Government Spending Review

The government's been setting out how they plan to tackle Britain's massive debt this afternoon.

George Osborne annoucned, "We have chosen to spend on the country's most important priorities - the healthcare of our people, the education of our young, our nation's security and the infrascructure that supports our economic growth."

There will be total Government cuts of 19% over four years.

He also announced that the final stretch of a major road in Norfolk and Suffolk will be finished.

The A11 that runs between Norwich and London is getting funded and work could start by the end of the year.

Other big announcements include:

Nearly half a million jobs in the public sector will go in the next 4 years.

Child benefits will only go to families on a lower income.

Investments in the green economy - which should benefit the offshore windfarms off the coast of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Spending on the NHS and schools will be safe - with the schools budget going up by £4bn to £39bn and £15.8bn spent on refurbishing schools.

Police spending will be cut, but if shouldn't affect police on the streets.

With regards to policing cuts, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Dr Daniel Poulter told Heart , "The focus is on the back office and not on the frontline - that we will not see a reduction in police on the beat, but obvioulsy that is for Norfolk and Suffolk police chiefs to decide how they're going to manage their budget. But the clear focus should be on back room services. We should make sure our streets are still well policed."

He added on the investments in the green economy:

"One key priority is that we make sure that we actually invest in supporting the growth of industries and we know that in the East of England, particularly off of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth that we have a strong emerging green economy there with the wind farms and the offshore wind. What the government has said very clearly is that we are going to invest in green energy - in improving home insulation, investing in affordable homes and also in schemes like community post offices. So there is room for growth in this statement, it's not all about cuts. It's about making sure we create the right growth as well and the green economy is a key part of that."

Here are some other responses to today's spending review:

Suffolk Constabulary offered its response to the Government's Spending Review:

Suffolk's Chief Constable Simon Ash said: "We know that we are facing an unprecedented financial situation which will see millions of pounds cut from the policing budget.

"It's going to be a tough challenge, particularly as we are already an extremely efficient force with one of the lowest costs per head of population. However, it's a challenge we are ready to face and we have already made progress in addressing the funding gap.

Joint statement from Norfolk Police Authority Chairman, Stephen Bett, and Chief Constable Phil Gormley:

"Whilst noting today’s Comprehensive Spending Review announcement regarding the allocation for the national police budget, we remain uncertain as to the eventual impact on Norfolk of the Chancellor’s statement. We will need to understand the detail behind the headlines in order to assess what it will mean for policing in Norfolk.  

Even before the Coalition Government made clear the necessity to radically reduce the national debt, we have been working to significantly reduce the cost of policing Norfolk.  We have reduced cost by £18million in the past four years and re-invested that in expanded frontline services.

We believe that the prudent measures taken so far have been appropriate in straitened times.  These have included: reviewing how we can share back office functions and how we can increase collaboration with colleagues in the region, especially Suffolk; putting a moratorium on recruitment of officers and police staff; and making savings from the current year’s budget.

Today’s announcement gives us an outline indication of what to expect when the detailed grant allocation is known.  This will be towards the end of November/early December when we hope our previous cost-cutting will be recognised and not penalised by an arbitrary blanket percentage reduction applied across all forces.

Meanwhile, we will progress the preparations to bridge the anticipated funding gap, focusing on minimising the reduction of frontline policing services."

***

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, today commented on the Spending Review including news of the A11 dualling:

“The chancellor was right to say that today we stepped back from the brink as a country.  People I speak to locally do want the UK back on a sustainable financial footing.  We can’t burden future generations with debts we wouldn’t be prepared to pay today.”

I am pleased to hear today’s announcements on education, health, banking reform and obviously transport.  Norwich will welcome moves to build 150 000 new affordable homes in the country, and I will be discussing other housing measures with the Secretary of State and also the Homes and Communities Agency in the next two weeks.”

I know people will carefully consider today’s announcements about benefits.  I think pensioners locally will welcome a sincere, permanent increase in cold weather payments and the retention of other help for them.  I hope Equitable Life victims will also appreciate the sum that has been found for them.”

I am delighted by the A11 news and spoke to the Roads Minister myself yesterday and today to carry on the lobbying right to the last minute.  That road is vital to Norwich – for business and residents alike.  In particular, firms trying to do business and create new jobs in the north Norwich industrial estates and around the city will welcome this long overdue announcement.  By dualling the A11, the Coalition Government has shown its commitment to East Anglia.  This decision is the direct result of Norfolk and Suffolk MPs from both sides of the Coalition putting pressure on Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers. This has included a Westminster Hall Debate; a public petition; a public meeting; local business roundtable; a meeting between all Norfolk MPs and with Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury; numerous letters and lobbying of Transport Ministers.” 

I will be holding special public meetings this Saturday and next to make sure I understand people’s opinions locally about today’s announcements.”

***

Richard Howitt MEP spoke out against the review saying:
 
“The scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future programme has had a devastating effect on education in Ipswich – and the proposals for a new academy at Felixstowe are hanging on by their fingertips. Sixteen care homes in Suffolk could be sold off or closed altogether by the county council.  Streetlights will be dimmed across county, park and ride schemes are being cut, subsidised bus services are likely to be cut back substantially and opening times at the Corn Exchange have been cut dramatically.
 
“There is nothing fair about these cuts. Today’s announcement on housing means Suffolk tenants will live in fear. In one of the most unaffordable places to buy or rent in the country, council tenants will be placed on "flexible tenancies" with councils checking whether a change in circumstances mean they can stay in their home or will be moved on. But circumstances change all the time – and if you are going through a divorce or bereavement in the family you could find yourself on the streets.  
 
“We will have to wait to see if transport cuts mean the proposed upgrade of the cross-country rail line from Felixstowe to Nuneaton, including the installation of a new curve at Ipswich for freight trains which is so vital in getting freight out of Felixstowe is at risk. This is an investment that would help bring money into the economy and support jobs and local businesses – it would be an unexplainable saving.
 
“The cuts announced don’t make economic sense. There will be 490 000 public sector job losses. But when you cut jobs, stop house building and create a climate of fear, that risks yet more jobs losses and could drive the country back into recession.”

“In Norfolk, we already know that the Tories will leave us in the dark turning off the street lights. We have seen 65 jobs lost in the Connexions youth service, 36 fire service job losses, a £434,000 cut for school holiday activities and 30 road safety schemes stopped.
 
“There was only one glimmer of hope in the announcement –and I want to congratulate the local people who have been campaigning for the A11 improvements. This is a victory for local people and jobs not for the government.
 
“However there is nothing fair about these cuts. Rail fare prices will be allowed to rise at 3% above inflation which could make a “standard class anytime” return journey from Norwich to London top £100.
 
“Today’s announcement on housing means Norfolk tenants will live in fear. In one of the most unaffordable places to buy or rent in the country, council tenants will be placed on "flexible tenancies" with councils checking whether a change in circumstances mean they can stay in their home or will be moved on. But circumstances change all the time – and if you are going through a divorce or bereavement in the family you could find yourself on the streets.  
 
“The public spending cuts announced today do not make economic sense. We need to tackle the deficit, but without a credible plan for growth, there can be no credible plan to cut the deficit. Today the government has shown its priority is cuts. There will be 490 000 public sector job losses. But when you cut jobs, stop house building and create a climate of fear, that risks yet more jobs losses and could drive the country back into recession.”

For more information on what the cuts mean, just follow the link.

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