In Westminster there is a growing anticipation around the Budget Statement and calls from the Opposition to end the austerity measures of the last 7 years.
It is understandable that after the Tories needlessly harsh austerity measures, people are angry when they queue for hours at A&E, see our schools laying off staff, Surestart centres closing and local neighbourhood police withdrawn from our streets.
Those who work in and the infrastructure of our public services underpin a good society. Public service workers were not to blame for the crash in 2008. Seven years of pay restraint has meant that the value of their pay has fallen by £5,636.95. The government is projecting that inflation will rise, and if those projections are correct, and the 1% pay cap continues until 2020, the value of pay will fall by a further £3,626.00.
Tax cuts introduced since 2010, including Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax, will cost us over £70bn over the next five years. The super-rich and giant corporations simply refuse to play by the same rules as the rest of us. The UK is losing at least £16bn a year to tax havens. Every single penny lost in tax means less money for our public services.
Our infrastructure creaks and slowly crumbles. Every business group from the CBI to the Institute of Directors, quite rightly, complains about delays and cancellation. When a government cuts research funding by £1bn, it has real economic consequences. When governments cut investment spending by nearly £20bn, it has an impact on business. Investment in the United Kingdom is the third lowest of any major developed economy.
Last month, the House voted unanimously to pause and fix Universal Credit. The Children’s Commissioner for England is also calling for a pause of the Universal Credit rollout. The Chancellor himself has admitted that there is a “challenge around the waiting times.” He needs to act now to stop thousands of families being pushed into absolute poverty and despair.
Since 2010 with Conservative Ministers fewer homes have been built than at any time since the 1920s. We need at least 100,000 new social homes a-year funded and built by this Government to even begin to address the problem.
I laid wreaths for Remembrance Day Sunday in Walsall Town Centre and Darlaston and was so pleased to see such a good turnout. We will always remember those who have made sacrifices for us and our country.