Next week, the Chancellor will rise to give his appraisal of the Government’s economic performance, and determine where the future burden shall fall in his annual budget.
I suspect he will be overconfident with his plans for recovery, after the economy has fluctuated between low productivity and recession for the last 13 years. And I predict that behind the series of numbers and new burdens, there will be little vision as to how to address the vast scale of inequality which has besieged his Government.
We have had the same dished out for over a decade and need a Government of vision and purpose to get us out of this economic rut.
This means ensuring that we have good quality jobs with fair pay, and the stepping stones to get there assured.
One of my key focusses, as your MP, is to build an economy in York that achieves just that.
Working with leading partners in the city, from the universities, Local Enterprise Partnership and businesses, I know that if we consolidate the economy in rail, the biosciences, the digital creative sector and tourism which uniquely looks to our cultural assets, not one that sucks drunken crowds into York, this will open up our city to good quality jobs for all.
Of course, we need the trades and services to underpin, but where economic clusters bring investment, they bring new opportunities for people across the local economy.
As one investor said to me recently, this isn’t just about how you divide up the pie, but how you grow the pie at the same time.
Rail, digital, and biosciences all nod to providing the solutions which are blighting our planet.
With our climate rapidly shifting into destruction, where the balances of nature are turning into forces of decline, we need to decarbonise transport with the greatest of urgency and use the technologies of the future to get us there. Researching and innovating as we pivot into the new industrial age, building on the skills of the past one.
As we grasp our heritage, culture and creative sectors, we also must advance with enhancing our lives.
York’s creative talent, inspired by the rich surroundings our city has to offer, is unlocking a new opportunity for York.
Already well advanced, including by UNESCO, through the work of the universities, York is already witnessing the breakthrough of new media which will revolutionise film, production and the creative experiences we look to for pleasure.
For my part, my focus is landing these job opportunities and future investments in our great city, so that everyone gets to eat from that pie and to ensure that we have the economic underpinning that shares out its gain.
It is why I spend so much time talking to Ministers and Government, and why I battle to ensure that the foundations are put in place – decent housing for every York resident, an NHS that works and a city that works for local residents.
So when I take to my feet, after the Chancellor, I will be making the case for York, for you.
If we are going to truly ‘level up’ then we need the jobs and the housing, health and infrastructure.
If we are to address the environmental imperative, we need to build the sustainable future, and if we are to sustain our public services, from social care to education, transport to postal services, community safety to clean streets, then we have to invest in those who work supporting our community.
Government believe that, one day, the money will trickle down and then we will all gain.
I don’t. I believe we have to tax fairly, so those with the broadest shoulders invest in the rest.
After 13 years of a lamentable economic performance, where inequality has accelerated and people in York and beyond are forced into abject poverty or families are just about managing, I fear that there will be little hope from more utterings from the Chancellor.
It is going to take a Labour Government to take your priorities and rebuild an economy which is fair for all, to set us on a path that will prosper all and enhance our lives and ensure we get there leaving no-one behind.
This article was first published in York Press on 8th March 2023