Delay in Government schemes is costing jobs and homes

Last week, we saw the level of unemployment go over 2 million for the first time in over twelve years, with forecasters expecting it to hit 3 million by 2010.

In Wales, the number of those out of work has reached 109,000, an increase of 57 per cent since last year, which is worse than any other region.

This follows the International Monetary Fund's announcement that the UK faces a worse recession than the USA and Europe and that it will take up to a decade for employment in Wales to get back to pre-recession levels.

In addition, average earnings, including bonuses, rose only 1.8 per cent in the last twelve months, the lowest annual rise since records began in 1991.

As would be expected in the middle of such a crisis, we have had scheme after scheme announced by the UK Government to try and alleviate the pain felt by families and businesses across the land. However, despite the grand announcements by Ministers, it seems that very little is actually happening.

Take, for example, the working capital scheme announced by Lord Mandelson. This is meant to guarantee credit lines to businesses by providing banks with guarantees covering 50 per cent of the risk on existing and new loans. It was announced on the 14th of January 2009 and would cost £10 billion.

This is clearly a worthwhile project to get credit flowing to businesses again, although it is well below the £50 billion wanted by the Conservatives. Two months later, the scheme is still not active and, as a result, thousands of businesses will face closure if it is not implemented urgently.

There is also the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme, which has been designed to help households who experience a redundancy, and who will be able to defer a proportion of their interest payments for up to two years. This was announced on the 3rd December by Gordon Brown on the day of the Queen's Speech. However, despite the UK having the highest number on record of people signing on, it seems likely that this will not be available until April at the earliest.

This prevarication by politicians is set against a backdrop where the number of business failures will increase by 59% to 36,000 in 2009, and there has been a 68% jump in the number of homes repossessed in 2008 as compared to the previous year, with the number of those struggling to pay their mortgage growing by almost 5,000 per week.

What on earth is going on?

With hundreds of businesses closing every week and thousands of hard working families facing being thrown out of their homes, it would seem that ministers are content to take their time over policies that could, and should, have been implemented immediately.

I am not too sure whether it has penetrated the bubble that is the Westminster and Whitehall village but we are facing a national emergency that could seriously damage the economy of this country for the next decade, if not longer.

The more time that is taken to deal with these fundamental problems facing businesses and families, the more time it will take to get this country back on its feet.

Instead of talking about it, the government should instead focus every effort on putting into place those measures that will save jobs and enable families across the UK to keep their homes. If it does not, then the consequences for this country will be worse than anyone expects.

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