You can watch and read Liz’s contribution to the Budget debate below. Liz said:
“I declare an interest as an elected member of Gateshead Council.
I want to speak about what is not in this Budget, because those things are important to my constituents in Blaydon, many of whom are struggling to cope with daily life and supporting their family. First, I want to mention the absence of any reference to social care. We all know that the demand for social care is growing, and we know from experience that it is essential that people have access to high-quality social care when they need it, but the Government continue to cut the local authority budgets that go towards providing that support.
In my council of Gateshead, we spend more than half our budget on the most vulnerable adults and children. Our funding has been cut by 52% since 2010, and the number of people who use and need our services is rising. I checked the Tory manifesto earlier and found this on long-term care:
“Where others have failed to lead, we will act.”
But there is no action on social care in this Budget.
There is nothing in this Budget for education, other than for maths teaching. Maths teaching is, of course, hugely important, but many of our schools are struggling to balance their budget so that they can provide the best education possible for our young people, and, despite changes to the schools funding formula over the summer, 91% of schools still face a real-terms reduction in their budgets as per pupil funding has reduced. We may have a commitment to maths funding, but increasing pupil numbers and increasing demands versus decreasing funding means that the sums do not add up for schools.
On housing, we had a raft of measures that the Chancellor says will increase house building, but the announcements fall far short of a proper plan to help to fix the housing crisis. We need all councils to build again to create the houses we need.
I heard the Chancellor repeat this morning that the public sector pay cap has gone. But NHS workers, who were specially mentioned by the Chancellor, will receive an increase only on condition that they increase productivity by renegotiating their terms and conditions under “Agenda for Change”. This does not just affect the NHS; for staff right across the public sector, work has increased and pay has fallen in real terms. The Government need not only to lift the cap that they imposed, but to fund the NHS, local government, fire and rescue services, the police, education, the delivery of universal credit and many other areas, to give those staff the rise that they need, without further reducing services.”