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‘Back local councils with proper funding to prevent the planned council tax rise’ urges Portsmouth MP  

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has called out the Government’s hike to council tax – a £1.9bn planned bombshell costing the average family £90 each.

Today in a major speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, Labour pointed out that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are hitting workers in their pockets by “permitting” councils and Mayors to increase council tax by up to 5% next year.

The government’s finance settlement assumes that councils will do this in how it calculates spending power will change. The settlement indicates that core spending on local services has the potential to increase by £2.2 billion in 2021/22, an increase of 4.5 per cent.

However, more than 85 per cent of the potential core funding increase next year is dependent on councils increasing council tax by up to 5 per cent next year.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Councils up and down our country, including our own here in Portsmouth, are facing the tough choice about whether to increase bills to bring in desperately needed funding to protect services.

“This comes at a time when we are acutely aware of the significant burden that could place on some households and many across our communities are struggling to make ends meet”.

Government proposals mean this would be a £2bn bombshell to households in England. For the average Band D property in England, where the average council tax for 2020-21 was £1,818, a 5% increase would be £91. 

Labour is calling on the Government to put families first during this latest lockdown by backing local councils with funding to prevent the planned council tax rise; stopping the planned cut to universal credit; extending the ban on evictions and repossessions; and giving key workers the pay rise they deserve.

On this, the city MP added:

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor should stand by their pledge to do whatever is necessary to help councils get their communities through the crisis by funding the shortfall that they are trying to pass onto families, rather than force councils to raise taxes. Otherwise we risk Portsmouth people paying more and getting less, yet again.

“This crisis has exposed the insecurity felt by many families over the last ten years. Insecurity of work, insecurity at home and insecurity of health.

“Government must now put families first during this lockdown, supporting parents and protecting household incomes and properly fund councils”.

 

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Help and support this Christmas

If you or your family is struggling and in need of support over Christmas, there is help at hand. You are not alone.

Help with food

Local food banks can provide emergency food parcels over Christmas and New Year. Foodbanks provide around three days food for your household if you can’t afford to buy food.

The Salvation Army on Albert Road is providing emergency food parcels from 24 Dec – 3rd Jan (including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) via phone request. Call: 023 9282 1164

You can find all Portsmouth food bank and community meal opening times over Christmas at: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/helpwithfood

Help with mental wellbeing

If you’re struggling to cope, feeling anxious, lonely or depressed, you’re not alone.

You can call the Samaritans free anytime, from any phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

Young people or parents and carers worried about a child’s wellbeing can also contact Childline via the website childline.org.uk or by calling 0800 1111. There is more advice, information and support at: portsmouth.gov.uk/mentalhealth

Help for vulnerable adults and children

You can contact the adult social care team on 023 9268 0810 or email ASCoppdAdmin@portsmouthcc.gov.uk. The out of hours contact number is 023 9268 0810.

You can contact the children’s social care and safeguarding team on 023 9283 9111 or 023 9268 8793 or email MASH@secure.portsmouthcc.gov.uk. The out of hours contact number is 0300 555 1373.

Help for victims of domestic abuse

Call Aurora New Dawn on 023 9421 6816. Get advice and information at stopdomesticabuse.uk or by calling 0330 016 5221 between 9.30am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

Help for rough sleepers

The Homeless Day Service is open every day, including Christmas Day, 8am-4pm.

Anyone who is sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough can access the service for breakfast, snacks, hot drinks and other services like laundry facilities. Call: 023 9288 2689 Visit: Yew House Ground Floor, Milton Road, PO3 6BA (next to Hope House)

Help if you’re unwell

If you need medical help, call the NHS on 111 or use NHS 111 online. Don’t just show up at the Emergency Department (Accident and Emergency) – use 111 first, and they’ll give you all the support you need. If it is a medical emergency, call 999.

Coronavirus testing

Local Test Centres in Portsmouth and the Regional Test Centre in Southampton will be open every day over the festive season. Find out the opening times at: portsmouth.gov.uk/christmas

To request a test call 119 or visit: gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Additional support – HIVE Portsmouth

If you are in need of additional support please visit the HIVE Portsmouth directory of services at: www.hiveportsmouth.org.uk/hive-directory

The HIVE Portsmouth helpline (023 9261 6709) will be closed between 4pm on 23 December and 9am on 28 December and between 4pm on 31 December and 9am on 4 January.

When the helpline is closed HIVE Portsmouth will continue to check social media messages and may refer you to other organisations that can offer you support.

Find HIVE Portsmouth via @HIVEPortsmouth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and send them a direct message.

This list has been provided with thanks by Portsmouth City Council’s communications team and is correct as at 22 December 2020

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City MP reaffirms commitment to local WASPI women ‘Not Going Away’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has reaffirmed his commitment to ensure justice for local WASPI women following a meeting with local campaigners.

Mr Morgan heard from some of the local activists from Solent WASPI on this issue about the particular challenges they have been facing during the pandemic, with many struggling due to a delay to their pension.

The WASPI movement campaigns against the way the state pension age was equalised. Prior to the pandemic, millions of 1950s women had been made worse off, some losing up to £47,000. Reports are suggesting that these women are now being disproportionately hit by the impacts of Covid-19.

Evidence also suggests that many 1950s women work in the gig economy. The sector least supported by government Covid-19 schemes. This, coupled with low incomes undermining eligibility for universal credit, is resulting in severe loss of earnings for WASPI women.

Stephen Morgan MP, said,

“It is truly heart-breaking to still be hearing similar stories at this stage of the pandemic as we were at the beginning, but the government has still done little to support these women.”

“The situation for many WASPI women is continuing to deteriorate and it is clear they have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. I want to reaffirm my commitment to securing justice for them and the ‘Not Going Away’ campaign.”

During the meeting, the local parliamentary representative committed to a range of actions, including penning letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey MP, and re-energising campaign efforts alongside Solent WASPI in early 2021.

The Portsmouth South MP, added,

“It is unacceptable that the government has still not provided additional support for our local WASPI women and I will be writing to the Minister to urge her to ensure they get what they need.

I will continue to do all I can working alongside Solent WASPI and their tireless efforts to end this injustice affecting over 9,000 women here in Portsmouth”.

Shelagh Simmons, Coordinator of the Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group, also said,

“We were delighted to meet with Stephen recently and update him on our campaign.  The Covid-19 crisis has badly hit women already suffering as a result of the poorly implemented State Pension age rises.  Some still forced to work have lost their jobs and it will be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to find further employment in an environment rife with ageism. 

“WASPI supports an equal State Pension age for men and women but this was done with little, or no, notice.  For a generation of women who have never had equality, and did not have the same opportunities as men to build up private pension provision, it has been devastating. 

“We’re not asking for special treatment but for fair treatment.  Solent WASPI and its Portsmouth members are extremely grateful to Stephen for steadfastly supporting our campaign for State Pension justice.  We very much look forward to continue working with him on this in 2021. We are ‘Not Going Away’.”

Earlier this year, Stephen Morgan MP took action on behalf of the WASPI to put pressure on the government in a bid to get the help they required.

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City MP criticises Government ‘pay more: get less’ approach to council funding

Stephen Morgan MP has today criticised the government for its funding settlement for local authorities which will mean city residents paying more, but getting less. He also said Portsmouth City Council has not been allocating enough resources for local  services and to continue Covid-19 support.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, announced the annual government funding settlement for local authorities in the House of Commons today.

In his statement the Minister announced that Council Tax bills will rise by 5% next year – twice the rate of inflation. The announcement also means extra Covid-19 related cots will not be fully funded, suggesting inevitable cuts to public services in the new year.

This year, many local authorities are having to use reserves to balance their budgets this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst concerns persist on whether the funding crisis faced by local authorities will undermine the recovery of town centre economies.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South reacted to the announcement, saying,

“Year after year the government has continued to expect our local council, like many others across the country, to pick up the bill where they fail to provide enough resources to run our community’s public services effectively.

“This year of all years, local councils desperately need the funding they need to ensure they can keep people safe and support business recoveries. The people of our city deserve far better and I will continue to push the government to ensure our council gets the support it needs.

“When so many are struggling, it cannot be right that Government is expecting Portsmouth people to pay more, but get less from our local council.”

Mr Morgan raised concerns on this in 2019 and has committed to push the government for further funding measures for Portsmouth.

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Stephen Morgan MP warns that childcare sector is at “risk of collapse without targeted Government support”

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the Government to target its financial support at nurseries, childminders and other childcare providers at risk of closure.

This follows action undertaken by the city MP in April that saw him write to the Chancellor outlining the pressures on the sector and demanding better coverage for the childcare sector in terms of the Job Retention Scheme.

The city MP has warned about the devastating impact that mass childcare closures would have on working parents, disadvantaged children and our economic recovery. In Portsmouth the number of childcare providers has reduced by 11 in the last five years, and research by the Early Years Alliance suggests that a quarter may not survive nationally. 

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Childcare providers were struggling before this crisis, with thousands closing every year, but without targeted government support the sector is at risk of collapse. The UK Government has consistently ignored the needs of nurseries, childminders and other early years providers in this crisis, and now a quarter fear they may be forced to close nationally with 11 in our community.

This would be devastating for Portsmouth families that rely on childcare, and it would be a huge setback for our economic recovery from Covid-19 which relies on parents being able to go back to work. It’s time the Government recognised the importance of childcare and early education for our economic recovery and brought forward a proper plan to save the early years sector.”

There are concerns that mass childcare closures and a reduction in the availability of vital early years education would hit hardest the poorest families and most disadvantaged children in our society. This in turn would be a huge setback for our economic recovery, which will be reliant on parents being able to get back to work rather than being forced to stay at home because there isn’t sufficient childcare available.

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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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Covid-19: Action update from Stephen Morgan MP

The Covid-19 emergency risks hitting our most vulnerable hardest. We all have a role to play in working to protect our community.

Today I have been taking action to see to it our older and more vulnerable community members are supported along with the voluntary sector that relentlessly puts others first.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Reached out to city schools – I have today contacted all headteachers in constituency schools offering a channel for them, governors, staff, and trade union representatives to share views and concerns to feed this into government planning. Tonight the education secretary has announced school closures for all those except key workers and vulnerable children.

 

  • Working to strengthen our city’s voluntary organisations – Panic buying has left some supermarket shelves bear with reports of vulnerable people crying in the aisles. A number of volunteers and local groups are working tirelessly to help people across the constituency and I will continue to link them with Portsmouth Hive. This paves the way for volunteers to access priority goods for vulnerable people.

 

  • Standing up for cultural assets – The Mary Rose museum is a cultural asset of international significance and one of Portsmouth’s most-cherished attractions. Covid-19 runs the risk of financially challenging a number of museums. Today I wrote to the Culture Secretary to urge a package of care for the Mary Rose and similar institutions.

 

  • Raising the need for tailored financial support for voluntary organisations – Voluntary organisations are stepping up amid to the Covid-19 crisis, from delivering food to vulnerable people to tackling social isolation. They are looking after our communities, but they need the tools to do that. Today I set out to the Chancellor what additional measures need to be taken to give voluntary organisations the financial tools they need to stay afloat.

 

  • Representing Portsmouth from the frontbenches – Democracy must continue despite the crisis. Today, as Shadow Communities Minister l joined colleagues to hold the government to account on their plans for social care. Local authorities are responsible for looking after some of society’s most vulnerable and they are under considerable strain already. Today I worked with others to raise this point to the Minister in the chamber.

 

  • Conducting constituent Covid-19 casework –This pandemic affects every aspect of daily life, for some more than others. My team and I are busy helping with casework inquiries as well as receiving a high volume of questions and issues. Today I spent time helping constituents access voluntary support and worked with the City Council to help resolve housing issues.

These are just some of the actions I have taken for our community today. I will continue to represent Portsmouth in parliament and be a voice for our community where it matters.

 

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Stephen Morgan MP addresses constituents in letter on Covid-19

Dear constituent

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as an infectious disease, is currently experiencing a global outbreak. We have all seen the media reports from China, Iran, and Italy, and many countries are now reporting cases. Here in the UK, the number of reported cases is rising every day.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu. But it is older people and those with pre-existing health conditions to whom the risks associated with contracting Coronavirus are greater.

Understandably concern is growing, including here in Portsmouth. There have been reports of people buying essential hygiene products such as hand sanitiser, soap, and toilet paper off the shelves. Panic is understandable in the face of the unknown.

The British Retail Consortium has advised against stockpiling, especially food items. They are working hard to ensure that supply chains are maintained during the Coronavirus outbreak, meaning that people have no need to worry about item shortages if stockpiling ceases.

Public Health England has said that the best way you can keep yourself, your loved ones and everyone else around you safe is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And of course, maintenance of good general hygiene is encouraged.

Whilst it’s unclear how things are going to develop over the coming weeks and months, or the impact it could have on our freedoms, our city’s economy or on our public services, I encourage calm. Many of us are going to be absolutely fine even under the Government’s worst-case scenario.

I would, however, urge that we take care of our city’s oldest and most vulnerable; something that’s not a bad habit to get into anyway. Official advice from the NHS can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

I want constituents in Portsmouth to be reassured that measures are being put in place to prevent the spread of the virus where possible. I will keep raising our views and concerns in Parliament and work hard so that the services we all rely on, have the resources they need to keep us safe.

 

Stephen Morgan MP

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City MP to take part in housing panel discussion

Stephen Morgan MP will take part in an open discussion, hosted by Portsmouth University, on the past, present and future of housing.

Joining social and design historians, the Shadow Communities Minister will discuss topics such as social housing and homeownership.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“There is a major shortage of over 100,000 homes in the UK. There are also around 8.5 million people who are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable housing.

Portsmouth is one of the most densely populated cities in the country meaning people in our community bear the brunt of the crisis.

This is an issue that affects people of all ages and demographics. It is essential that the reasons for the housing emergency are discussed so that solutions can be formulated.”

In Portsmouth over the past 5 years, more than 3000 households have made a homeless application, the number of rough sleepers was over 8 times greater in 2017 than it was in 2013 and there is a shortfall of over 3,500 affordable homes.

Mr Morgan said:

“Everyone has the right to a roof over their head and to live free from the worry of homelessness. Debate needs to take place in our communities about how to address the housing crisis.

I encourage Portsmouth people who want to see change in their community to come along and take part in this discussion.

This is a rare chance to hear from field experts and engage in meaningful debate. I urge residents not to miss the opportunity”.

The event is set to take place on Friday 6 March from 19:00 until 20:30 at Eldon Building University of Portsmouth, Winston Churchill Avenue Portsmouth.

This is an opportunity to join authors John Broughton, Professor Sugg Ryan and Stephen Morgan MP for a discussion on the past, present and future of housing.

John Broughton is a social housing historian who has documented the history of public housing through books, blogs and public talks. Professor Sugg Ryan is a design historian, author and media presenter specialising in the history of the home and domestic technology.

Ideal Homes: The past, present and future of housing can be reserved: here