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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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City MP backs Guide Dogs campaign on the use of e-scooters

Stephen Morgan MP has backed a campaign led by the Guide Dogs charity to raise awareness of the danger that unsafe e-scooter use poses for people with sight loss.

Portsmouth is currently one of the cities in England trialling an e-scooter rental scheme to help the government to determine whether they can be used legally more widely across the country. However, there has been a boom in sales of privately-owned e-scooters which are not legal to use on public roads – yet their use is widespread.

YouGov polling produced for the charity Guide Dogs showed that 92% of people who had seen an e-scooter in the past 6 months, had seen one driven on the pavement. E-scooters driven unsafely on the pavement cause problems for many pedestrians, but people with sight loss who cannot see an e-scooter approach are particularly at risk.

The Portsmouth MP has written to the Home Secretary on the issue after his constituents raised similar concerns, as well as requesting further detail on government plans to protect and regulate against the continued illegal use and sale of e-scooters for use in public spaces and roads.

Mr Morgan will also be meeting the local provider of the e-scooter scheme to raise matters with them too.

Stephen Morgan MP is supporting Guide Dogs’ call for a public information campaign to stop the illegal use of e-scooters.

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

“It is clear from conversations with constituents that e-scooters pose a risk to some vulnerable people.

“The government has got to come forward with a clear strategy on how it plans to better protect those most at risk to e-scooters, whether that’s through local rental schemes or illegal use of ones that are privately owned.

“That’s why I’m supporting the Guide Dogs’ campaign and will continue to keep pressure on government, in addition to the range of actions I have taken already on this important issue.”

Chris Theobald, Senior Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs, said:

“We have seen alarming reports of unsafe and anti-social behaviour, pedestrians injured in collisions, and illegal private e-scooter use increasing. 68% of guide dog owners have told us that e-scooters reduce their confidence to leave the house.

“It’s essential that pavements are kept clear and safe. That’s why we’re asking for better enforcement, controls on sales, and safety features if they are to be legalised.”

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Portsmouth MP says ‘urgent action’ needed to tackle a predicted rise in local waiting times for heart diagnosis and treatment

Stephen Morgan MP has met with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to discuss the need for urgent action to address the pandemic’s devastating impact on heart care.

A new report from the BHF has estimated that 725 people in Portsmouth could be waiting for life saving heart diagnosis and treatment two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – 44 per cent higher than the waiting list before the pandemic began (1).

The Portsmouth MP has heard that the BHF is calling for Government to take significant action to reduce the heart care backlog and build a stronger NHS for the future. The charity argues that this must include a clear plan for cardiovascular services and rapid and substantial long-term investment to build more capacity into NHS England and relieve pressure on exhausted health workers, as well as better support for heart patients while they wait for vital treatment.

The BHF warns that without this immediate intervention, alongside the necessary investment at the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, there is a risk that thousands more people could die from heart and circulatory diseases, despite the NHS going above and beyond during the pandemic.

At a recent meeting at Labour party conference, the city MP met with the BHF’s policy team to discuss the case for building a more resilient health system to save more lives from heart and circulatory diseases for years to come.

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

“It was eye-opening to speak with the BHF about the significant local disruption to vital heart care during the pandemic and what will be needed to urgently address this growing backlog.

“I agree that urgent action is needed to end the untold heartbreak now. A clear plan is vital to build capacity back into the health service and relieve the pressure on overstretched health workers in Portsmouth and across the country.

“I will continue to work with the BHF to ensure this is a priority for the Government and will be raising issues in the House of Commons on behalf of constituents”.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Every number on a waiting list is a loved one facing a potentially agonising wait for care that could save or improve their life.

“Vital heart tests and surgery can’t be put off – long delays lead to debilitating anxiety and put people’s lives at risk. The voices of people with heart and circulatory diseases must be heard as the Government considers the action needed to tackle both the mounting backlog in cardiovascular care and the pandemic’s wider impact on vital heart treatment.”

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‘A step in the right direction ‘– City MP reacts to new government strategy to record veteran suicides

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed the government’s recently announced strategy to record veteran suicides in England and Wales, labelling it as a ‘step in the right direction’.

The Portsmouth representative has campaigned for veteran suicide figures to be recorded for a number of years, including through securing a parliamentary debate on the issue, writing a string of letters to government ministers and submitting a range of parliamentary questions.

The city MP has also worked alongside local veterans’ charities, including ‘All Call Signs’, who have also been calling for a similar initiative to be brought forward.

For the first time, the new method will capture the numbers of ex-service personnel who take their lives and will be recorded officially by the government, following an agreement between the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), the MOD and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The data will be used to further understand where there is a need for dedicated services in England and Wales. The data will allow the government to ensure that these targeted services are signposted to veterans, where they are needed most.

It is expected that the first annual statistics will be published in 2023.

To better understand the lives lost prior to 2022, the government is also conducting a 10 year look back to examine veteran deaths through suicide. This research will be published in 2022.

It comes after the government included in its Armed Forces Bill, which the Portsmouth MP led the Official Opposition’s response to, that local authorities would have a ‘due regard’ to support veterans and armed forces communities.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It is welcome that after years of campaigning alongside Portsmouth veterans’ charities and others that this strategy has finally been announced.

“It is a step in the right direction to work towards providing targeted support for veterans’ families that need it most.

“However, given the widely expected toll the pandemic and multiple lockdowns will have had on veterans and their families, it is deeply disappointing to learn that annual figures will not be available until as late as 2023.

“Government inaction to bring this forward will have real impacts on service families, and had it been brought forward earlier, the support for those who most need it right now could have got it. Instead, they’ll have to wait because of government indecision.

“I will continue to take action and stand up for service families to ensure they get the support they both need and deserve.”

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City MP votes against government Bill to raise National Insurance as Labour offers alternative vision for Social Care

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against a government Bill that will raise National Insurance for local working families as Labour sets out its alternative vision for social care reforms.

The Health and Social Care Levy Bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons today before votes this evening, would raise National Insurance by 1.25% for working families and businesses across the country.

The government legislation is facing wide-ranging criticism for how the social care reforms will be funded, particularly for those on low income.

Under current proposals, a graduate on a typical entry level salary would a pay marginal tax rate of almost 50%.

In addition, The British Chamber of Commerce, Make UK, the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses have all slammed the government’s suggested solution to the social care crisis as harmful for businesses and for our economic recovery, with the FSB saying it will lead to 50,000 fewer jobs being created.

Labour has set an alternative plan, which would:

  • Give older and disabled people the chance to live the life they choose, shifting the focus of support towards prevention and early help.
  • Ensure every older and disabled person who needs care and support gets it when and where they need it, improving their lives and delivering better value for taxpayers’ money and;
  • Build a strong and skilled social care workforce, with a new deal for care workers to create a well-motivated, skilled and properly rewarded workforce, with more support for unpaid carers

The member of parliament of Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“When it comes to social care, for many, it’s personal. This is about services for our loved ones. Our friends. Our neighbours.

“For me, it was the lack of social care available for my grandad that was one of the key reasons I put myself forward for public office.

“The barriers to access affordable social care for people like him was unacceptable then, and it’s unacceptable now.

“That’s why I voted against these deeply regressive proposals today and will continue to fight on behalf of local people for the better access to the vital services they need.”

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City MP votes against rise in National Insurance from working families

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has voted against Conservative moves to raise National Insurance by 1.25% for working families and businesses, slamming the government for “placing an enormous burden on hard working people”.

The party have strongly opposed the unfair jobs tax saying that it is the biggest rise in taxes on families for over 50 years, and the third tax rise in recent months from the Conservatives, following rises in council tax and personal allowances – and they slammed the fact the jobs tax still doesn’t prevent people having to sell their home to receive care.

Mr Morgan made it clear that under a Labour government, the wealthiest would be asked to contribute more, that any changes should be fair across generations, and that all forms of income are considered – including those with large portfolios of shares, dividends and property.

He also made it clear that, unlike the Tories, Labour would deal with both cash and care by:

  • Giving older and disabled people the chance to live the life they choose, shifting the focus of support towards prevention and early help.
  • A guiding principle of ‘home first’ – because that’s what the overwhelming majority of people want; and
  • Building a strong and skilled social care workforce, with a new deal for care workers to create a well-motivated, skilled and properly rewarded workforce, with more support for unpaid carers.

Since being elected, the local MP has made social care a priority. In May he wrote to the Prime Minister to demand Boris Johnson set out his long-awaited plan. He has since set-up a City-wide survey and is hosting round tables with service providers and care users this week to determine what practical actions can be taken immediately to improve local services.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This manifesto-breaking, unfair tax on jobs is not the way to fix the social care crisis,

“This is a tax rise that means a landlord renting out dozens of properties in Portsmouth wouldn’t pay a penny more, but their tenants working full time jobs would.

“It’s a tax rise that means a poorly paid care worker in our City will pay more tax for the care they are providing without a penny more in their pay packet.

“Labour wants to tackle the social care crisis – we’ve started to set out our ambitious plans and offered to work with government to fix this now – but the lack of any real plan and taxing working families and businesses is just not the way to do it.”

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Reactive statement to social care reform proposals – Stephen Morgan MP

Responding to the government’s announcement on funding for social care today, the member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The social care system is in crisis, but the government’s manifesto breaking proposals to fund its reforms would hit working people hardest, particularly low earners, young people and businesses still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

“The fairest way to pay for social care is through progressive taxation, not a rise to national insurance that is not only morally backward, but economically too.

“I have written to the Prime Minister, launched a city-wide survey and hosted a local meeting with the Shadow Minister responsible on this issue. I am also currently holding roundtable meetings with care providers and service users and I will continue to ensure the government produces the comprehensive response this crisis demands.

“Portsmouth and the wider country have for too long needed a clear and long-term plan that is serious about fixing the social care crisis quickly, not one that kicks the can down the road.”

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Portsmouth Labour launch survey amid social care crisis

Portsmouth Labour Party has launched an online survey for local residents to provide their views on the mounting social care crisis.

Results from the short questionnaire will inform a dossier of evidence Stephen Morgan MP and the local party is preparing to lobby the Health Secretary for change.

It comes following reports that Ministers are considering a rise in national insurance to pay for an overhaul of the UK’s social care system. This would be a direct breach of the 2019 Tory election manifesto promise not to raise taxes.

According to Portsmouth Pensioners Association, £160m has been removed from the Adult Social Care budget in Portsmouth since 2015.

Over the last two years, 1,500 people in Portsmouth in the medium to lower needs group have had their social care removed to make budget savings.

The survey is the latest in a string of actions the City MP has taken locally and in Parliament.

Mr Morgan has long campaigned for Government to tackle the crisis in social care and has been sharing the concerns of his constituents, including Portsmouth Pensioners Association with Ministers.

Portsmouth Labour has also been taking action on the city council to ensure care users get the support they need.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The pandemic has brutally exposed the crisis in our social care system. The virus quickly took hold of an ill-equipped, underfunded and poorly coordinated sector, creating searing inequality for carers and devastating effects on individuals and families.

“It has been more than two years since the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and claimed he had a solution, but as ever with this government it is big on promises, low on delivery.

“I’m proud to launch this survey alongside Cllr Kirsty Mellor and look forward to working across the community to find the right solutions to one of the greatest challenges facing our society.”

Cllr Kirsty Mellor, Portsmouth Labour’s social care spokesperson added:

“While we welcome the recognition from the government that significantly more resources are needed to relieve the social care crisis, it is disappointing to see that announcement of any details have yet again been delayed! We’re campaigning locally to identify what actions can be taken by the council to respond to the urgency of the situation.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes latest findings ‘vindicating’ local WASPI Women

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed the latest revelations on the WASPI Women’s route to justice, after an investigation found ‘failings’ in the way the government communicated changes to women’s State Pension age.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which is conducting the investigation, stated that it has received a “significant number” of complaints as to the way that the 1995 Pensions Act change, which meant women could no longer claim their state pension at 60, was communicated by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), with many experiencing “significant” financial loss and emotional distress as a result.

PHSO stated that the DWP had failed to take adequate account of the need for targeted and individually tailored information or of how likely it was doing the same thing would achieve different results.

It also found that DWP failed to make a “reasonable decision” about next steps in August 2005 and failed to use feedback to improve service design and delivery, highlighting this as “maladministration”.

There are reportedly 4,300 women living in Portsmouth South and born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1960 who were affected by Pensions Act 1995 (which first provided for the women’s State Pension age to increase from 60 from April 2010 onwards).

It comes after the Portsmouth representative recently hosted a meeting with the local Solent WASPI group and the Shadow Minister responsible for issues relating to WASPI Women, Matt Rodda MP.

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

“This is the first step to continue the fight for fair treatment for state pension arrangements for 1950s women and I welcome the latest findings of the PHSO’s report, but there is more to do.

“I know that many in Portsmouth will feel vindicated by this, but I will keep working on behalf of Solent WASPI campaigners and others and lobby Government until justice is secured.

“We are not going away.”

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Portsmouth MP calls for ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy to be ‘urgently abolished’  

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy to be ‘urgently abolished’.

It comes following the recent Queen’s Speech when the Government formally announced its plans to introduce mandatory Voter ID at the next election.

This policy would require voters to present photo ID to vote at polling stations in future elections.

Labour have called on the Conservatives to urgently rethink the policy, raising concerns that the policy will reverse decades of democratic progress and threaten to bar millions of people from exercising their democratic right to vote.

Since this policy was first announced in December 2016, the Government has received multiple warnings from charities, civil society figures and campaign groups that mandatory voter ID – if rolled out nationally – could pull up the drawbridge for millions of voters.

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

“Voter ID is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. The policy is set to cost millions of pounds at every election. 

“Voting is safe and secure in Britain. Ministers should be promoting confidence in our elections instead of spreading baseless scare stories which threaten our democracy.

“Millions of people lack photo ID in this country – in particular the elderly, low income and Black, Asian and ethnic minority voters. The Conservatives are reversing decades of democratic progress and urgently need to rethink this pointless policy.

“I will continue to work on behalf of the people of Portsmouth to ensure this damaging piece of legislation is not implemented.”