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I echo my hon. Friend’s sentiments. It does not feel like we are all in this together. Some 60% of the people who benefit from the cut in the top rate of income tax reside in the three south-east regions, and only 1% reside in the north-east. That differentiation in spending power has a major impact on local economies. Conversely, we are sucking money out of local economies by reducing public sector services. When people become unemployed, that also sucks out spending power from local economies. When spending power is sucked out of local economies and demand is depressed, it is very difficult for those economies to grow.
The north-east of England is a very different place now from what it was like in the 1980s when we lost the major industries of coal mining, shipbuilding and heavy engineering. Its economy has diversified to a great extent. In fact, pro rata the north-east is one of the strongest regions for exports in the whole country. But the Chancellor’s rebalancing, and the public service cuts in places such as the north-east of England, have had a severely depressive effect on the regional economy. The sad thing about the Budget is that there is no recognition that it has a differential adverse impact on different parts of the country.
We have had a wide-ranging debate today that has included things such as the bedroom tax and rents in the private sector and the public sector. Government Members asked earlier whether we were in favour of depressing the housing market, and I can tell them that the housing market in large parts of the north-east of England is very depressed indeed. Many houses are on the market for substantially less than they would have been five or six years ago.