Finance (No. 2) Bill

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 5:32 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence) 5:32 pm, 1st April 2014

The hon. Gentleman has not broken my flow, but I thank him for the little breather to give my larynx a rest.

If one follows the logic of the hon. Member for Macclesfield, business should not get any subsidies whatever. But we all know that that is complete nonsense. The Government are now increasing investment allowances, but they cut them in 2012. We are now told that this is a great achievement of the Budget, but we are only back to where we were in 2012.

I am seriously concerned that we have a two-speed Britain. We have a housing market that has clearly been stoked in London and the south-east, and we have a stagnant north. Guy Opperman described Hexham, which is a nice constituency, and the north-east, but he is living in some type of parallel universe if he thinks that the north-east economy is booming. Well-paid jobs in the public and private sectors have been replaced by low-paid zero-hours contracts. Four out of five of the new jobs that have been created are low-paid and in the service sector, not in the long-term sectors. Added to that—as a north-east Member the hon. Member for Redcar is voting for this—is a movement of the limited public finance that there is from the north-east and other areas to the south. For example, we have already seen the record level of cuts in public expenditure for councils in the north-east. Durham county council has lost 40% of its budget. Contrary to what the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government says, that somehow 40% of a budget can be saved by cutting down on pot plants or the fripperies, that is not possible. It has to be done by cutting back on services and people.

As if that was not bad enough, there is more to come. In the Budget and as part of the process, Durham county council will now lose another £13 million. Gateshead council will lose nearly £8 million. Newcastle city council will lose a further £14 million. South Tyneside will lose £7 million and Northumberland nearly £4.2 million. That will take money out of the economy and redistribute it to those in the south. The cut per dwelling in South Tyneside is £101.50. In Sunderland, it is £90.45. Meanwhile, Wokingham—people will think I have a thing about Wokingham—has an increase of £55, and Surrey an increase of £51. The hon. Member for Redcar, the great champion of the north-east, is voting for these things, redistributing money from the north and north-east to the south of England. That is having an effect in terms of jobs.

The hon. Member for Macclesfield might think that public sector jobs are not important, but I tend to think that they are. When one needs the NHS, people must be there. When home care is needed from a local authority, people must be there. If there is no money and deprivation indices have been removed, not only are those services being removed, but money is being taken from the local economy. That will have an impact on exactly the businesses that the hon. Gentleman argued earlier we should be supporting and growing.