly wages went up just 1% in the last decade.
  • The country is getting less safe and less healthy – police numbers across Hampshire have dropped by 1,050 in a decade and we have fewer GPs and many residents unable to access a dentist.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The people of Portsmouth know that the Tories have let this area down. After ten, long years in government, we’ve still seen no action on ensuring proper investment in our city.

Instead they hit local people hard with a triple whammy of key worker pay freezes, Universal Credit cuts and a hidden council tax bombshell. Yet again we face another year of paying more, but getting less”.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“This week the Chancellor took irresponsible choices that won’t get Britain on the road to recovery.

The Conservatives have spent the last ten years wasting billions on pet projects and delayed developments while the things that matter to people’s lives have got worse. 

What Portsmouth needed was swift action to recover jobs, retrain workers, and rebuild business, not the triple whammy of key worker pay freezes, cuts to Universal Credit and a hidden council tax rise.”

 

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City MP laments spending plans that ‘do little for Portsmouth’

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government’s spending review that was announced earlier today in Westminster, arguing Government plans do little to deliver for Portsmouth.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer statement in the House of Commons this afternoon included the government’s review of the UK economy, as well as its plans for an economic recovery in response to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government’s plans included a pay freeze for a large number of public sector workers, many of which would have worked on the frontline during this crisis, as well as a new infrastructure bank based in the north of England and a cut to overseas aid to 0.5% of national income next year.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the Member of Parliament’s constituency of Portsmouth South is 0.6% higher compared to the rest of the UK and 1.7% higher compared with the rest of South East England, according to the latest figures.1

Responding to the Government’s statement Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This spending review will not deliver on the government’s promises of levelling up and reducing the inequality that our city has sadly faced the consequences of. Some say Ministerstalk a good game, but it is clear that for Portsmouth people what we get from Government is consistent over-promise and under-delivery for our great city.

“The ‘Levelling Up Fund’ will see money doled out to favoured MPs, not invested strategically in the communities that need it – more pork-barrel politics from a Government that’s learned none of the lessons of the scandal-ridden Towns Fund.

On news that many frontline workers will have a pay freeze, which in reality means a real-terms pay cut the MP added:

“We cannot be clapping for our frontline workers one week, then freezing their pay the next, when so many have made incredible sacrifices to keep us safe and secure during this crisis.

This freeze will hit people’s pockets and pull spending out of our city’s small businesses and high streets, when many are already on their knees, choking off the recovery.

The Chancellor’s statement failed to mention the end of the Brexit transition period as public services continue to prepare for a no-deal scenario. The Portsmouth South representative said on this:

“It was also incredibly shocking to note not a single mention of of how prepared his Government is for Brexit – just 40 days before the end of the transition period – that will have a huge impact on Portsmouth and other coastal communities in the UK.

Portsmouth needs a relentless focus on jobs and growth to get our local economy back on its feet. The Government must act to recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild business, as part of a longer-term plan to make our country the best place in the world to grow up in and to grow old in.

The Portsmouth South MP has regularly called for the government to address the issues of rising regional inequality affecting Portsmouth and its impact on jobs and unemployment.

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP urges Chancellor to not cut universal credit funding

Stephen Morgan MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, urging him to not cut Universal Credit by £20 per week, or £1,000 a year. The cut is understood to begin in April, 2021.

This comes ahead of the government announcement of its spending review, with £2.1 billion of public money wasted on Covid-related procurement and outsourced contracts and almost £700 million on coveralls that were never used.

The government has been asked 40 times to rule of the change to Universal Credit, but Government representatives have refused to commit to ruling out the cut.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“This crisis has put families both here in Portsmouth and across the country under immense financial pressure.

For a lot of families, Universal Credit has been a lifeline and many of which are reliant on this money to get them through this crisis. It is why a cut to it by as much as £20 a week, or £1,000 a year, is simply is unthinkable and I urge the Chancellor to reconsider.”

In Portsmouth South alone, there are 11457 on Universal Credit, including 9273 households in the area dependent on the welfare support system.

Mr Morgan, added:

“Sadly, we have many families in our community who are reliant on Universal Credit and it’s vital the Government does not once again resort to austerity cuts at a time when families need this support more than ever.”

The Portsmouth South MP has frequently urged the Chancellor to provide greater support for the most vulnerable in the community during this period, including on providing a government settlement which works for Portsmouth.

 

 

 

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‘More powers are needed to intervene in foreign acquisitions that could damage UK economy’ says Portsmouth MP

  • Labour calls on Ministers to strengthen powers to intervene in foreign acquisitions that would damage the UK’s economy, such as the takeover of ARM
  • Ministers are supposedly ripping up and publishing a new industrial strategy this autumn but transparency data reveals Ministers have only spoken about the industrial strategy at three in 1,375 meetings – and never with tech companies
  • Shadow Business Secretary warns foreign takeovers are hollowing out the UK’s tech sector as it’s revealed Ministers have not met with ARM, Softbank or Nvidia in 2019 or 2020

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan is today calling on Ministers to keep high-growth and strategically important companies in the UK, as it reveals the Government has not spoken to key companies about a tech-focused industrial strategy.

Labour is supporting the National Security and Investment Bill, which strengthens powers for the Government to intervene when foreign acquisitions threaten national security. But the Official Opposition is calling for the Government to strengthen its powers to intervene when acquisitions could see vital companies stripped for parts or moved overseas, damaging the UK economy.

The Shadow Business Secretary has argued Ministers should have intervened in the takeover of the UK tech company ARM by the US company Nvidia on public interest grounds. 

During the debate on the Bill, Labour called on Ministers to come clean about whether they have obtained legal assurances about the company’s future in the UK.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Government’s proposal brings the UK in line with other countries on national security but leaves us with significantly weaker powers on takeovers.

France has powers to block takeovers of companies deemed strategic, and the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is able to block acquisitions that might have major implications for national interests. Britain should have the same.

Every month that goes by when ministers don’t legislate on these issues leaves us more vulnerable to losing vital economic interests. That just isn’t good enough for constituents in Portsmouth”.

The call comes as it is revealed that, despite Ministers’ plans to rip up the existing industrial strategy white paper and publish a new one this autumn, they have only held three meetings out of 1,375 to discuss industrial strategy with stakeholders in 2020 so far, including only once before the Covid-19 crisis took hold.

Crucially, none of these meetings were with tech companies, despite a BEIS spokesperson saying the new industrial strategy aims to put the UK “at the forefront of global technological opportunities”.

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband MP added:  

“It’s right that the Government is bringing the UK into line with other countries to give itself powers to protect national security, but this Bill is a missed opportunity to do so on wider industrial strategy.  

Time and again in recent years, the existing powers have proved inadequate to protect vital economic interests – from Pfizer’s attempted takeover of Astrazeneca to the recent takeover of ARM.  

If the Government is serious about industrial strategy, we need an ability to intervene in takeovers to protect our vital interests, particularly in our tech sector.”