NORTH East MPs have slammed the government for not doing enough to help hard-hit residents in measures unveiled in the Queen’s Speech today (Tuesday May 10).

The Prime Minister used the Queen’s Speech – delivered for the first time by the Prince of Wales – to set out plans for changes to create a 'high-wage, high-skill' economy, but there was no immediate extra help for households facing spiralling costs with inflation set to hit a 40-year high later this year.

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With soaring energy bills, inflation forecast to hit ten per cent and benefits and wages failing to keep up with rising prices, the cost of living is set to dominate domestic politics in the coming months.

The Government highlighted the £22 billion package of help with energy bills, tax cuts and other measures already announced and hinted at further support in future.

But its focus is on generating economic growth to help address the issues rather than increasing state support, with the public finances already hit by the billions borrowed to address the pandemic.

Mr Johnson said: “After two years of Covid-19, I know that the last thing people need are further challenges.

“I know people are struggling with their bills, and that they are anxious about the future.

“But we will get the country through it just as we got through Covid-19, with every ounce of ingenuity and compassion and hard work.

“While we must keep our public finances on a sustainable footing – and we cannot completely shield people from the fallout from global events – where we can help, we will.

“And over the coming months we will continue examining what more we can do to ease the pressures on hard-working people and families.”

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough’s Labour MP, Andy McDonaldMiddlesbrough’s Labour MP, Andy McDonald

Middlesbrough’s Labour MP, Andy McDonald, was scathing in his assessment of the speech, saying there was ‘a total absence’ of any meaningful measures to support poverty-stricken families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “In a week in which it was revealed that two million adults cannot afford to eat every day, this Queen’s Speech shows beyond any doubt that Boris Johnson and his Government have no intention whatsoever of getting to grips with that abomination.

Mr McDonald added: “This Queen’s Speech is an abject disgrace from a disgraceful Prime Minister, who, like the Tories as a whole, is unfit for office.”

Fellow Labour MP Alex Cunningham of Stockton North said that the government has failed to grasp the ‘enormity’ of the cost-of-living crisis.

He added: “Instead of measures to deal with rocketing food, energy and others costs, ministers are choosing to press ahead with deeply ideological Bills such as privatising Channel 4, limiting our rights and cracking down on protests.

“And levelling up appeared to be all but consigned to the bin at the weekend with Michael Gove getting in his excuses as to why the regions won’t get the cash they’ve been promised.

“It’s all fine and well the Prime Minister bragging about his plans to “turbo charge” the economy but people need help now and they are being failed by this Conservative Government’s lack of action.”

The Northern Echo: Labour MP Alex Cunningham of Stockton NorthLabour MP Alex Cunningham of Stockton North

The region’s Conservative MPs were more positive about the speech, with Redcar MP Jacob Young saying residents would be pleased that plans to level up places like Teesside have not changed.

He said that he was ‘excited’ to see what the Government can achieve on Teesside, pointing to positive developments in the region such as the renewable energy hub and innovation in new hydrogen technologies.

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Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said the speech outlined ‘a comprehensive programme of action’ to deal with some of the big challenges facing the country, particularly the global inflationary pressures contributing to rising living costs.

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East ClevelandSimon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

He said the Government wants to make sure that the UK ‘seizes on the opportunities of Brexit’ to ensure the country flourishes outside the EU and takes back control of human rights laws.

Mr Clarke added: "So there's a lot in this speech which I think is enormously important and which will remind people why a Conservative government is delivering for them."

Darlington Conservative MP Peter Gibson said: “It’s great to be back in Parliament for the Queens Speech.

“We have an ambitious agenda tackling the issues that matter to the people of Darlington and I look forward to getting stuck in to this session.”

 

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