The chancellor, Rishi Runak, has made his latest spending announcements. I was in the Commons to listen to the statement and found some of it shocking.
Firstly, the level of borrowing this year has exceeded £390 billion. Thankfully the cost of borrowing is extremely low, but as with house mortgages the capital still exists and will need repaying. Even though these are not decisions for today, when I heard this number I couldn’t help but link some of it to the waste, avoidable mistakes, and also the tens of millions that have been funnelled into the pockets of businesspeople with close ties to ministers.
Us becoming indebted as a country is a price we must pay for helping people through this crisis, but the knowledge that for decades we will be making payments for money that’s often spend so poorly or corruptly will sit uneasy for a lot of people.
Too many people in our community are suffering. Government have focussed on those in mainstream employment categories who can apply for loans, grants, tax relief or furlough. But so many people don’t qualify for these and not enough effort has gone into supporting people who have fallen between the cracks on these programmes. They have been excluded.
Also, people who are renting properties but have lost their income, or had it reduced, are now facing a terrible crisis.
I spoke to someone a few days ago who’s business was doing brilliantly well until covid struck and then was forced to shut. For various frustrating reasons many of the support programmes didn’t apply. His savings have now been exhausted and he can no longer afford the rent on his three bedroom home for him, his partner and kids.
Our city has double the national average for rented properties. Our property prices are on a par with central London. For us the double-whammy of reduced income but extremely high rent is adding another layer of crisis to the already difficult period. For many people on a decent wage and renting a good home, being put onto Universal Credit at £460 per month simply won’t get them through the covid crisis.
We need people to get through this crisis so their businesses and jobs can come back to life, otherwise the recession will become a depression.
I always try my best to give you voice directly to the people making decisions, after all that’s my job! I put the issue of rental costs directly to the chancellor this week. I’m afraid his response was weak and poorly considered. I am left with the impression that he’d not considered it.
With all this debt government are accruing, the chancellor said he had to make ‘hard choices’. He then said he was freezing the pay of police officers, teaching assistants, and the fire service. On top of that, he was cutting our aid budget. That wasn’t a hard choice for him, it was a cowardly choice because it actually pleases his supporters that money is snatched from public services and the global poor.
This isn’t a debate about public verses private, because when you pay public servants a decent wage it gets spent in the private sector and in support of local businesses. Life is more complex that some people in government seem to realise!
And finally, in 31 days we leave the Single Market. Whatever the deal that might be struck our economy will suffer. If no deal is delivered there will be a profound shock to trade. You’d think this would concern the chancellor at such as an important moment…but no, not one single word.
Me and the whole team are working flat-out to help as many people as possible and make our community heard in these difficult times. Please let me know how you’re doing.