Parliamentary questions are a great chance to ask ministers about subjects which matter right here in Sefton. I have asked a number of questions about issues which you have raised with me, from the Thornton Relief Road to student fees to the help that will be available to people who lose their jobs as a result of this week’s government cuts.
There are a number of ways in which I can table a question. I can either ask a question for written answer or I can put in a question for answer in the House of Commons chamber by a minister. The advantage of written questions is that the government has to answer them. With oral questions, it depends on the luck of the draw as there is only an hour for each ministry and half an hour for the Prime Minister.
Last week, I asked the Secretary of State for Education about the Playbuilder Scheme. One of his ministers answered and told me that the money had been stopped but that there might be more money for play equipment which would be given to councils to decide how to spend it.
I then asked a supplementary question about the play area in Aintree Village. The parish council had already started work on the play area in anticipation of the money from the government. One of the reasons that the parish council were so keen on the new equipment was to reduce childhood obesity. Another reason was to provide equipment for children with disabilities.
Sadly, the Aintree Village scheme was a victim of the new government’s cuts but if money is available to Sefton Council, I am sure that Aintree Village Parish Council will be at the front of the queue.
This week, I asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he had to help jobseekers who lose their jobs in both private and public sectors as a result of the new government’s cuts. It is clear that many people in the private sector in Sefton rely for their livelihoods on customers who work in the public sector, so we need to support people who work in both sectors. The minister said that the Jobcentres would help anyone who lost their job.
One of the issues which you have raised with me in Sefton is the closure of job centres, so you may be wondering how the job centres are going to be able to help the people who lose their jobs as a result of the cuts if there are fewer job centres.
A number of you have told me that you are very worried about the loss of child benefit, educational maintenance allowance and the massive increase in tuition fees. Many students are now considering whether they would go to university at all and if they go will they have to take a different course so that they end up with a better paid job. I asked the Secretary of State for Education about this issue as well and was told to wait and see what the outcome of this week’s spending review is.
The long awaited spending review will be announced on Wednesday, although the details on projects like the Thornton Relief Road may take longer to emerge. I believe that the cuts planned by the Tory/Lib-Dem government are too fast and too soon. The government is in too much of a hurry and thousands of people in Sefton will pay the price of the lack of care which will result. The private sector is not strong enough to provide the new jobs to replace those which will be lost as a result of the cuts being announced this week. I will therefore be calling on the government to cut less and to tax the banks more.
Whatever the outcome of the review, I would like to hear your views on the government’s plans, so please write to me at 29 Liverpool Road North, Maghull, L31 2HB or email firstname.lastname@example.org