Bradford South MP, Judith Cummins, has today called on the government to fundamentally rebalance the UK economy in order to unlock the potential of the North.
Speaking in a House of Common’s debate on support for the economy in the north of England, Cummins said: “Even before the covid-19 crisis, the UK economy was fundamentally unbalanced. The government’s handling of the Covid crisis, and in particular their approach to local restrictions and regional packages of financial support, has shown that too often the needs of the North are still an after-thought or, worse, ignored altogether”.
She said that instead of establishing a clear and transparent framework of support, proportionate to need, the government has employed a strategy of divide and rule.
“We are now in a national lockdown of course, and the furlough scheme has been extended until March, but the government must set out exactly what will happen at the end of this period.
She said the government has indicated that they will go back into the tiered system, but many businesses in Bradford will simply not survive if the government will straight go back into tier 2 or 3 with the current level of support.
“In the short term, the government must ensure that whatever the restrictions are after December 2nd, there is a fair set of financial support that takes into account how long an area has been under local restrictions. For each measure, the government should produce an impact assessment by region, which includes the impact on regional inequality and the regional economy”, Cummins added.
She further added: “In the longer term, we need a fundamental rebalancing of our economy. Leveling up the rhetoric and the odd project here and there will not be enough. Trust is in short supply and the people of the North will hold this Government to account for their promises and their actions.”
Cummins also called for reform of the Treasury’s ‘Green Book’ which is used to make decisions on government investment, as it currently “skews investment and therefore growth into where it already happens, rather than where it needs to happen”.
In response, the government announced they would be publishing the revised Green Book at this year’s spending review on 25 November.