Coalition Silence on the Economy


At the State opening of Parliament last week, Her Majesty presented the Government’s priorities for the year ahead. Outlined in just eight minutes, the Coalition’s programme of work included bills on issues from immigration to local audits. But something rather big was missing. The economy.

queens-speech-4_2556872bIn Northfield we have lending to businesses down, squeezed families paying higher bills, and the cost of living continuing to increase. On Wednesday, we saw that there are precisely 200 more young people in our community long term unemployed than was the case in 2011. The number of young people out of work for over 6 months in our community is also increasing. Those statistics hide hundreds of wasted opportunities, frustration and difficulties facing young people in Northfield today.

The numbers are repeated across the country – nearly one in five unemployed people have been out of work for more than two years. The economy has grown by just over 1% since 2010. I’m tired of hearing that there is no alternative to austerity. We can rebuild the economy – we need to fix jobs and youth unemployment, tackle the broken financial system, and create local growth and innovation.

Last year, Lord Heseltine called for end to the Government’s hands-off approach in his Report on growth. He proposed that regional investment and local collaboration would get our economy moving. Although George Osborne accepted his recommendations, where was the regional commitment in the Queens Speech? Birmingham needs Government leadership – and a real spending pledge – to move forward.

I was disappointed to see the only specific measure in the Speech for action on the economy – a banking bill – did not go nearly far enough. Labour is calling for tough legislation for reckless banks, and bankers, who break the rules. We also have new ideas for a British Investment Bank, and a regional banks network, that will lend to the small businesses creating jobs and economic growth. These regional banks will rely on local people, with real expertise in the area, saying yes” to loans for our struggling entrepreneurs, small businesses and high street.

We need to work tirelessly to fix the economy. What did I hear last week in Westminster? A Government eerily quiet on the problem.


Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.