The Chancellor’s Budget last week failed everyone in Leeds who is struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder, security in work or grow their business.
Philip Hammond’s announcement about cutting stamp duty on home purchases does nothing for families in places like Armley, New Wortley and right across Leeds, where young people cannot imagine ever being able to get on the housing ladder. As I said in the House of Commons, this will only push property prices up.
He did talk about supporting the region’s economy through a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund to boost transport projects.
But Leeds will have to compete for a slice of that money with other Yorkshire cities after the Chancellor decided to commit half of the funds to cities with metro mayors, effectively punishing our region for the delay over devolution in Yorkshire.
There was a pledge for £30m to go towards improving mobile and digital connectivity on the TransPennine route between Yorkshire and Manchester. That’s all well and good, but what people really want is an end to being forced to stand on trains, they want more carriages, as well as better and more frequent services at stations like Bramley, Headingley, Burley Park and Kirkstall Forge – something that I am continuing to press Northern Rail about.
Nationally, the Government cannot invest the money we need for the NHS or to fix Universal Credit and properly fund our schools because it has failed to deliver productive and well-paid jobs.
The Government’s plan for thousands of new homes every year will not help people in Leeds because those homes will not be delivered for years. People need affordable homes to buy or rent today.
The Budget was a real chance to help Leeds and direct badly needed investment towards the North. But the Chancellor failed to take that opportunity to help those trying to find a place to live or get more security at work and he did nothing to improve our public services or transport systems.
All he did was make it clearer than ever why we need real and urgent change now.
Bramley Library in my constituency of Leeds West really is one of a kind.
At a time when libraries in other cities have been forced to close due to the Government’s continuing austerity cuts, thanks to investment from Leeds City Council we now have a thriving “Bramley Hub”.
The building has been fully renovated. As well as borrowing books, people can now access a host of information and services under its beautifully restored glass roof, ranging from housing advice to computers and a job shop.
It is an example of what can be achieved when people work together. The Bramley councillors and I fought hard to ensure that we retained the Library building and Bramley Community Centre.
The people of Bramley now have a one-stop service in a welcoming place that everyone can enjoy.
And, it is a far cry from the days when we were campaigning against the threat that Bramley Library faced of shorter opening hours, we were so worried when the Council were planning to close the library on Thursdays, but a massive community effort saw this decision reversed.
It’s great to see how well Bramley Hub is doing now and I would urge everyone to go along and see the beautiful Edwardian building for themselves – maybe borrow a book, use the computers or enjoy the wonderful children’s library.
With the support of local people, I am sure it will be a big success.
Rachel Reeves is Labour MP for Leeds West