ANALYSIS: How Gordon Brown Has Ruined Birmingham; Last Week the Conservatives Published Policy Proposals Which, Argues Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Will Bring Economic Prosperity to Birmingham and the West Midlands

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Byline: George Osborne

There's probably nowhere in Britain that symbolises the fantastic opportunities for the future better than Birmingham. A recent report found that Birmingham is the most technologically advanced city in Europe. With nine universities within one hour's drive of the city, Birmingham and the West Midlands are wellplaced to capitalise on the immense possibilities of the 21st century global economy.

Unfortunately, under Labour, too much of Birmingham's potential has gone unfulfilled.

The Birmingham economy has grown slower than the rest of the country since 2000, and 22.5 per cent of Birmingham's working age population is claiming unemployment benefits - far higher than the UK average.

All in all, this means that people in Birmingham simply aren't sharing in the prosperity being enjoyed elsewhere in Britain. To take just one example, Birmingham's economic output is pounds 17,783 per person, compared with pounds 26,262 in London.

The blame for this wasted potential can be laid squarely at Gordon Brown's door. As Chancellor, he has increased taxes to the highest levels in Britain's history, and introduced 14 new regulations every working day.

Not only has he hiked up taxes, but he's also reduced incentives to work, meaning that 700,000 more people are living in severe poverty than in 1997.

And when it comes to spending too, he has failed to make the right transport investments, and as a result congestion is now costing the West Midlands over pounds 2 billion each year.

It's problems like these that prompted David Cameron to ask Simon Wolfson, the boss of the Next fashion group, and John Redwood, the former head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit, to look at how we can make our economy more competitive and ensure that the whole country benefits from rising prosperity.

We want to ensure that everyone, not just a fortunate few, has the opportunity to share in the benefits of globalisation. Their report, which you can down load from www.conservatives.com, sets out an ambitious vision for achieving this by sorting out Britain's creaking transport system, cutting business red tape and reforming the tax system.

As the report makes clear, our top priority for the economy is clear: we will put stability first.

We will never take risks with your family's finances. With the largest financial sector outside London, Birmingham has a lot to lose from economic instability, and we will do everything we can to safeguard the jobs and wealth that this sector has brought to the region.

And unlike Labour, we will make sure our policies ease the burden on families who are striving and working hard to make a better life for themselves. We understand that families across Britain are struggling to pay the bills and keep up with the rising cost of living, and we are bringing forward proposals to shift the burden of taxation away from jobs and investment. …