Working together in very challenging times

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‘WE NEED to be utterly single-minded about meeting the great challenges that face our country today – getting on top of our debts and getting the economy to grow’. Words David Cameron used to open the Europe Referendum debate because the UK economy is not insulated from events around the world – as the Greek debt crisis rollercoaster reminds us daily.

Thanks to the overhang of debt inherited from Labour we understood right from the start that recovery would be slower and choppier than in previous recessions. And we set out a plan for fiscal responsibility to bring unsustainable government borrowing under control in order to allow interest rates to stay lower for longer. It’s the rock of stability upon which any sustainable recovery depends and we will hold to it.

The Government is taking the steps needed to support growth and rebalance the economy, including:

The creation of 11 new Enterprise Zones, designed to boost local growth and create over 30,000 new jobs by 2015.

Providing real incentives for businesses to grow and create job opportunities.

Announcing four annual reductions in corporation tax.

Cutting the small companies rate.

Expanding loan guarantees.

Investing in science and apprenticeships.

Launching the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) which will help up to 40,000 businesses get up and running.

But this agenda of opportunity has to be reconciled with the urgent need to reduce Government borrowing.

What is at stake is an economic recovery which the social sector needs to see as much as everyone else.

We have worked hard with the support of strategic partners and the £107m Transition Fund to support more than 1,000 of the most vulnerable organisations and mitigate the short term damage to the capacity of the sector.

Local authorities could not have received a clearer message from ministers about the tests of reasonableness and the need to prioritise internal savings - before cutting funds to the local and voluntary sector. Many have responded very positively and indeed have maintained or even increased investment.

However we know that this is not the case everywhere and that cuts have created real frustration and difficulty for a significant minority of charities and social enterprises who rely heavily on public funding.

There is no doubt that we are working together in a very challenging environment, but this is also a time when tough circumstances are requiring us to think harder about efficiency and finding better ways of doing things.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham