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Portsmouth MP urges young people to vote early to ‘ensure their voices are heard’

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the young people of Portsmouth to vote early to make sure they have their say in the forthcoming local elections on Thursday 6 May.

It comes as new analysis from Labour has shown that less than 10 percent of young people have registered for a postal vote, compared to more than a quarter of those over 65, with four days to left until the deadline to register to vote by post in England.

With less than half of 18-25-year-olds voting at the 2019 General Election, turnout among young people is expected to be historically low at the May elections amid the pandemic.

Mr Morgan has said that young people must be at the heart of Britain’s recovery from this crisis, with successive Conservative governments weakening Britain’s foundations and robbing too many young people of the opportunities they deserve.

Labour warns that Government inaction on postal voting threatens UK democracy and public health and is calling for councils to receive dedicated Government support for postal vote sign up efforts ahead of the deadline for postal vote registration in England on 20 April.

With those aged 18 and older due to be vaccinated by 31 July in England, many young people are unlikely to be vaccinated by election day.

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

“After the devastating year they’ve had, young people must have their voices heard in this election.

“Young people have played a central role in our city’s response to this crisis, with many volunteering to support the most vulnerable in our community and fighting as key workers on the front line to protect our families. The Tories continue to treat young people as an afterthought in this crisis – these are they key workers of the future.

“Young people are not expected to be vaccinated ahead of the May polls, which makes postal vote sign-up critical. “

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‘Government levelling up agenda failing’ says local MP as pupils in class sizes over 30 continue to rise

Stephen Morgan MP has said the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is failing as new analysis reveals that one in thirteen pupils in Portsmouth are in class sizes over 30.

The new analysis from Labour has shown that since 2010, the number of pupils in classes over 30 in Portsmouth has increased by 233.

This picture is reflected nationally, with Labour analysis of House of Commons data, showing that since 2010:

  • The number of secondary pupils in classes of 31 or more has risen from one in ten to almost one in seven pupils
  • The number of primary pupils in classes of 31 or more has risen from one in nine to one in eight pupils

In Portsmouth, disadvantaged pupils are falling behind their peers in their learning and development, with those in early years five months behind, primary students over ten months behind and secondary students nearly two years behind (23.6 months).

To tackle these inequalities, Labour has launched a new ‘Bright Future Taskforce’ to deliver a long-term strategy for children’s recovery and ensure every child has the chance to fulfil their potential.

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

“Over the last decade the Conservatives have made the wrong choices for children in Portsmouth, overseeing an increase in class sizes and failing to tackle the gap in learning which is holding children back. 

“Labour has launched our Bright Future Taskforce to tackle the damage done by these policies ensuring every child can recover from the pandemic and achieve their potential.”

Upon many students in Portsmouth returning to school last week, Mr Morgan joined Labour’s call for breakfast clubs to recover lost learning as students return.

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Local MP calls for breakfast clubs to recover lost learning as students return

Stephen Morgan MP has joined the Official Opposition’s call for the introduction of catch-up breakfast clubs to help kids in Portsmouth recover lost time with friends and teachers during the pandemic.

The Portsmouth MP is lobbying the Education Secretary in support of the suggested measures to address the disruption to learning and social development of students caused by the pandemic and the latest period of lockdown.

Analysis from Labour shows that children have each lost an average of 109 face-to-face school days. Despite this, there was no mention of children in last week’s Budget and Ministers’ single-year catch-up plan amounts to just 43p a day per child over the next school year.

Labour argues introducing a universal offer for catch-up breakfast clubs would ensure children in Portsmouth receive a healthy breakfast before school, have extra time to socialise and give schools time to provide targeted tuition or catch up support.

The latest action by the Portsmouth South MP follows the launch of Labour’s new ‘Bright Future Taskforce’, which will deliver a long-term strategy for children’s recovery and ensure every child has the chance to fulfil their potential.

In Portsmouth, disadvantaged pupils are falling behind their peers in their learning and development, with those in early years five months behind, primary students over ten months behind and secondary students nearly two years behind (23.6 months).

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

‘’Children in Portsmouth have often been an afterthought for this government; forgotten during in midst of the pandemic, but now also being forgotten in the recovery too.

“Throughout this crisis I have been calling on the government to help address the digital divide and support local disadvantaged children. It is clear this divide has sadly only got wider during this pandemic.

“Introducing universal breakfast clubs would ensure children get a healthy breakfast, which we know is central to children’s ability to learn and enable children to make up for the time lost with their friends and teachers.’’

Mr Morgan has been engaging with parents and school staff throughout the pandemic to hear issues and concerns and take them back to Westminster.

He wrote to the Education Secretary back in January to provide assurances on early years funding when many faced financial uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

 

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Budget 2021: City MP accuses government of ‘failing to deliver levelling up agenda’

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for failing to deliver for Portsmouth in the government’s annual budget announced earlier today.

The Portsmouth MP has accused the government of failing to deliver for the city over a number of years, as well as do enough to support and protect it during the COVID-19 crisis.

The budget includes:

  • An extension to the furlough scheme until the end of September, despite the Official Opposition’s and Mr Morgan’s calls to do this months ago, when in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.
  • A demand for local families to pay for gaps in council budgets, rather than fulfilling the Chancellor’s prior pledge to back them, which could amount to as much as £89 extra on annual household council tax bills for the average Band D home in Portsmouth.
  • A freeze to some key workers’ pay, including at least 13,900 key workers in Portsmouth – the teachers, police officers and Armed Forces personnel on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

It comes as earlier this week Mr Morgan called for a ‘Jobs Promise’ for young people in Portsmouth, with the number of people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support more than doubling in the last year, rising from 780 at the start of 2020 to now 1830 (an increase of 135%), according to the latest figures.

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

“This budget fails to deliver for Portsmouth and the government’s own ‘levelling-up agenda. It barely mentioned inequality, let alone tried to address it. This is not levelling up, but giving up.

“It fails our families, young people, key workers and those left ignored by the government both during this and successive Tory governments.

From the local cabbie on our high street, to the NHS nurse at our own QA Hospital, they did not get what they needed today.

“I promise to do all I can to ensure Portsmouth gets the support it needs to recover from this crisis, and what it deserves, to become the future city we all know it can be.”

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Budget 2021: City MP calls for ‘jobs promise’ as out of work support for under 25s more than doubles in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has called for a ‘jobs promise’ for young people in Portsmouth after new figures show that, without immediate action to secure the economy, the crisis threatens to create a lost generation of young people scarred by the effects of long-term unemployment.

In Portsmouth alone, the number of people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rocketing from 780 at the start of 2020 to now 1830 (an increase of 135%), according to the latest figures.

It comes as the Official Opposition has outlined its plans for a ‘Jobs Promise’ that any young person away from work for six months will be offered a quality education, training, or employment opportunity.

Under the plans, Labour will also support job creation across the country including 400,000 green jobs, filling the 127,000 vacancies currently in health and social care and 43,000 vacancies in education through improved training offers.

Labour continues to challenge the Government on a range of its job schemes. Currently 300 young people are losing their jobs every day – but the Government’s flagship Kickstart scheme has created just 2,000 jobs in six months.

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

“For too long young people in Portsmouth have been let down and left forgotten by this government. The Chancellor talks about ‘levelling up’, but it is clear these issues have only been exacerbated by this crisis with his Kickstart scheme clearly too slow and not matching the scale of challenge many young people in Portsmouth face.

“Labour’s Jobs Promise would deliver the urgent action needed to prevent a lost generation and to build a secure economy that spreads prosperity across the country. 

“Successive Conservative governments have weakened Britain’s foundations and robbed too many people of the opportunity to achieve their potential. Going back to business as usual is not an option for our city on the road to recovery from this pandemic.”

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City MP hosts event with Shadow Minister to tackle ‘mental health crisis’ triggered by the pandemic

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan will host a mental health discussion event with Labour’s Shadow Minister for mental health Rosena Allin-Khan MP this week.

The online event, which is open to all, will discuss the impact of the pandemic on mental health and the ongoing need for mental health conditions to be treated on a par with physical health.

The Centre for Mental Health in England has predicted that 10 million people – almost a fifth of the population – will need mental health support as a direct consequence of Covid-19, with 1.5 million of those expected to be under-18s.

Portsmouth City Council estimates that almost 53,000 people experience a mental problem each year, with half of all adult mental health problems present by the time the person is 14 years old.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“With millions of us staying at home, isolated from friends and family, Coronavirus has been a mental health crisis too.

“We know that patients, carers and staff have been heavily affected, with the impact being particularly acute among young people.

“As an A&E Doctor herself, Rosena knows only too well the challenges we face on the frontline. She will be setting out Labour’s vision on mental health and how we can improve care following the pandemic.”

The online event with Shadow Minister for Mental Health Rosena Allin-Khan will take place on Thursday 25 February 2021, 7-8pm. Full details and registration can be found at: https://events.labour.org.uk/event/326967

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs National Apprenticeship Week 2021

Stephen Morgan MP has offered his support for National Apprenticeship Week, recognising the contribution made by apprentices and their employers in Portsmouth.

Apprenticeships provide people with the chance to learn a trade and earn a wage whilst they progress, with the Official Opposition arguing investing in training opportunities will be central to rebuilding our economy after the pandemic.

However, there continues to be a downward trend in apprentice numbers, with figures showing the number of apprenticeships in Portsmouth has fallen by nearly 50% since 2015/16.

In July, the Government announced a cash incentive of either £2,000 or £1,500 for employers to take on a new apprentice. The ‘Plan for Jobs’ budgeted for 100,000 incentive payments, but new data shows just 18,670 apprentices had been taken on under the scheme by 8 January 2021 which runs to March 2021.

Labour is calling upon the Government to act now to create more apprenticeship opportunities by creating a wage subsidy from the underspend in the apprenticeships levy.

Backed by the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP), this would create 85,000 new apprenticeships for 16-24-year olds this year.

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

“I’m pleased to back National Apprenticeship Week, recognising the enormous contribution made by apprentices to our economy and wider society.

“The Government is failing to create the opportunities young people in Portsmouth need. I am calling on the Government to adopt Labour’s wage subsidy policy to boost opportunities for young people as we rebuild our country.”

Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong learning, Toby Perkins MP, said:

“Young people are being let down by the Government’s irresponsible handling of this crisis which has led to soaring unemployment rates and the worst recession of any major economy.

“The Government should adopt Labour’s proposal for a structured wage subsidy instead of their failing cash incentives and create the apprenticeship opportunities young people need to gain productive skills and long-term employment.”

Mr Morgan previously criticised the Chancellor for the government’s failure on apprentice numbers post-spending review and will now be looking to see how he may address the growing problem in his forthcoming budget.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP demands answers from Education Secretary on childcare funding

Stephen Morgan MP pushed the Education Ministerial team in the House of Commons today to take action on funding for early years and childcare providers across the country.

 

It comes as many early years providers in the UK face financial uncertainty at the moment due to national Covid-19 restrictions, with the local MP writing last week to over 40 early years and childcare providers across his constituency.

 

The parliamentary representative wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP at the beginning of the month outlining his priorities for local education in Portsmouth, including his concerns about the financial pressures nurseries are currently facing.

 

According to a recent report from Coram, 58 per cent of local authorities think that local childcare providers may close for good, leading to calls for immediate investment and clarity about future funding arrangements.

 

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

 

“Nurseries are not just crucial for families; they are a vital part of our economy.

 

“The government urgently needs to set out its strategy for early years providers, as well as provide certainty on future funding.

 

“Without this, Government risks losing essential childcare places in less well-off communities as a result of the pandemic and damages the prospects of our economic recovery.

 

“Last week I wrote to over 40 local nurseries, early years and childcare providers to hear their views and ideas. This week I am putting my words into action by raising their concerns in Parliament. I will continue to push the government to act on this important sector for our community.”

Mr Morgan has submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on this issue. He is committed to continuing to liaise with the range of local childcare providers to understand and speak up for the sector.

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP calls on the Government to support families during lockdown

Today, Stephen Morgan MP, has demanded the government give families the support they need while schools and colleges are closed to most pupils.

This follows news that the government will not be providing Free School Meals funding during February half-term, leaving 6,580 children in Portsmouth at risk of going hungry.

Labour is calling on the government to guarantee that all eligible children receive the full value of free school meals during this school year, including during all holidays.

To enable this, the government should set-up cash payments so parents can choose the spend the £15 free school meal funding on the food and supplies that are right for their children.

Children’s education is being further put at risk by the government’s failure to provide the laptops and digital access needed for remote learning. Two weeks into lockdown, 97,800 of the government’s promised laptops still have not been delivered to children across the south east.

Labour will call a vote in Parliament on Monday to ask the government to guarantee that all eligible children are getting the full value of free school meals support, including during school holidays, and have the digital access they need to learn remotely.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“The government has had no plan to support children’s education, wellbeing or futures during this pandemic.

“Cutting free school meals support and leaving children without the equipment to learn remotely in our city is simply unacceptable.

 “I will not stand by and let families be the victims of the government’s incompetence. Boris Johnson and his MPs must now do the right thing and vote to support Labour’s proposals on Monday.”

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Revealed: The striking similarities between shameful meal parcels and Government guidance

Labour today reveals that the Government’s own guidance on what should be in food parcels is strikingly similar to images circulating on social media in recent days – with less than a 50p daily difference.

It comes as Stephen Morgan MP has stepped up pressure for the Government to ensure families are getting the full value of Free School Meals support here in Portsmouth.

Ministers have described images circulating in recent days as “completely unacceptable.” The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, told the Education Select Committee that “it will not be tolerated we will not live with that.” But research from Labour suggests that the packages aren’t as far removed from Government guidance as ministers are suggesting.

Guidance written by the Department for Education and pointed to from gov.uk suggests “general principles for putting together” parcels. And the similarities between them and the images circulating are striking.

The key items missing are two ‘tins of meat’, a litre of milk and a tin of sweetcorn. A leading UK supermarket prices this at about 47p of food a day. This doesn’t include items that are not in the guidance but in the picture, such as Soreen and pasta.

Widely shared image on social media Government guidance
1 x loaf of bread 1 x loaf of bread
2 x potatoes 2 x potatoes
1 x tomato 3 x tomatoes
5 x portions of fruit 5 x portions of fruit
? x cheese portions 3 x cheese portions
1 x tin of baked beans 1 x tin of baked beans
3 x yoghurts 3 x individual serving yoghurt pots
1 x bag of pasta 1 x cucumber
2 x packets Soreen 1 x tin sweetcorn
2 x carrots 1 x bottle milk
2 x tin of meat

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

“The images that have been circulating on social media are shameful and have shocked many constituents.

“But these revelations about the Government’s own guidance as we have learnt today means that ministers’ newfound concern rings hollow. A couple of tins and a bottle of milk isn’t the difference between acceptable or unacceptable.

“I will continue to put pressure on Government to act. Many in our city were already struggling to make ends meet before this pandemic. This crisis has made life for them even harder. Portsmouth families deserve better from Ministers”.

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, added:

“The Government’s response has yet again been far too slow, with national food vouchers only becoming available from next week – two weeks after schools moved to remote learning.

“Children are going hungry now – this cannot wait.”