Burnley MP Julie Cooper column: UK's problems are down to a weak economy and a weak prime minister

Brexit might have come to a standstill for the time being whilst the Government determines how to proceed following the Speaker’s decision to bring an end to the Prime Minister's game playing but life goes on.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 8:04 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 9:28 am
Burnley MP Julie Cooper at the opening of the new ambulance station in Briercliffe Road.
Burnley MP Julie Cooper at the opening of the new ambulance station in Briercliffe Road.

Whilst all eyes and ears have been on Brexit, many very important issues have slipped under the radar – well almost!

Just to illustrate this the Chancellor’s very important Spring Financial Statement, passed virtually without comment.

Knowing this I thought it was important to bring some key information to your attention.

The Government again, seized the opportunity to boast about its record on tackling unemployment claiming that there are more people in work than at any time in the past, but before we get carried away with the celebrations, we need to know that the Office of National Statistics count anyone who works one single hour in a week as being employed and in fact two million of the people now registered as employed actually only work 6 hours a week.

Another important fact is that average wages are lower than they were 10 years ago and it really is no wonder that so many people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Austerity really isn’t over as many local people will testify and I have to say that it really is a scandal that in the fifth richest economy in the entire world one million pensioners and four and half million children are living in poverty.

If the economy is doing so well why is this so? The fact is the economy is not going well: in 2010 the Government promised to eradicate the deficit by 2015 and reduce the national debt.

These were of course very worthy aims however the reality is that the deficit still exists and the Government now aims to wipe it out by 2025 and as for national borrowing far from reducing has increased by an eye-watering three quarters of a trillion pounds.

Many of the problems we are experiencing in this country at the moment are caused by two things: a weak economy and a weak prime minister.

Last week I was really pleased to see for myself Burnley’s spanking brand new ambulance station on Briercliffe Road.

The station provides a central ambulance base, staff hub together with an impressive training suite.

In here paramedic team members can work together fine tuning their skills, ensuring that they are always ready to respond professionally to every situation. Anyone who has ever had cause to call for an ambulance will I’m sure join with me in praising the paramedics for the excellent care that they provide. They are unfailingly kind, reassuring and they save lives.

On Friday I was really pleased to join with the Mayor of Burnley in a visit to Barden Primary School as part of their celebration British Values Day.

The children who were in years 3 and 4 questioned us quite thoroughly about the workings of our democracy. They demonstrated that they were already well informed but very keen to learn more.

The session was a genuine pleasure and the children were a credit to the school.

As I left the school, I paused as I invariably do when I’ve visited a nursery school, primary or secondary school to reflect on the Government’s decision to cut education funding.

Teachers across Burnley and Padiham from nursery level right through to sixth form are doing an excellent job in very difficult circumstances.

The children are the future and the Government would do well to remember that investing in schools is an investment in the future of this country.

In the evening I attended Burnley Football Club in the Community’s annual fundraising dinner.

It really is fantastic that Burnley is in the Premier League and it is also fantastic to have such an excellent Community Football Club. Burnley Football Club in the Community delivers dozens of programmes in the community supporting people of all ages with a range of health and well-being needs.

On Sunday I joined with dozens of people at Burnley Cemetery for the annual service to commemorate the victims of the Hapton Valley Pit disaster.

On the 22nd March 1962 a massive underground explosion claimed the lives of 19 miners. Sixteen died at the scene and three died later from their injuries and a further 21 men sustained serious injuries.

Now 57 years later, the memory of the event lives on in the hearts and minds of the former miners’ families, friends and colleagues. The service is a powerful reminder of the very harsh working conditions and ever present dangers faced by miners in the recent past.

If you would like my assistance with any matter, my next MP’s surgery is on Saturday between 10am and 12pm at my office at 8 Keirby Walk. Those attending will be seen on a first come, first served basis.

Alternatively you can write to me at the constituency office or email [email protected]

Next week the Constituency Office will open to the public on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am - noon, Tuesday from 10am - 12-30pm and from 10am - 2pm on Friday where my staff will do their best to help you and will keep me informed about the issues which you raise.