This week’s Spring Statement highlighted the Government’s complacency and unwillingness to address the problems of its own making.
The Chancellor’s statement was more notable for what was omitted than that which was included.
There was no reversal of damaging police cuts. Forces like Gwent – which has suffered a £40million cut to its budget since 2010, with the loss of 350 frontline officers and 200 staff members – deserve to have the funding they need to keep our communities safe at a time when recorded crime is on the rise.
There was no recompense for the 1950s women affected by the acceleration of the state pension age. This statement was another missed opportunity to do the right thing by the 2.6 million women impacted across the UK, including 3,100 in Newport East.
And there was no immediate help for our steel industry – an issue which has become all the more pressing with the upcoming implementation of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the USA.
The Chancellor’s hollow boasts about the state of the economy also fell flat. Wages are still below their level in 2010, and are falling again. Currently wage growth is being outstripped by inflation so workers are feeling the squeeze. The UK is the only major developed economy where wages have fallen at the same time as the economy has grown. Meanwhile economic growth in 2017 was the slowest since 2012 and the slowest of the G7 group of major developed economies.
My party and I will continue to raise these issues in the run up to the budget later this year.