Yesterday’s Spending Review was a missed opportunity for the government to start making responsible choices to get our economy back on its feet.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on communities like ours. It’s why for months, Labour have called for a relentless focus on jobs – to help us recover and reverse the damage caused by a decade of Tory rule.
We’ve seen the harm their choices have caused. For our children, growing up is getting harder, not easier, with the shameful scourge of child poverty blighting so many lives.
With a huge drop in the number of apprenticeships, young people face fewer opportunities to develop the skills they need to get ahead in life. Working families too are paying the price of a poorly-run Tory economy which has led to stagnant wages.
All the while, the pressure has piled on our public services. Police officer numbers have plummeted, making it harder for them to do the vital job of keeping our community safe. GP numbers have fallen rapidly too, meaning it’s harder for local people to get the care they need and deserve.
Yesterday the Chancellor could have made a break with the past. To turn a page on ten years of Tory failure, and set Britain on the path to recovery.
But rather than ‘levelling up’ places like Sunderland, whatever that means, he showed that he will keep letting us down.
During this crisis, we saw who our key workers are. But now we know health workers, firefighters, police officers and teachers will pick up the bill for the Chancellor’s mistakes.
Freezing their pay means they are less likely to spend on our high streets, hurting local businesses when they’re already struggling.
Buried in the small print of his announcement was a potential rise of up to 5% in council tax – a bombshell that will hit working people when they can least afford it.
What makes this all worse is the government’s staggering track record of waste and mismanagement during this crisis.
They are penny-pinching when it comes to hard-pressed working families, but paying over the odds to Tory-linked firms that don’t deliver.
It’s more proof that this government is failing to take responsible decisions to help us recover. As a result, our country is going through the worst downturn in the G7.
It’s clear we need a different approach – one which helps us recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild business.
It’s what Labour have called for – action to make our country the best to grow up in and the best to grow old in.
The Chancellor missed his chance to deliver this yesterday – and working families in the North East risk paying the price.
Bridget’s article was originally published in the Sunderland Echo.