Monthly column: Spring budget was a missed opportunity to unleash Britain’s potential

Mohammad Yasin MP speaking in the House of Commons
Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kempston, speaking in the House of Commons

With the cost of living crisis ongoing, this Budget was an important moment to change course and unleash Britain’s potential.

I wanted to hear a carefully considered plan to move this country forward after 13 years of economic failure and mismanagement. Once again, a Tory Budget failed to deliver.

As Labour Leader Keir Starmer rightly said the Government are trying to disguise stagnation as stability.

This was touted as a growth budget – but the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has confirmed the UK will have the weakest economy in the G7 this year. Wages are lower today in real terms than in 2010, and there has been £30 billion of waste under Rishi Sunak.

This is the Tory economic record.

We shouldn’t be fooled by avoiding recession on a technicality. There is no room for boasts and bluster when we face being the only country in the G7 that will see negative growth this period.

For all the bravado that surrounded the extension of the energy price cap scheme, there was no reflection from the Government on how we got to a position where this guarantee was necessary for struggling households across the country.

The Government have chosen to try and put a plaster on the issue rather than addressing the fundamental problems with a system where people are at the mercy of oil and gas producers and their profiteering?

Residents across Bedford and Kempston are worried about the state of the NHS, the limited number of Police on our streets, and the lack of communication around infrastructure projects that will change the physical, social and economic landscape of our towns – issues that were all but ignored in this Budget.

Make no mistake, improving health services is vital for boosting the economy. The Chancellor, having been a former Health Secretary, should have recognised this, which makes the exclusion of support for health services even more disappointing.

Here in Bedford and Kempston, we are waiting for the delivery of a new Mental Health unit, comprising vital services and beds for both adults and young people.

This project has spent years in the long grass. The site is approved, the funding is ready, there is a wealth of local support, and stakeholders are engaged – and yet we wait.

Progress is blocked by the current Tory Government which cannot resolve a bureaucratic technicality that limits capital investment – effectively halting a scheme that will change lives.

Why won’t the Government take mental health seriously?

I have long raised concerns, as have others across Bedfordshire, about Policing in the region and how an unfair formula funds us as if we were a rural force – ignoring the many urban areas across the county, including an international airport.

Our police force faces major challenges arising from this misclassification and as a result, so do residents. Yet the Budget did nothing to address this issue. It’s clear that the Conservatives will not put public safety first.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not reflect
the views of the Bedford Independent.

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