, , , , ,

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

, , , , ,

Statement from Stephen Morgan MP – Stop the Sewage Protest

A statement from Stephen Morgan MP was provided today at a protest in Eastney, demonstrating against Southern Water’s continued discharges into the Solent.

“What we saw last weekend is deeply concerning and the quality of our bathing water is a severe concern for many of us.

“There seems to be a clear difference between what Southern Water is sayingand the water local people were witnessing, which is why I wrote to the Environment Agency earlier this week demanding answers over last weekend’s ‘abnormal situation’.

“The government and its regulator need to provide assurances to the people of Portsmouth that our local environment is being properly protected and that industry is living up to its responsibilities.

“It’s vital we get to the bottom of this ‘abnormal incident’ quickly to understand the cause, lessons can be learnt to prevent it from happening again and those responsible can be held to account. Any wrongdoing must be dealt with
robustly.

“But the scenes from last weekend were just the tip of the iceberg.

“The evidence we have seen over recent months and years demonstrates we have a system that wilfully ignores the worst pollution events in our country.

“Water companies continue to legally pollute UK waters, exposing all-water users, as well as our delicate ocean ecosystems to harm.

“Consequently, our water quality remains at the same dire level as it was in the 1990s, placing the UK a pitiful 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality.

“Natural spaces such as Langstone Harbour and the Solent are crucial for the health and wellbeing of society and should be highly protected, not used as a dumping ground for big business.

“That is why I have been calling on the Government to end sewage pollution to protect UK waters, help restore our rivers and ocean, and working with others to hold Southern Water to account to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public.

“I’ve met with key bodies, raised concerns with the water company, asked questions of Ministers and called on Government to take urgent action to fix long-running local sewage pollution.

“I will be taking further action over the next few weeks, urging Government to do more, and do better”.

, ,

Portsmouth MP demands answers after ‘abnormal situation’ warning for bathers

Stephen Morgan MP has demanded the Environment Agency (EA) urgently provide answers to explain the ‘abnormal situation’ reported at the weekend that advised bathers not to swim in local waters.

In a letter to the EA, the Portsmouth MP has asked for the regulator to clarify, amongst a range of concerns, what was the cause of the warning, who is responsible, can it be prevented and what conversations has it had with Southern Water (SW) about the incident.

SW has said that “No releases were made over the weekend and there were no incidents at any of our assets in the area.” and that “no evidence” of sewage pollution was found by its investigating officers.

This is despite local charity Final Straw Foundation reportedly collecting 135kg of rubbish and dirty wipes from the area on Saturday morning.

It comes after the EA issued a record £90m SW in July this year, after it was prosecuted by the EA for at least 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges between 2010 and 2015.

Meanwhile, it is the second year in a row the water utility has performed below target, with the EA labelling SW’s performance as “consistently unacceptable during the last 5 years” in its environmental performance report for 2020. It also said the water utility was “significantly below target (red) for the Environmental Performance Assessment sewerage incidents metric”.

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

“Reports from the weekend are deeply concerning and the quality of our bathing water is a significant concern for many of my constituents.

“There seems to be a clear difference between what Southern Water is saying and the water local people are witnessing.

“The government and its regulator need to provide assurances to the people of Portsmouth that our local environment is being properly protected and that industry is living up to its responsibilities.

“It’s vital we get to the bottom of this ‘abnormal incident’ quickly to understand the cause, lessons can be learnt to prevent it from happening again and those responsible can be held to account. Any wrongdoing must be dealt with robustly.”

Mr Morgan has been campaigning for Government to finally end sewage discharge and calling on water companies to tackle the issue with real investment and urgency. He has taken a range of actions including raising questions in the House of Commons, lobbying Ministers, holding Southern Water to account and working alongside a number of local groups in the city.

The Portsmouth MP has also called for constituents to share their concerns with him about sewage discharge to build the case to government to take action. Over 250 people have already shared their views in the last 24 hours.. This can be accessed at: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/solent-sewage-discharge/

, , , , ,

Commons Covid Inquiry: City MP responds

Responding to the Commons inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ministers were repeatedly warned that their dither and delay would cost lives and this report is a damning indictment that it tragically, did.

“It underlines a string of monumental errors and Government complacency, including a failure to set up an effective test and trace system that left many vulnerable people in Portsmouth care homes exposed to the virus.

“For a while now I have been calling on the government to provide our local public services with the support they need, but the government’s failure to step up when they needed it most cost lives.

“There must be a public inquiry now so that lessons can be learnt quickly, those responsible for these failures can be held to account and families from across our city can be given the answers they deserve.”

, , , , , ,

Log your concerns over Solent sewage discharge

Evidence in recent months and years show that we have a system that wilfully ignores the worst pollution events in our country. Water companies continue to legally pollute UK waters, exposing all-water users, as well as our delicate ocean ecosystems to harm.

Consequently, our water quality remains at the same dire level as it was in the 1990s, placing the UK a pitiful 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality.

Natural spaces such as Langstone Harbour and the Solent are crucial for the health and wellbeing of society and should be highly protected, not used as a dumping ground for big business.

Stephen has been calling on the Government to end sewage pollution to protect UK waters, help restore our rivers and ocean, and working with others to hold Southern Water to account to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public.

He’s met with key bodies, raised concerns with the water company, asked questions of Ministers and called on Government to take urgent action.

Help Stephen continue to make the case in Parliament to ensure Government do more, and do better. Tell us your key concerns or issues here so he can build the case from Portsmouth to Ministers:

Thank you for signing our petition. Stephen Morgan MP will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Solent sewage discharge campaign. 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

, , , , , , ,

World Mental Health Day – message from Stephen Morgan MP

Today is World Mental Health Day and Mind, the mental health charity, is encouraging everyone to ‘Do One Thing’ to reduce mental health inequality.

The pandemic has had a profound effect on our nation’s mental health. Covid-19 has been just as much a mental health emergency as a physical one. Right now, there is a backlog of around 1.6 million people officially waiting for treatment from mental health services, with private estimates from the sector suggesting around 8 million more would benefit from treatment.

We also know that existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic, disproportionately impacting young people, people from ethnic minority communities and those in financial hardship.

People with pre-existing mental health problems have been amongst those most severely affected. Two thirds of people with mental health problems told Mind that their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic – facing increased complexity of needs, worsening physical health and disruption to support. But we can change this.

This World Mental Health Day, I’m encouraging everyone to ‘do one thing’. As Mind say ‘If we all do one thing, we can change everything’. Whether you use social media or speak with friend, family, or colleagues, do one thing.

I hope that you and your family find the information below useful and I urge all constituents to get involved this World Mental Health Day.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

Access information and support

One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any one year. There is a range of support available both locally and nationally to help.

  • A range of resources on our website specifically focussed on looking after your mental health in the workplace. Click here
  • Mind’s “how to manage stress guide” is for anyone who wants to learn how to manage stress. It explains what stress is, what might cause it and how it can affect you. It also includes information about ways you can help yourself and how to get support, as well as providing tips for those around you. Click here
  • Mind’s introduction to mental health problems explains what mental health problems are and the different kinds of help, treatment and support that are available. Click here
, , , , , , , ,

Portsmouth MP welcomes World Bookshop Day and urges constituents to ‘support local’

Stephen Morgan MP has urged city residents to support their local bookshops, as he underlined their importance in education and development whilst shopping at his local bookstore for World Bookshop Day.

As one of the busiest times for the book trade, the coming weeks are when publishers launch their biggest books ahead of the festive shopping period. Booksellers, publishers, authors, illustrators and poets work collaboratively on the campaign to encourage consumers to shop in their local bookshop and ensure their high street is thriving.

Recent data from the Institute of Place Management demonstrated that UK and Irish booksellers play a crucial role in the recovery and regeneration of our high streets, with over 80% of bookshops surveyed contributing to at least 20 of the 25 factors for a thriving town centre.

Growth of websites such as Bookshop.org and Hive over the past few years has allowed online retailers to support independent bookshops offering an alternative to online multinationals.

Purchasing a book from Pigeon Books, a stone’s throw from the city MP’s constituency office on Albert Road, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“It’s so important that we recognise and support the role independent bookshops play in our community, both as contributors to our local economy and as route of access to learning.

“I was really pleased to be able to support local by purchasing a book from Pigeon Books that have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to serve our city. I thank them and all local stores for the crucial part they play in getting Portsmouth reading.

“If you’re out and about this weekend, stop by at a bookstore and support our city’s local businesses.”

You can find your local bookshops at www.booksaremybag.com/HomeSearch.

The city MP hosted an event to promote the work of independent bookstores before Pigeon Books found their home on Albert Road, and regularly showcases the work of local authors.

He settled on Stuart Maconie’s ‘The Nanny State Made Me’ as his Bookshop Day purchase!

, , , , ,

Pubs ‘vital’ to local economy, but being chronically let down by government – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has underlined that the pub and brewing sector has been chronically let down by government, despite its considerable contribution to the economy and the challenges it’s faced this year.

According to the latest research by the British Beer and Pub Association, in the Portsmouth MP’s constituency alone, brewing companies and pubs contribute 2,478 jobs and £60m to the local economy.

Nationally, before the pandemic, the sector was supporting 900,000 jobs, generating £23 billion in economic value and providing £13 billion in tax revenues.

However, even before Covid-19 took hold, pubs were under severe threat, with a 15% fall in their number from 2010 to 2020.

A review of business rates has been delayed by the government until the autumn, leaving many businesses working in the hospitality and related sectors feeling uncertain.

Meanwhile, the city MP has backed a call to scrap business rates and reforming business taxation, so it is fairer, more efficient and shifts the burden of business tax.

It comes as a number of industry bodies have got behind this year’s ‘Long Live Local’ campaign, calling on the Government to invest in pubs and breweries through the reform of the unfair tax burden – specifically lower VAT & Business Rates for pubs and lower Beer Duty.

After listening to concerns of constituents and the local hospitality sector, the city MP will be meeting industry in Parliament later this month to continue his efforts in lobbying Government for support to the sector.

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

“Pubs are at the heart of the UK’s communities and play an important role not only in our in our local and national economy but also in our social lives and neighbourhoods.

“But with inflation on the rise, gas prices up and an acute HGV driver shortage, many pub and brewing businesses will be worrying how long they can keep on going and need to be given assurances by government.

“That’s why I believe the business rate review must not be delayed any longer and must lead to wholesale reform. An overhaul of business rates is long overdue, and Labour’s alternative will offer a real plan to help our hospitality industry to thrive.”

, , , , , ,

Portsmouth MP blasts government for cost-of-living crisis as £1,000 Universal Credit cut kicks in for over 10,000 local families

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government for the scale of the cost-of-living crisis impacting local families as the planned £1,000 cut to Universal Credit and working tax credits kicks in today.

In the Portsmouth representative’s constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected, including 6,907 children. Across the city, there are over 10,000 families with children in receipt of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits who could be impacted as result of the cut.

Meanwhile, working families across the country are dealing with a ‘triple whammy’ to their cost of living,

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.

But according to Citizens Advice, the £20 a week uplift would cover near a whole week of energy costs for a below average income household.

In another hit to working families and businesses across the country, the government is also continuing to push through a Bill that would raise National Insurance by 1.25%.

The Portsmouth MP has paid tribute to local campaigning efforts against the cut, including a petition to ‘Cancel the Cut’ organised by local Unite Community campaigner David Gorham, who has also staged a number of events in our city’s communities with the backing of Mr Morgan in opposition to the Government’s decision.

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

“The government is pulling out the rug for working families across Portsmouth just at the moment when Tory failure has led to their cost of living going up.

“Cutting £1,000 a year for six million families across Britain, and 10,000 in Portsmouth will have real consequences for daily lives.

“As the Prime Minister stands up to deliver his speech at the champagne bubble of Tory party conference, millions of working families across the country will be weighing up the choice between eating or heating this week.

“I will always stand up for the most vulnerable in our city. I will continue to push the government to provide answers on how they will support struggling families in Portsmouth this winter.”

Unite South East Community Coordinator, Kelly Tomlinson, added,

“Families in the South East are now facing a triple whammy. The £20 cut to Universal Credit; the increase in energy bills and the steep rise in the cost of food will force Families to make the terrible choice of feeding their children or keeping the heating on. This Christmas is going to be bleak as people go without life’s essentials.

 “Unite will continue to work with the Labour Party to make the Tory Government put families first and reverse the damaging cut to Universal Credit.”

Mr Morgan has tirelessly campaigned against the cut to universal credit. He has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary, lobbied the Chancellor ahead of the Budget, helped secure a motion against the cut at the city council and asked a number of questions to Ministers to keep up the pressure.

, , , ,

Labour demands to know what Russian oligarch was getting in return for bankrolling one in ten Conservative MPs

Chair of the Labour Party Anneliese Dodds has today written to her Conservative opposite number asking him to explain why one in ten of his party’s MPs were getting cash from an oligarch accused of corruption at the heart of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The BBC has revealed that 34 Conservative MPs received some £700,000 from businesses owned by the Russian businessman Viktor Fedotov. The recent ‘Pandora Papers’ scandal suggested that Fedotov secretly benefitted from an alleged $4bn fraud in Putin’s Russia. The state-owned oil and gas company gave hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to a firm called VNIIST, but leaked audit reports in 2008 suggest the work was not carried out and instead the money was apparently siphoned off. The ‘Pandora Papers’ showed Fedotov to have held a stake in VNIIST, hidden behind a complex web of offshore structures.

In the UK, Fedotov jointly owns Aquind with fellow oligarch Alexander Temerko. Temerko is a Conservative Party activist and avowedly personal friend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and he too has given £700,000 to the party in recent years. Aquind is in the process of bidding to build an undersea power connector between Portsmouth and Normandy, which the Government has deemed to be a “nationally significant infrastructure project”. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is due to decide whether to appoint Aquind to the project in just 16 days’ time. Three separate Conservative Ministers have already had to recuse themselves from making the decision because of personal links to Aquind.

In her letter to Oliver Dowden, Anneliese Dodds links the secrecy over Fedotov’s money to that over the Conservatives’ £50k-a-head Leader’s Group and its £250k-a-head Advisory Group, both of which offer donors access to senior ministers.

The Conservatives have refused to say who is on each group, when they meet and what they discuss. In her letter, Dodds asks Dowden: “Why can’t you level with the public and tell us just what it is that people get for handing over huge sums of money to your party?”

The letter comes after Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said that the disclosures were the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for AQUIND yesterday. The City MP recently submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament as part of a string of actions to oppose the project.

Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds, said:

“It is extraordinary that a company co-owned by an oligarch allegedly linked to a huge corruption scandal in Putin’s Russia is bankrolling one in ten Tory MPs. And in two weeks’ time, the Conservative Government is going to decide whether to give this man’s company the right to build infrastructure vital to our national security.

“We have no idea what his money is buying. Just as we have no idea what the members of the so-called ‘Leader’s Group’ and ‘Advisory Board’ are getting for the tens of thousands they hand over in cash to the Conservative Party.

“If the accusations of corruption are correct, the Tories should hand this money back. And they should tell us who is giving the party money and what they’re getting in return. Otherwise it’s clear there’s one rule for senior Conservatives and another for everyone else.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The Panorama investigation has revealed the staggering alleged corruption of AQUIND owners and raises further suspicion about their cosy relationships with government.

“There are now serious questions to answer about how AQUIND owners have made their money and whether we can trust them to build nationally significant infrastructure. Perhaps most concerningly, we have no clarity on what Tory MPs promised them before lining their pockets and accepting their cash.

“One thing is clear: Ministers must immediately stop AQUIND, once and for all. Any pretence that this Tory Government is able to make an impartial decision is now laughable”.