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Our NHS staff deserve better than a 1% pay rise

Responding to the news that the Department of Health has recommended a 1% pay rise for NHS staff, which is expected to equate to a real-terms pay cut, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“It is beyond belief that this government claps for our NHS heroes one minute then hands them a real-terms pay cut the next.

“This is a kick in the teeth for hard-working frontline staff in Portsmouth and across the country, who have gone above and beyond to care for our communities during the pandemic.

“NHS staff deserve better. The independent NHS Pay Review Body should recommend a real pay rise for our healthcare heroes and the government must honour it”.

The city MP has been campaigning alongside local residents and trade unions for a proper pay rise for those that have served on the frontline during the pandemic. He recently met with the Royal College of Nursing and local nurses to understand the impact of ten years of pay restraint and is committed to continue lobby Government on behalf of those working in our NHS.

 

 

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Climate Emergency: Government must move further and faster

Like many constituents, I am passionate about the need for urgent action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. It has long been a priority for me in the work I do locally in Portsmouth and in Parliament. Given the scale of the challenges we face, we know the time to act is now.

While many local authorities across the country – including Portsmouth – have declared a climate emergency, all we’ve seen from this government so far is dither and delay.

The Prime Minister must seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a green recovery from the pandemic, and act to rapidly decarbonise our economy. Real progress on this issue requires more than rhetoric from Ministers. It requires a plan.

That’s why I support the aims of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which was presented by Caroline Lucas MP as a Private Members’ Bill on 2 September 2020. It was tabled for second reading on 12 March 2021, but sittings for Private Members’ Bills have since been suspended due to the pandemic, and it is important to point out it is merely a Presentation Bill meaning there will be no votes on the matters contained within the Bill. Similarly, unfortunately only a very small number of Private Members’ Bills ever become law, and they are usually those that have Government support.

Labour continues to develop its own parliamentary agenda on the climate emergency, in consultation with our members, the climate movement, trade unions, businesses, and communities across the country, which will include many of the principles laid out in this Bill. I am working closely with colleagues on this.

In the meantime, I want the UK to take tangible steps towards a greener future now. That’s why I voted for amendments to the government’s Environment Bill. New Clause 5 would have set a target to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030, while Amendment 25 would have set air quality targets in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.  

Not only did the government vote against these amendments, but I am bitterly disappointed to say they have also now delayed the next stages of the Bill until later this year. This now mean that we will be without a post-Brexit environmental plan until later this year, wasting valuable months in the lead up to COP26 where the UK has the chance to lead global change on this issue.

Confronted by this unfolding emergency, I am clear that 2050 is too late for the UK to end its contribution to climate breakdown and runaway global heating. According to the UN, we have less than ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. The government must act with far greater urgency and ambition.

Whilst Labour will be outlining a vision for a Green Recovery in the coming months, I can assure you that I will continue to push for bold, rapid and meaningful action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity, both locally and nationally.

It is what the people of Portsmouth, and future generations, expect me to do. If you have views or ideas to help make this a reality, as always, please get in touch.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

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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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Portsmouth MP calls for government-backed insurance scheme for festivals

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to introduce an insurance scheme for festivals across the country to ensure they can go ahead this year.

It comes as the Portsmouth MP has written to the Chancellor on behalf of local festival ‘Victorious’, a well-known and popular annual event for the city.

The letter outlines that whilst the festival can in theory go ahead in August according to the recently announced government roadmap, existing providers are unwilling to offer insurance due to current uncertainty, putting the festival at risk.

According to the letter, the music event creates at least 154 full-time equivalent jobs each year and generates more than £12m Gross Value Added to the local economy.

Meanwhile, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has previously reported that more than 90% of its members face costs that could ruin their businesses as a result of cancelled events and almost none were covered by insurance for cancellation related to Covid-19.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The government has the perfect opportunity to introduce a government-backed insurance scheme for festivals, allowing them to bounce back this summer.

“It would secure jobs, promote local economic growth and provide entertainment after a long and difficult winter.”

James Ralls, Managing Director, Victorious Festivals, also said,

“Insurance is a key part of our preparations for Victorious Festival this year and the last piece in the puzzle to enable an amazing summer of live events to go ahead.

“I urge the government to help enable the UK creative industries to thrive once again by introducing a government backed insurance scheme.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for the government to protect creative workers and the wider related sectors.

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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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Portsmouth MP demands action from government on unsafe cladding costs

Stephen Morgan MP led a debate in Parliament last night calling on the government to protect leaseholders from steep costs to remove unsafe cladding from their apartment blocks.

Efforts to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings have accelerated since the Grenfell Tower disaster. Due to decades of poor regulation, the responsibility for costs often falls to leaseholders, leaving them in unsafe homes, unable to sell and subject to life-altering costs.

A number of properties in Portsmouth have been impacted by this issue, with Admiralty Quarter and Gunwharf Quays among those affected.

Speaking in the debate, the Portsmouth South MP said that some of his constituents fear they may be liable “to contribute between £20,000 – £30,000 each towards remediation.”

They also fear losing their homes and many are retired or on low incomes.

Currently open to building owners and freeholders to help cover the cost, the government’s Building Safety Fund has been criticised for poor communication with residents, taking too long to distribute funds and turning down requests with little rationale.

The government recently announced an additional £3.5bn loan scheme for high-rise cladding removal and loans for buildings under 18m, but Mr Morgan criticised the scheme, arguing it would it leave residents liable to pay to fix an issue they did not create and will likely mean many will still struggle to sell.

The Portsmouth South MP called on the Minister for Housing to meet the costs of remediation work in full and release the funds for repair work as quickly as possible.

He has also called for the government to include measures to ensure leaseholders cannot be held responsible for future costs in the forthcoming Building Safety Bill.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“It is scandalous for the government to expect leaseholders to pay these astronomical costs in full, with every moment of delay to these critical cladding changes putting lives at risk.”

“Last night I urged government to take responsibility for these costs, speed up the distribution of funds for remediation and legislate to ensure that regulation is never allowed to fail Portsmouth residents again.

“We know these concerns are not just felt in Portsmouth and the government must address them immediately.”

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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.

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Portsmouth MP: ‘Government must commit to tackle air quality ahead of COP26 Presidency’

Stephen Morgan MP questioned Minsters in the House of Commons today to ensure the government commits to tackling air quality in the UK. The UK will assume the COP26 Presidency this year and will host the global climate conference in Glasgow this November.

This comes after the Official Opposition had pushed the government to tackle air quality in its recent Environment Bill to set parameters to ensure that the PM2.5 (particulate matter) target for air quality will be at least as strict as the 2005 WHO guidelines, with an attainment deadline of 2030 at the latest.

However, this proposition was voted down by the government.

As it stands, the legislation contains no firm targets, with the government committing only to setting one following a ‘review’. COP26 offers an opportunity for the UK to become a world leader on climate change, yet the decision could cause the UK to lag behind other European countries.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“It cannot be right that on the year we are set to host the world’s biggest climate change conference, our own government refuses to commit to tackle air quality here in the UK.

“Air quality is already having real world impacts now, with our own city facing historic challenges with air pollution.

“If we are to emerge from this crisis and to be truly world leading in tackling the climate emergency, government should cut out the rhetoric and take action to face up to this challenge we all share.”

Mr Morgan continues to work with local groups to ensure the city council delivers its climate emergency and has consistently put pressure on national government to progress the climate agenda.

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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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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