It’s not news to any of us that this Tory-Lib Dem government has no understanding of the regional economy of the North, but this recent article from Tory think-tank Policy Exchange beggars belief.
Supporting the government’s disastrous proposals on regional pay in the public sector, they go on to suggest that the ‘savings’ made from cutting pay should be used to fund infrastructure in the regions affected.
So basically the government should invest in infrastructure in the North only if the wages of nurses, teachers and midwives are cut, and billions sucked out of our regional economies in the process. This proposal is crass, economically illiterate and downright offensive.
Investment in Northern infrastructure is something that will stimulate our broader economy, create jobs and provide a return on investment which the whole country benefits from. It is not something that should be dependent on picking the pockets of local public sector workers. This is a government that has slashed investment, which is one of the reasons why we have no growth and the economy is back into recession. Our nurses and teachers can’t pay for ministers’ mistakes.
This investment should be made by the government driving a programme for growth on behalf of the whole country, without trying to balance it on the backs of public sector workers who have had a pay freeze for the last three years. Meanwhile the Conservative and Liberal Democrats have chosen to prioritise tax cuts for millionaires.
The damaging implications of the regional pay proposals the broader economy have been well documented and will have a substantial impact in the North East. The New Economics Foundation have highlighted that these proposals, supported by Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander, could cost as much as £10 billion to local economies each and every year.
I highlighted recently how George Osborne was attacking the economy of the North on several fronts with a range of policies including Regional Pay. The north east already has the highest rate of unemployment (almost double that of the south west), more than a fifth of children here live in workless households, the highest in the country, and life expectancy is one of the lowest in the country. Combine this with other policies such as the siphoning off of funding in public health funding away from those most in need towards those who live in affluent Tory and Lib Dem areas in the South and it is clear that this government cares nothing for the people of the north.
Let’s not forget their favourite think-tank Policy Exchange do not have the interests of the North at heart. It’s only a few years ago that they produced a report entitled ‘Beyond Revival’ which the echoed the offensive Tory proposals of the 80s that people should move south or ‘get on their bikes’ to find work.
I suggest these Thatcherite policy wonks get on their own bikes, and get up here to see the disastrous impact of this government’s work on the economy and the lives of people here.
Anna Turley is the Labour and Co-operative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar.