FOR many in our community, 2012 has been a tough year with the double dip recession taking its toll.
Thankfully, looking towards this festive season, the break gives us all an opportunity to catch up with family and friends and to enjoy each other’s company.
We can do that in the secure knowledge that there are those amongst us who give up their Christmas and New Year to ensure that we are safe and, if things go wrong, they will be there to support us, even when the rest of the country is on holiday.
So what do I hope for in 2013?
“It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase created by former President Bill Clinton’s campaign team, which referred to the notion that Clinton was a better choice for President than George Bush who he viewed as not addressing the issues affecting the USA economy.
Two years ago millions of people, together with many in the business community, put their doubts to one side and decided to put their trust in the new Conservative-led Coalition’s economic plan.
It’s no surprise that people are now asking what’s gone wrong! Of course, the eurozone crisis hasn’t helped.
But countries such as France, Germany and America have grown faster than us and avoided Britain’s double-dip recession.
So why have we fared so badly? The reason is that raising VAT and introducing huge spending cuts before the recovery was secure has badly backfired. Business and consumer confidence in Britain slumped.
The recovery was choked off and we slipped into a double-dip recession.
I wanted the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement to address three issues.
First, a plan to kick-start our economy by using the windfall from the 4G mobile spectrum auction to build affordable homes, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships, and cut stamp duty for first-time buyers.
Second, we needed a long-term plan for our economy. A British Investment Bank should be set up to boost lending to small and medium-sized businesses.
And finally, we need action to help people with the rising cost of living. We should put some confidence and spending power back into the economy with a temporary VAT cut, while next April’s £3 bn tax cut for the highest earners on the same day that taxes go up for millions of pensioners should be dropped.