I hope that readers had a Merry Christmas and I want to wish you a peaceful 2015. 2014 was a year where progress was made in putting right some of the economy’s problems.
Unemployment is 624 lower in south Manchester since this time last year, and stands at 2.8%, down from 4.4% when Labour left office in May 2010. Some 2 million apprenticeships have been created since 2010.
The inflation rate is at a 12 year low, just 1% due to lower energy, transport and food costs. Pensioners will feel the benefit as they will be getting a 2.5% increase in their state pension next April thanks to our Triple Lock guarantee. That is £18.30 more than when Labour left office in 2010, making the average pensioner £950 a year better off.
In Government the Liberal Democrats have delivered an income tax cut of £700 for all low and middle income earners, which the Tories had said was unaffordable. We have also delivered a £400 per child saving to Manchester parents by giving free school meals to 5,6 and 7 year olds.
The Liberal Democrat Pupil Premium has also delivered £41million extra to Manchester schools, a measure that Labour opposed.
The Scottish referendum meant that devolution for the Manchester City region was put into focus. The Liberal Democrats delivered more power for local Councils through the City Deal, a “Game-Changer” for Manchester according to Sir Howard Bernstein. The deal gives Manchester more power over Housing, jobs, infrastructure, Training and Transport.
While I support more devolution to Manchester, Manchester people should decide whether we want an elected mayor, rather than letting Tory and Labour politicians make decisions in private meetings.
The North West is having 40 projects funded this year, creating thousands of jobs. Schemes include the funding the Metrolink to Didsbury and Chorlton, (despite Labour cancelling it twice). It includes funding HS2, creating some 60,000 jobs in the North, despite some wobbles from some Tories in the South and Labour MP’s looking for an easy target to cut.
There is also £600m for the Northern Hub and £20 million to improve cycling. This investment would not have happened without the Liberal Democrat influence in Government.