Posts

, , ,

City MP pays visit to ‘vital business for Portsmouth’s economy’, Brittany Ferries

Stephen Morgan MP has met with one of the key businesses of Portsmouth’s economy, Brittany Ferries, to understand its current challenges, including preparations for when restrictions ease and the uncertainty around green, amber and red list countries.

The company, which serves destinations in France and northern Spain, says international holidays by sea could be set for a big come-back.

In the UK, Brittany Ferries sails from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. It carries around 2.5 million passengers a year (pre-Covid average), 85 percent of whom are British.

The Portsmouth representative met with the travel firm’s UK Managing Director, John Napton, as well as other senior colleagues.

The visit is one of the many businesses and organisations the city MP has met with over the last month, as part of his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ to support the city’s recovery from the pandemic, encourage visitors to the city’s attractions and keep the pound in Portsmouth.

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

“Brittany Ferries is a vital part of our city’s economy, employing many people across Portsmouth and generating income to our city’s port which sustains local public services.

“For businesses like these, the uncertainty around both the easing of restrictions and the confusing red, amber and green list countries, makes it incredibly difficult for them to plan ahead and ultimately ensure their business recovery.

“I will continue to speak up for businesses based in our city, encourage residents to show their ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ to support them, as well as push to get the certainty they need from government.”

, , , , , ,

Portsmouth MP backs Labour’s bold post-covid education proposals for children to ‘play, learn and develop’

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his support behind Labour’s extensive new education plan for the immediate post-Covid period, fuelled by the widely held understanding that children make academic progress when they are happy and well-supported.

At the heart of the new plans is a focus on ensuring children’s education results in happy, confident, ambitious young people, well prepared for the world of work, no matter where they come from or what type of school they go to.

It comes following recent reports that pupils in Portsmouth missed more than 100,000 days of face-to-face teaching during the autumn term, with many students having to either self-isolate or shield.

Labour’s plan would deliver:

  • Breakfast clubs and new activities for every child: from breakfast clubs to sport, drama, book clubs and debating societies, a fully funded expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities to boost time for children to play and socialise after months away from their friends;
  • Quality mental health support in every school: give every child the support they need to transition back to school and manage personal challenges, with access to qualified in-school counselling staff alongside boosting wellbeing through extra activities;
  • Small group tutoring for all who need it, not just 1%: make small group teaching available to all children who need it not just 1%, by reforming the Government’s failing tutoring programme to make sure no child falls behind because of pandemic disruption;
  • Continued development for teachers: Teachers have had one of the toughest years of their careers – it is only by supporting them with training to stay on top of the latest knowledge and techniques that we can give every child a brilliant classroom experience;
  • An Education Recovery Premium: support every child to reach their potential by investing in children who have faced the greatest disruption during the pandemic from early years to further education, and double the Pupil Premium for children in key transition years, delivering additional support for children who need it most;
  • Ensure no child goes hungry: no child will go hungry with Labour, by extending free school meals over the holidays, including the summer break.

Labour’s announcement comes with a warning from Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, that the Conservatives are “showing no ambition for our children’s futures”, after reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will only spend £1.5bn on children’s recovery, 10 times less their ‘Catch-up Czar’ Kevan Collins has told Ministers is needed.

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

“If we are to truly build back better from this crisis, we cannot afford for our future generation to not be equipped with the skills and learning they need, to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“Students have faced serious disruption to their learning during this crisis, so it is only right they are backed with a truly bold and ambitious plan that is needed to get them back on track.

“Labour’s plan would do just that and it has my full support.”

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, also said:

“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people.”

“We must match the ambition children have for their own futures and put them at the heart of our national recovery. This is an investment that our children’s futures and the future of our country depends on.”

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP welcomes new commission to rebuild Britain’s high streets and revitalise town centres

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his support behind Labour’s new independent Commission ‘Rebuilding Our High Streets’, launched by the Shadow Chancellor today. The commission will seek to bring together experts from businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality, as well as representatives of the trade union, local government cooperative and social enterprise sectors.

The announcement comes as new figures reveal that over the last decade high streets across the UK have lost:

  • 9,775 shops
  • 5,785 pubs
  • 7,400 bank branches
  • 1,195 libraries

Meanwhile, the South East has lost 1080 shops, 945 pubs and 120 libraries over the same period.

The Commission will meet regularly over the course of the next six months to offer independent advice to the Party on issues such as:

  • How the high streets of the 2020s and beyond can be supported to thrive, as great places where people can shop, socialise, meet, work and live.
  • Bringing empty commercial properties back into use for existing and new businesses.
  • Levelling the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online firms.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in our high streets, reflecting the needs of local communities.

The UK’s high streets have been hit by unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic and face more threats in the coming year. These include government changes to planning rules in August, which will allow shops to be converted into low quality flats over the heads of local communities, and the staged return of business rates, with firms liable to pay full rates again in April next year.

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

“This year has brought unprecedented challenges to businesses and organisations across the country that depend on the local high street, none more so than here in Portsmouth.

“Labour is determined to deliver a brighter future for our high streets as part of our mission to make Britain the best place to grow up and grow old in, which is why I’m proud to support the Rebuilding Our High Streets Commission.

“Our vision is not one harking back to one of the past, but finding ways to make our town centres places we can be proud of and where communities can come together. This Commission will offer independent advice to Labour on how we achieve that.”

Mr Morgan has had regular meetings with local businesses and organisations linked to Portsmouth’s high streets throughout the pandemic, working on their behalf to get the support they need.

, ,

Portsmouth MP votes for full, transparent parliamentary inquiry into Greensill scandal  

Stephen Morgan MP and the Official Opposition have today forced a vote in the House of Commons to establish a full, transparent, Parliament-run inquiry into the Greensill scandal, saying that the Government cannot be allowed to simply “mark its own homework”.

Revelations around the Greensill scandal have escalated week on week since the company collapsed in March, leaving thousands of jobs at risk.

Greensill Capital was the only supply chain firm granted access to the Government’s CLBILS Covid loan scheme, putting hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money at risk.

Labour today tabled a ‘binding motion’ that would establish a new select committee to investigate the Greensill lobbying scandal, which would have the power to ask witnesses to give evidence and face questioning.

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

“Any Conservative who wants to stop the cronyism rampant in their party and in government should have voted with Labour to uncover once and for all the truth behind this scandal.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg in Conservative cronyism which has been endemic during the pandemic and long before.

“The Conservatives cannot be trusted to mark their own homework on this. The British public, especially those with their jobs on the line as a result of Greensill’s collapse, deserve answers.”

Last week, Shadow Ministers also called for the Government to use the upcoming Queen’s Speech to legislate for the expansion of the scope of the lobbying register to include in-house lobbyists – a move that could have detected the nature of Cameron’s lobbying activities for Greensill sooner.

, , , ,

‘Defence jobs are vital to Luton’s recovery’ – MPs meet with defence firm 

Labour’s Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, visited Luton to meet with bosses at defence firm, Leonardo. The international company employs 1000 people at their Luton site, contributing 8% share local jobs in Luton’s manufacturing sector. 

Accompanied by Council Leader, Hazel Simmons, and Luton South MP, Rachel Hopkins, the Shadow Minister sat down with the electronic aerospace, defence and security developers to discuss the £123 million contribution the firm makes to the area.

Stephen Morgan MP, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“It was fantastic to visit Leonardo to hear more about its work to support Luton during the pandemic and its wider contribution to the local economy. 

“Hazel and Rachel have done a tremendous job working with local business to ensure the jobs-based recovery Luton needs and is an excellent example of Labour working constructively with industry to achieve that wider national objective.”

Council Leader, Hazel Simmons MBE, said:

“I am really proud of the positive relationship that Luton Council has built with Leonardo.   

“Their well-developed apprenticeship scheme attracts young people from across the Borough, and it was great to meet with executives to learn more about how we can boost highly skilled, well paid jobs here in Luton. These are the jobs that will help Luton bounce back after Covid.”  

Luton South MP, Rachel Hopkins, added

“Leonardo is an important part of Luton’s manufacturing sector, and it was positive to hear about their apprenticeship schemes, support for women in STEM, and how they moved into making PPE to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. 

Luton’s recovery must have good, well-paid jobs at its heart. Labour is committed to working with Trade Unions and businesses to help rebuild our economy.” 

, , , , , , ,

Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘withheld funds’ for city port

Stephen Morgan MP called for the government to provide answers in the House of Commons today on why Portsmouth International Port was not afforded the funding it needs to complete post-Brexit preparations.

Portsmouth International Port applied for £32m of funding in October from the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, to prepare for new customs arrangements that are set to come in this July, allowing it to adapt to the government’s own new Border Operating Model.

However, the city port was only handed £17.1m of what it asked for – leaving a very large of shortfall of almost £15m.

Meanwhile, the government has also so far ignored the port’s further request for funding for the new Border Control Points, and without it, they will have no facility to use to check the 30,000 breeding animals that are expected to come through each year.

Portsmouth’s local authority owned port contributes around £135m to Portsmouth’s local economy, over 1420 local jobs as well as close to £390m to the national economy each year.

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

“Our port contributes around £390m to the national economy each year, so it is frankly absurd that government continues to slow the port’s progress to adapt to its own new Border Operating Model.

“Government cannot continue to chronically underfund our local council, but meanwhile expect it to cough up the cash for this huge infrastructure project. It just is not realistic.

“The Minister for EU negotiations has the power and influence to resolve this, so I expect to hear how they plan to fix this problem very shortly, with no answers forthcoming from the Transport Minister today.”

Mr Morgan has been working closely with the city port to support its funding needs, writing to Ministers in December demanding further funding for the port to prepare for post-Brexit trade.

, , , , , ,

‘March Budget fails Portsmouth families and the Excluded’, says city MP

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government’s recently announced budget during a parliamentary debate today for failing to deliver for local families, those in the creative sectors and the Excluded.

During the debate, Mr Morgan argued the budget was a ‘missed opportunity’ to support local businesses, particularly those in the cultural and creative industries, highlighting Victorious festival as just one example for Portsmouth.

It comes as in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.

Meanwhile, the number of local people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rising by 135%, according to the latest figures.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“Local families and those in the creative sectors have been let down by this government and left forgotten – a running theme of successive Tory governments for our city.

“This budget was a chance to correct the mistakes of past and inequalities that exist in our community that this pandemic has both exposed and sadly made even worse. Instead, we got a budget of more of the same.”

“I will continue to speak up for our city and ensure the local fears of the damages this economic plan will cause are heard up in Westminster.”

Ahead last week’s budget announcement, Mr Morgan backed the Official Opposition’s ‘Jobs Promise’ call for young people in Portsmouth and across the country.

, , , , , ,

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.”

, , , , ,

Budget 2021: Chancellor must change course and not hit local families in March Budget

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the Chancellor to ‘change course’ and to not hit local families with an expected triple blow of council tax hikes, frozen pay and cuts to social security at his Budget this week.

As Britain begins its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Official Opposition is urging Sunak to change course to protect family finances and get Britain back on the road to recovery.

It is understood that Rishi Sunak MP plans to slash Universal Credit by £20 a week from April, which would mean at least 21,420 people in Portsmouth will take £1040 a year hit to their finances.

It is also expected that Sunak will ask families to pay for gaps in council budgets rather than fulfilling his pledge to back them. That could amount to as much as £89 extra on annual household council tax bills for the average Band D home in Portsmouth.

The Chancellor is also hitting every key worker earning over £18,000 in England with a real terms pay cut this year. This includes 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.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

Families, small businesses and key workers have been hit particularly hard by this crisis. This is an opportunity to give them the tools they need to find their feet and recover.

“This is not the time to implement both morally and economically illiterate plans that would take support away from some of those who need it most.

“With the Chancellor set to announce his plans for the Budget on Wednesday, he must recognise that this is a make or break moment for Britain. Rishi Sunak must do all he can to secure our economy and put the country on the road to recovery – and that means protecting family finances.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for support for workers and businesses to be extended and recently backed Labour’s proposed British Business Recovery Agency.

, , , , ,

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.