Sue has responded to the 2017 Autumn Budget, presented to Parliament today.
“Philip Hammond’s Budget was extremely disappointing for West Cumbria on a number of fronts. It was a very safe Budget at a time when we need action and investment.
“There were a number of announcements today that I cautiously welcome, for example the £1.5bn package for Universal Credit claimants, but it’s clear that the Government still needs to do more. Nobody should lose out while they are being transferred across to Universal Credit, and Ministers must ensure that none of my constituents fall through the cracks.
“The Chancellor’s big housing announcement, of a removal of stamp duty for first time buyers under £300,000, is welcome, as it was a Labour manifesto commitment at the last election. However, the Government must commit to building more homes, particularly affordable homes, to meet with the growing demand. I certainly welcome the move to allow local authorities to charge 100% council tax premiums on empty properties. Everyone should have the right to get on the housing ladder and own their own home, and we need to make sure that our young people are not priced out of the market.
“I welcome the additional money announced for training more maths teachers, as it’s crucial that we properly fund the teaching of STEM subjects, particularly in West Cumbria. However, I know there are local concerns about cuts to school budgets and the impact this has on the provision of arts and humanities subjects – it’s vital that we get the necessary investment in subjects across the curriculum.
“The commitment of £2.8bn extra for the NHS falls short of the £4bn asked for earlier this month by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, which is a concern. All additional funding for the NHS is welcome, but we cannot afford to leave our health services under-resourced, when they are already struggling. I am particularly disappointed that the Chancellor did not announce any additional funding for our social care system.
“We heard about a number of transport infrastructure projects, but nothing that would benefit our region. The Government boasts of the biggest rail programme since Victorian times, but at the same time has cut the planned electrification of the railway from Oxenholme to Windermere. The Chancellor introduced measures against diesel cars, yet we heard nothing about diesel vans, lorries, and buses, which are all major polluters, let alone the hundreds of diesel trains which will carry on running because of shelved rail electrification programmes. The Government talks a good talk when it comes to our environment yet delivers very little.
“The Budget was an opportunity for the Chancellor to take bold, decisive action to help communities in West Cumbria – but once again he has failed to take meaningful action to improve our infrastructure and public services.”