Responding to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement delivered in the House of Commons today, Anna said:
“Today the Chancellor admitted what Labour have been saying for the past six years – austerity has deprived our country of the investment it vitally needs, dragging down productivity, wages and growth. Ordinary working people on Teesside have paid a heavy price for the Tories’ slow recovery. I hear from too many people, at my surgeries and on the doorstep, struggling in low paid jobs and insecure work and there was very little to help them today.
“Labour have repeatedly called for more investment in infrastructure and for investment in new technology and innovation in industry so the change of tack on that is welcome. It is just a shame that the Government did not hold this view last year when the steel industry vitally needed support and protection. The Government can find money to invest in grand houses, like Wentworth Woodhouse and Buckingham Palace, but were not willing to invest in one of Europe’s most efficient and productive steelworks, SSI’s plant in Redcar. Now, too many of the men and women who worked at the plant in Redcar are still looking for work or have taken significant reductions in wages.
“I hope Teesside will see some of the investment promised today to help create the new, decent jobs we need. A good start would be to back MPI’s bid for a materials catapult. On Teesside we are already attracting international interest in our work on new industrial materials technology and there is great potential for us to become a world leader in this, bringing new investment and jobs here. The proof on the Chancellor’s support for industry and local growth will be in the detail.
“I also hoped to see some real support for low and middle income families who need a boost. Any rise in the minimum wage is welcome but £7.50 is well short of the £8.45 the independent Living Wage Commission calculates people need to cover the cost of living. Changes to the taper rate of Universal Credit also fall well short of reversing the cuts announced by George Osborne which penalise people striving to work.
“After a tough six years of austerity and job losses, there wasn’t enough in today’s statement to give Teesside’s economy the boost it needs.”