The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:56 pm on 24th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Chair, Transport Committee 1:56 pm, 24th October 2019

It is hard to take the Queen’s Speech seriously as a statement of intent from a Government who have no majority and are hellbent on taking us down a reckless route out of the European Union. I am sure my constituents wanted to believe it when the Government promised to address violent crime, measures to support and strengthen the national health service, and investment in education, but I am afraid they will be disappointed. If the Government press ahead with their plans for a hard Brexit, there is a good chance that not only will there be no extra money for our police, health service and schools, but there will be less money for all our public services. My constituents will have less money in their pockets, and the future opportunities for their children and grandchildren will be diminished.

The Government have refused to publish any economic impact analysis of their great new deal, but fortunately others have. Professor Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe, published a report last week that models the economic impact of the Prime Minister’s proposals. The report suggests that income per capita in the UK would be significantly lower under his deal and that the Government finances would suffer too. Even in the most optimistic scenario, the report suggests that the Prime Minister’s deal would leave the public finances £16 billion worse off. In the most pessimistic scenario, the forecast is of a much greater hit to the public purse of around £49 billion. Economic modelling is inherently uncertain, but my constituents need to know that the promises in the Queen’s Speech about investment in vital public services are hollow and cannot be relied on.

People in Nottingham need assurances about the future of the services they rely on, because after nine and a half years of deep and damaging cuts, our local police, schools and health services are under extreme pressure. Last week, I was out with the street offences team in Radford. I saw at first hand some of the challenges that our police officers face and heard about the rise in serious violence, often related to illegal drugs. We have fewer police officers in Nottingham than we had nine years ago, our youth services have been decimated, and many families are struggling to get by, working multiple jobs but still in poverty. It is no coincidence that too many young people are falling prey to gangs and criminal behaviour.

My constituents regularly tell me that they cannot get an appointment to see their GP and that they cannot get the help they need with their mental health. When people cannot access the services and support that they need in their local community, sooner or later the problem becomes acute, and they go to the place where the lights are always on: A&E. The emergency department at the Queen’s medical centre has seen a 9% increase in attendances in the past year alone. Our hospitals provide excellent care, but that level of pressure takes its toll, and, I am afraid, that is reflected in sickness absence, staff turnover and poor retention rates.

Many Nottingham hospital staff are also working in inadequate conditions, because the trust, which is one of the biggest and busiest in the country, has the highest critical infrastructure risk in the entire NHS outside London. There have been 11 major incidents in the past three years, including power failures and water leaks. Urgent fire safety works are needed, including £24 million to replace highly polluting 40-year-old coal-fired boilers. Where is that £30 million a week extra for the NHS when we need it?

If there were time, I would raise the crisis in social care that is particularly acute in cities such as mine, serving deprived communities with higher need and lower resources. That is impacting older people, disabled people and carers. I would highlight how the lack of affordable housing, cruel benefit cuts and the loss of support services have resulted in a homelessness crisis. I would talk about the impact on students, teachers and support staff doing exceptional work in our schools and colleges in Nottingham South despite every single one of them suffering real-terms budget cuts under this Government.

I do not trust this Government with our economy, and I do not trust them with our public services. My constituents deserve so much better, and only Labour will deliver it.