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Urgent action is needed to protect nurseries and childminders says Portsmouth MP

Responding to a survey by the Early Years Alliance revealing that one in six nurseries may not survive the winter due to continued impact of Covid-19, Stephen Morgan MP has said ‘government must take urgent action to protect nurseries and childminders’

The survey has revealed that now is a critical moment for the early years sector. With demand for places still significantly below what would typically be expected, and no sign of things returning to normal any time soon, many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are reaching the point of no return.

On the findings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Today we learn that the collapse of this important sector is imminent in many parts of the country at a time when families enter the toughest winter for a generation. As ever, this will hit the most deprived communities hardest.

Urgent action is needed by the government to save the nurseries and childminders that working parents and children rely on, including those here in Portsmouth.

It is now or never to save the childcare sector, and it has to be now for the sake of our city’s economy.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said:

“Our survey shows that it is those early years settings providing vital care and education to families in the most deprived areas – who are already bearing the brunt of the impact of the pandemic – that are most at risk.

There is absolutely no excuse for the government’s continued indifference towards the early years sector. It claims that children’s access to education during the pandemic is a top priority, and yet it is apparently perfectly happy to see thousands of early education providers fall by the wayside.

It argues that safeguarding the economy is critical to the country’s recovery, but chooses to ignore the fact that there can be no recovery without a functioning early years sector providing the quality care that parents and families need”. 

Quality early years provision is a central part of our social infrastructure. Labour agrees that it is not too late for the government to show that it recognises the value of the sector – both to the young children who benefit from quality early education, and the parents, and particularly mothers, who benefit from accessible care.

The Portsmouth South MP has vowed to continue to lobby for investment in the sector to safeguard the many thousands of providers in desperate need of support.

 

 

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UK Parliament Week 2020 to be celebrated across Portsmouth South

Stephen Morgan MP is inviting everyone in Portsmouth to get involved in UK Parliament Week and join a UK-wide conversation about our democracy, people power and making change happen.  

UK Parliament Week is an annual festival taking place from 1-7 November, that engages people from across the UK with their UK Parliament, explores what it means to them and empowers them to get involved.

This year marks ten years of UK Parliament Week. It is a great opportunity to be part of a thriving democracy and look ahead to the next 10 years, thinking about what issues are important to you and how you can work with UK Parliament to bring about change.

Community groups, local organisations and schools representing every constituency across the United Kingdom have already signed up to be part of the conversation.

The Portsmouth South MP has written to all schools in the constituency and is hosting a ‘Q&A with your MP’ for young people on Friday 6 November to round off the week of activities.

Promoting the week, Stephen Morgan MP said:   

As MP for my home city, I welcome the involvement of people in Portsmouth during UK Parliament Week 2020.  

I am especially determined to ensure that our voters and citizens of tomorrow understand how vital their participation is in our democracy, and I’m excited to see so many organisations and local groups taking part.” 

Last year, over 1.2 million people took part in UK Parliament week in every nation and region of the UK, alongside countries all over the world.

David Clark, Head of Education and Engagement at UK Parliament, said:

There are many exciting activities taking place for this year’s UK Parliament Week, including those happening inPortsmouth South

Organisations, local community groupsand schoolsacross Portsmouth havea chance to get empowered and have their say on issues they care about the most. Change starts with you and UK ParliamentWeekis a great way tolearn how you can make a difference.” 

 

 

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Stephen Morgan votes to end holiday hunger whilst neighbouring MPs vote against

Responding to the Government voting down Labour’s motion in the House of Commons to extend free school meals during holidays for children in need, Stephen Morgan MP has called for Tory MPs to ‘reflect again’ after they voted against the measure to support the most vulnerable in society, unlike the city MP who voted in support of the plan.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“For me, politics is about making sure people have a roof over their head, families have food on the table and that they know support for their children is there when they need it.
Yesterday, those who voted with the government, denied families and their children of that. Here in Portsmouth, that’s over seven thousand children, and rising.
I will continue to hold the government to account on this, but I really urge other MPs in our region who voted otherwise to seriously reflect again on what the most vulnerable in our communities need”.
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Stephen Morgan MP backs national campaign ‘Love our Colleges’ week

Stephen Morgan MP has backed national campaign ‘Love our Colleges’ and has urged the people of Portsmouth to recognise and celebrate the value that they bring to education and the wider community.

Colleges Week 2020 is the third colleges week celebration since the launch of the #LoveOurColleges campaign in 2018.

Association of Colleges (AoC) represents nearly 93% of the 2381 further education and sixth form colleges in England, and according to Ofsted, 82% of colleges across the country have been graded as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ (August 2019).

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“I’m delighted to be backing this campaign and I urge all of the people of Portsmouth to both recognise and celebrate the tremendous value our colleges bring.

In the fallout of the coronavirus crisis, people equipped with the skills acquired from attending our colleges will be of critical importance to our economic recovery.

I want to thank all the teachers and additional support staff for their work in supporting our local students.”

Mr Morgan has been a vocal supporter of the work and value that colleges bring to the City of Portsmouth, and this month met with UTC Portsmouth (specialising in engineering) and Portsmouth College last month, to find out more about their recent work and the challenges they are facing.

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City MP calls on the Government to fund free school meals throughout the holiday

Stephen Morgan MP has called on the government to extend free school meals in the school holidays, including the upcoming October half term and Christmas, as part of a Labour campaign to ensure that no child goes hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour had previously given Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak 72 hours to change their position and provide this support. With the deadline expired, the Party is forcing a Commons vote on the issue.

In Portsmouth alone over 6,500 children are at risk of going hungry over the holidays as the government withdraws support for the provision of free school meals.

The October half term comes as millions of families face a furlough cliff-edge that could see jobs across the country at risk, at the same time as millions of families face tighter restrictions.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Millions of families face the prospect of losing their livelihoods because the government has lost control of the virus.

It’s sink-or-swim plans for support could leave more than one million children at risk of going hungry over the school holidays, including many here in Portsmouth.

Now is the time to act. I have taken a range of actions on this and will continue to hold the government to account on this issue.”

 

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City MP backs ‘Walk to School Week’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed national campaign ‘Walk to School Week’, organised by UK charity Living Streets. 

The campaign aims to encourage families to try healthier and greener ways to travel to school. Starting today, school children across the UK will be taking part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school with other students and parents.

According to the charity, 70 per cent of children walked to school a generation ago, now it is less than half.

The government has set a target in its Cycling to Walking Investment Strategy to get 55% of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025, to tackle this issue.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“I’m delighted to support this fantastic initiative to encourage children and parents to take part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school, and I urge our local schools to take part in this too.”

Many of us have spent more time indoors recently, so I’m really proud to support this campaign that offers both a greener option, and a way for both students and parents to get the fresh air and exercise they need to support their mental wellbeing through this difficult period.”

The Chief Executive of Living Streets, Mary Creagh, added,

“Walking to school is a fun and easy way for to get active. We need safer streets so more families have confidence to walk to school.”

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City MP marks first generation’s access to Child Benefit Fund and demands Government continues access for every young person

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to continue access for young people to the Child Benefit Fund (CTF), as people turning 18 today will for the first time be able to access their Child Trust Fund accounts.

The innovative government-funded savings scheme was introduced by the last Labour Government but was abolished by the current government in 2011.

The scheme was introduced with the aim that every young person had access to savings which could then be used to build on for later in life, such as: putting down a deposit on a flat, buying a car, starting a business or whatever else they chose. 

Before its abolishment, the Labour Government invested at least £250 in a fund that only the beneficiary can access, and only when they turn 18.  The money went into an account their parents could open with a financial services provider, using a voucher sent out by the government – and for children whose parents didn’t use their voucher, the Government set up an account for them.

Parents and others could pay more money into the account too, subject to an annual cap. Children with disabilities were entitled to extra annual payments into their Trust Fund from the Government, because of the extra needs young adults with disabilities face.

Around 55,000 children every month will come of age and benefit from the scheme, from now until January 2029, but only if they know about the scheme and know where their account is.

Stephen Morgan MP commented:

“Child Trust Funds were an innovative and bold policy introduced by the last Labour government to ensure every child could have the best possible start to their adult life.

This scheme will prove incredibly vital for young people both across Portsmouth and the country over the next decade, and the government must now continue to keep this in place as we navigate our way through the economic recovery, to ensure a generation is not left behind.”

According to HMRC, around 6 million children hold a CTF with an estimated value of ‘over £7.4 billion’ in 2015-16. Meanwhile consumer group Which? has estimated that this could apply to as many as 3 million children and young people for accounts containing as much as £2.5 billion.

However, with the scheme effectively dormant for the best part of a decade, many children (and their parents) may be either unaware that their account exists, unsure how to access their account, or have lost the details of their account.

Mr Morgan added:

“We know this is an incredibly difficult period for both young people and their families, so schemes like CTF are a real lifeline for young people both now and in the long-term, with many setting off to university later this month.

It’s why it incredibly important the government provides all the support and guidance it can for young people who are eligible for the scheme, as many will understandably be unaware of this vital initiative.”

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs children’s road safety campaign

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has backed the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ (APIL) ‘Injury Prevention Week’ campaign, encouraging parents to discuss the importance of road safety with their children.

APIL, the not-for-profit campaign group, has underlined the importance of road safety for children as they prepare to head back to school next month.

According to a YouGov survey, two-thirds of parents do not think their children have a good understanding of the dangers on our roads, while one in eight are very concerned about their children’s safety when navigating our roads.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“As many young students and families in Portsmouth prepare to head back to school next month, it’s vital we ensure children are fully aware of the dangers of the roads and have a good understanding of the highway code.

“Neither parent nor child should be concerned about a young student’s journey to school, and any initiative to help make it that much safer I fully endorse. It is why I am proud to support APIL’s campaign on this important issue.”

Children aged fifteen and under account for around a quarter of pedestrian injuries and deaths in the UK (according to APIL), whilst similar pedestrian traffic collisions for the same age group amount to a fifth in Portsmouth South.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“In the past few years, there have been too many avoidable pedestrian traffic collisions in our city involving young people, and I am committed to doing all I can to ensure this does not continue to happen.

It’s been a particularly difficult period for both students and parents over the last few months, and I’m keen that the last thing children and parents alike are worrying about is a young student’s ability to travel to and from school safely.”

 

 

 

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City MP reacts to biggest employment drop since 2009: ‘Government must do more for young and self-employed people’

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to provide better, targeted support for young and self-employed people in Portsmouth, in reaction to the latest UK employment figures showing its biggest fall in over a decade. The fall in employment was largely driven by young and self-employed people.

Official figures released this morning also showed the UK has now entered a technical recession, with the UK economy (April to June 2020) reaching a record fall of 20.4% – worse than any other country in Europe.

On today’s news Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“The government’s one size fits all approach is continuing to lead to job losses that simply should not be happening. The figures today outlining the biggest economic fall for any country in Europe confirms this.

“We are already experiencing the worst excess death rate in Europe. We’re now on track for the worst recession too. The government has got to do better, and I will be calling on the government for what its plans are to support the people of Portsmouth through this economic crisis.

“It must now realise the scale of this crisis and switch to a more flexible and focused approach to provide support to the people and sectors that need it most.”

The number of young people (aged 20-29) in the southern part of the City of Portsmouth is over 13% higher than the UK average, raising concerns about the local impact the coronavirus has had on younger people being able to keep their jobs.

The city MP added:

Over a quarter of the people in the south of our great city are aged 20-29, which gives me serious concerns that the government’s current approach to this job crisis is going to impact younger people in Portsmouth deeply unfairly, if it continues its single-minded approach.”

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in southern Portsmouth is also above the UK average, and the latest UK-wide figures have shown a 116.8% rise since March of this year.

“We also have an above UK average claimant count in the south of the city, which is why I am calling on the Government to adapt is financial support measures and ensure the coronavirus does not impact our fantastic city in any way that is unneeded.”

Stephen Morgan MP is continuing to lobby the Government on behalf of local residents who have fallen through the gaps of support, including calling on the Chancellor to take further action to support the self-employed and small businesses in the city.

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Portsmouth MP backs Southsea Dinosaur community project

This summer Aspex in Gunwharf Quays is celebrating ten years since Luna Park towered over Southsea Common.

As a response to the national lockdown caused by Covid-19, and to mark the tenth anniversary since the Ultrasaurus sculpture astounded thousands of visitors to Portsmouth, the art gallery has commissioned Heather and Ivan Morison to rebuild their 2010 artwork in Virtual Reality.

Aspex is also launching a crowdfunding campaign to ‘Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur’, raising public support for a permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed next year.

If successful the campaign will fund a permanent piece of public art which combines a bronze sculpture and integrated augmented reality archive.

Backing the community project, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Known affectionately by fellow Portsmouth residents as ‘The Southsea Dinosaur’ the sculpture was visited, photographed, climbed on and enjoyed by thousands of people until it unexpectedly burnt down in October 2010.

 I welcome Aspex’s latest venture with our city’s communities ten years on, from cake competitions, to the trail, to commissioning new work, this is a great way to connect Portsmouth residents with art during this challenging time for our communities”.

To find out more about fundraising for the permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed on Southsea Common next year visit the Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur page here.

As well as the crowdfunding initiative, Aspex have organised for fifty Ultrasaurus dinosaurs on posters and in windows of local businesses and organisations across the city, which can be spotted throughout August and shared on social media at #SouthseaDinosaur.