COLUMN: Budget Will Be Same Old Story

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 26th October:

Next week in Parliament, the Government will unveil its Budget for the coming year.

When Philip Hammond stands up in front of MPs and announces his spending plans, it’s likely to be the same old story from this Tory Government: cuts to our schools, cuts to our NHS, and cuts to the pay of our public sector workers.

Theresa May recently claimed that ‘austerity is over’.

Tell that to the carer in Grimethorpe, working unsociable hours for low pay with no support from this Government.

Tell it to the police officer in Cudworth who’s been asked to work longer hours for less as her pay has been frozen and thousands of her colleagues across our region have lost their jobs.

And tell it to the woman in Hoyland who’s forced to walk miles to a job interview as the disastrous Universal Credit programme leaves him struggling to make ends meet, unable to even afford a bus fare.

The sad reality for my constituents and thousands more across the country is that this Tory Government’s austerity agenda is not over.

Instead, it’s hurting more than ever, as our schools struggle under the weight of cuts; our NHS and social care sector groans under years of underfunding; and crime rises, with our police struggling after losing 21,000 officers since 2010.

I’m proud that last year I was elected on a Labour manifesto which promised to truly end austerity.

Not empty words, but a real promise of change, with properly funded public services, the end of the public sector pay cap, and an end to devastating cuts to funding.

What my constituents need here in Barnsley is not yet more empty words and broken promises from this Tory Government.

We need real action now.

That’s why I’m urging the Government to follow the Labour Party’s lead, to properly invest in our public services, and to use next week’s Budget to properly end austerity once and for all.