The State Opening of Parliament took place earlier this week, marking the formal start of the new parliamentary session. The Government’s legislative agenda for this session was set out in the Queen’s Speech.
Unfortunately it did not focus on the needs of the Rother Valley. It should have been a Queen’s Speech that put building an economy that works for working people centre stage. It should have included measures that would help families immediately by addressing the cost of living crisis, tackling rip-off prices and creating real jobs for young people.
Britain’s economy, which had been recovering strongly two years ago, has now sunk into a double-dip recession, a recession made by this Government.
The Government have helped the bankers who wanted their big bonuses and have helped the millionaires who wanted a tax cut worth tens of thousands of pounds in the Budget, but they haven’t helped families feeling the squeeze.
Millions in the middle are being forced to pay more in tax. Pensioners are being forced to pay more in tax. There is even a new tax that will hurt charities.
Families are losing their working tax credits, making some of them better off on benefits. Cuts that go too far and too fast in services mean there are fewer police, our NHS is suffering and we now have more than 1 million young people out of work.
In these tough times when there is less money around, we need an agenda for change which would improve living standards for families, ensure security for pensioners and get our young people back to work.
A number of measures would offer practical, affordable ways to help people right now and get our economy moving again. For instance, a Finance Bill would reverse tax cuts for people earning over £150,000 a year. This money could then be used to help pensioners on fixed incomes hit by the ‘granny tax’ and would also restore cuts in tax credits which have hit families.
An Energy Bill would break up the dominance of the Big Six power companies and require them by law to offer four million elderly people the lowest rate available.
Meanwhile, a Jobs Bill would ensure some of the money raised from a tax on bank bonuses is used to provide real jobs, with real wages and responsibilities, to more than 100,000 young people aged 18-24.