Mike Hill MP: Chancellor’s Spring Statement has hollow ring for people of Hartlepool

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, ahead of the Spring Statement. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, ahead of the Spring Statement. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement rings hollow for the people of Hartlepool, who’s vital public services will continue to suffer under the Government’s fiscal policy. Local Government is in crisis facing a funding gap of £5.8billion by 2020.

Children’s services alone are facing a £2billion funding gap.

In Hartlepool the effect of the Chancellor shifting the deficit onto public services will see our NHS Trust sink further into the red and the council’s funding gap for adult and children’s care widen.

Forty-one per cent of Children’s services are now unable to fulfil their statutory duties, with a 40% cut in early years intervention and family support leading to an increase in the number of children being taken into care.

There were some marginal improved economic forecasts, but these are of little immediate benefit to us.

Hartlepool has not seen the benefit of the three million new jobs the Chancellor boasts about, lower unemployment and above inflation pay rises.

To quote Philip Hammond, “we want taxpayers’ money funding our NHS and schools, and to give the next generation a chance”.

I agree, but you will never get that with a Tory Government.

NHS pay also featured in the Chancellor’s Statement when he almost gleefully stated that he is minded to support an above inflation pay rise.

Good news at last you might think for our hard working NHS staff who for so long have suffered effective pay cuts and pay caps to be offered 6.5%, but no.

For a start it’s a three-year pay deal, which when broken down and compared with the rate of inflation, is in real terms a pay cut, and to top it all he wants them all to sacrifice a day’s holiday to pay for it.

Such miserly behaviour just goes to show what he really thinks of our nurses and health workers.

The debate on free school meals and Universal Credit was an angry one last Tuesday. I say angry because the Government benches made it so. They were completely in denial about the fact that the Universal Credit system as it stands will lead to tens of thousands of kids not getting a free school meal.

Their uniformed mantra was that Labour were misleading folk, spreading fear over something that was pure conjecture on our part; all of this yet again within the context of Universal Credit being ‘rolled out’ in constituencies.

Well in Hartlepool it’s not being ‘rolled out’ it’s been in place for a while and the result is over 1,000 children from impoverished families potentially missing out on a school dinner.

l On Monday I paid an important visit with Richard Lee to the headquarters of the Royal Military Police Special Investigatory Regiment at Bulford in Wiltshire.

His daughter Katrice has been missing for 36 years and there have been woeful and inexcusable investigations by the army in the past, but since 2012 when the badly named Operation Lollipop was resurrected as Operation Bute, you can’t knock the resources and manpower being put into this missing person search today.

The team, including around half a dozen detectives, is about 20 strong; each and everyone of them deployed on the search for Katrice.

Richard and myself got to speak to each of them and their enthusiasm to help him get closure and answers was palpable. We don’t have those answers yet but we have a better understanding of the scope of the enquiry and in my book it was a trip worth making.