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Carers Week: Portsmouth MP pays tribute to city’s care providers

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to care providers in Portsmouth as the city marks Carers Week.

The City MP met with a range of local care providers on Friday, to thank them for their efforts in supporting some of society’s most vulnerable.

Mr Morgan visited Portsmouth Carers Centre, which provides support and advice to local care givers, to meet with local carers taking part in the centre’s ‘Chop Cook Chat’ sessions, a cookery group for those who are either carers or at risk of social isolation.

The Portsmouth MP also met with Portsmouth Alzheimer’s society, to discuss its experiences of the social care system and how it could be improved, particularly regarding the social care workforce.

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

According to research from Carers UK, more than 4.6 million unpaid carers are concerned about their physical and mental health and over 2 million carers are worried about their ability to cope financially.

In addition, more care is being provided by unpaid carers than ever before, even more than during the height of the pandemic. The number providing 20+ hours of care per week has risen by 42% across the UK since October 2020, while the number providing more than 50 hours has increased by 30%.

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

“On Carers Week it’s important we recognise and thank our carers for the incredible work they do to support our most vulnerable.

“Many carers are still struggling with the ongoing impact of the pandemic. It is clear from the continued strain on social care services, many of which remain unavailable to carers, combined with the current cost of living crisis, have left carers urgently needing more support.

“It was really useful to meet with the Carers Centre staff and Portsmouth Alzheimer’s Society to learn about their respective challenges and plans to support our carers and thank them for their efforts over this past year. 

“I will continue to speak up for the thousands of people providing unpaid care in Portsmouth and across Britain, and push Government to urgently fix our social care system as we emerge from the pandemic.” 

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City MP and Shadow Minister call for urgent action to tackle looming crisis in foster care

Labour has called for urgent action act to tackle a looming crisis in the number of foster carers, and ensure all children can have a stable, loving home.

Data shows the number of current foster carers deregistering is increasing faster than the number of new families, prompting calls for urgent action to improve recruitment and retention. Last year, the South-East saw a decline of 310 foster carers registered with local authorities.

This comes as the number of looked after children continues to grow, increasing 26 per cent in Portsmouth since 2012, with a 21 per cent increase nationwide. This is rapidly outpacing the number of new foster homes which has increased just 6 per cent since 2012.

More than a decade of Conservative government has stripped away vital early-help services which worked to prevent children unnecessarily entering care. At the same time, almost half of children’s services in England are now rated by Ofsted as inadequate or needing improvement, holding back the wraparound support available for foster families.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, Helen Hayes MP, visited Portsmouth with Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan to meet with foster carers and see the Fostering Network’s Mockingbird service, which brings foster families together to support each other. The service was highlighted as an example of good practice in the recently published Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

Helen Hayes MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, said:

“Foster families are crucial to ensuring every child has a stable, loving home, but across the country services are at breaking point after a decade of Conservative neglect.”

“Too often bureaucracy puts off potential foster carers whilst a lack of support means many families are choosing to deregister.  Today, I’ve seen the brilliant Mockingbird service which a really effective example of ways in which additional support can be provided to foster families to help them sustain their vital work.

“Labour in government transformed support for children and families, ensuring all young people were supported to thrive. Labour will put children first once again.”

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Twelve years of Conservative government has created a crisis in foster care. The number of looked after children in our City has grown faster than in the rest of the country, yet the number of foster families in the region is shrinking.

“The Mockingbird service in Portsmouth offers outstanding support to both children and foster families, facilitating stable and loving homes across our City.

“The next Labour government will put children at the heart of our vision for a successful and prosperous Britain.”

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Portsmouth MP hosts ‘National Education Museum’ in Parliament after reaching funding milestone to open in city  

Stephen Morgan MP has urged local residents to get behind a local project to establish a National Education Museum in Portsmouth, after hosting its leaders and supporters at an event in Parliament this week.

The initiative aims to set up the country’s only museum dedicated to education, celebrating how we acquire awareness and understanding of our world, of ourselves, of our communities and of our society.

Its trustees include notable education figures from across the local area, including the City MP, who now holds the role of Shadow Schools Minister and is a former local school governor of Arundel Court and Priory.

The event in Westminster, titled ‘Halfway there’, celebrated the organisation’s achievement in passing the halfway mark of its overall funding target of £250,000.

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

“As Portsmouth’s voice in Parliament and in my role as Shadow Schools Minister, I fully recognise the enormous benefits of opening the nation’s only museum solely dedicated to education in Portsmouth, not least adding to the cultural offering it prides itself with.

“A National Education Museum will be an important celebration of the power education has to change lives. Education is limitless, so it’s vital we have an institution that tells its story of progress for future generations.

“As a Trustee of the National Education Museum, I was delighted to host Wednesday night’s event in Parliament to mark the project’s success in reaching the halfway point of its overall funding target of £250,000. If you are able to, I strongly encourage others to lend your support and make this fantastic initiative become a reality.”

Further information about the National Education Museum and how to support the project, can be found via its website.

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Portsmouth MP urges Minister to intervene and fix ‘dental desert’ city has become

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the government to intervene and fix the ‘dental desert’ the city has become.

In a letter to Health Minister Maria Caulfield, the Portsmouth MP raised concerns shared with him by local dentistry practitioners that the £6.8million of funding for the South East announced in January was ‘wholly insufficient’.

He also highlighted Dentists’ concerns that the funding was more of a ‘burden’, rather than support, as take up of funding would require NHS practitioners to work outside of already extended hours, including over weekends, to meet unrealistic targets caused by the ‘broken’ Unit of Dental Activity (UDA) system.

Another issue shared during a local dentistry forum Mr Morgan held with NHS dentistry representatives and practitioners was the need for far greater attention around rules and regulation for recruitment and retention, with many practices struggling to recruit that staff they need.

It comes following a recent report by the Association of Dental Groups which showed Portsmouth CCG has the 7th lowest amount of NHS dentists per 100,000 in the country, at 42. It also found Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG, which also serves many of the City MP’s constituents, at 15th lowest, with 45 NHS Dentists per 100,000.

Adding to concerns around local access to NHS Primary Care, research by the Nuffield Trust published in The Times this month showed Portsmouth has been the most acutely affected area by the wider fall of 1,622 full-time NHS GPs since 2015, with just 40 GPs per 100,000 people.

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

“It’s clear to me from speaking to local dentistry representatives and practitioners that government funding allocated in January is wholly insufficient, rapidly turning Portsmouth into a dental desert.

“From a broken commissioning system, to chronic issues around recruitment and retention, it is clear local dentistry is creaking at the seams. Piecemeal pots of money simply won’t cut it and doesn’t even begin to deal with the wider issues Portsmouth dentistry is facing.

“Tory Ministers need to stop sitting on their hands, engage with the challenges and urgently intervene to deliver the NHS dentistry services Portsmouth deserves. I will continue to speak up in Westminster to ensure that happens.”

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Portsmouth MP tells Attorney General to rethink “dangerous” rape therapy guidance

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the Attorney General, Suella Braverman MP, to reconsider “misguided and dangerous” new rules, which he says will put off survivors of rape and sexual assault from seeking counselling before their cases come to trial.

In a letter sent today, the MP for Portsmouth South challenged the Attorney General’s decision to change disclosure rules so that – in almost all cases – the therapy notes taken in survivors’ counselling sessions will have to be disclosed to the lawyers defending their rapists.

The government proposals, published on 26 May, have reversed a legal precedent in place since 2004 which says that therapy notes only need to disclosed if they undermine the prosecution’s case. Under the new guidelines, any notes considered ‘relevant’ will have to be handed over.

As a result, Mr Morgan says in his letter, “the deeply personal, private information from those counselling sessions will not just be exposed for the world to see, but be used to try and intimidate, humiliate and discredit women and girls who are simply trying to bring the men who raped or assaulted them to justice.”

The Attorney General’s new guidelines have been criticised by the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, and a wide range of campaigners and experts on violence against women and girls, as well as survivors themselves. With the plans set to come into effect on 25 July, the Portsmouth MP has urged the Attorney General to “withdraw and re-write” the proposals before it is too late.

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

“For survivors of rape and sexual violence, the support available from trained counsellors can be a lifeline, and I have written to the Attorney General demanding that is not put at risk.

“No one should have to choose between getting the support they need and putting their abuser behind bars, but the government’s new guidelines risk making that decision a reality for survivors in Portsmouth and across the country.

“The government must listen to survivors and urgently rethink these misguided and dangerous plans before they come into effect in July.”

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Shadow Schools Minister condemns Tory inaction as South East afterschool club costs soar by over £570

Stephen Morgan MP has condemned Tory Ministers’ inaction ahead of a debate in the House of Commons today, as the cost of South East afterschool clubs has soared by £573.42 since 2010.

Nationally, the average family is spending more on afterschool clubs than on their weekly food shop.

Despite pleas from parents to prioritise children’s wellbeing, the government has left parents to struggle with steeply rising prices, leaving children at risk of missing out.

In a debate in Parliament this afternoon, the City MP will lead the Official Opposition in its push for the government to match Labour’s own recovery plan which commits to breakfast and afterschool clubs for all, supporting parents struggling to balance rising bills and prioritising children’s learning.

This echoes a trial of the extended school day by the Welsh Labour government which has seen children undertaking a range of new activities at the end of the school day, with teachers reporting this has given pupils more confidence in their day-to-day learning.

It comes as the Shadow Schools Minister recently highlighted that every secondary school pupil will have left school by the time the government delivers its promise of 100 million hours of post-covid tutoring.

During the debate, the Portsmouth MP will underline that whilst families face rising energy prices and increasing food bills, childcare costs are also soaring and putting further pressure on parents.

Despite this, government is ‘knowingly underfunding the childcare sector in England’, forcing many parents to work less or stop working altogether.

Labour has said it would tackle the costs families are facing by investing in childcare places for young children on free school meals, before and after school clubs and put money back in families’ pockets with a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to take £600 off families’ energy bills and halting the Tory’s tax rise.

This would be paid for through the money the government had already allocated for the Covid response and recovery.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Portsmouth’s parents are battling rising bills, yet the Conservatives have failed to take any action to tackle booming childcare price rises.

“Families in our city are paying over £570 more a year while the government faffs around and delays getting help to people who are struggling.

“Labour would be supporting parents and children right now with before and afterschool clubs for all.”

Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Education Secretary, also said:

“The Conservatives risk sacrificing children’s futures in their utter failure to deliver a proper recovery plan for our children’s learning and wellbeing.

“Labour has been clear for months – we would be delivering the ambitious recovery plan that children need, want and deserve, with breakfast and afterschool clubs for every child.

“As parents battle rising costs of living, soaring childcare costs make life ever harder for families. Tory inaction is leaving children to be priced out of opportunity.”

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City MP responds to confidence vote for Prime Minister   

Responding to news that a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister will take place tonight, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“No Prime Minister can be a lawmaker and a lawbreaker, which is why local Tory MPs must have the courage of their convictions today, align themselves with the public and vote him out of office.

“As our city feels the crippling effects of the cost of living crisis, Portsmouth’s families need to know that they have a government that is on their side, entirely focused on what people need.

“Sue Gray’s report lays bare the rot that has infected Downing Street under this Prime Minister and why it’s time for him to pack his bags.”

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No Prime Minister can be a lawmaker and lawbreaker

In recent days, the Sue Gray report looking into the events that took place in Downing Street during Coronavirus restrictions, has been published.
As a result of its damning findings, Tory MPs must now do the right thing and withdraw their support to the Prime Minister.
The report’s contents are shocking, detailing serious failures of leadership that led to multiple examples of unacceptable behaviour, at several events. It confirmed that the most senior leaders in government attended these events and that “any should not have been allowed to happen.”
The details are stark. Five months ago the Prime Minister told Parliament that “all guidance was followed completely in No. 10.”
Yet we now know he attended numerous events, at least one of which the police have handed out fines for, deeming it illegal. We know that just before Mr Johnson cancelled Christmas for millions of people an event was held in Downing Street in which staff drank “excessively”, which others in the building described as a “party”, and that cleaners were left to mop up red wine the next day.
People in Portsmouth were unable to attend the funerals of family members, went months without seeing loved ones and had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic restrictions. It is hard to read the report without concluding that the government treated these immense sacrifices with utter contempt.
As our city feels the crippling effects of the cost of living crisis, Portsmouth’s families need to know that they have a government that is on their side, entirely focused on what people need.
Sue Gray’s report lays bare the rot that has infected 10 Downing Street under this Prime Minister. The buck must stop with him. That’s why it’s time for Mr Johnson to pack his bags.
Only then can the government function again. Only then can the rot be carved out. Only then can we restore the dignity of that great office, and the democracy it represents.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

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Commonwealth War Graves Week: City MP pays tribute to sacrifices of Commonwealth veterans

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to the sacrifices of Commonwealth veterans as the city marks Commonwealth War Graves Week.

The Portsmouth South MP has marked the sacrifice of Commonwealth veterans who are buried in the city, following the recent campaign victory to drop eye-watering fees for Commonwealth veterans who serve in our armed forces.

Commonwealth War Graves Week is the annual awareness week, run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which aims to encourage communities to come together and discover the World War heritage on their doorstep.

One of the memorials maintained by the CWGC in the city resides in Portsmouth Kingston Cemetery, honouring 9 Commonwealth veterans who gave their lives, among hundreds of other UK service personnel.

One Commonwealth soldier remembered at the CWGC Kingston Cemetery is Canadian Private Vernon Taylor, who died at the tender age of 22. Private Taylor served in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, R.C.I.C.

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

“On Commonwealth War Graves Week, we pay tribute to those from across the Commonwealth who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect others.

“We must never forget the human cost to so many Commonwealth nations during both world wars, and honour their incredible bravery during such a difficult period.”

The City MP and former Shadow Armed Forces Minister has been a tireless campaigner for the rights and interests of Commonwealth veterans, including leading Labour’s amendments to the Armed Forces Bill, pushing for the controversial £2,389 Commonwealth UK Visa fee to be scrapped.

Despite voting against the amendments down at the time, government climbed down in February and waived the visa fees, after mounting pressure.

The Portsmouth MP, added:

“Overseas personnel continue to make an enormous contribution to the UK and global peace and security, so it’s only right they should face as few barriers as possible to reside in the country they defended.

“But government should not have been dragged kicking and screaming to arrive at this common-sense decision, which myself, parliamentary colleagues and many service charities called for some time. I’m delighted to have played a small part in securing this important victory for Commonwealth veterans.”

However, some UK veterans are pushing for government to now go further.

David McMullen of Citizenship 4 Soldiers, said:

“I served in Afghanistan with Commonwealth soldiers. They fought alongside me in exactly the same way as British nationals, and I don’t see why they should be treated any differently.

“Labour’s amendments to the Armed Forces Bill worked alongside our campaign to force the government to act and Ministers’ announcement in February was an important campaign victory, but this must now expand to cover family members.

“The fees have massively increased since they were introduced in 2003. Some have to get second jobs if they want to bring family members over, or are simply priced out of being able to stay in the UK.

“It’s time for Ministers to put their money where their mouth is, and deliver on their support for these veterans.”

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City MP responds to government energy announcement

Responding to the government’s energy announcement, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“After five months of being dragged kicking and screaming, the Chancellor has finally come to his senses, U-turned, and adopted Labour’s plan for a windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits to lower bills.

“His dither and delay has created months of unnecessary anxiety for Portsmouth people with many local families and pensioners struggling over how they are going to afford their energy bills. All of this could have been avoided if he just swallowed his pride and backed Labour’s plan.

“Despite only bringing in the plan months ago, he’s had to ditch his dodgy buy now, pay later loan that was always destined for failure.

“But Ministers still have no long-term plan to grow our economy and pull us out of the mess they’ve got us into.

“I am meeting with a range of organisations that are providing support for those struggling with stretched household budgets and will continue to push Ministers to support them, tackle the cost of living crisis and help grow our city’s economy.”