Budget is 'another missed opportunity,' says Sunderland MP

Bridget Phillipson
Bridget Phillipson

A Sunderland MP has condemned today's Budget speech for failing to tackle the challenges facing the city.

Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson MP said the region was suffering from years of austerity and Chancellor Philip Hammond's speech was a 'missed opportunity.'

"This Budget was another missed opportunity by a government that has failed the North East. It did not rise to the scale of the challenge we face as community and a country.

"Eight years of savage cuts and underinvestment mean our public services are in crisis and our infrastructure is crumbling

"Meanwhile, the rise in low-paid, insecure jobs means more and more people can’t make ends meet despite being in work.

"It is a shameful fact that one in three children in our city are still growing up in poverty, and the Budget did nothing to tackle this scandal.

"Rather than deliver the urgent plan we need to save our public services, make work pay, and unlock our region’s true potential, the Chancellor simply delivered more of the same

"To make matters worse, the government’s shambolic approach to Brexit means the threat to the economy and jobs grows by the day – something the north east can ill-afford after years of Tory austerity."

Her Sunderland Central colleague Julie Elliott added: "There was virtually no mention of the North East in the Chancellor’s budget today.

"The money for ’little extras’ for schools is an insult to teachers and pupils in the North East. They are facing a multitude of cuts. They need proper funding and proper support, not little extras.

"And the supposed ‘extra’ money for social care is still a real terms cut over the next few years.

"There is nothing in this budget for Sunderland and the North East. Just more of the same, more austerity."

The TUC was also critical. General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Working people cannot be fobbed off again with promises of a better tomorrow that never comes. The Budget does not undo the austerity that has devastated public services. And it lacks the investment needed to speed up wage growth after the longest pay squeeze in 200 years.

"People know that public services need much more investment. They feel the consequences of austerity where they live. There's more crime and less police. There’s longer NHS waiting lists and too few beds. And there's not enough teachers to educate our kids.

"With Brexit looming, we urgently need a national recovery plan to get the UK fit and ready. We will only have a strong economy and safe communities if we rebuild our public services. And we must invest in our industrial base to create well-paid steady jobs in the towns across Britain where they’re needed most."

But the British Beer & Pub Association was more upbeat, welcoming a freeze on duty for beer, ciders and spirits.

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "Pub-goers across the UK will be toasting the Chancellor tonight following his decision to freeze beer duty. This early Christmas present will save brewers, pubs and pub-goers £110million and secure upwards of 3,000 jobs that would have been lost had beer duty gone up.

"This is a big step in the right direction and a huge help for pubs across the UK that are struggling.

"The Chancellor’s announcement to cut business rates for high street and other small businesses is also great news for a lot of pubs. This will benefit community pubs by £120million over the next two years, securing the viability of many locals across the country. We would urge the Chancellor to use the announced Digital Services tax to provide further support for all pubs large and small."