Last week I wrote about what I hoped to see in the Budget.
Here in High Peak, like the rest of Britain, we needed a Budget to boost the economy and low wages, with much-needed investment in our crumbling public services. All we got was a Chancellor intent on clinging on to his own job by playing it safe.
In spite of the rising deficit – now almost doubled since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 – falling investment, falling productivity and falling incomes, there was no big plan.
In High Peak we are all feeling the impact of seven years of austerity – both of our hospitals – Shire Hill in Glossop and the Cavendish in Buxton – are faced with possible closure, and waiting times for GPs are increasing in many places. The only money for the NHS is going to ‘Sustainability and Transformation Funds’, with no guarantee they will help the local services that are suffering.
All our public services are over-stretched. There are not enough police officers to go round when there’s a serious incident, or a big event such as Buxton carnival. We are still seeing 5% cuts to all our schools, three nurseries in the constituency have closed, and more have warned that they face possible closure without more support.
Whilst I am pleased that the long waits for Universal Credit will be fixed next year, I’m still worried about the thousands of families across the country who have been transferred onto it already and now face Christmas without any money, as a result of the Government’s failure to act when I asked them to, back in September in a letter signed by more than 100 MPs.
The Labour Party has put forward costed proposals for supporting all of our public services properly, whilst lifting the public sector pay cap, creating a framework for decent, secure jobs, and investing in skills, productivity and the infrastructure we so desperately need.
It’s no wonder Britain has low productivity when so many working people spend hours each day simply travelling to and from work. It’s exhausting, polluting and expensive, as well as eroding our family time.
The state of our economy now proves that austerity is hurting but it isn’t working. With the challenges of Brexit also before us, we need a plan to support our businesses, jobs and local services.
While I am disappointed that for High Peak the Budget was a wasted opportunity; it has made me even more determined to keep fighting for a fairer economy which would make us all better off.