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24 Jun 2017

NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott MP

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16 Mar 2017
Budget 2017 – More of the same failed austerity

Last week’s budget showed why the Tories can never be on the side of ordinary working families.

On the one hand, they believed it was acceptable to go ahead with £70 billion worth of tax giveaways to those at the top, while introducing a £2 billion tax hike for low and middle earners.

After strong opposition from Labour and others, the announcement yesterday of a u-turn on national insurance contributions shows the level of disarray that exists at the top of the Tory government.

What is also alarming is that the Government didn’t stop and think before announcing such a tax hike. It should have been obvious that they would need to consult first, or at least wait until after their review on self-employment had finished, before announcing such drastic changes.

Additionally, this week we have also seen analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) that shows real wages will be no higher in 2022 than they were in 2007.

As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP put it, “this lost decade for living standards is a damning indictment of seven years of Tory economicfailure.”

Theresa May’s sustained underfunding of the NHS is directly impacting on the quality of patient care and the NHS performance statistics

The release of a King’s Fund report on understanding NHS financial pressures this week has shown that the Tories’ sustained underfunding of the NHS is directly impacting on the quality of patient care.  We all  know we have an ageing population and rising demands on the NHS yet Tory ministers have completely failed to put in place the plans for the NHS to respond to those demands.

As Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth put it, “The King’s Fund say that district nurses are under increasing pressure, which is affecting both their welfare and patient care. The Government’s decision to make savings by cutting back preventative healthcare and public health services is staggeringly short sighted and will end up costing the NHS and the country far more in the long term.”

Meanwhile, the latest NHS performance statistics show an unprecedented winter crisis, in which almost a thousand people waited over twelve hours on trolleys, compared to just 17 in January 2011. The Government once again missed its four hour A&E target and seems content with a 504 per cent increase in the number of patients waiting over four hours for admission since January 2011.

Last week’s Budget announcement should have been an opportunity to genuinely place the NHS on a sustainable footing. And yet the Chancellor’s mere offer of £100 million for capital funding simply isn’t enough, meaning the NHS will continue facing its biggest financial squeeze in history and head-for-head investment will fall again next year.

More evidence of the Tories secret deal with the leadership of Surrey County Council

The release of FOI letters by Surrey County Council this week showed that despite Theresa May’s claims to the contrary, there is more evidence of the Tories secret deal with the leadership of Surrey County  Council.

What makes this even worse is that the Government keeps on squeezing local councils’ funding to unbearable levels. For example, we are seeing a reduction of £139 million in the government’s annual grants to Hackney – a cut of 45 per cent – in the period 2010/11 to 2020/21.

Additionally, there is a huge crisis in social care and what we need from the Tories is a long term sustainable plan, rather than sweetheart deals for Tory councils.

It is time for the Government to come clean. We need full disclosure of the terms of the deal and reassurance that all councils will be treated the same way not just the lucky few the Tories favour.

The growing national housing crisis is entrenched and endemic in London but the Tories have no answers

Research from the Trust for London charity this week was a timely eminder that the growing national housing crisis is entrenched and endemic in London, and that the Government is doing next to nothing to
resolve it.

For those on the London Living Wage of £9.75 an hour, the only type of housing that is affordable in London is housing association or council rented property but both are under attack from right-to-buy and forced sale schemes.

In contrast to the Tories, the Mayor of London is showing the way by insisting on high levels of shared ownership, London Living Rent and enuinely affordable social rented homes in new developments. 

But, as Shadow Minister for London Andy Slaughter MP put it this week, “to get the volume and type of housing that Londoners can afford to rent or buy requires major initiative by central Government, not the vacuum  in policy revealed in the recent White Paper.”

Labour supports the demand for Orgreave justice

I was pleased to speak alongside Richard Burgon MP and others at a protest outside the Home Office on Monday supporting the demand for justice for the striking miners at Orgreave and their families.

The truth must be told. But the Tories are refusing to hold a proper  Inquiry. The Government is stonewalling despite previously indicating that a full Inquiry was on offer.

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