Following the Comprehensive Spending Review announcements, we have the details of the Government’s spending review and each department knows how much money it has for the next four years. Tough choices have to be made and health, overseas aid and education have been prioritised.
On the doorstep people have consistently told me that health and education are their priorities. What happened in Haiti reminds us why we have to hold a contingency fund to help with disasters and emergencies abroad. But overseas aid is a tiny fraction of what we spend on public services at home, at less than one percent of our national income.
My own department of DEFRA struck a deal with the treasury to protect our flood defences in return for cuts of 33% in our administration costs. Most of the savings will come from the back office but I am sympathetic to those who lose their jobs. When £1 in every £4 the government spends has to be borrowed, some job losses are unavoidable.
But this summer’s budget cut business taxes to help the private sector grow and the success of Landrover-Jaguar’s in saving both local plants and now recruiting is what we need more of. The Chancellor backs investment in the West Midlands with the extension of the Metro, re-building of Birmingham New Street Station and HS2 but we also need to grow green jobs in the economy retro-fitting our housing stock with energy conserving measures.
This will be a hard road to a better Britain but at least one that does not saddle the next generation with debts.