In the House of Commons yesterday, Jo urged the Government to make sure spending cuts do not fall hardest on the most vulnerable people in society.
Responding to the coalition Government’s plans to cut the huge budget deficit left by the Labour government, Jo called on the Treasury to keep the “principle of fairness” at the heart of its decisions, protecting the most vulnerable in society.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrat David Laws said that he has already rejected any proposed cuts which would endanger key front line services or impact on people on low incomes.
Commenting, Jo said:
“It is clear that some very difficult decisions need to be made about how to cut the huge budget deficit which is the legacy of 13 years of Labour government. The most important thing is to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society, who rely most heavily on essential public services, do not bear the greatest burden.
“I am pleased that the government has already rejected cuts suggested by officials which would jeopardise important public services and make life more difficult for people on low incomes. I will continue to press the government to ensure that vital services are protected as the budget deficit is reduced.”
The text of Jo’s intervention appears below:
Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Most people realise that to tackle the deficit, cuts will be inevitable, but it is important that they do not fall hardest on the most vulnerable in society. Will my right hon. Friend tell us whether he has already rejected any cuts on the basis of the impact on the most vulnerable, and whether he will ensure that the principle of fairness is uppermost in his mind as he faces the difficult task of finding future cuts to tackle the deficit?
Mr Laws: I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. Both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have rejected proposals that have come forward from officials and others to make cuts when we believe that those would endanger either the key front-line services that all of us want to protect, or people on low incomes. All of us know that the decisions that we take to get on top of the public sector deficit that we have been left will be increasingly difficult, but in the spending review, in the Budget and in the next spending review our minds will always be the need to protect not only those front-line services, but those people in our society who would otherwise be most vulnerable to the action that we must take to deal with the public sector deficit that we have inherited.