This week is the State Opening of Parliament where plans for new legislation are announced.

In the past twelve months the government has suffered major defeats in the Commons – from cuts to disability support and tax credits to the U-turn on academies, to name but a few.

Government ministers and the Tory Party as a whole are so split over the EU referendum that they don’t seem to have much energy left to get on with the day job of governing. Their focus should be driving growth, supporting investment and helping local families.

A fair share of investment and funding for our region is long overdue. I want to see the government doing all they can to boost the competitiveness of local businesses so they can create more jobs.

We also need greater investment in infrastructure and additional support for adult training and education to boost skills.

For too many local people, our economy isn’t working and holds them back from realising their potential.

We hear all the time about the so-called Northern Powerhouse, yet the gulf between our region and London and the South East has never been wider. For our area to make its full contribution, we need to be given a chance to succeed.

What we need is an industrial strategy that supports productivity, exports and jobs creation.

We have a great track record – we are the only region to export more than we import – but there is still so much more to be done.

We still don’t have enough highly skilled, well paid jobs for our young people.

I know many working families have been pressed hard in recent years by rising energy bills, low wages, unemployment and cuts to their household income. Jobs are increasingly insecure and working poverty and child poverty are both set to rise.

As workers have felt the squeeze, the government is not doing enough to tackle the big companies who seem to believe paying tax is optional and everyone else pays more as a result.

Our area has great, untapped potential – what we need is a government on our side.

This article was originally published by the Sunderland Echo on 19th May 2016. You can read the online version here.

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