Last week’s Budget is the work of an out-of-touch Government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives and no plan to improve them.
The Government’s own figures show growth, productivity, wages – all down.
Across Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, people tell me of the hardships they endure.
But after seven years of Tory austerity, the economy remains stagnant while the national debt continues to grow.
People wanted to see meaningful funding for our schools, more support for our overstretched police and action to address the crisis in our health and social services.
All opportunities missed in a Budget that found more money for Brexit than it did for the NHS.
It was a Conservative manifesto pledge to increase real-terms funding for the NHS in every year of this parliament – yet the latest House of Commons Library analysis shows that real terms funding is set to fall in 2018-19 and remain static the two years after that.
Even NHS bosses, who rarely voice concerns publicly, have spoken out after the Budget.
The chairman of NHS England, Sir Malcolm Grant, said: “We can no longer avoid the difficult debate about what it is possible to deliver for patients with the money available.”
I continue to meet with our local hospital trusts, who tell me they are braced to deal with the usual pressures of winter.
But I share the concerns of hospital staff here and across the country, that years of underfunding have left our NHS vulnerable to this yearly burden.
Of course, we should all do our bit to limit those winter pressures, and if you are able, spare a moment for those who struggle more at this time of year.
It can take just a few minutes to make a difference – from helping a vulnerable person to get their free flu jab, to spending some time visiting friends and neighbours who would benefit from a little help keeping their homes warmer, ensuring they’re keeping doors and curtains shut as dusk draws in, or just inviting them round for a cup of tea.
But the truth is that the financial pressures placed on our hospital trusts, alongside the increased demand at this time of year, place incredible pressures on hospital services.
Seven years of cuts and mismanagement have brought the NHS to its knees. We can’t let this continue.
I’m glad to have secured Jeremy Hunt’s commitment to visit local hospitals in Dewsbury and Huddersfield to see for himself the impact of cuts and downgrades on our area.
I know that local people will want the Health Secretary to understand the strength of feeling in our area.
Originally published in the Dewsbury & Mirfield Reporter, Thursday 30 November 2017