In a debate on the Autumn Statement in Parliament yesterday evening, I rejected the Government’s plans for a return to austerity. As the country heads into recession, Sunak and Hunt are set to cut public services with reckless abandon. In Bristol we’re already seeing that cuts have consequences. As I said in my speech “Councils can’t take this level of financial pressure anymore and my constituents can no longer shoulder the burden.”
I also spoke about the impact of labour shortages. In Bristol the popular birthing unit at Cossham Hospital has been temporarily closed due to a lack of midwives, whilst First Bus have cancelled numerous bus routes because of the post-Brexit HGV driver recruitment crisis. The Government has launched a ‘review’, to see what’s stopping economically inactive people entering the workforce and will be encouraging people on Universal Credit to talk to their work coaches about increasing their hours. This in unlikely to have much impact unless some of the underlying issues, like a dire shortage of accessible and affordable childcare, are fixed.
Both Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, and I spoke about the continued freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates, which means that someone looking for a 3-bed property in Bristol would only get £950 in Housing Benefit; rents will be several hundred pounds higher than this. I mentioned again the recent eye-opening investigation from The Bristol Cable and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which found that in July there was only one 2-bedroom property available in Bristol that fell within the LHA rate. When I previously raised this in the House, I was told the Government was keeping LHA “under review”, but clearly this has made no difference.
The Chancellor tells us that only the Conservatives can get us out of the mess his Party has created. He tells us that austerity is inevitable. He’s wrong, and as I explain in the clip, Labour has an alternative.
Watch clip here.