, , , ,

‘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

 

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

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

 

 

, , , , , , ,

‘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.”

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , , ,

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.

 

 

, , , , , ,

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.

 

 

 

, , , , , , , ,

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

 

 

, , , , , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minister shines a spotlight on veteran homelessness support

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan is joining over 70 members of charity staff, Community Union representatives and Shadow Defence Team colleagues in taking part in a run, walk, and cycle challenge to help end veteran homelessness.

Between team members, the target is to either run, walk or cycle over 1000 miles between now and Armed Forces Day on 27 June. in support of charity FirstLight Trust.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP is walking his constituency boundary for Portsmouth South, equating to roughly 20km.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ahead of Armed Forces Day on 27 June and after the relentless efforts of our troops amid Covid-19, we are reminded just how important our armed forces are.

I strongly support Community Union’s campaign to combat veteran homelessness and introduce measures that support the transfer from military to civilian life.

I urge people to give what they can to this worthwhile  cause and will continue to take action in parliament that puts the needs of our service-personnel first.”

The charitable efforts have been organised through Community Union, fundraising for the FirstLight Trust, an organisation that work on the ground to support veterans. From supporting ex-service personnel into employment to helping make the transition from military to civilian life, they offer wide ranging services.

Tom Blenkinsop, Community’s Operations Director, homelessness campaign lead and army reservist, said:

“At this time of year, our campaign aimed at ending veteran homelessness draws sharp focus on our need to remember our serving and former armed forces personnel in need at all times.

Many of Community’s members served and serve, they have family members who served and serve. It was Community members’ clear view to help end veteran homelessness.

But providing shelter to both our female and male veterans is not enough; it is simply one step. The transition from soldier to civilian is often the most difficult part of a veteran’s life.”

More information about the Community Union campaign can be found here

You can help make a difference and give to this campaign click here

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

‘Major questions remain’ over plan for dentists to reopen says city MP seeking answers in Parliament

Government has announced that dental practices can start to reopen on the 8 June. However, practitioners and the British Dental Association (BDA) have expressed grave concern over the lack of warning and what this means for PPE and training amid Covid-19.

A poll conducted by the BDA of 2,053 practices in England suggests that just over a third (36%) plan to reopen on Monday. The BDA poll identified a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) as one of the major challenges to reopening, with only one third of practices saying they had enough to provide face-to-face care.

In an effort to get answers, Stephen Morgan MP has submitted a chain of targeted questions directly to the Health Secretary. Turning up the heat on the Secretary of State, he probed on how government is supporting the supply of PPE and raised concerns over the lack of warning and engagement.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The fact that government has failed to properly engage with practices before announcing the reopening and failed to take steps to secure PPE is another example of dentistry being treated as the Cinderella service.

Additional costs incurred for procuring PPE, providing training, and putting in place social distancing measures could undermine the financial stability of a number of practices. In addition, the lack of warning simply means that over a third will not be able to open. The effect of this is people requiring dental work will have to wait even longer before receiving essential healthcare.

I hope that turning the heat up on the Health Secretary through questions in parliament, I will help get answers to some of the questions raised by government’s unclear messaging on reopening.”

Decontamination and social distancing policies mean longer treatment slots, with surgeries sometimes sitting idle between patients – leaving many practices unable to maintain their financial viability in the face of fewer patients and higher costs.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said:

“Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service. Those practices reopening now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand.

Dentists returning to work still lack the support offered to our neighbours on the high street, and even clarity on key worker status when it comes to childcare. Ministers must change tack if dentistry is going to survive the new normal.”

Stephen Morgan MP has long argued that government must pay more attention to the silent creeping crisis in dentistry. Last year, when news broke that 1 in 5 Portsmouth children suffer from tooth decay by the time they are 5 years old, Mr Morgan took a number of actions.

This included meeting with senior NHS England officials, the Director of the British Dental Association, grilling the Minister responsible in parliament, and writing to the Health Secretary to push for improvements.

The city MP added:

“The cycle of complacency shown by Government towards NHS dentistry must come to an end. I have long argued for the need for a coherent oral health strategy that has patients at the heart of it and is focused on access and prevention, and NHS dentistry that is adequately commissioned and funded.

The recent developments arising due to the pandemic only increase the need for government to urgently address the lack of support for dentistry.

I will continue to engage with the BDA and local practices on behalf of constituents to ensure that concerns are raised in Parliament.”

 

 

, , , , , , ,

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

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , ,

Statement from Stephen Morgan MP on the killing of George Floyd

The shocking and tragic murder of George Floyd by US police has shaken the world. Stephen Morgan MP has expressed deep concern over the way President Trump has reacted to events.

The Portsmouth South representative has expressed solidarity with those carrying out peaceful and safe protests across the globe.

Mr Morgan has also raised the importance of reflection and real action on racism in our own communities and stressed that this is a ‘heinous reminder’ that hatred is alive in the world.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The harrowing footage of the murder of George Floyd has quite rightly shaken the world. Tragically this is not a one-off event. It is endemic of a deep-set rot of racism that has infiltrated every aspect of society.

If an innocent man can be killed in broad daylight by US police, then racism at every part of society must be present.

I support the peaceful protests across the United States, organised by the Black Lives Matter group. George Floyd must not become just another name. His shocking death should be the catalyst for change around the world”.

The Portsmouth South MP has stressed the responsibility on those in all communities, including Portsmouth, to take action to drum out racism wherever it is encountered. Mr Morgan added:

While the Black Lives Matter protestors in America are on the frontier of the battle for civil rights and their peaceful resilience is an inspiration, there are things that we can do here in Portsmouth to stamp the racist rot.

Although George Floyd’s tragic murder was across the Atlantic, it is a chilling reminder that racism is alive in the world. Voices must be heard otherwise complacency and failure to address racism in our own country will remain a grave injustice.

There remains considerable violence, prejudice and inequality against BAME communities happening across the UK. Down to the marrow of our society, there are economic, social and political injustices that stem from a lack of governmental support and action. I therefore renew my commitment to call out repression, fight injustice and work with others to create a fairer more equal city not just for today’s generation, but for tomorrow’s.

To build a better society we must start here in Portsmouth and we must stand in solidarity together against racism and injustice around the world”.

Following concerns raised by constituents, to see city MP’s statement on the export of riot control equipment to the US, click here