Derek has criticised the first Budget of the new Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition Government as ideologically driven to target Labour-supporting poorer communities with bearing the brunt of the economic downturn caused through no fault of their own.
On Tuesday afternoon Derek heard Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne take a swingeing axe to jobs, benefits and public services in his Emergency Budget. He raised VAT from 17.5% to 20% and abolished major social programmes such as free swimming for pensioners and the under 16s, the Sure Start maternity grant for beyond the first child and the Health in Pregnancy Grant for young mums.
Commenting on the measures, Derek said:
"They will leave lower and middle income families less well off. Freezing child benefit for three years is effectively a cut with the increased cost of living as engineered by the 2.5% VAT increase - once condemned as 'the Tory secret VAT bombshell' by the Liberal Democrats, and David Cameron himself having previously admitted that such a tax hike would be "very regressive.......hitting the pooerst hardest."
The Liberal Democrats are now backing the same old damaging Tory policies - Margaret Thatcher was the milk snatcher; the Coalition is now not honouring the last Labour Government's pledge of universal free school meals.
Repeating the familiar failed policies of the last Tory Government in the 1980s/90s recession in taking an axe to jobs threatens to risk the fragile recovery. Government support for growth should not be reduced at this critical juncture - surely the lessons of the 1930s, 1980s and the recent downturn is that State support is needed to prevent recession becoming depression. I worry that this reckless Budget will ultimately prove to be counter-productive with devastating consequences for the economic and social fabric of the country.
The people of Halton have seen it all before - deliberately targeted brutal ideological cuts, forcing lower and middle income families across Halton and Merseyside to bear the brunt of the burden.
My Labour colleagues and I will be opposing these Budget cuts all the way."