Mr Speaker there is much to say about this budget and very little of it good. It fails on every count to address the fundamental weaknesses and unfairness in our economy – exacerbated by covid-19 – and offers no coherent plan to rebuild our country, invest in our communities and allow our citizens to prosper.
That is felt acutely in my community – by my friends, neighbours and constituents.
We faced huge challenges before the pandemic.
And when I talk about the health, educational, social and economic inequalities in St Helens North, I’m not talking about a place on a map or statistics.
I’m talking about our people and their lives.
We know privilege grants to its inheritors a head start.
It’s always been the way.
But shouldn’t it be the job of government to help the rest of us catch up?
Why then does it feel as though communities like mine are not only starting behind, but are being deliberately hampered.
Because in the next two years, the Government is forcing cuts to our local health and social care budget cut of more than £6m and children and young people’s services by almost £8m.
In a borough where people die younger, leave school with fewer qualifications, are poorer and have worse health.
That’s not levelling up – it’s doubling down.
But we’re used to it.
And despite it, the last year has shown again what a resilient, caring, innovative and determined community we are. We’re ambitious too, for our families and our future. Sometimes we’re even optimistic.
Our Labour-run council under the leadership of David Baines, alongside fantastic partners in business and the community, have already started to deliver on ambitious plans to, quite simply, make St Helens Borough the best place to live, work and visit in the north west of England.
We don’t want the Government to do it for us – we know they can’t.
But they can help us do it for ourselves. We want to do ourselves.
That’s why we needed this budget to give us a fighting chance to succeed.
And that’s why it so frustrating and disappointed, that all it’s done is give us an even harder race to run.