• the budget

    In reaction to yesterday’s budget, I called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to go beyond mere rhetoric and make good on the Government’s promise of more funding, investment and job opportunities for highly ambitious communities like ours in St Helens and the North West.

    Rightly, this budget’s short-term strategic priority focused much on containing and defeating the threat posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19), and going forward it’s vital that MPs work in tandem with our community leaders, NHS officials and public health experts to provide an effective and measured response, as guided by the latest scientific evidence.

    But whilst extra funding to tackle Covid-19 is necessary and welcome, this budget falls far short of what’s in fact needed, and I’m concerned about its lack of measures to increase statutory sick pay for local people, or to extend it for those in low-pay work, part-time work, or indeed for those on zero-hours contracts. This Government can and must do better.

    The Chancellor talks often of “levelling up” our country, yet it is this Government’s inadequate investment in the North West’s public services, core infrastructure and skills that has stunted growth in St Helens, while seeing North / South regional inequalities cement and widen.

    Over the last decade, unreliable yet expensive transport, overstretched public services and poor connectivity have all but too often been a reality for local people. Instead of much-needed funding, the Government have slashed the grant to St Helens Council by 71% since 2010 – leaving £507 less per person to spend on essential services.

    If we’re truly to unlock our region’s great potential, places like St Helens borough need more than warm words or empty gestures, but concrete action to re-balance our economy, properly fund our public services, and promote growth right across the North West. In Parliament and in our communities, I’ll continue fighting day-in, day-out to ensure these can be finally delivered.