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Unambitious budget threatens South Lakeland's future - "We must invest to survive."

April 22, 2009 5:49 PM

Westmorland and Lonsdale's MP Tim Farron has described Alistair Darling's budget announcement today as " staggeringly unambitious" and has expressed his disappointment at the lack of action to help people and businesses in South Lakeland struggling under the recession.

"There are a few positives in the budget, of course, but it completely lacks the ambition to get our area out of the recession. We needed investment in local services and financial relief for families to pull South Lakeland out of the recession - but we didn't get it."

The chancellor promised to keep spending at current levels this year, but to start making big cuts in public spending from next year. The Conservatives used the debate to demand that the Government start making those cuts right away. Liberal Democrats said that the only way to get the economy going was to keep investing in public services to keep employment high and encourage spending.

Cuts in spending could threaten public projects such as a new cancer unit at Kendal and Tim has cautiously welcomed a promise from Alistair Darling to continue increases in health spending.

The Chancellor also called for more investment in 'green jobs' which Mr Farron is now actively pursuing as part of a bid to bring a new Green Business Park to the Kendal area.

Other key points include:

Tim has expressed concern that beer duty rises will further threaten rural pubs

The failure of the Chancellor to use the budget to announce the exemption of Mountain Rescue Teams from VAT and other Taxes was a real let down, but Tim is pursuing this issue and remains very hopeful that this battle will be won.

Tim wanted the Chancellor to support to the farming economy by establishing a Hill Farm Apprenticeship Scheme to help encourage the next generation of hill farmers. He also wanted investment in renewable energy sources including providing farmers with 'green loans' to pay for the initial start-up cost of purchasing an anaerobic digester as well as funding for a new generation of hydro-electricity in South Lakeland.

The chancellor failed to accept Lib Dem proposals on income tax so that low and middle income earners would pay £700 less income tax a year, paid for by ending the loopholes and tax avoidance schemes used by the wealthy and big corporations.

There was no action to support first time buyers in rural areas. Tim is calling on the Chancellor to instruct the banks to ensure people seeking mortgages for local occupancy homes are not discriminated against compared to regular housing.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Unfortunately Alistair Darling's budget announcement today was a crushing disappointment. While the Tories want to cut and slash public spending straight away, it seems that Labour merely want to wait until after the election to do the same.

"It took ten years and a World War to get Britain out of the last great depression in the 1930s. Back then America's President Roosevelt created the 'New Deal', investing heavily in public projects that got them out of recession quickly and left a legacy of new hospitals, schools and energy schemes that would benefit society for decades to come.

"I believe that we can get out of this recession too, via a 'Green New Deal' which will leave a legacy that our children will thank us for.

"The only way we are going to get out of this recession is by growing our economy. To do this the Government must have the courage to invest in long term projects such as the Cancer Service Unit in Kendal, which will leave a real legacy for future generations."