What a wet drought we are having. No sooner did they impose the hosepipe bans than down came the rain, for the wettest April and wet May. I have been urging the local water companies to relax their restrictions on some local businesses that need water to do their jobs. I will keep up the pressure for more water storage, so we can take full advantage of the rainy seasons when they come.
We have also lived through a very cold spring and early summer. People had to run their heating systems for longer, when family budgets are already hard pressed by energy price rises, tax rises to cut the deficit, and more general imported inflation. We need more cheaper energy in the UK. I have been holding meetings with Treasury and Energy department Ministers to explore the options for delivering such a policy.
At the beginning of this Parliament I urged the government to have a Growth strategy as well as a deficit reduction programme. I was granted one of the first ever Backbench all day debates in the Commons to set out what a Growth Strategy should look like. Over the last few weeks governments have become more interested in just this crucial topic.
Mr Hollande was elected as French President on a ticket of wanting more economic growth. The US President says the same, knowing later this year he has to face electors who will want answers to questions like Will there be more jobs? Will my pay go up by more than prices? When will living standards rise? The Greek people, after five years of hard pounding in recession, are keen to find a political answer which can start to reverse their loss of income. The G8 last week-end saw eight of the most powerful world leaders sitting round a table trying to work out how to get more growth. Their press statement at the end said they all wanted more growth, but they have different views of how to deliver it.
In the UK we need an end to tax rises, which have hit people’s incomes. Indeed, some tax cuts would be helpful and might even increase revenues as growth accelerates. We need the government to change its approach to the banks, so we have more competitive banks on the High Street with money to lend. We need cheaper energy, to curb inflation and cut industry’s costs.
Throughout the public sector we need to get better at doing well with less, and at keeping down or cutting public sector costs and charges. When incomes are being squeezed, every little, as they say, helps.