‘In My View’

Britain needs a change of direction to get people back into work

There are 1700 young people in Southampton out of college and without a job. Across the country unemployment is at its highest for 17 years, prices are rising faster than for 20 years and the economy isn’t growing or creating jobs.

Britain’s top priority must be to get more people back into work.  That’s the best way to get our economy moving again – and the more people are working, the easier it is to get the deficit down.  It’s far better to have people paying taxes than claiming benefits.

The Tory-led Government is making things worse.  They say they want to get the deficit down but they are actually borrowing more and more because unemployment is rising. This year they will borrow £46 billion more – at the same time the local Conservative council is also borrowing massively for their vanity projects.

Like every other country we’ve got to get our deficit down and that means tough decisions on tax and spending cuts.  But by trying to cut spending and raise taxes too far and too fast this Tory-led government is ruining our economy.

We have over 2,500 people in Southampton on Jobseekers Allowance.  That’s 3 people chasing every vacancy in Southampton.  We need to be helping these people find work, not hindering.

Yet time and again we see the Tories make the wrong decisions.  A reckless and costly reorganisation of the NHS won’t get the deficit down.  Nor will cutting 16,000 police officers across the UK – 300 in Hampshire – make any us feel more secure in our homes or on the streets.

This can’t go on.  Britain desperately needs a change of direction. My Labour colleagues and I have been outlining our plans for many months now, which would prioritise growth and jobs.

We would create a £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people – and there’s 41,000 currently out of work in our region – and build 4,000 more affordable homes in the South East.

Labour would reverse January’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children.  That’s immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.

It’s clear Britain now needs a change of direction. Labour’s got the plan, but the Tories are refusing to listen.

Liverpool’s cruise bid should be a concern

The recent news that Liverpool has reapplied to become a ‘turnaround cruise terminal’ should be of great concern to us all.

Liverpool is looking to have cruises come and go from their own terminal, which was funded through public money.  The original deal stated that in return for public money being invested in its port, Liverpool could not directly compete with other ports that had not benefitted from help by the taxpayer.  This was a good deal for Liverpool and helped with their regeneration of the city.

All of us in Southampton are proud of our cruise history.  Our port was built with the hard work of people from our city and today welcomes over 300 cruise ships and over a million passengers every year.

Southampton benefits hugely from the cruise industry.  Tourism provides our local economy with £400million.  Passengers who stop off in our historic city are able to use our impressive retail centres as well as hotels and restaurants, helping to boost our local businesses during tough times.  And as we’re only a train ride away from London, no wonder cruise operators have been using Southampton as their base for decades and decades.

But now this is at risk.

The Transport Minister says he wants cruise ports to compete with each other on a level playing field.   But how is it fair to let Liverpool – whose port was built with the money of the taxpayer – compete with Southampton when we’ve had to pump in millions of private sector money to make our port the place it is today?

Private companies in Liverpool can well afford to pay for the terminal itself in Liverpool without asking for handouts from the taxpayer.   Until that time, it is completely wrong for them to grab a chunk of our cruise industry.

Of course the last Labour Government actually refused Liverpool’s previous bid on precisely these grounds.  So what’s stopping this Conservative-led Government from doing the same?

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