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Tory Economic Failure continues and now a lack of Democracy

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Osbournes YoYo Ecomonics

 On Friday George Osborne fired a warning shot from China of the possible cuts to come in next month’s budget.

Despite delivering an Autumn Statement just three months ago which promised an increased budget surplus of £10.1 billion by 2019/20, the Chancellor now blames global economic difficulties and slower than forecast domestic growth for these potential cuts. As John McDonnell has said – this is a total humiliation for the Chancellor. While Osborne is sticking to his message of a ‘long term economic plan’, the reality is that his rhetoric on the economy has been more up and down than a yoyo in the past year.

Before the election Osborne was warning of serious times ahead for the economy requiring £30bn spending cuts, including £12bn savings on welfare, in the coming years. By the summer Osborne was giving a ‘big budget’ with ‘big ambitions’ but which admitted growth was slowing and revised the 2015 forecast down. By November Osborne was touting a miraculous £27bn improvement in the public finances and promised this would allow him to “fix the roof while the sun is shining.”

Now, just three months later we have another twist in the tale as it turns out that the sun isn’t really shining on Britain’s economy at all, inflation, growth and wage forecasts are down, our economy faces ‘a cocktail of threats’ and we should expect further spending cuts in the March Budget. Quite apart from the uncertainty that such swiftly changing messaging and policy wreaks on businesses and families, the short-sightedness of the Chancellor on these issues is worrying.

As a member of the Shadow Cabinet and National Executive Committee I’m always keen to hear your views and suggestions about our campaigning work against the Tories, or on any other issues. I also spend lots of time visiting local Labour parties around the country, talking about the kinds of issues in this email and the ways we can campaign against the Tories nationally and locally. If you've any thoughts about how we are doing, how we could do better, or if you'd like me to come and speak at your CLP please do get in touch at sarah_coombes@labour.org.uk.

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Tories' Marriage Tax Allowance Flops

One of the Conservative Party’s flagship policies – the Marriage Tax Allowance – has flopped in its first year.

The Marriage Tax Allowance was announced by the Tories in 2013 and registration for it opened a year ago. The Tories had previously said that 4.1 million couples would benefit from the Marriage Allowance. But in response to a Parliamentary Question the Treasury has now admitted that just 330,000 couples have successfully claimed the allowance so far. This means that on the Government’s own figures around 3.8 million couples are missing out. And, given that there are 12.5 million married couples in the UK, just 2.7 per cent of all married couples are actually benefitting from the allowance. And the failure comes despite the fact the Tory Government has spent £2 million promoting it since last October.

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'Arrogant Disregard for Democracy' by Ministers Avoiding Questions in the Commons

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New research by Labour has shown that Cabinet Secretaries, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House of Commons have been avoiding answering Urgent Questions in this Parliament, sending junior ministers in their placeUrgent Questions (UQs) are questions of an urgent nature relating to matters of public importance and are submitted via the speaker. Since the General Election senior members of government have only attended Parliament to answer these questions 29.5% of the time, in yet another sign of increasing complacency of this Tory Government.Urgent Questions are an important way of holding the Government to account and senior Ministers, including the Prime Minister should not be able to shrug off their responsibilities so lightly.

  • Analysis of Urgent Questions submitted in Parliament since the General Election shows that senior members of the Government have only attended Parliament to answer 13 of 44 UQs – a rate of only 29.5%. 

  • This is despite the Urgent Question being specifically directed at ‘The Secretary of State’, ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘Leader of the House of Commons’ 

  • In addition to this, the rate of Cabinet members answering UQ’s has declined from 40.7% in 2015 to 11.8% in 2016. 

  • The rate has decreased even further from the previous Parliament – where the rate of UQs answered by Conservative Secretaries of State was 61%.

 Some senior Ministers have been more absent than others

  • Theresa May has only attended the Commons to answer 1 of 7 UQs directed towards her, on the state of British border forces.  This is a rate of 14.2%.  

  • Jeremy Hunt only attended the Commons to answer 1 out of 8 UQs directed to him – only 14.3%

  • Phillip Hammond failed to attend the Commons to answer any of the 5 UQs asked of him. 

  • Sajid Javid has only answer 1 of 4 UQs asked of him. 

  • In contrast, John Whittingdale answered 75% of UQs asked of him.

Articles in the press on the issue:

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ministers-increasingly-refusing-to-show-up-to-parliament-to-answer-questions-granted-by-house-of-a6900201.html

The Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/cowardly-cabinet-ministers-accused-insult-7458573#ICID=sharebar_twitter

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Tory Government Failing on Housing and Homelessness

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Figures recently released have brought to light how serious this Government's failing on housing and homelessness has been over the last 6 six years.

Homelessness

The ‘Rough sleeping in England: Autumn 2015’ statistics were released last week today by the Department for Communities and Local Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rough-sleeping-in-england-autumn-2015

They revealed

  • Homelessness has risen every year since 2010

  • The number of rough sleepers in England has increased 30 per cent since last year, to 3,569

  • The number of people sleeping rough has now risen 102 per cent since 2010

  • Since 2010, the number of people who are accepted as ‘statutorily homeless’ by their local authority has increased by more than a third. In contrast, Labour cut homelessness by 62% from 1998 to 2010. 

  • The National Audit Office found that spending on ‘supporting people’ funding for homelessness services fell by almost a half – 45 per cent – between 2010/11 and 2014/15: https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Impact-of-funding-reductions-on-local-authorities.pdf 

Housing

  • Statistics released by the Department for Communities and Local Government released last week show that building commenced on just 143,560 homes in 2015 compared to 183,600 homes were started in 2007, a 22 per cent fall.

  • In 2007 176,640 homes were completed compared to just 142,890 in 2015, a 19% fall 

A survey conducted on behalf of the Town and Country Planning Association and published earlier this week shows:

  • 93 per cent of councils do not think starter homes will address the need for affordable housing in their local authority areas.

  • Almost 80% do not think that starter homes should be classified as affordable housing.

More than two thirds of councils expect to build fewer social and affordable homes as a result of Government plans to reduce social rents by 1 per cent a year for the next four years.

Tory let down on Schools and Childcare

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During the election and way back in the last Parliament the Tories promised big things on improving childcare and schools. As ever the reality hasn't matched up to the rhetoric

  • The Government first announced its tax free childcare policy in March 2013 and promised it would begin to come into effect in Autumn 2015 - they've now said it will be delayed into 2017 at the earliest

  • During the election they made a big commitment to increase free child care from 15 to 30 hours for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, supposedly helping 630,000 children. However it turns out that 1 in 3 of the children promised free child care will miss out

  • Class sizes are growing so fast that we now have half a million children in super-size classes of over-30

  • While classes are growing, teachers are leaving, with 49,120 teachers leaving the profession between November 2014 and November 2014.

 

Campaigning

The issues covered in this email are just a small sample of the terrible things this Tory government is doing to our public services and our communities around the country. Using these facts and figures to take them on is crucial, but the ultimate way to stop them and to make positive change happen is to get Labour party members elected as councillors, PCCs, Scottish and Welsh Assembly Members and MPs. The elections on May 5th are a chance to do that and it's incumbent on all of us to go and campaign for our Labour representatives and candidates.

In the last weeks I've been campaigning in Yorkshire, the Midlands, the Eastern region and many other places. I'll be continuing to campaign all over the country over the coming months. If you'd like me to come and campaign with your local party please do let me know by emailing my office - sarah_coombes@labour.org.uk.

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