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Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.

 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

MONEY! MONEY! MONEY!

This week the House of Commons returned after the Christmas break. There is plenty going on.

On Monday I saw the Chancellor to brief him personally about the significance of our vital rail link, to prepare the ground so that when we finally thrash out the top priorities in the Peninsula Rail Task Force's 20 year plan, which we will do with the Department of Transport in the next few months, we might successfully secure any additional funding from the Exchequer.

Put yourself in the Chancellor's shoes for a moment. There is a long list of demands. The NHS clearly requires a cash injection beyond the extra £10 billion we are investing this Parliament which is In addition to the £120 billion already pumped in each year. The ambulance service wants more to reduce response times. We have to do better on mental health.
There is a looming crisis in elderly social care that will not be solved in the long term just by allowing councils to raise council tax. Schools are facing increasing pressures and several have made redundancies. Local authorities are gasping for more funding. The police say they have been cut too far. I met with retired naval chiefs last week and they are aghast at how thin our nation's defences have become.

A long list of demands. What about the resources available? We are still spending £70 billion more this year than we are getting in and this is after 6 years of dramatically reducing government spending and savings. We do not expect to reduce that annual deficit to zero in this Parliament. Government will spend about £750 billion this year.

Everyone has a different priority of course. For several constituents most funding problems would be solved at a stroke if only we scrapped the overseas aid budget. It has now risen to nearly 2% or our annual spending, meaning that we spend 98% on ourselves, but for some this is not enough. Even if we scrapped aid completely and sprinkled the savings around other government departments, the pressures on NHS, social care and public services would still remain. We have given a manifesto commitment to maintain our aid budget and we will.

Philip Hammond has already shown himself to be a very able Chancellor. This is good news for the UK.  He also fully understands the need to invest in our rail link and this is very good news for our region.

posted by Gary @ 08:15