Today the Chancellor delivered his 2020 Budget.
The spread of coronavirus crisis is understandably causing a lot of worry, for families and for businesses. We have been pressing the government to make sure they put enough support in place and I welcome the Chancellor’s commitment today to supporting the NHS, expanding the safety net provided by the welfare system and statutory sick pay, and supporting businesses to weather the crisis. However, our health service was already under pressure and we still need to hear how the government plan to quickly recruit additional staff.
10 years the Conservatives have been in power. 10 years they have had to invest in communities across the UK. Instead they have spent 10 years cutting millions of pounds from public services.
Newcastle City Council has seen it’s spending power cut by more than a third since the Conservatives came to power, leaving less cash for services like social care, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, investment in roads and other infrastructure. Austerity has pushed our area up the deprivation scale and for many families I speak to in Newcastle North, making ends meet is a daily challenge. So the idea that government suddenly has the power and resources to invest in the regions, and not because many Northern constituencies voted blue in December, is an insult to families in Newcastle who have found the last ten years a real struggle.
Grand pledges on investment and green growth have been made today but this government will be judged on what they deliver. It will take more than warm words and press releases to unlock the potential of the North East but I will support any genuine efforts to do that. A recent report by the Centre for Cities found that Newcastle has an output gap of 22%, which means lower wages and fewer jobs than we have the potential to deliver. We will need real action to turn this around and I will be holding the government to account to make sure investment does reach Newcastle.
They call it a ‘green budget’ but they prioritized cheaper fuel and more investment in tarmac and real action to deliver net zero has been delayed. Ahead of the Budget, MPs on the East Coast Main Line asked the Chancellor for an urgent commitment to invest in the line. It hasn’t seen major investment for 30 years and I am disappointed the government did not deliver on that today. If they really want to support our region and ensure every community can take advantage of high speed rail, the East Coast Main Line must be upgraded and integrated.
I have also called for investment to support families, including on childcare so parents are able to balance work and family life and for kinship carers who are stepping up and saving children from falling into the care system which is facing huge strain. This Budget fell massively short with no recognition of the challenges these families face and the sacrifices they make. Across social care in general, this Budget was completely silent on one of the biggest challenges of our time.