News from Westminster

A weekly round up of news from Westminster…

My fellow Labour MPs are gearing up to demand a budget for jobs and growth in March, as the Government continues to fail to offer any help to struggling families feeling the squeeze from its reckless economic policies.

Two surveys stuck in my mind this week.  Firstly, a YouGov survey showing that more than a

quarter of the smallest businesses expect to fold within the next two years. It pains me to think that we’re

letting all that enterprise, talent and hard work fall by the wayside.

Businesses like these are our ticket out of hard times – and the Government should be nurturing them, not

turning their backs.  Then Asda’s “Mumdex” survey, showing one in four mums putting food back at the checkout as they struggle with higher prices and falling wages.

The thought of hardworking parents, already feeling the squeeze, struggling and juggling to make ends meet is a clear sign that Government’s got its priorities wrong.

The Government’s economic policies are hurting but not working. What we need is a Budget for jobs and growth with support for families at its heart to ease the squeeze and get the economy moving again.

That’s why the Chancellor should announce a temporary reversal of his disastrous VAT rise, which is costing the average family with two kids £450 each year. This is part of Labour’s five point plan for jobs which also includes tax breaks for small businesses taking on extra workers and a tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people.

Cutting VAT now would boost confidence, help families feeling the squeeze and get our economy moving again.

But if George Osborne can’t bring himself to reverse his VAT mistake, he has other options. He could cut the basic rate of income tax by 3p, increasing the personal allowance to over £10,000 or increase tax credits for almost 6 million working people by around £2,000. But cutting VAT is the fairest and quickest option he has – and it would help people like pensioners who don’t pay other taxes like income tax.

The Chancellor has got options.  But doing nothing is not one of them. So join me now in calling for a Budget for jobs and growth this March.

In a dramatic week in Parliament, Labour voted for the risk register on the Tory-led Government’s Health and Social Care Bill to be published so that everyone has the freedom to decide for themselves exactly what the risks are of embarking on the biggest top-down reorganisation in the history of the NHS.

Following a Freedom of Information request from my college John Healey MP which was denied, the Information

Commissioner ruled that the Department of Health should release the ‘transition risk register’ associated with reorganisation of the NHS.

But David Cameron and his Health Secretary Andrew Lansley are refusing to publish it, denying the British people the opportunity to see exactly what the Tory-led Government believe to be the biggest risks associated with this Bill.

My Labour colleague and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said:

“Whether people support the Bill or not, there is surely an overriding public interest in properly informing the debate with all relevant information.

“People care passionately about the NHS and they have a right to know the full implications of the Government’s proposed reorganisation.

“It is time the Lib Dems worked out where they stand; with the millions of NHS staff, patients and members of the public who oppose this Bill or with the Conservative Party, who have no mandate for this top-down reorganisation of our NHS.”