This afternoon the Chancellor delivered his budget at a time when the government is presiding over a major dispute with junior doctors and clashing with each other on their differing views on remaining in the EU so this is a testing time for them to deliver a budget that has public support.
I wanted to hear what his plans are for investment in the North, making the business rates system work better for businesses and reducing Britain’s deficit among other many important issues affecting my constituents.
The result was disappointing. Debt is rising again, growth is down, productivity is down and George Osborne has already broken two of the three targets he set himself just last year.
There were announcements on business rates with the threshold for small business rate relief raised from £6,000 to £15,000 and many SME’s paying no business rates at all. But I am concerned in areas like Merseyside that this will reduce revenue for local councils and put their services under even more pressure. Even more shocking is that there is no relief for manufacturing at all, they will continue to face huge business rates costs every time they invest.
Whilst committing to a HS3 link between Manchester and Leeds he was forced to admit that educational attainment in the north is lagging behind the rest of the country.
Even Tory thinktanks are admitting that a political drive to make all schools academies will do nothing for standards in education.
We have seen painful cuts to local government and our public services under this government and whilst we have won some fights over the government’s plans to reduce tax credits for example there are still many issues I and my colleagues will continue to fight the government on.
These include justice for the women born in the 1950’s affected by the pension age increase. The Women Against State Pension Age (WASPI) campaigners would have been hoping for the government to do the right thing by them and I hoped that the efforts of the WASPI campaign had caused enough of a sting to make the government take notice and correct this injustice. Unfortunately they have chosen to ignore this issue today and there has been another wasted opportunity.