Mike Hill MP: Hartlepool needed a budget for today – not tomorrow

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill attending a Macmillan Cancer Support event in Westminster.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill attending a Macmillan Cancer Support event in Westminster.

The Chancellor’s pre-Brexit budget last Monday is fast unravelling.

The Chancellor’s pre-Brexit budget last Monday is fast unravelling.

More money for potholes than schools. No money for the police, further education and precious little for local councils and other public sector services; so much for a budget to end austerity.

By the Tuesday, Philip Hammond was already admitting that most Government departments face a ‘flat real’ future with most public service providers facing zero increases in spending power on average over the next few years once inflation is taken into account. The exception was the NHS, which he said was being treated ‘generously’.

Of course I welcome the rise of £20.5billion in real terms over the next five years, especially the focus on mental health crisis services.

As I pointed out during a debate on mental health this week, there is no walk in centre in Hartlepool for people to access and Crisis Teams are so overstretched that constituents have reported response times of up to and over two hours.

Some budget provisions made sense like cutting business rates for shops, pubs and cafes in England with a rateable value of £51,000 and under, cutting income tax and increasing the personal allowance to £12,500, whilst other provisions were bizarre; like business rate tax relief on public toilets, £675million to improve the high street and in part to help convert empty shops into flats.

As for the £400million going into schools; that equates to £10,000 per primary or £50,000 per secondary – which will hardly make a dent in their struggling budgets.

It was for the most part a jam tomorrow budget. Hartlepool needed a budget that delivered jobs, investment, stabilised public services, improved our transport infrastructure, our business and manufacturing base, employment prospects for our citizens and safer streets today not somewhere down the line.

The budget might have been scary enough but yesterday was Halloween.

Just walking the streets it is amazing how many people are decorating their homes, having parties and dressing up as ghouls, ghosts and witches.

Reminds me of the story of our local Witches. Yes our very own alleged so called ‘Wise Women’ like the enigmatically named Helen de Inferno and Old Mother Midnight, not to mention Alison Lawe and Ellen Thompson.

Their tales of herbalism and strange magic span the 15th and 17th centuries and match those of the famous Pendle Witches or the Salem Witch trials.

These are legendary characters and all from Hart Village; predominantly buried in un-consecrated ground for their sins just outside the local church. Their stories are a fascinating, although unfortunate, aspect of our history.

Finally, I recently attended a Macmillan Cancer Support event in Westminster and was inspired to organise a coffee morning myself at the constituency office to raise funds for this important charity.

I fully support their campaign to introduce a legislative duty of care on financial providers during sufferer’s time of need and I will be advertising the date soon.