This Budget was a chance for the government to unlock Britain’s promise and potential. But instead, they decided to continue papering over the cracks of 13 years of economic failure.
Despite all the Chancellor’s claims, the Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded the UK’s long-term growth forecasts and confirmed that the hit to living standards over the past two years is the largest since comparable records began.
The only surprise was a handout for the richest 1% and their pension pots. This has been described by the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves as “the wrong priority, at the wrong time, for the wrong people”. All it will achieve is widening the cost of living chasm. That’s why Labour has committed to reversing it.
This change has been introduced as basic rate taxpayers face an extra £650 in tax next year, and the country’s overall tax burden was projected upwards yet again. Labour will encourage doctors to stay in work by creating a targeted scheme as the government has done for judges, rather than create free-for-all for the wealthy few.
I’m proud that with our mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7, we will create good jobs and productivity growth across every part of our country. Where the government has thrown in the towel, Labour will build a better Britain.
My take on the West Midlands Devolution Deal
I welcome the West Midlands Devolution Deal and any measure of money and resource that is brought forward to our region. However, this deal needed to go much further in its ambition to truly level up our region.
This deal has not resolved any of the long-term funding issues for local authorities that can truly unlock the potential of cities such as Birmingham. Local councils rely on the funding from Government. This deal does not undo the £800 million that has been taken out of Birmingham which has done irreparable harm to our city over the last 13 years by this Conservative Government.
Birmingham’s Labour council has the bold vision to make this a golden decade of opportunity. It is disappointing that this Conservative Government and this Conservative Mayor do not have the desire to meet this ambition. This is simply a continuation of the begging bowl politics we have come to expect from this Government and yet more sticking plaster politics.
Only with Labour in power will we see the English towns and cities truly take back control from Westminster. We will build a fairer, greener, more dynamic country where working people succeed, aspiration is rewarded, and where together, we unlock the pride and purpose in every community.
The rising need for the rising number of warm banks
12,834 warm banks have opened across the UK to support the millions of low-income households who cannot afford to heat their homes. In West Midlands, the figure stands at 807, with over 200 of those being found in Birmingham alone.
Warm banks are public venues that anyone can visit in order to keep warm and have been opened by local councils, community organisations and faith groups. The surge in warm banks comes amidst a fuel poverty crisis.
Labour has announced plans to reduce energy costs and insulate homes, saving households up to £1,400 off their annual bills, not just for one year, but for years to come. This would be paid for by bringing in a proper one-off windfall tax on energy giants and spending that on a package of support for energy bills.
I would like to thank all those across Birmingham and the West Midlands who are stepping up to support the most vulnerable, especially to all the community groups across my constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston. This is vital work that is happening in the absence of any government support, but it shouldn’t have to be like this.
Too often this burden is falling to local councils and the third sector without the strategy and resources in place to make the difference to people who are becoming desperate. With energy bills set to soar in April it’s a disgrace that Rishi Sunak’s Government is entirely missing in action and is yet to lift a finger.
Labour would bring in a proper windfall tax to stop the energy price cap going up in April, insulate millions of homes, and save families hundreds on their energy bills for years to come.
Visiting Year 6 at St Mary’s School
This week I had the pleasure of visiting Year 6 students at St Mary’s Primary School in Harborne. It was wonderful to hear about the work which they have been doing on democracy, Parliament and universal suffrage. They asked such insightful questions on my work as their local MP and it was great to see some potential future MPs in the making.
As shadow cabinet minister for international development, I was especially impressed that they have been learning about social justice and why it is so important that we support refugees. What was clear from my visit to the school was just how much young people care about development. The work they have been doing as part of Cafod's learning programme shows the need to do more around the world to support climate-impacted countries where food and water are scarce. However, as one young student said to me, “there is enough for everyone if we just share it.”
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton