Tories have spent 3 years failing to deliver the investment we need

Catherine McKinnellCatherine McKinnell MP, Labour's Shadow Treasury Minister and Member of Parliament for Newcastle North writing in today's Journal said:

This week, local authorities across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham agreed to come together to deliver on transport, skills and economic growth.

 

Yesterday, they were handed a further 10 per cent funding cut by the Chancellor, on top of the already punitive and unfair local government cuts imposed on the region since the Coalition came to power. The Local Growth Fund for jobs and economic development proposed by Lord Heseltine was widely expected to be £10billion - instead George Osborne announced a pot of £2billion to be spent across the whole country.

 

The focus of the Government's Spending Review yesterday should have been clear and decisive action to boost growth and living standards this year and next year - not simply setting out cuts for two years' time. There's no point giving new economic powers to local government in our area, if it is starved of the capacity and resources to do the job.

 

David Cameron and George Osborne have spent three years failing to deliver on the infrastructure investment we need in the North East to get growth going in our local economy and to create jobs. Never has this been more important with unemployment in the region currently standing at 10.1 per cent - the highest level across the whole of the country.

 

Through a period of recession and economic stagnation, the Tory-led Government has spent £5 billion less in capital investment in the last three years when compared to the plans inherited from Labour. And their 2011 so-called 'infrastructure plan' - which includes 571 'priority' projects - has just seven listed as being 'completed' or 'operational'.

 

These cuts to public spending on infrastructure are having an impact.  The UK economy has been flatlining since the Tory-led Government took office.  This is now the slowest recovery for over 100 years with just 1.1 per cent growth since the 2010 Spending Review compared to the 6 per cent forecast at the time.

 

Labour has repeatedly urged David Cameron and George Osborne to heed the warnings of the International Monetary Fund which last month called on the Government to bring forward infrastructure investment right now.

 

We need to get construction workers back to work repairing our broken roads, improving transport links - which are critical to an exporting region like the North East - and building the affordable homes we need. This action will create jobs now, make our economy stronger and give us a long-term return.

 

Together with an active national industrial strategy - supporting growth in key and emerging sectors, such as new and renewable energy, low emission vehicles and the process industry in our region - these measures would help give investors the confidence and long-term certainty they need to get the UK economy growing.

 

Yesterday, at such a fragile time for the world and British economies, we needed our Chancellor to act decisively to secure a stronger economic recovery. Today, we need any promises on infrastructure investment to be turned into actual delivery for our region.

 

 

We don't need a part-time Chancellor with his eye on political games, but a full-time Chancellor determined to do the right thing for the North East and the rest of Britain.