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February 28, 2012 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson


A number of constituents have been unable to gain grants for urgent safety work on their homes eg re-wiring or crime safety measures as government funding has been cut to councils especially those on Merseyside. I have raised this issue with ministers and am asking whether the government looked at the risk posed by such a cut. 

Many homes have dangerous electrical wiring or gas fittings and up to the election government grants were available through local councils to help people with safety measures like re-wiring. 
The Tories and Lib Dems have stopped such grants but it appears they didn’t consider the impact on safety first. It is extremely worrying that the government cut grants to local councils which were for safety measures like re-wiring. Having a safe electrical system in your home is vital as is having proper gas safety. For the government to cut such support shows a cavalier disregard for safety and I am calling on the government to reinstate such funding on the grounds of safety. 
A number of constituents have raised this issue with me and with changes to Building Regulations being considered as well, this is a good time for the government to make sure that safety is not compromised as they make cuts. 
The more I hear from people in Sefton Central about cuts to essential grants like those for electrical and gas safety work, the more I think that the Tories and their Lib Dem allies are acting in a cavalier way. Many people just cannot afford to spend the several thousand pounds needed to make their home safe. The grants were literally a lifeline for many people and I am calling on the government to make sure that it puts safety first.

Anyone who has recently applied for a grant for renovation of their home can call my office on 0151 531 1193 or emailbill.esterson.mp@parliament.uk so that I can tell government ministers just how many people are affected by this issue.

With our stalled economy now in reverse, unemployment soaring, and £158 billion extra borrowing to pay for Tory-Lib Dem economic failure, the case for a change of course and a real plan for jobs and growth in next month’s Budget is growing by the day. 
New figures from the government show that the economy grew even less than we thought in 2011. Since Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review the economy has grown by just 0.2% compared to the 3.0% the government predicted. And far from the eurozone crisis being to blame, only rising exports kept us out of recession last year. 
In the USA, where the government has taken a more balanced and steady approach to deficit reduction, their economy has more than recovered all the output lost in the global recession, while in Britain we are still almost 4% below our pre-crisis peak. 
Of course we need tough decisions on spending, tax and pay, but the Tories and their Lib Dem friends have made an economic gamble – tax rises and spending cuts that go too far and too fast – the gamble has backfired badly and is being paid for by families, by pensioners, by young people and by businesses across our country. Rising unemployment and slow growth means the government is set to borrow billions more than planned and will break its promise to balance the books by 2015. As even ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has said, "austerity alone is self-defeating."   
To get the deficit down in a fairer, better way we need to get the economy moving again and get people off the dole and into work. Labour’s five point plan for jobs includes tax breaks for small firms taking on extra workers, bringing forward infrastructure investment, a bank bonus tax to fund 100,000 youth jobs and a temporary cut in VAT. 
The economy will eventually recover, but a prolonged period of weak growth and high unemployment cannot be quickly undone and will cause long-term damage to Britain’s economy as well as causing misery to millions of our people. That is why it’s so vital that the out of touch Tories and Lib Dems break out of their complacency and accept their policies aren’t working. 
For the sake of hard-pressed families, pensioners, young people and businesses, George Osborne needs to listen and use next month’s Budget to change course. It’s his last chance to make a difference to our economic prospects this year and next.

At a time when the Tories and Lib Dems'  Health Bill is being condemned by nearly everyone who either works in or uses the NHS, we have yet more evidence of an NHS in increasing distress and of a Government that has lost its grip.

We have the Lib Dems in Maghull making up stories about a new walk in treatment centre, because they are so desperate to hide the fact that they the public has rumbled them. The Lib Dems have supported the Health Bill from day one. Let’s be clear, if the changes go through it will mean the privatisation of the health service and everything that means for patient care and waiting lists.

And for the eighth week running, hospitals are failing to meet the government's own lowered A&E target. The Prime Minister relaxed Labour's standards on A&E waiting times and now more and more people are facing longer waits. Patients are beginning to pay the price for David Cameron's mismanagement of the NHS.

David Cameron needs to focus on what matters to people rather than his ideological re-organisation. He should swallow his political pride, drop his Health Bill and start putting patients first. And the Lib Dems need to decide which side they are on. Are they with the public or are they just yellow Tories who do what Mr Cameron tells them to do.

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