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Revealed: 28,000 pensioners in Portsmouth who could see energy bill savings wiped out a ‘disgrace’ says City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has labelled new revelations that 28,650 Portsmouth pensioners’ state pensions could be worth hundreds of pounds less in real terms over the next year ‘a disgrace’, as the government continues to struggle to get to grips with the cost-of-living crisis.

New Labour analysis has shown that, as a result of rising inflation and the Conservatives’ decision to only increase the state pension by 3.1 per cent, a basic state pension for an individual will be worth around £222 less in real terms over a year than in 2021/22.

For a couple it will be worth around £355 less. This is a real-terms cut to the state pension that is more than the amount Ministers are providing households to reduce their energy bills over the next year.

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the Government’s decision to break the triple lock and give pensioners a real-terms cut to their pensions will leave older people in Britain paying hundreds of pounds more as a result of the rise in energy prices.

Labour’s plan to reduce energy bills would raise money to keep bills low through a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas profits to support all households, with households typically getting £200 off their bills. Labour’s plan will get £600 to the lowest income households while the Conservatives will only give them £350.

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

“At a time of rising energy bills and prices going up in the shops, Tory MPs are pushing through a real-terms cut to pensions and the support families rely on.

“With working people, families and pensioners in Portsmouth struggling to make ends meet, along with rising child and pensioner poverty, it is clear proof that the Conservatives are simply not on the side of working people or pensioners.

“The fact that over 28,000 Portsmouth pensioners’ state pensions could face a significant hit this year is a disgrace and yet another example of Tory Ministers’ incompetence.

“I will always stand up for Portsmouth pensioners guaranteeing older people in our city the respect, security and prosperity they deserve.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, also said:

“The Tory cost of living crisis is set to hammer pensioners hard.

“Not only have Tory MPs broken their manifesto commitment to the pension triple lock, Tory MPs have endorsed Boris Johnson’s plan to cut the value of the basic state pension by hundreds of pounds, wiping out any gain from the energy loan scheme.

“This real terms cut on top of rocketing heating bills, price rises and cuts to other support such as the free TV licence means thousands of pensioners face a tough, bleak year faced with impossible choices between heating or eating.

“With pensioner poverty on the increase this is a shameful way to treat those who have contributed so much to our country. Labour will always stand up for pensioners guaranteeing older people the security, prosperity and respect they deserve.”

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Cost of living crisis: Portsmouth MP demands Government spell out plan to tackle soaring food prices

Stephen Morgan MP is set to vote in the House of Commons today to force the Government to set out its plan to tackle soaring prices and hunger in Portsmouth and across the country.

Jim McMahon MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, will use an opposition day debate in Parliament today to urge the government to focus its efforts on fixing the increasing squeeze on households rather than saving the Prime Minister’s job.

It comes as millions feel the crunch across Britain, with families facing hiked taxes, soaring energy bills and rising inflation.

According to the latest government data, 28.4% of pupils in Portsmouth are eligible for free school meals – nearly 10% higher than the national average at 19.7%.

Labour’s motion will note MPs’ concerns over “households bracing themselves for the biggest drop in living standards in thirty years; that the cost-of-living crisis includes steep price increases in everyday and essential food items, making the situation worse for the 4.7 million adults and 2.5 million children already living in food insecurity and risking more people experiencing food insecurity”.

Labour will also say the Government is “making the cost-of-living crisis worse through tax hikes, low growth, falling real wages, and a failure to tackle the energy crisis” and will urge ministers to set out a national strategy for food, including how it intends to ensure access to high quality, sustainable, affordable food for all and meet the United Nations goal to end hunger by 2030.

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

“Thanks to the abject failure of the Conservative government, far too many working families in Portsmouth are trapped on low wages with little financial wriggle room.  

“Labour’s plan to keep bills low would cut £200 off most household energy bills, with £600 in total going to those households who need it most – cancelling out almost the entire rise in energy prices.

“The next Labour government would support British business to bolster sustainability and affordability of good quality food as part of our contract to deliver security, prosperity and respect for the British people.”

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National Apprenticeship Week: Portsmouth MP backs plan to create over 9,000 apprenticeships in South East

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the government to adopt a plan to create over 9,000 new apprenticeships for young people in the South East as the city marks National Apprenticeship Week.

National Apprenticeships Week recognises the enormous contribution made by apprentices and their employers in Portsmouth, giving people the chance to earn as they learn and delivering the skills our country needs to prosper. However, under the Conservatives these training opportunities have been disappearing especially for young people. The government has overseen a decline in apprenticeship starts of 460 since 2010 in the city MP’s constituency of Portsmouth South.

To reverse this downward trend and secure the skills our country needs for the future, Labour has called on the government to introduce a wage subsidy which could have created 9,023 new apprenticeships in the South East this year. This subsidy would be funded from underspent funding in the apprenticeships levy – a charge large employers have to pay to government.

Backed by the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP), Labour’s plan could have created 100,000 new apprenticeships for 16-24-year olds across England this year.

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

“National Apprenticeship Week recognises the enormous contribution made by apprentices to our city’s economy and wider society.

“However, the Government is not doing enough to support opportunities for local young people or for Portsmouth’s economy in order for it to prosper after a decade of decline.

“I’ve seen first-hand the power of apprenticeships to transform lives after talking with apprentices and employers. That’s why I am calling on Ministers to back this plan to boost opportunities for local young people and help secure our economy post-pandemic.”

Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, Toby Perkins MP, said:

“The Conservatives have overseen a decade of decline in apprenticeships, failing to secure the skills and training opportunities our country needs.

“Instead of focusing on creating new opportunities for young people and tackling the skills shortages across key sectors of the UK economy, this government is distracted by scandals at the heart of Downing Street.

“Ministers should adopt Labour’s plan to create thousands of new apprenticeships this year, securing the opportunities young people need to gain productive skills and support our economy to prosper.”

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Portsmouth MP hails local school’s ‘important’ early years playground for physical development

Stephen Morgan MP has praised Cumberland Infant School’s new physical development area for the ‘important’ role it will play for early years children.

Opening the new Early Years playground today, the Portsmouth MP said that he was encouraged to learn about what benefits it will bring to local pupils now and in the years to come.

The city MP also took the opportunity to thank teachers and staff for their efforts in dealing with the disruption caused by Covid over the last two years, as well as to better understand the current issues and challenges they face.

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

It’s been fantastic to visit Cumberland Infant School today to open its new Early Years playground and learn about the benefits it will bring to the development of local young pupils now and in the years to come.

“Teachers and staff have done a tremendous job here under incredibly difficult circumstances over the last couple of years and I’m hugely grateful for their efforts, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to thank some of them in person today and learn more about the current set of challenges and issues they face. 

“I will be continuing to push ministers to deliver the support young people in Portsmouth and the country need to secure the brighter futures they deserve.”

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Stephen Morgan MP statement on ban lift on ‘bee-killing’ neonicotinoid pesticides

Commenting on the government’s position on ‘bee-killing’ pesticides, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Following views raised by constituents, I have been putting pressure on Ministers in Parliament over this environmental concern.

“Sadly the government’s response to our city’s concerns on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides are a total non-answer.

“Ministers know they have ignored official advice, but have gone ahead anyway. Yet again ignoring official advice to greenlight the use of harmful bee-killing pesticides is a worrying indication that the Government will not uphold its commitment to global leadership on environmental protection and tackling biodiversity loss.

“Labour supports our farmers but opposes any lifting of the ban on bee-killing pesticides – pollinator health is non-negotiable. Lifting the ban on neonicotinoids is not the solution to helping farmers address crop blight.

“Fortunately, weather conditions last year meant that there was no need to use this pesticide, but there is no guarantee that our bees will be lucky again this year. The Government must commit to not allowing these pesticides to be simply used again next year.”

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‘Big on rhetoric, little on delivery’ – Portsmouth MP sets out five key tests for Levelling Up as city faces over £20m of lost funding

Stephen Morgan MP has backed five tests set by Labour which the Government’s Levelling Up plan must meet in order to deliver on the promises of the 2019 election.

Talking about why these tests are important the Portsmouth MP pointed to new research from Labour which has revealed that areas in virtually every area of England (95%) has received less in funding on average since 2018 than they received from regional development funds, such as the Towns Fund.

The research found that in England 144 local authority areas were still worse off by approximately £50 million on average after receiving Levelling Up funding.

In Portsmouth, local Settlement Funding has reduced in real terms by £45.4m since 2018, while successful bids through the Levelling Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund only totalled £21.6m, showing a £23.8m real-terms loss for the area since the Government’s levelling up agenda was announced.

Labour has said the Government must meet the ambitions people have for our own communities, including:

  1. Good jobs in our home towns, so young people have choices and chances and don’t have to get out to get on.
  2. Our high streets are thriving because the local economy is thriving, with good local businesses and money in people’s pockets – not just papering over the cracks.
  3. Our towns and villages are better connected to jobs, opportunities, our family and our friends through good transport, digital infrastructure and affordable housing that we have too often missed out on.
  4. We get the power to take local decisions for ourselves – ending the system where we have to go cap in hand to Westminster to do things we know will work for us.
  5. Our town centres are safe and welcoming instead of plagued by anti-social behaviour, with criminals being let off and victims let down.”

The city MP has also accused the government of having no real plan to deliver on its ambitious promises to drive up school standards and give young people and adults access to the skills they need, as well as pointing to the government’s record over the last 11 years.

Funding for schools serving the least advantaged communities fell between 2017 and 2021 while increasing in the most advantaged areas, and the IFS has previously described the government’s approach to school funding as a threat to levelling-up.

Meanwhile, the number of secondary school teachers has declined by 8,913, with teacher vacancies across all schools more than doubling since 2010.

200,000 primary age children were also growing up in areas with not a single primary school rated good or outstanding.

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

“While the Government is distracted cleaning up the Prime Minister’s scandals, they aren’t governing, and they aren’t delivering for Portsmouth. Ministers have failed to provide what is needed to address the chronic issues our city faces through their Levelling Up Fund. A few pots of money to scrap over won’t cut it.

“With these tests, we will see if the Government really intends to match the ambition we have for our communities with the power and resources we are owed.

“Government has had 11 years to drive up school standards across the country and these Education Investment Areas, which Portsmouth has been included in, are merely a recycling of the Opportunity Areas programme which has failed to deliver consistent improvements across schools. Plenty on rhetoric, little on delivery.

“We need to change the settlement of our country back in favour of those who built it. That means growing our economy, and ensuring jobs and opportunities are spread fairly across the country so that young people in our city don’t have to get out to get on.”

As well as working alongside the city council, backing its Levelling Up Fund bids, questioning Ministers, and lobbying the Chancellor directly over investment in the constituency, the Portsmouth MP has vowed to continue to fight In Parliament for what the area deserves. He is meeting with officials soon over submission of further proposals to Government.

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City MP votes for Labour package to tackle rising energy bills with windfall tax on oil and gas producers

Stephen Morgan MP has voted for a fully-funded package to help families with rising bills in the House of Commons today, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to grip the country.

Energy bills are expected to significantly rise in April, on top of the planned £12bn tax hike for National Insurance payers.

Conservative MPs have already voted against Labour’s motion to cut VAT on fuel bills, despite promises made by many MPs- including the Prime Minister, during the Brexit campaign that they would support such a measure. 

This motion, put forward by Labour in its opposition day debate, gave Conservative MPs an opportunity to vote for a windfall tax to help fund a national package of support for households. 

Oil and gas producing producers are expected to report “near record” income in 2021/22.

Labour is proposing that a windfall tax on these producers could help fund relief measures for families.

Labour’s fully-costed package to keep energy bills low would be achieved through scrapping VAT off home energy bills for a whole year – alongside focused and targeted support through increasing and expanding the Warm Homes Discount to 9.3 million people. 

This would help the average household with around £200 off bills, whilst also delivering targeted and focused support for those who need it most – including low earners, pensioners and the squeezed middle – with up to £600 in total off their bills.

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

“Energy bills are expected to rise significantly in April, and whilst Labour has proposed a fully costed package to help Portsmouth families with rising bills, the Government has failed to deliver any practical steps to alleviate the crisis.

“That’s why we would give families security by taking fully funded measures to save most households around £200 or more.

“We’d also target extra support on top of that for the squeezed middle, pensioners and lowest earners – saving over 30,000 households in Portsmouth up to £600 off their bills in total.

“Portsmouth families deserve far better, not more dither and delay from this Tory government. Local Conservative MPs surely cannot justify voting against these proposals.”

The Portsmouth MP recently launched his campaign calling for VAT on energy bills to be scrapped. To sign up, visit: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/sign-up-scrapping-vat-on-energy-bills/

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Shadow Schools Minister grills government on pupil vaccine target as covid absences rise

Shadow Schools Minister and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has pressed the government to offer every 12 – 15 year old a vaccine to help limit rising covid absences.

At education questions in the House of Commons, Mr Morgan pointed out that the government missed its own target to offer every child a vaccine by October half term.

He then pressed: “What is the Minister’s target now and when does he plan to meet it?”

The latest figures reveal that 46 per cent of 12 – 15 year olds are yet to receive a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

On 20 January, 415,000 children were off school due to Covid while a quarter of schools had 15% of their teachers and leaders off work.

Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Children and school staff are still living the day-to-day reality of covid, but this government doesn’t have a plan to support them.

“We know vaccines are key to keeping children in class learning together, yet almost half haven’t had a first dose and rates are falling.

“Ministers must redouble their efforts to encourage vaccine uptake in this age group and tackle dangerous disinformation to drive down covid-related absences.”

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Sue Gray report – reaction from Stephen Morgan MP

In reaction to the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons today regarding Sue Gray’s investigation into Covid-19 rule breaches at 10 Downing Street and Whitehall, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“We don’t need the Sue Gray report to tell us that the Prime Minister brazenly broke rules he set for the rest of us and then lied about it.

“While thinner than expected, this report confirms the Prime Minister himself is under criminal investigation. This is an unforgivable degradation of the highest office in the land.

“Labour will continue to press for publication of the full report as soon as possible, while the police continue their investigations.

“While local Conservative MPs continue to defend the indefensible, this government is incapable of tackling the day-to-day challenges facing our country.”

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‘Portsmouth’s businesses need certainty’ – Shadow Business Minister following Portsmouth Port tour with local MP

Stephen Morgan MP visited Portsmouth International Port (PIP) with Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson MP today, to tour the new trade facilities being built to adapt to Britain’s new post-Brexit trading arrangements. The facilities are being established thanks to lobbying by the city MP and others to central government.

During their visit, the Shadow Minister for Business and Industry and Portsmouth South MP met with the Port’s Director, Mike Sellers, and his leadership team, to discuss the continuing challenges Portsmouth and wider industry face to meet the requirements for the government’s new Border Operating Model.

Both MPs were also updated on the port’s 20-year business development plan, followed by a tour of the new Border Control Points (BCPs).

PIP (owned and operated by Portsmouth City Council) applied for £32m of funding in October 2020 from the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, to prepare for new customs arrangements.

Mr Morgan tirelessly lobbied Ministers making the case for the city’s port and the need for full investment from central government to avoid disruption and delay.

However, the city port was only handed £17.1m of what it asked for – leaving a very large of shortfall of at least £7m and many businesses dependent on the port in the dark.

PIP contributes £189m to the local economy annually, as well as roughly 2410 in the local area, either through direct employment or supply chain.

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

“I’m delighted to welcome the Shadow Business Minister to Portsmouth today to hear first-hand the opportunities and challenges our city’s port faces and how the team are adapting to new trading arrangements, as well their plans for the future.

“Portsmouth International Port plays a critical role in our city’s economy, providing hundreds of jobs for local people, whilst also making a significant contribution to our country’s trade.

“That’s why I am proud of my efforts to help secure the investment it needs to continue to flourish and thrive.

“Tory ministers cannot continue to neglect important assets like Portsmouth International Port and fail to provide businesses dependent on its success with the certainty they need.”

Shadow Business and Industry Minister, Bill Esterson MP, also said:

“It’s been a brilliant visit to Portsmouth. I am very impressed by the work that Stephen and many other people have been doing to protect this vital asset for our country.

“Low growth, high taxes and high inflation are undermining businesses and consumers, but many in Portsmouth have been left as an afterthought because of the Conservative Government’s failure to offer any plan or support.

“We can only achieve our ambitions for Britain with a plan which creates the economic conditions for businesses to succeed.

“Labour’s plan will help consumers and businesses with lower energy bills. We oppose the Conservative National Insurance jobs tax which the Conservatives want to introduce in April. And we will scrap business rates. Our plan will invest in businesses Portsmouth and enable them and the community they serve to thrive.”