Gary's News and views

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, 16 December 2010

As predicted, our politics is dominated by the outworking of the big picture decision to get our public finances under control once more: to reduce the £155 billion of new money we have to borrow every year just to pay our bills. The reductions in spending are now being cascaded from the Treasury down to every government department, local council and publicly funded agency and we are beginning to see the consequences.
It is possible for people like me to support the big picture (yes, we must cut the deficit and avoid national bankruptcy) but argue the toss on every consequential decision (but you can't do that!) to save money at local level. We could cheer the big picture in the Commons but fight the direct results of that strategy on the ground at every twist and turn. I have no wish to indulge in such hypocritical politicking.
We can all begin to see the detail and of course we don't like it: police station front offices closing, tuition fees going up, coast guard reductions, health budgets under pressure, development agency axed, quangoes decimated. I don't like it either.  But where did we think the reductions were going to come from? It will almost always be something that we don't want to hear. £155 billion a year is a lot to find.
And there is some good news. Most councils have been able to see these reductions coming and have cut their cloth accordingly. I am now hopeful that we will not see many compulsory redundancies from our region's local authorities. Most of the slack can be taken up by "natural wastage" as people retire and their posts remain unfilled. This is not good news for the coming generation, not sustainable for more than two years perhaps, but at least means we do not suffer mass redundancies that could blast a hole in our economic recovery.
The truth is we have to tough this out. We must not lose sight of the big picture. If we take the tough decisions now, despite the pain and the protests, we can start to release the brake on public spending again in the future. If we do not eradicate this deficit by 2015 however, then we will find ourselves in a far worse state, as they are in Ireland and Greece.
This government will not be nice. It will be ruthless in pursuing the big picture: our economic salvation.

posted by Gary @ 09:19