Today's Comprehensive Spending Review fills me with alarm. Five years of Osborne controlling the nation's purse strings has left our community facing:
- an unresolved housing crisis, with the lowest housebuilding since the 1920s, a falling home ownership level, cuts to affordable housing budgets and a growing population;
- 200 fewer police officers and PSCOs already with more cuts to come, despite the significant security threats we face and a rise in some violent crimes locally;
- hundreds of people in work but unable to cover soaring living costs and using foodbanks; and
- our brilliant local hospitals struggling in the face of rising demand for services from people but a demand for millions of pounds in 'efficiency' savings from central Government that simply can't be met.
Three things I'd love to see announced today:
- a commitment to greater housebuilding, and especially genuinely affordable homes to own or rent in the private and social housing sector, including Government help to build council homes. I'd also like to see the Government step in to help private renters in the same way it claims it is trying with housing associations. I'd also like to see a wider commitment to the infrastructure we know is needed, including transport (specifically the Bakerloo Line extension) and high speed internet access that parts of our central London constituency still lack, especially in Rotherhithe.
- a guarantee that Southwark will have the police and PCSOs it needs to identify and investigate crimes adequately. With only 16% of last year's knife crimes resulting in prosecutions, I'm sick of Tory Ministers claiming we have enough local police. Either we don't or they don't have the time to ensure crimes end up in prosecutions. With The Shard, London Bridge and other terrorist targets in the constituency I am also keen to see a pledge to ensure our counter-terrorism officers are adequately equipped to handle any attack locally.
- resolution of the NHS funding crisis that genuinely recognises the role of local authorities. Without adequate social care from councils, or financial help and support for people with mental health problems, hospitals will continue to struggle with rising A&E and 'bed-blocking' issues - as well as mounting debts to provide the services our community needs.
There is more I'd like to see - including the detail of Osborne's Tax Credit climb down. But I won't hold my breath from a Tory Chancellor who has shown an absolute callousness with regards to many working people and their aspirations in Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
He's also a man of breathtaking gall, pertaining to be an economic strategist when he's had to revise his 'plan A' multiple times since 2010 and is still nowhere near his original target of wiping out the deficit. With October's revenues the lowest for the Treasury in years, a steel-making crisis and tepid growth, I'm nervous about the prospects for our area and the services we need under Chancellor Osborne.