Last week, the Bank of England announced that it would be raising interest rates – the amount it costs to borrow – to 1.75%. It also announced that inflation is estimated to rise and hit more than 13%, and the UK is on track to fall into the longest recession since 2008.
Behind the bleak estimates and forecasts are real people; people who will be looking at their energy bills and wondering how on earth they will be able to afford to heat their home and feed their children; people who will be wondering how secure their jobs are, and whether they will be able to afford mortgage repayments.
It’s in moments like these that the Government usually steps in. When the last recession hit in 2008, the then Labour Government took immediate steps to get us through it. We need and expect our politicians to lead the way in times of genuine economic turmoil.
Yet where exactly is our Government? Where is the Prime Minister? Where is his newly appointed Chancellor? They’re nowhere to be seen. The Prime Minister has apparently made the decision that since he’s leaving in a few weeks’ time, there isn’t any point in him rocking up to work anymore.
Instead, we’re faced with a never-ending Tory leadership election, which has highlighted the vacuum at the heart of Government. Last week, in an event to local Tory Members in Tunbridge Wells, Rishi Sunak boasted that when he was Chancellor he reversed Labour Party “treasury formulas that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas”, and instead opted to put money into wealthy ones.
When I saw the clip of the former Chancellor saying this, I was furious, but not surprised. After all, I have had to tirelessly badger and pester the Government to get even the tiniest amount of funding for Tameside and other areas I represent. The example I always give is Russell Scott Primary School – a school that is literally crumbling after a botch job by Carillion. We need additional emergency funding from the Government to give these kids a proper place to learn. It seems a no-brainer, but the Government are dragging their feet, and still not delivering the ‘levelling-up’ they promised.
My experience is suggestive of where I think this Government has gone wrong, and why we’re in the economic mess we’re in now. They don’t have a plan. A Labour Government would have transformed our economy with green, well-paid jobs, invested in energy saving measures, slashed VAT on bills, and given support to people who need it most.
An economic storm is coming, and people in Tameside can’t afford an AWOL Government.