Getting Westminster focused on Burnley and Padiham | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column
As I travelled down to London this week the many conversations I’ve been able to have with local businesses, pensioners and families were at the front of my mind.
Because I’m always clear to my colleagues in Parliament that it’s my job to speak up for you and your family and make sure that Westminster is focused on our borough.
I know the biggest worry everyone had was the very real prospect of energy bills hitting eye-watering levels. For households we were looking at more than £6,000 a year and for businesses the costs were even higher.
I was under no doubt. That would decimate our borough. Businesses would close en masse, our high streets would shut, jobs would be lost on a scale we have nightmares about, and households would simply be unable to cope.
That’s why I know the Government did the right thing with the Energy Price Guarantee to limit prices. It represents the biggest intervention of any European nation and, like furlough, we don’t yet know the final cost. But the cost of inaction was higher still, with a full economic meltdown almost inevitable.
I know from previous roles before becoming your MP that markets don’t like big announcements of spending without also knowing the impact it will have. That’s why later this month the Chancellor will come back to the Commons to set out how we will keep the public finances – your taxes – on a sustainable footing and not simply follow the model of borrowing money without restraint.
That doesn’t mean taxes can’t be cut. I have used many forums to argue in favour of letting working people and businesses keep more of the money they earn. But it does mean we must set out a plan and ensure discipline is at the heart.
We have also seen the result of much lobbying pay off with a brilliant announcement that Burnley Hospital is to become one of the Government’s new Community Diagnostics Centres. This will see more health testing carried out locally to not only reduce the covid backlogs, but also provide potentially lifesaving treatments to residents by helping to spot and treat conditions ranging from cancer to reflux or ulcers.
It also comes alongside the latest job figures released this week which show that we have 1,000 fewer unemployed people this month compared to last year. This is a considerable achievement given the economic climate and one which I know will only improve further if we secure the investment zone I am pushing for.