In My View: Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark

Ministers keep mouthing they want to ‘level up’ but only seem to deliver empty rhetoric.

The Government cannot level up when people are parked up waiting to fill up, if they can find a petrol station with fuel.

Costs of filling up are rising up and the knock-on effects of this self-inflicted crisis are tipping over into energy bills, with eye-watering increases for customers and some companies collapsing.

Tory Ministers pretend other countries have the same problem but no other country has no fuel in the pumps and no other country’s Government deliberately adopted policies to decrease the lorry driving workforce as Johnson did with Brexit, causing 15,000 drivers to leave and contributing to the damage we see now.

Ministers are also storing up further problems for the future.

They have cut £1.2million from Southwark schools this year and only paid 10 per cent of the recommended ‘catch-up’ costs to help our children recover from school closures during Covid lockdowns.

This is not levelling up and will leave our children further behind neighbouring countries investing more and better equipping children for their future.

Levelling up is impossible out of work, yet the Government has prematurely ended the furlough scheme before businesses have returned to full operations, especially in travel and hospitality.

The Government promised 250,000 jobs for young people under the ‘kickstart’ programme but have failed to deliver opportunities.

Businesses highlight delays, bureaucracy and DWP neglect while youth unemployment has tripled in Southwark.

Ministers refuse to level up London, starving TfL of resources and ignoring infrastructure schemes like extending the Bakerloo line which would benefit the whole country through jobs and revenue.

The Government is also driving income down, not levelling up, through Universal Credit cuts hitting 8,000 working people with £86 deductions this month in my community alone.

Tens of thousands more working people will lose out across South London.

The Tory manifesto committed ‘no new taxes’ but Johnson and Sunak are betraying voters and ignoring their 80 seat majority in introducing a new health and social care tax hitting millions of working people.

The Tories used to claim to be the party of low tax, but now grow tax and hit incomes further.

Ironically, the public want to see the UK build back better, just as Labour did after the Second World War, creating a lasting legacy of the NHS, housing and the welfare state.

But the Tories used crucial public money to line the pockets of their friends and donors and left little in the kitty for our country.

I am pleased the Labour conference last week offered such a positive alternative, with a focus on building homes, making our communities safer, investing in future technologies, delivering green jobs and repairing and improving the UK’s international relationships.

Labour are back in business.



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