Flyer, January 2018
By Mione Goldspink
Local Matters with Mione Goldspink
The Year 2017 was one of the gloomiest years I can ever remember. The Government was absorbed with complicated Brexit manoeuvrings and seemed to have completely forgotten Theresa May's warm promises to govern for the many and to deliver a more equitable society. To put it bluntly : the Country was in a mess. The Economy was faltering, the NHS and Social Services were at breaking point, Education was underfunded, and the gap between the rich and the poor was growing ever wider. A shocking 30% of children were living in relative poverty.
What did the Chancellor do to improve the dismal situation? in his Budget speech in November he admitted that the UK's economy would be one of the slowest growing major economies for the next 5 years. He reported that the Office for Budget Responsibility had said that earnings and living standards would be squeezed very hard for the next 2 years. He declined to remove the pay-cap for public sector workers (this equates to another year of pay cuts, as inflation outstrips salaries.) He refused to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit. The offer of advanced payments was a shameful trick, as these, rightful entitlements will then be classified as debts, and will have to be repaid.
The Government has already reduced the benefits and tax credits for working families, and more cuts are planned for the next 5 years. More people will be pushed into debt, poverty and possible homelessness. So much for helping those who are 'just about managing.'
The Chancellor gave £1.6bn for the NHS, when £4bn was needed. He gave a pittance for Education (mostly for maths teaching) and £3bn for the Brexit process. His change in Stamp Duty for first-time house buyers may help a few lucky people, but it will do nothing to provide more affordable housing or social housing for rent.
The National mood of gloom and despondency affects us all in Bishop's Stortford, but we might have one little glimmer of good news here - there is to be a new Stansted Airport College, with places for 500 students. The site, was recently "launched" by the Industry minister. The College will offer courses in all the STEM subjects and aircraft and airport engineering, as well as logistics, asset management and hospitality. I do hope that it will do well.
I wish everyone a "Better Year in 2018, than you had in 2017."
Mione Goldspink. (Chairman Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats).