Austerity never going to work

Ronnie Campbell MP for Blyth Valley.
Ronnie Campbell MP for Blyth Valley.

Chancellor Philip Hammond plans to plug the black hole in Tory finances by banning blanket pay rises for nurses, teachers and police officers.

Future public sector wage increases will instead be based on people’s performance and where they live in the country.

The Tories always seem to expect the poor and vulnerable to pay the price for their economic blunders and to finance tax breaks for the fat cats. But if they get away with this, it will just be the start – next they could target pensioners and benefits.

The latest average household pay figures pre-Universal Credit show Blyth incomes at £385.20 per week, half that of other parts of the north east, which is amongst the lowest of the regions. Workers should be paid the rate for the job, not on the basis of where they live.

Mr Hammond is launching a broadside against public sector workers who are struggling to make ends meet as pay increases lag far behind inflation.

The government, as this week’s budget has shown, is all pain and little, if any, gain.

Austerity was never going to work – cutting public spending as you go into recession was only going to deepen and prolong the slump. The Tories haven’t sorted the deficit, they’ve doubled it to £1.8tn and shifted much of it onto the shoulders of NHS managers, headteachers and school governing bodies, councillors and police chiefs.

It is now clear that austerity is not over, cuts to social security will continue and there are no assurances that departments won’t face further cuts. Eight years of austerity has damaged our economy, damaged people’s incomes and damaged essential services. There is nothing in the budget to repair the damage to schools, the police and local councils.

To end on a good note, I visited the Port of Blyth recently and found that almost 1,000 new jobs have been created there. It’s rapidly heading towards a new future. Unless the Tories wreck such hopes with their ‘economics’.