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‘We need a real budget focused on jobs, jobs, jobs’ says Portsmouth MP

Speaking ahead of the Chancellor’s summer update this afternoon Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Instead of a limited financial statement, what our city and our country needs today is a real Back to Work Budget – focused on preventing unemployment, supporting the unemployed and creating the jobs of the future.

Listening to constituents and local businesses who have fallen through the gaps in support, I have been calling for Government to abandon its one-size-fits-all approach and wind-down of the furlough and self-employed schemes.

Rather than waiting until the autumn to help those affected by this crisis and indebted small businesses, government should work out solutions for them now and present them today”.

Labour has called for a real budget focused on protecting and creating jobs. To deliver on jobs the Chancellor’s statement the official opposition has said the Government must meet four key tests:

  1. Projects must involve local firms, upskill the local workforce and lead to material improvement in the quality and availability of local employment.
  2. The Chancellor must rebuild economic resilience right across the entire country – and protect those institutions, like local authorities, that can help deliver that resilience.
  3. Every single project must be consistent with the drive to net-zero – so we can build the green jobs of the future
  4. Any benefits of investment now must not be cancelled out by poor decisions later. The Tories promised at the last election there would be no rises in income tax, National Insurance or VAT. We need the economy to bounce back from this crisis, so there’s money in the coffers to protect public finances.

 

 

 

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‘We need a back to work budget for Portsmouth’ says City MP

Analysis of new labour market data from the ONS shows the scale of the economic challenge facing the south east as claimants for Universal Credit and other unemployment benefits rose by 178.12% to 325,199.

Although an imperfect measure of unemployment, these figures show a severely strained jobs market and an urgent need for a Back to Work Budget.

The Government has reportedly postponed its next full budget until autumn, raising concerns a slow and muddled health response is now being followed by a slow and muddled response to saving jobs.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Government show 23.38 % of the workforce are furloughed in the South East whilst 352,000 of the workforce are using the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

Vacancies also fell by 60% across the UK between February and May, with steeper falls in some sectors. This includes:

  • 80% fall in construction, employing 5.3% of workers in South East
  • 94% and 70% falls in motor trades and retail, employing around 16.7% of workers in the South East
  • 94% fall in accommodation and food services, employing 7.3% of workers in South East
  • 85% in arts, entertainment and recreation, employing 2.5% of workers in the South East

Figures reveal that:

  • There were 325,199 people claiming universal credit and other unemployment benefits in the South East in May 2020, up 178.12% from February
  • This is equivalent to around 6.7% of the workforce
  • 23.38% of the workforce are furloughed, whilst 352,000 are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“These figures show the Government cannot afford to delay its next full budget until after the summer and must urgently bring forward a Back to Work Budget to protect jobs and livelihoods here in Portsmouth and across our region.

The government must also ensure the vital support provided by the JRS and SEISS are not withdrawn too soon, and that any withdrawal is tailored to the specific needs of firms and sectors in our city and for the south east.”

 

 

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP calls out failure to offer clarity to Portsmouth pubs

Representatives from local pubs have repeatedly informed the city MP that government vagueness on support and guidelines for the sector is threatening their businesses.

Today, during Business Questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP took action on local concerns by putting Ministers on the spot, demanding answers to the questions troubling Portsmouth’s pubs.

HospitalityUK, local boozers and sector representatives have said that a lack of clarity over whether 1 metre or 2 metre social distancing guidelines will be required is preventing pubs from putting in place preparations for reopening in just two weeks time.

Pubs and brewers have been working exceptionally hard to prepare for reopening in early July, however government missed its deadline yesterday for providing clarity over social distancing measures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government instructed pubs to shut. Then, it gave them a potential date for reopening. What they have failed to do is provide any of the vital information that allows them to make this transition and have missed their own deadline for providing this information.

Do pubs need to operate a 1 or 2 metre rule? Will they require PPE? What safety measures do they need to implement? These are the questions preventing Portsmouth landladies and landlords from getting their businesses back on track.

Portsmouth’s thriving hospitality and pub scene creates jobs and is crucial to our local economy. This government’s vagueness is putting our city’s future at risk.”

Industry experts say that 1 in 4 pubs do not have enough space to reopen and comply with the 2m rule, while 82 % of those that could reopen would have to operate at less than half capacity.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the BBPA said:

“Our 47,000 pubs and 2,000 brewers are now in urgent need of a definitive date on when pubs can reopen.

We have consistently and clearly asked Government for at least three weeks’ notice to ensure our pubs can bring staff out of furlough, prepare and reconfigure themselves to adhere to safety guidelines, and ensure they have fresh draught beer ready to serve customers.

The deadline for notice the Government needed to give us to be ready to reopen on 4th July, as referenced in its own roadmap, passed on Saturday. As of today we have no finalised safety guidelines and no definitive date for reopening – we need both today if pubs are to reopen on 4th July. I am delighted to see MPs like Stephen Morgan ask these tough questions and stand up for British pubs.”

Today Mr Morgan demanded answers and tried to pin the Business Secretary down on a date for when guidance would be issued. Again, he failed to provide any clarity and refused to offer a firm timeline for when social distancing information would be passed on.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“We have learnt that more than 600,000 hardworking Britons have lost their jobs amid lockdown with those claiming work related benefits jumping to 23% in May.

This is indicative of the government’s current strategy which is to announce major policy changes that lack any detail or substance with unrealistically tight time frames. We have seen it with schools, dentists, and now hospitality.

The fact that Government missed its own deadline for issuing guidance and today failed to provide me with an answer in parliament is simply not good enough.

I will continue to shine a spotlight on where government must improve and ensure that Portsmouth businesses are heard.”

Stephen Morgan MP’s parliamentary actions today are part of string of measures he has put in place to support local business. He has met with sector representatives and HospitalityUK online, written twice to the Chancellor, applied pressure through written questions and is in the process of orchestrating a webinar for local businesses struggling under the weight of Covid-19.

 

 

 

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City MP urges Portsmouth businesses to have their say over coronavirus pandemic

Stephen Morgan MP has urged local businesses to take part in a survey organised by the University of Portsmouth seeking to shine a torch on some of the difficulties currently being faced.

On behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, the university launched the survey to help understand the evolving and emerging needs, challenges and aspirations faced by businesses.

The online survey will ask respondents a series of questions to collect views about the impact of coronavirus on their business, what support is needed and future business outcomes.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Many of the thriving businesses in this city have been greatly affected by this pandemic. Whether they have had to furlough workers or found themselves ineligible for government support, Covid-19 has had an effect on all.

I welcome this work being conducted by the University of Portsmouth that will help us understand more about circumstances faced by our business community. The more we know about the initial impacts of Covid-19 on business the better we can understand what additional support may be needed.

I urge those with business interests in our city to take part and help inform the discussion about what happens next.”

The survey results will be analysed and published in a freely available report for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (and its members) in order to help businesses in the whole of Hampshire & Isle of Wight region, including Portsmouth and Southampton.

Stephen Morgan MP has been continually taking action on behalf of the small business sector since the onset of the pandemic. Lobbying the Chancellor, liaising with the BEIS department, working with the Federation of Small Business, raising matters in parliament through written questions and constructively engaging with Ministers on problems are just some of the ways the city MP has been taking action.

Peter Hooley, Director of Business Development at the University of Portsmouth, said:

“The University, led by the Faculty of Business and Law, is playing its part as a member of the Solent business community to support our partners and friends during the coronavirus pandemic.

 Data on the evolving and emerging business needs of the region will be critical to ensure that the community directs its efforts where they are most needed.

It is important that there is a clear understanding of business needs, challenges and aspirations underpinned by a solid evidence base.”

You can complete the survey, which will take about 10 minutes, here https://portsmouth.fra1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_82qoj7setyXCqNv

 

 

 

 

 

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City MP backs call to help struggling PAYE freelancers

Acting on the behalf of local PAYE freelancers under strain, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has backed calls on government to offer more far reaching financial aid.

Holes in government support for freelancers is an issue that has been disproportionately affecting those working in the creative industry.

According to a BECTU survey, only 50% of creative industries workers have been able to access support through a Government income support scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“From international-standard museums to media start-ups, Portsmouth has a thriving creative scene. The continuation of this is in the interest of the city economically and socially.

The fact that this sector is most at risk due to gaps in government support must be redressed. There are many freelancers out there who are unable to access any support through the Government’s financial assistance schemes.

If support does not come quickly, this could result in financial ruin for hundreds of hardworking Portsmouth people and risk the loss of a highly skilled section of the workforce.”

Despite direct calls last month from Labour’s Shadow Chancellor to look to address the gaps in the support schemes, no steps have been taken, leaving many workers in crisis and a very real risk of a skills blackhole in this vital, growing sector of the UK economy.

Within the creative industries sector there are a significant number of people who are unable to access either the job retention scheme (JRS) or the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS). Creative and cultural industries significantly contribute to the 5.3 million jobs across the DCMS sector, a sector that accounts for nearly 16% of all UK jobs.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens MP:

“Creative industries have become a vital, successful part of the UK economy – outgrowing the UK economy on the whole and contributing £13 million every hour.

But many in the creative industries have been left to go through this crisis without support and their concerns and proposed solutions to the Government have so far been ignored.

The Chancellor needs to listen to these pleas. We know that many talented people are now considering their futures in the sector. If we lose these skills, it will prevent this critical sector from surviving and playing its part in our recovery once the virus is beaten for good.”

Stephen Morgan has been taking action to lobby Government over the concerns of freelancers since the onset of the pandemic. Already he has written twice to the Chancellor, submitted written questions and helped struggling individuals in the constituency with specific casework.

Information to support freelancers from BECTU can be found here

 

 

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Immigration Bill

Some constituents have been in touch with me about the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill which was debated in the House of Commons today – Monday 18 May 2020.

I deeply concerned by the Bill in its current form. This is because I believe it harms our NHS and social care sector, risking creating a shortage of nurses, carers and other key health workers in the middle of a global pandemic.

Labour believe rushing this Bill through Parliament during the current coronavirus crisis when many of those workers are saving lives and keeping the country running is unnecessary.  This legislation, which will hand over sweeping powers to the Government to create a new immigration system, without proper parliamentary scrutiny, that labels so many of the workers who are keeping our country running day by day as unskilled and unwelcome. That is unfair.

The new immigration system proposed by the Government contains a salary threshold of £25,600 that will exclude health and social care workers we desperately need from our country and will have a devastating impact on the health and social care sector. It values workers by what they earn and not what they contribute to our society.

In Portsmouth we rightly show our appreciation and gratitude for NHS staff and carers not just on Thursday evenings, but all year round. Yet this Bill will mean that care workers we need to fill vacancies would no longer be able to come to this country under the Government’s proposed immigration system – I don’t believe that is in the national interest.

For these reasons tonight I voted against the Bill at its Second Reading stage in Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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New job opportunity: Parliamentary Assistant

New job opportunity: Parliamentary Assistant to Stephen Morgan MP

Salary: Up to £35,308 FTE plus benefits

Part-time: 22.5 per week (occasional weekend and evenings)

Location: Westminster (occasional work at the constituency office at 72 Albert Road, Southsea)

 

Want to help make a difference to peoples’ lives? 

Interested in working at the heart of British politics to help bring about positive change? 

Then an opportunity has arisen to join Stephen Morgan MP’s small parliamentary team based at the office in the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South, the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency, and newly appointed Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces.

A small parliamentary team works alongside the constituency office to assist with Stephen’s parliamentary duties and responsibilities as a member of the shadow frontbench.

This new and exciting role will help co-ordinate key policy, research, communications and project actions generated by Stephen’s activities in the House of Commons.

Please note the post is advertised at part-time, with the possibility of extending hours to full-time.

 

What to do next…

If you have what it takes to join the team, please submit a covering letter and CV electronically to:

Julie.Minal@parliament.uk by no later than Monday 11 May 2020, 12noon.

Please note that due to the high volume of interest expected, applicants will only hear if they are called to interview.

During Covid-19, further assessments of shortlisted applicants will be undertaken via video conferencing.

For further information about Stephen’s work for Portsmouth and in Parliament go to @StephenMorganMP on social media or visit www.stephenmorgan.org.uk

 

 

 

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City MP pays tribute to all those who have lost their lives at work on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. Stephen Morgan MP has joined local trade unions and others in remembering those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases by completing a minute silence.

The city MP also called for renewed efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work, commending the trade unions for their work in the ongoing battle for increased employee rights and safety.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is a shocking fact that every year more people die from work related injuries than die in wars. This is not an inevitability that we have to accept, many of these deaths are preventable. Through appropriate regulation, increased workplace safety and creating a system where all employers care about the safety of workers, we can make a difference.

This year’s commemorations are even more important considering the coronavirus pandemic. Every day we are seeing brave frontline workers risking their lives on behalf of all of us.  Already many thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or continue to go to work for the good of the community.

International Worker’s Memorial Day is a vital way to stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives, those who are still working and to highlight that much more must be done to improve safety at work.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all trade unions for their tireless efforts and campaigning to stand up for workers’ rights and protections all year round”.

The city MP is joining the minute silence, taking a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great risk.

The one minute silence is at 11am on 28 April 2020.

 

 

 

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Support to city’s small business must continue says Portsmouth MP

Since the Covid-19 lockdown began, small businesses have struggled. Many have been unable to pay employees sick pay and evidence suggested one fifth could go under.

The Chancellor has taken steps to mitigate against these impacts, but small businesses have described the support offered as patchy and restricted. On 2 April, the Chancellor updated government support and announced changes.

Stephen Morgan MP, who has been speaking up for small business amid the crisis, has responded to the Chancellor’s latest announcements. The city MP has welcomed the acceptance that previous support was not adequate but continues to highlight gaps in the package going forward.

The Coronavirus Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) before yesterday’s announcement yielded poor results with less than 1,000 out of 130,000 loans so far approved. The Government yesterday announced changes to this which only go part way in solving the issue.

Mr Morgan said:

“At this time of crisis, it is important that we all work together, and I am supportive of the Chancellor taking on board the calls from small businesses. However, I know from speaking to business owners that the original CBIL Scheme offered did not offer enough support to small businesses.

The scheme which some described as ‘fiddly’ placed too much weighting on power given to banks. This resulted in many small businesses in our community raising concerns directly with me around cash flow and loan application decisions.

I have been lobbying Government on this issue, highlighting the need for more comprehensive support packages and faster loan payments”.

The most important U-turn by the chancellor, Mr Sunak, is a change to the power held by banks. In their original CBILS banks were told that loans could only be offered to viable businesses that could not access finance on normal commercial terms.

Now “all viable businesses affected by Covid-19” will be eligible – taking on board Mr Morgan’s calls for more far reaching support.

While this issue does go part way supporting the city’s small businesses, no solution to the banks slow processing was offered.

Mr Morgan said:

“From speaking to small businesses in our community I know cash flow is one of the major issues faced. We all saw headlines earlier this week suggesting one fifth of small businesses could go under. The question we need to be asking is, do the chancellors new measures change this?

I am deeply concerned that a flood of lending was promised but is yet to happen. Banks claim that they are working flat out, but government must have processes in place that guarantee faster payments and an increased cash flow to small business amid this crisis. An issue of this importance cannot be left for the banks to run.

I will continue to keep a close eye on government’s steps to aid small businesses, we must work together to secure the future of our city’s business community”.

Stephen Morgan MP has been acting as voice for small business throughout the pandemic. Over three weeks ago he began discussions with the Federation of Small Business, has written to the Chancellor to highlight gaps in CBILS, has corresponded with the Solent LEP, raising issues in parliament and continuing to help with individual casework.

Some businesses may also be eligible for a Small Business Grant Fund. Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Key support for available for city businesses:

 

 

 

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Chancellor must do ‘whatever it takes’ to support city’s self-employed says Portsmouth MP

In an urgent letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, today Stephen Morgan MP lobbied the Government for support for the self-employed who have been writing to the city MP as a result of the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a series of actions the Portsmouth South representative today lobbied government writing an urgent letter to the Chancellor.

The city MP said:

“There are 7,100 self-employed people in my constituency. Many are getting in touch with me desperately worried about making their rent, mortgage and other bill payments.

I appreciate your efforts to introduce a retention scheme for employees as announced on Friday.

However more and more self-employed people in my constituency are now asking me what help the Government is going to be put in place for them. Many of whom are being told by Ministers they cannot continue their work. 

Some feel they have been abandoned and are being treated as second-class citizens”.

The self-employed already lack all of the legal protections of redundancy and other rights already in place to help protect employees, including those they employ themselves, from a sudden lack of income.

The Federation of Small Business has stated that the self-employed are also the most likely section of our nation’s workforce to suffer from a disability or health condition.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“It would be perverse to leave the self-employed out of the new measures HM Treasury is putting in place to help those whose livelihoods are most disrupted by Covid-19.

The Government must now provide comparable support for the self-employed to end the uncertainty thousands face here in Portsmouth”.

In the letter the MP has asked for assurance that the Government is making plans and sought clarification on timescales.