Yvonne Fovargue MP: Proposals fail to reverse austerity

I am disappointed that the Government’s proposals outlined in the Queen’s Speech fail to reverse a decade of austerity.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 9:44 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 12:48 pm
Yvonne Fovargue MP

As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said, austerity is baked into these economic policies, which also fail to tackle insecure work, end in-work poverty or address the hardship that is being caused by Universal Credit (UC).

This Queen’s Speech fails to appreciate the problems faced by many in Wigan and the country.

The Child Poverty Action Group has reported that more than four million children are still living in poverty, the impact of which is well documented – poor mental and physical health, a lower sense of wellbeing and underachieving at school.

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In addition, I am concerned that there are no measures in the Queen’s Speech to address the increasing income and wealth inequality in the UK.

The last decade has seen a sharp increase in the number of people in low-paid, insecure work.

Indeed, the link between securing work and being lifted out of poverty appears to be broken, as average real wages are still lower than they were before the financial crash. While the Government has proposed to increase the national living wage, it will fall short of a genuine living wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation.

Alongside this, we face a crisis in productivity. Rather than investing in the skills and machinery we need, much of the economy is based on low-paid, low-skilled employment.

I believe that low-paid, insecure work is not good for people or our economy.

The growth of low pay and insecurity in the workplace has also been accompanied by significant cuts to social security.

UC was designed to lift people out of poverty and smooth the transition into work.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many people find it far more challenging to make a claim in the first place and then have to wait five weeks to receive their first payment.

I believe there is a real need to harness our economy effectively – we need to take action to tackle climate change, rebuild our public services, and invest in our people at every stage of life.

I believe this Queen’s Speech fails to dramatically demonstrate the sense of urgency and scale of action needed to provide the decade of renewal promised by the Government.

I voted for an amendment to the Queen’s Speech on Monday which called on the Government to invest in the UK’s underfunded public services and bring forward a plan to reverse the damaging impact austerity has had on communities across the UK.

It also urged the Government to scrap UC and tackle insecurity in work by extending full employment rights to all workers, ending in-work poverty, and introducing a real living wage.

Alongside this, it called on the Government to reshape our economy and clamp down on tax avoidance. Unfortunately, Tory MPs voted against the amendment and it was defeated.

Ian Simms was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Helen McCourt in 1988 but has repeatedly claimed his innocence and Miss McCourt’s body has never been found.

I understand the Parole Board has recently recommended Mr Simms should be released, and I appreciate the distress and concern felt by Helen McCourt’s mother, Marie and her family at this decision.

The Government has introduced a Bill which will require the Parole Board to take into account any failure by a prisoner serving a sentence for unlawful killing to disclose information about the victim.

It will therefore implement a version of ‘Helen’s Law’. I will be looking at this legislation very carefully when it is debated in Parliament.