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City MP responds to Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement today of a roadmap for the easing of Coronavirus restrictions, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“After a long and difficult winter, our city will breathe a sigh of relief that there is now a clear route to easing current restrictions.

“Children learn best in the classroom, so the confirmation of a return on 8 March is welcome. Ministers must now make sure the testing announced works on the ground and speed up the vaccination of teachers and staff.  

“The hospitality and retail sector have been among the hardest hit by this pandemic, and many will be unable to open until mid-April at the earliest. I will continue to push Ministers to announce support for these sectors – as well as those who continue to be excluded – in the Budget next week.

“The progress we have made to date is thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of our frontline healthcare staff and service personnel, but also the many ways in which our city has pulled together.

“In the immediacy, we must remember that the virus still poses a significant risk, continue to follow guidelines and seize the opportunity to be vaccinated when it comes.”

 

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Portsmouth MP: Wedding industry ‘needs clarity and support’

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to give the wedding industry the clarity and support it needs for its related businesses to reopen again post-lockdown.

The Portsmouth representative has written to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP sharing concerns on behalf of his constituents and the wider sector.

It comes as 60,000 businesses and 400,000 workers are currently reliant on the weddings sector, which is worth an average of £14.7 billion to the UK economy each year, according to the letter.

Yet, despite the importance to the economy and the regional employment the sector provides in every part of the UK, the picture is extremely stark for the wedding industry, as businesses across the entire supply chain are reportedly on the brink of collapse.

Mr Morgan has highlighted that Portsmouth businesses need sector specific clarity in the upcoming roadmap out of lockdown announcement on 22 February, as well as urging Government consider tailored financial support for the sector, such as inclusion in the temporary VAT reduction to 5% and business rates exemption.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The weddings sector provides a great deal of revenue for businesses and employment for many across our city and the wider country.

“However, without the certainty and support the sector requires, the industry we knew before the first lockdown may not be the same one we see when we emerge from the third.

“Ahead of the government announcement on Monday, it is critical Government ensures these businesses will get the clarity and support they need to get back on their feet.”

Last week the parliamentary representative warned 15,000 jobs in Portsmouth could be at risk unless business tax relief, as well as other measures, are introduced in the forthcoming March budget.

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Portsmouth MP gets behind new COVID debt plan to boost business recovery

Stephen Morgan MP has backed the Official Opposition’s new plans to back British businesses, as it calls on the Government to help ease the Covid-debt burden faced by firms across the country.

Calling for the establishment of a British Business Recovery Agency, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds says Labour’s priority is to “help businesses get back on their feet, secure our economy and get Britain on the road to recovery.”

British business is currently weighed down by £71 billion of Covid debt through Government-backed loans during the crisis – with the Chancellor encouraging banks to begin asking for repayments in March.

New analysis by Labour reveals that 850,000 business are at risk of closure in the next three months, putting 2.4 million jobs at risk.

Labour’s plan would ease the debt burden on business, secure the economy and help British business to rebuild by:

  • Converting the Bounce Back Loans (BBLs) scheme into a ‘student-loan style’ arrangement, so that businesses only have to start repayments when they are making money.
  • Creating a new British Business Recovery Agency that would manage the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILs) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILs) in order to create terms that secure the future of businesses, including employee ownership, preference shares and subordinated debt

It comes following the Portsmouth representative’s warning last week that 15,000 jobs could be at risk in Portsmouth unless the Chancellor acts.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

Businesses across our city have worked incredibly hard to keep going during this crisis and I know how much many have sacrificed to just adapt.

“That’s why many businesses in Portsmouth will need the breathing room when we exit lockdown to be allowed to be able to grow again before they are asked to repay their debts.

“It is economically illiterate to demand Covid loan repayments next month when it would risk crushing businesses and our recovery, which is why I fully support these plans to allow businesses to start repayments when they are able to.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned in December that the debt overhang could lead to tens if not hundreds of thousands of corporate failures in the first quarter of this year, with 40 per cent of businesses reporting their debt as unmanageable.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has also said that as much as £30 billion of public money will have to be written off if the Chancellor presses ahead with his current plans.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

“Labour would rebuild Britain by backing businesses and supporting families through the crisis and then putting Britain on the path to growth.

“Instead of pushing business to the brink, Labour’s plans would protect small firms and give larger ones flexible options to manage debt. We would help businesses get back on their feet, secure our economy and get Britain on the road to recovery.”

 

 

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City MP: 15,000 local jobs at risk unless “smart” furlough scheme and business tax relief introduced

Stephen Morgan MP has warned 15,000 jobs could be at risk in Portsmouth unless the Chancellor delivers a “smart” furlough scheme to tackle Britain’s jobs crisis and for the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, tourism and culture sectors to continue by as much as another six months.

It comes following new analysis by the Official Opposition estimates that over 15,000 people were still furloughed by their employer in late January in Portsmouth.

According to the new analysis revealed today, seven months after Sunak launched his ‘Plan for Jobs’ last July, nearly 10,000 people are also currently claiming out of work benefits in Portsmouth.

However, Labour is now calling for Sunak to immediately announce an extension to the furlough scheme that is set to expire at the end of April, to remove uncertainty for local businesses and workers.

Meanwhile, the Shadow Chancellor is also calling for the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, tourism and culture sectors to continue for another six months or until three months after the lifting of health restrictions – whichever comes later. The reduced rate is set to expire on 31st March, when it will return to 20%.

Labour is also calling on the Chancellor to set the fourth grant of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) at 80% of pre-crisis profits before the forthcoming Budget announcement.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“The Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs is clearly not working. We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs to help those on furlough to get back into work, as well as to help those claiming out of work benefits to find new employment.

“Extending the furlough scheme and providing tax relief to the hardest hit businesses will give workers and SMEs in Portsmouth the certainty they need to support their recovery.

“People need emergency action today, not more dither and delay until the Budget.”

Mr Morgan previously called for greater support for the hardest hit businesses and self-employed after last year’s Spending Review.

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City MP joins calls for “smart” furlough scheme as part of emergency action to tackle Britain’s jobs crisis

Stephen Morgan MP has joined the Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds today on calling on the Chancellor to introduce a “smart” extension of the furlough scheme to protect jobs as long as health restrictions remain in place, as part of an immediate, emergency Jobs Recovery Package to tackle Britain’s ballooning unemployment crisis.

The Chancellor initially triggered a one-size-fits-all wind down of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in his Plan for Jobs last July. After several last-minute changes over the autumn and winter, the scheme is now set to expire at the end of April.

With 4.6 million people still on furlough, the Official Opposition is calling for the Chancellor not to repeat the mistakes of last year by winding down the scheme while public health restrictions are in place and demand is still severely impacted.

In addition, the Shadow Frontbench is calling for Sunak to immediately announce an extension to the furlough scheme alongside urgent reform to make it smarter, with new training to help furloughed workers improve their skills and tough conditions on employers to stop abuse.

Dodds is also demanding immediate action to recover jobs by overhauling the failing Kickstart scheme and to help create clean new jobs by reforming the shambolic Green Homes Grant.

Seven months after Sunak launched his Plan for Jobs last July, redundancies are at record highs, 1.7 million people are out of work and 4.6 million people are still on furlough.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The government’s plan for jobs just is not working. Seven months after its launch, we’ve got record redundancies, rising unemployment and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.

“We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs. This must include a smarter furlough scheme, an overhaul of the failing Kickstart youth programme, and reform of the shambolic Green Homes Grant as part of wider action to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 clean, new jobs.

“I know many people in Portsmouth have been left behind by this government in terms of financial support, particularly the self-employed and creative industries, so I will continue to do all I can to push the government to deliver the support they deserve.”

Mr Morgan has consistently demanded further support for the ‘excluded’ and recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to set out a ‘roadmap to recovery’ for creative industries.

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City MP backs calls for supermarkets to suspend delivery charges for most vulnerable

Stephen Morgan MP has backed charity Independent Age’s campaign supermarkets to suspend delivery charges and reduce minimum basket spends for people who are most at risk if they contract COVID-19 and have been advised to stay home.

The campaign focuses on protecting those are may be disable, people with long term health conditions, older people, unpaid carers and others.

The charity recently coordinated a joint letter signed by over 20 leading charities to the CEOs of seven large UK supermarkets who are involved in facilitating priority delivery slots for people at high risk of COVID-19.

Those who are most at risk are facing long periods of staying at home for their safety, including those who are once again shielding.

Many of these people now need to rely on online shopping. While supermarkets have expanded online deliveries for people at high risk, the extra costs to those consumers are putting many people under financial pressure.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Those most at risk need to be supported during this pandemic and charging them more for the safest way for them to get basic essentials like food should no be happening.

“We know UK supermarkets can more than afford to suspend delivery charges and reduce minimum basket spends for people who are most at risk if they contract COVID-19, so I completely support Independent Age’s campaign on this important issue.”

Last month, Mr Morgan also called for greater support for and to end discrimination against disabled people in Portsmouth.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP criticises government for refusing to back Labour plans to scrap cut to Universal Credit

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government tonight after it refused to support Labour’s proposal to scrap plans to strip £20 a week from 20,764 people in Portsmouth, after the Official Opposition forced a vote in the House of Commons demanding that the government scraps its planned cut to Universal Credit.

This will hit 16,434 families in Portsmouth with a cut equivalent to the cost of the average family’s annual electricity, gas and internet bills combined.

This follows the Prime Minister’s remarks at the Liaison Committee last week that he intends to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, or £1040 a year, for 6 million families in April.

The official opposition has repeatedly called for the Prime Minister to change course and provide certainty to millions of struggling families who face a triple blow of council tax hikes, frozen pay and a cut to Universal Credit.

Child Poverty Action Group has stated the £20 uplift is essential to ensure “low-income families with children receive the support they need”. While the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that the cut could see another 200,000 children pushed into poverty.

City MP Stephen Morgan has taken a range of actions to lobby Government to think again about the proposed cut to universal credit.

This includes writing to the Chancellor in November to urge him to reconsider the policy decision, submitting parliamentary questions to Ministers, and arranging for a motion at Portsmouth City Council to lobby Government to cancel the cut, but was not supported by local Tories.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It is unthinkable that Conservative MPs want to push families in Portsmouth into further hardship in the midst of an economic crisis.

“What’s just as worryingly is when we discussed these Government plans at the city council, local Tory councillors stayed silent, then voted against plans to stop the Chancellor cutting this lifeline for so many local families.

“The Government’s handling of the current crisis has caused Britain to suffer the worst recession of any major economy. Now Ministers are trying to make low income families pay as a result of their incompetence. 

“Families in Portsmouth deserve support during this crisis, not cuts.”

 

 

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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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Shadow Minister demands ‘clear and credible’ plan to protect and vaccinate armed forces

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan has called on the government to set out how and when armed forces personnel will receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

It comes as the number of troops deployed to support the Covid-19 response hit 5,000 and new analysis of Ministry of Defence Statistics revealed that the average weekly number of Coronavirus tests administered to defence staff per week is just 1,901.

The Opposition has called for a ‘clear and credible plan’ to protect troops on the ground, who are providing practical support to roll out the vaccine and community testing.

Government figures suggest that the number of confirmed cases in defence personnel jumped to an all-time high of 3,291 in December, up by more than 1,000 on the previous month.

Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace raised hopes when he appeared to suggest that troops helping with Coronavirus response would be prioritised in some way.

But no further clarity has been forthcoming, prompting concerns over the welfare of troops on the ground.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces, said:

“The armed forces are doing vital work to support frontline staff at this critical juncture in our work to vaccinate Britain. Our world-renowned troops should be utilised as much as possible to speed up vaccinations.

“In the immediacy, government must rapidly ramp up testing for our armed forces, who are putting themselves at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“The Defence Secretary must also set out a clear and credible plan to vaccinate our troops, particularly for those who are to be deployed for longer periods of time.

“We must protect those who are protecting us.”

 

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Government must do the decent thing and ‘Cancel the Cut’ says City MP after hearing from local Citizens Advice

Stephen Morgan MP has today renewed his call for the Government’s plans to cut Universal Credit (UC) by £20 per week to be scrapped and called on others to get Ministers to ‘Cancel the Cut’

The latest intervention comes after hearing from Portsmouth Citizens Advice on the importance of the campaign and ahead of a debate on Monday in Parliament where the official opposition will force a vote by Government to justify its decision.

Contacting the city MP this week, Portsmouth Citizens Advice said:

“Every day our advisers speak to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic. Our local office is proud to have support 1207 people with Universal Credit during the crisis.  

However, the new national lockdown will further impact local people’s lives, and many will struggle if the uplift expires.

The uplift has been a vital lifeline for local people, safeguarding quality of life and helping to prevent permanent economic scarring. Citizens Advice and organisations across the country will be working together to encourage the Chancellor to keep the lifeline, as well as extend the uplift to legacy benefits”.

The total Universal Credit caseload in Portsmouth South, Morgan’s constituency, has risen to 11693 – a 108% increase since March. The changes to Universal Credit could take around £10,900,000 out of the local economy, or more if the caseload increases. 

The Portsmouth South MP has taken a range of actions in recent months to urge the Government to cancel the cut to universal credit including writing to the Chancellor in November to urge him to reconsider the policy decision, submitting parliamentary questions to Ministers, and arranging for a motion at Portsmouth City Council to lobby Government to cancel the cut, but was not supported by local Tories.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Universal Credit is a lifeline to many people in Portsmouth and across the country. Right now people are relying on it more than ever.

“Cuts to Universal Credit, especially during this time of crisis, is not only morally bankrupt, but would cause serious economic damage to our economy and its and our city’s ability to recover from this crisis.

“That’s why I am calling on the government to cancel the cut and will continue to push Ministers to make sure claimants get the support they so desperately need”.

Mr Morgan has called on the Chancellor last week to set out his wider strategy on economic support for Portsmouth as he prepares to announce his budget in March.

On Monday, during an opposition day debate, Labour will force a vote on the proposed cut to universal credit to urge the Government to think again over their plans.

On this, the city MP added:

“The Government must do the right thing on Monday, and stop the planned £20 a week, or £1000 a year, cut to Universal Credit due for April 2021, which will hit Britain’s poorest households.

“I’ll be doing the decent thing on Monday when MPs come to vote. I hope the Government do too”.