Wokingham Times

This week we are waiting for the Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, due on Tuesday 29th November. Amidst all the red ink, as the Chancellor accepts there will be less revenue and more public spending than planned, there should be some good news to try to get the economy growing more quickly. I am looking forward to the government picking up some of the ideas I and others have been proposing to help small and medium sized enterprises, to make it easier and cheaper to buy a home, and to get the banks lending more for good schemes and well based businesses.

It is true that the government’s plans to borrow £451 billion over five years were increased to £485 billion in March and are likely to go above the £500 billion level in this revision. I find it difficult to understand the arguments of those who say we are not borrowing enough as a nation. The extra borrowing by this government in just five years will be more than the total national debt built up over 1000 years as recently as 2004. It’s another £8000 on the national credit card for every man, woman and child in the country. All that debt means paying more tax to pay the interest. One day it has to be repaid.

What we need is a strong private sector recovery. The government can organise projects for new power stations, extra reservoirs for water, better broadband, more transport capacity which the private sector can finance. That will help. In Wokingham a sensibly phased and affordable town centre redevelopment can assist. It will first provide construction jobs, and later more retail and service jobs to cater for local demands. I hope this Christmas many residents will find time to stop and shop at local stores. There is already a good range.

The Euro zone crisis is going to hit our export markets on the continent. There have been many warning signs. It means exporters have to spend more of their efforts looking for sales in the faster growing parts of the world, like Asia and Latin America, where the opportunities are much greater. People say around 3 million UK jobs are dependent on exports to the EU. The good news is that means 25 million jobs are not. I wish firms well in finding alternative outlets for products where they find the Euro crisis is hitting demand.

I have been part of the pressure group of MPs urging the Prime Minister to seek a better deal for the UK now that France and Germany seem keen to press on with greater integration and more Brussels government. We cannot possibly join in. Our relationship has to change, as they build their continental superstate. Now is the time to demand change, as the Euro area states need our agreement to the centralisation they think they need. Some doubt whether they can save their currency, but we should assume they are going to and make clear our need for a different deal if they try to.