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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Chancellor’s news was a wintry blow

CHANCELLOR George Osborne’s autumn statement yesterday was wintry in more ways than the fact it was given on a freezing December day.

EM John Woodcock
Barrow and Furness Labour MP John Woodcock

The bleak news he gave the House of Commons and the country was that, despite the pain that the government’s policies have already caused for families in Furness and across the country, the economy is still stagnating, debt is rising and prospects for future growth are being revised down.

People’s lives are more important than political knockabout and I wish there was more to talk up from what was announced yesterday. Let me at least say that I am glad that at least the chancellor has listened to Labour and motorists across the land and scrapped the latest rise in fuel duty given sky-high prices at the pumps and the faltering economy.

But in too many areas, I regret to say that the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat partners in government
are continuing to choose the wrong priorities for the country. Yes, difficult choices are needed across the board at times of economic scarcity, but this week Osborne reaffirmed that he will apply that to everyone but the richest at the top, the millionaires who he made clear will still get their tax break in April.

It is so frustrating because there is still time to set out a new course, based on a serious drive to cut welfare dependency and boost jobs and growth instead ofrelying on the government’s failing back-to-work programme, which is
costing many millions but only finding one person in 50 a sustainable job here.

Britain may be on the same course as before after the statement this week, but I will keep making the case for an
alternative. This is a great country, and Furness can be a national growth area; things can be so much better than this.

LET me applaud the action taken by former Barrow mayor John Murphy and fire service watch manager Mark Ducie who came to the aid of an elderly woman who collapsed in Barrow market on Saturday.

During his 12 months in office Cllr Murphy raised an unprecedented £40,000 for his Barrow mayor’s charity fund, which paid for 30 defibrillators to be put in various public locations across the borough.

The men were taking the campaign forward with a Heart Start Campaign in the town centre when their quick-thinking helped bring emergency first aid – including a defibrillator – to the poorly shopper before the ambulance arrived.

I have said I will do whatever I can to help persuade organisations to display the defib machines in the most accessible place possible, particularly on the outside walls of shops wherever that can be done.

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