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Budget 2021: Portsmouth MP blasts government’s ‘failure to deliver for working people’

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government today for ‘failing to deliver for working people’ in its autumn budget, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier this afternoon.

The Portsmouth MP underlined that working people have ‘never paid so much for so little’.

It comes as the cost of living for people in Portsmouth continues to spiral, with a cut to universal credit in October, rising fuel costs, inflation expected to reach as high as 4% in 2022 and the highest sustained tax burden in peace time.

Four in ten households on Universal Credit are facing a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit is cut by £20 a week.

The Official Opposition has said the government has ‘got its priorities wrong’ and said they would focus on easing pressure on households and businesses. Their plan includes abolishing VAT on domestic energy bills for six months to help people get through the winter months and cutting Business Rates next year.

It comes as the Portsmouth MP’s office revealed earlier this month, 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.

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

“This budget is yet another example of the government’s failure to improve the daily lives of working people in Portsmouth. Never have they paid so much, for so little.

“Families across our city will be feeling the pinch this winter as the government continues to struggle to get to grips with rising fuel prices and the cost of living.

“Today we saw nothing to reduce the burden on working people with no VAT reduction on their energy bills. Little comfort for those on NHS waiting lists. Nothing to be seen on community policing and no real action to tackle the climate emergency.

“Where the Chancellor has failed, Labour will tax fairly, spend wisely, and get our economy firing on all cylinders.

In response to today’s budget announcement, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves MP, said:

“Families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, businesses hit by a supply chain crisis, those who rely on our schools and our hospitals and our police – they won’t recognise the world that the Chancellor is describing. They will think that he is living in a parallel universe.

“Time and again today, the Chancellor compared the investments that he is making to the last decade. But who was in charge in this lost decade? They were.”

Labour’s offer:

  • We’ll Buy, Make and Sell More in Britain by bringing jobs back to this country and awarding public contracts to British businesses, and create hundreds of thousands of secure jobs in low-carbon industries that tackle the challenge of climate change.
  • We’ll bring in a New Deal for Working People so people earn a proper wage, have job security, and can balance work with their lives with a right to flexible working. And we’ll always make sure work pays.
  • We’ll deliver efficient, modern public services that drive up standards in schools, hospitals, transport and the places we live and work.
  • We’ll always be on the side of British business, which is where wealth is created and where the jobs are created. We will work together with industry in a national endeavour to remake Britain and to seize the opportunities of the future.
  • And we will get real value for money for the taxpayer and stop the waste that is prolific under this government, with a new Office for Value for Money and strong fiscal rules. We will say how every commitment we make will be paid for.
  • In contrast to this Conservative government, Labour will tax fairly, spend wisely, and get our economy firing on all cylinders.
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Local MP calls for nominations for best Curry House in his constituency

Stephen Morgan MP has called for local nominations for the best South Asian restaurant in his constituency of Portsmouth South, as part of this year’s Tiffin Cup.

The Tiffin Cup, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, seeks to promote the importance of South Asian restaurants throughout the UK. There are at present 9,000 restaurants and takeaways in the country and they contribute over £2 billion to the British economy. Each year the competition has attracted over 100 nominees from MPs and Peers.

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, chaired by the Celebrity Chef Ainsley Harriott MBE. The winner is crowned Tiffin Cup winner for the year.

Local residents can share their nominations to Stephen’s office via the form on his website here.

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

Local businesses have really struggled to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, particularly those in hospitality.

“It’s so important that we support our highstreets and Portsmouth businesses, so I urge residents to visit local, get in touch and nominate their favourite South Asian restaurant for this year’s Tiffin Cup awards.

“We have a fantastic set of restaurants in our community that need our support, so it’s vital that we champion them and secure the wider recognition they richly deserve.”

The deadline for local nominations is November 19.

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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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COP26: Portsmouth MP urges transformative climate action ahead of landmark summit

Stephen Morgan MP has lobbied the government to deliver ‘transformative climate action’ as the UK prepares to host the largest climate summit in the world, COP26, in Glasgow on Sunday.

In a letter to the COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP, the Portsmouth representative underlined, amongst wider global issues, the importance of expanding woodlands and carbon-capturing peatlands, where Portsmouth and the wider Hampshire area is home to some of the largest swathes of these potential carbon stores in the country.

It comes as the government last week refused to back cross-party supported amendments to the Environment Bill, including those on air quality and sewage pollution.

Ministers rejected placing a legal duty on water companies to clean up local waterways and have previously voted against recognising WHO air quality limits.

This is despite ongoing concerns about recent pollution reports in Eastney and Langstone Harbour, as well as local frustrations of the city council’s failure to take meaningful steps to tackle Portsmouth’s dirty air crisis.

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

“Britain is set to host the largest climate summit in the world later this week, but government is failing to provide the leadership that’s required to secure the transformative climate action the world so desperately needs.

“From raging forest fires in California, to water companies allowed to pump eye-watering amounts of raw sewage into our local waters, it is clear urgent, global action is needed.

 “That’s why I’m demanding government steps up to the plate to secure a greener future for our city, the country and the world at COP26.”

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP – Government denies pay rise for 8,200 service personnel

Reacting to reports of a government decision not to award service personnel a £250 boost to their annual pay, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“The government has short-changed our service personnel once again. As if a decade of real terms pay cuts wasn’t bad enough, this report reveals Ministers have deliberately conned 8,200 of the lowest earning service personnel out of their insultingly low £250 bonus.

“Over the last year Her Majesty’s Armed Forces have shown just how indispensable they are to the nation’s security, from airlifting British Nationals out of Afghanistan to driving NHS ambulances in Wales.

“Yet Ministers still don’t think it’s worth giving the lowest earners taking the highest risks to protect our country a pay rise that’s worth just £200 after tax. To add insult to injury, they will also be paying more for food and service accommodation.

“This continues a decade of Tory decline for our armed forces who’ve seen forces pay, numbers and morale all down since 2010.”

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Budget 2021: City MP calls for immediate VAT cut on energy bills in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today called on the government to immediately remove VAT from domestic energy bills, as the cost of living crisis hits working people across the country.

The call comes ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday, and as rising inflation and energy bills leave many feeling the pinch.

Labour say a VAT cut on domestic energy bills – which would change the charge from 5% to zero – could come into place from 1st November. It should last for six months, seeing people through the winter months and would be automatically deducted from their bills.

This tax cut would be funded for by the higher-than-expected VAT receipts accrued since the start of the financial year.

To further tackle higher energy bills and the climate emergency, Labour recently announced how they would ramp up the ambition on retrofitting homes for sustainable, long-term reductions in energy bills – a major policy announced in Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s party conference speech – as well as building a more secure energy supply chain including new nuclear and improved gas storage, all pointed towards achieving Net Zero.

The Labour party have said the VAT cut would offer a helping hand when people need it most, and alongside not cancelling the Universal Credit uplift, and not hitting working people and businesses with a new jobs tax, this VAT reduction is part of Labour’s plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

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

“Right now in people across Portsmouth are being hit by a cost-of-living crisis which has seen energy bills soar, food costs increase and the weekly budget stretched.

“That’s why Labour is calling on government to immediately remove VAT on domestic energy bills for six months.

“With the Budget this Wednesday, the Chancellor has choices to make. He can choose to let online giants dodge tax, and ignore the cost of living crisis – or he can give working people in Portsmouth a helping hand by providing an immediate cut to their energy bills.” 

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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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STOP AQUIND: Portsmouth MP responds to second Aquind decision delay

Responding to the news that the Business Secretary has again delayed the final decision on the proposed Aquind interconnector project until 21 January 2022, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The Business Secretary has once again ducked a decision on this disastrous project, which will cause daily disruption in Portsmouth and threatens our national security.

“With clear community opposition to the plans, and fresh fraud allegations against the company’s Conservative party donors, the case for stopping Aquind has never been clearer. 

“But the Secretary of State has chosen more dither and delay, raising further questions about what exactly the company’s owners received in return for their generous donations to his party.

“It’s high time the government stopped Aquind once and for all. Ministers must put an end to the uncertainty for Portsmouth and protect our national infrastructure.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long opposed the Aquind interconnector project, working alongside the Let’s Stop Aquind grassroots group.

Since his election he has grilled Ministers in Parliament, secured a dedicated debate on the issue, attended protests alongside local campaigners and met the project company to discuss concerns.

In September, Mr Morgan submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament calling on the Business Secretary to scrap the project.

Mr Morgan has also consistently raised concerns about the project company’s concerningly opaque structure and finances.

Recent media reports from the BBC and Guardian revealed that Aquind owner Viktor Fedotov benefited from a $4bn alleged fraud in Russia. This seems to have been achieved through a complex scheme that funnelled government cash through layers of shell companies that were ultimately owned by Mr Fedotov.

Similar concerns have been raised about Aquind’s finances, with little information available about where its money is coming from, who is providing it, or whether similar complex financial structures are being used to hide this.

Mr Fedotov had been able to remain completely anonymous as the company’s owner using a rare exemption in corporate transparency rules, until his identity was revealed following an investigation by The Times in August 2020. Why this anonymity was necessary is not clear.

Aquind’s public face, Alexander Temerko, has also conducted a coordinated and concerted effort to influence British political figures.

Since the project started, Temerko has donated £700,000 to the Conservative Party. In addition to this, research done by the BBC has revealed that Mr Fedotov’s businesses have donated a further £700,000 to 34 MPs and their local parties. This includes a string of current and former Ministers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State was asked directly on Andrew Marr on 10 October if he was in favour of the project. He replied, “I have never commented on this specific project”.

However, letters obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information request show the Mr Kwarteng indicated both his and the government’s support for the project when he was Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth.

A Written Ministerial Statement confirming the Secretary of State is delaying the decision on Aquind can be found here