Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Securing the recovery and protecting front line services

In the months ahead, the British people will make a big choice about the kind of future we want for Britain. A choice between creating a future that is fair for all, or a change that puts the recovery at risk, threatens public services and makes life tougher for families.

Today, Alistair Darling set out Labour’s choices in the budget.

In Makerfield like the rest of the country, the recovery is still in its infancy. We believe, as do economists and businesses all over Britain and the world, that the worst possible course to take now would be to slam on the brakes through the cuts this year proposed by the Conservatives. So we will keep helping businesses, families and the unemployed until recovery is secured.

That’s why I’m pleased that the Budget extended our ‘Time To Pay’ scheme, which between November 2008 and February 2010 deferred taxes worth a total of £20million for over 1,300 small and medium businesses here in Wigan.

I believe that people in Makerfield want a government that is on their side and fighting for a fairer future. So we will put economic growth first, to ensure that people have the skills and jobs they need to succeed in the world and their children have the opportunities to get on and get ahead. That is why we continue investing in growth.

And while we bring borrowing down, we will protect vital frontline services – in health, education and police numbers.

This means services like Sure Start – there are 20 Sure Starts in Wigan. It means the 8,148 police officers in our local police force. And it means protecting the fantastic gains we’ve made in the health service. There are now new ‘state of the art’ health centres across the borough, more NHS staff in our region than there were in 1997, and waiting times have fallen dramatically.

I believe that people in Makerfield want a government which stands up for the many – not the few. That’s why the greatest burden will be carried by those with the broadest shoulders. In contrast the Tories are cutting Child Tax Credits and Child Trust Funds for families on modest incomes so they can promise £200,000 for the 3000 richest estates.

Their plans to cut public spending and tax business investment would wreck the recovery. They refuse to tell anyone what their cuts would be in just a few months time or in the years to come. All they will say is they will cut further and faster.

Incredibly, just weeks away from an election, David Cameron is still refusing to answer even the most basic questions. How much are they planning to cut from spending in 2010/11? They won’t say. How quickly would they halve the deficit? They won’t say.

Unlike Labour, David Cameron can’t answer a single one of these questions. People will rightly conclude the Tories either haven’t got a clue what to do or they’re deliberately concealing their plans from the British people. That’s up to the Tories. In the Budget, we set out our plan. It is time for the Tories to come clean.