Economy 

Over the last few weeks we've had a rollercoaster of news about the state of the economy.  Green shoots have been spotted - not surprisingly by Gordon Brown before anyone else - and have withered within hours, only to sprout again with yet another batch of figures.

But now, just as the summer holidays begin, the outlook seems once again to have turned gloomy.  Deloitte are predicting a slower than expected recovery, and for the first time since February the number of business leaders seeing signs of recovery in their respective areas has decreased to just a third.

I hope that the situation isn't this bad and that the economy will pick up as soon as possible.  Because behind the figures are real people with very real problems.

Last week I was contacted by a constituent who has recently lost her job and can't meet repayments on her mortgage.  That's the kind of story which brings home the reality of the recession.

Alistair Darling has called a summit with bank bosses, including the heads of the nationalised banks, to talk about the rising cost of loans to small businesses - something which many firms in West Sussex could have told him about months ago.

Only six families have been actually helped by the Government's Mortgage Rescue Scheme.  The problem is only likely to get worse as more people lose their jobs and the mortgage rates steadfastly refuse to track down in line with the base rate.

As David Cameron said over the weekend, things will be tough for the next government, both in terms of public spending and keeping the wider economy on the straight and narrow.  But this is a challenge that we need to meet if we're to get out of this gloom and into some better economic weather.

Michelle Taylor