The current economic climate is challenging, to say the least, but it is certainly not as bad as the economic slumps under the Tories in the 1980s and 1990s.
Three million unemployed, failing businesses, hundreds of thousands of home repossessions and high interest rates were all hallmarks of that dark period.
What is more this Labour Government is prepared to act to help ordinary, hard-working people through these difficult times, unlike the Tories who abandoned the home owner and the unemployed saying at the time that repossessions were “market corrections” and “unemployment was a price worth paying.”
The international economic forces that have created the credit crunch and rising energy, food and fuel prices are putting real pressure on household budgets. But the Government is doing all it can to help.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined me in West Ealing this week to launch the Government’s £1billion package to help first-time buyers and families trying to stave off repossession.
The Prime Minister and I visited a constituent who had just bought a “shared ownership” flat. With house prices so high in London, even with the recent price falls, schemes such as this are getting a much-needed boost from the Government and should enable more people to get onto the property ladder or avoid repossession – and help revive the property market.
The Government also has plans for a further package of measures to help with soaring domestic heating bills. Again it is worth remembering that when the Tories were in power, they put 17.5 per cent VAT on fuel bills and the elderly and most vulnerable were the hardest hit. It took a Labour Government to cut VAT on fuel bills and introduce the Winter Fuel Payment – recently increased again – for the country’s pensioners.
I hope that package includes a windfall tax on the energy companies as it will allow the Government to maximise help for the most vulnerable as we head into winter. But whatever the final package, you can be assured that Labour will be doing everything to help ordinary families in these challenging economic times.