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Autumn statement must invest in Cumbria - Farron

November 22, 2016 9:46 AM

Ahead of the government's Autumn Statement on Wednesday, South Lakes MP Tim Farron has set out what he believes the government should announce to help Cumbria's communities. Tim is calling for investment for schools, the NHS and rural broadband, and for the government to deliver on its promises about the flood defence scheme for the River Kent.

Tim said: "Local residents will be desperately hoping for a change of direction from the Chancellor in the upcoming Autumn Statement. For too long, the government has pursued an ideological agenda of cuts to public spending, and it is our public services and our infrastructure that are paying the price.

"Our schools and hospitals are in desperate need of additional investment, without which our children's education will be hit and our NHS will continue in crisis. Our local A&E units are already struggling to cope even before winter hits, yet they face a shortfall of £572 million by 2021. The Lib Dems are calling on the government to provide a £4billion emergency cash injection for our NHS. Our schools also face the prospect of cuts over the years to come. The government has a duty to all those who rely on public services to ensure that they are properly funded.

"The government must also take a long-term view about the value of investment. It currently appears that the Cumbria LEP will only be given a fraction of the funds it originally expected from government. I am pushing the government to provide all of these funds, which will fund critically important improvements to our county such as rural broadband, infrastructure upgrades, and support for small businesses.

"In particular, I am calling on the government to invest an additional £1 billion in rural broadband. The government must connect the most rural and sparsely populated communities first, rather than at the end of the queue. Too often in the past, funding has lined the pockets of private companies while rural communities still don't have the fast broadband they had been promised. The Chancellor must give us this backing and help to properly connect Cumbria's communities.

"Finally, the government must also ensure that the promised flood defences in our area are built. Many local people still live in fear of further flooding. Early next year, the Environment Agency will publish its finalised plans for a flood defence scheme for the River Kent. The government must provide the funding to ensure that this is built without delay."