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Decision to axe free TV licence for over 75s ‘stripping away vital lifeline amid pandemic’ says city MP

After a two-month delay due to Covid-19, plans to scrap the universally free TV licence for the over-75s are once again underway. The decision to scrap the vital benefit for older people was first made in 2015 when the Conservative Government forced the responsibility onto the BBC.

Since then, Stephen Morgan MP has consistently been vocal in his opposition to government snatching away this popular benefit, working alongside the Portsmouth Pensioners and Age UK as well as hundreds of constituents. The move announced today has angered many especially as the Tories stood on a 2017 election manifesto pledge not to roll back benefits for older people.

The Portsmouth South MP has undertaken a series of actions lobbying for Portsmouth pensioners including seeking the views of all constituents affected; writing to two Culture Secretaries lobbying for government to revoke the decision; speaking out in favour of keeping the benefit during parliamentary debates; grilling Ministers in the House of Commons during relevant questions; submitting a string of targeted written questions to the department responsible; and writing a joint letter with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association to the Prime Minister.

On today’s announcement, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government has not only snatched away this vital lifeline for some older people, it has then cowered away from ownership of the decision and tried to shift blame onto the BBC.

That means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee. I know from speaking to hundreds of local residents that for some that will mean choosing between loneliness and hunger.

Of those set to lose out we know that 900,000 are veterans who have served this country, 500,000 suffer from Alzheimer’s and 1.3 million are eligible for pension credit but unable to claim it. This means those losing out are truly the most vulnerable in our society.

Today’s announcement is hugely disappointing for thousands of Portsmouth’s pensioners who have contributed so much to society. This is a simple benefit giving back to those who have contributed a lot”.

Free TV licences for the over-75s had been provided by the Government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of a fee settlement.

The cost of continuing to provide free licences to all over-75s could have reached £1bn a year over time with an ageing population and would have accounted for one fifth of their overall budget, meaning government left the BBC no choice.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens MP said:

“The refusal of the government to fund this vital service after promising to do so is nothing short of betrayal.

Many over-75s have spent months at home with TV providing an invaluable source of company during the pandemic. For the government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.”

 

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City MP praises work of care providers during Covid-19 and consults over concerns

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has written out to over fifty care providers and residential homes to thank staff for their tireless efforts for our city and asking workers to keep him informed over PPE shortages

The latest action follows a series of steps to put pressure on Government to take urgent action to address the supply of personal protective equipment in the social care sector and pushing for regular testing for those working on the frontline.

The MP has lobbied the Health Secretary, submitted urgent parliamentary questions as well as written to the Prime Minister directly calling for greater measures to help NHS and social care services succeed in keeping people safe and well.

Writing to staff teams in over fifty care settings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Thank you and all your staff who are contributing such vital care for residents during this public health emergency.

During this crisis many of your staff will have family responsibilities and personal caring duties on top of their work responsibilities. 

On behalf of our whole community I would like to convey our thanks and admiration for the selfless work they continue to do”.

Ensuring local providers have a good supply of the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is a top priority for the city MP who is liaising with the city council, local resilience forum and Government departments over concerns.

Looking ahead to when the country recovers from the coronavirus crisis, the MP hopes lessons will be learnt in recognising the efforts of those working on the frontline. He added:

“I trust that when this pandemic has passed, society may recognise more clearly the interdependence we all have upon each other and show its appreciation to you and others on the frontline performing essential caring roles in more tangible ways”.

An online petition has been set up to show to Government the strength of feeling in Portsmouth for protecting staff on the frontline. To show your support for these efforts go to www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/

 

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP urges Government to support charities at time of crisis

Taking action after hearing concerns from Portsmouth’s voluntary and community sector, city MP Stephen Morgan is calling on the Government to support charities as they help the most vulnerable through the public health emergency and economic crisis

The Portsmouth South representative, formerly a charity chief executive himself, has already this week written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer raising concerns from the city’s voluntary and community sector.

A number of local groups and charities across Portsmouth have been reaching out to older people, vulnerable and high risk groups, whilst residents have been setting up online support groups to share advice and information.

Now working with NCVO, an umbrella group for the charities, he is calling on the government to do more to support.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We are in unprecedented times, but history has shown us what the charitable sector is capable of. I see for myself day in, day out, the difference voluntary and community groups make to people’s lives in Portsmouth.

They are already stepping up to protect the most vulnerable during this national crisis, and with Government support, they can do even more”.

A number of charities help alleviate the pressure on our NHS and social care services and provide support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, as well as helping with everything from mental health impacts to support for vulnerable families.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), and the Charity Finance Group have issued their own urgent calls to protect the charity sector.

Joining other MPs and these national associations calling on the Government to act Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Without an immediate injection of money, many charities of all sizes will soon close. Charity funds are running out, and some are already considering redundancies.

The NCVO predicts that charities will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks. The figure could be far higher”.

The NCVO are requesting Government to:

  • Provide immediate emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis
  • Provide a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic
  • Establish an emergency grant fund
  • Confirm that charities are eligible for similar business interruption measures announced for business.
  • Urgently clarify the situation for the differing governance models of charities
  • Work with the UK’s largest philanthropic organisations and foundations, the National Lottery and others to identify grant funding which can be drawn down early over the coming days, or in addition from their reserves and existing grant programmes to help fill the growing gaps in the sector.

As well as this national lobbying the Portsmouth South MP is working with HIVE Portsmouth to ensure local voluntary and community efforts to help residents during this difficult time, are co-ordinated and helping the most vulnerable.

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Portsmouth MP teams up with Google to urge pensioners to protect themselves online

Stephen Morgan, Shadow Communities Minister, has been working with Google through their Digital Garage initiative to raise awareness of online safety and protect city pensioners when using the internet.

Teaming up with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association and Google team, the Portsmouth MP arranged a free and open to all training session for local pensioners to hear from experts and find out about 121support at Google’s training hub, the Digital Garage, at 105a Commercial Road, Portsmouth.

The garage opened late last year to provide free workshops for everyone. The latest action by the city MP, follows a range of activities since Mr Morgan helped secure the city centre facility for community use by Portsmouth residents.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We all have something we want to do, but haven’t yet. Whether a lack of time, opportunity or support, Google Digital Garage is here to help Portsmouth people take the first steps.

 

After listening to constituents’ concerns, I have wanted Google to prioritise making sure older people feel safe online. I am delighted the Portsmouth Pensioners Association and Google Garage team have come together to help city pensioners and it was a pleasure to play my part”.

 

On the importance of online security the Shadow Communities Minister added:

 

“Email and online shopping can make our lives a lot easier, but they also create new opportunities for fraud.

 

Online scams are becoming increasingly common and sophisticated, so I encourage all older people to seek help and find out how to keep safe.

 

I appreciate all those organisations and charities which are doing their bit to help people use the internet safely”.

Google’s workshops are free and for everyone. From growing your career with new skills to growing your business with digital tools (or starting a business altogether), the team of coaches is there to help.

 

Any Portsmouth resident can pop in or book a free online course from the Portsmouth Garage. To find out more visit: g.co/PortsmouthGarage

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City MP hits ground running with social enterprise GoodGym

Stephen Morgan MP praises work of city volunteers as he combined running shoes with a litter picker and joined local GoodGym representatives in Portsmouth.

The socially motivated running club, formed nearly two years ago in Portsmouth, seeks to combine fitness with community work.

Mr Morgan this weekend joined local volunteers removing litter from Portsmouth’s roadsides and pathways as part of the project based out of Fratton Community Centre.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This community of runners, motivated by improving their local area, are doing outstanding work from reducing social isolation to keeping the area clean.

Their vision to keep the community fit while also improving Portsmouth is the pioneering spirit that this city needs.

I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the work of GoodGym and encourage others to get involved. Especially in community projects aiming to improve the wellbeing of our older community members.”

GoodGym currently operates in 57 areas and has proposals to start in 82 other places.

There are variations of run offered tailored to which kind of community action members want to take. ‘Mission Runs’ aim to help older community members with one off tasks, ‘Coach Runs’ are regular and will see a member meeting an isolated older person and ‘Group Runs’ help with community projects.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“I look forward to continuing to spend time with other community members and the GoodGym team, keeping fit and making a difference.

I hope to see more people joining the movement and encourage people to pick up their running shoes and litter picker and head on down to the next event.”

To join GoodGym and find out more about their events in Portsmouth, please visit: https://www.goodgym.org/areas/portsmouth

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“Social Isolation and loneliness don’t stop when the Christmas tree comes down” says Stephen Morgan MP

As many headlines warn, Christmas can see loneliness and social isolation heightened, especially amongst older community members. However, newly re-elected MP Stephen Morgan has spoken out saying society must do better year-round to tackle the issue.

Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While I welcome the recognition that social isolation and loneliness receives over Christmas, I believe we cannot afford to let the issue fall when the festive season finishes.

Loneliness doesn’t stop when the Christmas tree comes down, there is work to be done. Since being elected in 2017, I have had the opportunity to work with organisations such as Age UK, The Good Company and The British Legion in tackling these social problems.

I am committed to continuing this vital work now that I have been re-elected to parliament and look forward to continued cooperation with organisations both in Portsmouth and in Parliament.”

The Jo Cox Commission started a national conversation on loneliness and successfully encouraged the Government to accept many of its recommendations with the appointment of a Minister for Loneliness to take forward the work.

However, the Government has failed to implement some of the policies and has gone against previous commitments to safeguard benefits that help to combat loneliness.

Stephen Morgan said:

“Through work with Age UK and Portsmouth pensioners, I know how important certain benefits are in combatting isolation and loneliness.

That is why It is an outrage that this Government is overseeing the scrapping of free TV licences for 3 million older people, leaving a Tory manifesto promise in tatters.

We know that around 1.3 million over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not or cannot claim for the benefit. This means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing an ominous new annual bill they simply can’t afford.”

The extensive work Mr Morgan has done for to combat isolation and loneliness is not limited to action on the free TV licence. He has worked hard on increasing bus routes, called for a veteran’s railcard, regular meets with Age UK and has a close relationship Portsmouth Pensioners to ensure they have a voice in parliament.

 

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Stephen Morgan speaks up for social care as Government sets out agenda for the year

Portsmouth South’s MP Stephen Morgan, along with other representatives, today observed Her Majesty the Queen’s speech setting out the Government’s plan for the year.

As Shadow Communities Minister, Mr Morgan has singled out social care as an area that requires urgent attention, joining experts such as the Kings Fund in suggesting today’s commitments do not go far enough.

Mr Morgan said:

“It is telling that Mr Johnson chose not to mention Social Care in his victory speech last week. The proposals mentioned today are a mere drop in the ocean in comparison with what is needed.

When nearly £8bn has been taken from council budgets for social care since 2010, there are 1 million people not getting the care they need, and 87 people are dying a day waiting for care we need to see change.

The Government has dragged their heels, resulting in a social care system at crisis point. As Shadow Communities Minister, I will be applying the highest level of scrutiny to ensure that the Government faces the scale of the crisis at hand.

The more time wasted, the more our most vulnerable community members will suffer.”

A senior Government Minister was also forced to admit that her party’s manifesto did not include costed plans for social care reform, but only interim extra funding of £1 billion a year to fund the system in England.

The King’s Fund has said that this extra funding “is not enough to meet rising demand for care while maintaining the current quality and accessibility of services”.

Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“For more than two years, the Government has been promising to publish the social care green paper, which would lay out plans for addressing the adult social care funding crisis.

During the election period, Disability News Service reported that a senior Government minister admitted the Green Paper did not even exist. How are we meant to address this crisis when the can is constantly kicked down the road?

The Conservatives view the crisis in social care with utter contempt and it is people in our communities paying the price.

The Government should now stop the delay in delivering the long-term solution for social care, which secures these vital services for the future. “

Mr Morgan’s comments follow a September report highlighting how many big care providers have developed highly complex corporate structures involving offshore tax havens. Many claim this puts profit over people and sucks money out of the system.

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Stephen Morgan backs Labour’s game-changing social care plan

Labour has announced its game-changing plans to head off the social care crisis through introducing free personal care and increasing the number of care packages provided to working age adults and older people each year.

Recent Labour Party research has also revealed that since April 2017, over 9,200 people have approached their local authority for help to pay for their social care, after running out of money.

Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions, reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.

Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth City Council has been far from exempt in terms of local authority cuts with local services we all rely on slashed by 48 percent since 2011, equating to £73m. This means that care services are in crisis.

I am proud to stand on a manifesto that sets out a strategy for real change and will properly fund social care for our older community members and reform the way we think about caring for people I need.“

Stephen Morgan has a record of delivery when it comes to standing against the social care crisis. He has worked with Alzheimer’s UK to call for funding for dementia care, held officials to account while working in the Public Accounts Committee and constantly grilled Ministers in Parliament to fund local authorities properly.

Labour’s National Care Service will provide publicly funded care to all those that need it.

The next Labour government will:

• Introduce free personal care for older people
• Fund social care properly with £10 billion of additional funding by 2023/24
• Cap care costs
• Reform provision of care by ensuring care providers meet ethical standards of care
• Support the care workforce better to ensure people receive support from trained staff
New Labour research reveals that:
• 9,290 people have approached their local authority for help with their social care costs after running out of money to pay for it themselves – called ‘self-funders with depleted funds’ – since April 2017.
• 5,385 people – almost 15 a day – approached their local authority for help in 2018/19, an increase of 38% on the previous year.
• Based on the average cost of a home care package being £16 an hour and the average recipient of free personal care in Scotland receiving 8.8 hours of free personal care a week, free personal care will save older people £7,321 a year, drastically reducing the number of people depleting their savings to pay for their care.

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Positive plan for Portsmouth Pensioners Announced

Stephen Morgan backs Labour’s seven policies which have been released as part of the ‘Pensioners Pledge’. These seek to “restore dignity and support” for older people living in Britain.

Labour has set out a positive plan for Portsmouth pensioners in more detail with a new ‘Pensioners Pledge Card’, after the Tories chose to ignore the biggest issue affecting older people in their manifesto; the social care crisis.

Labour’s ‘Pensioners Pledge Card’ includes plans to:

  •  Introduce free personal care and invest £10.8 billion in social care provision
  • Keep the free bus pass for older people
  • Restore 3,000 bus routes that have been cut under the Tories and give Portsmouth City Council the powers to regulate services again
  • Stop the Tories taking free TV licences from the up to 3540 households with someone over-75 in Portsmouth South (69% of all households in the constituency)
  • Pay-outs of up to £31,000 for the 4300 women in Portsmouth South who lost out unfairly when the Tories changed the state pension age without fair notice
  • Invest in Warm Homes for All with insulation for every home – and in the process create 1475 unionised construction jobs and supply chain jobs for the next generation in Portsmouth
  • End the injustice of the state skimming 50% off the mineworkers’ pensions schemes

Stephen Morgan, Labour’s candidate in Portsmouth South, said,

“People who have dedicated so many years to their families and communities deserve to be treated with respect. But years of Tory and Lib Dem cuts have robbed so many pensioners of their dignity. Look at what’s happened to our country in the last few years: more pensioners in poverty, and more children suffering the same.

This a rich country – we can do better than this. Labour will deliver real change for pensioners, supporting them to live the comfortable lives they deserve. Labour’s on your side.”

The Conservatives have cut £8 billion from social care since 2010 – and have not allocated one penny extra to social care in their manifesto. According to Age UK, 1.5 million older people are not getting the care they need.

Stephen Morgan added:

“One of the things that inspired me to get into politics was seeing my D-Day veteran Southsea grandfather not get the standard of care he deserved. Since then, I have done everything in my power to stand up for our city’s older residents.

I have a record of delivery when it comes to standing up for older people. Relentlessly lobbying the Government over the Tories snatching away the free TV licence, fighting for investment in social care, consulting the community to improve bus services, meeting regularly with groups to discuss better dementia care and support for older people, and liaising with the Portsmouth Pensioners on their concerns and ideas.

I have made progress, but there is so much more to do. In order to carry on this vital work, I need your support on Thursday 12 December”.

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Stephen Morgan’s hard work for WASPI women pays off as Labour announce ground breaking pledge

Labour have announced that if they win the election they will compensate 1950s women with a “weekly redress” based on the number of lost weeks of their pension and the amount of time they had to prepare.

This follows a relentless record of delivery by Stephen Morgan that includes hosting pubic rallies, meetings in parliament, speaking in debates, writing to the Shadow Minister responsible urging robust manifesto pledges and grilling government ministers over the inequality.

The 2017 Election winner said:

“1950’s women were the people who rebuilt Britain. Millions have been neglected and betrayed by Lib Dem and Tory Government’s and had their retirement plans taken away from them after decades of giving to this nation.

I have had the privilege of standing shoulder to shoulder with these grassroots activists since 2016. From speaking out on in parliament as Portsmouth South’s MP to hosting large-scale public rallies, we have been working hard to hold government to account.

Labour’s promise to go further than any other party to address this vast injustice committed against WASPI women demonstrates yet again that they are the party of social justice and equality.”

Labour’s WASPI pledge is a full weekly redress payment of £100, the average compensation would be £15,400, paid in instalments over five years. Labour will compensate women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1955 by £100 for each “lost week” of their pension, and a tapered compensation rate for those born after 5 April 1955. Individual total redress payments would vary between nil and £31,400, with an average of £15,379.

Stephen Morgan said:

“I met with WASPI women just last week and justice for their movement will always remain a high priority.

Labour’s pledge combined with my record of delivery on this matter means that anyone who feels the need to see the WASPI matter redressed must vote for Labour on the 12 December.”