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Westminster Column

On Wednesday of this week the Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered the Government’s Spending Review which fixes spending budgets for each government department up to 2014-15.

With this Review the Government brings Britain back from the brink. We confront the bills from a decade of debt and start to rebuild, putting our public services and the welfare state on a sustainable footing – for the long term.

Labour left this country on the edge of an economic abyss and in May of this year the Coalition Government inherited the largest deficit in our peacetime history.

We are spending £120 million every single day just to pay off the interest on Labour’s debt.

The consequences of not acting now would be disastrous. We would be faced with higher interest rates, business failures, more job losses and even potentially the end of the recovery. Dealing with the deficit is unavoidable. Delaying decisions would mean even more money wasted on debt interest, and so even bigger cuts in the end.

If we took Labour’s advice to simply halve the deficit in four years we would rack up an additional £100 billion in national debt by the end of this Parliament.

Instead, the choices we make will invest in the future – to give everyone the opportunity for a fair start in life regardless of their background. By being tough on waste and welfare, we are able to find money for the services that really matter - giving children a good start in life, supporting the NHS, caring for older people and prioritising security and infrastructure so that we help our economy grow.

Our decisions in the Spending Review have been guided by the principles of growth, fairness and reform. So it delivers a settlement that includes increases in planned capital spending by £2 billion – for Sutton this means investment in HS2, the new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, and then direct to both Manchester and Leeds, and the continued upgrade of Birmingham New Street, securing wider economic and regeneration benefits. It includes announcements on fundamental reforms to simplify the welfare system through the new Universal Credit to ensure that work always pays. The Review uprates the basic State Pension by a triple guarantee of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent by 2011 to ensure insulting increases like Labour’s 75p rise do not happen again. And it protects key benefits for older and vulnerable people, including Winter Fuel Payments, free eye tests, prescriptions, free bus passes and TV licences.

There are more announcements than I can mention in this short column but if you would like further information please write to me at the House of Commons.

With Wednesday’s announcements we ensure that, like every solvent household in the country, what we buy, we can afford, that the bills we incur, we have the income to meet and that we do not saddle our children with the interest on the interest on the interest of the debts we were not ourselves prepared to pay. We will make sure that the financial catastrophe that happened under the previous Government never ever happens again. A stronger Britain starts here.

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