Government must listen about investing in our schools

City MP Stephen Morgan is continuing his campaign for a better deal for Portsmouth’s schools following public concern about current and future levels of school funding in England and Wales. This was strongly expressed in the General Election campaign, and continues to be an issue for parents and teachers in the city.

The school cuts website has calculated that 88% of schools are being cut in real terms compared with 2015. There is widespread awareness that present and future levels of financial commitment fall well short of what is needed to maintain real terms 2015/16 funding.

The £1.3 billion that the Secretary of State for Education reallocated to core school funding in July is a sign that the Government is sensitive to some of the issues, but the response is not at all adequate to the size of the problem. £2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015 and school funding is £2bn a year less than it was.

Ahead of the Autumn Budget next week Stephen Morgan MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP about the issue.

In his letter Stephen said:

“It is clear from the visits I regularly do to local schools and in discussions with teachers that school funding in my constituency and across our country is in crisis. Our great city deserves better.

In next week’s Budget, my constituents are expecting a response from Government that appreciates the magnitude of the problem, and invests accordingly in the country’s future.

We look forward to commitments in your statement next week that will reinvest at least £2bn a year to end the underfunding of our education.

You have spoken of an economy that works for everyone, including the young. Millions of parents will be expecting you to match words with deeds”.

Stephen’s letter to the Chancellor follows lobbying from head teachers representing over 5,000 schools to the Chancellor about the Government’s inadequate funding for schools.

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education said:

“Justine Greening needs to start listening to the head teachers and concerned parents who are facing the real consequences of her Government’s decision to put tax breaks for the super-rich ahead of investment in the next generation. 

Despite Tory spin, the new funding formula does nothing to reverse the cuts to budgets and every penny they have found just comes from cutting other education provision – it isn’t fair, and it isn’t funded. 

The next Labour Government will give our schools the resources they need, reversing Tory cuts and protecting per pupil funding in real terms, as we build a National Education Service for the many, and not just the few”.

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Stephen Morgan kicks off UK Parliament week with a visit to local secondary school

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South’s Member of Parliament kicked off the start of UK Parliament Week with a visit to Priory School on Monday.

UK Parliament Week is an annual programme of events to connect people with Parliament and sees schools, museums, charities and businesses around the country joining in a week long programme of activities and events which explore what the UK Parliament means to them and their community.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“UK Parliament Week is a great opportunity for schools and local organisations here in Portsmouth to engage their audiences or members in our country’s democracy.

I was particularly pleased to kick the week off in my constituency by visiting one of my former schools, Priory School in Southsea, to talk to young people about what being an MP involves and encourage students to aim high and work hard to achieve their dreams”.

Priory School thanked Stephen for attending and said:

“It has been great to have our local MP in this week. We thank him for taking the time to come and work with our students, inspiriting them and raising aspirations”.

For more information, please see the schools page on the Parliament Week website:

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Stephen backs votes at 16

JM_0039Today Members of Parliament are debating the second reading of Jim McMahon MP’s Private Members Bill, backed by city MP Stephen Morgan.

 The Bill proposes to do a number of things including reducing the voting age to 16 in parliamentary and other elections, making provision about young people’s education in citizenship and the constitution.

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

 “The time to give votes to 16 year olds has arrived. It’s already happening in Scotland and in Wales.

 The Government are quickly finding themselves on the wrong side of the debate, while Labour are yet again showing that they are the party of the many”.

 Votes at 16 is a priority for young people. This year 950,000 young people voted in the UK Youth Parliament UK-wide ballot called ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, and Votes at 16 was made one of their five priority campaigns.

Research also indicates that the longer young people have to wait to participate in political life, the less engaged they are when they are adults. As the Electoral Reform Society has said: “vote early and vote often”.  

Stephen added:

“Equipping young people with a voice on the issues affected their lives is more important now than ever before. Above all, this is a debate about strengthening our democracy; about inclusion; and about how we involve all of society in shaping a vision for our great city and our country.

This isn’t a new debate, but the time has now come to make this a reality. So I’m fully behind Jim McMahon’s Bill to lower the voting age to 16.”

The Bill can be viewed at:  https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0015/180015.pdf

MP meets probation peer support group

Open Door, St Luke's, Portsmouth.PORTSMOUTH South MP Stephen Morgan joined representatives of the Open Door service user group at their weekly meeting earlier this month.

Open Door is a group for offenders and former offenders that is supported by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (HIOW CRC). The group meet weekly at St Luke’s church in Southsea.

Stephen said: “I was pleased to meet members of the Open Door group and hear about the issues facing those on probation. I was impressed by the supportive nature of the group and how proactive the members are.”

Probation staff Rachael Loveridge and Sue Vigar-Taylor also met with the MP and discussed the role the HIOW CRC plays in supporting rehabilitation.

Rachael, network developer for HIOW CRC, said: “Open Door is a successful peer support group which empowers offenders and former offenders to seek solutions and advice to help them to stop re-offending.

“Group members help each other with practical support and accessing local resources. They also become positive role models. The group helps members to integrate into their local community, which is a key principle of our new model of rehabilitation – Interchange.”

Open Door has been running for more than three years. During that time group members have accessed training courses and gained paid employment, found housing and support to maintain a healthy lifestyle and formed positive social networks.

Neil Bailey, Open Door member, said on behalf of the group: “Stephen listened carefully to what we said and showed that he understood the issues facing people coming out of prison and those supervised in the community.

“We spoke about the challenges of finding a job whilst having a criminal record. We felt valued and we were honoured that Stephen took the time to come and meet with us.”

Government are failing UK defence workers

BAE workersStephen Morgan MP has called on the Government to increase defence spending and invest it back into the UK industry. This comes after BAE Systems announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs, including 340 in Portsmouth due to current uncertainties and lack of confidence in the industry.

By 2020, nearly 25 pence in every pound of defence spending will be in US factories, as confirmed at a briefing with defence workers and Members of Parliament today.

There is serious concern that current defence spending plans are based on significant savings being made despite it not yet being disclosed where these savings are going to fall. The Royal Navy plans to take two minehunters out of service and the Government has refused to rule out decommissioning HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion – the only Navy warships with amphibious capability.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, who met with BAE Systems workers in the House of Commons today, said:

Scraping past our NATO-mandated commitment on defence spending is simply not good enough. 2% will not keep our country safe and will not protect jobs. In the 1980s, defence spending was at 5% of GDP, and even as recently as the 1990s it was at 3%.

The Government have repeatedly dodged questions seeking clarification and assurance on the future of our military, the Royal Navy in particular. They’ve refused to give industry the certainty it needs to sustain skill bases and protect jobs.”

There is also growing concern that an increasing reliance on foreign suppliers is weakening the UK’s sovereign capability and providing poor value for money.

The recently announced shipbuilding strategy invites overseas shipyards to bid for contracts for the building of the new Type 31e frigates; in the last decade, approximately 50,000 jobs have been lost from the UK defence manufacturing industry.

Stephen  added:

“The MoD will spend £178bn on defence in the next ten years. All I’m asking is that the Government prioritises investment into our own shipyards and factories, rather than farming out yet more contracts abroad.

I’m seriously concerned about the hollowing out of our sovereign capability. Relying on other nations to supply our military not only threatens UK jobs, but our security too. What’s more, buying British represents great value for money. RUSI estimates that 36 per cent of the value of government orders in the UK defence sector is returned to the Treasury via taxation.

The Government needs urgently to show its commitment to our nation’s defence, and those who work so hard to secure it, by spending more and spending here.”

City MP fights for better deal for Portsmouth schools

School lobbyTeachers from Portsmouth schools met with City MP Stephen Morgan today with their concerns about the current and future level of school funding in the city.

The National Education Union (NEU) is running a campaign and website demonstrating that 88% of school budgets are being cut by Government in real terms compared with 2015. There is widespread awareness that present and future levels of financial commitment fall well short of what is needed to maintain real terms 2015/16 funding.

£2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015 and school funding is £2bn a year less than it was.

Under Government plans 92% of the city’s schools are set to lose out. Average pupil funding in Portsmouth will drop by £273.00 per pupil which equates to a -6% reduction.  At Ark Charter Academy in the heart of the city, there is a £650.00 reduction per pupil.

Stephen Morgan MP for Portsmouth South said:

“It was good to welcome local teachers to Parliament today. From what they’ve said, it is clear that school funding is in crisis, and we must have a response from Government which appreciates the magnitude of the problem, and invests accordingly in the country’s future.

In next month’s Budget, I am urging the Chancellor to make sure the right sums are allocated for the Department of Education.

As someone who benefited from Portsmouth’s schools, I won’t rest until they are given a better deal from this Government.

It is high time our city’s schools get the resources they so desperately need to give every single child in Portsmouth the best possible start in life”.

Council adopts Labour proposal on affordable housing

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At last weeks Full Council meeting councillors voted to support a motion which will make it harder for property developers to shirk their affordable housing obligations through the use of questionable viability assessments.

Speaking in support of the motion and on the need for affordable housing local Charles Dickens ward campaigner Claire Udy said:

“Portsmouth is suffering with record numbers of homeless residents, some on the streets, some in temporary accommodation waiting for their chance to get a home. Developers who are only keen on maximising profits do not care about the housing provision of the most vulnerable in this city. I’ve been in Charles Dickens ward, taking to residents about their concerns. They are asking why there aren’t any homes for their children who now have children of their own. They also wonder why veterans are on the streets.”

This was a key issue highlighted in the recently published report the Portsmouth Labour Plan for Affordable Housing. Commenting on the motion the Chair of Portsmouth Labour Housing Forum Cal Corkery said:

“These viability assessments have been used by unscrupulous developers to get out of providing the affordable housing so desperately needed in our communities. I welcome this motion and am glad it has attracted support from across the political spectrum. Our group will continue to campaign on housing issues and look forward to winning more victories for local people.”

Local campaigners had been hard at work in recent weeks and months seeking cross party backing for these changes to affordable housing planning policy. As a result last weeks motion tabled by the Liberal Democrat group attracted unanimous support from councillors of all parties.