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Alex reacts to Government spending plans

Responding to today’s Autumn Statement and Comprehensive Spending Review, Labour’s Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, said:

“The unprecedented loss of jobs in steel, construction, mining and the civil service on Teesside in recent weeks, not to mention the increasing level of unemployment across the North East, were all but ignored by the Chancellor in his announcements today.

“What we needed was a commitment to investment in infrastructure, jobs and training. What we got instead were empty words and additional cuts to services which will have a further major impact on our economy. While he did acknowledge the need to protect energy intensive industries from environmental tariffs, the Chancellor has done nothing to reduce the extra taxes he himself has imposed.

“Instead, the Chancellor has neutered our local councils’ ability to do his job for him. Whilst they will be able to set and retain all Council Tax receipts, authorities like Stockton with low tax bases will lose out as the vast wealth realised by rich councils in the south will no longer be redistributed to provide vital services across the country.

“While the decision to scrap changes to tax credits is welcome, I know hundreds of thousands will still suffer huge cuts in their income over the next five years if they depend on Universal Credit and Housing Benefit simply to live.

“The Chancellor also failed to do his bit for social care, passing the buck to local councils. Saying that he is “allowing” them to raise Council Tax by two per cent to fund social care is disingenuous. Councils like Stockton need that extra money to spread across all services, not just social care.”