This week’s budget will be painful and will hurt. But I think most people know it is coming and had to come.
The country has been living on borrowed time. We had over a decade of prosperity based on a property bubble which enormously benefited our part of London but has now burst; a lot of personal borrowing which was unwise; and a banking system centred on the City which got out of control and has collapsed. A lot of public spending which we take for granted was based on tax revenues which are not real and permanent.
That is why the next few years will be very difficult for people working in the public sector or depending on public services. An effort is being made to protect the NHS and schools from severe cuts but it would be foolish to pretend that they will not face a squeeze. The state pension has been protected but other benefits will be affected. I know form my weekly advice surgery in Twickenham that there is already a lot of financial distress.
But, in general, we live in a prosperous part of the country with low unemployment. There are lots of good, local small companies which will grow if they can get credit from the banks. We have very strong voluntary organisations which can help fill in the gaps in state provision. We start form a position where we have, locally, some of the best schools and colleges in the country.
In my job as Secretary of State I am meeting people from areas like the North East and West Midlands which are much less well placed to weather a period of austerity.
If residents need explanations I will seek to reassure them, in face to face meeting or in email or other correspondence. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 2a Lion Road, Twickenham, TW1 4JQ.