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 June 2011

It may well get worse before it gets better. Prices are going up and for most of us incomes are staying static. The result is a squeeze on disposable income that we have not seen for many years. And this is before interest rates start to rise as they will probably, albeit only gently, sometime this autumn to try and dampen inflation.
Not a very pretty story. I cannot see any alternative but to grit our teeth, live wisely and get through it. Almost all western nations are experiencing something similar (I am not aware of any who are not). Whoever was in government the result would be the same, because most of the forces at work to bring about this unpleasant pattern are global and outside our control.
Why are prices going up, especially of food, energy and fuel? The underlying reality is that in one third of the world, namely India and China, their economies are steaming ahead, demanding more and more food and oil and power. This means that finite resources are in ever greater demand pushing prices up. Is this trend likely to come to an end anytime soon? No.
In addition, we have had to raise taxes to try and tackle the yawning deficit that threatened to engulf our public finances. As it is, we will spend more on interest on our debt this year than we spend on defence, the foreign office and overseas aid put together. The coalition government has put in place a plan to chisel our deficit down to zero by 2016 by reducing spending and raising taxes.
For the next 3 years at least times are going to be hard for all of us. Older people who can remember rationing will cope better than younger people who have had less experience, if any, of making do and mending. Those of us raised in a want-it, get-it and throw-it away age may struggle to cut our cloth accordingly. Maybe we need a way of past generations sharing their wisdom with younger people. One teacher told me recently of a home she visited where the mum had complained of struggling to pay her bills. The central heating was on full blast and the kids were in tee-shirts. Why not turn the heating off and wear jumpers, the teacher suggested and got a frosty reception.  
There is no cavalry waiting in the next valley to come charging over the hill.

posted by Gary @ 09:21