Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Ahead of the Autumn Statement – How Labour will make a difference,


The mood of Britain last week was to enjoy “Black Friday” that became Black weekend as shoppers headed to stores and online to grab a bargain or two.


Today could become “Black Wednesday” depending on what the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, will tell the House of Commons.  We already know this government has broken promise after promise, cut funding to our police service (since 2010, Northumbria’s budget has been cut by more than £80 million) and forgotten about our region. 

The Tories came to power on a promise to balance the books by 2015  which they have broken. When Labour win the election in six months time, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are set to inherit a large deficit – which they will address.  Income tax receipts across the Parliament are set to fall short of their 2010 expectations by more than £66 billion and receipts from National Insurance Contributions are a further £22.5 billion lower across the same period – less money in means less to spend on services such as police, schools, NHS and protecting our vulnerable people to name but a few.

The last few years have been hard for families, real median wages for full time workers have fallen by more than £2000 since 2010.  In Northumbria, I have played a small part in improving the salaries of lower paid members of staff by introducing the Living Wage, all cleaning staff within Northumbria Police now benefit from an increase in pay of more than £1 per hour.  Prior to this the service was contracted out and the cleaners were on the minimum wage.  There are still more than 4.9 million workers earning less than the Living – this is something that must change in the next Parliament.


We need a government that is going to support the 1.4 million people who are currently on zero-hours contracts – many of the people affected work regular and predictable hours but don’t benefit from sick and holiday pay.  I know that with Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, we will see zero hour contacts abolished.


It will be interesting to see what George Osborne says in his Autumn statement, as he has to account why the Tory led Government has borrowed more in four and a half years than the last Labour government did in 13 years.  The Chancellor needs to explain why he has borrowed almost £4 billion more than he did in the same period last year. 


Labour is clear that we need an economic plan that can earn our way to rising living standards for all.  I want the next Labour government to help families in Sunderland and Newcastle just as much as David Cameron has helped millionaires with their tax break in this Parliament.  I want Labour to be given the opportunity to build 200,000 new homes a year to help get first time buyers on the property ladder.


Let’s help the next generation by creating more apprenticeships. Since I took up my post of Police & Crime Commissioner, my small office has been able to help boost the career of two young people by securing them apprentice opportunities.  Ed Balls has made no promises without saying where the money is coming from, the Labour Party manifesto will have no commitments paid for by additional borrowing.


Labour will balance the book, I suspect George Osborne will shuffle a few pages today – he has failed to deliver over the last four years, he has forgotten the North East.  I know it will take a Labour Government to make the changes happen that we want to see.