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Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP on the importance of recognising our troops on Armed Forces Day

First introduced by the last Labour Government, Armed Forces Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women who deliver for the nation.

A day for celebration rather than remembrance, it is as important as ever to recognise the pride we have in the excellence and professionalism of our service men and women. Just as our Armed Forces work to keep us all safe and our country secure, we must do all we can to support them.

While the challenges faced by our communities continue to change, one thing has remained steadfast – our reliance on our forces and their families when times get tough. Historically they have guided us through the darkest hours in our country’s history. Now, amid this pandemic, they are helping keep the nation going by providing vital PPE, supporting frontline services and setting up test centres across the UK.

While it is right that today is about paying tribute to the efforts of our troops, we would be doing them a significant disservice if we did not speak out on the issues affecting them most.

Ten years of cuts to the defence budget, troop pay increases delayed for a second year running, a fourth year of the Ombudsman finding a vastly under performing complaints system, while satisfaction along with morale has been declining for a decade as the forces attitudes survey has revealed. It is high time our troops treatment matched the degree to which we rely on them, and the high standards they hold themselves to.

So, this Armed Forces Day, despite the celebrations being curtailed due to Covid, we must all do our bit to recognise the efforts of our service community. Against the backdrop of the public health emergency and economic crisis, where our armed forces continue to go above and beyond in delivering for us, it is important that we deliver for them.

As the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, I want to open up Labour again to our Armed Forces, their families and the veterans who have already served our country. I want Labour to hear their voices and views. We’ve got to understand where we’ve gone wrong in the past and change. We’ve got to understand the hopes and aspirations of the armed forces community, as well as the problems they face after a decade of declining numbers.

As an MP representing a city proud to be heart and home to the Royal Navy, and as Shadow Armed Forces Minister, I will continue to ensure the Labour party is listening to the forces community and take action to speak out on the matters that affect them most.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bringing down crime at Southsea Common, seafront and Hotwalls

Following concerns raised with Stephen Morgan MP over recent weeks about anti-social behaviour and crime at Southsea Common, the Hotwalls, other public spaces including parks in Milton, Fratton, and across the whole constituency, Stephen continues to take action on behalf of constituents to ensure the police, council and other bodies are doing all they can to address issues.

As result of further conversations, lobbying and liaison with senior officers today, the following is an update on efforts by key public services and what we can expect over the coming days to manage the situation:

Hampshire Constabulary efforts

Stephen is in regular contact with the District Commander and his senior leadership team and receives a full briefing on the police’s response to the coronavirus crisis weekly.

The police locally have dedicated Covid patrol teams, who will be resourced for Portsmouth this weekend. They also have response and patrol teams with a patrol plan to focus upon locations, where the community have guided the force to consider in relation to groups gathering and breaches of Covid-19 guidance compliance taking place.

Community Wardens will also be patrolling across the city including supporting the Hotwalls area and Southsea Common.

Working with the city council additional security will be provided in some locations and a community advisers foot team will be pro-active in engaging with the public again on social distancing.

Street Pastors will also be providing support engaging with members of the public, and the Ministry of Defence police will be on duty assisting across the constituency.

Hampshire Constabulary – update for 26 June 2020

  • Two more people have been arrested following incidents in the area, one for failure to comply with a S35 dispersal notice and another for obstructing / resisting a police officer in execution of duty, assaulting an emergency worker (police officer) and possession of a class B drug.
  • The local police are implementing a dispersal order for the zone identified and will extend the order for another 48 hours.
  • This means the order will be in place from midday today (Friday 26 June) and it will remain in place until midday on Sunday 28 June and could be extended further.
  • The order gives us the power to order someone to leave the designated area and not return for 24 hours to prevent crime and disorder. Failure to comply with this is a criminal offence.
  • Additional police patrols are taking place in Southsea and Old Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council – update for 26 June 2020

  • Community Advisors will continue to be on patrol across the seafront both Saturday and Sunday they will be pro-actively supporting safe social distancing, handing out bio-degradable bags to encourage people to take their litter home with them and supporting safe use of BBQs in the correct areas.
  • Open Spaces Mitigation measures work remains on-going to reinforce and reduce the risk of further traveller incursion onto the public open spaces.  A new delivery of larger boulders is expected very soon which will be used to reinforce the common and provide more of a barrier for ingress.  Further additional posts are also due to be put in place to prevent vehicle movement across public footpaths where practical.
  • Grounds Maintenance Team have been extremely busy despite the heat.  All the summer bedding in now in including a dedicated ‘NHS thank you’ bed at the end of Avenue de Caen.  The team are also working hard to manage the increased levels of rubbish being left in the area.  The council has increased both the number and the capacity of the bins right across the seafront and are also currently in a trial with staff volunteering to work expanded hours to be able to provide a litter clearing operation until 7pm in the evening.  They are also encouraging the public to dispose of BBQs in the designated bins so the hot coals are safely managed.
  • Deploying additional security in the Hotwalls area to have a presence and to positively engage with young people. The council is aware that the more regular youth services will be stepping up to have some deployment in areas such as the Hotwalls and Ferry Road areas.

 

 

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“Recognising the immeasurable value of our reserves is as important as ever” – Shadow Armed Forces Minister on Reserves Day

Making up around a sixth of our armed forces capability, forming 100 national units across the tri-services and recruiting from all over the UK, our reserve forces are a powerful part in Britain’s military capability.

While at the peak in 2004, reservists made up 20% of those serving in Iraq and 12% of those in Afghanistan. These are often-unsung heroes who walk among us have been involved in crucial conflicts from across the globe. They continue to give up their spare time to keep our nation safe.

From medical expertise to unsurpassed cyber security capability, reservists make up some of the most able people in our armed forces. While we are aware of their involvement in major theatres of war, it is important to recognise too their contributions to civil society.

The ruthless nature of the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed their immeasurable value. Over 3,000 armed forces reservists have been called up to aid the military response to the coronavirus pandemic, providing support to the Covid Support Force by helping set up test sites and assisting in the delivery of PPE.

Looking back, reserves stepping in at the nation’s time of need is nothing new. We know that 2,100 reserve personnel provided support to the police and other civil authorities throughout Operation Olympics. This meant that during the 2012 London Olympic Games, they made up around 15% of the armed forces personnel working on the delivery of the Games. When Britain is on the backfoot, our reserves never fail stand up to be counted.

As we find ourselves in midst of Armed Forces Week and today on Reserves Day, I pay tribute to these brave men and women who continue to deliver for the nation.

As Shadow Armed Forces Minister, I know I speak for many within the nation when I extend my gratitude for their continued efforts in these challenging times.

Stephen Morgan MP is the Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Portsmouth South MP

 

 

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Covid-19: City MP highlights need for Government action on children’s mental health

With schools not expected to open fully until September at the earliest, educational psychologists are issuing stark warnings about the impacts on children’s mental health.

During today’s education questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP pushed the Secretary of State to clarify the Government’s strategy for meeting children’s mental health needs amid Covid-19.

Mr Morgan’s actions follow data revealing calls to Childline are rising and YoungMinds has found that around 4 in 5 children with pre-existing mental health problems have had these problems worsened in this crisis, while referrals for CAMHS have been down by as much as 50% in some areas.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Lack of social interaction, increased risk to vulnerable children, reduced learning and a diminished peer contact is having severe mental health implications for children across the nation.

While demand has increased drastically, statistics show that provision has dropped by up to 50% in some areas. There are two pandemics at play here, Covid-19 and also the impacts it is having on mental health. Both are equally important and potentially dangerous.

I will continue to ask government the tough questions about when and how they will put measures in place to secure mental health provision.”

88% of school staff surveyed by Barnardo’s said that Covid-19 would have a negative impact on their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. While 78% of respondents to the YoungMinds survey reported that additional pastoral support, such as in-school counselling, would be helpful, in order to support children as they return to school.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“The looming crisis in children’s mental health comes at a time when provision is already under heavy strain.

Data exposed by The Children’s Society in 2019 found that around 60 per cent of those referred, approximately 110,000 children, were not treated that year for mental health needs.

While I welcome government allocating long-overdue funding to CAHMS services, we need a strategy now that details exactly how Minister’s plan to safeguard the nation’s children from the threat of the mental health emergency.”

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‘I want a city where it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love’ says city MP on Portsmouth Pride

In a message to all Portsmouth residents as the city’s Pride event is cancelled due to Covid-19, and instead replaced with an online event, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan has recorded a video message to those celebrating safely at home:

Today on Portsmouth Pride day, we must reflect on past achievements and recognise the challenges ahead.

I’m hugely proud of my party’s record on speaking up and taking action on advancing LGBT rights: abolishing the hateful Section 28; creating civil partnerships; introducing landmark legislation ending injustice and inequality; and If it wasn’t for the coronavirus crisis, I would be with you marking this year’s theme – the armed forces – as the Shadow Armed Forces Minister – proud that twenty years ago the ban was lifting on gay personnel serving.

Whilst today we can celebrate safely at home, this virtual event should also act as a reminder that there is so much more to do both here, at home, and across the globe.

Poland has declared LGBT free zones across the country. Hungary has passed a law ending legal recognition for transgender people.

Here in the UK research is telling us that the LGBT community are more vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus as Covid-19 continues to thrive on inequality.

Ministers promised to ban conversion therapy, yet a few years later, still nothing has happened.

We’re still awaiting the Government response to reforms to the Gender Recognition Act risking rowing back the progress made on trans rights.

I want a city where it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love, and I want a country which is a global leader in fighting for equality for all.

To achieve this, we must all work together. And Portsmouth Pride is helping us do just that.

We all have a part to play.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

 

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Covid-19: Government must act now on impact on BAME communities

This week’s report by Public Health England (PHE) looking into coronavirus inequalities, ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups’ provides even more evidence of the structural and racial inequalities which have led to the Covid-19 pandemic hitting black, Asian and minority ethnic communities across the UK so very hard.

These recommendations should never have been blocked by Government in the first place.

Thousands of people and organisations across the country have made it clear that urgent, collaborative and decisive action is needed. I heard that view too listening to concerns amongst community leaders from across Portsmouth in a zoom call arranged by the social care team at the city council last week.

We now know that whilst people from ethnic minority backgrounds constitute 14% of the UK population, they worryingly account for 34% of critically ill Covid-19 patients and a similar percentage of all Covid-19 cases.

The PHE report makes seven recommendations to address inequalities:

  • Better data collection about ethnicity and religion, including having this recorded on death certificates to accurately monitor the impact on these communities
  • Supporting further research with the participation of ethnic minority communities to understand the increased risk and develop programmes to reduce it
  • Improving BAME groups’ access to, experiences of and outcomes from NHS and other services – using audits, health impact assessments and better representation of black and minority ethnic communities among staff
  • Developing risk assessments for black, Asian and minority ethnic workers in roles where they are exposed to a large section of the general public or those infected with the virus
  • Producing culturally sensitive education and prevention campaigns to rebuild trust and help communities access services such as contact tracing, antibody testing and a future vaccine
  • Targeting ethnic minority groups with culturally sensitive health messages to address conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma
  • Ensuring that Covid-19 recovery strategies actively address inequalities to create long-term change

Why are these recommendations so important? We know the health and care workforce in England are significantly over-represented by people from BAME groups. Often, BAME workers are in lower paid roles within the NHS, which means that these roles cannot be done remotely. Over 90% of the doctors who have died during the pandemic have been BAME, more than double the proportion in the medical workforce as a whole.

We also know that individuals from the most deprived communities are nearly twice as likely to be admitted to intensive care as the least deprived. The most recent research from the UK suggests that both ethnicity and income inequality are independently associated with COVID-19 mortality.

Most worryingly of all, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is over 2.5 times that of the white population. The deaths of people from a black Caribbean background are 1.7 times higher than the white population.

The Government cannot make the same mistakes again if there is a second wave of coronavirus this Autumn. When PHE’s second report states that ‘historic racism’ may have been a factor which prevented individuals from speaking up about risk in the workplace, this must act as a wake-up call for decision-makers.

That’s why I want Ministers to act now and produce a detailed action plan on how the recommendations from the PHE report will be implemented.

I will continue to listen to local voices and Portsmouth’s BAME groups to make sure our views are heard in Westminster, and commit to holding the Government to account when mistakes are made.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

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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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Government U-turn to fund free school meals is the ‘decent thing to do’ says Portsmouth MP

Government have a committed a major U-turn and today agreed to fund free school meals during the summer holidays. A move welcomed by Stephen Morgan MP, who has been lobbying the Prime Minister to reverse his original decision.

In Portsmouth, over 5,000 children were at risk of going hungry this summer if government were to withdraw support for the provision of free school meals. This prompted action from the city MP who wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister which gathered just shy of 600 hundred signatures in less than 24 hours.

With the added financial strain of coronavirus and social distancing measures, many Portsmouth families were deeply concerned by the prospect of losing holiday lunch schemes. It is expected that an additional 200,000 children will fall below the poverty line due to the pandemic, making this food provision a vital lifeline for families across Portsmouth and the UK.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

‘’Children were at a heightened risk of going hungry this summer as the Covid-19 crisis hits family incomes while charities and food banks struggle to provide the same level of holiday support.

There was always a simple solution to this, and that was for the government to continue funding free school meals throughout the summer holidays. Their refusal to do so until today was a deeply callous move. It is encouraging that they have taken heed of warnings from MPs, public figures, charities and the Labour Party. However, we should not be at a point where we have to fight to feed the children of struggling families.

That is why I launched a campaign, with local people, to help force the reversal of the Government’s decision and will continue to speak out in favour of maintaining support for all those struggling amid this pandemic.”

The Government today caved in on their decision to stop free school meals over the summer after a passionate plea from Manchester United footballer Marcus Rushford, pressure from a number of MPs and ahead of an opposition day debate in Parliament headed up by Labour. The Government were planning to vote against the motion to restore the scheme for the holidays.

On the Prime Minister’s U-turn, the city MP added:

“Some are calling this a major U-turn by Government. I’m calling this a victory for common sense and decency.

The untold hardship faced by families at this time of uncertainty requires government to be looking at increasing support, not stripping it away. What really matters is no one should ever go hungry over the holidays. While the immediate threat of holiday hunger may be in hand, we now need to look at the root causes.

Holiday hunger is not new. Longer term, the Government must address the underlying cause of holiday hunger: child poverty, low wages and insecure work.”

Ahead of the government’s decision reversal, the city MP had written an open letter garnering hundreds of public signatures, backed Labour’s “Holidays without Hunger” campaign, and supported the Opposition Day Debate on the issue. He has vowed to continue taking action to combat child poverty throughout Covid-19 and beyond.

 

 

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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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Sign: Letter to the Prime Minister to stop holiday hunger

Many constituents have got in touch after reading Marcus Rashford’s open letter to all Members of Parliament. Stephen welcomes this letter and supports calls for Government to make sure no child goes hungry this summer by funding Free School Meals.

Please add your name to Stephen’s letter to the Prime Minister to lobby Government to stop kids going hungry:

 

 

Thank you for signing the letter. Stephen Morgan and the Labour Party will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Holiday Hunger 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 click here