January 5, 2012 in Ben Bradshaw
With the Government’s austerity programme having choked off the recovery our economy is set to flat line at best. At worst it might tip back into recession. The real impact of a lot of the cuts has also yet to feed through and will be felt in full force in 2012. Exeter has so far been less seriously affected than most places, though virtually every family will be feeling the squeeze.
Over the years we’ve built up a diverse and relatively resilient economy, thanks to the city’s natural assets and forward- looking local politicians. The University’s expansion, the imminent arrival of John Lewis and the continuing development east of Exeter and round the airport have given us a boost and signal a long term confidence in our city. Our high schools and Exeter College have continued their improvement of recent years. And the Royal Devon and Exeter has, once again, been rated among the best hospitals in the country.
It’s the NHS I have big concerns about next year. It was a major mistake for the Government to go for a massive organisational upheaval while pegging spending more tightly than ever. I hope they’ll see sense at this late hour and drop their plans. Otherwise I fear going back to the bad old days of long waits and worsening care. Rather than another re-organisation of the NHS the Government would do better focussing on implementing the recommendations of the Dilnot report into long term care. This is one of the biggest challenges facing our country and something that affects nearly everyone. The current system is both grossly unfair and not sustainable as the number of elderly grows. There is all party support for this and the Government would get credit for grasping the nettle.
Finally, in the middle of what is likely to be a gloomy year we’ll be able to escape into all the excitement of the Olympics. It was a great credit to Britain that we won the games and if they pass off successfully, as I hope they will, will be a big boost to national morale in a year we’re likely to need it.