MP's Campaigns Lead To Spending Review U-Turns
South Lakes MP Tim Farron has welcomed a number of headline U-Turns in today's Spending Review, following persistent campaigns by the Lib Dem leader.
Having run an active 'Protect Our Police' campaign to protect the Cumbria Police budget, Tim was delighted by today's announcement that there will be no real terms cuts to the Police budget. Having met with police and local people in Kendal, as well as repeatedly putting pressure on Ministers, Tim has described this announcement as an "important victory" which will "help to keep Cumbria safe".
Tim was also pleased by the announcement that the government has scrapped planned changes to tax credits, which would have hit low-income working families. The Lib Dems were the only party that tried to block these changes in the Lords, and Tim has said that "the government is finally listening, and has agreed to scrap their unfair plans which would have hit working families the hardest."
There was also welcome news about mental health provision. The Lib Dems worked tirelessly to get mental health onto the agenda during the last parliament, and the work of Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb was singled out for praise by the Chancellor. Following many years of campaigning by the Lib Dems to raise it up the agenda, mental health provision was given a further boost today by the announcement that £600 million is to be earmarked for mental health services.
However, Tim has warned that despite some welcome news, behind the headlines there remains much that is concerning, adding that "the devil is in the detail". For instance, further education will face a real-terms decrease in its budget, which will harm the life chances of young people. Similarly, the government is still committed to cutting £12 billion from the welfare budget - a decision which Tim has said is motivated "not by economic necessity but by ideology".
Tim also criticised the government for offering nothing to support the 1.6m people on the affordable housing waiting list, or to those who currently rent and often spend over half of their income in rent. Although plans to increase house building were better than nothing, Tim insisted that the plans do not go far enough.
Tim also expressed concerns about the level of cuts to certain departments, with the Department for Energy and Climate Change facing a 22% cut and the Department for Transport facing a 37% cut.
Tim said: "It was a relief to see the government U-turn on a number of issues which I have been fighting for.
"Over the past few months, residents of South Lakeland have joined me in campaigning to protect Cumbria Police, and the government has finally listened and backed down. The government has also U-turned on its proposed tax credit changes, which would have hit the poorest hardest. I am also pleased to see that the government has provided extra funding for mental health services, which the Lib Dems have long sought to push up the agenda.
"However, there remain many concerns following this review. Osborne has been bailed out by an improvement in the growth projections for the economy, but policies such as cutting funding for further education and for tackling climate change will prove to be a short term gamble. Cuts to welfare will still mean that the poorest end up bearing a disproportionate burden, whilst action on housing does not go far enough."