Helen spoke up in Parliament to challenge Prime Minister’s claim that austerity was over. The Government’s budget provided no evidence that austerity policies had ended.

You can watch the video below and decide for yourself:

 “Austerity is not over for my constituents when ward six of Bishop Auckland Hospital is under threat.

Austerity is not over when there are seven food banks in Bishop Auckland.

Austerity is not over when people come into my office weeping with anxiety because they do not know how they will feed their families.

Austerity is not over when Shildon and Sedgefield, which are 11 miles apart, share one police sergeant. And austerity is not over when the local further education college has a 30% cut in its budget, so that we are not even investing properly in our young people.

The Government have protected health spending, but demographic change means our constituents are seeing a reduction in the quality of their services, and the welfare cap means that the increases to universal credit that the Chancellor announced, which anyway are coming very late—in 2022 and 2023, not this year—are dwarfed by the £7 billion he is taking out through the freeze in the real level of benefits.

Meanwhile, unprotected spending areas, such as police and education, are seeing devastating reductions. In Durham, the number of police officers and support staff has reduced by 500. A modern country needs proper public services if it is to sustain a civilised life for its citizens.”

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