The focus of today’s Spending Review should have been clear and decisive action to boost growth and living standards this year and next year — not simply setting out cuts for two years’ time.
David Cameron and George Osborne are failing to deliver on investing in infrastructure. In Exeter and the Westcountry we need that investment to boost growth and create jobs.
Exeter’s flood defences are in dire need of upgrading to protect homes, business and our rail connections. People desperately need more affordable homes for rent.
As Ed Miliband revealed in Parliament today, only a tiny fraction of the new infrastructure already promised by this Government has actually been delivered.
Sensible proposals from the former Conservative Cabinet Minister Lord Heseltine to devolve and boost the funds available for regional growth have been ignored.
We are only having another spending review with more big cuts because Osborne’s economic policies have failed. When Labour left office in 2010, our economy was growing at more than 2% a year. Since then in three years it has grown just 1.1%, compared to the 6% Osborne forecast at the time.
On top of this, the Government’s incompetence and mixed messages on things like energy policy and the environment are damaging the potential of many local Westcountry businesses to invest and expand.
Labour believes the Government should heed the warnings of the International Monetary Fund which has called on the Government to bring forward infrastructure investment now.
In Exeter we need to get construction workers back to work repairing our broken roads, improving transport links and building the affordable homes we need. This action will create jobs now, make our economy stronger and give us a long-term return.
Together with an active national industrial strategy – supporting growth in key sectors and industries of the economy – these measures would help give investors the confidence and long-term certainty they need to get the UK economy growing.
At such a fragile time for the world and British economies, we needed our Chancellor to act to secure a stronger economic recovery. Not a part-time Chancellor with his eye on political games, but a full-time Chancellor determined to do the right thing for Exeter and the rest of Britain.