Alex responds to the 3 March Budget

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said:

“We needed a Budget that laid the foundations of a post-Covid world, and rebuilt the economy with a long-term plan. The Tees Valley needed a budget to help replace the extra 12500 jobs lost in the last 11 months – six for everyone announced over the last three years.  What we got was short-termism from the Chancellor and another of those promises of jobs for our area without the investment and detail needed to deliver them.

“I’m pleased however he finally listened to our calls and agreed to extend the £20 increase in Universal Credit – a lifeline to thousands of people.   A six-month extension however just papers over the cracks of an inadequate social security system and creates future uncertainty. The Universal Credit increase needs to stay permanently until a proper and fair system can be introduced. We also heard nothing about child poverty or ensuring no child goes hungry.

“Considering we are in the middle of a pandemic, we heard nothing about the NHS or social care. Both have pulled out the stops during this health crisis but have been ignored. Our area desperately needs funding and health infrastructure in the shape of a new hospital to tackle deep-rooted health inequalities but once again we have missed.

“I’ve always said that the Treasury jobs should come to Teesside and I’m pleased that Darlington will be the home for them. It is critical they are in the town centre so contribute to the wider regeneration of the Tees Valley. The Teesside Freeport announcement wasn’t unexpected – and could play a part in our recovery – but it is not the silver-bullet the Chancellor would have us believe. It must be developed to create new jobs – not some moved from somewhere else for the tax advantages – and really benefit our local people.

“What we need is real investment in local industries such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen industries, as well as a Local Industrial Plan that will create well paid, good quality jobs to get the thousands of people who have lost theirs over the last few years back to work.

“Extending the furlough support is right, as is the support for hospitality and businesses. But once again we see a short-term approach to what should be a long-term plan. Add to that the huge hike in business taxes and council tax and we know it will take donkey’s years for our economy to recover. We need to learn the lessons of this pandemic not go back to the insecurity of the past. But this Chancellor has the wrong priorities and is totally out of touch with what this country needs.”