Five pledges, five priorities | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column

Happy New Year!

Walking around Burnley and Padiham town centres over the Christmas period it became apparent just how much we have going on.

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Whether it’s the flood defences in Padiham, Pioneer Place in Burnley town centre, the Town to Turf project, or Newtown Mill for UCLAN – we have masses of construction taking place as a visible demonstration of how much Government is investing in regenerating our area.

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

This week, the Prime Minister also gave his first major speech of the year setting out his focus and, much like those projects, it centred on delivery not just words.

Bringing inflation down to half its current level is the first pledge because that is the biggest issue pushing up the cost of living. While the causes of high inflation may be global, because of Putin’s war in Ukraine and the world economy coming out of Covid-19, we need solutions here at home.

Our energy policies are making a difference by bringing the inflationary peak down from where it would have been.

But we must go further because ultimately inflation makes everyone poorer. It reduces spending power and pushes up prices, so getting this under control quickly will help everyone.

The second pledge is to grow the economy and spread opportunity. We are making huge inroads with this locally, with unemployment across Burnley and Padiham continuing to fall. But there is work we can still do, to ensure everyone can get into work and our businesses can grow.

I know too that people are worried about the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic, and how much debt is being left to future generations. That’s why the third pledge is to see national debt falling. Keeping the public finances on a sustainable footing.

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Fourthly, the NHS is also under pressure. Its budget may have increased significantly in recent years, but the pressures continue to grow through an ageing population, backlog from Covid-19, and workforce challenges. This year, the fourth pledge is that the backlog will come down.

That means not just treating people who have been waiting but treating newly diagnosed issues quickly, too.

And finally, we will legislate to tackle the small boats problem. I have written about this many times, and I continue to raise it with the Prime Minister and Home Secretary. Our country needs strong, secure borders. And these new laws will be unequivocal. If you enter the UK illegally, you will be detained and you will be removed.

Five pledges, five priorities, and a clear focus on delivery.