Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and the outcome of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley said:
“This is a desperate statement by a desperate chancellor. Today George Osborne should have been proudly announcing that he had balanced the books - the deficit should have been eliminated by now. Instead he continued his assault on the public services and the livelihoods of middle and low income families on Teesside. His economic failure has led to a poor recovery built on low paid, insecure work and now he is slashing local funding, getting local people to cough up more in local taxes and failing to invest in the technology and skills we need for the future.
In Redcar we have been on the frontline of the Tories’ failure to support British industry and manufacturing with the closure of the steelworks and job losses in other industries. Manufacturing output is still 6% below where it was under the last Labour government and the steel industry is on its knees due to government inaction. The Autumn Statement offered no comfort.
Local services will be decimated by the removal of the main source of central government funding and replacing this funding with business rates might work in more prosperous economic areas down south but will nowhere near make up the difference in areas like ours.
There is smoke and mirrors on preserving police funding as this will be dependent on the precept raised locally. The Tories are making local people cough up for their cuts to make sure we keep our vital police services. The same is happening with the social care budget where the decision to introduce a new local tax to fund social care will further reinforce regional inequalities with poorer yet high demand areas left struggling to cope. Even the Conservative Chairman of the Local Government Association has warned further cuts will be ruinous to local services. The claims to be building a Northern Powerhouse ring hollow – we are not seeing it here on Teesside.
The government’s U-turn on cruel plans to cut tax credits after overwhelming pressure from Labour MPs and peers alongside others is to be welcomed and thousands of Teesside families can breathe a sigh of relief. However, the fact this policy was even considered and defended shows how out of touch the Tories are with ordinary people, and we are now learning that the cuts to child tax credits remain.
Balancing the books on the backs of working families and the vulnerable by slashing the public services that local communities rely on is not the way to go about it. The Tories are using the cover of deficit reduction to pursue an ideological obsession with a smaller state with ordinary people paying the price.
Real growth and prosperity will come from investing in skills, technology and infrastructure and backing British industry. To Teesside’s cost, the government is too short-sighted to see that.”