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Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick on how the economic crisis effects us all

PUBLISHED: 12:55 01 May 2013 | UPDATED: 12:55 01 May 2013

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If you were to approach a stranger on the street and ask them what’s the biggest national issue for them right now I bet they would say it’s the economy. It’s certainly been the talking point for 2013 so far, closely related and sometimes the same as the big debate we’re having on welfare.

Unemployment statistics, GDP and inflation figures released during the past month have painted a picture of an economy which isn’t getting better. People can easily read the headline figures in the paper, get off the bus and forget them. But they will often be reminded of what a broken economy means to them when they get home.

That’s because there’s a story behind every figure. The rise in long term youth unemployment saw an extra 40 young people out of work for more than a year in Tower Hamlets. In total that’s 275 local families who are concerned about their son or daughter on benefits and not in work. Families in Tower Hamlets see the affect of rising inflation and stagnant wages when they do the weekly supermarket shop and notice their money doesn’t go as far as before. These are just two examples of the many ways a flat lining economy affects every one of us.

A lot of people ask at this point, what would you do? When the Finance Bill was being debated the other week I supported calls for a 10p tax rate for low earners, no tax cut for millionaires, a temporary cut to VAT and a crack down on tax avoidance by companies who earn from us but don’t pay their way. Of course none of these ideas were accepted by the government and that’s the problem. We’re seeing no admission of how bad things really are and what can be done about it. There are plenty of great ideas out there to kick start growth, get people off welfare and into work and make our economy fairer. When a plan isn’t working, you change the plan and the biggest tragedy of this economic downturn is this hasn’t happened yet.

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