It is a pleasure to follow Lucy Allan, who has spoken passionately about Telford’s tenacity. Today we are debating the state of our economy, which is in urgent need of discussion and desperate need of action. As the Chancellor pointed out in his statement, covid-19 resulted in a 25% drop in GDP in April, compared with February. That is unprecedented. Technically we are not in recession yet, but the writing is on the wall: there is worse to come. We know that we will be living with this crisis for a long time.
Many of the measures that the Chancellor has outlined today are welcome, but they do not go far enough to address either the current unprecedented crisis or the long-term problems that have caused the UK to be one of the G7 economies hit hardest by the coronavirus. Before covid19, we were in no position to weather a financial storm. Ten years of anaemic growth have seen wages stagnate in real terms, and people’s rights at work have been eroded. Take the care workers the Prime Minister has clapped for on Thursdays and then scapegoated on the following Monday—on zero-hours contracts, poverty wages, and often unacceptable statutory pay. This was a problem created in the past 10 years, not six months. In my city, we have seen central Government funding cut year in, year out, with vital services stretched and starved of funding. We now face a £23 million shortfall in the council’s funding this year.