Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, declared today’s (5th December 2012) Autumn Statement, delivered by Chancellor George Osborne, a “confirmation of the complete mishandling of the economy by the Coalition Government” as a series of further cuts and missed targets were announced.
“Today’s Autumn Statement, half-way through the Parliamentary term has resoundingly proved that George Osborne’s Plan A has failed. It hasn’t secured the growth required, and despite all the rhetoric about getting the debt down, it is actually going up and will do for years. Yet it’s not going up really for investment, it’s going up to pay for Tory failure.
“Last year, Ministers boasted that their infrastructure plan would boost the economy, but none of the road schemes have even started construction. The Government needs to ensure that this funding urgently gets to where it is most needed, particularly the announced upgrades to the A1 – making the entire route a motorway.
“Yet cuts to infrastructure projects, such as the Building Schools for the Future programme, two years ago were clearly a mistake and the Chancellor seems to have finally admitted that. So the extra funding for new free schools, which will be smaller than the huge cuts he previously made are of little consolation to schools in my constituency such as Laurence Jackson and Kilton Thorpe School who have still ultimately lost out.
“I am also concerned about what impact the removal of national pay bargaining from teachers will have on educational standards. This could see teachers move to areas that can afford to pay higher wages and this could lower standards. Yet the British education system was recently listed as the 6th best in the world.
“Other announcements failed to include our area. HS2 plans are to be extended to the North West and West Yorkshire – yet the North East is left out. And what about much needed broadband improvements? Vital to any future economy, yet Teesside is not even on the ‘broadband enhancement map’.
“The Chancellor had the audacity to repeat his calls that ‘we are all in this together’ yet next April’s 50p tax cut means over 8000 millionaires will get a tax cut worth £107, 500 – whilst hard-working families receiving in work benefits and credits are capped at a 1% increase regardless of the level of inflation which could strain purse strings. Although it was good to hear that pressure from the Labour Party has forced the cancellation of January’s 3p fuel duty rise, which will come as a relief to hard-pressed motorists and businesses.
“If the complete failure of Osborne’s Plan A is the “right track” then I dread to think where the wrong track would lead us.”