Chancellor, tomorrow’s success is being born today!

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Today’s autumn statement made big promises for infrastructure, but our future depends on more than roads and broadband.

When the Chancellor Philip Hammond stood up at the Dispatch Box this afternoon, we expected a ‘no frills’ statement without dramatic announcements or bold claims. This was certainly true for the children and families who are ‘just about surviving’.

A gloomy and uncertain economic outlook was accompanied by promises of lower public spending and efficiency savings. The Chancellor’s vision was to “prepare our economy to be resilient as we exit the EU – and match-fit for the transition that will follow”. So the big money was earmarked for infrastructure – roads, rail, digital, housing. Children in the poorest families were offered no improvement to their economic security. On local services, the NHS and education we heard almost nothing.

Mr Hammond doesn’t regard it as his role to determine how we are to keep children’s services, libraries and play areas open. Perhaps we need to describe them as ‘essential infrastructure for our future economic success’?

It’s not such a leap.

For a Chancellor, the purpose of roads, rail, housing and digital infrastructures is to keep workers, consumers and goods moving efficiently. Making sure business has what it needs to succeed.

We know that giving children what they need to succeed – love, security, a healthy home, attention, toys, books, safe places to play and (sometimes) support from professionals – will boost their future prospects.

 

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Today, half of children in the poorest households are not ready for school by age five. They are more likely than their peers to stay behind throughout their school career. There are also more likely to suffer from poor health, lack confidence and have trouble forming successful relationships. This will continue throughout their adult lives, impacting on the qualifications they achieve, the jobs they can do and the families they raise.

In business terms, that’s a huge waste of talent, ideas, grit, determination, curiosity and innovation that our economy badly needs. Is it time the Chancellor adjusted his thinking?

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