Dr Simon Opher, Stroud Labour Party’s candidate for Parliament has taken a swipe at Conservative policy after Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement on Thursday.
“It was with a growing sense of disbelief that I listened to Jeremy Hunt last week,” said Opher. “Twelve years of Conservative economic failure have led to this and although Stroud is a relatively resilient area, we still have some 5000 children living in poverty across the district, and it’s getting worse.
“The government is planning spending cuts that equal those of the austerity years that began in 2010 when the Conservatives first came to power. The idea that there were big ‘efficiency savings’ to be made in public services was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.
“Household income will plummet. For the second year in a row, the Office for Budget Responsibility is predicting the biggest drop in living standards since records began in 1956 – a fall of 7% since 2021. The energy price cap is being lifted from £2,500 a year to £3,000. That is more than double the £1,277 that people paid earlier this year.
“Real pay is not expected to rise above 2008 levels until 2027, and despite what they say, the value of benefits (most of which go to working people), is falling. That’s two decades of income stagnation. The government is pushing tax rises onto local councils who can now increase their taxes by up to 5% – the alternative being more cuts to essential services.
“As ever, the poor and the marginalised will suffer most. They have no buffer to fall back on and no savings on which they can draw – they spend what they have, and they will have less. Cutting public spending, suppressing wages and pushing people into poverty will not solve this economic crisis, it will make it worse. We must break free of this endless cycle of cuts, crisis and inequality.
“We need to invest in a sustainable future. Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan will provide good jobs in sectors Stroud does well – like renewables, manufacturing, building, retrofitting and engineering – tackling the climate emergency, energy crisis and inequality at the same time.
Labour will help small and start-up businesses (Stroud has many of these), increasing local investment and keeping money circulating locally for the benefit of everyone.
“The Conservatives cannot be trusted with the economy. It’s time to invest in a future that works for local communities like ours.”