July 24, 2012


The report from the International Monetary Fund shows that the coalition government has borrowed more than expected. 

These figures are another damaging blow to Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne’s failed economic plan but more importantly they are a blow to the people of this country who need the economy to recover. We need jobs and growth and the government is giving us cuts and decline in living standards for families and pensioners. By choking off the recovery and pushing the economy into recession the Chancellor has ended up borrowing more – as Labour repeatedly warned.

With the double-dip recession and rising long-term unemployment leading to a bigger benefits bill, the Government has now borrowed £4.5 billion more in the year so far than in the same period last year. This is a rise of 11.7 per cent, compared to the 4.6 per cent fall predicted at the time of the Budget. And this borrowing of £42.9 billion is the highest amount ever recorded in the first three months of any financial year. 

This all comes on top of the extra £150 billion the Government has already admitted it will have to borrow to pay for the costs of high unemployment and slow growth. Trying to raise taxes like the granny tax and cut spending too far and too fast has badly backfired and the Government’s pledge to balance the books by 2015 is now in tatters.

We need tough decisions on tax, spending and pay but to succeed in getting the deficit down we also need a plan for jobs and growth. Unless the Chancellor takes urgent action to boost the economy now he will end up borrowing billions more to pay for economic failure and cause long-term damage too.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee of which I am a member, heard evidence from the Fire and Rescue Service on Merseyside and also from other metropolitan areas. 
The fire chiefs told us that they have had the largest cuts in the country and that their services are already the most efficient in the country. In fact, the most deprived areas which include parts of Merseyside are four times as likely to suffer from a fire as the least deprived areas. 
The question we asked the fire service minister, Tory MP, Bob Neil was why he had cut areas like Merseyside at the same time as given an increase to Hampshire and other shire counties? 
The number of fires across Merseyside has fallen dramatically because of the excellent work of the fire and rescue staff including the prevention work they do such as fitting fire detectors and visiting schools to help with fire safety teaching.  It was clear from the answers that if the cuts continue, the fire service will no longer be able to do this kind of work and that sooner rather than later we all face an increased risk from fire. 
All the members of the committee made clear that the government should think again and make sure the cuts in the fire service do not directly lead to more people dying because there are not enough fire fighters or fire engines or because fire prevention work has had to be stopped through budget cuts. If the cuts lead to more deaths that would be unforgiveable. 

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