A year ago Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne, announced plans to make major spending cuts and to increase VAT. Labour warned that the cuts went too deep, were being made too fast and would damage the economy.
One year on, it is clear that Labour was right and the Chancellor was wrong. The economy is not growing and inflation is at highest level for twenty years. Unemployment and youth unemployment are also at the highest levels since the 1990s. People in Salford are living with the threat of job losses and the worry of how to deal with the increased cost of living.
David Cameron promised pensioners that he would act to make gas and electricity prices fairer but he has broken that promise and prices have soared.
The Chancellor said “We are all in this together. I am not going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.” But he has hit hardest at the poor, at women and families and at people with disabilities. I spoke at one of the “Hardest Hit” rallies which people with disabilities organised to show their anger at the Government’s policies. They were worried that even people with terminal illness or severe injury will lose their sickness benefits after one year.
I was shocked to hear from a church group in Irlam that they are now providing food parcels to local families who cannot buy the basics they need. Every week I am contacted by constituents who cannot manage to pay their rent and bills. The Government’s policies are causing misery and worry on a scale not seen since the 1980s.
There is a better way. Labour has now set out a clear five-point plan of action for jobs, to help struggling families and to support small businesses. This would kick start growth and generate jobs. It is what people need in Salford and across the country.